Monday, March 31, 2008

An Oustanding Goldmine In CRM Software Solutions

Every year, without fail, the GoldMine CRM (customer relationship management) software solution has managed to grab an award or two from various organizations in the field of CRM and computing.

In the business software category of VARBusiness magazine by CMP Media, GoldMine software was one of only five products recognized by the magazine. The magazine conducted a survey to figure out what products where relevant to mid-market business establishments that employed between 100 and 999 employees. Out of the 350 nominations that were cast, only 45 products were selected to represent several categories. In comparison to the previous year where GoldMine was way behind in the top 100, jumping to the top 45 is a big leap indeed.

GoldMine was also cited by ISM Inc., as one of the top 15 CRM Small & Medium Business Software Award for 2006. Coincidentally, this is also the fourth consecutive year that GoldMine has been given the honor of being included in the awards list.

In the year 2005, GoldMine software was given the CRM Market Leader Awards for Small Business by CRM magazine. The CRM Market Leader recognizes those vendors who have excelled in eight industry categories. Recognition is based on weighted criteria that include revenue, growth, market share, reputation for customer satisfaction, depth of functionality, and company direction.

Also in 2005, GoldMine received the CRM Excellence Award from Customer Interaction Magazine. According to the magazine, GoldMine software was given the award to show recognition for the way GoldMine products and services have substantially improved the processes of their clients? businesses by streamlining and facilitating the flow of information needed for companies to retain their most precious asset...their customers.

GodlMine software is a recipient of numerous accolades and awards from various publications and organizations involved in the CRM industry. This fact reflects the dedication of the countless numbers of people who have contributed to the evolution of GoldMine software at one time or another. The results of their dedication to service and product excellence can be seen not only from the awards received, but also from the thousands of success stories of businesses from around the world.

The successes of these businesses prove, more than the awards do, that GoldMine does indeed know what it is doing by increasing customer retention and satisfaction rates of their numerous client companies; and that is the bottom line.

Sayed Ally, is the lead CRM Analyst. His company provides, GoldMine. Sayed can be reached at Tel : (905) 815- 1995 ext 22, email: aSayed@cqsolutions.com.

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Choosing The Right CRM Solution

Choosing the right CRM technology can be a bit of a daunting task no matter what size of company and no matter whether they are in telecommunications, financial services, industry or retail. Whether you need Customer Relationship Management for a large company or a small business what?s important is that you?ve recognized that there is a place for CRM in your business but what?s the right CRM Solution?

These major points should be considered when evaluating CRM technology.

1. Company Goals
2. Company Strategies
3. Web based ? client side or hosted
4. Scalability
5. Room To Grow
6. Rapid Development Attainable
7. Customizable
8. Integrates with existing systems
9. Vendors Reputation
10. Product Reliability
11. User Interface ? how easy
12. Functionality

Your company goals and strategies are the most important and directly reflect the outcome of your choice. CRM solutions are not created equal and the sooner you recognize that the better shape you?ll be in. On top of that the challenges big business will be facing will be distinctly different that what small business faces so you need to be looking at CRM solutions that plug into your business size. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Software is one package that?s designed to work with small business and grow with you or just start big.

A financial company with offices across the country is going to have completely different requirements than a small retailer with one storefront. Yet it?s a common mistake to ignore this ever so important fact. You also need to know the company?s objectives so that you can match goals with product. This is where it?s a good idea to map the IT strategy to your goals.

You need to determine what your company?s growth objectives are and make sure that they are clearly defined. For example do you want to increase your revenue? Then how do you want to do this? How do your customers interact with your staff? Does access to real time analytics impact decisions drive the business? There are so many things to consider when choosing CRM software. If you take your time and do it right you?ll make the right choice and one that you?ll be happy with for years to come.

You?ve made the first step already and that?s deciding that your business can benefit from CRM solutions. You?ll need to set the budget you have available before you start so that you aren?t wasting time on CRM solutions that are out of your reach and a waste of your time.

The lowest initial price shouldn?t be the only determining factor. It is estimated that 30% is all that makes up the initial costs with the remaining 70% going to maintenance, deployment, integration, customization, and upgrades. That means your budget has to be large enough to sustain these additional costs.

Scalability or room to grow is crucial to your choice of CRM software. Even at this very moment you are certain your company will not make any large growth patterns you cannot predict into the future so it?s very important that your software allows for expansion to meet your future needs no matter when they occur.

Once you decide to install CRM software you want to be up and running in no time. Some of these packages can take as much as 6 months to become fully functional. That?s way too long disrupting a business for far too much time. Packages such as Microsoft Dynamic CRM software can be up and running in just a couple of weeks.

When it comes to choosing the right CRM solution take your time, consider what you need now and what you might need in the future and compare quality products slowly eliminating products until you?ve got the right one for your business.

Sayed Ally, is the lead CRM Analyst. His company provides, CRM Software. Sayed can be reached at Tel : (905) 815- 1995 ext 22, email: aSayed@cqsolutions.com.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Microsoft CRM for Large Corporation Security

Microsoft Business Solutions CRM proved to be reliable solution in the whole spectrum of industries and market niches: transportation & logistics, education, recruiting & placement, supply chain management, pharmaceutical, oil & gas, aerospace & defense, manufacturing, wholesale & retail. When corporation is looking into CRM application to choose from one of the fist questions is security. In this small article well try to give you the highlights on the most typical questions we are receiving in the security area.

  • Active Directory. Microsoft CRM uses Active Directory users and its security is built upon Windows domain security. We heard complains about this tight integration. If you compare MS CRM with Siebel, for example you will see, that Siebel security is built on the CRM level and Siebel can be installed on Windows and Unix/Linux platforms

  • Vertical Security, Roles. If you are thinking about vertical security, say assign more rights to manager, versus salesperson, this should be done on the role level. We first talk about vertical security, to give you conception of the matrix-type of security, realized in MS CRM

  • Horizontal Security, Teams. At this moment (MS CRM 1.2, MS CRM 3.0 is due in September 2005) team can include users only, not other teams, however, if you share the object with the team you can share it with multiple teams. This is the place where collective security begins. Imagine, you have Worldwide product line widgets and you have several regions: Europe, Pacific, USA, Australia & New Zealand, China. In gadgets team you have product manager, who should see all the sales worldwide, also you create regional teams for European, America, Australian etc markets and then make gadgets manager as team member of all these teams

  • Secured Reporting. When you, as European market manager run report on the gadgets sales you see only records in your security realm. This statement is true even if you have customization, done in MS CRM SDK: C# or VB.Net.

  • Presentation Level. If you use MS CRM Web or Outlook clients these are just two types of presentation level clients. Microsoft CRM schema sits in MS SQL server database, so if you deploy MS CRM SDK to modify/customize your CRM both presentation clients will get the custom interface

  • Messaging. Microsoft CRM deploys MS Exchange. However you can improve MS CRM Exchange connector to catch emails by addresser email or domain, also you can deploy Lotus Notes Domino as email server check with Alba Spectrum Technologies

  • Integration with MS Great Plains. Microsoft CRM integrates with GP customers, SOP Orders & Invoices. You can have custom integration, by calling Great Plains objects (customer annual sales info, employees payroll summary, etc.)

Good luck and you can always seek our help in customization, implementation, integration and support. Call us: 1-866-528-0577 or 1-630-961-5918, help@albaspectrum.com

Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer in Alba Spectrum Technologies USA nationwide Great Plains, Microsoft CRM customization company, serving Chicago, California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, New York, Australia, UK, Canada, Continental Europe, Russia and having locations in multiple states and internationally ( http://www.albaspectrum.com ), he is Dexterity, SQL, C#.Net, Crystal Reports and Microsoft CRM SDK developer

help@albaspectrum.com

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Microsoft Great Plains & CRM in Transportation & Logistics overview

Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains and MS CRM (client relation management system) are very popular in various industries and market niches. In previous article we described Microsoft Great Plains implementation for transportation & logistics company. Having more material, we would like to share with you how you can leverage Microsoft Business Solutions products to automate your business. Well try to be both technical and business processes specific and be laconic to comply the rules of tiny article.

  • Cargo/Shipment Tracking System. Transportation & Logistics industry is pretty mature and you more likely have industry standard (like Efreight) or custom system. So, if you plan to implement new ERP it should be tightly integrated with your cargo tracking system.

  • Customer Base. This is the question of the core application. If you have to sell to a large number of prospects and track their relatively small shipments you should first consider Microsoft CRM, which has Sales and Service modules. In this case you should enable shipment status lookup from MS CRM screens. In the case when you ship to limited number of large customers you are focusing on the profitability of the shipments and looking at Great Plains as the core system.

  • Agent Settlement. This seems to be logistics industry feature. You use agents and settle their AR/AP invoices on the monthly or weekly basis. In Great Plains you should use customer/vendor consolidation, available for Great Plains Professional version. Plus you will need Great Plains Dexterity or .Net customization to link SOP and POP invoices in the settlement process.

  • eConnect. Each logistics business has unique business processes and this is why we see software developers in staff plus strong IT department. This makes eConnect (Microsoft Great Plains SDK) very popular among logistics companies. You can create Great Plains objects: Customers, Invoices, Purchase Orders, etc. Plus it allows you to eliminate GP licenses cost you can have users work with Great Plains through web forms

  • Integration Technology. In the case of both Great Plains and Microsoft CRM you use MS SQL Server linked server technology. Then you deploy MS CRM SDK, Dexterity, Heterogeneous Stored Procedures.

  • Programming Tools. You use Visual Studio.Net to program MS CRM lookups, in some cases you can use WebMatrix, but we do not recommend tools, which do not have rich debugging features.

  • Reporting. Crystal Reports is the tool of choice. You should create heterogeneous SQL view and base you Crystal Report on this view. Microsoft CRM security suggests you to use MS CRM SDK or built-in Crystal Reports Enterprise to comply.

  • MS CRM Messaging. Microsoft CRM Exchange connector has relatively straightforward mechanism GUID in the message header. If you need advanced messaging capturing emails, based on contact email or domain you main consider advanced connector, developed and supported by Alba Spectrum Technologies. In some cases you would like to use Lotus Notes Domino as email server this is also possible.

You can always have us help you, give us a call: 1-630-961-5918 or 1-866-528-0577, help@albaspectrum.com

Andrew Karasev is consultant and CTO in Alba Spectrum Technologies ( http://www.albaspectrum.com ) Microsoft Business Solutions partner, serving clients in Illinois, New York, California, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Minnesota, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia, Asia, Russia. He is Microsoft Great Plains certified master, Great Plains Dexterity, Microsoft CRM SDK C#.Net, Crystal Repots developer.

help@albaspectrum.com

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Microsoft CRM USA Nationwide Remote Support

Remember old good days when your company probably had Great Plains Dynamics? If you are in San Francisco Bay Area you had local Great Plains Software partner consulting company, who served you basically coming onsite and charging you four hours minimum, even if the problem deserved 5-min fix? This was at the end of 20th century and remote support technologies were not very advanced Citrix was making good progress and taking market over from Symantec PCAnywhere. Today, when Microsoft Terminal Server and Citrix are remote support standards and IT department uses them to host application server for nation-wide and world-wide users, you should probably be thinking of getting remote support for your ERP and CRM systems. In this small article well take a look at Microsoft CRM remote support, customization, reporting, implementation and integration.

  • Why Microsoft CRM Remote Support? Microsoft CRM market niche is still narrow and MS CRM consulting companies do not have enough clientele in their respected locals markets: Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York even in these hypermarkets. In order to survive Microsoft CRM VAR went to nationwide and even international markets to get clients base.

  • Technology-driven consulting companies. Microsoft CRM has web and MS Outlook clients and so by its nature it is web application. When you are considering hosting your web site you typically do not care where hosting company is located you consider price and quality. Microsoft CRM could be hosted with .Net hosting companies and implementation could be done remotely with web-session-based training.

  • Customization. Today, even if Microsoft Business Solutions has open technology Microsoft CRM SDK the complexity of the specific tasks (messaging through Lotus Notes Domino, generic MAPI, advanced MS CRM Exchange connector) requires precision programming, which should be outsourced to nationwide development centers. As our experience indicates clients are demanding the expertise, not just cheap generic developers. Whoever comes for the cheap price they usually get poor results.

  • Large Business ERP. Microsoft CRM proved its market strength and ability to automate large publicly traded corporation. It sits in Microsoft SQL Server and uses all the spectrum of Microsoft technologies: .Net, Active Directories, MS Exchange, Full-Text Search, Crystal Reports Enterprise. We are confident in Microsoft CRM ability to automate Aerospace & Defense, Pharmaceutical, Supply Chain Management, Medical & Hospitals, Distribution & Logistics, Oil & Gas, Wholesale & Retail, Education, Non-for-profit

  • Integration. Microsoft CRM has standard integration tool with Microsoft Great Plains, Navision and Axapta integrations are on the way. However you can integrate Microsoft CRM with heterogeneous databases, such as Oracle, DB2, Lotus Notes Domino, Sybase, Pervasive SQL or Ctree/Faircomm.
  • Web-Sessions and Skype training. Web Seminars are normal these days and you should be OK with the idea of remote web training. This will allow you to get the best expertise with moderate price.

You can always have us help you, give us a call: 1-630-961-5918 or 1-866-528-0577, help@albaspectrum.com

Andrew Karasev is consultant and CTO in Alba Spectrum Technologies ( http://www.albaspectrum.com ) Microsoft Business Solutions partner, serving clients in Illinois, New York, California, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Minnesota, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia, Asia, Russia. He is Microsoft Great Plains certified master, Great Plains Dexterity, Microsoft CRM SDK C#.Net, Crystal Repots developer.

help@albaspectrum.com

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