Saturday, December 19, 2009

Defining CRM

Customer Relationship Management, also known as CRM, has been around for quite some time. It all started back several years ago when someone decided that combining both Sales & Marketing with Service & Support, would be a great idea, and it was. According to many accounts, Tom Siebel is the mastermind behind CRM. He extensively developed and marketed CRM until it became a well used "tool of the trade" so to speak.

Another related industry application, Sales Force Automation (SFA), is one of the earliest players in the CRM field, as is customer support. SFA is used to support the sales process of a company or organization, and it offers Lead Management, Opportunity Management, Account & Contact Management, Sales Pipeline Management, Sales Forecasting, Sales Analytics, as well as many other features, depending on the application.

Corporations have learned that by utilizing technology in their day to day processes, they can automate virtually their entire sales force teams and save countless hours that would otherwise be wasted. CRM and SFA are becoming more popular with time, and even Microsoft has expanded to include CRM in their list of many bells and whistles. CRM includes all aspects of interaction a company has with its customer, whether it be sales or service related.

It is certain, new technology has changed the way businesses and organizations approach their CRM strategy, and this has paved the way for new trends and customer growth. Businesses are able to customize their customers' experiences and therefore grow at a steady rate. CRM is a vital part of any business plan, and the technology just keeps getting better.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Microsoft CRM Data Migration ? Overview For Consultant Developer

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 is now parading and triggering Microsoft CRM installation, implementation, customization, data conversion, upgrade and migration interest. We often see the questions on data import and massage options to Microsoft CRM from such systems as ACT!, custom Oracle, DB2, MS SQL Server databases, in all these cases IT departments should do their homework and understand their options, up to the point of making data massaging through Microsoft CRM SDK C# or VB.Net programming (if they have resources or could afford contract programmers)

? Built-in Migration tool. You can only import master records, such as leads and contacts. Please, be advised not to rely on this migration, if you are looking to migrate your ACT! history (activities, transactions, etc.)

? Scribe. Well ? we have to admit that these folks are experts and their tools are excellent (the best you could find). Scribe itself however may require to have experienced IT people in staff. In our experience ? customers are asking for help in deploying scribe migration, especially integration with Microsoft Great Plains/Dynamics GP 9.0 or 8.0. Scribe is catching up with migration tool, you may see natural delays with such features as duplication recognition (when you already have the lead, account, contact with similar phone number, email, contact name, etc.)

? Microsoft CRM SDK Programming. Technically ? this way can resolve all your issues, however the price and learning curve may be negative factor. Typically, as our experience indicates ? developer should have 2-3 MS CRM SDK mid-size customization projects under his/her belt to do the job seamlessly.

? ACT! SDK Programming. Normally Scribe can do the job, however in some exotic cases when customer is using newest version of ACT! (and Scribe is not ready with its scripts) ? you can deploy ACT! SDK to get access to ACT data and create automatic migration script (in concert with MS CRM 3.0/1.2 SDK Programming)

? Microsoft CRM Upgrade. Usually from 1.0 or 1.2 to 3.0. Please check with us if you have issues. Microsoft CRM 3.0 has multiple redesigned structures. We plan to publish dedicated to MS Dynamics CRM 3.0 upgrade article

Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer at Alba Spectrum Technologies ( ) - Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains, Navision, Axapta MS CRM, Oracle Financials and IBM Lotus Domino Partner

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Corporate Accounting: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Implementation for large corporation ? overview

Since December 2005 we are talking about Microsoft CRM version 3.0.  In the case of established corporate business we usually deal with such legacy environment as IBM Lotus Notes Domino

Since December 2005 we are talking about Microsoft CRM version 3.0.  In the case of established corporate business we usually deal with such legacy environment as IBM Lotus Notes Domino (predecessor of all the modern CRM applications as well as legitimate generic CRM platform), integration with Microsoft (such as MS SQL Server) and non-Microsoft database platforms and applications: Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Financials and custom Oracle databases, IBM AS/400 and RS6000 DB2 applications, SUN Java II EJB (as eCommerce front and back ends).  Microsoft CRM should be integrated with existing applications and there is no way to simply switch all the corporate ERP to become Microsoft Windows workshop.  Let?s look at Corporate MRP for large corporation and how Microsoft CRM 3.0 could contribute and be a part of its computer environment.

  • Sales Module.  You should probably begin with simple.  If you are facing sales department reshaping (from computerization standpoint) ? you can apply all your MCSE skills and knowledge to install, integrate (with MS Exchange, Active Directory, custom MS SQL databases) and train Sales people to use MS CRM as their sales automation software.  It is pretty intuitive: you register Sales Lead, then move it to the Opportunity (where you can create a quote), then move it to Account/Customer and then you can use MS CRM Outlook client to print Sales Quote with Microsoft Mail Merge technology (MS Word format template with your company logo and quotation lines).  If you start with Sales module ? the investment (MS CRM software license cost) will be optimized/minimized ? all the other departments will be working with their ?legacy? CRM applications, such as Siebel, SalesLogix, Lotus Notes Domino, custom CRM systems, etc.
  • MS CRM Security.  Security comes one of the firsts when we are talking about corporate environment.  In MS CRM you have two conceptions: Owning and Sharing CRM objects.  You can share object with unlimited number of groups, the drawback of sharing ? shared object (Lead, Opportunity, Account, Contact) doesn?t show in my Leads, my Opportunities, my Accounts, etc. as well as in MS CRM Outlook client calendar
  • Integration with Microsoft Dynamics GP 9.0/Microsoft Great Plains.  Microsoft CRM 1.2 had Microsoft Great Plains CRM integration tool, utilizing BizTalk behind the scenes and our company used it to move MS CRM Customers and Orders into our Accounting ? Microsoft Great Plains 8.0.  With the version 3.0 of Microsoft CRM and Microsoft Dynamics GP 9.0 we see that Scribe Software is the champion with the integration between the two ? however Scribe Software dictates the price for its integration tool
  • Integration with IBM Lotus Notes Domino.  This was relatively long story.  Both Microsoft Business Solutions and Lotus Software were reluctant to recognize and support Microsoft CRM Lotus Notes Domino connector, written and supported by Alba Spectrum Technologies, beginning with MS CRM 1.2 and Lotus Notes 6.0 (when Java agents were introduced for IBM Lotus Domino).  Then, when Microsoft Business Solutions lost Microsoft CRM sales to such client as Caterpillar in LATAM to Saleslogix CRM ? Microsoft in Sao Paulo changed its position.  Now Alba Spectrum connector is recognized by Microsoft and is on the way to be recognized and recommended by IBM as well.  One of the main reasons to keep utilizing both CRM solutions: Lotus and Microsoft ? to optimize software licenses cost ? IBM Lotus licenses (used in Legal, Production/Manufacturing, Customer Support) and Microsoft CRM licenses (used in Sales & Marketing departments)
  • International Considerations.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM is preferred Microsoft Business Solutions CRM worldwide, however Microsoft Dynamics AX (Microsoft Axapta) and Microsoft Dynamics NAV (Microsoft Navision/Navision Attain) have their own CRM modules.  Integration between Microsoft Great Plains exists, plus integration with Navision and Axapta is and will be available through third parties.  If you are Multinational corporation with manufacturing facilities in Latin America, Brazil, Africa, Asia, Australia ? and you would like to use one of MBS ERP products in your headquarters: Axapta, Navision, Great Plains or Solomon (Microsoft Dynamics SL).  Localization question is relatively simple for Microsoft CRM 3.0 ? it is easily translated to Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Russian, Polish, Chinese, Dutch, Japanese, etc.
  • Competition.  We already mentioned Oracle E-Business Suite.  From SAP ? you should consider SAP Business One with its CRM module and integration with Microsoft Office/Outlook (this is not related to Mendocino SAP mySAP SAP R/3 or SAP all-in-One project with Microsoft ? SAP Business One has its own original integration with MS Office)

Please do not hesitate to call or email us: USA 1-866-528-0577, 1-630-961-5918

Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer at Alba Spectrum Technologies ( ) - Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains, Navision, Axapta MS CRM, Oracle Financials and IBM Lotus Domino Partner, serving corporate customers in the following industries: Aerospace & Defense, Medical & Healthcare, Distribution & Logistics, Hospitality, Banking & Finance, Wholesale & Retail, Chemicals, Oil & Gas, Placement & Recruiting, Advertising & Publishing, Textile, Pharmaceutical, Non-Profit, Beverages, Conglomerates, Apparels, Durables, Manufacturing and having locations in multiple states and internationally.

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