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Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Still Looking for Microsoft Dynamics CRM?

On November 1, 2016 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online was no longer available, replaced by something quite different named Microsoft Dynamics 365. It’s not widely known, but it IS STILL POSSIBLE to purchase Microsoft Dynamics CRM! Precisely how is explained here.


Thinking about Microsoft Dynamics CRM?

What can it do for my business? Here are some excellent videos that will help you understand the power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.


Demonstrations

Where can I get a demonstration? xRM has the five most frequently requested demonstrations available to prospects here:

Additionally, we recommend taking a look at some xRM videos that do an excellent job of explaining concepts in 60 seconds or less. Here are some of the more popular ones:


CRM Online

Microsoft CRM Online, which is the full set of CRM functions hosted by Microsoft, is no longer available. Instead, there is now a suite of different hosted products in a family known as Microsoft Dynamics 365, designed to replace the functions of CRM in varying ways, depending mainly on the size of your business, and the modules which you need. The best way to learn about this is to visit our Dynamics 365 site, and test it out yourself with a free Microsoft 365 Trial.

The offerings that most resembles what was Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is what is known as Dynamics 365 Enterprise Plan 1, which contains the full set of CRM modules at $115/user/month. If, however, you are looking for the Sales module in CRM, plus marketing lists and campaigns from the Marketing Module, then there is a special “SMB” offer running from December 1, 2016 to June 30th, 2017 for $40/user/month. Please contact us for details about this offering.


Partner Hosted

xRM offers a way to host an on-premises Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployment without having to purchase hardware or licenses. This can be achieved by leasing a Virtual Dedicated CRM Application server for as little as $65 per user per month, depending on the number of CRM users. This is good for companies that need direct access to the SQL database, or have very specific needs that are not compatible with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. It eliminates the need to invest in and manage the hardware and software required with an on-premises deployment..

For those interested in this option, please fill out this simple form.


On-premises

Microsoft Dynamics CRM supports on-premises deployments, meaning you purchase perpetual licenses and install everything behind your firewall on your hardware at your office location. For customers looking to make a one-time software purchase and then own the software, this is correct model for you. While we are not allowed to sell you the licensing, we can absolutely help you. First, we do so by providing you with a quick ballpark figure on what the perpetual licenses will cost you. In order to get a formal quote, you need to reach out to your large account reseller (LAR). They are the ones that can help you with a formal quote. For the time being, to come up with a good ballpark number simply multiply the number of users you have by $1,000 for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM client access license (CAL). Then add $7,500 for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM server license. An example would be a company that has 20 users. A good ballpark number would be $27,500. Since Microsoft Dynamics CRM has different types of client access licenses (Professional, Basic, Essential), and each has a different cost, your cost will depend on which licenses you need and purchase.

Our Price and License Guide page explains the various licenses.

It is also very important to note that Microsoft Dynamics CRM requires Windows and SQL licenses. The above ballpark number is only for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM licenses. When you contact your LAR for a formal quote make sure you let them how many of each license you need. If you do not have Windows and SQL then you will ask them to quote those as well.


Enterprise Agreements and Open Programs

The Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) offers the best value to organizations with 250 or more users. With an EA, you can manage your cloud services and volume software licenses under a single agreement. This also minimizes up-front costs by spreading payment over three years after locking in the best pricing. On top of that, it includes 24-by-7 tech support, a common IT platform across the entire organization, planning services, and end-user training.

Open programs provide a simple, cost-effective way to acquire the latest Microsoft software. Open programs offer a customizable platform and price advantages for volume purchasing. Microsoft offers Open programs to commercial businesses as well as government organizations, health organizations, educational institutions, qualifying 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations and multinational organizations.

An Open Value Subscription provides the lowest up-front costs of the Open program options. Open Value is recommended for small and midsize organizations with five or more users. It helps to manage software costs and simplify license management. It also provides Software Assurance, which includes training, deployment planning, software upgrades, and product support. You are able to reduce the total licensing costs in years when the desktop PC count declines. You also have the ability to add the single-platform option to an Open Value Subscription agreement.


Education

The Success Portal by xRM (a free self-help model) is perfect for prospects who want to roll up their sleeves and configure the product on their own but need a little help getting going. This is a resource provided by xRM and is absolutely free to prospects. It does require that they designate xRM as their partner of record (POR), explained further below. Some sample videos can be viewed on the Success Portal without POR as well.


Partner of record (POR)

What does it mean? The POR tells Microsoft which Microsoft Partner is primarily helping a customer with a product. For more information and directions, read the How to designate xRM as your Partner of Record page.


Where should I start?

I am really not sure where to start. Do you have any suggestions? xRM has a free video-driven course titled A Successful CRM Deployment. The course covers some of the most important topics and concepts that you should know. The course contains a dozen short videos. The approximate time required to watch all videos is 1.5 hours. You do not have to watch all the videos in one sitting; you can watch at your own pace and skip any videos you’re not interested in. Additionally, you can replay videos as needed until the fundamental concepts are clear. Quizzes are included for every video to test your knowledge or just for fun. To sign up for the A Successful CRM Deployment course, complete the following form: http://success.xrm.com/Home/Join


What is the CRM Online cancellation policy?

CRM Online has an annual commitment. Cancellation is allowed within the first 30 days of purchase at no fee. However, customers are responsible for paying for the first 30 days. If you continue your subscription past 30 days but would like to cancel before your annual term ends, then the cancellation fee is one month’s subscription charges. (This fee is currently waived but may be applied in the future).


What if we have fewer than five users?

We do not need five users. Can anyone help us? Yes, xRM has a special offering that caters to customers with fewer than five users. Everything you need to know is on the following website: www.hostedMSCRM.com


Data Migrations

How do I import my data from another program? Data migration can be challenging and time-consuming. To understand some of the challenges, please watch the video below.

Challenges of Data Migration

The Success Portal has many videos to assist you with data migration. The video below is an example of one of these videos. Other videos with more content will require a subscription to the Success Portal.

Templates for Data Import

The best method of populating your Microsoft Dynamics CRM instance with data will largely depend on the source of the data. For instance, if your Contact information is in Outlook, once you have installed the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Outlook Client, you can select the contacts in Outlook and click “Track in CRM” to bring them automatically into CRM. For data in other systems, exporting data in CSV format and importing that data into CRM is usually the best bet.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Integration with Other Systems

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a powerful and open framework that supports many types of integrations. One thing to remember is that every Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration has two sides: 1) Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and 2) the Target System. There are several common options for Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration with other systems, and the choice made often depends on several factors, such as the ease at which the Target System can be accessed, the skillset of your organization, and the timeframe by which you need a solution. We have included a simple but thorough questionnaire further below to help guide the approach, but first we should explain the common choices:

  • Available Connectors – Research should always be done to determine if there are connectors between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the Target System readily available. Since Microsoft Dynamics CRM has become so popular, many common such “connectors” exist, and some are offered free by the Target System publisher. In other cases, companies have stepped in to offer the connector as a service. An example is our xRM QuickBooks Integration for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which integrates QuickBooks Online with current versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
  • Web Services API – Since Microsoft Dynamics CRM has a well-written and robust Application Programming Interface (API) and a useful Microsoft Dynamics CRM Software Development Kit (SDK), the creation, reading, updating, and deletion of records can be performed programmatically by consuming what are known as “Web Services” that are automatically in place when you purchase a subscription to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. If the Target System also has a Web Service API, then it’s possible to create solutions programmatically that can consume these MS Dynamics CRM web services and perform your business objectives between the two systems.
  • Local Target API – Sometime, the Target System is a locally installed system that doesn’t have a Web Service API, but has some kind of API that can be accessed locally. In that case, it should be possible to create software in your environment that works with the API locally and uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM Web Services to communicate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
  • SSIS – If the Target System is SQL-based, and if there are readily available “SSIS Packages” for the Target System, then SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) is often a possibility. There are companies that offer SSIS Packages for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
  • Third Party Tools – Very often, we find that the most cost-effective Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration options are with Third-Party Tools. Our personal favorite is Scribe, because no programming is necessary, since the Microsoft Dynamics CRM API has been built into the tool. Scribe has many specialized adapters for common software and databases, so that if the SQL database of the Target System is accessible, or if ODBC is supported, it’s possible to map fields and entities between the systems with Scribe, and schedule the Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration to run on whatever schedule you like.

By answering the following questions we can try and provide you with an estimate of what the Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration tools would cost.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Integration Questions:

What is the name of the Target system and the version?

Is the Target system cloud-based, or on-premises, on your server(s)?

What type of database is the Target system? SQL, Oracle, Other, Flat File? Proprietary? If proprietary, is it ODBC Supported?

What direction is the integration?

  • CRM > Target – this means that something is created in CRM, it shows up in Target.
    • What CRM Entities (Types of Records) need to show up in the Target System?
  • Target > CRM – this means that something is created in Target and it shows up in CRM.
    • What Target Entities (Types of Records) need to show up in CRM?

How frequent is the integration? Done once per week, once per day, every hour, every few minutes, or real-time/immediate?

What is the system of record and what are the business rules? Here are examples of Business Rules:

  • Example 1 – Partially bi-directional
    • Target is system of record for accounting. Rules:
      • Target Accounting data shows up in CRM, but it Read-Only in CRM.
      • When Target Accounting data is changed in Target, it’s updated in CRM.
    • CRM is the system of record for new Accounts. Rules:
      • When a CRM Account is created, an Account is created in Target.
      • When Accounts in Target are updated, they are updated in CRM.
      • When CRM Accounts are updated, they are updated in Target
  • Example 2 – Unidirectional Only
    • Target is system of record for accounting. Rules:
      • Target Accounting data shows up in CRM, but it is Read Only in CRM.
      • When Target Accounting data is changed in Target, it’s updated in CRM.
    • Target is system of record for Account management. Rules:
      • Target Accounts are created in Target and appear in CRM.
      • When Account is updated in Target, it’s updated in CRM.
      • CRM Accounts are read-only.

What is the scope of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Integration? Typically, this means:

  • How many entities (also known as database tables) would need to by integrated between the two systems. Here is an example of three entities (notice that Products and Product Line Items are counted as two entities – mainly because they are just that. With a 1:N relationship. This kind of thing is very important):
    • Products
    • Product Line Items
    • Opportunities

Finally, what is the business objective in Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration? An example would be “Provide Sales Professionals with access to CRM but NO access to our Accounting system with information about past sales history when making a sales call.” That’s a very, very common one.


Developing for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft provides an SDK with libraries and sample code to be able to communicate with the CRM system. Full CRUD (create, read, update and delete) operations are available via the SDK in addition to several transactions that CRM processes (for example executing a duplicate detection job). The current version of the SDK provided by Microsoft can be imported into Visual Studio and substantially minimizes the expertise necessary with the CRM application and allows any .Net developer to begin programming with CRM.

The SDK is available to download here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=50032. The download will include the libraries necessary to communicate with CRM, sample code, and other publicly available development tools from Microsoft.

If connecting to CRM using a non .Net programming language, Microsoft does provide a SOAP API to allow communication with the CRM systems. Authentication can be tricky depending on the type of implementation. xRM does offer a REST endpoint as well that removes the complexity around authentication for a non .Net programmer to access CRM. Please click here to find more information on our wrapper service.


How much will configuration and customization cost our company?

Unfortunately, there is no easy or quick answer because it really depends on what your specific requirements are. If you join a webinar for a demonstration, or watch the demonstration videos we have created, and what you see will work for your company, there may be very little customization at all. If you feel that you need critical functions or modules that are not present, then some customization may be required. The good news here is that because Microsoft Dynamics CRM is especially flexible and customizable with no programming, depending on your technical prowess and availability, you very well might be capable of configuring and customizing Microsoft Dynamics CRM on your own. However, it does require a disciplined approach, and we certainly recommend using xRM as a partner if you are not able to make the necessary time commitments. Most users have to focus on running their business or doing their job, so taking on CRM all by themselves might be too much to handle. Even if you are going to do everything on your own, we absolutely recommend understanding and defining what your requirements are before you buy Dynamics CRM.

If you have already defined clear requirements, simply email those to crmonline@xRM.com, and they should be able to provide you with a level of effort (LOE) or fixed statement of work (SOW) if that is what you prefer.

If you haven’t defined your requirements yet, xRM can help.

  • They can help you define your requirements via their CRM QuickStart Blueprint offering or Strategic Analysis (also see strategic-analysis.pdf) offering.

Hiring a partner to help

Expect Microsoft partners to charge for their services. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the cost and services to be performed. xRM has two very flexible services models:

  1. Customer-Managed Model
  2. xRM-Managed Model

Training

xRM QuickStart Training is a great way to start. It is a one-time discounted training package to help customers get going. The sessions can be recorded and downloaded.