Microsoft Dynamics CRM






Archive for February, 2007



Is CRM the same as BI ?

Posted in Microsoft CRM | February 28th, 2007 | No Comments »

CRM solutions are part of Business Intelligence Strategy

BI (Business Intelligence) is a management term that refers to technology solutions that gather business data, storing and disseminating information as and when required regarding company activities.

The rationale behind BI is that by monitoring key business metrics better decision making will result.

When you consider that a CRM solution deals with the front-office functions of a business (usually taken to mean Marketing, Sales and After Sales/Servicing) you can immediately see that BI encompasses far more than CRM solutions which do not address production or human relations for instance.

Placing your CRM solution in the context of a broader “holistic” view of your company is regarded as good business practice, but how that is implemented is a matter for great debate and requires careful planning and consideration.

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Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Posted in Microsoft CRM | February 27th, 2007 | No Comments »

CRM Solution Defined

As with any business or management acronym there tends to be an amorphous definition that drifts around the letters and CRM is no different.

The reason why we should look for a definition of CRM solutions however, is that most CRM projects fail due to over-estimating the delivery of results and not meeting user expectations that have been incorrectly inflated.

A CRM solution is a management and customer facing staff tool, usually automated and driven by a software package that captures information from the front office divisions of an enterprise and facilitates storage, access and dissemination of customer information when required and in a format that is readily understood by users.

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CRM Benefits

Posted in Microsoft CRM | February 26th, 2007 | No Comments »

Managing Customer Relationships is key to business success but what are the tangible benefits of implementing a CRM solution ?

One tangible benefit is to increase sales success by shortening the sales cycle and improving closing rates with better management of prospects and sales leads - an effective CRM will ensure you do not let sales opportunities slip through any sales management cracks in your existing sales systems.

Improved customer service and after-sales experience for your clients through your front-office functions being able to share customer information that is up-to-date and readily accessible from the office, remote location or on the road.

Better business decision making with management in possession of business and market trends as it happens, instead of “as it did happen” with more traditional sales and management reporting methods that are out of date by the time it gets to a decision maker.

Enhanced management control based upon accurate, up-to-date information that allows a macro or micro view of the business providing better forecasting ability, risk analysis and identification of opportunities.

Just some of the tangible benefits of a Customer Relationship Management solution, but there are so many more.

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CRM Implementation Issues

Posted in Microsoft CRM | February 25th, 2007 | No Comments »

Each company has differing needs and requirements that an effective Customer Relationship Management solution will need to address, so CRM solutions need to be flexible and adaptable.

Requirements such as contact management, sales cycle information, product information, pricing and promotional information, contact history and prospect and lead management all tend to be common denominators for business but how they utilize these will vary.

Implementing a CRM solution is best done step by step rather than an all encompassing, “let’s get it all done now” approach that attempts to deal with every facet of an organizations sales and business processes.

It is advisable to review and definitively identify the scope of the project and select those aspects that are to be implemented in phases so that each may be controlled and managed effectively. A phased solution also allows business management and your solution partner to be realistic about the timescales for implementation and the benefits that are to be expected from the CRM solution.

Once each phase of the CRM implementation has been completed it is essential to review it as the business will change and implementing a CRM solution will itself tend to lead to a revamp of business processes.

Adopting a phased approach to implementation also allows the end-users as well as management to come to grips with the CRM solution; people eventually make systems work and a successful CRM solution will fail if people do not adopt it while a less than ideal solution will also work if people like it and use it - the CRM is an extension of how staff do business, it is not an end in itself.

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Improving Customer Service with a CRM Solution

Posted in Microsoft CRM | February 24th, 2007 | No Comments »

Manage Customer Service, Enhance Your Business Image and Generate Huge Savings With Customer Retention

Investing in sales and lead generation to produce revenue is essential but expensive and once you have found your customers you need to keep them, or they simply go somewhere else.

A CRM solution for Customer Service will enhance your after-sales and customer service performance leading to increased customer retention and a reduction in the overall cost of revenue generation - it is cheaper and easier to generate revenue from existing customers than prospects.

Before you proceed you will need to address some key issues regarding how you manage customers now, such as how customers interact with your businesss? Is it done by telephone, mail, email, fax or all of them ? What support service standards do you already have in situ? How do you charge for these services? What is the management and line structure that deals with service issues, who is responsible for what happens, where and when?

Consideration of these and many other questions provide a valuable opportunity to define your requirements and realistically assess what a CRM for Customer Service can actually deliver to your business.

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Hosted or Web-Based CRM

Posted in Microsoft CRM | February 23rd, 2007 | No Comments »

Online CRM Solutions Accessible Anywhere

A web-based or hosted CRM solution is where the software sits on a server, very often hosted by a dedicated hosting company and your company staff access the CRM solution via the internet.

Such a CRM solution should be looked at for a workforce that is disparate or on the move, as long as they have access to DSL/broadband or better (if you are on dial-up stop reading this and consider upgrading your internet connection first).

The general move in software solutions generally is to web-based applications rather than hosted on a server at the business’ HQ or on individual PC’s. This reflects the increased security that is now available and a reduced total cost of ownership.

Depending on the CRM solution you select, and the CRM solution software partner you choose, you can find a CRM solution is more rapidly implemented. With such a CRM solution there tends to be no expensive hardware to purchase, install and maintain; the hosting or ASP (Application Service Provider) take care of that for you. Information tends to be transmitted to all users of client information faster in a scenario where users are mobile and geographically widespread, however the key benefit for web-based CRM solutions is accessibility.

Accessibility is greatly enhanced through a web-based CRM solution because as long as you have access to the internet you can access the CRM no matter where you are in the world - as long as you have the access rights of course!

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CRM and MS Outlook

Posted in Microsoft CRM | February 22nd, 2007 | No Comments »

Outlook Based CRM Advantages

CRM software developers have taken to heart that Microsoft software is used by virtually 90% of the business community and CRM solutions tend to be designed with MS Outlook in mind, and that includes non-Microsoft CRM developers.

The advantages for MS Outlook users of having an integrated CRM solution is that there is no endless switching between applications, this saves time and user frustration. There also tends to be a lower cost in training users as the CRM solution almost invariably acts as an extension of the Outlook client and users are already familiar with it. You should not underestimate the costs of providing training and especially user support which can become the largest cost item of implementing any software solution.

Using a MS Outlook integrated CRM solution also means that email communications are automatically logged and taken into the CRM database and ready for access by any of your front-office or customer service staff who need access to it whenever they need it.

Another advantage is that CRM solutions that have been designed with MS Outlook in mind, tend to have been developed on the Microsoft .NET platform and this allows for greater integration with the Outlook client and lends itself to web-based hosting far better.

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CRM for Verticals

Posted in Microsoft CRM | February 21st, 2007 | No Comments »

CRM for Specific Vertical Markets and Business Classes

CRM solution developers have been increasingly focusing their applications on specific markets so it’s not uncommon to see CRM solutions designed specifically for an industry such as Real Estate, Insurance, Medical and so forth.

Dedicated CRM solutions appear to be a reaction of the developers to increased competition in the market place, and remember we are not simply talking big, global enterprise class organizations here.

CRM solutions for small and mid-range businesses are also available, often with features commonly found in organizations of that size. No longer are CRM solutions just for the big boys, small companies can and are implementing CRM solutions in increasing numbers as the cost of ownership drops and the need for a competitive advantage drives demand for better customer management.

The usual approach with the larger developers is to have a series of modules that can be added on to the main application to cater for industry or business class specifics. Equally, it is not unusual for bespoke coding services to be brought in to tailor the out-of-the-box CRM solution to an individual business’ requirements, though this can become expensive and support issues need to be very carefully considered.

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CRM Predictions for 2007

Posted in Microsoft CRM | February 20th, 2007 | No Comments »

Mobile CRM

The Yankee Group predicts that this will be a fast growing segment of the CRM market as costs come down and mobile CRM becomes easier to use.

It predicts that this growth will also be fuelled by failed sales force automation solutions being replaced by new mobile CRM solutions.

If you’d like to read more about various industry experts on CRM developments for 2007 then click here.

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Microsoft Dynamics & SaaS

Posted in Microsoft CRM | February 19th, 2007 | No Comments »

Microsoft Dynamics takes CRM to SaaS

SaaS is Software as a Service, and if you are unsure as to what it means take a look at Google’s release of MS Office type applications such as the spreadsheet and word processor - except in Google’s case these applications are free, and SaaS is essentially a form of “leasing” the application based on what you use and accessed via the Web rather than you buying and installing it at base.

Microsoft Dynamics is now taking the plunge and moving CRM into the SaaS arena and it has been announced that Microsoft is now in the process of selecting partners through it’s Technology Adoption Program.

Read more about this here.

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