Category Archives: Reporting

Business Reasons for Upgrading Your CRM System

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 – Business Reasons for Upgrading  

Dynamics CRM 2011 has a long list of added features that make it a desirable upgrade for a company currently on a previous version of Dynamics CRM. While these features are meaningful and easily digested by technology professionals that work with CRM, it can be more difficult to communicate the advantages of an upgrade to C-Suite executives so that budgets are approved.

The following list represents core benefits that can be communicated to executive level staff in a way that will resonate with them.

Sales Goal Management

Sales leaders and individual sales professionals now have the ability to set and track sales activity metrics.

Dashboards & Charts

Default dashboard views for each user can be defined at an organization level. Each user has the ability to configure unique dashboards for their use. Charts can be added throughout the application to provide a graphical representation of data.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auditing

Tracking changes on company, contact, prospect and other data in CRM is native. This contributes to user adoption and advances the reality of a “one view” of all corporate client data.

Simplified System Ehancements

The forms in CRM are now easier to enhance and the time to implement needed functionality is reduced. This is an improvement on existing functionality so that the system can be configured as business needs change.

Processes

The Processes “Dialog” feature provides interactive guidance to each professional as they use the CRM system. This guides users through the completion of tasks in CRM.

Client Record Ownership

Multiple professionals across multiple divisions can be assigned as account owners to a single client. This will better define what business divisions have ownership related to a client relationship.

SharePoint Integration (Document Management)

SharePoint 2007/2010 integration is a standard feature that can be used to share documents that need to be accessible both SharePoint and CRM.

Field Level Security

Individual records through the system can be displayed or hidden based on business division, group or individual permissions.

– Tim Thorpe

A special thanks to guest blogger Tim Thorpe who is the Director, Global Marketing & Communications at Black & Veatch Corporation based in Overland Park, KS.  You can reach Tim at + 1 913-458-8415 or via email at ThorpeTN@BV.com.  More about Tim can also be found at his About.Me site!

Note.  Special thanks to Jon Strand for the original comprehensive list that these topics were drawn from. You can visit John Strand’s blog here.

CRM Takes Another Step Forward with Mobile Dashboards!

“Dashboards on my iPad?” you ask.  Yep.

We are seeing considerable excitement within the CRM community about this latest innovation, and for good reasons:  1) Mobile Dashboards are useful, 2) Mobile Dashboards deliver great value to businesses, and 3) Mobile Dashboards will help Dynamics CRM partners meet customer needs and close business.

One of the great new capabilities delivered by Microsoft in Dynamics CRM 2011 was embedded dashboards. Now CWR Mobility has made those available on your mobile device – iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 6.5. Mobile Dashboards provide data visualization; high-level graphical views that turn CRM data into actionable information for mobile users. Dashboards by themselves are a powerful tool when used from PCs, but they really take that power to a whole new level when they become available on tablets and smartphones.

Mobile Dashboards Deliver Great Value to Businesses

Mobile Dashboards now enable a company’s mobile employees – such as those in field sales, field service, or field marketing — to track the things that really matter to them in their business role, from wherever they are, whenever, in real-time. This leads to a state of continually being on top of the things that matter most…being on top of their part of the business. When a customer-facing organization is better informed, cycle times are reduced, responsiveness is increased, and actions are better targeted. If you’re wondering how important this new capability is, just try showing it to a field sales rep and watch their reaction.

CWR Mobility mobile dashboards are easy, flexible and real-time. As an inherent feature of CWR Mobile CRM 2011, they are easy to access and can support any dashboard based on a native dashboard in Dynamics CRM 2011. In this initial release, version 5.0.1.0, CWR Mobile CRM 2011 dashboards are available when a user has mobile internet connectivity, and they can pull any of these online dashboards in real-time, so the user will always have an up to date view of information. Mobile dashboards are read-only in this release; in time, we envision mobile dashboards supporting interactive drilldown capabilities.

Mobile Dashboards Will Help Partners Meet Customer Needs and Close Business

Mobile Dashboards are also great news for Dynamics CRM partners, because they deliver great business value for companies and can really catch a customer’s imagination. As a Dynamics CRM Partner, mobile dashboards are a great new capability to add to your standard customer demos, and you should consider leading with them. Show your customer an example of a mobile dashboard that is specific to their business. This is easy to do since CWR Mobile CRM Mobile Dashboards support any Dynamics CRM 2011 native dashboard. Create a customer dashboard and then demo it to your customer on an iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry or Windows Phone 6.5 device. Again, CWR Mobile CRM 2011 makes this easy.

You can learn more about CWR Mobile CRM mobile dashboards here.  And you can add a free trial of mobile dashboards in CWR Mobile CRM 2011 by clicking here — if you use Dynamics CRM Online, you can do it within minutes. Check out mobile dashboards today!

Stefan Burak

Vice President, Sales and Partners, Americas

CWR Mobility BV

cwrmobility.com

 

Time to put your CRM system on a features diet!

Yes it’s true when your company departmental leadership team gets finished with a CRM project they have included the sky, the moon and the stars as desired functionality but what you get as a user is a bloated unusable CRM system.

My recommendation is to put your CRM platform on a CRM features diet and get lean and mean if you want strong user adoption.  The key message is priorities your features & configurations based on the benefits you are trying to deliver to the end user community ala sales, marketing and service teams who have to live within the system you build.

Ideas on how to execute on your CRM features diet to create immediate impact or benefit to the user might be:

  • Clean up forms and only include required database fields.  Ask yourself why you need specific information and when was the last time anyone used a specific field.
  • Provide drop down selections to keep data consistent and clean.
  • Integrate with 3rd party data providers to insure data is up to date and relevant.  My personal favorite can be found here!
  • Build automated process to eliminate repetitive tasks.
  • Call your top 3 sales, service and marketing eagles up and ask them what can be done in the CRM platform to deliver a better solution.
  • Consider a cloud based deployment to minimize IT involvement.
  • Incorporate a 3rd party marketing tool to drive drip marketing campaigns that provide relevant and actionable data.
  • Ask the users what personalization they are after and then deliver it by role in a real time dashboard!
  • Eliminate screens, commands, views and reports not relevant to the targeted users.
  • Toss in telephony integration with screen pops to give back something to users!
  • CRM now equals mobile so make sure you deliver on this as a top user priority.

Make CRM system adjustments a ongoing priority and your organization will demonstrate successful, repeatable processes with performance measurements that will deliver strong CRM user adoption.

– Tracy

Time to have TSA x-ray your CRM evaluation?

The hot topic of the week of course is the TSA body scanners and the revealing images they produce.  A need to prevent such unwanted exposure has spawned an inventor who created TSA-proof underwear to shield private parts from x-ray machines, prying eyes!  The good news with this debate is that you can opt out of the body scan, but watch out for the ensuing dreaded pat down if you choose to do so.

I am starting to think that customers should incorporate a bit of TSA like x-rays procedures during their evaluation of CRM solutions.  I say this because I continue to run into so many customers who are dissatisfied with their current CRM systems, but are stuck in subscription contracts that prevent them from gaining the value they believed they bought into. My goal with this weeks blog is to try and help you avoid some of the issues I continue to encounter in the trenches.

Below is a short list of items to drill deep on when evaluating your first or next CRM platform to prevent possible regrets or low return on investment:

  •  Hidden Costs - This can bite you in so many ways so look at areas of data migration; early contract termination; costs of reducing users; training fees; data-ownership issues; integration; customization; data storage; mobility & reporting.  In addition, make sure you are not sold on entry level pricing with incorrect functionality if multiple versions are available.
  • Performance – Look for performance white papers and scale testing options based on your data set and configuration.
  • Missing Functionality - A vendor demo can be a bit misleading.  My suggestion is to validate and re-validate your requirements against solution capabilities to insure what you require is core functionality provided.
  • Support -Who is providing this when issue arise? Find out if this comes from the vendor or implementation partner and at what cost per incident?
  • Training Materials - What is free and what will be required to insure driving proper adoption.  See Is CRM training that important?
  • Vendor Stability - What kind of dollars are being invested in R&D and will your vendor be around in 3 to 5 years to support you?  See Gartner Market Share: CRM Software, Worldwide, 2009.
  • Software License Agreements -What happens if your SaaS CRM system goes down?  Does your SaaS CRM strategy have a parachute?
  • Open Architecture - This is important to understand in case you need to develop future integrations or move to another vendor.
  • Deployment Options -What if you decide that a SaaS model is too expensive long term and need to migrate on premise? 
  • Customer Evidence -It is never a good idea to be the first at anything including the first person to go through the TSA body scanner…can you imagine how many people looked at that first image?  Make sure your CRM vendor can provide some form of evidence that what you are asking to do within their system has been done before.

Resources links – See Gartner Blog CRM and Innovation Spending in 2010Forrester WaveSaaS & On-premises.

CRM vendor transparency and incorporation of this x-ray procedure checklist will help create a recipe for making the right choice during your CRM solution selection process.

–          Tracy

Disclaimer – References in this blog post to TSA, body scanning, product and pad downs are not an endorsement or rebuttal of the need or opposition to these topics but I would love your opinion!

Supersized reports with your CRM?

Should we really be super-sizing our meals or anything for that matter?  I think most of us have learned over the past decade that going big is not always best.  I remember 30+ years ago when this picture was taken that an individuals options were limited and ordering fast-food meals provided a right size experience.  So what does this have to do with CRM and reporting?  I see customers trying to implement CRM systems with supersized reporting requirements which can produce a disastrous user experience. 

I was at a customer function this past week and was asked about best practices directly tied to CRM dashboards and reporting.  The customer’s question was specific to report performance and user experience when individuals are empowered to create personalized dashboards or reports.  Could building personalized dashboards drawing from the entire CRM data model bring the CRM system to its knees?

The promise of most CRM platforms today is empowerment at the user level and surfacing actionable analytics to drive productivity.  Most CRM vendors featured in the Forrester Wave report are on the right track with this message, but customers must take the time to think this part of the CRM implementation out to manage expectation and work within CRM systems capabilities.

I will attempt to provide my recommendations when looking at this topic during requirements, planning, implementation build out, go live and ongoing maintenance.  I will try and break down the topic in buckets around reporting requirements, options & best practices to follow –

Reporting Options:

Reporting Requirements:

  • Executive views that provide all up snapshot of the complete dataset.
  • Manager views that provide regional or divisional sets of data.
  • Individual views that provide personal performance or territory analysis.
  • Broad need to view information that resides outside of CRM.

Reporting Best Practices:

  • Limited administration functions of report writing to prevent performance challenges.  Most CRM systems allow role based user access to lock this down to accommodate.
  • Pre-filter a report so that the dataset is manageable in size.
  • Limit a report to display information from a specified time period, rather than displaying all records in the CRM database.
  • Do not make a report with a large dataset or a complex query available on-demand to all users.
  • Schedule a snapshot in Report Manager during a time schedule when the system is lightly loaded.
  • Deploy the report through a CRM tool then use reporting platform to run the report at a scheduled time, with the results posted.
  • Move global dataset reporting outside of CRM for more complex data mining.

Suggestions:

  • Phase 1 CRM deployment should be supported with:
    • System supplied dashboards for all user types based on feedback. 
    • Incorporation of dynamic reports that auto refresh upon access will demonstrate strong productivity gains and drive system buy in. 
    • System canned views with option to personalize individual views.
  • Phase 2 adjustments should include:
    • Power user administrative rights to personalize dashboards and reports based on strong guidance. 
    • Feeds via iframe from legacy systems to augment system reporting can be introduced.
  • Phase 3 should open up:
    • À la carte to users you believe understand the creation, use cases and impacts of all reporting types.

Resources links – Microsoft BI, Crystal Reports., CRM Analytics, Forrester Wave, Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services, iframeSaaSOn-premises & Advanced find.

I always encourage system governance by a user and administrative CRM committee who meets on a monthly basis to discuss how to improve the use and adoption of any CRM systems.  Reporting should be one topic that is an ongoing debate in this process to insure user adoption.

–          Tracy