Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Implementation ? Leveraging Ms Office & Outlook User Experience
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0, as well as Microsoft CRM 1.2 has so-called MS Outlook client snap-ins. Also it uses MSDE installed on local machine (usually meaning laptop of the traveling MS CRM user) to store replicated MS CRM data for using it offline. It is probably true statement for each MRP, ERP or CRM system implementation, that it is not an easy process, part of the complexity and challenge comes from the need for users to get used and accommodate themselves to new user interface of the system, being implemented. In this small article we will show the ways how Microsoft decides this problem.
? Microsoft Outlook users experience. This would not be a big paradox to say that ?normal? office computer user spends a lot of her/his time working in Microsoft Outlook:
sending/receiving/reading/replying emails, working with calendar: appointments, to-dos, etc. And spending so much time working with MS Outlook, user can now intuitively accept new snap-ins.
? Intuitive User Interface. It is probably not winning by being overall intuitive, but considering huge number of Outlook users and their familiarity with the interface ? the idea to capitalize on the user skills comes natural. Looking back to 1999, when beta versions of MS CRM were in the popularization mode among Microsoft partners, the idea of having Outlook client for MS CRM was not met with applauding, but now we are slowly realizing the envision and foundation strategy. So, the idea is ? save on user training (or even nullify user training cost) ? users will naturally understand how to use Microsoft Dynamics CRM Outlook client interface.
? SAP & Microsoft Office. SAP has a project with Microsoft, where Microsoft is bridging mySAP & R/3 with Microsoft Office. As Microsoft Project Green (or current name is Microsoft Dynamics NAV, AX, GP, CRM, SL) the integration with Microsoft middleware, meaning MS Office, including Sharepoint, SQL Server and other technologies nowadays attributed to MS Windows platform, other leading ERP vendors realized the game rules. Microsoft CRM is obviously ahead of competition in this direction, being among the first Microsoft applications, staking on MS Office integration.
? Competition with SAP Business One. There are analytical prognoses, pointing out to the fact that such brightly designed applications as SAP Business One could be losing the ground if the owning software vendor doesn?t invest into the background technologies. The situation is kind of funny, because Microsoft holds the majority of the market of these technologies, and SAP Business One needs to be a friend to Microsoft to integrate with MS Office platform.
? CRM Market of the Future. On the wave of CRM vendors acquisitions and consolidation we could expect asymmetric answer from Microsoft competitors, where the market might be dramatically taken over (or retaken back from Microsoft CRM successes)
About the Author: Andrew Karasev is technical consultant at Alba Spectrum Technologies ( http://www.albaspectrum.com ) - 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