Dynamics CRM Journey – Translating Vision into Strategic Roadmap for Delivering Value

In a world of competing IT initiatives and technology investment options, many Dynamics CRM projects are blessed early on with the right ingredients for success:

  • Strong Executive Sponsorship
  • Commercial Funding / Budget
  • Creative Ideas and Hunger for Innovation
  • Active and Engaged Stakeholders

How can we channel this enthusiastic support into a clear path of value-added deliverables?

  • Start with a clear Vision. The executive leadership that sponsored and believes in this solution typically has very clear corporate or business objectives in mind when they approve the budget. Example vision statement: “Improve communication, productivity, and provide executive team with visibility to key sales performance metrics.”

This Vision statement should be a touchstone for the team throughout the project.  Are the ideas and desired features being discussed aligned with the Vision?

  • Rome was not built in a day – Create a Strategic Roadmap: Break down the Vision into smaller, discrete deliverables/objectives by actively engaging executive sponsors in reviewing and contributing to a milestone-driven roadmap that delivers incremental value based on agreed-upon priorities. For example:
  1. Phase 1 improves communication by building workflow to record sales in real-time within the CRM and allows Sales team to immediately begin using system to record activities.
  2. Phase 2 then delivers 5 key metric reports (Visibility) to management for sales-related data / performance (fed by the data collection functionality delivered in Phase 1)
  • Clearly Define Scope / Deliverables for each Phase Release. With a powerful and highly configurable tool like Dynamics CRM, it’s easy to get distracted by the power of the tool and begin adding more features than originally planned. Although these will be valuable in the long-term, additional scope slows down delivery of the planned phase release cycle. By defining the deliverables up-front with buy-in from stakeholders and executives, it will be much easier to release the planned functions on-time.

Please Note – Good ideas that come up during a project should not be tossed aside. They can be recorded in Parking Lot for possible inclusion in the next phase.  Sometimes it is important to change or add scope to a specific phase.  In those cases, the change should be reviewed and approved by executive sponsor or Steering Committee to ensure any impacts to cost or schedule are clearly communicated and approved in advance.

  • Embrace Governance:  Form a Steering Committee made up of key executive sponsors and system owners.  This group should meet regularly with the project team to help guide the creation of an appropriate roadmap, approve scope of each phased release, ensure buy-in from other parts of the organization, and be consistently kept abreast of project progress and risks.

This article was written by Juanita Schoen, Dynamics Project Manager for Tridea Partners. Tridea is a leading Microsoft Dynamics provider.

Who Needs a CRM Tool?

As a SCORE business mentor and presenter on business and technology, one of the questions I’m often asked is “do I need a CRM tool?”

I usually ask the person posing the question one in response, “Do you or will you have customers?”

For me, it’s really just that simple.  If you have customers and prospective customers you should be using a Customer Relationship Management tool. Period.

The next question I usually get then is “Why?”

This is where things get interesting.

There are many reasons why and they vary depending on the nature of the organization but here are a few questions I’ll ask just to get them started.

Do you remember every phone call conversation or email you’ve sent to a client or prospect over the past 5 years?  Do you think your salespeople can do that?  I guarantee you they can’t.    Someone might say “well, our sales cycles aren’t that long”.   Or I’ve heard variations on that theme “Oh we’re just a distributor, people call us and place an order or they don’t.”

Really…so you’re telling me that business is so good that when someone calls you and doesn’t place an order with you, you can afford to just ignore them and not bother following up?

Sales Statistics

But that’s Sales.  Perhaps you’re really great a making happy clients and you don’t need to worry about adding new customers.  You can just keep serving the ones you have.

Do you provide 100% customer satisfaction the first time, every time?   Nobody does!!!!    Do you know how many customer service issues your clients are experiencing?  How are you tracking that?  How long does it take to resolve a customer issue on average?  What’s the longest a customer has waited for their issue to be resolved this week/month/year?

You can't manage what you can't measure

Do you think it’s important for salespeople to know if a customer experienced some kind of customer service issue when they make or take a call with that customer?  Is an unhappy customer going to buy from you again?

How about Marketing.  We all know it’s important, especially for a small business.  You’re trying to get your name out there!   But what happens with that money you spend?  How many leads did you get from your various ad campaigns?  What happened to them?  What results are you getting from your website and search engine marketing (SEM)?   Did you get what you hoped/wanted from it?  Do you exhibit at a trade show or conference?  What did you get from that last year?   Was it worth it?  Are you going to attend again?

At the end of the day, the value of your company is your customers.   How are you managing them and what tools are you using for it?

At Tridea Partners, our team members bring decades of experience in Sales, Marketing & Customer Service.   How can we help you?

This post was written by Eric Klauss, Sales Executive at Tridea Partners. Tridea Partners is a leading provider of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  For more information contact sales@trideapartners.com.





Dynamics CRM 2015 – Can anyone now be a successful Sales Rep?

While attending Microsoft Convergence last month in Atlanta it is hard not to be impressed with the investment that Microsoft is making in Dynamics CRM 2015.  Many of the announcements can be classified as falling into two broad categories: improved integration with the Microsoft application “ecosystem” and the incorporation of sophisticated enabling technologies into Dynamics CRM:

  • Improved Integration with the Microsoft Application “Ecosystem”: The business value derived from using its suite of applications has always been a source of strength for the Microsoft brand and business. So it is not surprising that there were many announcements at Convergence on improving integration of these applications with Dynamics CRM. The list included integration improvements with OneNote, Excel, Outlook, Office 365, Exchange, Yammer, and SharePoint to name the most prominent.
  • Adding Sophisticated Enabling Technologies: Clearly an important focus best illustrated by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s comments during his keynote: “Businesses are hungry to seize new opportunities using technologies like machine learning and predictive analytics. Only when businesses create a culture that empowers everyone to have access to data and insight that drive action will they be positioned to truly transform.” So we heard a great deal about Dynamics CRM leveraging business intelligence (Power BI), data visualization, intelligent opportunity management, predictive lead scoring, self-service analytics, work flow, social engagement, and streaming analytics. All eventually available across a wide variety of platforms including Android and IOS.

Both of these developments will strongly enhance Dynamics CRM.  However, it is easy to forget amongst the plethora of technical capabilities that people drive the success of these tools in an organization.  More specifically, it is the Sales Representatives within a broader Sales and Marketing organization that drive the business value.  Therefore, a critical success factor is knowing the unique sales culture of a company including the attributes of its top sellers.  This drives the decisions on not only the features and functionalities of Dynamics CRM to deploy but the most successful technology adoption approach.

No, not everyone can be a successful Sales Rep just by providing them tools.  A successful implementation Partner needs to know more than just the technology.  At Tridea Partners we know Dynamics CRM but, more importantly, we know Sales people.

This article was written by Bob Cohen, Partner at Tridea Partners. Tridea is a leading Microsoft Dynamics provider serving CA, AZ, UT, CO, NH and surrounding regions.

Connector Error Between GP Sales Invoice to CRM Invoice

During a Dynamics GP Sales Invoice to Dynamics CRM Invoice sync using the Connector for Microsoft Dynamics, it failed on a number of records with the error “A record level exception has occurred for record 00011111. Error text: Business object not found”. The error details mention checking the TaxScheduleKey, the order/line price list or the customer’s billing address.

Connector Error Between GP Sales Invoice to CRM Invoice

While trying to re-sync the addresses, they failed stating it was unable to retrieve the customer address with a certain id. I cleared the More Addresses from the CRM Account and tried clearing out the Address 1 and Address 2 information in order to have a fresh sync. But when trying to clear out the Address Integration key fields, CRM failed saving the record.

In order to get around this problem, you can create a new Account and merge it with the problem Account. Select the newly created account as the master and then select all the fields from the old record except the address information.

Microsoft Dynamics Connector Error

With the new Account, you can first run a Connector integration to add the Address Integration keys and then a full Customer to Account sync.

With the addresses correct, the invoices successfully sync to CRM.

Written by Derek Finlinson, Dynamics CRM Technical Consultant for Tridea Partners. Tridea Partners is a Southern California based Dynamics CRM partner.

Faster eTrigue Marketing Automation for Dynamics CRM

In June of 2013, eTrigue announced in a press release that the latest version of its eTrigue Demand Center to Dynamics CRM integration takes advantage of the Bulk Data Load API that was made available in the prior quarter release of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM C# SDK for Visual Studio. The very technical phrasing of the announcement may have allowed its significance to slip by many managers who only want to know, “What value does this provide for me?”

The short answer is that it results in faster synchronization speeds for updates that contain multiple records. The bigger the batch, the more benefit experienced. Marketing Automation Systems and Sales Workflow Automation Systems often deal with large batches of data such as imported marketing lists and bulk e-mails consisting of thousands of records. These records are both loaded into the system in large batches, and updated in large batches.

The eTrigue Demand Center integration with Dynamics CRM is designed to synchronize leads, opportunities, campaigns, and campaign members (Marketing Lists in CRM) between the two systems. Prior to the update, when a large list was loaded into eTrigue, each record was loaded into Dynamics CRM as an individual transaction. Using the new Bulk Data Load API, the integration is able to bundle a large set of records into one message, and post it to CRM in a single transaction. This dramatically reduces the time required to synchronize eTrigue and Dynamics CRM.

Faster eTrigue Marketing Automation for Dynamics CRM
eTrigue Integration to Dynamics CRM

This post was written by George Sagen, Senior Application Consultant at Tridea Partners.

Tridea Partners is a Gold Certified Microsoft Dynamics Partner serving the Southern California and Salt Lake City Regions.