Considering that Microsoft Dynamics CRM version 4.0, first released in 2007, has literally reshaped the CRM landscape, the impact of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 will be considerable. It will provide a major step in user experience, personalisation, business intelligence, integration, flexibility, and productivity. And as its release draws closer, we’re able to provide some more in-depth information and details of some of the features and functions this exciting new product will offer.
The Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 User Experience
The new release offers the best Microsoft Outlook client experience yet. It enables CRM information to take full advantage of native Outlook functionality including previews and conditional formatting. A feature which is especially useful is the ability to highlight and flag CRM records – just as you would with an Outlook email.
A new contextual CRM ribbon for Outlook and browser clients delivers consistent Microsoft Office navigation and user experiences while the “reading pane” provides the user with an instant view of a record without having to open a new screen. Just as with Outlook, some people like this feature, others prefer not to use it, but either way it delivers user choice.
The user experience is also improved through guided process dialogs. This also saves time and means that organisations and businesses can provide Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 users with step-by-step guidance through any business process or interaction.
New advanced user personalization in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 allows users to create personal views, add commonly used records and design personal dashboards to measure performance. Building on the considerable success of the role tailored client with Microsoft Dynamics NAV, the role-based functionality, using role-based forms and views ensures users have fast access to the relevant information that they need. It also means they are prevented from seeing data that they are not authorized to view or don’t need to see.
The new business intelligence (BI) features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 add to the excellent reporting, search and data accessibility features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. These include full drill-down and high quality data visualisation.
The new real-time dashboards in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 are ahead of the curve compared with other CRM software solutions. They plug a significant gap in previous versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and offer true business intelligence capability in an easily digestible, quick and simple to use format.
The dashboard functionality enables organisations and users to rapidly configure multiple real-time dashboards and actively monitor business performance. All this improves the speed and quality of decision-making. Coming back to personalisation, the dashboards can be set up by each user and shared between users. They can also include inline charts with drill-down intelligence to visually navigate data, identify trends, and uncover new insights.
A further BI capability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is flexible goal management. This allows businesses to define key performance and business health indicators, and then accurately track and measure their progress against any organizational goal or metric.
Connecting to other Applications
It’s always been possible, with the right skills and resources, to connect or integrate Microsoft Dynamics CRM with other applications. However the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 new features and functions make it a lot easier to integrate the software with two other major Microsoft products: SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
Microsoft SharePoint Server is a natural bed-fellow for Microsoft Dynamics CRM as it provides a wide range of beneficial and complimentary functionality. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 provides “out of the box” integration with SharePoint document management, embedding contextual document repositories within Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
The release of Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009 R2, again due in the next couple of months, will provide “out of the box” integration between Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This will enable significant productivity improvements on the interaction between front and back office in any organisation.
Flexibility and Configuration
Although Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 provides tremendous scope for configuring and developing tailored solutions, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 takes this to a new level. Microsoft have listened to feedback from users and business partners worldwide and incorporated many small, yet significant changes. From a Microsoft business partner point of view, this gives us the ability to provide our customers with more options and new capabilities to meet their needs. Some of the highlights include:
- Custom activities and communications (no longer do we need to stick with “telephone call”, “appointment” etc.)
- Field level security
- Data auditing
- Tailored form experience
- Improved knowledge base and sales literature repository
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is Microsoft’s own hosted version of the application, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 helps business partners and end-users that are interested in developing the product in the cloud. Although at Concentrix we’ve been offering our own version of hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM since 2009, now we, and other qualified business partners, can develop and deploy custom code for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. This means we can make use of our skills and experience in developing highly tailored and integrated on-premise CRM solutions to deliver the same benefits on a “Cloud” subscription model.
And finally, don’t forget about the new Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace. This will make it easier to find, evaluate and deploy custom solutions and extensions for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.