Assistance PSA for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a truly versatile product allowing for customisation and development of xRM solutions to support your business processes. Out of the box, CRM provides tools to enable us to customise the product in order to work with and not against your organisation. Microsoft Dynamics CRM also allows for the use of managed solutions to enhance the existing software to provide tailored solutions for different industries or aspects of functionality.

Technology Management are happy to announce that we are now partners with Assistance Software and certified to deliver Assistance PSA, their solution for the professional services market. Assistance PSA provides a total solution for professional services that extends CRM to manage:

  • Project and Contract Management
  • Project Calculation and Estimation
  • Sales Forecasting
  • Project and Resource Planning
  • Activity Gantt Chart Planning
  • Time and Expense Registration
  • Invoicing

All of this from within a single application!

By utilising Assistance PSA within your Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation it truly provides a 360 degree view of your professional services delivery from opportunity management through to project completion.

Over the next few weeks I will be writing posts to cover different aspects of the solution however if you would like any more information in the mean time please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 – Charts

Welcome back to our discussion on new features in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. In my last post we found out how flexible and powerful the dashboard functionality is in this new version. One of the reasons for utilising dashboards is to get a quick overview of key areas of the business that you deal with. A good way to get at that information is through the use of charts and that is what we’ll concentrate on for today. There is a good reason to learn about charts in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and one of those reasons is because they are everywhere!

Inline Charts 1 Charts are based on views of data, such as ‘my open opportunities’ or ‘overdue cases’ and are graphical representations of that data. As with views you can create them from a system side and publish out to everyone or individual users can easily create charts to manage their own data. They are quick and easy to build and as soon as they are ready you can use them. But charts aren’t just pretty pictures, they automatically have the ability to drill through to underlining data based on filtering by any field in that record type and are looking at live data whenever you go into them. This makes them extremely powerful for getting a quick snapshot of your information with the ability to easily drill through to understand what is really going on.

Inline Charts 2 All of this is really nice from a dashboard view, but when I said everywhere…I mean everywhere. Whenever you go to any view/list of data you can easily display the relevant charts in-line with the records to get the graphical view of the records you are looking at.  In addition to this you still get the drill through Inline Charts 3ability and as you drill into the chart the records displayed in the view change to match the new filtered chart. This is great both from understanding the data in the charts as well as a great navigational aid for those of us that work better with images. All of this can of course still be managed direct within Outlook Inline Charts 4bringing excellent Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 functionality to users familiar with the Office Outlook program. 

 

Charting is central to the idea of providing users of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 with easy to access, clear data and it’s great to know that once you’ve put your information in it is really easy to get it out again in an intelligent way enabling better, more informed decisions and a greater understanding of your clients, opportunities, cases and any other information you keep.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 – Dashboards

Welcome back to my series of posts on new features in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. Today I will be talking about dashboards – one of the most significantly improved areas of this new version. It is important in any CRM system to be able to drive business process and capture relevant quality data, however it is equally important to be able to get that data out at the other end. Dashboards can be a useful method of quickly seeing an overview of different areas of the business all in one place. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 takes this several steps further turning what in most CRM products are typically static pretty pictures into interactive real-time charts that can give a snapshot right now, but with functionality to be able to drill into the data to understand what is really going on.

Dashboard Template Traditionally dashboards are time consuming beasts built through multiple reports exposed in a reporting layer of some kind. Microsoft have gone all out here to help companies build, manage and customise dashboards easily through use of dashboard templates. Most of my CRM 2011 demos have included showing potential and existing customers how they can build their own dashboards. This typically takes me less than 5 minutes! I spent an hour with a customer (an end user) last week and taught them how to build their own charts and dashboards and they are now happily managing this internally with no further assistance required.

Dashboard 1A few years back I worked for a large company in a Business Analyst role and remember writing dashboard specifications which disappeared into the IT department bottleneck resurfacing 3 months later when the requirements had changed. How much simpler and more powerful it is to arm the users with the tools to be able to manage these themselves and get real-time data back about the views they are truly interested in.

 

 

Dashboard 4Dashboards can be made up of a number of different types of data shown in different ways. Typically dashboards will contain a number of charts showing data such as; sales pipeline, cases by priority, leads by salesperson and lists of data such as my activities in the next 7 days or my overdue cases. However, you can also include web resources which can be managed centrally and then included in users dashboards. We have built dashboards with iFrames to specific websites (including customers other internal and external web based systems) and mapping solutions deployed to make users lives easier to manage all from one place.

Dashboard 3Dashboards in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 are designed to be easy to build, manage and use in lots of different ways. Once you see the power and flexibility of these it will be difficult for you to not be impressed. My best example of this is from a recent CRM 2011 demo. When I showed the potential customer the dashboard functionality the only response I received was…“I’ll take 2!”.

If you would like a demonstration of any of the new functionality in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 please get in touch.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 – Available In Outlook

In my last article I discussed the vision Microsoft has for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and some of the new features that are available. I now want to start looking at some the new features in more detail and talk about how they can benefit your company right now. Some of you might be surprised with me beginning in Outlook, especially as you could access CRM 4 from within Outlook as well. However this is like nothing we’ve seen before with a complete native interface to the product so many of us spend much of our lives in.

As I mentioned in my last post one of the biggest reasons for failures in CRM projects is user adoption issues. This means that it is imperative that users have an easy transition between systems and are able to work with a new product quickly and easily. The native Outlook interface enables users to work with CRM functionality directly within the Outlook client using the same tools and features they are used to using with their email client. If you want to create a new email head to

CRM in Outlook

your inbox and click new on the toolbar. Want to create an appointment – head to your calendar and click new. Want to create a new opportunity in your CRM system head to opportunities and click new on the same toolbar in the same way you use for your outlook activities. Want to add follow ups to your accounts, apply colour coded categories, conditional formatting or see a preview of your account before opening it…just do it in the same way you have always done. This makes the experience of accessing and using data so much simpler and streamlined for users cutting down on time spent working with the system and keeping costs down for training.

Email optionsMicrosoft Dynamics CRM 4 in Outlook was good, however the integration rather than native interface meant that some of the functionality was limited to key feature and this was best illustrated in Email options 2the options around email. Users could send emails from Outlook as they had always done but if you wanted to insert Knowledge Base Articles, CRM Templates or Sales Literature you had to go back into CRM to send the email from there. Now however all of this is available directly within Outlook bringing you all of the functionality and data from Microsoft Dynamics CRM direct into your Outlook Client.

This is one of the key aspects of Microsoft’s vision for a ‘familiar’ CRM system. In many of my training sessions users have commented on how easy it is use. One trainee even said “well it’s just Outlook isn’t it!”. Users like systems that feel familiar and fit in with their current day to day work. Users don’t like learning brand new systems that don’t fit in with their existing working practices. This is where the power of working with Microsoft comes in. Most of us already know how to use much of the Microsoft Office Suite and by implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 that works with these programs you get better buy-in and quicker acceptance of your CRM system, ensuring a successful implementation and delivering genuine benefits quicker.

The Vision for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is the latest incarnation of CRM software from Microsoft and part of their successful Dynamics range. We are already working on CRM 2011 projects and I can tell you that we are really excited about this version as it brings with it some fantastic new features aimed at delivering customers intelligent, familiar and connected business software that can help organisations increase revenue, maximise marketing efforts, improve customer service and help to build relationships across all aspects of the business.

I am one of the senior CRM consultants at Technology Management and over the next few weeks I and others in the CRM team will be writing a series of posts highlighting some of the new features available within the product such as real-time dashboards, native outlook interface, in-line charts, dialogs, role based forms and auditing. More importantly I will talk about how these can be used to implement excellent business solutions that can be deployed to deliver real benefits to the business.

If you like what you see and you’d like to find out more why not sign up for our Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Launch Event where you will get to meet some of the team and see demonstrations of the product.

Today I will start by briefly outlining the vision Microsoft had for this version of CRM. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is all about the ‘Power Of Productivity’ delivered through the 3 core concepts I briefly mentioned earlier; Familiar, Intelligent and Connected.

 

familiarFamiliar – One of the biggest failings in many CRM projects is low user adoption rates, Microsoft have strived to build a system that feels both natural and personal. With the native next-gen Outlook interface and MS Office fluent UI experience users already know how to navigate around and use many aspects of CRM 2011. Users can personalise the system so that they can easily and quickly access data that they need in the format they want through personal views, dashboards and conditional formatting. We can build a system for you that includes role based forms ensuring that users only see the fields they need for their jobs, meaning that screens are cleaner and user adoption rates are higher!

 

intelligent

Intelligent – This is one of the biggest areas of improvement since the last version and certainly leaps ahead of the competition. With real-time dashboards and contextual charts that that you can drill through to understand the data represented, companies have a quick and easy way to access data that is both insightful and actionable. The solid workflows of CRM 4 are still there with the addition of dialogs, a method of guided scripts that can reduce training, ramp-up time and provide end users with simple contextual screens to capture required data quickly, easily and structured for great reporting later on.

 

connected

Connected – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 delivers a collaborative and integrated experience. The ability to; easily capture business connections and social media data, contextual SharePoint  integration as a configuration option rather than development as in CRM 4, new customisation enhancements and the new dynamics marketplace with custom solutions and extensions lead to very exciting times. Microsoft are using the word xRM to define ‘anything relationship management’ and with the new features that a ‘connected’ CRM brings with it this time the opportunities really are endless…