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
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.
Microsoft 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 the 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.