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.
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.
A 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.
Dashboards 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.
Dashboards 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.