When Choosing CRM Software, Discover the Strength in the Microsoft Stack

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM is an outstanding Sales, Marketing, and Customer Support solution.  Office SharePoint Server is an unrivaled collaboration, document, and information management platform.  Dynamics GP is a leader in the financial and business management realm.  Office is the top user productivity suite.  Collectively these and Microsoft’s other products are what Microsoft and its partners refer to as the “stack”.   While not an official term, describing their product line this way highlights the design philosophy that each application can build upon the others to give unified access and control of your business’ data.

Each of the products listed above stands out in its respective category, but Microsoft has also built them with interoperability and extensibility in mind.   So, while each product serves a particular area of your business, together they become a greater asset than just the sum of the parts.

In many companies, business knowledge and data is “siloed” or locked within the specific system the department uses, only sporadically crossing the boundaries between those departments in small amounts, usually in an ad-hoc and reactive manner, and frequently depending on someone else to provide it.  These are barriers that prevent employees from working most effectively, and decision makers from having access to timely information they need.  Workers are not given the full view of the information they need to be most efficient, and management lacks a cohesive view of the health of the organization.

For example, Sales Professionals maintains the relationships with your customers using a standalone package, but they may not have the visibility into the order fulfillment aspects to help further cultivate those relationships and identify new opportunities with existing and new customers.   Accounts Receivable may not have ready access to what was promised and what was delivered, resulting in a manual process of reconciling customer accounts.

Instead, by using the “stack” you can build a solution for your business that can help you to follow the sale from “cradle to grave” ensuring that each unit in your business has access to the information it needs to most effectively operate while giving superior automation, control, and intelligence to those who need it.

Solutions built on Microsoft’s “stack” accomplish this though the use of common tools and technologies that span their product line.  These technologies enjoy wide adoption and an extensive community of Microsoft Dynamics users.  For example Windows Workflow Foundation is a workflow engine that is built in to all the products listed above, allowing you to automate your business’ processes seamlessly from one department, system, or functional area to the next.   SQL Server is used for easy, flexible, and ubiquitous access to your data along with robust reporting, analytics, intelligence, and integration.

One the other hand, all-in-one solutions that try to package all of the functionality into one large package often end up requiring your business to adapt to the way it works, or the feature set it does or doesn’t provide rather than the other way around.  As well, they often require a special skill set to implement and maintain with a limited pool of supporting talent.

So when looking at systems to run your business, look beyond the particular applications that fill a need or solve a specific set of problems in your business and make sure that you are picking a solution that can integrate all areas of your business and truly propel your organization forward.

By John Voorhis, RSM, New Jersey Microsoft Dynamics Gold Certified Partner

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