Is xRM Your Next Move From Access Or Filemaker?

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Application frameworks like xRM and Microsoft SharePoint can provide robust custom built applications that will meet any requirement you can provide in Access or FileMaker Pro.  You will get the added value of integration with other Microsoft productivity applications and familiar outlook or web based interfaces to increase your ROI, ease of use and user acceptance.

Past topics have discussed using SharePoint and Reporting Services to target areas of your business where Access or Excel may be overused for data collection, reporting, and analytics. In addition, the concept of Microsoft xRM/CRM as a platform and technology was also discussed. Today’s discussion will focus on using the flexible xRM platform to replace hard to manage and maintain customized solutions that you may have developed in Filemaker Pro or Access.

Chances are your Filemaker Pro and Access applications were developed because there just wasn’t a module or application available to meet the business needs you had - so you set out with the tools you had to create a new application from scratch.  Over time you added more functionality to the point where what started as a simple application is hard to support, hard to customize, undocumented, and yet is a vital part of your business.

If this application is being used to manage entities like people, places, events, assets or other custom records, you can take advantage of the xRM platform to move this vital custom business application to a platform that is supported, portable, current, and best of all, specifically designed to help you manage information in a business process.
Because the application you build in xRM is built on a business application platform instead of a raw database/forms development tool, the entities you create will be understood and things like dates, people, emails and documents will inherit appropriate capabilities if you use them in your application.

Additional advantages to using xRM over Access or Filemaker Pro include:

  •  Native communication capabilities for emailing and sharing information.
  •  Built in workflow engine to help you design business process using your custom entity data.
  •  Integration with your Outlook tool bar to allow easy access to the application with a consistent Outlook look and feel.
  •  Web based interface for access from anywhere without a client install.
  •  Metadata framework that provides addition of fields, labels, forms, etc as a business administrator and does not require a developer or DBA.
  •  A starting package of entities that you can modify including contacts, articles, activities and many more.
  •  Define relationships between entities that will automatically update the application appropriately without significant rework.
  •  Robust reporting and searching capabilities without requiring custom development to implement them.

Be sure to keep this new capability in mind before you decide to invest in additional functionality or new database projects with FileMaker Pro or Access.  Contact your partner of choice for more information on getting started.


By:  Neil Otto of   Meritide,   Minnesota Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner and Minneapolis GP Partner

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