Get Out Of The Cube…And Into Dynamics CRM!

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Many business professionals today have found that working outside of the traditional office is a requirement for the job.  This can be for those workers lucky enough to be able to work from home as well as the seasoned road warrior who spends several days a week or month away from home base visiting clients.  One of the biggest challenges these remotely located individuals always face is how to access their company’s network and stay up to date with their colleagues.  Many solutions have been built for these folks;  the most commonly recognized is Outlook Web Access (or OWA).  Virtual Private Networks (VPN’s) allow users to dial into and remotely access the company network.  Some smaller businesses have even embraced Internet-based platforms for access to anything, anywhere, any time.

Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM has a few different options for these remotely located people as well.  Let’s examine them:

CRM Solution Description Pros Cons
On-Premise Options – Dynamics CRM is installed on a server owned by the company and is accessible on the company’s network.
VPN Connection Traditional way that professionals have been accessing CRM for some time.  This involves dialing into the VPN first, then launching Outlook (where the Dynamics CRM for Outlook client is installed) or an Internet browser (where the Dynamics CRM Web client can be accessed). •Provided the company already has a VPN set up, this is available to workers with no further action. •VPN access is not always available.
Internet-Facing Deployment New to Dynamics CRM 4.0, this enables the company to configure the on-premise CRM system so that it is accessible via a secure connection (using https) over the Internet.   The system can then be accessed anywhere in the world at any time. •No VPN access required. •More complicated to extend.
•Requires setup tasks from network expert who might not be familiar with CRM.
On Demand Options - Offload the storage of Dynamics CRM and its database to another location. This is usually selected by companies during their vetting process on which CRM Solution fits their organization from a technical and financial perspective.
Partner-Hosted Subscribe to a hosted solution by one of Microsoft’s many capable Partners. •No IT overhead.
•Less upfront investment in the software.
•Still able to capitalize on extensibility.
•Monthly subscription fees.
•Limitations in integration.
CRM Online from Microsoft Online CRM Solution provided directly from Microsoft. •No IT overhead, least monthly cost
•Enhanced functionality to assist with Web Lead capture.
•Envisioning charts easy to create and understand.
•Limitations in ability to extend and/or integrate mean that your company could outgrow the system and leave you with the work of migrating to an on-premise solution for the future.
Mobility Options - This is the scenario where an employee uses some version of a mobile device (i.e. Blackberry, iPhone, etc.) to enable him to do work while not in the office.
Mobile Express for CRM Microsoft offers a free application called Mobile Express that provides access to the core Dynamics CRM record types through an interface that is installed on the device. •Free download from Microsoft.
•No Internet connection necessary.
•Update the system from literally anywhere.
•Limited to a subset of core CRM record types.
•No ability to customize interface.
Mobility for CRM For a more robust solution, there are a couple of different products available, MobileAccess from TenDigits and CWR Mobility from CWR. •Robust features that include ability to customize interface.
•Additional capabilities with other smart phone functionality.
•Third party purchase and licensing cost.

So, how do you tell which is the right one for you?  There are a few key factors that immediately narrow down the field:

  • Is your CRM system integrated, or going to be integrated, to other systems in the future (like financial systems, website, and other back office systems)?  If so, then you most likely need to start with an on-premise solution for the most flexibility.
  • Do you have outside sales reps or field service reps that are constantly in need of updating the CRM system while at a client or where there is no access to the Internet?  Mobility for CRM is definitely something you should consider.
  • Are your company offices geographically far apart, like in different countries?  An Internet-facing Deployment may be the most efficient way to enable users across vast geographical distances to access and use the CRM system.
  • Are you a smaller business with no integration needs for the next 12-18 months and need to keep costs down?  Online Options were made just for you.

This is not an area to take shortcuts when evaluating what works best for your situation.  Visit Microsoft’s page on deployment options to get you started.

FMT Consultants is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner for Dynamics CRM and GP located in Carlsbad, California.  Visit our website at on Facebook at

Posted by Natasha Serrano of FMT Consultants, LLC, a California Microsoft Gold Certified Partner in Dynamics CRM and GP.

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