In the first installment we discussed why it is so important for your CRM system not only to be integrated with Outlook but to be WELL integrated with Outlook. We also learned that I use both the Microsoft Dynamics CRM client and the Salesforce.com client on a daily basis which puts me in a fairly unique position to be able to compare the effectiveness of each. Which brings us to…
Reason # 6 – Application Integration in Outlook
When thinking about deploying a CRM system, it is important to consider the user interface that will be used to interact with the application. An unfamiliar or poor user interface can mean increased user training time, increased user process execution time, and user frustration (and I am speaking from experience here) all of which can result in low user adoption and a poor or failed CRM deployment.
Both Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com offer add-ins that provide access to their respective CRM records from Microsoft Office Outlook. In both cases, this results in an additional set of folders in the Outlook Mail area that can be used to access the various types of records. This is where the similarities end.
For the Salesforce.com add-in, I had to find and then check the ‘Add Salesforce.com folders in Outlook’ option in the Salesforce.com Options screen in order to enable the additional set of ‘salesforce.com’ folders in the Mail tab in Outlook. Having done so, when I click on one of these folders in Outlook (Accounts for example) the Salesforce.com website opens in a separate web browser with the Accounts tab selected. While this is useful, it ultimately amounts to a shortcut from Outlook to a totally separate application with a totally different interface.
Contrast this to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. When the Dynamics CRM for Outlook client is installed, I immediately get access to all of the CRM functionality and records from within the familiar Outlook application and user interface. For example, when I navigate to my CRM Accounts in Outlook (using the Outlook menu, Outlook buttons, Outlook Mail folders, or CRM Icons in Outlook), I am presented with the Accounts list and all Accounts functionality in the same Outlook pane where I view my email, calendar, contacts, or tasks. From there I can do all of my CRM tasks like create new records, do an Advanced Find query, mail merge to Word, export to Excel, run reports, etc. all without ever leaving Outlook or opening up a different application or learning an unfamiliar user interface.
While Salesforce.com provides a useful shortcut from Outlook to their CRM application, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is designed from the ground up to take full advantage of and extend the robust and familiar user interface of Microsoft Office Outlook for CRM functionality. This translates to reduced user training time, reduced user process execution time, increased user satisfaction, and increased user adoption resulting in a more successful CRM deployment. Consider this when evaluating Microsoft Dynamics CRM against Salesforce.com for your CRM deployment.
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