How SharePoint, xRM, and Dynamics CRM Make an RPA. Part 1 of 2.

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It seems that as soon as we adapt to using terms like CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) we’re introduced to a whole new set of acronyms. ERP and CRM are considered LOB’s which stands for line of business applications. There are many different types of LOB applications ranging from finance, to logistics, to customer relationship management (CRM). In this article, we’ll focus on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the xRM framework. You may now be wondering what xRM is.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is designed with the functionality to manage your customers and their life cycles from marketing, to sales, to customer service. What if you want to manage your other business relationships in the same system, such as employee records, vendors, distributors, or properties? That’s where xRM comes into play. xRM stands for “Xtended” Relationship Management. The “x” part of the equation stands for any and all aspects of business, not just relationships with customers. It refers to any important relationship information a business needs to manage. xRM applications are created by modifying the existing capabilities, services, and point and click extensibility of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to quickly create customized line of business applications that suit the specific needs of your business.

Most business share a common goal of trying to improve quality, service, and the customer experience while minimizing operating costs and realizing profitability - easier said than done in most cases.

Another commonality among businesses is the use of Microsoft Office products for daily activities. Applications like Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint have become standard in most organizations. I’m sure throughout your career you have shared documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on an internal server with multiple users, versions, and edits. As a business grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage that information. What you may not know is that Microsoft SharePoint is a solution designed to solve that problem. With SharePoint 2010, users are able to work simultaneously with the same documents, data, and information to share ideas with colleagues, partners, and suppliers, and to deliver results regardless of where they are, or if they are connected to the internet or on the go. The best part is users can access documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and notes without worrying about whether the computer they use has the latest Office programs installed. The Office Web applications for Word, Excel, Microsoft Office PowerPoint®, and Microsoft Office OneNote® are all accessible through SharePoint.

What happens when you combine the power of SharePoint with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM, xRM framework? The answer is another acronym! Introducing… the RPA (Relational Productivity Application). The concept of the RPA is to integrate a collaborative application, i.e. SharePoint with a relational LOB application, i.e. Microsoft Dynamics CRM, to enable an even greater perspective on valuable customer information, tasks, and workflows. It centralizes disparate silos of information with one view and easy access (which can be restricted by user role or whatever security/compliance measures are required).

In part two of this post, I will discuss assessing your business needs for an RPA and whether or not to concentrate on pure relational LOB applications or put more emphasis on collaboration solutions.

 By Natalie Wilcox, NexusTek, Inc., your Denver, Colorado area Microsoft Certified Partner.