With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Seeing is Believing!

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Sometimes the hardest part of getting a CRM project off the ground is simply convincing executives and users what CRM can do.  Products like Microsoft Dynamics CRM are designed to be a platform and tailored to fit the unique needs of an organization.  That means it is sometimes difficult for people to conceptualize exactly how CRM will work for them.  They see a basic package, and have a difficult time seeing it meeting their needs.  They desperately want to believe that the technology will help them sell, reach new customers, penetrate current customers better and be more efficient in their processes.  However, they struggle to convey their needs and end up looking at many “solutions” hoping to see something that fits.  In the end, they decide to just make due with what they have, because they did not see “the answer.”

They way to change this is to engage on small design and proof of concept projects.  The beauty of a tool like Dynamics CRM is that you can procure it online and very quickly build out a functioning application that allows people to see their business processes in the application.  Whether it is taking advantage of the free 30 day trial offering online, or doing something a bit more in depth with a CRM partner, you have options that allow you to reduce the risk of committing to the wrong technology.

However, doing a pilot or proof of concept project correctly is important.  Before we begin, we like to have an agreed upon vision of our clients future with CRM.  What are the outcomes they hope to achieve once they are using a CRM application.  We then work with them to understand exactly what needs to be included in the proof of concept.  Enough to prove to them the capability of the tool, but not so much that it becomes difficult to manage or get done in a reasonable period of time.  We are not creating the end application.  Do not try and solve every business issue during the pilot.  Usually, we have 3 or 4 well defined proof points that we need to show.  Everyone needs to agree on the criteria that will be used to review the proof of concept, the period of time and who will be involved.  It is also important to use an organizations real data in the proof of concept.  It just makes it easier for them to visualize the solution.  Along with the proof of concept or pilot project, you want to gather enough requirements to understand what type of investment will be needed to address the needs of the organization during the implementation.  Upon completion of a proof of concept, your partner should be able to provide you a detailed project plan and estimate for the implementation.

Committing to a proof of concept and requirements gathering prior to making your investment in CRM allows you to get accurate investment information, generate project enthusiasm and prove out the technology platform.  The result is a less risky project and a better understanding of the commitment and investment it will take to achieve your results.  When stuck in your selection of a CRM application, consider making the investment in a proof of concept and requirements gathering project.

By:  Mike Nafziger, RSM - Minnesota Dynamics CRM Partner

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