Microsoft Dynamics CRM: Relate Anything to Anything

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Most CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems are founded on the principle of relational data.  That is, records in the system can be related to other records in the system.  For example contacts, sales opportunities, customer support cases, and activities can all be related to company records in order to provide a complete picture of the relationship with the customer.  Basic record relationships like these are generally built-in to the CRM system out of the box since most organizations will need them to effectively manage their customer relationships.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM takes this a step further with its XRM (Xtended Relationship Management) concept.  With XRM, additional record types can be built to manage additional information as required by the organization.  These additional records can then be related to other records for an extended picture of the relationship with the customer.  I tend to think of these types of relationships as “hard” relationships because each one has built-in places to enter and manage the relationships between records.  An example of this that we created recently for a customer enables them to view all of the Software Maintenance Agreements for a particular customer and then drill down to the details of the Software Licenses covered by each agreement.

But what about all of the other associations between CRM records that don’t fit one of the built-in or configured relationships?  For example, we know from our CRM system that our customer contact Jim Smith is the VP of Sales at Worldwide Widgets.  But how do we track that Jim is a longtime friend of Bob Jones (they were college roommates at West State University) who is a consultant with Widget Consulting and who is on the decision making team for the sales opportunity we have for Amalgamated Widget?

In Dynamics CRM we can use the Connections functionality to relate any business record of any type with any other business record in the system.  We can further categorize these connections by Relationship Role and provide additional information about the relationship in  the Description field to make it clear how the records are related.  In this way we can manage all of the “soft” relationships that exist between records that do not fit the built-in or configured data relationships.

In our above example, we might create a Connection in CRM between Jim Smith and Bob Jones with a Relationship Role of “Friend” and a Description of “Jim and Bob have been friends ever since they were college roommates at West State University”.  We would also connect Bob Jones with our sales opportunity for Amalgamated Widget with a role of “Decision Maker” and a description of “Bob is an outside consultant on the decision making team”.  We could further connect both Jim Smith and Bob Jones to West State University with a Relationship Role of “Alumni” if desired.  We could then leverage our relationship with Jim to get an introduction to Bob that would help us learn more about the opportunity at Amalgamated.

As you can see the Connections functionality in Dynamics CRM enables end users to track any kind of relationship they can imagine.  Connections can handle all of the “soft” relationships that need to be managed that do not fit in to the built-in or configured system relationships.  These connections can then be used in powerful ways to enable users to achieve organizational objectives.

If your organization could benefit from the power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Connections or to address any other business objectives you might have, Please contact NexusTek at 303.773.6464.

by Nexus Tek, Colorado Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner

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