During my time in sales operations, a constant frustration is that quoting can be a real hassle inside of any CRM system. There are some great tools that help with making certain aspects like configuration much easier, but at the end of the day this is an area that can always be improved (both as the person doing the quoting as well as the person managing what can be quoted).
The recent announcement of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015, which is scheduled to come out in December 2014, comes with exciting updates to quoting products or services. I’ve submitted a blog post Three Ways Dynamics CRM 2015 Will Speed Up Quoting to the Hitachi Solutions CRM blog.
This is fantastic news for Dynamics CRM Online customers. With the increased cadence of feature releases from Microsoft, admins have been clammering for finer control over the update process. This brings clarity and centralization to the process.
Anyone who has talked to me about the last two releases of Dynamics CRM knows that I am a huge believer in the Sales Process functionality that Microsoft has developed. I think back to my Sales Operations days and can only shake my head at how much screwing around could have been avoided if this toolset was available today (for sales reps and for my team).
The CRM 2015 release preview brings even more excitement, as there are even more strides in the ability to guide users through a business process flow. In the last release, we were still limited to a very linear process flow. If there were indicators on an Opportunity that certain stages should be skipped or handled in a different order, it took lots of time for a clever BA or some custom development from an IT pro to make that happen. If the business wasn’t willing to invest in that, then the burden fell to the salesperson to “just know” what was relevant (which meant some people filled in everything while others filled out nothing…garbage data).
Soon, a simple configuration will allow conditional branching to stages based on criteria specified by the process. This capability will be baked right into the 2015 process flow designer, To the right I’ve included an image from the preview guide showing this conditional branching, which should layer very nicely with the existing Business Rules to show/hide relevant fields..
What this means is an even more intuitive experience for the business development team. Fewer refreshes and flickers on the page. Ask only for what’s needed…automate the rest. Get the management team the detail they need for forecasting and decisions, without burdening the sales organization with a bunch of busywork. This is useful in a variety of situations, including:
Keep it coming Microsoft Dynamics CRM Team!
Note: In this post I discuss future products and features that have been announced publicly but it is always important to remember that this is subject to change with the final release
Hot off the presses, Microsoft has announced Dynamics CRM 2015 and posted some pre-release information out to their CRM customer center website. This includes updates to both Dynamics CRM as well as Dynamics Marketing.
Here are some particulars of note:
As a partner and member of the CRM community, I’d like to offer this reminder to folks: back when MS announced the CRM 2013 Service Pack 1 (Spring 14 release) they also mentioned that there will be several changes in what the platform supports “for the next release” which they were terming the Fall Release, but is now (which is now called CRM 2015). Read the details over on the Dynamics CRM Blog to make sure you’re aware of some prep-work that may need to take place before upgrading to CRM 2015.
Microsoft has released the Dynamics CRM Spring 14 update (AKA Dynamics CRM 2013 Service Pack 1) and my team has been playing stump-the-chump with each other on all of the new features. PS, there’s a lot of them.
In a previous blog I covered the Microsoft increased focus on the CMO. Dynamics Marketing and Social Listening both drop with this release, but it doesn’t stop there. Below are a few other teasers of the new functionality.
There have been many situations, particularly in a customer service setting, where we need robust timers that can help manage expectations and highlight the good, bad, and sometimes ugly situations caused by delays.
The great part is that timers can be used all over the place. A couple of sales examples include managing response time and escalation for reseller quote requests or deal registration.
Customer Service Functionality
Microsoft isn’t banking on Parature for all of their Customer Service workload improvement. Far from it. The offering that comes with the spring update brings several key features that have required customization and configuration in the past:
Plenty of detail on Microsoft’s CRM updates website, which I must say has been much improved over the course of the last year or so. A couple of nuggets are the improved integration of the InsideView product (now renamed “Insights” for Dynamics CRM Online customers) and the updated Solution file versioning.
Additionally, Microsoft has released Unified Service Desk, which is a companion to Dynamics CRM to help in specific customer service settings.
Very cool stuff and I’m excited for more.
Just a couple of days ago, while many Dynamics CRM customers getting ready for Microsoft Convergence in Atlanta, Microsoft dropped a press release as well as a Bob Stutz blog post about some forthcoming functionality in the Dynamics CRM Spring release. Microsoft is making good on their more frequent release cadence for Dynamics CRM 2013.
I’ll be curious to get a pulse on the reaction of folks at Convergence, but at face value this is going to be a great update.
Microsoft has announced as of January 30, 2014 that is has reached an agreement to acquire Parature to help strengthen the customer service and service portal capabilities in the Dynamics product family.
At the beginning of 2013, Microsoft and Parature announced an alliance to deliver solutions. While there hasn’t been a lot of chirping around that relationship, the offering must have had some good appeal to warrant an acquisition.
Bob Stutz, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, has a blog post to offer his thoughts that accompanies the press release.
Tough to say at this point exactly how much Parature they’ll be showing at Convergence here in a month, but there will certainly be a buzz about it.
I’ve been a long time subscriber to the MS CRM team blog and the last year and a half has been pretty quiet.
With the release of CRM 2013 last month that’s all changed! They’ve published over 20 posts covering various aspects of the new release ranging from general functionality to technical deep dives. The content is jam-packed with information and I’d venture a guess that there will be more coming. Keep your eyes on the CRM team blog out on MSDN.
With the holiday season coming up, I’m planning on spending some time to highlight some of the more useful items buried inside of these posts.
I’ve been with Hitachi Solutions America for the last two years and we’ve been through rapid change and growth during that time. As a professional services organization, we needed to re-situate our infrastructure to be more flexible for our remote teams and expanding global workforce.
Microsoft posted a video yesterday that highlights our success in consolidating on Microsoft Dynamics cloud solutions (Dynamics CRM Online, Office 365, SharePoint Online). It’s been a team effort but the transition was pretty smooth (as smooth as any core IT change can be). I tip my cap to all of the people who have helped get us where we are!
Yesterday Microsoft hosted their official CRM 2013 launch event. Very well orchestrated, it was a combination of live professional video, prerecorded footage, and Skype calls between satellite events and viewing parties.
Honestly it was one of the best productions I’ve seen by them in quite a few years. I was reminded of the old Microsoft Extreme events around the turn of the century. They’d broadcast video feeds live to movie theaters across the country to show previews of their upcoming products (one of those was Office 2003 to set the time frame).
The CRM 2013 launch event revived that concept and took it to the next level. With Microsoft Studios in Redmond, the event at Convergence in Barcelona, and satellite events in NYC and Anaheim (at the CRM Extreme event, not related to MS Extreme referenced above). Microsoft showcased their offices, partners, and most of all their Dynamics customers who are excited about the new release…and spent quite a bit of time reminding folks to use their #CRM2013 hash tag (which has had some decent usage over the last 24 hours).
Microsoft kept the session very high level. They didn’t do feature/function demos or hype the technical capabilities of the system. Instead they focused on the experience–both for a CRM user as well as the customer. The consistent theme that was emphasized was that CRM can help “Make Happy”. While I’m not sure the slogan will resonate in any board meetings, the underlying message is critical and a key benefit of using the Dynamics CRM product.
Very excited for what’s to come!