Centricity360 is proud to announce a new partnership with Hubspot. We are now a Hubspot Sales Solutions Partner. HubSpot, if your don’t already know has a new CRM. Its a perfect sales tool for small and medium size businesses. The great part is it is FREE to use.
Over the weekend I had a chance to review an article by Lauren Carlson a CRM Analyst with Software Advice. I believe the purpose of the article is really to educate those considering investing time, energy and money in a hosted CRM solution that there is choice outside of Salesforce.com.
Lauren reviews 5 hosted CRM solutions that I am involved with or have had some involvement with and/or experience with in my past. I have had the opportunity of working at both Oracle and NetSuite. NetSuite being more suited to the SME marketplace. The Oracle CRM solution was spawned from the mega buyout of Siebel Systems. Many years ago I was involved with a practice implementing ACCPAC accounting applications for small businesses; this is where I first gain exposure to Sage CRM and of course when I originally started my consulting practice I was involved with SugarCRM. Today, having focused on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online for my clients I have add a kaleidoscope of experience with all of these solutions.
Each of these solutions has its plus and minuses. Review Lauren’s article below to get her take on “5 Cloud CRM Systems to Consider”
Salesforce Alternatives | 5 Cloud CRM Systems to Consider
Optimizing Performance for CRM Online 2011 – Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Team Blog – Site Home – MSDN Blogs
Internet Connectivity Bandwidth and Latency
Depending on how you configure CRM Online 2011, the application may need to make a number of round trips to the server to retrieve forms and data. This can have a real effect on performance especially when you consider the internet connectivity for a user or location. Even a high bandwidth connection can appear slow if the connection has a high degree of latency. Satellite links are an excellent example of this. A typical broadband Internet connection has latency of less than 100 ms, and 25 ms is desirable. A satellite Internet connection normally suffers from latency above 500 ms. When you have a lot of latency in your connections, you rarely “fill the pipe” with the amount of data it could theoretically handle. We have designed CRM Online to work best on networks with latency under 150 ms. There are a number of simple tools out there to measure bandwidth and latency. A common tool used is the ping command, but pinging the URLs used for CRM Online 2011 will not respond because we have disabled this for security reasons. You may also want to consider Visual Round Trip Analyzer , Fiddler, and httpwatch as alternative tools to measure network latency.
The latest Internet Explorer 9 is available from Microsoft. With the enhancements to the browser, the performance can be enhanced when using CRM 2011 with this browser. IE 9 is not a requirement to run CRM 2011 however. It is recommended to run the “Fix It” after install, for more details: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/282402
System Customization and Design
2. Consider your use of iFrames. More iFrames on a form will result in slightly longer form load times. If your iFrame is not on the form’s primary tab, use onClick Jscript for the tab on which the iFrame resides. This way the iFrame isn’t loading every time a record is opened, only when a user clicks that tab.
3. Consider the number of Sub-Grids added to the form. Each sub-grids used in a form is querying the CRM Online system in the background for a set of data to load into the grid. While the query executes in the background, each sub-grid control adds more HTML to the page and will take slightly longer to load as a result. With the recent update sub-grids are now loaded asychronously for better performance, however still keep in mind the more you have can still effect load time.
4. Consider using Role Based forms, CRM 2011 allows personal forms to display fields necessary pertaining to a user’s security role. This will auto hide certain fields that may not be necessary for all users.
5. Consider adjusting security roles to only allow users the functionality they need for specific records. The ribbon will update displaying the allowed functionality for the user for the specific records they are currently viewing. The less options displayed, may allow the ribbon to load faster.
6. Remove extraneous fields. Configure the form to only display fields needed for that record.
7. Check your machine. Be sure that your computer is suitable meeting the system requirements for CRM 2011. Note that the system requirements are minimal requirements needed to run CRM 2011 successfully (CRM 2011 Implementation Guide). However, increasing performance of a user’s machine based on hardware specs can increase performance as well.
Optimizing and Maintaining Microsoft Dynamics CRM White Paper
This link currently is focused on CRM 4.0, but still has relevant content that can help. An updated version will be released soon with two documents one for client and one for server.
Optimizing Performance in CRM Online Blog
http://blogs.msdn.com/b/dynamicscrmonline/archive/2010/05/24/optimizing-performance-in-crm-online.aspx (this has been directed towards CRM 4.0, however many of the tips are related to the latest release CRM 2011).
CRM Online Update Release 1 Information
To stay on top of what is happening now in the ERP, CRM, BI world, I recommend reading 180 Systems News and Views. Always informative and bleeding edge.
Read it here!
I read an article in the Globe and Mail this morning that really rings true for a lot of small business. Do we spend to much time trying to reward new customers and not enough marketing toward rewarding our existing customer base. Let’s not erode brand loyalty by alienating our premier customers and leave them out of our reward or discount programs. Rewarding your best customers in a way that recognizes their valued status is a key strategy that can keep people coming back to your business again and again.
Globe and Mail – Treat each customer the same, or reward the best?
I do enjoy working with non-profit organizations, helping them grow and implement new technology. It’s a great way to volunteer and gain experience at the same time. Today, Microsoft announced the availability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Non-Profits at a minimal cost for licenses. I think this could really help a lot of Canadian based Non-Profit’s to track not only donors and volunteers but it also has customizations for donation and pledge management, basic membership management, basic volunteer tracking, campaign management, dashboard reports, and support for online payment solutions. Very interesting! Read the article here:
News Press Release
Microsoft Announces Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Nonprofits and NGOs
In reading many articles over the weekend I came across an article from Computerworld on “Four Dirty Little Secrets of CRM Requirements Lists”, it really did hit a home run for me. The article really is a pattern interrupt in the common thinking that features and functionality is everything when it comes to evaluating a new CRM solution for your business. The secrets are these:
“Secret 1 – Features are less important than User Adoption…
Secret 2 – Features are less important than Data Credibility…
Secret 3 – Features are less important than Platform…
Secret 4 – Features are less important than Reliability…”
The two secrets that stand out for me are #1 and #2. In my experience with clients who have implemented CRM it’s less about features and functions and more about “how can my employees use this as an effective tool to make their life easier?” or “how can automating processes with CRM save time?”. When evaluating a CRM solution for your business ask yourself “what processes can I automate or improve” rather than looking at it in terms of what are all the functions and features that I need. Most of todays CRM have the fuctionality or can be customized to meet your needs. Data credibility is everything, that is why secret #2 is so critical. Without credible data your CRM system implementation will fail. Having a strong data migration plan that puts reliable data into the system so users can get started right away.
referring article Computerworld:
Microsoft is set to release (Soon I hope ;o)) an accelerator for Microsoft Dynamics CRM:
The solution looks like it could be a valuable tool for those running MSCRM and potential looking to track and measure their social media efforts. Here is a You Tube presentation on the product:
As I have mentioned in previous blog entries your customer data can increase the value of your business, don’t under estimate this value add, no matter how big or small your business is.
I recently read yet another blog posting (The Customer World blog worth reading, Treat Data With Respect) that reviewed a research article released by Royal Mail. Within the article it stated “an estimated 90 per cent of companies fail to exploit data they already hold on their customers!”
Here are some of the top findings from that report:
- Only 15 per cent of companies declare their data as an intangible asset on their balance sheets.
- Data is proven to be a fundamental asset. A firm understanding of a customer database can significantly bolster the bottom line and add value to the company itself, potentially adding millions to a sale price.
- Most companies are getting less than half of the potential value from their customer data.
By addressing the data problem, enterprises could potentially increase their value by up to 30 per cent. It is imperative that enterprises look at ways and means to design a customer data strategy road map and extract value from it.
However, for data to be trusted, it must be accurate, timely and reliable.
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An awesome, awesome posting! Let me reiterate one key phrase from this finding “By addressing the data problem, enterprises could potentially increase their value (business value) by up to 30 per cent”.
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Take that to the bank.
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I was reading an article today on itbusiness.ca and the initial situational analysis really captures some key business pains that typical Canadian companies have and it sets up a really good case for implementing a CRM application to improve business processes:
“John Brooks Company Ltd. was a mid-sized Canadian supplier with a serious problem: it didn’t really know what its salespeople were up to. To make matters worse, with the technology the company was using, there really wasn’t any way of finding out.
John Brooks, which supplies pumps, spray nozzles, filtration equipment and engineered systems to customers across Canada, tried two customer relationship management (CRM) solutions implementations. They both failed. The company ended up with islands of data across its seven Canadian offices.
Mike Sandor, director of IT for the Toronto company, says the lack of a centralized data store was a major threat to customer intelligence. The company would have situations where a sales rep would leave a territory and his notebook would come back displaying only a command prompt. “Everything’s just gone,” says Sandor. “So the new sales guy would walk in and say, ‘I’m from John Brooks,’ and the guy would just look at him and say, ‘Well, you were just here last month,’ and he’d have to say, ‘Well, I’m starting over.’ It was very embarrassing.”
In addition, every Friday, regional sales managers would get a stack of paper with “spreadsheets and God only knows what else” they had to make sense of, so they could coach and mentor their sales teams. The national quoting system data could not be understood either — a serious problem when you’re dealing with about 20,000 customers. And there was no sales activity management because some salespeople were working with Maximizer, some with Outlook and some with GoldMine.”
Here are some of the business pains that I see in this situation and how a CRM solution can easily solve them:
- “it didn’t really know what its salespeople were up to” and “there really wasn’t any way of finding out”. By implementing a CRM application that is accessible to key personnel throughout your organization it effectively opens communication on all account information. C level managers and sales managers can review accounts online and work with field sales people to close accounts. Open communication leads to great close rates.
- “The company ended up with islands of data across its seven Canadian offices” and “some salespeople were working with Maximizer, some with Outlook and some with GoldMine.” Consolidating the entire company onto one CRM application platform with one centralized database can negate any threat of salespeople leaving with critical information in their possession, prevent embarrassing situation like starting over with existing accounts and improve accessibility to critical customer intelligence. The more customer information to mine in your company database the better you know your customers, the greater chance of selling and up selling even more. “That’s gold. Jerry! Gold!”
- “regional sales managers would get a stack of paper with “spreadsheets and God only knows what else”. After implementing a CRM application the sales reporting process becomes much easier to maintain for everyone involved. Stacks of paper and spreadsheets get replaced with online visibility into sales funnels, opportunity and account management, forecasting, quotes and contracts etc. A truly more efficient way of doing business resulting in more pure selling time and customer service.
Mold CRM to fit your business Ensure workflow for users is eased, not complicated
by Adam Pletsch