Back in September 2015, I wrote a post about the upcoming CRM 2016 features. Now that it’s been released, and we’ve all had a chance to let some of those very technical features sink in, it’s time to see how they benefit you as an end user. I can talk functional consultant features all day long, but unless it helps you with your processes, I may as well be Charlie Brown’s teacher.
The features I mentioned in my last post are as follows:
- One Drive
- Mobile Access
- Delve Functionality
- Cortana Analytics
Let me preface these features by saying that Dynamics CRM 2016 is currently only available online. All the functionality you get with a Microsoft 365 Account is amazing. If you think getting CRM Online alone will give you everything you want, don’t do it. You want, at minimum, an Office 365 Business Premium account where you have access to OneDrive for Business, Exchange Online and Full Office Programs such as Excel. This is your first decision – let me tell you the difference:
- Office 365 Business Essentials* will give you integrated emails with your Dynamics CRM environment giving you a great mobile experience, and you can connect CRM with OneDrive.
- Office 365 Business* will give you full Excel data update features and you can connect CRM with OneDrive but you will need to connect it to your external Exchange (get a good technical resource). You will also need to use the CRM for Outlook app, not the web browser, when accessing CRM, in order to ensure that you have your emails connected with your Dynamics CRM environment limiting your mobile experience.
- Office 365 Business Premium* will give you full functionality of exchange online connecting your emails with your Dynamics CRM environment for a great mobile experience, connect CRM with OneDrive, plus have access to analytics and delve functionality.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of functionality to be found within CRM without your 365 Business account, but if you want everything to work seamlessly the first time around without bringing in a specialist to get things running, go with the big picture.
Now let’s get into the great features:
This is Microsoft’s Online SharePoint. If you are using Google Drive, Dropbox, or one of the other many document storage tools out there to keep your documents in the cloud, you already know the value here. Being able to access the document from my personal laptop, my work environment and my tablet and phone – or even my colleague’s computer – well, pretty self-explanatory. However, let’s take it a step further and connect it to the Account that the sales rep is working on and the support group is managing. Perhaps the technical resource has sent out documentation, or change requests for the IT department to manage. The sales rep may need to reference those documents for the up-sell of new hardware and he won’t have to ask the support group – he’ll have them available at his fingertips.
Or, for example, your support team can manage all the documentation for a project or ongoing support management. Within a sales team, you can collaborate on your documents from the opportunity or the account, especially if there are multiple people talking to the potential client. Instead of going to your OneDrive however, you can do this all directly from within CRM, never leaving the application.
This is another area of Dynamics CRM 2016 that I think people just get. it’s one of those things that seems to work with individuals from the moment they see it – just like a smart phone (I’m sorry if you’re still using a flip phone, there is no mobile access for you). Microsoft has released apps in the Windows Store, App Store and Google Play. Here’s the link to the Microsoft instructions regarding installation. I like having the link handy for my clients. Almost everything within CRM is now available from your phone, whereas previously, only specific items were there. Your sales rep can update his opportunities from the road, your support person can update a case while on the road, and emails can be sent and associated with the appropriate record from your phone. Or, if you’re sick and working from your tablet in bed, everything is still there for you (but if you’re sick you should be sleeping and getting better). If you provide delivery services, drivers can use their phone or table to update the status of their deliveries. It’s all there and it’s really pretty and intuitive. If you can learn how to use CRM, and you use a smartphone, you don’t need formal training on this. This being said, Microsoft has a number of training tools available for you.
Now, this is brand new to all of us. It’s very cool. Have you ever gone to a social media site and you are presented with suggestions for you to look at based on what you’ve previously been looking at? Well, I think that’s the easiest way to describe this. Office Delve searches through your company and provides views of documents that might be interesting to you based on who modified the document, created it or viewed it. It’s Microsoft CRM’s suggestions for you instead of seeing the ads that you don’t want to see within social media. This is a feature that can be added to your dashboard so that you can keep up with what’s happening. Frequently people will release a new draft of a standard within an organization, or an HR document, but until that email notification goes out you have no idea it exists. Wouldn’t it be nice to see the latest and greatest corporate items showing up when they are created? I think this is a great feature that can be insanely useful if used properly. I can also see the value when the technical consultant releases an update to the “bug” list in the software, so that when I’m implementing that feature, I’ll know that an update was made to the document. It shows up on my dashboard, eliminating the need for me to bang my head against a wall trying to figure out the bug!
Cortana, Cortana, oh how we love having our own personal assistant. Don’t forget to ask her amusing things! I asked my voice support when hell would freeze over and I was told that my voice assistant had silicon, not religion. Definitely a good giggle. But in all seriousness, Microsoft has developed Cortana into a lot more than just a personal assistant. They have added Cortana Analytics: so much more than the secretary reminding you of your next appointment. Cortana is the personal assistant that knows what your client needs way before you even considered the option. She looks at all your data and automatically generates cross-selling recommendations based on what that client has been doing socially and what their preferences are. It’s incredible. Can you imagine opening up a dashboard each morning to see what you now need to present to your client because they followed a competitor’s Twitter account? And you didn’t have to look at Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and all those other social websites – Cortana Analytics handed it to you on a silver platter. I don’t know if you’re impressed, but I sure am.
Overall, if you are looking at implementing CRM, the new features have enhanced an already great Dynamics CRM and have made this release absolutely incredible. Don’t skimp and roll out just contact management. There is so much to be gained by bringing in the features that are already at your fingertips. Take the time to understand and implement them. I know I’ll be doing a lot more playing in my sandbox making sure that I know everything about them.
*Please note that there are further Microsoft 365 packages available. These three packages were the ones I chose to reference at the time of this posting. Please contact us via email or phone to discuss which package is best for you and your business and find out how we can bring incredible value to your organization.