Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Working with people who know what they talk about

Today I was catching up reading some of the blogs I like to read, of course this is officially called doing research : - ) Nevertheless I find it very interesting to see if other people also share my ideas, think of same or new solutions or run into the same challenges (a.k.a. problems).

I was searching for some background on maintenance plans for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and read the article "What’s it worth to work with real experts" at Sonoma partners blog. I recognized the same situation in my country that sales persons at different shops don’t have a clue about what they are selling. The key issue how you select your right vendor for your CRM application was summarized in two questions and one in the comments:

Do you use Microsoft CRM internally?

Hmmm I think not a bad question, but did you read this article "US Enterprise Dynamics sales team deployment of Microsoft Dynamics CRM” at Menno’s blog? Just to give you another perspective ;-)

How many installation the vendor has completed from start to finish?
In the comments was pointed out that this would be unfair concerning startups etc. I agree, also track records or portfolios are written by marketing department and guess you known what might happen…

Is every consultant certified?

This question was suggested in the comments. Personally I still think that this wouldn’t give you a clue, because you could know the theory, but it will not guarantee the practical experience. Can I suggest ‘braindump’ for your exams?

So how do you select the right company?

Hmm very hard to say, of course I should say if they blog, select them : -) In general its, in my opinion, a combination of trust, knowledge and experience. You should be confident with project team, so ask for their profile and talk to them in person. You could check at their customers how their projects did go and check at Microsoft about their track record. This will give you a good idea, but it never will give you 100% guarantee, so there’s always some risk to consider.

It’s so easy or isn’t it?

I often get questions why projects of implementing MS CRM take longer, because the software is so easy to install and an ‘out of the box’ it can be up and running in a day. Also in my work I notice that people underestimate the implementation of Microsoft CRM. Of course from a technical point of view you will run into challenges that have to be solved, but it can be fixed in most cases.

The major issue, in my opinion, that people get stuck into all kind of ‘how to’ theories and loose the right perspective of the project. Basically the success of the project is the adaption of the end users, the result of well integrated Microsoft CRM solutions. Of course this doesn’t mean we not need a structured way of working. I prefer a practical approach combined with a theoretical base, like the phases in theory of Microsoft methodology called “Sure Step”.

Most important challenge is the definition of the requirements and the business processes that should be made available in the CRM application. Especially the analyses of the business processes are difficult, because first you need to define the current business processes and then make the translation to the CRM applications.

In my experience it helps to just draw it on paper and use the classic pencil :-), because people understand and recognize the process quicker when they are visualized. The part that is often underestimated is how to translate these processes in to Microsoft Dynamics CRM in the way the end user still feel familiar with the way he works. Hmmm ‘’work the way you do” is maybe more then use nice marketing slogan ;-) In your documentation you can make the digital version in Visio or whatever you like to use.

Of course the secret to your successful project is not only based on the analysis of the business processes and its translation, but it will give you a solid base in the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.