Microsoft Dynamics 365/CRM July 2017 Update

There is an update forthcoming to the Dynamics 365/CRM platform in July. So what’s new?

Unified User Interface – Microsoft is releasing user interface improvements designed to unify and improve the interface. Improvements include a new activity timeline for mobile with inline actions and new custom controls and expanded offline mobile capabilities, including for the micro apps that administrators can build for specific roles. Additional updates include new theming options, improved mobile layout support, and an updated look and feel that further updates the user interface to look more current.

d365-crm-interface-july2017

Virtual Entities – Virtual Entities, will allow integrated data residing in outside systems to be integrated into the interface via web services. In other “platform” news, Microsoft Flow will be exposed within Dynamics 365 so flows can be created and executed without switching applications.

Customer Insights experience – will bring together BI, enterprise data, analytics, BI, machine learning and more,  and will offer capabilities like high volume segmentation, predictive lead scoring, and machine learning extensions.

Microsoft appears to remain committed to rolling out new capabilities in areas like bots, integrated services, and field service-related IoT, details to follow.

activity timeline

Activity timeline shows posts, activities and notes in a single stream with inline actions.

mobilecontrols

New mobile controls will be released allowing more control over the mobile experience.

app modules

Micro apps and control available for the mobile app.

extensible.jpg

New platform features include virtual entities, flow integration, activity logging and more

business edition

Finally more info on the Business Edition! A “Getting Started” experience will guide the initial setup.

linkedin

More info on the LinkedIn integration – Sync Dynamics 365 data as leads in Sales Navigator, receive insights in Sales Navigator based on Dynamics 365 leads. Activity integration will provide holistic engagement history.

Are you missing the boat on all this innovation because you an in an on-premise model and on an older version? We can help plan and execute your upgrade to either a current version of Dynamics 365 on premise or migrate you to Dynamics 365 online.

More info:

Part 2 – User Adoption with Microsoft CRM/Dynamics 365. Do you have it?

In the last post I examined the main reasons for CRM project failure. In this and future posts in this series, I will dissect each of the reasons and offer guidance on how to avoid these pitfalls and/or how to recover from them.

The topic for this post will be – Lack of Proper Requirements Analysis Before Implementing. This is a significant cause of user adoption challenges or problems and ultimate failure. I have seen many companies select a CRM system based on a demo versus the project’s actualrequirements. One challenge in a lot of businesses is that they don’t have formal processes which makes defining requirements much harder. If you don’t have at least high level business processes defined, I recommend that you add business process planning at the forefront of the CRM planning.

The first step every business that is considering investing in CRM technology should perform is requirements analysis.

At Sträva we typically will not engage with a client for a new implementation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM/365 without a requirements analysis and project planning phase. This approach is used no matter the size of the project or the client. We offer the requirements/planning phase separately and independent from a full implementation allowing a business to engage for only that phase of the project before committing to a full implementation. This approach allows us and our client to fully understand the project (and budget) before engaging for an implementation. It also allows our client to get to know us and experience the value we bring to the table prior to committing to a longer term project and relationship.

We recommend that our clients form a project team for the CRM initiative. This team should consist of:

  • Project Manager – The client-side person who will manage the project
  • Executive Sponsor(s) – It is critical to have executive engagement and support in the project
  • Business Sponsor(s) – These are typically managers/leaders that will be more involved in the project than the executive(s)
  • End Users – Developing a CRM project in a vacuum almost guarantees user adoption issues. You need the input of the people who will be using the tool every day to make sure it will provide value.

The first step in requirements analysis is to define the overall goals andobjectives for the project. This should start at the top with the executive level. The executive team has a good understanding of the current challenges and future direction of the company. When we interview executives regarding goals andobjectives, we ask a series of questions that guide the executives through the process of articulating the outcomes they are looking for from the CRM initiative. Examples of executive level questions:

  • What are the top challenges your business is facing today?
  • How will your business and industry change over the next few years?
  • How do you envision CRM technology providing value to you personally?
  • How do you measure and manage the goals you set for your management team?
  • Do you receive an accurate sales forecast on a regular basis?
    • If not, what would be the benefit of receiving an accurate forecast?
    • If you do receive forecasts, how accurate would you say they are?

The list of questions we go through with executives is extensive and tailored to each client and the market they serve.

A proper requirements analysis phase should cover a lot of bases. Missing any one of these could put the project in jeopardy and lead to user adoption issues. Below is a partial list of the topics we cover when performing requirements analysis:

  • A thorough analysis of the clients’ goals & objectives for each functional area of the business
  • Discuss and plan project phases
  • Review current state business processes and tools used
  • Review IT & systems requirements for Dynamics 365
  • Review workflow requirements
  • Configuration requirements to meet desired future state business processes
  • Review current tools/systems used that will be replaced by Dynamics 365. Gap analysis needs to be performed to make sure each use of the current systems are accounted for in Dynamics 365.
  • Plan data migrations and/or conversions from current systems.
  • Establish migration plans for users from current CRM and other system(s) to Dynamics 365
  • Review integration requirements between current systems & Dynamics 365
  • Review of available needed Dynamics 365 add-on tools
  • Management analysis, reporting and dash boarding requirements
  • Discuss project timeline
  • Define roles & responsibilities
  • Plan training requirements – end user, power user & administrator
  • Plan user acceptance TestingPlan successful conference eoom pilot(s)
  • Plan go live and ongoing support
  • Discuss collaborative project responsibilities, benchmarks and measurements
  • Establish executive enforcement and end-user adoption plans
  • Discuss success criteria

Again this is a partial list topics and each is expanded upon to cover all the sub-topics necessary. From the above information an overall project plan is createdby our CRM team . The project plan contains a system design specification outlining how the system will be configured/customized to support the requirements. The plan also includes roles/responsibilities, timelines, project phases, budget etc. The project plan is the blueprint and road-map for the project and absolutely critical for success. If you are suffering from user adoption issues or a project that is not meeting expectations, I bet the root causes can be traced back to not properly defining one or more of the above areas of requirements.

If you have Dynamics CRM/365 implemented and are experiencing problems, we can help. We work with companies to “rescue” their implementation by diagnosing the current state of the project and creating a road-map to success. If you are planning on implementing Dynamics 365, we can help with proper requirements analysis & planning, implementation, configuration, customization and ongoing support.

To prevent user adoption issues going forward, we offer Total Solution Management for Microsoft Dynamics CRM/365. For a fixed predictable monthly cost, we become your CRM team. Total Solution Management includes four pillars of ongoing services that increases user adoption and keeps your system healthy and evolving with your business.

At Sträva we have one mission – to help business achieve true success with CRM. We are happy to discuss your project and how we can help you achieve success. Give us a call at 844.8.STRAVA (844.878.7282) or email info@stravatechgroup.com

About the Author: David Buggy is a veteran of the CRM industry with 18 years of experience helping businesses transform by leveraging Customer Relationship Management technology. He has over 14 years experience with Microsoft CRM and has helped hundreds of businesses plan, implement and support CRM initiatives. David is the President and Founder of Strava Technology Group, a firm that is 100% focused on helping businesses achieve success with CRM. To reach David directly visit our web site.

 

 

Sträva Technology Group and Tour de Force Inc. Announce Partnership

Sträva Technology Group adds Tour de Force as their CRM & BI distribution and manufacturing vertical offering.

FINDLAY, OH – Sträva Technology Group has become a Preferred Partner under the Tour de Force Inc. Partner Program. The two organizations share a passion for the CRM market, in which both companies share 25 plus years of experience. Founders of both organizations are respected providers of technology and industry thought leaders who feel this Partnership will bring value to the distribution and manufacturing industries.

Tour de Force is a leading provider of customer relationship management (CRM) and business intelligence (BI) software. Sträva Technology Group is led by a team of CRM industry veterans and focuses on helping businesses achieve success with Customer Relationship Management.Preferred Partner

“We consider it an honor that Sträva recognizes our company and our product as the solution they have chosen as their go-to for a vertical solution. We understand when you focus on a vertical you must have an intimate understanding of the industry and a product that will meet the unique challenges. The fact that Sträva was willing to make that commitment just further justifies our expertise in the distribution and manufacturing industries and we are looking forward to working with David and his team.” – Matt Hartman, founder and CEO of Tour de Force.

President and CEO of Sträva Technology Group, David Buggy, added, “I have been very impressed with the Tour de Force CRM solution for many years. We are excited to partner with Matt and his team to bring Tour de Force CRM to manufacturers & distributors helping them transform their marketing, sales and service strategies”

Combining the core strengths of the Tour de Force Platform with Sträva’s CRM knowledge will align a solution leading to success for organizations looking to partner with a Vendor and a Strategic Partner. Both organizations feel this union is a great opportunity to benefit the growth of both companies.

About the Author: David Buggy is a veteran of the CRM industry with over two decades of experience helping businesses transform by leveraging technology. He has over 15 years experience helping wholesale distributors & manufacturers plan, implement and support CRM initiatives. David is the President and Founder of Strava Technology Group, a firm that is 100% focused on helping businesses achieve success with Customer Relationship Management. To reach David directly visit our web site.

For more information on Sträva visit www.stravatechgroup.com For more information on the Tour de Force CRM solution visit our web site.

Just do it – Setup Multi Factor Authentication with Microsoft Office 365 & Dynamics CRM/365

Security is on everyone’s mind and has been for quite some time. I can think of no other top of mind security concern than securing data in Office 365 and CRM. The “standard” level of security with Office 365 & Dynamics CRM/365 is a just a password. Passwords can be guessed, hacked, shared unintentionally putting your most critical data at risk.

The answer is Multi Factor Authentication (MFA). MFA is a method of authentication that requires the use of more than one verification method and adds a second layer of security to user logins. It works by requiring any one or more of the following verification methods:

• Randomly generated pass code (text or app)
• Phone call
• Smart card (virtual or physical)
• A biometric device

An Office 365 Administrator can configure MFA by turning the feature on for specific or all users. After this feature is enabled, the user will be prompted to setup a two step verification process when they login to Office 365. The user can select from several options to continue the verification process.

We recommend setting up more than one verification method. The randomly generated pass code option is a very secure method. Each user downloads the Microsoft AuthenticatorAuthenticator app for their smartphone.  The application is Its available for every major phone OS at their respective app store.

When logging into Office 365/Dynamics CRM/365 the user enters their user ID and password, they are then prompted to enter a randomly generated code that is generated in the authenticator app. The code changes every 30 seconds and allows the user to be authenticated. Even if someone has a users password they would be unable to login without providing the authenticator code that is unique to the user.

We highly recommend setting up multi factor authentication for not only Office 365 & Dynamics CRM/365 but any application that supports MFA.

If you would like help setting this up let us know! 844.8.STRAVA (844.878.7282) or visit us at www.stravatechgroup.com.

Once you have MFA in place you can rest a little easier that your data is more secure. Now please… just go do it!

About the Author: David Buggy is a veteran of the CRM industry with 18 years of experience helping businesses transform by leveraging Customer Relationship Management technology. He has over 14 years experience with Microsoft CRM and has helped hundreds of businesses plan, implement and support CRM initiatives. David is the President and Founder of Strava Technology Group, a firm that is 100% focused on helping businesses achieve success with Microsoft CRM and Dynamics 365. To reach David directly visit our web site.

Email Address Verification for Microsoft Dynamics CRM/365

When adding leads and contacts to Microsoft Dynamics CRM/365 wouldn’t it be nice if the email address could be verified automatically? Incorrect email addresses prevent your messaging from reaching the intended recipient and causes headaches for marketers.

We have developed a solution – Email Verification for Microsoft Dynamics CRM/365. As you enter a lead or a contact the email address entered is verified in real-time for accuracy and deliver-ability. One of 4 results is displayed on the screen with the results of the verification:

Verified – The email address was confirmed as being valid and the mailbox is accepting email

Undeliverable – The email address does not exist

Risky – A risky result means the email address appears to exist, but has quality issues that may result in low engagement or a bounce. Therefore, use caution when sending to risky addresses.

Unknown – The tool will return an unknown result when it was unable to get a response from the recipient’s mail server. This often happens if the destination mail server is too slow or temporarily unavailable.

If the email address is undeliverable or unknown the tool can remove the email address and/or set the do not allow email fields on the lead/contact to prevent email sends to bad email addresses.

We are also able to run verification on a list of leads/contacts to cleanup your existing data. This will significantly reduce your undeliverable emails and cleanse your data.

Email Verification for Microsoft Dynamics CRM/365 is an inexpensive but very powerful tool that will cleanse your data and significantly increase your email delivery rates.

Free Trial – Try the tool for free with 100 email address verifications. If you want to purchase the tool the cost is based on the amount of verifications performed monthly:

Up to 2500 verifications/month – $99/month
Up to 5000 verifications/month – $125/month
Up to 10000 verifications/month – $149/month
Up to 25000 verifications/month – $179/month
Up to 50000 verifications/month – $199/month
> 50,000 verifications/month – Call us for pricing

There is a onetime setup fee of $199. If you run out of verification credits during a month you can purchase more credits or increase to the next level.

Try Email Verification for Microsoft Dynamics CRM/365 today!

About the Author: David Buggy is a veteran of the CRM industry with 18 years of experience helping businesses transform by leveraging Customer Relationship Management technology. He has over 14 years experience with Microsoft CRM and has helped hundreds of businesses plan, implement and support CRM initiatives. David spent 20 years as VP/Partner for a leading Microsoft CRM partner where he founded the Microsoft CRM practice. In 2017 he founded Strava Technology Group, a firm that is 100% focused on helping businesses achieve success with Microsoft CRM and Dynamics 365.

User Adoption with Microsoft CRM/Dynamics 365. Do you have it?

This is part 1 of a series of blogs on user adoption with Microsoft CRM/Dynamics 365… the Achilles heel of CRM. I will examine real-world causes of CRM user adoption failure and how to avoid or recover from the top issues that cause user adoption issues.

I founded Strava TechnolDilbert CRM User Adoptionogy Group with a very clear mission… to help businesses achieve success with Microsoft CRM & Dynamics 365. Our entire go-to-market strategy is built to avoid & overcome the common challenges that plague CRM projects, many caused or exasperated by the implementation partner. For more information on our strategy see our home page.

CRM implementation projects are complex and riddled with landmines that can cause significant user adoption issues or even failure. In 2001 Gartner published one of the first studies examining failure rates of CRM initiatives, they found that 47% of projects failed or failed to meet expectations.

Over the last decade and a half failure rates have not decreased substantially. We have discovered  and most industry analysts agree that there are a limited number of  core reasons for  CRM project failure. The reasons do change a bit from enterprise to SMB and slightly by industry but in most cases all stem from the same high-level reasons.

Let’s first define failure and failure to meet expectations. I define failure as a project where the outcomes were so far from meeting expectations that the project was abandoned. Unfortunately in many cases the CRM product is blamed and the company moves on to another solution without addressing the real root issues that caused the failure. Hint… it’s rarely the product that causes failure.

Failure to meet expectations – This outcome is unfortunately very common, in fact I would argue that a significant number of CRM projects fail to meet expectations. Stay tuned for an examination of what causes this outcome.

In this part-one I will define the list of main reasons for CRM failure and ask you to help fill out the list. Below is my personal top list of reasons for failure in CRM projects. This list is based on my 18 years of experience helping businesses implement CRM solutions (14+ years with Microsoft CRM). I also base this information on experiences in the SMB market (5 employees to 1000 employees) as things change a bit in the enterprise space.

  • Lack of proper Requirements Analysis before implementing
  • Not spending the required time to fully plan the project
  • Trying to achieve too much in phase 1
  • Project Management responsibility not defined
  • No clear definition of success/successful outcomes
  • Not defining use cases across the entire user base
  • Lack of cooperation between IT and the business
  • Not engaging representative end users in the solution design
  • No specific study of executive/management needs & requirements
  • Making a product selection on product features vs. business requirements
  • Lack of necessary funding for the project
  • Selecting the wrong implementation partner
  • Adequate system testing not performed before go-live
  • Improper training for end users
  • “Scope Creep” & Cost Overruns
  • Data migration/integration issues
  • Inadequate ongoing support for end users, management & executives
  • Executive/Management teams not enforcing the use of the system
  • Not making CRM a part of the business processes and culture of the company
  • No ongoing coaching & training for users
  • Inadequate ongoing support for users
  • Not properly maintaining the CRM system causing technical & usability issues
  • Allowing the solution to become stagnant
  • Not staying current on versions of the CRM system
  • No ongoing program to measure, monitor and improve user adoption
  • Not performing regular road mapping of the solution

That’s quite a list huh? Do you have any to add? Help build a master list of failure points so we can discuss & address them together in future posts.

Comment below and add any items that you feel were left out. In future posts we will examine each of these and how to make sure they don’t cause issues in your project and how to recover if you are experiencing any of the above issues.

Now a word from our sponsors – Strava offers two powerful services to help business avoid failure or to recover from a problematic project:

TotalSolutionREV3

Total Solution Management – For a fixed predictable monthly cost, we can either augment your internal CRM resources or become your CRM team. Total Solution Management includes four pillars of ongoing services that will increase user adoption and your success with CRM – Support, Preventative Maintenance & System Administration, Enhancements/Customizations and Training/Consultative Guidance. We fully support, administer and maintain your CRM system end-to-end.

CRM Project Reboot – Is your CRM solution meeting expectations? If not we can help! We begin with a no-cost review of your CRM implementation. During this collaborative session, we revisit the goals and objectives of the project, determine what’s working and not, do a technical level review of your Microsoft CRM/365 system and educate your team on how to get more out of your investment. The outcome of this session is a written report summarizing the current state of the system, desired future state, a road-map on how to achieve future state and any technical level issues we identify.

For more information on how we can help your business achieve success with Microsoft CRM/Dynamics 365 connect with us – info@stravatechgroup.com or call us at 844.8.STRAVA (844.878.7282).

About the Author: David Buggy is a veteran of the CRM industry with 18 years of experience helping businesses transform by leveraging Customer Relationship Management technology. He has over 14 years experience with Microsoft CRM and has helped hundreds of businesses plan, implement and support CRM initiatives. David spent 20 years as VP/Partner for a leading Microsoft CRM partner where he founded the Microsoft CRM practice. In 2017 he founded Strava Technology Group, a firm that is 100% focused on helping businesses achieve success with Microsoft CRM and Dynamics 365.

 

 

Paula Brainard joins the Strava Team

We are very happy to announce that Paula Brainard has joined Strava Technology Group as a Vice President & Partner. Paula will focus on Project Management & Client Success.

PaulaPaula has over 17 years experience with Customer Relationship Management/Sales Force Automation and has helped many businesses achieve success with CRM through proper requirements analysis, solution design and project execution. She is a true customer advocate and would love to discuss how we can help your business with digital transformation.

Paula has been in the Information Technology field for over 20 years. Prior to joining Sträva Technology Group she spent 15 years at a NJ based Microsoft Dynamics CRM provider holding positions including CRM Pre Sales Solutions Specialist, Project Manager and Director of CRM Services. From 1997 to 2002 Paula was Systems Manager for a Delaware based wholesale distributor of textiles. In her role as Systems Manager she was responsible for administration of their ERP system (Prophet 21 by Epicor), Local & Wide area networks, CRM and telephone systems. She also managed a full eCommerce initiative and was an internal auditor for ISO 9000.

We are excited and very fortunate to have Paula on the Strava team. I have worked with Paula for over 16 years and know that she will help us accomplish great things. She is the best CRM Business Analyst and Project Manager I have ever worked with and has the most intense drive to help customers succeed.” David Buggy, President Strava Technology Group

In her role at Strava, Paula will help clients with their entire CRM journey from requirements analysis and planning through implementation and then making sure they receive exceptional customer support.

To contact with Paula email to pbrainard@stravatechgroup.com or call 856-862-6234. She would love to discuss how Strava can help your business achieve success with CRM.