Another project across my desk this last week or so has been the monster that is CRM 2011. With the large scale switch from our creaking old servers in our own office to something a little more swish. All of which is going to happen in the next 4 weeks.
The new servers were in the rack yesterday and running a VMware virtual environment, planning on hosting between 6-8 servers in total. A pair of Domain Controllers (DFS, DHCP, AD, FP, and DNS the works, linking in to our domain servers at the datacentre to finally complete the site spanning domain) a backend Exchange & SQL servers with a frontend apps server hosting: SharePoint 2010, CRM 2011, and Exchange 2010. Just to begin with, we have plans also to look at implanting Lync 2010 Enterprise and SCOM 2012, to replace our existing monitoring solution, when it moves from RC to full version next month (March/April).
Anyway back to CRM land. This product is in my honest opinion possibly the greatest CRM product I have even seen or used in any company, I cannot praise Microsoft enough for the fine work they have put in compared to past attempts at this market.
With an open platform construction as with all their new web based products allowing cross platform compatibility and in to the mobile world. With a customisation system that is out of this world and so simple to implement. Drag & Drop linking and the ability to build pretty much any process you would ever require, too run any kind of business ever conceived. The real joy of this product is the ease in which you can create new parts to the system that are required for your business and have it automatically add the correct links. For example: We require a modular that allows us to track assets that are sold to clients so we know which assets we have provided allowing us to provide better support. This feature does not exist in CRM 2011 by default. In CRM 2011 it was so simple to add I could not believe. I simply created a New Custom Entity called Asset/Assets. Next created a N:1 Relationship to the Accounts Entity (So can track assets 1 Account : N Assets), created a 1:N Relationship to Case Entity (So can track N Cases : 1 Asset). My work here is done: CRM does the rest Account now has an Asset List automatically added to view on the form. Cases now have an Asset field lookup that can be added to the form for completion so a case can have an asset related to it. All that is left to do now is add a few Text, Number & look fields on the Asset Default Form such as Make, Model, and Serial No etc.
My last CMR wonder is the Outlook/Email integration. 2nd to none is the easiest approximation I can make, but itâ€™s simple integration with all email and with the ability to add any complexity you would require with rules/routing/process and assignment to queues. A few daysâ€™ work and I have a system that works exactly how we want, including automatically tracking emails, queuing them for the team to deal with automatically, finding the reply emails and assigning them to the correct Case or Quote or Account. Sending an email from CRM has never been so easy; as it uses the Outlook we all know and love with no added complexities. Just click the familiar New Email, New Appointment, New Task and CRM has already logged it tracked it assigned it to the correct Customer Account and your whole team can see, share and check back.