Dynamics CRM 2013: 5 Areas of Change and Why They Matter
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Dynamics CRM 2013: 5 Areas of Change and Why They Matter

Its official – Dynamics CRM 2013 is released! I have been helping companies implement and adopt Microsoft CRM since version 3 and I have witnessed tremendous evolution as the product has matured and adapted to the needs of the modern sales force and marketing department, including the evolution of CRM-thinking into broader constituent relationship management (“xRM”). In the CRM 3.0 to 2011 era, Microsoft focused on adding features to create a robust, competitive product. Now, with CRM 2013, the focus is instead on refining features with the goal of creating a product that sets new standards for productivity and efficiency.

The good news is that Microsoft has succeeded: What we are presented with today is a product that is better able to help customers adapt to today’s way of doing business, covering everything from social to mobile and beyond. Now, you can understand why we’re so excited for this (shall we call it momentous?) release.

Below are 5 significant changes that you can expect to see in Dynamics CRM 2013 and why they matter for you and your business:

1. Improved User Experience

crm2013_mainNAV

For Dynamics CRM 2013, productivity and efficiency are the name of the game.  In addressing this goal, Microsoft has streamlined the user interface so that information is clean, consistent and easy to access, for example:

  • No more pop ups. The new flow-based UI means that users are no longer inundated with pesky pop-up windows.
  • Quick create is available throughout the system so that users can create new records at any given moment without having to navigate anywhere new.
  • Recently viewed records and functions are easy to access no matter what device you’re using – a great tool for users that repeatedly access the same sections.
  • Inline editing is available for opportunity products. This capability will be applicable to additional entities soon.
  • Global CRM Search is available now on the Windows 8 CRM App and coming soon to Outlook and Web Access.

Why It Matters

This simplification has a function beyond simply improving the product’s aesthetic – it also helps businesses tackle thorny issues like user adoption.

2. Process Agility

Process_agility

Business stakeholders have been crying out for simple orchestrated process flows that users can easily follow. Now, a process-centric, outcome-oriented and guided experience is common place throughout CRM 2013. Administrators can implement these and custom solutions can be removed. How it works:

  • Required steps within a stage can be enforced so that users are prevented from progressing to the next stage in the process
  • The user is notified so it is clear what step they need to complete in order to move forward
  • A single process can span multiple entities

Why It Matters

In the past, this has always involved custom code and work-around’s. Dialogs have gotten us some of the way there, but that detracts from using the form.

3. Mobility

The benefits of mobile CRM are long-established. Mobility now serves as a baseline offering for any CRM as it enables the on-the-go user to remain connected and productive no matter where they are. Not only is this a benefit in itself, but, Microsoft has invested a great deal into developing some extremely valuable features and functions with 2013:

  • Consistent user experience across web, client, tablet and smartphone
  • Embedded Skype and/or Lync calling allows for easy connection with customers
  • Any and all configurations to tailor the CRM web interface will persist in the tablet application
  • Client-side logic is supported on the mobile device to deliver rich experiences no matter how you’re accessing CRM 2013
  • Data is cached for offline viewing

Why It Matters

Prior to this version, robust mobility required that you purchase a 3rd party application. Now, a mobile app from Microsoft is available along with an enhanced Mobile Express experience out of the box.

4. Real-time Workflows

workflows

Prior to CRM 2013, only asynchronous workflows were supported. Now, this execution model has been extended to support real-time (synchronous) workflows. Rather than being queued like asynchronous workflows, real-time workflows operate exactly like is suggested: they execute immediately “on-demand” or in response to a message being processed by the execution pipeline.

Why It Matters

Finally you can trigger workflows at the same time as a user performs an action. This has typically always involved building a plugin which takes considerable time and a developer to customize. Real-time workflows take something that was previously very technical and now enables administrators to create them using the workflow designer.

5. Email Routing

In my opinion, this is one of the smaller but perhaps most valuable improvements that comes with CRM 2013. With this version, the email router is gone (but still supported), in favor of server-side synchronization. Now, administrators can easily manage the harmonization of email, tasks, appointments, and contacts between on-premise versions of CRM and Exchange.

Why It Matters

What this means is that the ‘heavy lifting’ is moved from the Outlook client and users are no longer responsible for administrating the email router themselves – a task that has been notoriously challenging and not well understood.

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For a live demo and detailed readiness assessment, check out our Dynamics CRM 2013 Preview video featuring Microsoft’s Nelson Lopes.

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Establishing a clear understanding of what you want to get out of the system is key. The rest is down to clear communication and a willingness to learn and adapt to change.

Abdullah Osman, Project Manager