CRM 2011 – Getting users to use CRM is vital to successful CRM adoption

I have spoken to Mike Ames who writes an excellent blog on business developer which you can read here about why CRM systems fail.  He was of the opinion most of the CRM systems fail because the users don’t use them and maybe don’t understand why CRM is useful.

I have also blogged before about why CRM training is vital to a successful deployment, which you can read about here

today I read an article with the title – 4 ways to get employees to use a crm system

The article makes some good points, it’s with some juicy stats

For instance, a survey done in 2011 revealed that:

* 80.1% of Senior Executives cannot get their employees to use the system
* 43.2% of the respondents uses less than half of the system’s functionality
* 72.7% of the respondents would trade functionality for ease-of-use
* 50.4% of the respondents cited synchronization as a major issue
* 67.5% of the respondents said they need to find time to evaluate the system

These stats, along with the previous blog posts highlight the common problems why CRM systems are not successfully used by companies.  The new users are not trained on the CRM systems and in particular how the CRM system can help them with their daily jobs by automating tasks or giving the users information to help them with their jobs.

I think CRM systems and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 in particualr can give these advantages over the current system

  1. Data quality – all departments are using the same data
  2. Data capture – more data/information is being captured which can be used to assess current procedures.
  3. automation – Microsoft CRM 2011 can automate a lot the current procedures with workflows or custom code
  4. One System does all – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 can replace the many other systems and spreadsheets used by companies
  5. Reporting – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 makes it easy to generate reports on the data captured in the CRM system
  6. Dynamic – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 makes adding in new forms/entity easy, enabling the users to quickly capture their own information and extend the base platform of CRM 2011, utilising the XRM capacity of CRM 2011.
The above are my thoughts on the subject but what are the four ways described in the article, well here there

1. Find a system that best suits your company’s needs
>There are hundreds of CRM Systems but they are not the same. It does not always follow with CRM System that more features mean better system. Choose a system with functionalities that works for you, is easy to use or simple and user-friendly.

2. Assess employee capabilities individually
>Every employee is a unique individual – each has his or her own share of strengths and weaknesses. Some employees may find using a totally new system exciting and may look forward to it but for some it could be intimidating. This may elicit some resistance initially. Make them realise that the time they dedicate on learning the CRM System will bring forth rewards and personal advancement. Motivate your employees that constant use of the application will hone their skills and make them experts in no time.

3. Set aside time for training
>A help desk or an in-house mentor would lessen their apprehension knowing they have the support they need. Allow employees to gradually get accustomed to the system. Allocating separate time for training will help them learn faster,knowing that they’re not being rushed.

4. Be a role model
>Top management must use the new application themselves to show employees that they fully support the application, and can successfully handle it. This is a great way to motivate employees that they too possess the capability to use the system without difficulty.

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CRM 2011 – Improvements for CRM 2011 – The CRM 2011 gripe list

I will start this blog post by saying I love CRM 2011 and all of it’s improvements.  I think it’s a great improvement from CRM 4 and is the start of Microsoft dominating the CRM scene, especially when you combine it with the improved online support (e.g. loads of servers to host CRM 2011 online with) and the fantastic monthly subscription offers it is enticing people with (big easy offer etc).  I will also mention that although this is a list of things which I can be improved, if I had written the list for CRM 4 it would be considerably larger.

but CRM 2011 is far from perfect and has lots of room for improvement and today I was thinking about what is missing.

1.  NO AUTO NUMBER

yes I had to write that  in capitals because it’s so totally crazy that Microsoft has not added in an auto numbering facility in entities other than accounts and orders.  Seriously do you not think an auto numbering system wouldn’t be useful in other entities???  So instead I have to write an auto number plugin and thousands of other people also have to do it.

2.  Online reduced functionality – no LINQ or custom workflows

I appreciate it is a great leap forward that we can have plugins in CRM 2011 online but the things we aren’t allowed seem very prohibitive.  It seems with one hand CRM 2011 gives us LINQ and other enhancements and then with the other hand you are told you can’t use LINQ with CRM 2011 plugins and you also can’t have custom workflows with CRM 2011.  Personally this involved me rewriting the plugin’s and replacing the LINQ queries with query expressions.

3. Dialogs – You can’t save dates or bits

I have written a blog post – Dialogs can’t store dates, which basically tells you can’t stores Dates, bits or lookups.  I do love dialogs and they are a great improvement it just seems the functionality needs a bit of polishing.

4. Javascript is completely different

Microsoft completely changed the way the Javascript worked and this was a massive learning curve for me.  It was basically a case of all the Javascript your used before will soon not be supported (although it will for the first couple of years).  Basically you need to be using the new Javascript way of coding and actually once you do you will learn to appreciate the improvements.  The reason I have mentioned it here is because it’s just very different and to begin with this makes it difficult.    Almost every week the most popular blog post (out of 227) is almost always – CRM 2011 – Javascript basics, although I would also recommend the Javascript cheat sheet blog entry and the comparison between Javascript CRM 4 and CRM 2011 .  The point I am trying to make here is practically every developer needs help with Javascript coding because the fundamentals have changed and Microsoft have not provided many examples to help you.

5.  No small enhancements from the CRM community

Microsoft have added the marketplace but because it’s going to cost you a few thousand pounds to certify your plugin, accelerator this has basically destroyed the app market place. The alternative is to try and sell your application on your own website or give it away free on codeplex.  I will personally say there is a fantastic amount of brilliant work given away free on codeplex by the CRM community and I am very grateful for that because it has saved me hours of work (just last week I was using a brilliant audit plugin for CRM 4 – https://crmbusiness.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/free-audit-plugin-for-crm-4/) I have also mentioned many CRM 2011 codeplex plugins on my blog.  The point I am making is rather than creating a system where these people could be rewarded in  a small amount for each person using the plugin (e.g. apple app type scenario) Microsoft has basically stopped this by making the certification process cost so much.

6.  Reporting in CRM 2011 and Bids/Fetch XML reporting

This seems an odd thing to add to a list of improvements but I have used the new bids reporting in CRM 2011 and although it is easier than using XML it also isn’t straight forward.  Firstly it takes a bit of time to setup and then I had problems with custom reports not working.  The major problem I have is the fetch xml you create whilst doing an advanced find it’s really linked to the reporting software.  You have to export the advanced find, download it and then copy it somewhere else and then paste it.  On top of that the reporting software in CRM 2011 is far behind the leading the reporting software out there (Business objects/cognos etc).

7.  CRM ASYNC Service still a potential problem

The CRM Async service is great, it does all the CRM processing in the background whilst not affecting the main CRM web application.  This is a great system until something goes wrong and then all of a sudden CRM Async jobs are backing up and being suspended and you realise how reliant you are on the service.  You will also notice that it seems the ASYNC table slowly fills up and starts to clog up (unless you run a piece of SQL to clear the table).

I’m sure there are some  other areas which CRM 2011 could be improved but off the top of my head I can’t think of them whilst I a writing this blog post.  I would be interested to hear if anyone else has anything else they don’t like about CRM 2011