Is Gamification in a Microsoft Dynamics CRM a gimic?

To answer the question in the title, Microsoft certainly doesn’t think so because they have just acquired FantasySalesTeam.

Microsoft Acquires FantasySalesTeam, an Innovative Sales Gamification Platform, to Help Organizations Increase Productivity

CRM Gamified were the first company I had heard of using CRM and gamification and have an excellently sounding add on

Motivation Engine

CRM Gamified have a section on why gamification works, the three key principles, which you can see here

  • MOTIVATIONAL INTRINSIC PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS
  • DIFFERENT RESULTS ARE ACHIEVED BY CHANGING HABITS
  • KPIS DO NOT CHANGE JUST BY LOOKING THEM OVER

I will warn you this blog post is the Hosk thinking out loud, it doesn’t really go anyway but I thought I would share my thoughts on the subject.  I will add I haven’t used a gamification system yet but there usage is on the rise so maybe it’s a matter of time.

Core CRM

When I think of the core concept of CRM

Customer

Relationship

Management

It strikes me as feeling a bit old fashioned and slow moving when you consider the fast paced world of social media, twitter, instant messaging, the OMNI channel.

some of the benefits of a CRM system is having one source of data which multiples teams and individuals in an organization can use and leverage to effectively do their jobs.

CRM system give workers access to knowledge which can often be tucked away in individuals computers/heads/folders/documents.

CRM system can automate procedures

CRM systems can unify lots of desperate excel spreadsheets, bespoke software, different software all under one new CRM system.

CRM systems are

  • Information
  • People
  • Processes

What is gamification?

Here is a good definition of gamification

Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.[1] Gamification taps into the basic desires and needs of the users impulses which revolve around the idea of Status and Achievement.

The main concept is making parts of process into a game and encourage competitive behaviour.

This sounds fun and funky but at it’s core you are measuring workers contributions with a score based system.  The purpose of the employer is to encourage the competitive instinct of your workers and encourage them to obtain more points.

Monitor

The monitoring and measuring (against co workers) seems a bit mean and possibly sinister but the reality is your bosses already compare your performance against your peers and this is traditional how pay rises are allocated, so it’s nothing new or something to fear.

I’m sure there are lots of bosses who would like to know what their employees are doing in more detail, with gamification they can can create a system to monitor and reward key tasks.

Teaching

The game elements interest me because when you play any computer games the points system teaches users how to become more effective at the game and how to get more points through action and the award of points.  It encourages innovation of processes and techniques to game (improve) the system and get more points.

Know who is effective rather than feel

One of the beautiful concepts of gamefiction is it can show you who are the most effective workers rather than using the often unscientific and potentially flawed method of opinion.  gamification makes companies assess the processes they go through and add value to those processes, it makes companies analyse what they do.

Changing Habits

People use habits to do common tasks without thinking too much, your brain goes on an auto pilot.  This is useful because it allows us to conserve some energy but the downsides are habits can be non thinking, doing tasks.  If you have a bad habit it means you instintively and repetitively doing something which isn’t particularly good for you e.g. eating too much, smoking, being messy, not sleeping enough.

At work people can get cultivatae average habits, which I would classify as habits which get your work done slowly.

Gamefication makes people analyse what they are doing and look to improve their working habits, swapping the ineffective habits with more effective habits.  The CRM users will get feedback from the points to help them find their average habits.

CRM gamified have a few articles on why gamefic

Fun

Would gamification make work more fun? hmmm I find this hard to believe but badges and points can motivate people in funny ways.

When the Microsoft Dynamics Community brought out new badges the gamer in me was urged to obtain them for seemingly little reward (does anyone care I have most of the badges is anyone impressed?)

Check out the Dynamics leaderboards here

Learn about Dynamics Community Badges here

I’m sure there are many people who have played a computer game on their computer/tablet/games system in order to get a power up, badge or level up, staying up late and depriving themselves of sleep to get it.

Incentives

Gamification tries to tackle the conceptive of incentivisation.  Are your workforce incentivised to work harder.  When I worked on a helpdesk in one of my first jobs, people were not incentivised to work harder and answer more helpdesk queries because

  • If you solved a query you were rewarded with more queries to solve
  • No one was measuring how many bugs/queries people solved
  • no one was rewarded for working harder.

Sales people are usually one of the few areas of the business who are incentivized to work harder due to commission based pay (e.g. you sell more you get more commission).

Games can be gamed

Games can be twisted by players to get more points.  If a company was using this system for dealing with incidents.  It could lead to players waiting for easy incidents to get more points rather than dealing with the incidents from the most important customers or priority cases.  I imagine there is a balance needed to reward the players but get the focus of the game aligned correctly.

Rules and configurations of games can be change, modified and adapted to ensure they are fairer.  This would be a vital part of the system because if the rules are not fair user adopted will drop.

Not all tasks are equal

The problem  with gamification is some tasks help everyone but the effect can be hard to calculate, not all tasks are created equal.

  • setting up shared information
  • automating processes
  • delivering letters

If sometimes necessary tasks are worth less points people will be less inclined to do them because of the opportunity cost (e.g. they could be doing a task which could get them more points).

Companies would need to think carefully about the rules of the game and possibly insist on a bit of turn taking.

Facts

Reading the interesting article mentioned at the start of this article

Microsoft Acquires FantasySalesTeam, an Innovative Sales Gamification Platform, to Help Organizations Increase Productivity

The facts quoted are impressive

  • Service Corporation International (NYSE: SCI) recently ran a pilot with 130 sales reps and compared their performance to almost 700 others. Those using FantasySalesTeam on average closed 88% more deals at 213% the average contract value.
  • Wireless Zone saw a 176% increase in total sales, 35% increase in specific product sales and a 9% increase in profit in the first month they ran FantasySalesTeam.

It would be fascinating to see the stats of the most successful sales people in terms of phone calls, emails, meetings in comparison to the least successful.  What are the more successful sales people doing, implementing gamefiction will not only highlight the most productive but give you a template as to what other workers need to do to emulate them.

Summary

Gamification is looking at the processes of a companies Microsoft Dynamics CRM system and trying to motivate people to use it more effectively.

I’m fairly certain it could make things more fun (who doesn’t like bettering their fellow workers) and reward people who are working effectively.

Interesting and I look forward to seeing how Microsoft will integrate the new company.

If anyone has any experience with Microsoft Dynamics and gamification please leave a comment I would interested to hear your experiences.

Why the advanced find is a CRM Developers best friend

Microsoft caused quite a bit of unrest when they released CRM 2013, suddenly making the Advanced find button difficult to find, if you are interested I wrote about that in this post – Good CRM design should not make users think

In this post I want to write why I love the advanced find functionality in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

I view the CRM Advanced find as an awesome swiss army knife

To new users and inexperienced CRM developers it looks like a simple tool to search the records in CRM.

To an experienced CRM developer it’s one of the key weapons in the CRM Developers armoury which when used correctly can save you loads of time and make your life a whole lot easier.

It can speed up navigation, help you create queries for your plugins, export and enrich data and even help you fix bugs.  In some cases when being brought onto an existing product, I have used the advanced find to go directly to records of a certain type because I didn’t know where to look in the CRM system.

What is advanced find?

Advanced find is a tool which allows you to create queries against the CRM database.  It allows you to select the fields you want to see in the results and filter the query with conditions.

You can then save this advanced find query as a personal view

The Advanced find is a lot more than just a tool to query CRM because in many situations it can

  • Save you time
  • help you understand
  • view field values and related entity field values
  • speed navigation

The reason CRM Advanced find is so useful (and why users and CRM developers were annoyed when Microsoft made it hard to find) is CRM is really one big database full of useful data.  The CRM GUI

  • view the data using a web browser
  • validate the data input
  • organise the data into forms etc
  • Add security
  • organise using the data
  • Development to automate adding/viewing data

The CRM GUI (website) has lots of functionality for validating and displaying the data.  This is really useful but for CRM Developers they often want to navigate the system quickly and are not interested in the GUI and business logic but just want to get to certain records.

The advanced find lets you search all the records in your CRM database and apply a filter condition to allow you to only bring back the records you are interested in.

One important consideration to remember when using the advanced find is it does apply your security profile, so you will only see what records your security profile has privileges to see.

Quickly find the records you need

The beauty of advanced find is it can bypass most the GUI and get to the record you want you want with a couple of clicks.

It can also bring back groups of records you want, which is more difficult to do with the front end GUI

The great thing is you can save the advanced find into a view so you can repeat the process even quicker next time.

When you don’t know the business logic

In some projects a CRM developer can be brought into the project in the bug fixing phase. It can be difficult to fix bugs when you don’t understand the business logic or how the system works.

Using the advanced find can help you easily navigate to the entity records you are interested because with the advanced find you can view all the entities in alphabetical order.

This can help you if the bug exists on a specific record type and you don’t need to understand the business logic, e.g.

  • Javascript form errors
  • Simple plugin triggering on update

FetchXML is a great place to create your query

When I have to create a query in a plugin, I usually start with an advanced find to get the logic correct.

You can then download the FetchXML and you can see which fields you need to use and how the filters should be structured

You can use FetchXML in Javascript

You can use fetchXML’s directly in your javascript. I usually use OData queries and the odata query tool.   One of the limitations of OData is it doesn’t have a distinct attribute, so there is no way to not retrieve duplicate records.

The query I was interested in doing needed to filter out the duplicates so I did it in FetchXML.  When I didn’t filtered out duplicates (the OData query) it was returning 1500 records, which slowed down the form load but when I used FetchXML with distinct set to true, it returned 25 records.

FetchXML directly in plugins

You can run FetxchXML code directly in your CRM plugins instead of query CRM using  Linq or QueryExpression.

I go through the process in the blog post below

 Build Queries with FetchXML instead of QueryExpression

One of the advantages of using FetchXML in a plugin is you can create the query in Advanced find which can sometimes be easier

Create saved views

Saved views can save you lots of time because you are only viewing the records you are interested in and filtering out all the other entities.

Export data

Using the Advanced find to select not only the records you are interested in but also the fields is very useful.

Being able to export these records and send them to someone who doesn’t have access to CRM is a very handy trick to customers.

Exporting the data will also allow you to move the data between CRM organisations and environments (e.g. Dev, Test, Prod)

Enrich Data – e.g. export, change, import

The good old Enrich data functionality, which is has the good, the bad and the ugly all in one.  It’s called Enrich the data but what it really means is you can export some records and when you import them it will automatically know which records to update.

enrich data

The enriching data functionality works by adding the Guid of the records to the export file (and some checksum columns etc) which are read by CRM when you re-import the data.  If it sees the values it knows you are not importing new data by updating/enriching existing data.

Bulk Edit

Once you have a list of the entities you are interested in, it’s easy to bulk edit those records and assign them all the values.

Bulk editing data in this way can add data which bypasses some of the validation in the GUI forms.  The reason for this is business rules and Javascript do not run because they are only triggered on the CRM form.