Recently, we’ve been comparing two CRM packages: MS Dynamics CRM 4.0 and EnterpriseWizard. This CRM comparison in this blog has focused on the customization possibilities and the effort required to create a CRM Dashboard to track key metrics.
If you’ve missed these posts, check out:
- Microsoft CRM Dashboards vs EnterpriseWizard CRM
- Flexibility: Microsoft Dynamics CRM vs EnterpriseWizard CRM
I just thought that I’d add some additional fuel to the fire when comparing these CRM software packages.
Change the logo image in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Let’s say that you would like to change the logo in MS CRM 4.0 from the default:
Scouring the Internet, we find a post on the MSDN site that explains what to do:
We find two possibilities. One is to simply replace the .jpg file in the _imgs directory.
The second is to modify the css file definition.
The proposed changes come with an ominous warning however that an update “might overwrite your files and your logo customization.” These user interface customizations are apparently unsupported in Microsoft Dynamics.
Essentially, this change is “brittle”. That is, you are hardcoding a modification into MS CRM that is likely to break with future upgrades. Nice.
Change the logo image in EnterpriseWizard CRM
Thankfully, there are CRM packages available that allow you to completely customize the look and feel of the user interface without the risk that a future patch will “uncustomize it” for you.
Adapt Data Solutions offers one such CRM and online issue tracking system: EnterpriseWizard. In EnterpriseWizard, you are easily able to modify the look and feel without hacks and the risk of breaking as you upgrade your CRM.
The best charts in the world aren’t useful if they are never used.
Over the years, companies began to shift from being “gut instinct driven” to “data driven”. With this phenomenon came charts. Lots of charts. More data = more charts.
Good charts are good. Great charts are great. Bad charts waste money – they take time to create, they may lead the organization to making bad decisions,… poorly defined charts are just plain bad news.
That’s exactly the reason over the past few years, folks from moved away from endless amounts of charts of unknown value to selecting a few really good charts and placing them on a management dashboard.
MS CRM 4.0 Custom Dashboard Creation
The Microsoft team has posted to their blog the steps required to add a dashboard to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM using the Windows Presentation Foundation. Unless you are a certified MS CRM guru (collecting big $$$ to implement this stuff), you probably won’t bother. The process requires Visual Studio, XAML markups, and lots of custom code that will likely break when a new rev of MS CRM is available. Ug.
CRM and Issue Tracking Dashboards in EnterpriseWizard
OK, the Microsoft CRM solution is not for the faint of heart. Sure, you can build a CRM dashboard with it – but, really, would you?
In EnterpriseWizard, dashboards are much easier to create and maintain. Let’s go through the process:
Step 1: Create some CRM and Issue tracking charts
Let’s say that we want a 4 part dashboard that appears once users login to the CRM and Issue Tracking system. In this case, our system is a CRM and Tech Support portal for a fortune 100 client. This customer wants custom dashboard to track:
- Number of tech support issues reopened by customers segmented by the assigned support staff
- Sales quote funnel status showing Quotes Prepared; Sent to Customer; Signed and Accepted
- Customer support cases segmented by Issue and Priority
- A Google Widget – (what’s wrong with a little fun on a CRM & issue tracker dashboard?)
So, we create our charts using EnterpriseWizard. No custom code involved – just walk through the wizard to define the data to be presented.
Simply walk through the steps to create your charts. For the first, we want to add a technical support chart to the dashboard. So, open your Support Cases chart wizard, choose “New“, name your chart, choose your output (Graphical, Excel, etc.) then hit Next. On the next screen, pick “Standard Chart” and then hit Next again to choose your chart type (in this case, we want a column bar chart).
Select your data fields to be presented, setup filtering (if necessary) to restrict the data presented on your chart (for example, only show records from the past 3 months), formatting (3D, legend info, …) and so on. Keep walking through each step of the chart setup wizard to create your tech support chart. You’ll be done creating your chart in a few minutes. Really.
Step 2: Setup your CRM – Issue Tracker Dashboard
OK, now that you’ve created some great charts, it’s time to place them on your dashboard. Just click on the Home link in the left panel.
Your dashboard will appear. Next, edit your dashboard. Then add some charts and a widget to the dashboard by simply clicking New and using the wizard to choose the appropriate table (Support Cases) and the charts associated with that table.
Once you’ve added some widgets to your dashboard, simply select the widgets you would like to display. Then choose the Layout tab to place them on the dashboard using the drag and drop dashboard layout editor.
You can see that the dashboard layout editor allows you to choose the number of rows, columns and placement of each widget. No custom code. Adding a Google widget to the dashboard is just as easy.
Finally, Click Finish and enjoy your custom CRM/issue tracking dashboard. Note: your dashboard can be configured to refresh as often as you wish and includes the ability to easily “drill down” into the data (click the chart to pull up an Excel spreadsheet to dive into the Quotes Sent to Customer data for example).
When choosing a CRM package, customers often overlook the effort required to make changes down the road. After all, a customer is rarely satisfied with the default “out of the box” functionality of their package – so CRM functionality change is inevitable. But what effort is required to make that change?
Changing Microsoft Dynamics CRM to meet your needs
Recently, I stumbled upon a blog about the Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In it, a consultant was describing what he had to do in order to solve a frequent request of his clients… Here is a snippet:
A typical customer request is for email created from a Case to default to send to the Responsible Contact instead of its default behavior which is to send it to the Customer.
Sounds reasonable enough right? You’d like to make some seemingly minor change to your CRM package from the default (sending email to the customer) to your desired operation (sending email to the responsible contact – perhaps your sales manager or a customer support person). Ok, let’s see what this consultant has to say about the MS Dynamics approach:
This is actually something very easy to change.
Well – that’s good to hear. I certainly want a CRM package that will easily adapt to my needs.
Please Note: This is an unsupported modification, and any patch could overwrite this.
This doesn’t look good. You mean that every time I upgrade my CRM version I have to worry whether this functionality will revert back to the Microsoft CRM defaults? Ug… Let’s read on…
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server\CRMWeb\_static\CS\cases
It contains a function called locAddActTo that fills the To: activity party variables that are sent in the QueryString to the activity like the URL below.
What we care about are the partyid, partytype and partyname arguments.
You can read the rest of his post (or many similar posts on his site) with the required code changes for this and other “easy” modifications to enable you to make simple changes in MS Dynamics CRM.
Unless you have a 12th degree blackbelt MS Dynamics CRM guru on staff, you’ll be spending a great deal on consulting in order to make a simple change like this.
Changing EnterpriseWizard CRM to meet your needs
Within EnterpriseWizard, there are several ways you can configure your CRM to automatically email your staff based on a new case… no custom code required. Let’s take a look at one possible method using the EnterpriseWizard Rules system.
Step 1: Create the new rule.
Login as an administrator and open the Rules system under Setup. Click New.
Step 2: Walk through the rule wizard. Name your rule, pick your table.
Simply walk through the Rule wizard to create a rule to do exactly as you’d like. In the first tab, name your new rule and select the appropriate table. Let’s say we’d like our CRM to automatically email a sales manager when a new Lead is created. Select the Leads table.
Step 3: Define the type (frequency) of the rule.
Apply this rule:
- When a Lead is created/edited/deleted
- At selected time intervals
- When some summary condition based on multiple criteria has/hasn’t been met
In our case, let’s choose the first option… when a Lead is created/edited/deleted
Step 4: Further define the rule type using the Condition tab.
Choose exactly when this should occur.
Step 5: Schedule (if necessary) when this should occur.
In this step, you can decide if you would like to have this rule run at all times or be restricted.
Step 6: Create the email action to occur for this rule
On the final rule tab, click on the Create Email Action button. If you would like to have your CRM perform multiple actions based on these conditions – simply create and select additional actions within the rule.
For example, if you would like to setup your CRM to email your sales manager when a new Lead is created and you’d like to automatically update a value in your Campaigns table such that your marketing department can monitor the effectiveness of their campaigns – just add that action to your rule.
Once the action has been created, you need to select an email template to be associated with that action. If one does not already exist, create one as shown below.
You can choose to have your CRM email the sales department manager, a list of people or perhaps an entire team. The possibilities are endless.
Flexible CRM? Advantage=EnterpriseWizard
The choice is obvious. Choosing a flexible package is critical to the success of your CRM deployment. EnterpriseWizard is vastly superior to competing packages such as Microsoft Dynamics when it comes to flexibility without having to make expensive/custom coded changes.
Even if you are uncomfortable making the changes described above on your own platform, a CRM consultant like Adapt Data Solutions can help you through changing your system at a fraction of the time/cost/risk because of the underlying adaptable framework found in EnterpriseWizard.