Is Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 ready for fulltime, production use? That’s the question we’re going to tackle over a series of three blog posts. At some level, the answer is obviously “Yes” because we are signing up new clients on it every day. With that said, as Microsoft CRM consultants, we run into issues with this new version of CRM that sometimes leave us scratching our heads that we’ll share with you. We’ll also talk about ways to mitigate these puzzlers until they’re fixed in a future Service Pack.
New Features in Microsoft CRM 2013
One of the best parts of Dynamics CRM 2013 is the new features it added, mainly focused on mobile and UI. The bad news is that some of these CRM 2013 changes have the feeling of any first time Microsoft product: they’re cool, but they’re going to need a few service packs to be ready.
These new features include:
Microsoft CRM 2013 Composite Fields
As mentioned in a previous post, the CRM 2013’s composite fields are cool, but finicky.
If you didn’t immediately go check out my exposition on composite field struggles, very briefly, they are fields where you click to enter data into one line and it pops up a dialog where you can enter multiple fields.
Here’s a composite address field in action:
You can see in one dialog you can enter everything you need for an American address.
The problem is that with the composite name and address dialogs, you can’t change the fields. Let’s say you use a drop down for state or you have a different fields for international addresses you can’t modify the popup form to use those fields. This can be a problem for clients who want to use the popups, but have requirements that deviate outside the norm any little bit.
The workaround for this, sadly, is accepting that you can’t use your own fields or accepting that you can’t use the composite field. At least for now.
Microsoft CRM 2013 Analytical Dashboards
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 was supposed to have brand new analytical dashboards that were going to supercharge your business into whole new realms of knowledge-based decision making. Instead, the dashboards really don’t look like they’ve changed much. The fact that CRM 2013 makes it so easy to build dashboards (even for non-technical users) is cool, but I just don’t see a big leap forward with the latest version of Microsoft CRM.
Workaround: Um…just keep making dashboards like you used to?
Microsoft CRM 2013 Quick Create Menus
In general, the new CRM 2013 Quick Create means are great. If you’re not familiar with Microsoft CRM’s Quick Create fields, they allow you to add new records (activities, contacts, etc.) by clicking on the Quick Create button. However, this would be much more useful if the CRM Quick Create form associated the quickly created record with whatever record you were viewing at the time. For instance, if I have Bob Smith’s record open, it would be nice if, when I hit Quick Create and selected Phone Call, it put Bob in the to field or regarding field.
Microsoft CRM 2013 “Social” Features
The last new feature in Microsoft CRM are its “social features.” Overall, I like this functionality a lot because it provides a Facebook-like “Wall” on each record that displays activity pertaining to it. It’s a really nice way to see change history quickly.
The only problem is that Microsoft labels it “Social” and all my clients think about when they see that is whether their CRM is now integrated with Facebook or Twitter. (Which it can be, but not through this particular feature.) Instead, the socialness refers to intra-CRM communication via the wall and, sometimes, through Yammer, which is a B2B social media tool that integrates with CRM. It’s cool, but it’s not Facebook.
Workaround: enjoy the social tools Microsoft CRM 2013 gives you. Find a good Social Plugin solution.
Where to next?
In the next installment of “Is CRM 2013 Ready for Prime Time?” we’ll look at the UI changes and examine if they’re ready for the big show. In the meantime, if you need CRM consulting for CRM 2011 or CRM 2013, feel free to contact us. We’d love to talk to you.