Today’s guest blogger is Josh Meyer, an account executive at Sonoma Partners.
In today’s vast world of software products, it’s nearly impossible to find a single platform that can provide all of the business functionality that end users need to accomplish their daily activities. How often do we all need to log onto several different systems throughout the course of the day to get our work done? Typically, these tools never look or function in the same manor, creating a painful end user experience. Rarely do any of these tools communicate with one another leaving information in silos … if only the dots could be connected.
Connecting the Dots
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 takes the first step in connecting commonly used tools together for end users. How many of us use Outlook, Word, and Excel on a daily basis? Is it fair to say that nearly all of us use these tools at a very high frequency? Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 was built to deliver a platform that can be configured to meet your unique business needs while integrating with other commonly used Microsoft products (Office, SharePoint, Lync, and etc). This seamless integration enables users to utilize familiar applications to accomplish their daily activities.
While this seamless integration is important, it doesn’t in itself solve the issue of connecting with your unique business process. Ultimately, these system needs to be altered to meet your needs. Sonoma Partners helps clients take this important next step to not only configure Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 to meet your business needs, but also to extend that configuration to the entire business process experience.
Document Assembly & Management Revealed
On a regular basis we are all creating and managing documents, if only they could be connected in some way to the business information and business processes that uses that information. Sonoma Partners has built CRM add-ins for Microsoft Word & Excel that enable users to use these tools in their native setting but allowing them to push and or pull information into Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Office SharePoint. For users, this is critical because it allows them to continue to use the tools that maximize their efficiency, while ensuring that the work they perform is connected to all the key business processes. Preserving a native application experience helps to promote a collaborative experience throughout the organization.
Microsoft Word Generation
In this example, we take a simple status report that we have all either written or received at one point in time. Typically, a status report is written in a Microsoft Word document and distributed to a client. Then, hopefully, the author remembers to save the document in a central file location for broader reference and would finally update their project management system to track key metrics from the status report. By this point the author has likely spent more time saving the status report & updating the project management system than it took to create the initial status report. That is not business productivity!
The Sonoma Partners Word add-in is a CRM accelerator that resides in Microsoft Word that allows the author to easily open Word templates that connect data to and from your CRM database. In the above example, the author would enter the necessary information into the status report, and then click a button to push the data back to CRM. The Add-in also allows you to save the document to SharePoint and then email the update to all appropriate members.
Sonoma Partners first blogged about two way integration between Microsoft Word and Microsoft Dynamics CRM last September!
This integration scenario demonstrates a user utilizing a familiar tool, Microsoft Word, while performing multiple business tasks from a single user interface. This creates a simplified user experience while adhering to standardized business processes.
Microsoft Excel Management
Microsoft Excel is the world’s most popular software application to perform data analytics and data manipulation. Often, the challenge is that the Excel data and results aren’t pushed back to any system where it can provide wider organizational value. In this example, we take a project plan that was built and maintained through Excel and show you how to expand the reach through Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The challenge we have found, as it relates to project plans, regardless of the tool, is that the data in the project plan is not actionable through any of the business systems, ultimately limiting its effectiveness.
The Sonoma Partners Excel add-in allows the author to maintain their project plan in their tool of choice, update relevant details (dates, statuses and etc.), then synchronize that content to Microsoft Dynamics CRM where actionable business workflow can be applied. This add-in allows for bi-directional synchronization between Excel and CRM, negating the need for the project plan to always be maintained in Excel because it is stored in CRM. The author simply needs to open Excel, load the data, make the appropriate updates and synchronize with CRM.
Both the Microsoft Word & Excel add-ins highlight examples of enabling users to be more effective while utilizing familiar experiences to gain maximum business productivity. This powerful combination results in increased collaboration, higher end user adoption and adherence to important business processes that will help support a stronger bottom line!