Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Dynamics CRM 2015: Tablet Client (MoCA) Enhancements

Microsoft recently announced new features coming out with their next version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 (previously code named Vega).  Check out the Dynamics CRM 2015 Release Preview Guide to see what features are coming with 2015.

Next up for our review is reviewing the changes being made to the Mobile Client Application (MoCA).  The first version of MoCA filled a much needed gap to have a native tablet application, but with the improvements below, it’s clear Microsoft see’s mobile as the direction they want to continue to head as they make investments in improving the product.

The following improvements were made with CRM 2015:

Offline Drafts:

  • Users will now have the ability to create and update records while offline.
  • The create/edit mobile experience will use the Quick Create Form defined for the entity
  • A Draft button will appear in the sitemap while offline, taking the user to the Draft Page (+ icon that appears on lists will do the same)
  • The Draft Page will display a count of draft records on the Site Map
  • Users can discard or update drafts while offline
  • Drafts are deleted when the user signs out of MoCA for security reasons (warning displayed first)
  • No lookups / party list support while offline:  However, there’s a workaround to populate lookups while offline by starting at the parent entity and creating a child record from the parent (e.g., creating an Opportunity from a Contact defaults the Contact lookup for the new Opportunity)

You can see from the screenshots below that I have the ability to create records offline (in this instance a Lead), and see a count of how many draft records (creates/updates) that have yet to be uploaded to the CRM server.

If I click on the Draft Records link from the Site Map, I’ll see a list of all the records that have changes that have yet to be uploaded and if I wanted to, I can make further changes to them from this list.



It’s important to note that with the Offline Drafts, users can only modify records that they created offline.  Users will still be unable to go to a record that they had previously viewed while online, and modify that record while offline.

Also, when the user goes online, they will have to save the Draft records manually (they’ll no longer appear on the draft page).  This isn’t an automatic action that’s taken when a user reconnects online

Mobile Analytics:

Microsoft now allows you to have any and as many dashboards on your tablet (system or personal).  Previously you were able to just have the one “Sales Dashboard” on the Tablet Client, but now Microsoft allows administrators to configure multiple. 

A new “Enable For Tablets” checkbox has been added to dashboards to allow it to show up in MoCA (this field is solution aware and can be toggled via the SDK).


There’s a new “Dashboards” Site Map entry that you’ll notice when clicking around the Tablet Client.  Also, the default dashboard users see when initially logging onto the tablet client (prior to personalizing their experience) is defined and configurable by the Site Map XML.


When on a Dashboard, users can:

  • Set as Home:  when users click the Home icon, this dashboard will show
  • Pin to Win 8 Start
  • Pin to Home:  you can pin Dashboards to your Home Dashboard similar to how you pin records – this means you could have a Home Dashboard be one dashboard, and have other dashboards pinned on it for easy access.
  • Select Dashboard to select a different Dashboard




With all these changes, there are few other notes that users should be aware of regarding the Tablet Client:

  • There are no storage limitations (the same limitations will apply to MoCA that apply to the device)
  • All improvements in 2015 / Vega will work on Win 8, Android, and iPad devices (except the “Pin to Start” will be Win 8 devices only)
  • Plugins are still not supported on the device, but when data hits the server they’ll run (no offline plugins)
Topics: Enterprise Mobility Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

The Seven Use Cases Your Mobile CRM Sales Application Must Nail

We’re now at the point where enterprise mobility should be built into your CRM platform from the beginning of a project. You know that your sales team needs to be able to access their accounts and data on the go.

But how can you guarantee your users will have what they need when they need it? Build an app that nails these seven use cases to ensure that your sales team can and will use your mobile CRM application.

#1. Availability
Don’t assume you are always connected to a network. The terrain that your sales team can cover varies and your app needs to be available every step of the way, regardless of possible nearby wifi networks or cellular connection signal strength. If your app doesn’t have the ability to record notes and orders offline and then immediately sync up when a connection is established, your sales team won’t use it in fear of losing valuable data.

#2. Brand Standards
When your sales team is meeting with prospects and customers they should be able to use their CRM app as a sales tool and collaborate directly with them. This includes being able to display specific product information, conduct a product demo and access relevant marketing collateral on the fly. Because your clients viewing your app with your sales team, your mobile CRM app needs to absolutely reflect your organization’s look and feel and reinforce brand standards.

#3. Digital Sales
Your team needs to be able to do more than pull up existing accounts in the field, they need to be able to create new ones! Your app must allow users to display and present sales collateral during client meetings. Most importantly you need to be able to pull up pertinent information relevant to a specific sale to get a holistic view of the account. Being able to check if merchandise is in stock or an updated version of an item is available could positively (or negatively!) impact the direction of a meeting.

#4. Location-Based Activity
Sonoma-phone-tabletAs your team travels throughout the day they need to be able to see the accounts and prospects in the area. Incorporating geo-coding into your mobile CRM app can help your team maximize their time in the field. If a meeting is cancelled or postponed, being able to identify prospects geographically could translate to a new opportunity.

#5. Activity Management
Not only should your team be able to monitor clients and sales opportunities but they need to be able to manage their schedules. Build a mobile CRM app that allows users to track and manage their day including appointments, tasks, and to-do lists. Make this process as touch friendly and as simple as possible. Creating a tool that provides value and simplicity back to the sales team increases the likelihood of user adoption.

#6. Account Management
It’s important that your users are actually able to manage opportunities in the field.
Accessing sales materials and product information is essential to making the sale but taking notes, updating contact information, and adding reminders for future meetings can be just as important. Building a mobile app that allows your sales team to manage an account at all stages while in the sales process guarantees that the highest quality of data will make it into your CRM.

#7. Build an App that Minimizes Training
If you deploy an app that isn’t intuitive or user-friendly, we guarantee that your adoption rate will suffer. Remember that having to use your CRM isn’t enough of a motivation for your users, they have to need or want to use it. Engaging in a user discovery process and investing in thoughtful user experience increases the likelihood that your mobile CRM app will satisfy the needs and wants of your users.



Topics: Enterprise Mobility

A Day in the Life of the Mobile Sales User

Enterprise mobility is your sales teams’ lifeblood.

Being connected even when lacking a connection, is essential for productivity and getting the job done. The best way to ensure that your team has the tools they need at their disposal is to build them a CRM app with enterprise mobility.

To demonstrate how important mobility is, we’ve outlined a typical day in the life of a sales person on the move and mobile dependent. I want you to meet Phil.

PhilPhil has 6 years of in-the-field sales experience working with a global manufacturing company. Let’s walk through a day in the life of Phil to grasp how essential CRM mobility is for him to successfully complete his day-to-day tasks. 

It really begins the night before.

These days, the day begins at midnight. 95% of people (and I’m going to guess that a majority of  your team doesn’t fall into the other 5%) bring their gadgets to bed; tapping, swiping, and browsing the web before they begin their slumber. It’s likely that the last thing they see before they go to bed is the glowing screen in their palm. It should be effortless to transition between their CRM and the apps they need to plan their day.

In Phil’s case, he starts preparing for the next morning’s meetings the night before. He confirms appointment times in his CRM and quickly takes a look at his weather app to see if he needs to plan for a longer commute.

Good morning, Phil.

A few hours later, the alarm goes off and the screen is glowing again. Phil takes another quick pass at his emails that have arrived overnight and checks his favorite websites, both professional and personal. He opens his CRM system and confirms his meetings for the day. It looks like he has 3 appointments and everything is set to run as planned. He rolls out of bed and starts prepping for his first meeting over breakfast.

The first meeting includes a new product demo with a potential customer. He checks the client’s profile in the CRM and notes that this account is hot- they are so close to closing the deal! Phil does a run-through of the demo to make sure everything is running smoothly and that he has the notes on the new features that came out last week. He also runs a report on the product’s inventory to make sure that the model the prospect is looking at is in stock.

Phil sees the afternoon is booked with current customers. He pulls up their existing profiles and orders and checks to see if any of their product lines have been updated. He also sees that it’s one of his client’s birthdays so he makes a mental note to ask about their plans to celebrate the big day. 

The mid-day check-in.

The morning meeting went better than expected. The prospect was blown away by the product demo and they gave Phil a verbal approval for a purchase order! Phil makes notes directly into the CRM during the meeting. He takes notes about the questions they have in order to update his FAQ page. The entire sales team is responsible for recording customer’s concerns, questions, and insights after their meetings. Because his CRM includes a field for client’s notes he can easily tap in the responses without disturbing the natural flow of the meeting.

Because the customer wants to get products in stock right away, Phil is able to place the order from the conference table. He confirms which items are in stock and which ones have a longer turn-around time. The ordering process moved quickly because of the smart fields built into the order form. Phil simply keys in the company’s name and the rest of the contact, billing, and shipping information fills automatically. Another benefit of using the CRM to prepare and manage an appointment.

Phil heads to the second appointment of the day.

He knows that he is meeting his contact at a lab in a basement and service is non-existent. Because his CRM saves all information he enters offline and syncs it back up when he reconnects he doesn’t need to switch to pen and paper to take notes.

The customer gives Phil her opinion on a new product she tested and he takes notes in real-time. Before using a mobile app, he was required to take these notes on paper and then had to rewrite them in the CRM on his desktop. Phil admits that the quality of his data before he got his hands on the mobile app were sub-par and the relationship with his clients sometimes suffered because of it.

Being unprepared for a sales meeting is unacceptable. With the current technology landscape, clients expect to be able to see the product you’re trying to sell as you’re trying to sell it. Because Phil has all of the tools in the palm of his hands, he is never concerned about being underprepared for a meeting.

The late afternoon.

Phil’s third appointment had to cancel because of a conflict. He checks tomorrow’s schedule before reaching out and notices he has an appointment with another prospect 3 miles away. He sends a follow up email, requesting to meet the following afternoon and the client obliges.

Because of geo-coding capabilities built into the CRM, Phil can organize his schedule based on locations. With the afternoon wide open, he decides to stop by another client’s office and drop off some free product samples. Because Phil can easily access his records via his mobile CRM application, he doesn’t waste any time adjusting his schedule and completing a task off his to-do list.

Sound familiar?

Enterprise mobility is your sales teams’ lifeblood. Are you 100% sure that your CRM system supports your sales team's needs? If not, please contact us. We can help you get them the mobile tools they need!


Topics: Enterprise Mobility

Salesforce1 Mobile – Becoming mobile ready

In my last post on Salesforce1 Mobile I showed you how to brand your mobile deployment of Salesforce1 to better fit your brand’s standards including how to change the logo, colors, and publisher button to your own. Now that you have an application that your users can identify with, it’s time to start thinking about the functionality that will allow your users to be effective and efficient at their daily tasks.

Meet Bob, the sailorman salesman

Let’s meet Bob, a door to door salesman who makes his living selling sailing equipment to private boat owners and retail boat companies. Bob has recently purchased Salesforce to track his various accounts, and is on the road most of the time. To begin, let’s look at one of Bob’s accounts in Salesforce1 mobile, without making any customizations to the forms.


Bob isn’t really happy with this layout. All Bob wants to see is the name of the account, the phone number, and its address (captured in the Shipping Address fields). On the related list page:


Again, there is too much information. All Bob needs is Contacts and Opportunities.

Customizing the forms for the mobile user

Let’s see if we can’t make Bob a little more productive by removing the fields from the form that he doesn’t need. The idea here is that we’re going to create a new form that only contains the information Bob needs to see, and assign it to his profile (Standard User). The other users in the system who do not have the same profile as Bob will continue to see the native form and can continue to use the extra fields if desired.

To create the new form, we go to:

Setup > Customize > Accounts > Page Layouts


On the Account Page Layout page, we’re going to create a new layout - not copying an existing layout - and naming it Standard User Layout.

The new default form includes the required fields by default. Let’s add the fields and related lists Bob wanted to the form.


Clicking Save, we’re brought back to the Account Page Layout page. We need to take one more step before turning this over to Bob – we need to assign the layout to Bob’s profile so that the application will use this new layout instead of the native one when Bob looks at an account.

Click the Page Layout Assignment button and change the Standard User to the Standard User Layout.


Once we let Bob know that the changes are ready and he refreshes the account on his mobile device, he will see the changes:



This is all fine, but we can do better. If Bob clicks the publisher button in the lower right corner, he’s still presented with many options that aren’t relevant to him:



Let’s remove these extra actions to just the ones he needs: new contact, new opportunity and link.

Publisher Actions – Overriding the defaults

Going back to our form, we see the Publisher Actions panel, but it looks like there aren’t any actions! Where are the default actions coming from? 


Reading the text carefully, it’s telling us the layout is inheriting the default ones from the global publisher layout and that we can override it, which is exactly what we’re going to do. Clicking the link provided gives us an editable box where we can drag just the actions we care about.


And back on Bob’s device:



As you can see, enabling users to be productive while in the field is not as simple as giving them mobile access to a desktop oriented site. You need to spend time thinking about, and usually working with, the end user and their day-to-day tasks to customize the experience to best fit their needs. Sometimes this can take many iterations, as the users explore their options. Listen to your users’ feedback, and take it seriously as it may help you improve their efficiency, and by extension the bottom line.

Do you need some help with your mobile strategy? Not sure if mobile is for you? Contact us and we can help – from discovery all the way to delivery and post go-live support.

Topics: Enterprise Mobility Salesforce

When it comes to custom mobile app development, UX matters. A lot.

Sonoma Partners’ executive Jim Steger wrote a post last fall on enterprise mobile applications and their best features. He told an all too true story about his 2-year old’s innate ability to pick up a cell phone and navigate an app like a pro. It’s tempting to say that kids today come out of the womb getting technology these days but the truth is that app developers (the good ones!) just get it.

When it comes to and Microsoft CRM mobile app development, we like to think that our camp of developers “gets it”. We understand that the usability of an app is its most important feature. This is precisely why Sonoma Partners whole-heartedly invests in our mobile app development… instead of just tacking it on to a list of service offerings.


What does this UX investment look like?

Mobile app development comes in a lot of shapes and sizes: a loft space with 50 developers, a guy that remembers “a little code” from his college HTML course, a crowd-sourced app built by amateurs in their spare time, or one well-trained but over-worked developer carrying the entire load.

At Sonoma Partners, we utilize dedicated UX architects on every mobile app development project. At the beginning of your engagement we refer to them as the Silent Observer. They spend a day or two watching your users’ every move (we promise it isn’t as creepy as it sounds) to understand how they truly use your CRM. It would be one thing to interview you and ask you your process but it’s a horse of a different color to watch you use the platform and pick up on the shortcuts you take along the way. The primary goal of our UX architects in this phase is to pick up on your sales staff’s idiosyncrasies to observe and identify where efficiencies can be gained.

What do we do with these observations?

UXblog-smallWe begin an iterative design process. After we synthesize our observations we create low-fidelity mock-ups. We present you with a list of our recommendations and ask you what you think. We want to know:         

  • Have we properly captured how your sales staff uses your CRM on a day-to-day basis?
  • Have we distilled the 4 to 5 things that your users needs to be able to do over and over again with ease?
  • Have we created a dashboard that is easy to use and aesthetically pleasing?

Once we’ve reached an agreement we create high-fidelity mock-ups. This is where your app comes to life with your company’s style guide including logos, colors, fonts and font treatments, and spacing. The mobile app that we create for your CRM or Microsoft CRM platform looks like an extension of your brand.

What do you get?

Assuming we did our jobs right, you’ll get a mobile application intuitive enough to use without any training. Our goal is that you and your sales team should be able to use your mobile application without an instruction manual or lengthy training session. That’s why we invest in UX architects and frontend development. We believe that when it comes to mobile application development, the UX design really matters. A lot.



Topics: Enterprise Mobility

Five Reasons Your CRM Deployment Needs Enterprise Mobility

If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the rapidly changing world of enterprise mobility, you know that if you don’t have a mobile tool you’re already behind. Mobile CRM apps will grow 500% this year and it’s no longer a nice-to-have capability but a sink-or-swim necessity for your sales team.

If you’re still on the fence, or debating whether or not a mobile CRM app is right for you, we’ve outlined 5 essential reasons you need to move mobile to the forefront of your CRM deployment strategy.


#1: You Need to Access Your Data When You Need it

With a solid mobility tool, your sales staff has the ability to access the important information they need at any time. Mobile CRM apps can help your team manage an account from the first moment of contact to the signature on the statement of work.

A mobile application makes preparing for a meeting on the road an effortless activity, allowing your sales team to pull up records and initial communication with a client in one tap. Beyond acting as a valuable resource prior to the meeting, Mobile CRM apps can serve as a presentation tool when you are one-on-one with clients. With your data in the palm of your hand, you have the ability to show your customers the exact products and services you’re selling.

A fundamental goal in implementing a CRM tool in the first place is to capture good data about your customers. Creating a tool that allows your team to enter the details of the meeting and the next steps for a client immediately after the event, ensures that you are receiving the highest quality information. Deploying a mobile CRM application creates the best circumstance for collecting the most accurate data about your potential and existing clients.

#2: You Need to Reinforce Brand Standards

When you’re in the field meeting with a client you want to be able to display your service offerings in a way that will help drive the sale. It’s likely that your customers are peering over your shoulder and looking at the presentation tools you’ve brought along with you. Building a mobile CRM application that is in-line with your brand standards allows you to bring your most powerful sales tool to any meeting, anywhere. Your goal is to delight your customers. One way to do this is to build an application that presents your products and services in the most effective way possible. Use your CRM to facilitate a collaborative conversation about what you have to offer and how you can offer it.

#3: You Need to Put Your Apps Where Your People Are

Do you want your sales team chained to their desk inputting information into your CRM system or do you want them in the field meeting with clients? We’re going to take a wild guess and suggest that you would choose the latter.

Deploying a complex CRM system might work for users sitting in front of their computer all day, but it simply doesn’t translate to your team out in the field. We encourage all of our customers to invest their time and resources into offering a mobile CRM application that allows their sales staff to spend more time selling and less time sitting.

Some businesses think a mobile CRM solution might not work for their users because they don’t always have cellular connectivity. Great news, perpertual data connectivity is not required for businesses to deploy an effective mobile CRM solution. It doesn’t matter if your team is in a basement, a field, or in a building without a solid Wi-Fi connection. Businesses can leverage offline capabilities in a mobile CRM app so that any data updates can be stored offline and will automatically sync when the device finds a connection. With a mobile CRM application you can say goodbye to the “I didn’t have service” excuse forever.

#4: You Need to Acknowledge Different Form Factors and Screen Sizes

DynamicsmobileOn your desktop, you have the screen real estate to perform lots of different actions. You can open multiple windows and drag documents across multiple monitors. When creating a CRM primarily for desktop you have a lot more flexibility on your system design and you might expect a little more effort from your users.

However building a mobile application makes simplifying your system mandatory. Users need to be able to navigate the system in mere inches. This requires that you narrow down your fields and pinpoint the most valuable information. You have to approach the construction of the app from a tappable mindset. What happens when you subtract fields and functionality? You increase the likelihood that your users will adopt the tool.

The less data they are required to collect not only increases adoption rates, but simultaneously increases the likelihood that you will receive the quality data you are looking for.

#5: You Need to Meet Rising Expectations

Remember that statistic projecting mobile CRM growth of 500%? If this enormous number doesn’t get you moving, you can safely assume it will motivate your competitors. And while right now your focus might be on mobile apps for your internal users, you cannot stop there! Everyone - your sales staff, your customers, your prospects, and your leads - expects you to offer mobile capabilities.  We’ve moved beyond the days of printed presentations and product catalogs. Eventually you will need a full-blown mobile experience for each of these different what are you waiting for?!



Topics: Enterprise Mobility

How Medline Leveraged a Custom Mobile App to Achieve Rock Star CRM User Adoption

Medline Industries is a billion dollar equipment manufacturer and leading supplier of medical, surgical and pharmaceutical products to hospitals, nursing homes, HME providers, surgery centers and physician offices. Medline was running Microsoft Dynamics CRM, but unfortunately they were struggling with their prior CRM implementation partner (hey it happens). Their dissatisfaction stemmed from missed deadlines and a lack of recommendations on how to really take advantage of the capabilities that Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers. Consequently, Medline decided to shop around and talk with different CRM implementation partners to see if they could find a better fit.

When Sonoma Partners met with Medline we immediately recognized how important field sales and service was to their sales staff. With 1,500 CRM users spread throughout the United States, the success of their CRM deployment would be directly tied to how effectively their sales team could use CRM on the road.

Prescribing a mobile solution was part of our recommendation from the start. We focused on building a tool that could collect, manage, and store the data that was important to their team and needed to be accessed anywhere at any time. As we layered mobile elements into their CRM we came to the conclusion that constructing and deploying an iPad app would satisfy a majority of their needs.

At the beginning of the mobile project we took the role of silent observers, and spent time with their sales staff in the field to understand their unique user needs. We watched what they did on a day-to-day basis and zeroed in on the five tasks they did over and over again. The five tasks include accounts, contacts, opportunities, notes, and product orders.

Why just five tasks? At Sonoma Partners, we believe that mobile CRM solutions should be built to focus on each user’s most common use cases. If your software can complete the five most important tasks effortlessly, your users are likely to adopt the system and input valuable data every single day. If you make the app anymore complex, you run the risk of your team failing to adopt.

After construction, how did the app perform?

Since deployment, 90% of all opportunities created in their CRM were done through the custom iPad app! This translated to 27,000 records created using their mobile tool in the first few months. Medline’s success story moved from a plotline revolving around a pure CRM to a mobile solution.

The client’s reaction? “This is exactly what we needed.”

If you’re looking for CRM success similar to Medline you need to ask yourself: "Is my sales team on the road most of the time?"

If the answer is yes and you haven’t yet focused your attention on building a mobile tool, it’s time to start.



Topics: CRM Best Practices Enterprise Mobility

DefenseReady Scout Released to the Win 8 App Store!

We are excited to announce the release of the DefenseReady Scout app to the Windows 8 App Store!  This marks the second Windows 8 application deployed to the Windows 8 App Store for Permuta Technologies (DefenseReady Daily Standup being the first)

DefenseReady is a Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution built by Permuta Technologies, Inc. that provides organizations out-of-the-box mission-enabling solutions for Force Readiness, Mission Execution and Training Management.  The Military Services community is a unique community that require immediate insight and control at leadership as well as all functional levels throughout organizations. Leadership needs visibility throughout their organization with minimal impact to operations.

Developed jointly by Sonoma Partners and Permuta, the Scout application was designed for users in the field who gather critical information in support any business activity managed by DefenseReady. Users can leverage the built-in features of their Win 8 devices to generate maps, identify points of contact, collect photos, record audio and capture other types of information. Users can work their Scout Plans, flag items for issue, mark them complete, and when they’re ready they can organize the final data into a brief that can be exported to Microsoft Word and provided to leadership and decision makers.

Scout Event List

When you first log into Scout, you’ll be presented with a list of Scout Events.  These are the high level initiatives for an activity that is taking place. It could be a mission, investigation, emergency response, or any other type of event that requires detail planning.  Each tile displays the start / end date of the event, as well as the number of Scout Plans contained within the event.  From this page a user can create a Brief which we’ll go into more detail on below.



Scout Plan List

When you drill into a Scout Event, you’re taken to the Scout Plan list page.  Scout Plans are broken up by status.  Each tile displays information about the Scout Plan (address, distance from current location, who it’s assigned to, and the percentage complete).  From the Scout Plan page, users can:

  • Select a different Scout Event
  • Add a new Scout Plan (either from a predefined template, or manually created)
  • Lock/Unlock a Scout Plan
  • Create a Brief



Scout Plan Item List

Once you click into a Scout Plan, you’ll see all the Items that make up this plan.  A Scout Plan can have many items that were either manually created, or automatically created from a template (see mini-map section below for more information on the meaning of the icons).  When in the Scout Plan Items list, you can take many different actions by swiping up:

  • Open an Item
  • Mark an Item Complete / Reopen a Complete Item
  • Flag an Issue on an Item / Remove the flag from a Flagged Item
  • Remove / Delete an Item
  • Reorder Items

You can create many different Scout Plan Items within one Scout Plan.  The following item types can be created for any Scout Plan:

  • Voice Memo (using the native microphone capabilities of the device)
  • Image List (using photos existing on the device, or the devices native camera capabilities to take a new photo)
  • Map (using the native GPS capabilities of the device)
  • Free form Text
  • Equipment List
  • Manpower List
  • Risk/Threats List
  • Facilities List
  • Points of Contact List (images saved on the device or new ones taken with the camera can be associated to each contact in the list)
  • Generic Listings



Mini Map

The mini-map appears at the top of the Scout Plan Items list which allows users to quickly navigate between items without having to scroll horizontally through a long list.  Each icon means something different and each Scout Plan Item may have one or more of the following scenarios applied to it (e.g., it can be a Template Item that is Flagged for an Issue but also Complete):

  • Square:  This is an item that came from a template.
  • Circle:  This is a manually created item.
  • Gray Fill:  This indicates the item is still in progress and not complete.
  • Green Fill:  This indicates the item is complete.
  • Yellow Triangle:  This indicates the item has been flagged for an issue to follow up on later.



Snap Mode

Scout utilizes the native Windows 8 experience of being able to Snap an application to a portion of the available screen so allowing users to work within two applications at once.  Scout will resize to the appropriate size and allow you to navigate Scout while also working within the other application.




Scout takes advantage of the power of other already built applications for Windows 8 and integrates that functionality into Scout.  Users can share from the following applications to within a Scout Plan Item allowing users to create this data outside of Scout in a tool they may be more comfortable with using, and at a later time bring it into the app.

  • Skitch –> Scout Plan Item Image
  • OneNote –> Scout Plan Item Text



Generate a Scout Brief

At any point along the process of collecting data and creating a Scout Plan, users of DefenseReady Scout can generate a Brief.  A Brief can be generated either from the Scout Event list, or from the Scout Plan list. A brief can only contain a single Scout Event, but it can contain multiple Scout Plans from that event, as well as multiple Scout Plan Items from the plan(s) selected.

During the brief creation process, a user has the ability to select the Scout Plan(s) to include, the Scout Plan Item(s) to include, and also change the order of where the Scout Plan Items will appear in the generated Word document.  Scout Plan Items default to the order as they were within the plan itself as the user was building it out, but can be changed (only within a single plan – users cannot move items out of one plan and into another for the generated brief).




DefenseReady Scout is currently available for free to users of DefenseReady.  The app also has a built-in Demo Mode.  Therefore, if you’re not currently a DefenseReady customer, you’re still able to download and test it out.  You can currently download the application directly from the Windows 8 App Store, or from this link:

Topics: Enterprise Mobility

Throw Everything You Know About Gathering CRM Requirements Out The Window

I asked a potential client during a recent meeting to describe his method for gathering requirements for his upcoming CRM project. While thumbing through the list of must-haves he gave me, he told me about his round-the-world trip. In order to compile the list of requirements, he flew across several continents to ask members of his sales team: What do you want?

“If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford

Believe it or not, asking a sales team member what they want is the traditional approach to gathering requirements for CRM systems. If you’re adopting the traditional approach I hate to tell you, you’re doing it all wrong.

When it comes to gathering requirements you can’t ask people what they want, you need to witness what they need. Holding a 60-minute meeting in a conference room isn’t going to give you the meaningful insight you need to build an application that saves your end users time and your company money. If you want to build a CRM application that will ensure user adoption you need to buckle your seat belt and go along for the ride.

The Ultimate Question: Will Our Sales Staff Use It?

RidealongIT and sales professionals know that many CRM systems fail due to poor end user adoption. Therefore if you are making the investment and taking the time to invest in a CRM system…everyone should be laser focused on how to make sure you can achieve high end user adoption. The best way to plan for a high adoption rate is to gather requirements by observing your end users in the field while they conduct their day-to-day tasks.

Decision makers need to put themselves in their sales staff’s shoes (or let Sonoma Partners take the walk for you) and pay attention to their day-to-day activities. The best way to gain insight into these activities is to play the role of the silent observer and spend some time watching. 

What types of things should you be looking for?

  • What are all the various systems and tools the users leverage?
  • What are the data inputs and outputs of each system?
  • Do they have any external files (Excel spreadsheets, Word documents) that they pull out to “really” do their job?
  • What is their hardware situation? How often are they using mobile devices vs desktop/laptops?
  • How often do they connect via wireless versus hard wire?
  • Which web browser are they using?

Really understanding how your sales staff actually gets their job done (instead of how they say they do!) will help you build a CRM system that connects technology with your business process. 

Beware of the Conference Room

Nothing says failure like a plan made in a conference room. It’s easy to hold a brainstorming session and ask attendees to bring a comprehensive list of requirements that they would like to see included in the mobile app.

Unfortunately, what usually comes out of these sessions are unnecessary requests for more: more integrated systems, more data fields, more information, more complexity. We see it often and refer to it as the over-engineering scenario. Clients get tied up thinking about capabilities they may one day want rather than what they need today. What is the result of over-engineering your CRM system? Opportunity, account and contact forms with 150+ data fields each…and none of these data fields will ever get completed!

Our advice? Follow the 80/20 Rule. Focus on the 20% of the information that matters most. Your CRM system will be more valuable if everyone completes the 20% most important data fields, versus having a few users complete 80% of the data. Gathering system requirements by observing end users in the field is the best way to help you identify the 20% of fields your users need to do their job best.

What’s the Objection?

So why do CRM customers still use the traditional approach to gathering CRM requirements? We want to debunk some of the primary objections we hear when trying to convince clients to enlist a silent observer.

  • Our sales staff is too large to get an accurate sample. If your organization has a large sales staff that is spread out geographically, it’s easy to assume that getting an accurate sample size is impossible. The truth is you don’t need to interview everyone to get a clear idea of how your staff uses your CRM. In our experience we find that a handful (yes, that’s about 4) of observations can shed light on the prevailing trends your staff faces. 

  • Our sales staff doesn’t know what they want. We hear this a lot from IT departments. Traditionally IT plays a leading role in CRM software selection even though they never touch the final product. You need to internally remove this stigma and trust that your sales team not only knows what they want, but has an idea of how the technology can improve the way they work.  

If you’re ready to toss the traditional method out the window, our skilled user experience architects are ready to pull up a chair and observe. We’re here to help and build a CRM application that will positively impact your workforce and your bottom-line. 



Topics: CRM Platform Selection Enterprise Mobility

What is your enterprise mobile application 'Best At'?

Have you noticed a child using an app (usually a game) on a mobile device? Regardless of the device, my children (even as young as 2) have no trouble finding the games that interest them, understanding the device’s gestures and have yet to read a manual to play. They quickly become proficient at the applications that interest them. Part of the reason is the applications themselves are specific, use visual design techniques and contextual walkthroughs to guide the user (in this case my children).

multiple mobile device img

With the recent emphasis of enterprise mobility, many organizations are looking at how to best get started in this growing space. Some look to what devices they should support, others start with architecture and technical discussions or with what applications should be consumed on this new technology. I have found that the most impactful approach is to first ask the question 'what should my mobile application be best at'? Forgiving the fact I ended a sentence with a preposition, to me this question sums up where you should concentrate your initial effort, not on the technology, architecture or even device.

We take a targeted, user-intuitive approach with business applications. At Sonoma, we created an entire team specifically around user experience, design, and mobile development. Our team focuses on these guiding principles when addressing our enterprise mobile application projects:

  • Focus on a discrete use case
  • Understand your user and make the application relevant to them
  • Keep it simple
  • Design first
  • Reflect your organization’s brand

In order to distill the complexities of business processes to a series of screens or events suitable for a mobile device, we first start with the use case or user process we would like to enable. From there, we determine what does the application need to be ‘Best At’? Once this foundation is in place, we derive the solution architecture, device strategy and the remaining logistics to deliver an impactful mobile application to your users.


Are you not sure how to get started with enterprise mobility? Consider trying our Mobility Test Drive experience and let us help you find what your mobile application needs to be 'Best At'.

Topics: Enterprise Mobility