Best Practices: Increase User Acceptance of Your Implementation of Microsoft CRM Part II

A major reason organizations decide to implement a CRM system such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 is to gain visibility into customers, their buying behavior and the sales process. This visibility is gained through collecting data and reporting on it.

Need Data
The company’s need to collect as much data as possible and the sales people’s need to not “waste” their time on what they consider administrative task can give rise to a battle between the company and the sales people. At the end of the day if sales people are frustrated with a CRM system and consider the system a hinder rather than an aid to their sales efforts, they will not use it. Without user acceptance and consistent use, an organization will never be able to realize the fantastic benefits of a CRM system.

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Improving The Default Views In Microsoft CRM 3.0 & 4.0 – Part II

In one of our previous blogs we gave you the instructions to change the Default Views in CRM. Today we’ll discuss making another change to Views that is a simple change but the effect is powerful.

While viewing the History of an Account, Lead, Contact, etc., the default view in the History grid is missing an important column, Description. The Description field contains the details of the phone call, email, etc. This forces the users to open the activity record so they can read the full content of the record. For new CRM implementations, users can get quite frustrated with all these clicks (a double click to open the record, a single click to close the record). What we’re going to do is add the Description field to the views so that we can reduce those clicks.

In CRM 3.0 or CRM 4.0, go to Settings then Customization. Open the Activity entity and then go into Forms and Views. Locate & open the view Closed Activity Associated View. In the new window click the Add Columns on the right hand side. Click the Description field, and then click OK. Click Save & Close and make sure you Publish.

Since this is the Associated View for activities, it will affect all activities for all entities. Meaning you only make the change once and it will take effect on Contacts, Leads and so on.

Finally, even though the Description field is now a viewable column, users will still not be able to read the entirety of the many records since the length is too long. Our job now is to train users to use the mouse-over tool tip. By simply placing the mouse over the Description of one of our History records, the tool tip will display the contents (see image).

All in all, a very simple modification but one that will save possible hundreds of clicks per day!

Changing Views In CRM

Microsoft CRM Consultant
Unitek Microsoft CRM Services

Best Practices: Increase User Acceptance of Your Implementation of Microsoft CRM Part I

User acceptance should be the single most important focus of any implementation of a Sales automation system such as Microsoft CRM. User acceptance, demonstrated through consistent use by sales people, is very important if you want to realize the fantastic benefits of a CRM system. Absence of user acceptance has single handedly contributed to failure of most Sales Automation implementations more than any other factor.

This posting is part one of a series of best practice recommendations to ensure high level of user acceptance.

Most companies don’t give much thought to their sales processes until they are faced with implementing a CRM system. Or if they do, the rules are fairly lax and not consistently enforced. Then comes a system, such as Microsoft CRM, which implements and enforces policies and procedures, and stops sales people from bypassing the sales process. Most sales people consider this loss of capability/freedom and view Microsoft CRM as an enemy rather than an ally. I see lots of companies do this and alienate their sales people and never know what went wrong.

Best practice

  • Separate announcement (and possibly enforcement), of new policies and procedures from the introduction of Microsoft CRM. This approach helps position Microsoft CRM as a friend that will help make the digestion of new policies and procedures easier. This of course is the “good guy bad guy” strategy. Microsoft CRM being the good guy and new procedures/polices the bad guy.
  • Introduce the policies and procedures in small portions.
    • First introduce high level ones
    • Then as your sales people get used to those, add more detail and layers.

In Microsoft CRM, rules and guide lines can be added later using workflows and Scripts. This allows you to go live with a much simpler implementation and add complexity in stages.

In general, change, even the best kind, more often than not, is a source of stress for majority of people. Introduce change in digestible chunks instead of dishing it all at once. You will be much happier with the result, more successful with your implementation and save yourself and your team lots of unnecessary stress.

………If you would like to see more suggestions, stay tuned to my next posting by adding this site to your RSS reader.

If you have had user acceptance problems and overcame it, please share it so that everyone can learn from your example.

Microsoft CRM Consultant
Unitek Microsoft CRM Services

Microsoft CRM: Should We Use Leads?

Microsoft CRM is certainly a dynamic solution, but with ANY solution that has wealth of options, there must be careful consideration taken to ensure that your company’s implementation is specific to your needs. Everyday, I see companies that rush to implement CRM and don’t take the time to map out their business process or policies. Then, when it’s time to launch CRM, there’s the usual backlash of user adoption, frustration from divisions/departments, and sometimes a blatant distaste for CRM. Why?? CRM didn’t do anything! It’s the lack of forethought and proper planning that causes these headaches. For example, let’s look at Best Practices regarding leads…

Not all organizations will use leads because every organization considers qualified prospects differently. Those that depend on mass demand generation processes – such as advertisements, trade shows, cold calling lists, and so on – will likely use leads. These organizations would benefit from lead management because this process helps sort through the massive amounts of data and helps sales focus their efforts in the best direction.

Those companies that start their sales process from the opportunity stage rather than the lead stage would do better to eliminate the need for leads and focus only on opportunities. If the sales process doesn’t begin with a lack of information or a need to gauge interest, leads might not apply. Companies we’ve seen implement this practice are from a variety of industries like Real Estate, Housing Development, Government, Brick & Mortar Retail Stores, etc…

Ask yourself or your company this…

  1. Do we invest time and money into generating lists of potential customers? Do we have mass mailings, cold calling, etc.
  2. Do we keep lists of people who are target customers, but the lists have limited contact information?
  3. Do we have personnel devoted to sifting through lists of possible customers to identify “good” prospects?
  4. Do we need to manage lists of potential customers separately from the Accounts or Contact lists?

If the answer is “Yes,” then you may want to use leads. If “No,” then don’t! Don’t be afraid to make the necessary customizations to your Microsoft CRM implementation that will benefit your overall needs. This can ONLY be done when you have taken the time to analyze your processes and determine what is best. Don’t forget to keep in mind…”Where will we be in 5 years and will our processes be the same as they are today?” Without these critical steps, you and your implementation will suffer the consequences.

Microsoft CRM Consultant
Unitek Microsoft CRM Services

Best Practices: Customization Guidelines

As full featured and rich as Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 is, you will invariably find yourself needing to customize Microsoft CRM to meet your specific business requirements.

When you start customizing Microsoft CRM, do yourself and your organization a favor and implement the following two simple guidelines:

Tip #1: Change the schema name prefix for customized entities and attributes.

Microsoft CRM adds a default prefix, “New_”, to custom entities’ and custom attributes’ schema names. As a best practice, change the default prefix to reflect the name of the company or consultant who will be doing the customization. Over time you might have different consultants work on the system and taking this extra step will greatly help in case you might have to go back to that consultant to get more information about the work they have done. If you are the consultant, doing this will help you distinguish your work from that of other consultants and help clear any disputes that might arise.


  1. In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0, on the Navigation Pane (left hand side of the screen), click Settings, on the Main Grid (to the right of the Navigation Pane), click Organization Settings, on the Main Grid, click System Settings.
  2. In the System Settings dialog box, click the Customization Tab.
  3. In this tab, change the prefix from New to the name of the consultant or consulting firm who will be doing the customizations. Click OK to save your changes.

System Settings - Webpage Dialog

Tip #2: Make use of the Description field when adding new attributes.

Require anyone who adds a new attribute to put their name, date and reason for the new attribute addition in the Description field when adding the attribute.

Attribute New For Lead

If you have any questions in this regard, please feel free to contact us.

Microsoft CRM Consultant
Unitek Microsoft CRM Services