Microsoft CRM 4.0 Upgrade – Not What We Envisioned

After doing a number of upgrades of Microsoft CRM 3.0 to CRM 4.0, which went off without a hitch, one of our customers was anxious to get their system on the newest platform. This customer had a number of customizations and 3rd party add-ons that we needed to plan for. The customizations fell into the category of both “supported” and “unsupported”. The 3rd party software was from a well known vendor who had updated their products to support Microsoft CRM 4.0. Things were looking good!

After carefully backing up servers and also making disc images, we began the upgrade process. The story gets ugly at this point…

The customer had about 40,000 items in Workflow. Each and every one of these needed to be upgraded. This process took about 18 hours! But it finally did complete and we breathed a sigh of relief. “At least it finished!”

Next we worked on the unsupported customizations, mostly Jscripts. These were fairly easy as we knew exactly what we needed to change.

“We’re cooking now!”

Now we installed the 3rd party add-on software. This was accomplished fairly easily, even though the install documentation often referred to CRM 3.0 and directories within 3.0. But the upgrade did complete and the functionality seemed to be working.

Finally it’s time to install the Microsoft CRM 4.0 Outlook client. And now we come to a screeching halt.

No errors during install but not a single client can get CRM functionality! How can this be?

During the conversation with Microsoft Dynamics support, they asked if we had installed any products from the 3rd party vendor, mentioned earlier. Yes we have, but how can that effect the Outlook client?

No real explanation was given but Microsoft says they are working on a fix with the 3rd party vendor.

Thankfully we had backup images of the CRM 3.0 server and SQL server so the retro-grade wasn’t nearly as painful as the upgrade attempt!

How did your Microsoft CRM 3.0 to CRM 4.0 upgrade go?

Microsoft CRM Consultant
Unitek Microsoft CRM Services

How Dynamic IS Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0?

Microsoft DynamicsThroughout my experiences instructing and consulting with Microsoft CRM, the majority of CRM implementations that I’ve seen and worked with, all look exactly alike! It doesn’t matter what industry they are in, or what they sell, or how they operate… the layout, look, and functionality are typically the same. Not all are setup this way; but the vast majority seems to struggle with deploying CRM to fit their needs. I like comparing it to walking into any Home Depot – it’s this huge open space that’s filled with potential and you have access to any tool you would need; but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’ll just end up walking the aisles, wondering why the ceilings are so high and why you can’t find anyone that knows what they’re doing. The only thing you’ll accomplish is buying that hot dog on the way out.

Sometimes, I’ll ask my students… “Imagine that you are working for Microsoft and you’ve been assigned the task of developing a CRM solution. The only catch is that the entire application must be universally applicable to all users.” So, how do you design an application that provides organizational management, produces measurable data, and has the ability to grow with the company…all the while, making it unique and personal to each organization?

Answer? You design it so that every facet, feature, add-on, plug-in, field, form, view, and entity can be customized. Using customization to its fullest potential allows those like “Mom & Pop Liquors” or “Wholesale Distribution Centers-R-Us” or even companies like “Hewlett Packard” to all use the same application and apply it directly to their business model. In my opinion, Microsoft nailed it with CRM 4.0.

I was recently asked to consult on a Microsoft CRM 4.0 implementation for an organic food distributor. They had only been working with CRM for a few months and were struggling with user adoption, overall functionality, and the knowledge of what could be done “outside of the box.” There were some custom forms, tabs, and other modifications being used, but the missing features were those that were specific to their unique business policies and procedures. After analysis of their situation, I gave my recommended customizations and they were excited to see that they were merely scratching the surface of what CRM could provide.

They wanted to have Microsoft CRM work for them right out of the box, but their willingness to recognize the infancy of their initial deployment allowed them to take a step back. Realizing that CRM would be ever evolving, (nothing is customized overnight) they were able to prioritize their “Critical Needs” vs. “Critical Wants”, which gave them a starting point for a successful implementation. Sometimes we just need to know what’s possible … and why we need it in the first place!

Statistics show us that over 50% of ALL CRM implementations FAIL. It’s not surprising, considering that most managers and executives tell me they are tired of hearing their employees complain that they won’t work with Microsoft CRM because CRM isn’t working for them. I truly believe that the majority of these organizations just aren’t shown how dynamic Microsoft CRM can be! It’s not anyone’s fault… it just wasn’t clear as to what they should have done back at Step #1.

I’m sure that most of us have either experienced or worked with Microsoft CRM setups like this, correct? Is the “out of the box” version so great that there’s no reason to tinker with it? NO! Are the default settings good enough to get the job done? Maybe for some, but probably…NO! Does it take time, thought, and some self-analysis to understand what you should do with CRM? YES! So take the time and make it yours. Or if you are the one making these customizations; make sure the priorities are set and you know exactly how CRM is going to work within their needs. Otherwise, you’re just going to end up leaving Home Depot…only to buy ANOTHER hot dog.

Microsoft CRM Consultant
Unitek Microsoft CRM Services