Microsoft Dynamics CRM Review

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a customer relationship management platform designed by Microsoft to appear like and work like existing Microsoft software. One of the most attractive features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the ability to integrate into pre-existing Microsoft productivity software. The majority of work with Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be done in Microsoft Outlook, a program familiar to the majority of users. Outlook’s familiarity should greatly shorten the learning curve for Dynamics for most users. Data can easily be passed back and forth between Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Dynamics, allowing for a quicker analysis process. Microsoft Dynamics can be accessed through mobile, web-enabled devices, allowing users to track sales data or access customer data while outside of the office. Microsoft offers customers the choice to deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM on a cloud hosted by Microsoft, on the customers’ own servers, or on a privately hosted cloud provided by a partner of Microsoft. If customers choose to use Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, they are provided their own, separate database and own the rights to all of their data. Microsoft also provides redundancy in their hosting to cut down on the possibility of downtime. Microsoft is one of the few CRM providers who financially guarantee their hosting uptime, offering a refund on subscription fees, depending on monthly uptime percentages. They offer multiple pricing models, depending on deployment choice, level of access for users, level of support plan and server package. In 2011, Microsoft Dynamics CRM won an award from Nucleus Research for Best Usability. In 2009, CRM Magazine awarded Microsoft Dynamics CRM Market Leader Awards in the categories of Enterprise Suite CRM, Midmarket Suite CRM, Sales Force Automation, and Business Intelligence.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Key Features and Benefits

Integration with Microsoft Office Suite

Customers can use Microsoft Dynamics within Microsoft Office Outlook. Contacts and emails can be easily shared between Outlook and Dynamics. Email can be automatically associated with specific leads or customers. Data can be quickly imported to Microsoft Excel for analysis and exported back to Microsoft Dynamics.

Multiple Deployment Options

Customers can choose to deploy Microsoft Dynamics on-premises, or in a cloud provided by Microsoft or one of their service partners.

Financially Guaranteed Uptime

For any month where the monthly uptime percentage of Microsoft’s hosting falls below 99.9%, the Service Level Agreement provides for a credit against the applicable month’s subscription fee. The credit varies between 25% of the subscription fee, if the uptime percentage is below 99.9%; to 100% of the subscription fee, if the uptime percentage falls below 95%.

Multiple Access Levels

Microsoft Dynamics offers Full, Limited, Employee Self Service, and External Connector Client Access Licenses (CAL). CALs allow businesses to offer their employees different levels of access to read or write data and to access the API. The External Connector allows businesses to offer full or limited access to Microsoft Dynamics to external clients or employees. For customers utilizing on-premises servers, who wish to upgrade their CRM to Microsoft’s cloud service, there are upgrades which will allow existing users access to the cloud service at a discounted rate.

Flexibility of Support

Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers automatically receive support as part of their subscription, but customers can also purchase extended support plans, along with limited use packages for isolated or short-term incidents.

Sales

Managers can set up sales territories and teams, while also creating role-based and group-based access to information. Centrally tracked information allows for smoother communication between teams and departments. Managers can set up automated triggers for creation and distribution of tasks and leads.

Marketing

With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, businesses can create automated responses, triggered by customer interest patterns. Working within Microsoft Outlook cuts down on unnecessary, redundant mailing and speeds up the process of mass mailings. Marketing campaigns can be created with the Quick Campaign Wizard and multiple campaigns can be managed in one central location.

Pricing for Microsoft Dynamics CRM varies based upon the location of the customer.

For Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployed on-premise (per year):

A Workgroup Server (including 5 Users) costs $1,555 – $2,200. For CRM Server 2011 costs are $3,111 – $4,420 per server. The same pricing applies to External Connectors. Client Access Licenses (Full Access) cost $622 – $880 per user. Limited Client Access Licenses are $186 – $263 per user. Employee Self Service CAL cost $62 – $88.

For Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online:

CRM Online Professional starts at $44 per month per user with a 12 month commitment. Five gigabytes of storage is included in the cost. One extra gigabyte of online storage can be purchased for $9.99 per month. A cancellation fee of $175 per user applies if cancellation occurs outside of a trial period or the first or last month of the commitment. A Step-Up License for upgrading to cloud from on-premise is $15.63 – $28.22.

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