We look at the top reasons why companies choose Microsoft Dynamics 365 for their CRM system and the unique features of Dynamics 365 compared to other solutions.
Before we jump in, it’s good to get a clear understanding or what we mean by CRM. CRM (or Customer Relationship Management) refers to processes and technology used to manage your relationship with customers. Implementing a CRM system to manage Sales is the most common use, however a CRM system can be used throughout the whole customer lifecycle including Marketing, Customer Service and more – or to manage relationships other than those with customers.
When implemented and used correctly, your CRM systems allows your organisation to unify its data in one location to streamline process efficiency, improve customer relations and retention, and benefit from enhanced reporting.
While CRM is more than just technology, the platform itself is fundamental to any CRM project. Organisations have many platforms to choose from, which can all have different focuses, such as being very much focused just on the sales process, being SMB focused etc. Some popular choices include Salesforce, Zoho and HubSpot – however we want to look at Microsoft Dynamics 365 and what its key strengths are.
Microsoft Dynamics 365
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a business application platform from Microsoft that combines ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM. Dynamics 365 is made up from many different service areas, which you can choose the ones you require – Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Field Service, HR, Finance, Operations, and more.
Like most CRMs there are the key features that you should find in all platforms – a mobile and offline experience so people can work from anywhere and on any device, dashboards, and charts to show analytics, and security to keep your data safe. However, these are the reason we think Dynamics 365 has the edge:
Flexibility & Customisation
The biggest strength of Dynamics 365 is how flexible the platform is. As a platform, Dynamics 365 is highly customisable – so much so that we often refer to it as xRM (anything relationship management) rather than CRM. This is because Dynamics 365 can be used to manage any relationship – you can customise it completely to fit your business processes rather than having to adapt how you work to fit the system. This flexibility means that as your organisation grows and potentially changes, you know the system can change with you. It also means you can remove fields and items that aren’t relevant to you, add custom fields or update terminology to fit with how you talk about your processes, and make the system simple for your staff to understand and use.
Another key advantage is the platform’s scalability and investment. Dynamics 365 is used by SMBs up to the largest global enterprises, so you know that when you use Dynamics 365 you can stay with the platform without ‘outgrowing’ it. With its continued investment into the roadmap and regular updates, you benefit from continual innovation and gain peace of mind that the system won’t go out of support or become stagnant like some smaller platforms can.
Automation and workflows
Automated workflows when implemented correctly can save a huge amount of valuable time for your company, which greatly frees up staff time to spend on more valuable activities. Most CRMs include a level of process automation and built-in workflows, but the power of Dynamics comes from its customisation and flexibility, allowing you to create nearly any type of automation and integrate workflows with third party applications. For simple automations, end users or super users can use Power Automate, which enables no-code/low-code workflow building to open automation capabilities to non-technical users.
Most organisations today use Microsoft services in some form – such as Teams, Outlook, or Office. By having your CRM in the same ecosystem, you can easily use these familiar services within Dynamics 365. Dynamics 365 includes native Excel integration to import and export data, Word integration for creating documentation templates, Outlook integration to track emails and communications and Teams integration to integrate CRM into your daily workspace. You also gain the confidence that any future Microsoft services will work with your CRM if you’re using Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Wider integration capabilities
Its not just integration with other Microsoft services though, Dynamics 365 can be integrated with most third-party applications thanks to its API and Dataverse. Dynamics 365 uses the Dataverse to store and manage its data, which provides a common data model that makes integrating, manipulating, and surfacing data much simpler thanks to its standardised schema. To quote Microsoft:
“As a result, a wide range of enterprise integration scenarios—from retrieving data sent in a spreadsheet as an email attachment to emerging scenarios like using Dataverse data in a blockchain network—can be achieved with ease and with little to no code required. Integration efforts that previously were measured in days and weeks can now often be measured in hours and minutes.” Microsoft
Also built on the Dataverse is Microsoft’s Power Platform. This trio of solutions is focused on giving more power to end users and super users with less reliance on costly and time-heavy development. Compromising of Power BI for business intelligence and analytics, Power Apps for building simple web and mobile applications that can integrate of extend your CRM instance and Power Automate, which as mentioned, enables simple workflows and automations to be built.
If you’d like to find out more on this, you can sign up to our webinar "Building PowerApps and Automations with Dynamics 365".
Reporting is a key requirement of a CRM system. Dynamics 365 has some of the most powerful reporting capabilities thanks to its native integration with Excel and Power BI as its within the Microsoft stack. Of course, there are dashboards, charts and reports that can be built, customised, and automated but it’s the ‘Advanced Find’ capability that can really open up your analytics. This intuitive feature allows users of any technical ability create their own views, charts and reports to analyse data – these can be then used individually or shared with specific people or teams. If you want to get more visual analytics then Power BI is the best option, which can also be easily shared with anyone and gives you the BI capabilities that are renowned from the platform.
Security & Compliance
All CRM platforms should have strong security built-in, as your CRM has some of - if not the - the most sensitive data within your organisation. With Dynamics 365 you gain the security and compliance power from Microsoft, one of the largest software providers globally. Microsoft investment billions into their security and this feeds into all their products, which is continually invested in and enhanced to keep your data secure. As part of the Microsoft ecosystem, you can leverage the security features within Microsoft 365 if you are using this, such as Single Sign-On, MFA, Conditional Access and more to added, integrated protection and centralised management to keep your IT team happy.
A CRM is integral to most organisations, so choosing the right platform is important. You need to consider how you plan on using CRM, your long-term company plans and your exact requirements. Just as important is thinking about what you don’t require. For some organisations that just want a simple sales tracking CRM that’s a step above spread sheets, Microsoft Dynamics 365 could be overkill. However, in our experience having the long-term flexibility, scalability and ability to integrate to other data sources makes choosing Dynamics 365 a valuable long-term investment for your CRM.