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XRM (eXtensible Relationship Management) is the next generation of CRM solutions. Rather than just being a sales focused tool, modern CRM solutions are adaptable to meet the needs of any organisation. Effectively, they become a platform to build business applications.
Why go the XRM route rather than a bespoke build?
We used to build a lot of bespoke software, but with Dynamics CRM our message is buy don't build. We recommend focusing on the builds you have to build e.g. integration from the website to CRM, rather than having to build all of the management screens.
Some of the reasons why we recommend this approach to clients are:
- XRM can be cost effective based on the development and maintenance time saved
- XRM can be much quicker to implement as there is less code to write
- Better quality as building on a platform ensures cross browser/cross device support
- Changes to entities, forms and workflows are much simpler to execute than bespoke code, reducing the maintenance burden and cost
- Less code means less complexity and lower risk to the project delivery date
- Build on an industry leading platform, which is being constantly improved and developed
- Dynamics CRM can be well supported by any Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner, ensuring that their isn't lock in to a single supplier
- Quicker time to operation allows the business to benefit earlier from the new solution.
What are the XRM features of Dynamics CRM?
Dynamics CRM is an excellent example of an XRM based solution and it is one of the key reasons why we recommend it to clients.
Flexible Entities, Relationships & Attributes
Capture data on the things that are important to your business. Dynamics CRM allows for new entities, relationships and attributes, ensuring that the data requirements of any organisation can be effectively modeled.
Flexible Forms & Process Flows
Multiple forms can be added per entity and these are designed to work across desktops, tablet and mobile as standard. In addition they will be available via cross device CRM apps. These forms can include business rules, without the need to revert to complex programming. This ensures that data management applications can be quickly built to specific business requirements.
In addition we sometimes have a process to follow within an application e.g. the lifecycle of a consumer complaint. With Dynamics CRM we can model the process and prompt the user for the relevant information at each stage in the lifecycle.
Flexible Workflows & Dialogs
Business applications are more than just forms. They may require people to be alerted when specific events occur, or they may require specialised actions to occur. With Dynamics CRM there is a full workflow system in place that is configured with point and click programming. Where the out of the box functionality does not fit the bill e.g. call a web service, then we can revert to building a custom workflow step to perform the relevant function. As such we only have to build limited custom code and we aren't restricted by the platform.
Web Services / API
A good XRM solution will provide a comprehensive API. With Dynamics CRM we get both a client side and server side API as standard. One of the key advantages of Dynamics CRM is that as we customise the entities, the API is also automatically updated.
Some of the areas we have added to Dynamics CRM for clients include:
- Membership Records
- Payments / Credit Notes
- Debt Records
- Web Activities
Taking Events as an example we can use Dynamics CRM as the basis of full Event Management system with online booking, pushing online bookings through to CRM via web services.
We used to build bespoke membership systems, now we put in place Dynamics CRM and we customise it to meet the needs of the organisation.
Before you go Bespoke
If you are considering building a bespoke business application then before you start we'd strongly recommend that you consider an XRM approach. It may be quicker, lower the development risk, offer more functionality and be more maintainable.