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Our Top four reasons on Why using “Partner Hosted” MS Dynamics CRM 2011 is a cost effective solution

In our last blog, we spoke about the three different variants of Microsoft CRM Dynamics and how we considered the Partner Hosted (also known as a Partner Managed Service) to be in our opinion probably the best option for most Start ups and small businesses. Typically, this solution suits those organisations with from 5 (or less) users and up to say 30-50 users who may have limited IT internal resource and infrastructure and funds.

The rationale behind this blog is we are often asked to explain why we favour this service for many of our SME Clients. This is because we believe that the Partner Hosted option is great for business ‘Start Up’s or indeed for larger organisations looking for a full rollout or often to establish an initial Pilot or Trial as ‘proof of concept’ testing and to help to embed and measure how a CRM system improves sales and marketing teams processes, effectiveness and reporting.

Here, we have listed what we think are the key factors in using a Partner Hosted service for your MS CRM implementation:

  1. Pricing and Cash flow. No upfront investment is needed for either software licences or indeed in any new IT hardware. The MAS Partner Hosted service is a ‘pay as you go’ service with the flexibility to add or decrease your licences based on a known price per month per user. With only a monthly charge to be agreed, then cash flow is enhanced and no capital expenditure is required for example on new servers or licences.
  2. Fast Start and Rapid Customisation. You can start with a 14 day trial which can be set up in a few hours and this enables you and your team to start using the system almost the same day you decide. You are then able to understand CRM and decide what enhancements or customisations you need after getting a feel for the system and feedback from your team. MAS can also provide our Fast Track customisation and training service as well.
  3. IT investment is minimal with either Hosted or Online since there are no servers to upgrade, maintain and ensure that any extra software such as Microsoft SQL Server are not needed. Upgrades are included as part of your package and again with a Partner Managed Service solution, it is likely that upgrades will be applied quicker giving you maximum functionality as it is released.
  4. Speed of Service. Our research shows that the MS CRM Online option typically has some additional latency as the Data Centre is not in the UK and the ‘page load’ times can sometimes be up to twice that of our Partner Hosted offering.

There are also four additional reasons which are worthwhile mentioning and these are outlined in the full blog article - click here to request the full article.

Overall, in our opinion, the Partner Hosted service for MS Dynamics CRM 2011 offers great value for a fast and easily supported implementation, plus it helps to free up your own IT resource and reduces any possible capital expenditure. All this without any lengthy fixed contract, just a notice period of 60 days. This gives you the time to embrace and measure the effectiveness of using MS CRM within your business as well as the ability to train up key user champions, often one of the key factors in any successful CRM project.

By Gary Perkins

For more information on how we can help, call 0844 745 4588.

18th January 2013

Explaining MS Dynamics CRM 2011 Different Licence Options

We are often asked to help clients to choose between the three versions available for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. These differences can be difficult for clients to understand since the differences can appear minor and clients look at functionality differences first.

A brief note on ‘the Cloud’ or ‘SaaS’ (Software as a Service). As we all know, the IT industry is full of jargon, but ‘the Cloud’ and ‘SaaS’ are really interchangeable terms and just really mean that your data/information and software is hosted on the internet on someone else’s servers and you access over the ‘net.

However, all these versions can be accessed via an internet connection currently using only Internet Explorer (at May 2012) or by installing a plug-in solution for Microsoft Outlook directly from within MS Outlook as additional folders. Typically, Microsoft CRM 2011 works best with MS Outlook 2010 since it shares the same 'look and feel', but Outlook 2007 is fully compatible and supported.

Broadly, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 in IT terms can be deployed or accessed three ways:

  1. ‘Microsoft CRM Online’ has been available in the UK since January 2011 and is the version hosted on Microsoft’s own data centres which comprise of three managed centres in Dublin, US and Asia. Further additional components like email routing and or SMTP services will need to be provided separately, incurring additional costs, along with a 12 month commitment under contract with early exit clauses. 'Online' tends in our view to suit businesses that are start ups and possibly from 1-10 or more users, although this is not a restriction. Other factors need to be accounted for.
  2. Microsoft CRM ‘On Premise’ is the same software, but is purchased as a business asset and deployed on your own internal architecture which is either owned or rented by an individual organisation. MS SQL Licences for the back end database are purchased separately. On-going Maintenance or software assurance needs to be built into any comparison to ensure upgrades are available. In theory from as little as 1 user up to many thousands are catered for, although we tend to find that due to the investment involved, then really from 25 users up is where this works best. Since IT involvement and infrastructure investment overall tends to be heavier, a dedicated IT team or department is usually in place within the company to help to support this level of investment.
  3. Microsoft CRM ‘Partner Hosted or Managed Service’. Where a specialist CRM partner acts as the host for your CRM and your data on a managed set of Infrastructure / Servers, This type of service offers a higher level of support for end users along with system and web integration, giving organisations much of the flexibility of 'On-Premise' with a similar price point of MS CRM 'Online'. Again, from single users up to large numbers, although again over 50 users is where we tend to find a 'On Premise' comparisons also needs to be considered.

MAS favour for the majority of our own clients the Partner Managed Service as we find this offering is then delivered as a one stop provision and for many of our clients this offers the best of both options since there is no internal hardware to support or install, plus there is the flexibility of the On-Premise solution to link to other systems, but no need to worry about upgrades or maintaining the server. In our view, for organisations with say between 5 and 100 users they will benefit greatly from a Partner Managed Service which delivers not only a single point solution to the organisation but enables an organisation with limited CRM support knowledge to get on doing what they do as a business and not have to worry about IT implementation and IT support as it is already handled.

For more information and to discuss which solution best fits your organisation since here we can only talk in broad terms, then contact us or visit our Software page.

Next time, we will look at some of the factors in this decision.

By Gary Perkins

9th October 2012

Four Reasons why using a multi-CRM advisor can save you money!

Over the last few months, we have been asked why it is best to engage with a multi-CRM reseller such as ourselves and up until now, we considered this a benefit without really delving into the reasons why our clients come to us. There are a number of key reasons which in my view help to explain why using a multi-CRM reseller such as MAS can help.

The first real reason is independence. –you only pay for what you need. With a portfolio of products we are not tied into any one solution and can match the best product to our client needs. Now this also means we need to choose our clients carefully to ensure the CRM portfolio we have chosen can meet these requirements, hence most of our clients requiring this type of advice may have between 5 to 25 users of the system, sometimes up to 50 users. Above this user range, then higher end products are normally considered.

Strong portfolio of pedigree products – we save you time by having searched the market for you. Having spent 16 years in the CRM industry, we have seen many products come and go and whilst we cannot cover every CRM product, we are continually approached to take on new products. Again, like our clients we are wary of new entrants who may be unproven or not have adequate resources. Often these are country specific products and we have found that over the years, international exposure is one true test of longevity in our view, having seen many localised only products not gain the required client base to sustain their developments. All the products we take have either some special advantage or have a proven pedigree in the industry. Of course, we have to choose, but our portfolio is continually being reviewed. Broadly, we consider mainstream proven CRM products with a good development history, financial resources and a good network of other resellers able to support your system.

Third party product knowledge and experience – helping you to source the incremental solution components you need reduces the need for bespoke development, in many instances, the CRM system may form the core system, but often for example, marketers may want E-mail marketing, SMS capability and this is also available since we have been involved with e-mail marketing including our own chosen tool since around 2004. With third party add-ons, a ‘Google’ search doesn’t give you that extra industry in-depth knowledge and experience. We maintain strong contacts with other resellers, partly as a result of our history in the industry and can review many products with a simple call as well.

Consideration of the many client factors involved in choosing CRM. Our extensive customer experience enables us to anticipate requirements you may not have considered. Our portfolio has been chosen and is reviewed to offer two core, sometimes overlapping user and functionality ranges, this capability means we can maximise our experience and knowledge to help our clients find the best fit. We are confident that with the two entry-level CRM system - ACT! and GoldMine together with our two mid-level CRM applications - SAGECRM and MS CRM, available in different deployment options such as hosted, online or on your own IT system, then together with their respective approved add-ons we can cover around 85% of our mid-market client requirements for their CRM systems at an affordable price.

By Gary Perkins

For more information on how MAS can help you, please contact us at Marketing Answers.

16th June 2012