Great new video from Microsoft Dynamics on reigniting passion for work. I just had to share it with you!
As I write this, I sit at Panera Bread drinking coffee with my iPhone, my iPad, and my laptop all running at once. I am wired and apparently, I am a technology addict.
According to a recent article in The Week magazine Technology: Is it making addicts of us all? next year will mark the first time, “Internet Use Disorder” will appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Started as an online tongue-in-cheek ailment in the 1997, Internet Use Disorder is defined broadly as excessive computer use that interferes with daily life (those who use the Internet more than 38 hours per week) and can cause diminished concentration, empathy, and impulse control. Symptoms range from depression to acute psychosis.
I don’t feel depressed or psychotic, but there are times when I do feel relationally detached.
I’ve been in sales and marketing for over 20 years and I am convinced, today more than ever, that successful selling is still about building trusted interpersonal relationships, over time, through a series of positive interactions.
I’ve always wanted better tools that would help me build customer relationships. As a sales person in my 20s, when I carried a 10-pound Franklin Planner in my arms and had a bag-phone the size of a fax machine strapped to my neck, I dreamed of a future when inexpensive mobile phones would enable me to return customer calls more promptly, of a time when I could have a low-cost portable computer so I could retrieve information about our products quickly, and a system that would help remind me of my appointments and commitments automatically.
The technology available for sales and marketing people to manage and maintain customer relationships has vastly exceeded anything I hoped for or even imagined back then: CRM systems, Social Media, Video Conferencing, Wiki’s, Smart Phones, IM, to name a few.
A dream come true, right?
This is where the problem often lies: so much technology to manage, so little time to actually get to know someone. In a world where we are more connected to each other than ever we are more isolated than ever. That is, we lack substantial relationships. In the context of selling, a sale lacking relationship is known as a “transaction.” As sales people, we’ve all learned this equation:
Transactional Selling = Eminent Extinction.
My point here is that we should remember that no matter what business we are in, we are all still in the business of people. So, lets do what we can to give technology its proper place as a tool to craft relationships. (And, by the way, there are some great CRM tools out there.)
Customer relationship-building is a craft.
And as craftsmen, we must realize that we cannot spend too much of our focus on our tools. I am an avid acoustic guitar player (notice I didn’t use the word “good”) and I love hand-crafted guitars. And while I am certain the luthiers at Gibson Guitar rightfully give their lathes and chisels a lot of attention, it is clearly apparent that they remain laser-focused on what they are ultimately building: beautiful guitars that last beyond a lifetime.
Financial management professionals are given job titles such as “Controller” – yet when I talk to these people – their #1 complaint is that things are “out of control” in their organizations.
Control is about having the power to influence or direct peoples’ behaviors.
Usually when someone does something that isn’t desirable, the reactive organizational response goes something like this:
- An emergency meeting is convened to discuss the matter. The goal is to determine “what went wrong”.
- After the determination has been made, options are discussed as to what can be done to insure that the situation doesn’t repeat itself in the future.
- New process “rules” are put into place to prevent the situation from happening again – and these new rules are communicated to the appropriate personnel.
- The situation happens again because people aren’t following the rules.
One thing that I notice consistently is that many of our clients are trying to develop processes that control events that have already taken place. For example, once an Accounts Payable invoice is received from a vendor, it is given to a Department Manager for approval. After this, it goes along with the check to a higher ranking employee for final review – and check signature. The problem is that when it is determined that the order should have never been placed with that vendor, there is very little that can be done about it – because the event took place 30 days ago.
In effect, we are trying to control something that has already taken place.
Process definition is very important to the life of a Controller. Requisitions should be approved PRIOR to the order being placed with the vendor. More time should be spent controlling things BEFORE THEY HAVE ALREADY TAKEN PLACE – RATHER THAN AFTER! So once a good process has been developed, how do you implement it – and make sure the rules are being followed? Microsoft Dynamics GP and CRM – combined with SharePoint – provide the platform and tools to accommodate and enforce the process. Let us show you how it works!
It has been a long time coming and it is not implemented for all browsers, but we are finally getting there! Microsoft has released Update Rollup 8 for Dynamics CRM 2011. With this rollup, comes the long anticipated support for browsers other than Internet Explorer.
We have not tested this out yet, so this is not a review of the new feature, it is simply an informational post to let you know it is out there. Here is the detailed support matrix that Microsoft published. As you can see, there is now support for iPad2 and MAC OS-X if you are using Safari.
The Pinnacle CRM team will be testing out the new functionality as soon as possible and will report back here with a full review.
Here’s a link to the download center to Update Rollup 8 for those of you who just can’t wait.
Last week, while performing a Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 upgrade for a customer, we came across an error that caused all of our custom CRM 4.0 plugins to stop working. As always, before the live upgrade, we performed a test upgrade and everything had worked just fine. The only difference we could think of was that in the test upgrade, we had not applied any rollups to the CRM 2011 installation and in the live upgrade, we installed update rollup 6.
The error displayed was:
Unable to Process Request.
Message: Could not load file or assembly ‘Microsoft.Crm.Sdk, Version=22.214.171.124, Culture=neutral, PublicToken=31bf3856ad364e35’ or one of its dependencies. The located assembly’s manifest definition does not match the assembly reference. (Exception from HRESULT: 0×80131040)
After spending a couple of VERY frustrating hours trying to troubleshoot this on our own or find any KB articles or blog posts out there referencing this error, we were no further along. The plugins had been written for CRM 4.0 of course, but we had verified that everything worked correctly during out test upgrade.
To make a long story short, we started a support ticket with Microsoft and luckily were connected with the right person to help us out with this one. It turns out there is a known issue with installing Dynamics CRM 2011 and then going straight to Update Rollup 6 (I was told, but have not verified, that if you install Update Rollup 5 then 6, this will not happen.) At the time of writing this post, the KB article has evidently been written by the Microsoft CRM team, but has yet to be published. I will update this post with a link when it becomes available.
The issue, it turns out, is that there is a missing re-direct in Rollup 6 which prevents it from handling code written for CRM 4.0. Luckily, the fix for this is very simple.
- Open the CRM web.config file in notepad or similar text editor. Normally located here: (C:\Program Files\Microsoft Dynamics CRM\CRMWeb\web.config) on your CRM server.
- Insert the following lines of code at the very bottom, just before the closing “</configuration>” tag. Save the file and perform an IIS reset.
<assemblyIdentity name=”Microsoft.Crm.Sdk” publicKeyToken=”31bf3856ad364e35″
<bindingRedirect oldVersion=”126.96.36.199-188.8.131.52″ newVersion=”184.108.40.206″ />
Here is what it should look like when you are finished.
I was able to re-create and resolve this issue in another test environment by Installing Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, Installing Update Rollup 6, and following the steps I outlined above. The fix only takes a few seconds and is actually faster than installing Rollup 5 first IF you know how to deal with it!
In my experience, getting user adoption is the trickiest and the most important part of a successful system implementation. From the beginning, Microsoft has taken care, through the design of its Dynamics CRM product, to help ease user adoption. Perhaps the single best thing they did was \provide “instant familiarity” by designing the user interface to resemble that of Microsoft Outlook. Due to the prevalence of Outlook in most workplaces, users who log into Dynamics CRM for the first time are able to intuitively navigate the interface.
With the release of Rollup 5 for Dynamics CRM 2011, Microsoft has dramatically increased their user adoption appeal by introducing a mini social networking tool which can be added right into CRM called: Microsoft CRM Activity Feed. Think of this like the Facebook or LinkedIn home page that displays updates to the entities you choose to follow. Having just begun testing this tool myself, I can already see huge potential for increased communication, ease of access, and yes, user adoption!
Here is a clip from the application description at the CRM Marketplace:
“Microsoft Dynamics CRM Activity Feeds provide real time notifications and quick sharing of information that the team cares about via quick and short updates. Activity Feeds enable a user to follow and listen in on important activities that take place around the people, accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities or anything else that they care about.
Feed status updates can be posted manually by users or automatically based on pre-defined system rules through workflow. Activity Feeds can also be posted to by external applications through the Microsoft Dynamics CRM web services API. Activity Feeds expose Microsoft Office Lync real-time presence functionality so that users can initiate communication activities such as IM, phone calls and emails.”
So why do I think this will help with user adoption? When I mentioned the Facebook and LinkedIn home pages above, did you immediately get a picture in your head of what it might look like? Well, so will your users. Again, it comes back to familiarity. They will immediately understand what it is for, how they can use it, and begin to find creative uses for the functionality. Today’s end users have begun to expect ease of communication and the free flow of information from their computer applications. Providing this inside an already incredibly powerful business tool will give you the edge you need in gaining user acceptance.
The following are some images of what Microsoft Dynamics CRM Activity Feeds look like. Look Familiar?
Being a CFO, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about “Risk”. Most people that I interact with think about the “risk” involved in doing something – for example, if I purchase this new machine – will it be a wise investment – or do I risk it being a waste of money? Today I would like to talk about the “risk” involved in “not doing something” rather than doing something.
A formal definition of Risk management involves assessing and quantifying business risks, then taking measures to control or reduce them. Many times in the CFO world, this reduces down to a simple question of “should we spend the money or not”. In regards to the acquisition of CRM or ERP software, the way software used to be acquired required a large up-front investment – with no opportunity for any type of refund if the software failed to meet your expectations. This introduced a tremendous amount of perceived “risk” into the buying process – which led to a higher number of people that decide to do “nothing” rather than assume the risk – which led to the continuing use of inferior and outdated software that failed to meet the needs of the business. So, for the typical CFO, the perceived risk was just too intimidating to take the chance.
In 2012, we have many ways to manage the financial risk involved with either a CRM or ERP software acquisition. Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics GP both offer free trial periods in a hosted environment. This is a great opportunity to try out the software – in an environment that reduces the risk tremendously. In essence, you can “try it before you buy it”.
Even after you decide that Dynamics CRM or GP is the right software for your business, the acquisition price can still seem “risky” from a financial standpoint. Hosted software on a long-term basis is a great option for those organizations looking to NOT have a large cash payout to “buy” the software in the traditional fashion. For example, under the SAAS model, you have no long-term commitments, no setup fees, you can access the system from any workstation through the internet – and many devices are supported including MAC’s and iPad’s. Monthly fees start as low as $41 per month for CRM and $165 per month for GP.
If your organization is burdened with old, outdated software, make 2012 the year that you stop “doing nothing” and explore a new, updated CRM or ERP system in a way that reduces risk significantly. Trust me – there is a better solution waiting for you.