A deployment of Microsoft Dynamics CRM for a specific business is very much like building a house. No two are precisely the same, because the owner will have a slightly or widely differing set of requirements and, ultimately, instructions for the builder. This is the same for CRM deployments. Every business is slightly or widely different, and because Microsoft Dynamics CRM happens to be an extremely flexible platform, it can and should be customized to suit the operation of the business stakeholders that will be using it. This is as true for the End Users as it is for the Executive Staff.

At xRM, we have developed an efficient and painless way of accomplishing this set of instructions with a minimal amount of work on the part of the client, through the use of very popular “QuickStart BluePrint” engagement. The steps are as follows:

  1. An initial meeting with an xRM Architect and any business stakeholders that can provide operational and strategic input, where requirements and objectives are defined and colletected. This meeting is generally scheduled for one hour. It is usually recorded, providing permission to do so is granted.
  2. Following the meeting, usually there is a series of emails between various parties and the architect to refine understanding, and often to collect artifacts, such as existing reports and operational spreadsheets, or other forms of current tracking. If there is a system that is currently in use, it’s possible that a demonstration of the use of that system may be appropriate.
  3. Once all information is collected, the architect prepares a document – a “Blueprint” — usually between six and ten pages, which serves as a set of instructions for anyone who will be configuring the instance of CRM for the business. It also serves as a memorandum of understanding so that the client can rest assured that xRM understands well what CRM is intended to do for the company.
  4. Once the review of the BluePrint is reviewed and approved by the client (or any adjustments made to the design following review, and then approved), the Project Manager will prepare a Project Plan for the deployment, using Microsoft Project, so a timeline can be tracked.

This process is made more efficient if some principals are kept in mind:

  • Prepare. Before the initial meeting with the xRM Architect, choose the right people for the meeting. All business units that are planning to use CRM should be represented. If possible, a list of requirements for the system should be prepared and submitted before the meeting.
  • Don’t be shy. We recommend fostering an atmosphere of trust and openness. Sometimes people are a little wary of “complaining” about problems that affect them, particularly in the presence of their managers. But the use of CRM is designed to solve problems, and the more details we know about them, the better we can help.
  • Formulate a strategy. By this we mean identify the objectives for the use of CRM across all parts of the business. Typically, executive staff are attracted to the data that will be presented when the system is used properly, but operationally, for end user adoption to occur, some benefits should be considered and work done to realize those benefits for end users. An example would be a dashboard that contains upcoming tasks and appointments categorized and presented for each user in the context of data that they care about. Task automation and notification is another relatively simple win, where users are notified when important events take place in the data set, such as an assigned lead, or reminders to follow up after X days.

Ultimately, the success of the deployment often hinges on this early phase. Following the guidelines above will help to ensure success.