Microsoft CRM, also referred as Microsoft Dynamics CRM has for now pretty long career path since 1999. So far MS CRM proved to be excellent solution for companies with the offices located in various business metros and needing web based coordination. MS CRM is MS Internet Explorer application, which could give your access to your customers, leads, prospects, services. It also opens good connection to Great Plains Microsoft Dynamics GP in the form of integration. In short future we also expect Microsoft to integrate CRM with other leading ERP applications, such as Axapta.

Outlook Client. This was very bright idea from Microsoft side to have outlook client as a presentation for Microsoft CRM data. Outlook has such nice features as synchronization and then working offline. If you have outlook client for CRM – you can download your customers, leads, contacts, and event properly programmed custom features, then work with them and finally synchronize them back to MS CRM database

MS CRM Integration. As the task itself it is not difficult or challenging one. You can deploy MS SQL Server linked server to show your third party or even heterogeneous data on MS CRM screens. However, when we are talking about enabling working offline – we should get different approach. Your third party system should feed data into MS CRM database – through MS CRM SDK custom utility. In CRM itself you should stick to MS CRM user defined fields. If you take this direction – MS CRM custom features will be taken by Outlook client and synchronized with local machine. Your third party data could reside as it was mentioned in heterogeneous platforms: Oracle, DB 2, Sybase, Lotus Notes Domino, SAP, Pervasive SQL 2000, Ctree or any ODBC compliant database.

Transportation Companies – about 30% of our clients in the States are transportation and freight forwarding companies. This actually proves the hypothesis that MS CRM is very simple solution – these companies usually do not have extra money to spend on their computer system, but need the solution for its sales people to instantly see the cargos, plus have simple customization, allowing them to integrate with legacy system.

Customization Tools. Visual Studio.Net is the first to mention, where you can create web application for MS CRM in VB.Net or C#.Net. Then you should use Crystal Reports Enterprise to expand reporting functionality. You use MS SQL Server scripting to pull the data from third party system (but not to update data in the CRM – you should use MS CRM SDK for this purpose

Data Massage and initial conversion. Implementing MS CRM is often about switching from your existing contact management system, such as ACT!, Gold Mine and similar. Data conversion in the form of initial master records import and balances could be done by various tools, such as Scribe or native MS CRM integration utility.

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