Customer Relationship Management through Microsoft Dynamics 365

Recently, I asked my new team members to explore the basics of D365 CRM and their response made me realize that while all the details are available online, no clear distinction was available for areas like:

  • What exactly is a CRM and what is it supposed to deliver?
  • Is Dynamics 365 a CRM, an ERP, or something else?
  • What exactly goes into the bracket of D365 CRM?

  • So, I thought the best way to address this is through a simple article answering these questions in one go attempting to bring some clarity to everyone.

    What is a CRM

    As the name states, CRM is a platform through which an organization maintains its relationship interactions with its customers. Here, the thing to understand is what are the areas\scenarios where Customer Relationship comes into play for a Business.

    This can be understood by simply taking a more real-world (organic) course of a person looking to make friends reaches out to the masses looking to find people with common interests. In a CRM, this aspect is covered in the Marketing Module where a company reaches out to a wide audience through different means like social media, emails, calls, etc. providing details of what they have on offer. In D365 (and most other CRMs), the recipient audience being the potential (future) customers are termed as Leads and the activity of reaching out is called Marketing Campaign.

    When a Lead shows interest in the information shared through the outreach, the probability of having a business deal with him\her\them increases, and to highlight this aspect, CRM gives the feature to qualify\convert that lead into an Opportunity.

    One of the frequently asked questions is “How to differentiate a Lead from an Opportunity?”.

    The specifics of the answer can vary for each company based on the line of work and business model, but a very simple determining factor for most if not all cases is the level of information available at a given point in time. If the information is too little\scarce, it’s a lead. But if details like a business requirement, desired products\services, etc. are available that can help in having a more specific idea of what this potential customer may be interested in, it is an Opportunity. Generally, when such specifics are available, then related contact details like Organization Name (if applicable), Person Name, etc. are also available and for this D365 even gives an automation feature that when a Lead gets qualified into an Opportunity, it automatically creates a linked Account (Company\Group) and Contact (person) record in the CRM.

    On reaching the stage of opportunity, the next logical step is to discuss on the specifics of the business deal like what is being offered (product\service, price, etc.), and come to a consensus. In D365, these proposals, negotiations, etc. are handled through Quotations and when an agreement is reached, the Quotation is qualified into an Order followed by billing (when applicable) in the form of Invoices.

    The flow from Lead – to Invoice (mentioned above) covers a major part of the CRM’s Sales Process but Customer Relationship Management does not end here as other aspects like Customer Retention, Feedback, Support, etc.

    In the above flow, I have tried to explain the basics of D365 usage in parallel with the flow of a CRM, so it is also important to highlight that during the flow of the Sales Process in Dynamics, other related processes, entities, etc. (like Products, Pricelists, etc.) also come into effect, but I did not elaborate much on them so that the core flow of a CRM is made clear.

    What is Dynamics?

    ERP is an ecosystem of software modules that can help in running the entire business for both internal and external processes.

    By this definition, it is clear that CRM is a sub-set of ERP which covers specific areas like Sales, Support, etc.

    Industry specific dynamics
    Dynamics is a family of products that fall under the spectrum of Microsoft Business Solutions and each of the Dynamics products developed\procured by Microsoft (GP, NAV\BC, SL, FO\AX, Customer Service\CRM, etc.) caters to a specific set of functionalities that fall under the capability set of an ERP. With Dynamics, Microsoft provides you the option to choose a specific set of features like a Mini-ERP instead of taking a full-sized ERP, thereby making Dynamics a viable option even for small\mid-sized organizations as a Full-ERP is mostly used by larger enterprises.

    So, if you need to manage your Marketing & Sales activities, D365 CRM (Sales) would suffice and if you want to also manage your Financial\Accounting Services, you just need to add D365 BC to your Microsoft 365 subscription.

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