This is the long overdue update to my mini-series of blogs about our experience with rolling out a CRM at Learning Pool. Since my last update I’ve learned a lot, acquired some grey hairs I didn’t want or need and spent a fortune. After just over 18 months of using MS Dynamics as our CRM I’ve finally cracked and we’re throwing it out. Here’s why:
This is a really big one. The load time for Dynamics online is really poor and gets noticeably worse when you introduce even an innocuous amount of workflow. When you have a helpdesk team managing hundreds of cases through the system every day this hurts and I’m shocked that the guys put up with this for so long. Of course the sales team is more vocal…. But 5 minutes to record a simple opportunity is a lot to ask!
Microsoft introduced a new UX last year and our experience has been that this has been a major step backwards. I’m not sure why Microsoft are persevering with this tiled thing but the absence of a save button and the inability to go back to the previous page have made Dynamics unusable in our experience.
We knew when we bought Dynamics that we’d have a lot to do to customise and improve the system so it would work for us. Our assumption that since it was all .Net we’d be able to work with this better than other solutions has proven to be wrong and we’ve been disappointed by how inflexible the system is. Making changes to screens and logic is too hard, requires expert consultancy and simply takes too long.
While the subscription costs for Dynamics are attractive the overall cost of ownership isn’t. Perhaps my biggest learn from this project is to look past the subscription and set up costs. This became a reality for me recently when I asked our marketing team to do a specific, targeted direct mail campaign. Turns out it takes a day (at least) for the guys to put this together, plus they often have to get into the html to build a proper email template. I dread to think how much that’s actually cost over the last two years!
Plugging into other systems is a basic requirement this days and should be fairly straightforward by now. In our case we wanted to plug into our Drupal powered website and while we did achieve this the process was arduous and the outcome unreliable. The lack of prebuilt APIs is a real problem with Dynamics and the solutions are mainly consultancy based so incur unacceptable costs. The other issue on this one is even harder to understand – Dynamics doesn’t integrate that well with other Microsoft products like Office, Sharepoint and Yammer. It’s such a shame and another in a long list of incorrect assumptions for us.
We bought Dynamics knowing that it wasn’t quite there on mobile but with the promise that this would get addressed. It hasn’t. It’s been interesting to see how this has started to have a greater impact on productivity recently as users become more and more dependent on tablet devices and such. I guess Microsoft will get to this eventually and they’ve done OK with some apps recently but this one has become an increasingly significant barrier to adoption and that’s crucial to the success of any CRM project.
So what next?
We’re in the market for a replacement. Actually we’ve already made a decision but I’ll write about that in a few weeks when we’ve gone through the inevitable implementation pain and are out the other side in a, hopefully, better place.