By Bas Bergstra
Experienced with Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementations for some time now? Then you are probably also familiar with the term Digital Transformation. Even more so, chances are that if you have been working with Dynamics 365 for more than a few years, you probably already were helping transform the business of your customer before Digital Transformation became a buzz word.
Still, even though Dynamics 365 each year is well positioned in Gartner its Magic Quadrant for CRM and enjoying a steady growth of its user base, there are still many challenges to overcome when transforming organizations with that platform.
As a Consultant having worked with Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (previously known as ‘CRM’) for many years now, I can totally relate to the challenges that we can run into.
Before zooming into the confrontations that might arise during your projects, let us break down the term Digital Transformation (‘DT’). The reason is that DT actually serves a goal, while technology such as Dynamics 365 is merely a mean to achieve the strategic objectives of our customers.
DT as a concept can be widely interpreted. Some organizations consider having a chatbot added to their website as a transformation in the way they provide service to customers, while others apply innovative technology to completely revolutionize business models in industries. Typical examples of disruptors such as Tesla, AirBNB and Uber have by now actually become a bit stale but are useful to illustrate the other side of the spectrum.
When looking at your typical project involving Dynamics 365 let us assume there is some degree of DT that your client is aiming for. Regardless to which extent ambitions are set, expectations regarding the level Dynamics 365 can meet then will be high. Especially when clients have completed a laborious RFI- and RFP process. The first challenge is then to manage their assumptions regarding the platform; this requires broad and detailed knowledge of the (latest) features.
Having completed the appropriate Microsoft certifications will certainly help a lot, even for the more seasoned consultants. This is contrary to a surprisingly common belief that learning theory only serves to successfully complete the exams. The actual benefit of certification is that it will trigger you to familiarize extensively with Out-of-the-Box features. For those of you who are still skeptical, the key is that preparing for an exam pushes you further and thereby encourages true commitment. Obvious reasons are the fact that you will then have a deadline to have completed your studying and the fact that Microsoft Learn is covering topics more extensively and effectively than ever before. In addition, checking YouTube offers tons of material, also listen to the relevant Pod casts to keep up.
With thorough knowledge of the Dynamics 365 features you might expect to be on pretty solid ground, when starting to engage with customers to determine a fit or gap for their requirements. And yes, as a starting point you are correct with that, but there is off course a ‘but’ leading to the second challenge.
Customers typically do not express requirements for easy mapping to Dynamics 365. More often than not, specifications seem to demand for something different than what you learned when preparing for the Microsoft certifications. A common example is whether to map requirement for prospect management to the Out-of-the-Box entity Lead, Account or even Contact (in a Business-to-Consumer context).
Still, when having successfully completed the Dynamics 365 Sales exam you probably are able to effectively explain each feature and then together decide the adequateness accordingly. The key here is to consider standard functionality before entering the world of reinventing the wheel, by e.g. creating your own custom entity to manage a Prospect. A major drawback is that such entity will not leverage neat features such as seamless conversion of customer touch-points (i.e. activities such as e-mail or a web site visit) into a Lead for follow-up.
This concludes the first two ways to make DT with Dynamics 365 successful. Make sure to check my next blog with the more best-practices. Naturally I also highly value your feedback.
Link to part II of this blog.