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Software Designed For Your People

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Microsoft Office as a primary interface

For users who primarily spend their time in Microsoft Office, we use the customer model to surface the Microsoft Dynamics functionality they need in three primary ways.

  • Integrated User Experience – For certain classes of business application that require very frequent use of both the application and Microsoft Office, it makes sense to build the entire user experience directly in Microsoft Office (using documented Office APIs) so that it is completely seamless to the end user.

  • Microsoft Dynamics Snap – For users that need to access business process and business information within specific defined domains, this collection of programs “snap” into Microsoft Office System and help to easily coordinate and manage data in Microsoft Dynamics business management solutions.

  • Functional Integration – For users that only occasionally need to ”reach” into back end systems in an ad hoc manner to grab business information, Microsoft Office provides a rich set of interfaces to allow integration into specific functional areas of the product.

Integrated User Experience

With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, a sales representative such as Michael the Account Manager can manage all sales data, campaigns, and marketing information from within Microsoft Outlook. Contacts and opportunities can be viewed, updated, and shared across the organization. In addition, current product information, new leads, and contracts related to the sales process can be accessed. This can all be done from within Microsoft Outlook without the need to learn a different system or toggle back and forth. Additionally, for a Microsoft-centric organization, Microsoft Dynamics CRM enables use of existing IT investments, training, and technologies.
In the past, barriers to successful CRM implementations have included the lack of employee adoption, use, and compliance across the organization. A key advantage of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is its native integration to core Microsoft products, which helps organizations mitigate risks of poor user adoption. Users can easily perform tasks because they are familiar and do not require moving between multiple applications. For example, a sales representative can track customer contacts and sales data in Microsoft Outlook as well as view activities, accounts, competition, and more.

Figure 9: Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows employees to track customer contacts and sales data in Outlook as well as view activities, accounts, competition, and more.

Microsoft Dynamics Snap

Microsoft Dynamics Snap applications enable information workers to interact with Microsoft Dynamics information from within the applications they are most familiar with—Microsoft Office. There are currently 10 snap-ins available that integrate Microsoft Office with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics™ AX.

These solutions are designed for information workers who predominantly use Microsoft Office but could benefit from access to business information and business processes managed by their back end Microsoft Dynamics business management solutions. Most people want to be able to do this without opening multiple programs, cutting and pasting data, or having to master the full complexity of all of the software in a company.

As an example, a consultant Tricia working with her customer will coordinate meetings and appointments using Outlook. These calendar events are linked with, in this case, Microsoft Dynamics AX time entries, eliminating the need to correlate tasks and helping reduce errors as a result of users having to transpose data from one program to another. Additionally, it is not necessary for the consultant to engage Microsoft Dynamics AX – all work is completed within Outlook, yet his time allocation is appropriately tracked in the billing application.

Figure 10: Outlook calendar events are linked with Microsoft Dynamics AX time entries with the Timesheet Management Snap-In.
With the Business Data Lookup Snap-In, people can access Microsoft Dynamics data easily from within Microsoft Office System as well as store Microsoft Office System documents as part of the Microsoft Dynamics database. With a single repository of customer communications, both structured and unstructured data, employees can increase productivity and experience greater operational efficiency.

As an example, Nancy a sales representative’s communication is attached to her customer’s Microsoft Dynamics AX record. When working with her customers, she can quickly find all related information since it is stored in one place. It’s not necessary for her to dig through multiple applications and folders to successfully complete a sale. In addition, while she is on leave from the office, her peers can easily manage her customer relationships, maintaining a high level of customer care.

Figure 11: Microsoft Word users can link structured and unstructured data and access Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft Dynamics AX information.
While utilizing RoleTailored tasks and data sharing with Outlook and Word is not new to Microsoft Dynamics business management solutions (such features as time management and vacation requests previously existed), the method in which Microsoft delivers these applications is. Microsoft partners and independent software vendors (ISVs) can benefit by using the Technical Pre-releases of the Microsoft Dynamics Snap solutions to enhance or customize the shipped solutions to more closely map to specific processes.

Functional Integration

A department manager Vince wants the receptionist Rebecca—who is not a Microsoft Dynamics user—to draft a letter to a customer regarding a previously placed order. While working in Word, when the assistant enters pertinent customer information that’s stored in the business solution, she can instantly drill back on that customer data from within the Word document to see the customer’s latest order in real time, and she can include a thank you for that order in the letter she is about to send.

Without this integration, the assistant would need to request this customer data from someone with full access to the business solution, impacting multiple people’s productivity and efficiency.

Figure 12: Microsoft Office users can access Microsoft Dynamics data from within Word.
Reporting, budgeting, and forecasting can all be exhaustive and time consuming, yet very necessary steps in a successful business. Using trusted tools that are familiar to most people helps increase productivity and decrease the learning curve. Microsoft Dynamics allows users to review, edit, and manipulate data with the widely used spreadsheet application Excel with as little as one click of the mouse.

Additionally, using Excel to view and analyze data from Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows users to quickly provide non-system users information they need. For example, a manager wants a list of the most profitable items emailed to his sales force. Using the export functionality from within Microsoft Dynamics, he can easily export this data to Excel and email the information directly to the sales team. When the sales team receives the data, they can also drill back to the item detail using Smart Tags functionality, which resides in Microsoft Dynamics and is based on the security access the employees given what’s appropriate to their role.

Figure 13: Microsoft Dynamics data can be shared with non-system users from within Excel through Smart Tags functionality.

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