Choosing the Right CRM Solution Part II

July 31, 2012   //   Customer Relationship Management, , , , ,

In my last blog entry (Choosing The Right CRM Solution Part I), I wrote about the commonalities between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com (SFDC). In this blog I will review the capabilities that illustrate key strengths and differentiators between these two market leading CRM solutions. Let’s take a look:

On-premise capability: This one is as clear as they come; Salesforce.com was born in the cloud and some believe they may have started the cloud revolution. Salesforce.com does not offer an on-premise option. Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers a robust on-premise solution and has recently invested heavily in their on-demand, cloud-based version of Dynamics CRM. If you require an on-premise solution, Microsoft is the only way to go. Winner: Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Mobile capabilities: Both solutions offer the ability to connect on mobile devices. Salesforce’s app is free at all pricing levels and easy to install on any mobile device. However, to customize the app, a top tier subscription is required. Microsoft will be releasing enhanced mobile capability with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile in Q4 (delayed from Q2), but it comes with a price tag of $30 per user per month. The Q4 service update will allow customers to access the complete functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM on virtually any device with a new cloud-based, cross-platform, native mobile client service. Because SFDC’s app is free out of the box and readily available on all mobile devices, I’m giving it the advantage here. But…I do believe Microsoft will continue to invest in this critical functionality. Winner: Salesforce.com…but check back after Microsoft’s Q4 2012 release.

Integration and customization flexibility: Both Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com offer robust functionality out of the box. For complex environments requiring significant customization and integration with other back-office applications, Microsoft’s on-premise solution offers the most flexibility. While both solutions offer an open architecture, as a cloud offering, we have found that SFDC has established some restrictions and limitations. There are some very large organizations using SFDC, so you know that they have found a way to make it work for them. This is not a deal breaker, but it may require some creativity on our team’s part to meet your unique requirements. Winner: Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Rapid Innovation: Microsoft is Microsoft; they are capable of delivering a superior product when they make the investment and they have made that investment in recent years. Microsoft’s 2011 release was a significant upgrade and Dynamics CRM isn’t their only software application. For Salesforce.com, this IS their space. They are a leader in this market space and are rapidly enhancing and expanding their footprint within the industry. As a pure cloud solution, SFDC is able to innovate and deploy updates and enhancements easier than Microsoft. Winner: Salesforce.com…with Microsoft quickly catching up!

Social Enterprise Capabilities: Similar to my point about innovation, Salesforce.com leads the way with their go-to-market strategy of building a “social enterprise,” allowing you to connect customers and employees. They launched this revolution with the advent of Chatter and continue to expand with connections to other social tools like Facebook and LinkedIn. Microsoft countered Chatter with the Activity Feed functionality, but will need to further develop this area of their solution. While I believe the “social enterprise” has merit, we are a long way from our marketing, sales and service teams fully embracing this functionality, especially in the midmarket space. Thus, before you drink the “Kool-Aid” on SFDC’s social capabilities; be sure this is truly a game-changer and deciding factor before over committing to this capability. Winner: Salesforce.com

Document Management: Document management capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM are based on SharePoint. Users can take advantage of a wealth of document management capabilities including the ability to create custom content types, check-in/check-out capability, track changes, and version control. Salesforce.com used to market a solution they called Salesforce Content. However, it seems they have moved to suggesting customers publish documents via Chatter. This suggests to me that they do not have a clearly defined strategy for document management or that it is not that important. I think it is critical – and did I mention that SWC has a phenomenal track record with Microsoft SharePoint deployments? Winner: Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Apps marketplace: If this topic is unfamiliar, think about Apples’ App Store. Salesforce.com’s AppExchange has thousands of third party applications to extend a CRM deployment and is a leader in this space. Microsoft has a similar Dynamics Marketplace, but as a new offering, does not have nearly as many available apps. I expect Microsoft’s offerings to continue to grow, but it will take some time before it can ever rival SFDC’s AppExchange. Winner: Salesforce.com…but is this important to you?

Cost: Simply put, Salesforce.com is pricey. I remember being an early user/adopter of SFDC back in 2003. Back then, it didn’t cost much – in fact, I think it was free. Having grown from a few thousand to 100,000 customers, they can now charge a premium for their solution. As a cloud solution, they charge a per user per month subscription fee at varying levels based on needed feature sets. Salesforce’s subscription fees range from $65 to $250 per user per month. Microsoft’s cloud option, On Demand, is $44 per user per month. Pricing and licensing of Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s on premise solution is complex and can vary based on the existing Enterprise Agreement (EA) a company may have in place with Microsoft. You’ll need to factor in server costs on top of your user licenses. Winner: Microsoft Dynamics CRM

User interface: Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides you with a CRM solution right within the familiar Microsoft Outlook application. If you know Microsoft Office applications, you can quickly adapt to the Dynamics CRM application. Salesfore.com’s interface is similar to today’s social media sites with a very friendly, web-based user interface. As previously noted, basic functionality of these tools is the same. For some, the user interface becomes a matter of personal preference. Would you and your users prefer and adopt a UI that looks and acts more like Outlook or Facebook? Winner: You decide!

Here’s a quick summary for those scoring at home:

Salesforce.com

  • Rapid Innovation
  • Mobile App
  • Apps Marketplace
  • Social Enterprise Capabilities
  • User Interface (if you prefer a user interface more like Facebook than Microsoft Office)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM

  • On-premise Option
  • Value/Cost
  • Document Management
  • Integration Flexibility
  • User Interface (if you like the Outlook user experience)

We have a lot more to talk about, so keep checking back for more blog entries about these two market leaders and SWC’s growing CRM practice!

To learn more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com system solutions, please join Chicago area IT consultants SWC at our next Customer Relationship Management event.