How to Implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM using Agile Methodology

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is an ecosystem of practices and strategies which ensures that the organizational organism caters to the needs of customers and retains them efficiently. Every enterprise chooses a certain way to implement CRM. The most commonly used model is the Waterfall method.

implement microsoft dynamics using agile methodology


Why Agile?

The Waterfall method follows a linear trajectory starting with the collection of data and documents followed by designing and coding and testing of the system. After User Acceptance Test (UAT) and resolution of any issues, delivery of the product occurs. PRINCE2 (formulated by the UK government) and PMI PMP are two enforcements of the Waterfall method. While the latent issues could be weeded out in the design stage, there is a lack of awareness of problems that could arise after implementation of the structure. Moreover, when there is a need for change in the software, tedious control processes are involved. Presence of such difficulties resulted in the rise of the agile-alternative which responds to these shortfalls effectively.

What is the Agile methodology?

The Agile method of software development follows a recursive and reiterative style of growing and completing the product. Changes can be implemented over time by use of inter-departmental teams that bring together designers, developers, planners, and testers. A fixed time span (time-box) is determined over which these teams work continuously and recurrently to evaluate, modify, and maintain the product. The Agile methodology follows a cyclical pattern where the overall period is divided into phases (called ‘sprints’) and every sprint is allotted a determined time-period (usually in the unit of weeks). In the series of phases, each sprint is attributed a listing of deliverables. These deliverables are determined on the basis of business value (laid out by the client). In case any of the programmed work is not completed within the sprint, then the time line is revised and data is utilized to prepare the forthcoming sprints. Once the work is completed, it is analyzed by the client and project group. This is generally done using demos and daily designs. The client is an integral part of the Agile methodology, particularly during the reviews.

Is Agile CRM right for you?

The Agile methodology will sync with an organization which is looking for a self-maintaining mechanism where multi-dimensional goals can be accomplished in an integrative manner. Since Agile was born from multiple light-weight perspectives (of 1990s), any organization that takes up the Agile methodology must realize that its mode of operation is determined by value, than by intention for big-bang delivery. The Manifesto for Agile Software Development clearly spells “our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software”. Agile method allows for the software to be delivered with negligible delay and consistent reiterations allow developers to approximate the client’s expectations. Two of the most significant merits of the Agile system are that it provides high transparency of processes and also permits for changes to be made comfortably at different points of time. The two issues that arise with Agile methodology are: it is complex than the linear patterns followed in waterfall method and in case the agile method is not implemented with proper planning, it could inherit performance deficiencies in the long run. An organization following this method must make sure that all the documentation is continuously updated and recorded.
Since the Agile methodology is more dynamic and adaptive than the Waterfall, it has been favored by organizations of varying scales. Implementations of agile methodology include Scrum, Crystal, XP, and Kanban.

Three Approaches to Implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the culmination of years of work put in to bring together the three pillars of an organization under the umbrella of software development: sales, customer relationship and marketing. Three versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM are available: Online, Hosted and On-Premise. Different approaches can be used to implement the agile CRM structure. Here are three major approaches to CRM implementation:

CRM Approach 1: Component-Wise Release

Your organization can start by focusing on one component at a certain time. Thus, you could begin with Sales where you collect data on your accounts and classify them (leads, contacts and prospects). This is followed by gathering of information on each of them. Move to the Services component where the team creates tickets for the contacts, based on information from Sales department. You could also shift to Marketing element by dividing the contacts into customers and prospects, followed by creation of marketing lists and generation of campaigns. The objective remains to emphasize on high-priority module of the organization and then, construct releases based on the data derived during the last releases.

CRM Approach 2: Activity-Oriented/Target-Audience Based Releases

It is also possible to plan the organizational releases on basis of specific tasks and end-users. For instance, you could structure your first release on account management tasks (like reporting, prospecting and surveying) and then move on to constructing the lead-management functionality. Consider the target audience and divide them according to the business priorities. This will allow to deliver the most important of the segments first. This approach is ideal for those organizations which are currently making use of multiple methods to fulfil varying departmental needs.

CRM Approach 3: Prioritize and land on core functionality

Go through the series of processes in your enterprise and land on the core functionality process. This would allow you to bring out first release dependent on minimal level of functionality. When you are following this approach, you have to choose between outstanding functionality and personalization on one hand and manual procedures and automatic work-flows on the other. For example, suppose company ABC is in urgent need of releasing the CRM to its end users, then could manual data-searching be done while report-making and dashboard-generation are saved for later time? Thus, your company is to prioritize its needs and wait to recognize the primary tasks once the core functionality is put out.

When we holistically view the Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we realize that it will sync with a company according to the temperament of project and lifestyle of the enterprise. If implemented correctly and with proper planning, Agile methodology could spell success for the organization.

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Author : Sahana Rajan Date : 23 Dec 2015