The Lowdown on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Licensing

Dynamics 365 licensing has been our hot topic this past month.

We had so many questions about it that we prepared a webinar and a guide that would help businesses get their heads around it.

The first impression was that it was going to be a real change for the businesses already using Dynamics CRM Online.  Increasing the scope of the platform and the way that access is granted was always going to be something for existing customers to get their heads around but it’s been quite straightforward.

So we said goodbye to basic and professional (except for customers who had to wait for their renewal dates) and we welcomed Team Member Licensing, Application based licensing and Plans.

The changes have essentially made enterprise grade technology available to SMBs who previously relied on off –the-shelf CRM or ERP systems. The joined up approach we are now seeing from Dynamics 365 is reducing the need for expensive customisations that only Enterprise firms could meet the costs of in the past.

Now that Dynamics 365 is within reach of every size of business, businesses that were previously getting by with CRM and accounting software can look at the tech the big boys are playing with.  The new features such as advanced analytics, the use of AI for customer insights and the integrations of the sales and financial components means that improvements are visible from day one.

It’s seriously tempting to rush out and get Dynamics 365 and get it going right away and no Microsoft Partner is going to turn you away. However, two notes of caution. Firstly, no platform in the world is going to give you what you need if you haven’t decided what those needs are in the first place. A good Microsoft Partner will work with you to establish corporate objectives, to understand your current processes and see how best to implement Dynamics 365 to meet those goals. It can be a detailed process but it doesn’t have to be long winded. Don’t let any previous experience of Off-the-Shelf be your guide. Trust your partner.

Secondly, remember your people.  End users need to adapt to new processes and standards. Dynamics 365 will undoubtedly make your business more efficient and productive but your employees are human so it’s essential that you consult with them.

 

Dynamics 365 Licensing Explained

 

A quick recap of the license types and prices as of Jan 2017:

  • Team Member – aka light users. These are for the employees that don’t need access beyond visibility and minor edits.
  • Apps – role based licenses. So, a sales employee may need the sales app, a customer service employee; the customer service app, a project manager; the project app. You get the drift. All of the apps have their own fixed price and that doesn’t change based on volume.

The big gain so far is that you’re only paying for the access and individual needs rather than access to the whole system when they will only interact with a few screens.

Simple so far.

Interestingly, when you get to one employee needing more than one app, it’s cheaper to move to a plan – a sign of Microsoft’s intention for volume.

So, e.g. a Client Services Director who needs access to the Customer Service App and the Field Service App should be on Plan 1.  He may still want to have visibility of the Sales app to see what is coming in but he could have team member licensing on that.

Plan 2 brings in what were the ERP features in the old Dynamics language so that would have been the AX for Operations and Financials.

 

SO, where does that leave you? We’re always happy to talk you through your options over the phone or email.  Just get in touch.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Dynamics 365 Changes The CRM Conversation

When we started to introduce our existing customers to Dynamics 365, the big question was ‘what’s so new?’

And here’s what we outlined.

 

Firstly, let’s look at the market Dynamics 365 has launched into.

  1. 52% of organizations now have confidence that cloud apps are as secure as on premise-based apps.
  2. The decision making for technology budget allocation is shifting from IT to Line of Business.
  3. Productivity is universally recognized as the key business driver for scale and technology is universally seen as the way to achieve it.
  4. Business approaches are evolving for the technological age. In every department, businesses are looking for ways to improve productivity, to increase customer service, to evolve product, to understand action and result.

 

Now, let’s consider what CRM has been doing really well.

First, let’s start by clarifying that all CRM systems are not created equally and finding the right one for you takes research but in the main, businesses using a CRM system are already benefiting from the five most compelling benefits (if they have had it scoped and customized properly).

Improved Customer Experience is the main reason most businesses invest in CRM. Customers and prospects are more easily and accurately segmented, their needs identified, and because the status of a company’s relationship with them is accurately tracked, companies can interact with them meaningfully at the right times, leading to more sales, faster sales and higher customer retention and satisfaction.

When customer relationships are being more carefully managed with the right tools to support staff, accountability is clearer. Employees across each department understand their responsibilities to customers throughout the customer lifecycle and when those responsibilities aren’t met, it’s easy to identify what went wrong, where, who fell short and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

A good CRM system, implemented and adopted well by employees naturally raises the value of data. By housing the data in one central system, data analysis and insight inform decisions about process, product and strategic planning. It’s also possible with marketing automation tools and third party apps to run email campaigns and other customer communications directly from the system. Of course, the only reason that can happen is because the data is current and correct, containing the most up to date information about a person’s interaction with your business. That can only happen because it allows your employees to work more efficiently with less duplication and miscommunication.

 

And not so well..

It all sounds somewhat adequate doesn’t it? Well, it once was. But let’s be honest. The benefits are mainly restricted to the customer service, sales and marketing functions. Sitting away from that, most businesses have a whole raft of other functions, producing products, designing services and ensuring customer deadlines are met. They’re using ERP systems to handle it all and once again, their systems are working for, well, those departments.

So, you have two sides to the business working as hard as they can to produce the best service based on the insight they have but what they don’t have, is a 360 degree view of any one customer. So, a customer service gap remains and their insight is lacking. Productivity is not what it could be and employees are not empowered.

 

Dynamics 365 Changes the Conversation

 With this platform, Microsoft has shown us what the developments in Cloud and Technology have been driving towards. The strategy behind their acquisitions of recent years is clear and they are now in the process of delivering a platform that can do what what CRM has promised since the 80s.

 Let’s be clear. This is no ordinary CRM upgrade. It’s not just a new name.  In fact, the letters CRM have been dropped. Rightly so, because the term Customer Relationship Management doesn’t cover half of what Dynamics 365 will be able to do. It’s a system that glues together the final silos of data and processes of ERP and CRM bringing customer service, sales, marketing, field service, finance and operations together.

Ultimately, it creates one big feedback loop for businesses of every size, starting with what they need and entirely scalable. So business processes essentially start to become insight advantages.

 

The Challenge

As is always the case, what is a game changer now, will become the expected standard rapidly and if you are not on the train you could be left behind as industries across the world continue to transform in the next couple of years.

So, if you’re not in the conversation yet, now’s the time. If you don’t know where to start, you can download our Step-by-Step Guide to Getting CRM Right or give us a call and we’ll get you started.

4 Productivity Resolutions for Business Leaders

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There’s something different about the time between Christmas and the return to work in early January.

The office environment is a little quieter, the pace is slower and people are more communicative. Inboxes are dealt with, junk mail deleted, desks tidied, to-do lists revised, outstanding tasks achieved.

Organisation brings calm. Calm brings clarity. Clarity brings vision. Visions are for sharing. That sharing brings collaboration. Collaboration brings effectiveness. Effectiveness brings productivity. It’s a virtuous wheel that often gets punctured because we are being busy fools, working at a frenetic pace to just get things done as quickly as possible. We miss opportunities for smarter thinking.

In a bid to keep the spirit of ‘tween days, you need to address the basics.

Here are our simple, often forgotten, business leader productivity tips that will bring calm and effectiveness into your day and organisation.

 

  1. Control Your Email

Do you control your email or does it control you? Here’s something worth thinking about. Email represents us. People do judge us based on our email habits. You need to be organised and responsive.  However, the trick is doing that without letting it disrupt your day.

  • Decide when to tackle your emails – twice to three times a day should do it. Once a week, try to clear your inbox, filing what’s important, deleting what is not. It’ll stop the email becoming white noise.
  • Be succinct in your emails, keep to one main point and you’ll get a quicker answer.
  • Confirmation or conversation? If your email will most likely result in a ping pong of emails or if you don’t want something in writing, use the phone instead.
  • Remember that emails are easily misconstrued. Avoid group emails unless it’s simply to distribute information. A group of people will always have differing interpretations and you can quickly lose the point.

 

  1. Control Your Diary

If you’re anything like our MD, Billy Lyle, you’ll be in demand. Everyone wants a slice of your time but you still have your own tasks to complete and clients to look after.  There are so many tools and apps to help you manage your diary better but ultimately, it comes down to this:

  • You only need one calendar.
  • Use one digital task manager and get rid of all the post-its.
  • Theme your week if you can – client meetings, research, prep, people.

 

  1. Control Your Knowledge

What information do you need each week to manage the business? When was the last time you felt able to study your area? Just for fifteen minutes? How much time do you spend finding out answers when they’re suddenly urgent? How many times have you felt poorly informed in a client situation? By being on top of your knowledge sources, you’ll identify the ones worth having and the ones to lose.

  • Set proper time aside for your management reports.
  • Build a reading list and habit, whether it’s daily, weekly or fortnightly where you commit time to get on top.
  • Schedule thinking time and objectivity will become a habit making for better decision-making and productivity.

 

  1. Control Your Meetings

Meetings need to happen; information, status, brainstorm, one-to-one, strategy, board, committee. It’s the most productive way to discuss and collaborate, to make things happen but employees dread time away from their desks.  They often come to the meeting distracted and poorly prepared.  Here’s how to make it more productive for everyone:

  • Have a clear purpose
  • Have an agenda (circulate it in advance!)
  • Have an agreed end time
  • Have a good moderator
  • Have agreed actions

It’s remiss of us not to point out the huge benefits of Microsoft Dynamics 365 in addressing so many of these points (and hundreds more) to improve productivity and profit throughout all sizes of business. But we’ll get back onto that in January!

For now, the team here at Redspire would like to wish you all a productive and prosperous 2017.

Dynamics 365 – First Look

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Today we take a first look at Microsoft Dynamics 365, the Azure Cloud-hosted combo of Dynamics CRM and Dynamics ERP is due to launch in November.

Since the launch information in July of this year, we’ve been answering a multitude of questions from our clients who are keen to know more.

Here are our most frequently asked questions.

What makes Dynamics 365 more than just an upgrade?

Its aim is to stitch together silos of data and processes. It brings together customer service, sales, marketing, field service, finance and operations. And it brings it together at a task or role specific level with the business apps you need for that purpose rather than a suite of apps.

Ultimately, it creates one big feedback loop for businesses of every size, starting with what they need and entirely scalable. So business processes essentially start to become insight advantages.

What problem does this new system solve?

  • Currently, Dynamics ERP sits on a different platform and connects with an integration to Dynamics CRM Online. Dynamics 365 changes this from being two systems with replicated data that needs to be synchronized, to a single common data model that means all your applications reference the same customer record.
  • By combining Office, Cortana, Dynamics and advanced analytics, it will join business processes with productivity. It’s bringing your day together in seamless ways with a level of granularity that can only deliver successful adoption, massively improved productivity, better communication and ultimately, turnover.
  • Insights surface from the entire system that let you identify small glitches in a project before they damage profits or a relationship

Does this have anything to do with Microsoft’s introduction of UK data centers?Yes, we believe so. Cloud based technologies are transforming the way businesses operate at every level now. Yet, many companies have held back due to their need to keep data geographically closer, within the UK jurisdiction. With Microsoft leading the way with Cloud based business technology such as Dynamics 365, it makes sense to have UK Data Centres that will allow thousands of companies to take advantage of more cloud-based opportunities that will most likely elevate their business.

I’ve been considering Dynamics CRM and was about to give it the green light. What should I do now?

Dynamics CRM Online will automatically transform to Dynamics 365 as part of the next release of Dynamics CRM so there is no need to wait or worry about this, it will just happen in the background as per any of the Microsoft CRM updates. Dynamics CRM On-Premise will continue to be developed and supported by Microsoft. For companies who are not yet ready to move to the Cloud and continue to require an On-Premise or Hybrid solution, Dynamics CRM remains one of the most integrated, flexible and intelligent CRM systems available.

What versions of Dynamics CRM are there going to be?

  1. Enterprise: Based on Dynamics CRM Online, Office 365 and Dynamics AX, the Enterprise edition suits businesses with 250+ employees and has six available modules: Operations, Field Service, Project Service, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service.
  2. Business: Based on Dynamics NAV and Office 365, the Business Edition suits businesses with fewer than 250 Employees and with three available modules: financials, sales and marketing.

How would a business buy Dynamics 365?

Ultimately, it will be workload based pricing. Rather than an
‘all you can eat’ user license, a business will mix and match apps, plans and team members. Instead of thinking of it as CRM or Office or ERP, you can buy the services that fit your job titles.

Run me through the big benefits of Dynamics 365 again.

  • Its extendibility out to the whole business operation with the addition of ERP makes the whole business process visible to all users breaking silos down even more. Currently, Dynamics ERP sits on a different platform and doesn’t use the same data model meaning you have to setup, configure and support the connector with Dynamics CRM Online.
  • Start with what you need. Instead of buying a full system that you will phase in, Dynamics 365 business apps fit specific roles and tasks.
  • Reduced task/screen switching. It’s built on a common data model that means it’s easier to surface information across Office 365, Dynamics 365, Power BI etc.
  • Built –In Intelligence – the tools can proactively guide employees to optimal decision-making and outcomes.
  • With Appsuite and a scalable premise, your Dynamics 365 can be as small or as extensive as your business needs, at any time.

What are you still waiting to find out?

It’s always the case that Microsoft want to make sure everything is ready for launch. Whilst these final assessments are being made, we won’t get confirmation of licensing and pricing. With the launch date approaching, we expect to get that information any day.

We’ll also be in a better position to talk about when existing CRM online customers will be migrated as part of the upgrade process.

Why Should I Want to Know More?

Cloud is undoubtedly transformative and is gathering pace every day but the transformation around data and how we use it is what Dynamics 365 will raise the bar on. Purpose built, role specific, task specific micro services and business applications with modern interfaces that you can use everywhere. You can get Microsoft’s own explanation of Dynamics 365 on their community blog.

When Will Microsoft Partners and the Press Know More?

We’ll be back with more information as soon as it becomes available.

In the meantime, you might like to read out Ultimate Guide to Security in the Cloud or register with us to receive our step-by-step guide to Dynamics 365, which we’ll release as soon as we have confirmation of those last details.

 

Read more about Microsoft Dynamics 365  and get a first look at the official unveiling at the Microsoft website