3 min read

Switch on Dynamics 365 V10 in 7 easy steps!

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For Microsoft Dynamics Partners and clients who are keen to access the newest Dynamics V10 upgrade features but are unable to find out how to “switch it on,” help is at hand with our 7-step guide.

Below, Redspire’s Technical Director Rick Lyle will demonstrate how to find the switch and apply it to one of your sandboxes. Always test out your upgrades in a sandbox and not your production instance!

Step 1

First of all, go to the new Power Platform Admin Centre. This area is still in preview but that’s where the switch is.

To get there you can either:

  • Navigate to the Dynamics 365 Admin Centre (https://port.crm11.dynamics.com/G/Instances/InstancePicker.aspx, the “11” part is our instances in the UK, if your instance isn’t housed in the UK substitute, using your corresponding country code) and from there click on the banner that says: “There’s a better way to manage your instances. Try the new Admin center” and it’ll take you to the new centre

OR

Either way will take you to the interface below:

Step 2

Once you’ve navigated your way to the Power Platform Admin Centre, click on Environments (this is the new label for what we in the Dynamics world usually call Instances however this doesn’t become clear until you get to the relevant screen. Once you do that you’ll see the list of your Dynamics Instances as below:

Step 3

It’s easy to get a little bit lost at this stage, as it’s not the most intuitive journey.

DO NOT go to…>settings! IF you do, you’ll find lots of options that feel like they could be the right thing but end up taking you down the wrong route. Instead, click on the name of the instance that you want to upgrade to V10. It’ll take you to the screen below:

Step 4

In the Updates section, click on Manage and you’ll get the screen below:

Step 5

Make REALLY, REALLY sure you’ve selected the right instances. Be especially sure that it’s definitely not your production instance because as the warning states, this is a one-way process. Then hold your breath and click Activate Now.

Step 6

If you accidentally selected your production instance, because you didn’t heed my warning above or Microsoft’s warning next to the activate button, then there’s one last chance to save yourself!

When trying to upgrade a production instance to V10, you’ll get the popup below where you have to type in the instance name to switch. Hats off to Microsoft, they are going above and beyond to make sure no one does this accidentally and causes themselves issues.

Step 7

Still holding your breath? Don’t worry, this only takes a few seconds. As we’re now in the land of continual deployment for Dynamics, this isn’t so much an install process as a switch on process. Microsoft have already installed more or less everything in the background.

After a few seconds that’s you switched on and ready for all the great Dynamics 365 V10 goodies!

As you might have guessed, I’ve been going through this process in a trial as I’ve been documenting it. My next steps are to start exploring the new features on V10 and reporting back to you all. I’ll keep you updated with my favourite features and any issues to watch out for over the next few weeks. If you’d like them straight to your inbox, sign up for email updates from myself and the team, or follow me on LinkedIn.

Cheers,

Rick Lyle

Redspire Technical Director

3 min read

Microsoft Inspire Keynote 2018: Emerging themes from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s speech

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In his keynote speech at the global Microsoft Inspire conference in Las Vegas, CEO Satya Nadella talked about how technology and connectivity continue to improve human relationships, whilst reinforcing that ethics and user privacy continue to be the most important consideration, as we accelerate though the 4th industrial revolution.

This year’s Microsoft Inspire has been one of the most exciting and rousing yet, with a focus on increased innovation, growth and differentiation. If last year’s key takeaway was Microsoft’s commitment to transforming their partner relationships, this year is about accelerating partner support for the greater collective good. Microsoft’s overarching business vision of “empowering every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more” will ultimately be driven by the Microsoft Partner eco-system.

Our Senior team attended the conference, and have summarised their top takeaways:

The Microsoft partner eco-system is bigger and more impactful than ever before…

…and jam-packed with opportunity. Over 17 million people are employed in the Microsoft and Microsoft partner ecosystem with total business projected at a phenomenal $4.5 trillion. Together we are in a unique position to unleash the power of real partnership for digital and technological success. Not just for business, but for customers, innovators and end users too.

Ethics and personal privacy is a fundamental human right.

Advances in technology and integrated Artificial intelligence (AI) are creating some of the most exciting changes in the world today, but Nadella has warned that they must not come at the expense of personal privacy and human relationships.

He said: “We have to have a set of principles that guide the development of AI and always do our very best work when it comes to privacy. As technology becomes pervasive in our lives, we must approach everything with the fundamental assumption that privacy is a human right.”

The importance of adding value not just creating brand values

Nadella’s message to students looking for a career at Microsoft?

“If you want to be cool, go somewhere else. At Microsoft, our job is making other people look cool.”

Sharing incredible stories of business transformation via the partner eco-system, the message and focus for the future is on driving positive, global impact through cutting edge technology and industry-specific solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365.

People and connectivity is being re-imagined, now.

The future of digital is people and human centric, made possible with by ever-increasing advances in Microsoft’s Azure Sphere secure technology. Internet connectivity is becoming a two-way street, creating a holistic user experience that decouples us from the chains of the tech, whilst improving seamless machine integration in our day to day lives.

Nadella said: “We are going to infuse everything with AI. It’s going to have perception capability, language capability and autonomy that’s going to be built into the applications going forward.”

Over the next few years, more and more consumer gadgets and appliances will connect to the Internet and each other, with the capabilities to talk to us, listen, predict behaviour and act on our behalf. The tech we use will become seamless, multi-device and multi-sensory.

As organisations globally hurtle through accelerated digital transformation, driven by cloud and artificial intelligence, mixed reality and the Internet of Things, these tools and technologies are re-imagining consumerism, business and society for the greater good.

And yet consciously, we may never even be aware that we’ve interacted with a computer…

Ready to find out more about how Microsoft’s up-to-the-minute technology can improve your business operations, sales and service? Contact us today for an informal chat…

3 min read

10 Things to Know About Your CRM Partner

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Why does CRM sometimes fail to deliver? Why does any relationship?

Here are ten ways to make sure you have the right CRM software partner.

  1. Know their strengths. Are they dedicated to the CRM platform you have chosen? Are they working with it day in/day out?  Have they worked within a business like yours before and if not, how well do they know (or get to know during pitch) your sector’s challenges?
  2. Know their structure. It’s all too easy to give the contract to a CRM partner on the basis of price, proposal and the people you met at the pitch. But those are all fleeting moments and what you need to know is the day-to-day reality of working with them. Who are the team working that will work day in and out on your project and what are their roles? How do they communicate with clients, and with each other? What processes do they follow to make sure nothing slips through the net or is misunderstood? What are their individual competencies and experience? What additional value will they bring to the project?
  3. Know what you’re getting. What level of system detail can you expect to see before being expected to sign on the dotted line? Make sure it’s what you’ll need bearing in mind the different stakeholders who will have to sign off on your final decision.
  4. Know their wider business knowledge. This might seem obvious. It’s all very well having a partner who knows the CRM platform inside out but they have to also have business sense. You want them to understand the current customer experience challenges that technology, legislation and your sector are throwing up, as well as then quickly understanding the process challenges from within your business. Do they understand how to be GDPR compliant? Can they help you get there?
  5. Know their capacity. What else they are working on during the timescales you are planning around. Do they have capacity? Should you wait until they do? Will you be a priority?
  6. Know their skills. Don’t just ask how many clients they have, who they’ve helped or the results. Know what kind of modifications they’ve made to make the CRM platform work with client’s existing infrastructure.
  7. Know their aftercare approach. Once you’re up and running, how do they stay in touch with you and your team? What does support look like? Is it as and when? Proactive? Reactive? Are they providing value all the way through?
  8. Know their honesty. Just how clear are they about what can and can’t be done? Do you sense there are things being said to secure the deal? Trust your instinct and push for commitment if you’re not sure.
  9. Know your own project team. Are they and the potential partner team compatible? They are going to be working closely together and it would be far more beneficial to have a mutually respectful relationship rather than supplier/client.
  10. Know their current client list. Don’t be put off by where they don’t already have a business in your sector. It means there will be no conflict of interest and with any good partner, they will be party of their platform network and as such, have access to shared knowledge and practice that will only add even more to the balance of skills, technical know-how, business aptitude and team relationship.

Our CRM discovery webinar series was set up to help you own each stage of the CRM journey so that you can arrive at the right software and partner for your organisation.

Catch up on our free webinar series ‘Your 8 Steps to CRM Implementation Success’

 

Want to know more about Redspire? Here’s our MD Billy to give you a quick summary:

2 min read

Your Microsoft Partner’s Role In Your GDPR Transition

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Redspire is a Microsoft CRM solutions specialist and a Microsoft strategic Partner, which means we are qualified and trusted by Microsoft to deliver their solutions.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a big focus for us right now. Less than a year away, it will replace The Data Protection Act and means significant changes for how businesses handle data not least the severe fines for non-compliance. Even when the UK is out of Europe, non-conformity and data breaches can result in fines of up to €20m or 4% of your annual worldwide turnover.

There’s currently a lot of IT complexity out there. GDPR is an opportunity to streamline that technology architecture. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is already well prepared and meets those needs, it not only helps you to comply but crucially, demonstrates that compliance.

Can your Microsoft CRM Partner support your business and people journey to GDPR compliance? The rules of finding a CRM partner still apply.

A good GDPR CRM partner should be:

  • Looking at the role of data in your organisation, finding the changes GDPR will enforce, and identifying the edits and customisations to enable them.
  • Advising on role, record and field-based security for your team, reducing the risks associated with administrative rights.
  • Helping you evaluate how you answer points on consent, data purpose, and data retention.
  • Reviewing what triggers may be required throughout your system to maximise Dynamics 365’s detection and data breach reporting.
  • Pointing out the areas where Dynamics 365 will maximise the opportunity of compliance with GDPR such as turning double opt-in and lower sign up volumes into better engagement and conversion.
  • Knowledgeable in every facet of GDPR, of your current system(s) and integrations.
  • Following a process for supporting you through GDPR based on experience of your sector.
  • Prepared to continue to work with you as you get to grips with how it works in practice.

Watch our essential GDPR webinar for more information.

3 min read

Does your CRM Partner Make You Happy?

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OK, this is a bit clichéd. We’ll say it anyway. We really do care about our clients’ businesses.

Maybe it’s because we get so entrenched in them when we’re helping them assess the case for CRM. Maybe it’s because getting to know the people in the business is the biggest part of understanding the existing systems and processes. Maybe it’s because we are so invested in their corporate objectives that we are willing them on from the sidelines every month of every year.

Does it get in the way of us delivering the product? No! It’s the whole point of delivering the product.

If your organisation is currently investigating Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM), you may well be wondering what a CRM partner actually does and do you need one. Maybe you already have a CRM partner but you’re wondering if they are quite so emphatic about the importance of the relationship as we are.

Redspire is a Gold Microsoft Partner and over the many years that we have been working with Dynamics, we have noticed an ongoing expectation that you simply buy a CRM system, set it up and off you go.

Off the shelf CRM are mass-produced, one size fits all systems. They’re really generic and don’t allow for the way your business’ product, people and processes work. Many businesses try to ‘fit’ the CRM system instead of having the system aligned to them. And many partners let them.

Dynamics 365 has made enterprise level tech available to businesses of all sizes in all sectors with less customization needed across the board. Note, we don’t say no customization needed. Even with the FastTrack, there is still a process of due diligence and knowledge sharing that has to happen.

The right choice of partner makes all the difference. When you hear stories of CRM not working for businesses, remember this. It’s not necessarily the platform that’s the problem; it’s the union of the people working on it.

So, if you’re still seeking the right partner, here are some of the qualities you should be looking for:

  • Strategic– A good partner should be asking questions beyond the subject of IT.
  • Collaborative – You’ll experience what level of collaboration you can expect during the system identification stage but it’s perfectly acceptable to ask your potential CRM partner for client references that will reveal their ability to stick with you.
  • Knowledgeable – A good partner will not only know their preferred platform inside out, they’ll know all the compatible tools and have a depth of experience that you won’t find in a user manual.
  • Processes – Your partner should provide you with a clear roadmap for planning, implementation, deployment and ongoing support. Without it, everyone is left feeling vague. Lost control means things will get missed.
  • Project Management – Make sure you find out who the day-to-day contact will be, and ask about ongoing progress visibility.
  • Industry experience – It’s often preferable to have a partner with experience in your particular industry. However, it’s sometimes good to have a partner with experience from other sectors come to the party. We often find that it ensures a ‘take nothing for granted’ ideology that ensures no stone is left unturned in the planning stage. With that comes fresh thinking and often, business changing solutions that becomes a model for others.
  • Service offering – how will your Partner support you after full deployment. It’s important that you discuss those expectations early on. We are often called in to assist companies who have parted company with the original implementation partner and tried to do customisation on their own then watched their user adoption suffer.

If you’re in the UK and you’d like to know more about choosing the right partner, get in touch with us and test us out!

3 min read

What does a CRM Partner Actually Do?

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If your organisation is currently investigating Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM), you may well be wondering what a CRM partner actually does and do you need one.

Here are some of the many ways you’ll hear CRM partners described; vendors, resellers, one of the partner network,

Redspire is a Gold Microsoft Partner and over the many years that we have been working with Dynamics, we have noticed an ongoing expectation that you simply buy a CRM system, set it up and off you go.

Off the shelf CRM are mass-produced, one size fits all systems. They’re really generic and don’t allow for the way your business’ product, people and processes work. Many businesses try to ‘fit’ the CRM system instead of having the system aligned to them. You usually can’t add to off the shelf systems over the years and custom made CRM is essentially a system that is not off the shelf. You are buying into a platform that is then customised to work for your business, and more importantly for your business objectives. You are also buying into a relationship with a partner who will plan and implement it based on your business objectives, then continue to look after it with you including upgrades and further adaptations.

We take great pride in knowing Microsoft Dynamics CRM inside out and then getting to know our clients’ business inside out.  Dynamics has a lot of tools and a lot of integration potential. The scalability is huge, as is the flexibility; even more so with Microsoft Dynamics 365 coming on board soon. It’s our job to know what tools to use based on our clients’ business objectives and sticking with them as they grow so that the CRM continues to accelerate the business rather than slow it down.

Here’s what else you should be looking for in a good CRM partner:
  • Strategic – A good partner should be asking questions beyond the subject of IT.
  • Collaborative – You’ll experience what level of collaboration you can expect during the system identification stage but it’s perfectly acceptable to ask your potential CRM partner for client references that will reveal their ability to stick with you.
  • Knowledgeable – A good partner will not only know their preferred platform inside out, they’ll know all the compatible tools and have a depth of experience that you won’t find in a user manual.
  • Processes – Your partner should provide you with a clear roadmap for planning, implementation, deployment and ongoing support. Without it, everyone is left feeling vague. Lost control means things will get missed.
  • Project Management – Make sure you find out who the day-to-day contact will be, and ask about ongoing progress visibility.
  • Industry experienceIt’s often preferable to have a partner with experience in your particular industry. However, it’s sometimes good to have a partner with experience from other sectors come to the party. We often find that it ensures a ‘take nothing for granted’ ideology that ensures no stone is left unturned in the planning stage. With that comes fresh thinking and often, business-changing solutions that become a model for others.
  • Service offering – how will your Partner support you after full deployment. It’s important that you discuss those expectations early on. We are often called in to assist companies who have parted company with the original implementation partner and tried to do customisation on their own then watched their user adoption suffer.

You’ll notice a theme emerging here. Ultimately, it’s about having a partner that is passionate enough about their platform, and your business, to get them working towards a common goal. Growth comes from care.

You can read more on the subject of selecting the right CRM system by downloading our GUIDE. If you’re in the UK and you’d like to know more about choosing the right partner, test us out!

1 min read

The 10 Most Important Questions to Ask When Selecting the Right CRM Partner [SLIDESHARE]

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Discover the questions you should ask potential CRM partners to ensure that you select the right one for your business. Read more

5 min read

How to Ensure That You Select The Best CRM System and Partner

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There are many factors to take into account when considering implementing CRM, and these differ significantly from business to business, so unfortunately there is no set of instructions as all businesses have different requirements. For people who are not IT experts, well versed in CRM implementation/deployment, JavaScript, C# and a number of other ‘techy’ things, the number of factors that need to be considered can seem very daunting. However, help is at hand! This article does not claim to be a set of instructions, it is a template that if followed correctly will enable you to create your own set of instructions based on your own specific business requirements and objectives. This will ensure that you get the system you need to meet your requirements, that implementation is quick and pain free and that you can start making a rapid return on investment.

Choosing the right CRM System

Before deciding on the most suitable partner it is necessary to select the system that can meet your (yet to be established) business requirements most effectively, using the following steps.

Know your requirements – This is one of the most important parts of the whole process and should start with an internal reflection of why a solution is needed. Once this has been established it will be possible to isolate the areas that are causing the need for the solution.

Internal CRM Team – It is necessary to pull together a team that would usually consist of; a high level member of staff with the resources available to them to make things happen, an IT expert and a project manager. It will also be necessary to get input from the departments that the CRM initiative aims to improve, and a selection of end users to highlight specific pain points and areas for productivity enhancements.

Budget – Some organisations have to accept that they are constrained by the current level of resources available to them, others don’t. There will be a CRM system and partner for both ends of the financial spectrum.

Integration – Consider the level of integration required between the new CRM system and the existing systems that are currently being used by your organisation. Choose a system that will cause the least issues to the day to day running of your business.

Support Requirements – Most organisations will struggle to cope without some level of support. The level of support required will largely depend on the degree of internal expertise.

Vertical Requirements – Many industries require extremely specialised customer data or has a requirement that is extremely specific. This must also be taken into account when selecting a system.

Feature requirements – Once the organisation has gone through the following steps, they will collaborate with their chosen partner on the specific Feature requirements of their system and how they will help them achieve their objectives

Choosing the right Partner

Partner selection can make or break a CRM project. You have gone through the painstaking process of choosing the right system and defining your requirements, however this is only half the battle. Partner selection requires the same diligence in selection. The following steps detail the process a company should go through before selecting a partner.

Partner Competency – There are different levels of partner competency, which illustrates expertise in specific areas of CRM. Ensure that the competencies of the partner you select align with your specific business requirements.

Processes – it is imperative that the partner has a tried and tested process for implementation and deployment. If this is not in place, there will be issues with requirements gathering, communication and overall ambiguity with regard to what CRM can actually do for the business

Industry Experience – Requirements vary depending on industry, so it is always a good idea to choose a partner with a good cross section of industry specific experience, in order to facilitate rapid implementation.

Service Offering – CRM partners usually have a number of optional services. It is important to make sure that their service offering fits in with your requirements.

Client Focused – In this day and age, it is imperative to be as consumer centric as possible and this is no different for partners. You must select a partner that has the capacity to drill down to get an intimate knowledge of how your business works before they will be effectively be able to meet your requirements.

Involvement and Participation – A good partner should always be willing to actively suggest ways that they can improve their offering, by suggesting ways to increase workforce productivity, user adoption and enhance the overall user experience.

Communication – It is extremely important to ensure that the foundations are there for constant and effective communication, as this is the only way to fuse the company requirements with the expertise of the partner.

Conclusion

The key to a smooth CRM implementation and productive and profitable CRM journey, is to accurately define your business requirements through internally searching and isolating the specific issues that a responsible for your current business pains. This enables you to see your specific business requirements and come up with a set of realistic and achievable objectives. At this stage the CRM system that most readily meets those requirements should be selected, once a decision has been made on the system, the partner that offers the right balance of processes, industry experience, service, involvement and communication should be selected ensuring that their competencies align with your requirements. If these steps are followed, CRM implementation will be a pain free experience, and you may learn a thing or two about your business along the way.

For more information about the CRM specification process download: Step by Step Guide to getting CRM Right: Step 1

4 min read

7 Steps to Ensure that you Select a CRM Partner that can Meet Your Business Requirements

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The CRM market is currently sitting at £23.3 Billion and is growing at an impressive rate, with an expected compound annual growth rate of 14.7%. Partner selection is an extremely important part of CRM implementation, in fact, it is essentially the difference between success and failure. Given that different industries require different areas of CRM expertise, there is a number of questions that you must ask yourself and your shortlist of partners before making a decision.  The partner you select represents the last mile of implementation, specialization and support when it comes to your solution. After gathering requirements and selecting the system that can meet them the most effectively the following points need to be considered to ensure that the right partner is selected.

Partner Competency

Partners have different competencies and levels of competencies, make sure that you choose a partner with competencies that align themselves with your business needs and CRM requirements. You must be confident that your goals are their number one priority.

Processes

The logistics of CRM implementation are not straight forward, obviously the complexity varies depending on the requirements of the client. However, regardless of the complexity or size of the project it is imperative that the partner has a tried and tested process for implementation and deployment. If this is not in place, there will be issues with requirements gathering, communication and overall ambiguity with regard to what CRM can actually do for the business. Do not be a Guinea Pig, you must ensure that the processes being used to implement your CRM are totally watertight.   The fact that the majority of CRM initiatives fail is largely to with a lack of structure when it comes to scoping, implementation, deployment and support.

Industry Experience

Different industries have unique requirements, so it can be beneficial to select a partner that has had some experience in yours in order to facilitate rapid implementation. The partner will be in a better position to suggest tried and tested solutions and processes.

Service Offering

CRM partners usually have a number of optional services. It is important to make sure that their service offering fits in with your requirements.

Client-Focused

You must ensure that the partner that you select is client focused enough to truly understand how your business works. This is probably the most important considerations when selecting a partner, as if they do not have the required level of client focus, it will be impossible for them to translate your business processes into effective workflows as this requires a detailed understanding of the inner workings of your business.

Involvement and Participation

Be sure to select a partner that will actively suggest ways to further enhance user adoption, increase productivity and enhance the overall implementation experience through client training.

Communication

It is extremely important to ensure that the foundations are there for constant and effective communication, as this is the only way to fuse the company requirements with the expertise of the partner. It is extremely important that the partner is completely transparent and responsive, as trust is what these relationships are built upon.

Redspire

Redspire are at the cutting edge of CRM in the UK, everyone within the organisation is a Microsoft Certified professional. We have experience in helping organisations from a very broad cross section of industries. Our unique and innovative process to Implementation and deployment ensures that we are able to maintain the same high standards for every client regardless of their requirements, our process is as follows.

Step 1 – Agree on Business Objectives

At this stage we put together an experienced project team that will guide you through the process. We strive to create lasting relationships with our clients as we feel that this approach is the most effective way to establish the true CRM needs of our clients.

Step 2 – Understand What CRM does

We articulate what it can do out of the box, with no customisations. This enables us to work together to visualise how the requirements of each department will work within the system

Step 3 – Produce a Strategic and Tactical Plan

From this we can now define and agree on a strategic plan for CRM that will deliver your total business objectives and prioritise the first tactical step

Step 4 – Get you up and Running

We will get you up and running quickly so we’ll roll out a section of the system to single business unit who can start using it on a day-to-day basis. Together we can deploy, train and fine tune. We won’t move on until everyone is happy. Working with you, our dedicated consultant will identify the next business unit, ensuring that each project takes us toward the overall business objectives. As the smaller projects keep rolling out, you start to realise business benefits more quickly and you and your users end up with the CRM you need – not the one you think you wanted.

Conclusion

The CRM market is exploding and there is a huge choice when it comes to selecting the right system coupled with the right partner. This article aims to illustrate the criteria a company should ensure a partner meets before they entrust them with the important task of implementing and deploying their chosen system. Click here to read the article on selecting the best system.

For more information about the CRM specification process download: Step by Step Guide to getting CRM Right: Step 1