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Managing business processes within a consolidated system is a recommended measure to improve key figures of an organization. However, for the global company with numerous business units in different countries, it was an essential step for the further business development.
A multinational company (the name under NDA) operating in more than 20 countries and with 40-year experience in delivering B2B digital services, collaborates with Infopulse on a few projects. Expanding areas of business and markets from Europe and Benelux countries to the US, Canada, Mexico, and Morocco, our client needed an urgent integration of diverse systems that could enable automation of all business processes.
Find out how the Infopulse team has integrated multiple company’s systems within implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 and performed its migration to Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Goal: Efficient Performance of the Global Enterprise
The company has 17 business units around the globe also comprising disperse independent agencies, organizations, and sub-contracts. Hence, the need for a unified system was crucial to provide effective communication and operations between the company’s representatives, partners, customers, etc. The migration project was a clear necessity for the operational efficiency and high performance of all business units.
Therefore, the main goal was to consolidate multiple software systems under a single CRM platform preserving hierarchy of each representative office. It was essential to migrate data from old systems to Dynamics CRM 2016 ensuring data integrity. Unification would improve productivity providing data synchronization and real-time accessibility to the stored information about all the company’s customers and deals.
Another ancillary goal was to improve business operations and reduce costs with a single system that would help allocate IT time and resources for software installation, integration and maintenance of multiple systems in different countries to other core business areas.
Later, with the appearance of Microsoft Dynamics 365, the team had to deal with another stage of migration to the platform that offered both CRM and ERP solutions.
Elegant Solutions to Complex Challenges
In 2015, only two Infopulse experts were involved in the project development. Since then the project has grown and required the involvement of already five members. They were challenged to study each business unit’s Active Directory, CRM system and overall structure of processes to apply them to the existing Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016. Here are several of them that demonstrate the whole complexity of the project.
One Active Directory Instead of 30!
Before synchronizing the company’s Active Directory (AD) with a unified CRM, Infopulse team had to build a single AD from the scratch. There were 30 Active Directories of smaller purchased firms located in different countries. Each legacy system had different configurations and administrators, representation of data, as well as multiple domains and sub-domains. Merging numerous directory services into one seamless infrastructure was the first essential step to construct a unified and integrated CRM system.
Integrating Multiple CRM Systems
Another uncommon challenge was to migrate dissimilar management systems of business units that could completely differ in the organization of customer information, task management, tracking, registering sales, presenting budgets and reports, managing marketing campaigns, and simply recording meetings and reminders. Furthermore, these systems could represent older versions of CRM software or various applications from different vendors.
One of the examples how the team successfully tackled the challenge was the data migration process. In many cases, experts had to conduct an audit and divide low-quality data, including duplicates, corrupted, test and junk data, etc., from data on closed deals, customer activities and other relevant objects. Moreover, some integrations were performed using data collation determining delta between objects from different systems. Then our experts consolidated it and finally migrated to the CRM platform.
Such a scrupulous integration process was a part of a well-thought out methodology based on automation of deployment and testing processes.
Customized Security Solutions
The company has an elaborate bureaucratic structure with the deep hierarchy and dependencies at all levels. Therefore, to fit within the current platform of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 and their security system, our team had to come up with many customization solutions that could overlap with a complex business structure. The migration and customization processes were complicated since Microsoft regularly delivered incremental updates and new options of Dynamics CRM.
- More Granular Access to Confidential Data
The team implemented the company’s approach to a validated access to the particular entities, records, and permissions to contact with other participants of the sales process. In Dynamics CRM, this option is realized via an interaction of field-level, record-based, role-based security models that allow controlling access to high business impact fields, individual records and performing authorized actions on the specific entities.
Our team also utilized Microsoft hierarchical security concept to bring a customized solution of an enhanced granular access to the organization’s records. Generally, the company has 10 levels of hierarchy and the access to entities depends on a few factors – a country, a region, and a business unit to which an employee belongs.
One of such customized solutions was to enforce better granular access of all managers to confidential information on active or closed deals. Thus, each team of managers and other participants of business processes could work concurrently with the same customer not knowing about agreements with other business units. This way, we helped the company to realize their incentive program motivating managers to demonstrate their best performance.
- Customization of Positions and Specific Requests
Other customization solutions were related to the hierarchy of positions and specific requests. For instance, managers or teams could get permissions to work in several business units of the company’s industries. There is an option to adjoin a new member from any business unit in another country to a team that needs support or consultancy on a particular issue. Furthermore, the Infopulse team enabled a request to incorporate the help of sales managers from different business units of the company at the particular stage of a sales process. In this case, an employee from the opposite team gets a permission and access to specific entities, which is disabled after an employee stops working with those entities.
- Implementation of a Collective Access
Within a unified CRM system, Infopulse experts were able to implement customized solutions for separate business units in particular countries. One of such is a collective access to the deal with a number of related entities. Each business unit of the company obtains an own set of rules and permissions to assign access to more than one participant of the business process. There are specific inquiries for particular people and business units of the company who can join any deal and assist another team on particular issues. It means that such people stand beyond the security system or hierarchy. Naturally, it requires extra development to protect CRM system, its entities, and records with an additional condition.
Thus, customized security solutions delivered by our team enabled a granular and qualitative approach to business processes within a single platform.
Marketing Module: Extended Customer Interaction Opportunities
Dynamics CRM offers out-of-the box marketing solutions within three default sub-modules:
- Marketing lists: grouping and interacting with contacts, accounts, and leads
- Campaigns: measuring efficiency of email and advertising campaigns
- Quick campaigns: one channel to reach a customer.
However, apart from pre-sale deals and marketing data storage, our client needed to utilize other channels to reach a customer through a unified system. Assigning Infopulse to extend customer interaction opportunities in CRM, the company got enhanced ways to arrange regular email distribution, cold calls, and cold marketing.
Pseudo-integration of Outlook with Dynamics CRM
Our team also helped synchronize Outlook with Dynamics CRM to provide the customer with an access to all communications, calendar meetings and reminders stored in a single place. With an installed plug-in for Outlook, the company’s employees are able to receive data directly from the CRM system utilizing only their email client. For the most of the managers, this type of pseudo-integration is convenient and secure since all the integrated emails from clients get to the protected server and are directly stored in CRM. Apart from this, synchronized calendars allow viewing schedules of colleagues simplifying the organization of the work process.
Customization of the Mobile Client
Although the mobile client for such popular platforms as iPhone, Android and Windows Phone is supported in Dynamics CRM, it has a limited number of functions and requires extra development. The challenge of customizing the CRM mobile client appeared because of significant gaps between the web and mobile versions of Dynamics CRM. Even with the newest Microsoft improvements and updates for the mobile client, customization was a necessity.
Besides, the customer had high expectations towards the mobile application and its performance. Fortunately, the team successfully tackled this challenge utilizing Dynamics CRM tools and scripts for customization. Moreover, they have built an efficient communication with MSDN to eliminate mobile client customization issues and bugs. Some of the changes and corrections were eventually added to the next mobile client releases, which signifies about the high proficiency of our experts.
Technologies that Delivered Results
For integration and migration processes, our team has applied the following stack of tools and services:
- Microsoft Azure, Azure WebJobs SDK, Web Applications, Azure Functions, Application Insights;
- Dynamics 365 (all types of clients), Organization Insights;
- JBoss Fuse – as a middleware for different types of integrations;
Bringing Value to All Customer’s Business Units
Among other improvements, our team has demonstrated first-class performance to satisfy the needs of all customer’s business units, e.g.:
- Enhanced CRM design to improve user experience;
- Provided support of Excel Online in CRM Dynamics Online;
- Enabled uploading of Excel data from old systems;
- Developed SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services) for business management and analytics.
Regarding other important achievements, the Infopulse team has developed a full deployment cycle from the development environment to the production environment for end users’ operations. The experts also utilized DevOps practices implementing Release Management, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Integration for Microsoft Dynamics 365. As a result, the developers’ team noticed a significant reduction of manual work for Dynamics CRM or Dynamics 365, automation and additional control of the processes. Not only this approach helped considerably save developers’ efforts but also decreased expenses on IT resources of the company.
The success of the project and the work quality of the Infopulse team can be also evaluated with an increase in users, accounts, and opportunities registered in the CRM. In addition, the fact that the project will be soon delivered from our support (2-nd and partially 3-rd line) to the customer’s support is a clear evidence of the well-done job by the entire project team.