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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015, is this the best version yet?

The CRM market is changing fast and the method for delivery. Expectations for growth are that over 50% of all CRM solutions will be deployed in the cloud.

This trend is definitely reflective of the way people now work, especially sales teams. In many companies, sales and marketing teams meet face-to-face less and less but the need to be more connected to each other is more apparent now than ever.

Microsoft CRM 2015 is the first release that attempts to bridge the gap between sales and marketing, removing the need for marketers to use many disparate systems and allowing the sales executives to really engage with the marketing process.

So what are the top 5 benefits of CRM 2015 from a sales and marketing perspective?

1. Microsoft Dynamics Marketing - The 2015 update of Dynamics Marketing helps organisations streamline campaign creation and improve segmentation with graphical email editing, A/B and split testing, integrated offers and approval workflows. Sending bulk emails campaigns and monitoring their progress directly in CRM has never been easier.

2. Enhance Mobile Sales - Ever been in a meeting and wanted to add details directly into CRM with your mobile device because you didn’t have access to a wireless network? CRM 2015 will allow users to create drafts offline and update this data back into your CRM when you get back online.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Enhance Mobile Sales

3. Enhanced Business Processes and Rules - Ever wanted to build branching logic into the current Business processes or Rules? CRM 2015 will allow branching rules (IF Then Else) and combine multiple conditions in one rule. The possibilities are endless for truly guided sales processes!

4. Sales Hierarchies – personally one of my favourite! The ability to visualise a company in terms of parent child relationship and the overall revenues. Quickly interact with key members of your team who are working on related accounts. In time we hope this hierarchy visualisation will expand to other records in CRM, especially custom!

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Sales Hierachy

5. Search - CRM 2015 will allow cross record searching. This type of search functionality is long overdue. Checking to ensure a lead isn’t already entered as an account, opportunity, contact etc. is a one click process!

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Search

To find out more about CRM 2015 download the Microsoft Preview guide from our website today! Click here.

Saving money is easier than making it: How to benefit from P2P

P2PPictI suspect it’s happened to all of us. The invoice that appears out of the blue unexpected and with no budget from a supplier you’ve never heard of. Organisations are scrutinising their spend like never before, keeping a tighter hold of the purse strings is now high on many businesses “to do” list.

So how do you increase control, reduce the costs and avoid the unexpected?

Many people are turning to “pre-purchase” approval solutions, where previously only once an invoice was received would an approval process, be that electronic or paper-based be employed.

Pre-purchase approval processing allows organisations to stop the purchase being made in the first place if the items/services aren’t correct, deemed unnecessary, too expensive or would take you over budget.

Approvers can ensure that the organisation is placing orders with the right suppliers for the right products/services, those that offer the best value for money, rather than employees purchasing from the first supplier that comes to mind, this in itself can create substantial savings.

Once the approval is confirmed the organisation can place the order with the supplier and have visibility of upcoming liabilities that will be incurred, and assuming the invoice matches the order the “post purchase” approval that previously was required, may no longer be necessary.

Adding processes to control spending is beneficial, and no doubt your costs will decrease through the use of the new approval process and rejection of unnecessary/ unjustified spend, but what you don’t want to do is implement a process that becomes so paper-intensive, disjointed or time-consuming that your spending more man-hours and hence money on the process than you are saving.

There are multiple options with Microsoft Dynamics GP that can help you to take control of your purchase process and drive down your spend, from functionality provided within GP for basic payables transaction batch or purchase order approval, through to enterprise procurement solutions that are finance system agnostic and go beyond just managing your approval process for purchase orders and invoices, to include expense claim approval, supplier onboarding and contract management, so there is a solution suitable for all requirements to help automate the process you wish to put in place.

Take a closer look at the options in our webinar on Purchase to Pay (P2P) at www.advantage.co.uk/events.

Where’s the “Eff” in Profit?

EfficiencyPictWhilst we’ve seen a definite upturn in the economy we’ve also seen increased competition from abroad and in some sectors prices still rising whilst incomes remain the same so we’re still in a challenging market place and we can’t afford to be complacent.

More than ever we need to look at how we can better generate profitability both from our customers and prospects through sales but also (and probably easier) from within the business by reducing costs through buying smarter and reducing costs, and increasing efficiency. Small business changes that will change your business will increase your efficiency, reduce costs and errors, and possibly increase your quality.

So how do you increase efficiency through technology? Here’re my quick win areas.

Automate tasks

Take a long hard look at your business processes and as far as possible automate. Look for efficiencies across the business, they don’t have to be major but they could create a major impact on overall efficiency and your bottom line.  Then look for software that can be used to automate through workflow or email communication.

Cleanse your data

From the moment contact data enters your database, it starts to decay. Within a couple of years more than 30% of your data could be out-of-date. The cost of mailing to inaccurate addresses and redirecting mail can be significant. Regular cleansing of your contact database will bring dividends and save you time and money.

Streamline communications

A CRM system linked to an email platform allow you to manage your customer communications and relationships from a central point with much greater efficiency. The analytics contained in these systems can tell you how effective and efficient your marketing campaigns have been.

Digitise

Digitise your documents so they are easier to send, share, store, search and they won’t get damaged or lost. WWF recently carried out a study that suggested a typical company could reduce its paper usage by 20% by simply highlighting to staff how much paper they use in a month.

Improve collaboration

Improving collaboration between employees, partners, suppliers, and customers is another way to boost efficiency. Take advantage of new collaboration technologies like interactive calendaring, videoconferencing and webcasting.

Outsource IT

Is managing IT infrastructure the best use of your time? It may be advantageous to outsource your infrastructure and support to a managed services provider. It can free your time to focus on running your business rather than your IT.

Unleash the power of Office 365

Office365Office 365 is fast gaining popularity – especially with SME organisations who want to be up and running with the minimum of fuss. The features of 365 are outlined on Microsoft’s website. Here are some of the practical benefits to companies who want to run their business and not their IT and the data issues to consider when implementing.

Enterprise grade computing for SME organisations

Office 365 is a good example of a solution that enables smaller organisations to enjoy the same quality of computing services as blue chip corporates.

Reduced Administration

Office 365 is a SaaS (Software as a Service) cloud service. This means users receive the latest versions of their chosen 365 bundle with free ongoing updates. With updates, patches and maintenance automatically taken care of – this leaves you free to run your business. Similarly, 365 runs sophisticated Disaster Recovery and Back up procedures as well as using state-of-the-art anti-virus and malware software.

Remote Access 24×7

As a cloud service – users can access their documents from any internet connection. Syncing files is standardised for all your employees and access is available 24×7. No more waiting for your IT team to arrive in the morning to resolve issues for you.

A Single Version of a Shared Document

Office 365 allows users to control co-working with a shared document. The problems of users unwittingly creating different versions of the same document and emailing it back and forth are resolved with the document control and tracking features of 365. The SharePoint module in 365 allows for powerful document sharing editing and concurrent authoring.

Reduced Hardware

There is a great desire from customers to reduce on-site hardware. This mirrors the domestic market’s desire to reduce physical ‘stuff’ from households. A cloud service reduces server and storage sprawl and the maintenance associated with this.

Agility

Office 365 allows you to add and remove users and permissions easily and quickly. It is a scalable model where customers pay for what they use and are not required to predict their future needs. Office 365 is purchased directly from Microsoft on a subscription basis.

Migrating Data

Although Office 365 is a powerful system, businesses will still need to migrate their existing data to the new system and set up email profiles. Companies with limited resources should consider using a Microsoft partner to migrate data and quickly set up their 365 model.

Advantage Business Systems provide support in migrating data and setting up user profiles as an initial one-off service. To understand more about the benefits of Office 365 and advice on how to migrate data, please contact us by clicking here.

 

Don’t let “Software Drag” pull down your business

MicrosoftDynamics1Definition: ‘Software Drag’ when the software you are using begins to adversely affect your business rather than providing efficiency, savings and productivity.

Often once the excitement around a new implementation has died down and the original product champions have moved on, it’s easy to forget that there is still huge potential in the business software you have invested to reduce costs, increase efficiency and make your business more profitable. So how do you continue to benefit from your software investment after the initial implementation? Here are my tips for avoiding stagnation.

Ownership

Find somebody within the business to take ownership of the product and not allow it to stagnate. An internal product champion who sees value in the product, and creates and develops it in a systematic fashion.

Education

Make sure your staff are 100% familiar with the functionality, “I didn’t know it could do that” is a statement I hear all too often on customer sites but is not an excuse when time is money. Attend events and webinars, read the free advice blogs and news bulletin provided by your supplier to understand what new features and functionality are available now and in the future.

Partnership

Find a supplier who is as interested in the success of your business as you are: An IT partner who is willing to really engage with you and keen to help, not one who judges and classifies you by your IT spend per annum. Call your supplier and ask for a system review. Do it now rather than later.

Discussion and review

Talk to your account manager about what you want to achieve, and if you haven’t got an account manager, get one with your supplier. Undertake a system review with your staff and your partner.

Walk the floor and spend a day meeting the users, understanding their views of what the system does well, what it could better and what it doesn’t do at all. Establish the problems that need addressing and new features you may be able to use, collate them a prioritise them. Then plan how you move forward.

If you would like to discuss your Dynamics software needs, call Advantage Business Systems on 020 3004 4600 or email info@advantage.co.uk.

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