Managing Data in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Across Industries
Regardless of the industry, your business operates in—manufacturing, retail, healthcare, service, or any other area—there are some common, universal challenges to managing data. At the same time, every organization comes to the table with different needs. A “one size fits all” approach to data management with Dynamics 365 is simply naive.
Most businesses have volumes of data on a multitude of topics—and creating data is only half the battle. The data that’s been collected must have a reason to exist, and when it comes to managing the data, there must be a method to the madness. Data without management can rapidly become overwhelming, and if it isn’t used efficiently, there is little value in collecting it in the first place!
A common problem we see is when established, functioning silos get in the way of sharing information across an entire organization. Luckily, Microsoft Dynamic 365 is a highly effective tool for creating connections that may have been lost when the information silos were put in place. Dynamics 365 enables and enhances data sharing, paving the way for data management principles and processes that can be easily automated via workflows, tasks, defined user roles, security privileges and more.
Another common problem businesses face is increasing reliance on point solutions that don’t “play nice” together. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a great solution for this reason. On the infrastructure side, Microsoft Dynamics 365 works seamlessly with the Microsoft stack—products that organizations likely already use—running on platforms such as SQL or Azure with tight Exchange integration. Additionally, on the applications side Dynamics integrates smoothly with Outlook, Office, Skype, SharePoint and with ERP products such as GP, AX, Navision and SL. What this means is that individual groups and departments can continue using the products they are familiar with and best suit their particular functional needs.
The ability to build upon established technology to break down silos within an organization brings tremendous power to an organization looking at transforming data management. Here’s an example: within Microsoft Dynamics 365, a legal department can approve a contract, which automatically creates a task in Dynamics 365 and Outlook, which then appears in the finance department’s invoicing system. At this point, the service/support department has the contract details populated in the database, which is now available for the call center group to guide their responses to inbound calls. All of this happens without any actions on the part of the user. This is the highly desirable consequence of high rates of user adoption—users can continue to use the products they are familiar with and Dynamics 365 supports their processes rather than forcing them to adopt new ones.
While the components of the Microsoft suite of products are world-class, the need to integrate other enterprise and legacy applications is common. Dynamics 365 can scale well beyond the Microsoft stack. Many enterprise and legacy applications contain large volumes of data but are notoriously difficult to mine for useful data. Dynamics 365 can add value in its ability to bring these disparate systems together and utilize the data that’s already there, avoiding data duplication and fragmentation. The data remains within the system it was generated in and Dynamics 365 manages and uses the data to drive process-driven workflows, business intelligence analytics, ad hoc reporting, dashboards, and more. These capabilities enable it to support an almost infinite variety of applications across a wide variety of industries.
Let’s use an example where your customer care or service organization takes an incoming service call. During that call, your service agent is told that the customer is expanding their operations, which of course would be great for the sales team to know. Many times, this information would simply be heard during the call—effectively getting trapped in that silo—and subsequently, disappear without ever being passed on to the sales team.
Now let’s look at a similar scenario, except this time Microsoft Dynamics 365 has been implemented. When a customer care representative receives an incoming call, the new lead can easily be established within the system, and with an embedded workflow, can generate a note to the sales department for immediate handling. This assures that information is automatically entered into the system and shared with the appropriate people, significantly enhancing customer satisfaction and retention, as well as providing the sales team with an opportunity for further revenue generation. Now the sales and service organization have effectively become an integrated team.
In most industries and accounts, the marketing and sales functions are closely aligned—at least in title—but the degree to which they function as a team often leaves much to be desired. Marketing’s primary job may be to create and send new leads over to sales. To truly add value, marketing should consider how to enhance sales effectiveness by acting as a team. For example, they could be scoring and ranking those leads based on their behavior so that sales focuses first on the right opportunities quickly, and providing metrics and process support for follow-up on leads that respond.
Dynamics 365 is an excellent tool for facilitating team behavior between sales and marketing departments. It takes these teams beyond merely sharing the same space or overall objectives and into the realm of the sharing and dynamic exchange of timely and accurate information.
As an example, retailers are constantly attempting to better understand their potential market and customers. Capturing this information at point of sale via bar-code scanning is great, but feeding this information to Dynamics 365 for targeted campaigns is even better. When utilized together, retailers have a tremendous tool to assist with seasonal or promotional campaigns and to easily measure those responses—both for their franchises or corporate stores and to the corporate office.
Similarly, in order to effectively budget, forecast, and maximize cash flow, it is paramount for production and sales to be synchronized. In Microsoft Dynamics 365, as sales builds pipeline activity—including the probability of deals closing and likely close dates—that information is available via Dynamics 365 to production and delivery teams in real time. This allows businesses to plan and schedule supply chain and labor needs with a high degree of confidence. Conversely, constraints from those departments to sales or customer service can be likewise made visible in real time. This allows the customer facing personnel to set expectations with the customer. Without this communication, the production team is left to predict needs based on previous experience, which is an inherently reactive approach.
Business Intelligence derived from prior experience provides a helpful perspective, but simply assuming the future will be a straight-line continuum from what occurred in the past is a dangerous position. Sales likewise, needs to know the status of their orders with a customer, any potential delays, backlogs, repair situations, installation schedules, and so on, in order to deliver exemplary customer service. This, in turn, will result in greater customer satisfaction and ultimately more sales.
Industries and companies sometimes speak to the value of a 360-degree view of client and vendor relations casually. When we introduce a critical eye to the process, we discover that proper design and implementation yields efficiencies and insight beyond what was ever envisioned.
When a lead matures to an opportunity and a sale, or an account, you have a nice sales view. When the proper workflows and architecture are applied to that same CRM information, you have XRM. With XRM, you create a flow of actionable items and accessibility to information, not just within the sales cycle, but production, supply chain and finance. This is a true 360-degree view. This is the data needed to allow leaders to appropriately and with confidence set the course for projects, departments, and the business as a whole, irrespective of industry segment.