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The need for a business applications framework

What do companies in diverse industries such as manufacturing, real estate, recruitment and asset management have in common?

All of them have Line of Business (LoB) applications to help them achieve strategic competitive advantage. However, several of these disparate legacy applications have evolved over the years and they do not leverage latest technological advancements, while being increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain.

Five compelling reasons for a company to migrate onto a new platform: 

  • Disparate / diverse legacy applications, sometimes performing the same functions
  • Core processes executed in a variety of ways across units, not leveraging best practices
  • Data redundancy across applications, leading to low data integrity
  • High development, infrastructure and maintenance costs
  • Long implementation cycles, thus affecting go-to-market strategy

To overcome these shortcomings, companies need to implement a flexible business application framework that enables them leverage packaged software for custom-developed solutions thereby utilizing the flexibility of a ground-up solution in addition to the pre-built features of a packaged software.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM (MSCRM) provides a business application development framework that is both broad and deep as apart of its xRM strategy, where x means "any relationship" (Customer, Partner, Vendor, Employee etc.). The product has features such as pre-built functionality, point-and-click customizations and dynamic services to help accelerate development.

Business / Strategic IT Benefits

Technology Benefits

·         Harmonization of processes and reduction in data redundancy

·         Scalable to thousands of users with growing business needs

·         High on usability and adaptability

·         Quicker  implementation of new applications and enhancements

·         Usage of IT infrastructure for additional projects

·         Ease of integration with external applications

·         Usage of standardized technology platform provided by Microsoft

·         Lower TCO

·         xRM development platform providing flexibility to onboard different processes

·         Tight integration with Microsoft technology stack such as MS SharePoint, MS Exchange and MS Office

·         Strong integration capabilities to non Microsoft systems through Web Services

·         Multi-Tenancy, Multi-language and Multi-currency features

·         Pre-built capabilities such as data management, workflow, user experience, access and security, analytics and reporting etc are included

Examples of LoB applications that can be built on the CRM platform:

  • Financial Asset Management Firm
    The client on boarding process in an asset management firm may consist of creating and tracking an opportunity followed by Due diligence, Regulatory Compliance, Approvals and Financial Data Management for its clients. Of these, only the Opportunity functionality is a fit to the opportunity management process within MSCRM, whereas the other processes can be modeled by extending the data model through the point-and-click customization tool and through the .NET framework to implement business rules and alter look and feel. Prebuilt functionality such as data management, access and security etc. and web services apply to these extended entities automatically.
  • Recruitment Firm
    A recruitment firm may perform Business Development activities, Client Engagement Management activities (such as planning, execution, billing and management of companies and candidates), Post Engagement closure activities (such as lessons learned, team appraisal), Project and Talent Management. The business development activities are mapped to the lead->opportunity->client process in CRM whereas the others can be extended using the xRM framework using customization tools and .NET framework. 

In summary, whenever there is a relationship to be established, maintained and nurtured, Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides a business applications framework that creates a scalable, extensible and flexible underlying system to maximize business benefits.

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