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IT Showcase On: Microsoft Dynamics CRM

How Microsoft Information Technology Uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Resolve Its Business Challenges

Quick Reference Guide

Updated: January 2013

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Executive Summary

Microsoft Information Technology (Microsoft IT) supports more than 100,000 employees worldwide by providing key infrastructure and line-of-business (LOB) applications to users and business groups within Microsoft. IT works closely with business and product teams throughout Microsoft to learn about their business processes, gather business requirements, and develop technology solutions. At an enterprise company the size of Microsoft, fulfilling this mission often requires extensive planning to ensure that all users of a new solution have access to the functionality and training that they need to do their jobs.

One service type that many groups at Microsoft require is customer relationship management (CRM), the software and processes for managing a group's interactions with the people that it serves. Microsoft IT partners with other Microsoft groups to solve their business needs, no matter in what part of the company they are located. In the case of CRM, this results in the development of CRM services and solutions.

Currently, Microsoft IT supports more than 50 CRM solutions across Microsoft and serves more than 50,000 users worldwide. This is a large CRM footprint that reaches into nearly all Microsoft business areas, including finance, benefits, payroll, Human Resources (HR) support, business operations, trustworthy computing, SQL Azure labs and hosting services, government influencers, and research and development. This breadth of CRM service is becoming more common at large companies, and requires increasing agility by IT organizations to keep up with their business group's demands. Microsoft Dynamics® CRM is a flexible and extensible relationship-management package for supporting business users throughout Microsoft.

Microsoft IT's role is to connect business users to software solutions that meet their requirements, so it is always searching for ways to streamline its development practices, and deliver and support the highest quality solutions for all of its users. The flexibility and capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM enables Microsoft IT to tailor each solution to the workflows and requirements of its business users.

CRM Solutions Across Microsoft

Effective CRM is critical for Microsoft, just as it is for its enterprise customers. Microsoft IT uses CRM to manage customer details through every stage of the Microsoft sales cycle, including ideation, awareness, lead management, order management, fulfillment, and customer service, along with other business units with processes that fall outside the sales cycle itself. CRM product modules also can provide value in noncustomer management scenarios, known as extended relationship management (XRM). XRM provides benefits that extend beyond CRM to include management of employees, partners, assets, suppliers, and just about anything else that a company might wish to manage.

Microsoft IT uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM to support many business functions, including:

Pipeline management

  • Product support
  • Business operations
  • Corporate operations
  • Corporate compliance
  • Product adoption
  • Events management

As Microsoft IT continues to deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM throughout Microsoft, it will be deliberate in maximizing the use of native CRM capabilities. IT will achieve this by designing solutions that favor the configuration of native CRM features versus custom development. In scenarios that require custom development, Microsoft IT benefits from using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM core supported methods to extend the features and functionality. These methods include web services, reporting with filtered views, and iFrames. IT also will leverage third-party certified adaptors, or create connectors, as needed, with Microsoft SharePoint®2010, Microsoft Lync®, Skype™, and other Microsoft technologies.

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This strategy enables Microsoft IT to accomplish the following:

  • Reduce project costs and achieve rapid time to market
  • Decrease the complexity of supporting solutions
  • Reduce implementation risks
  • Minimize total cost of ownership (TCO)
  • Provide a means for forward compatibility of its solutions
  • Increase its ability to showcase installations for customers

Microsoft IT will continue to use this assessment framework as a consistent way of measuring the integrity, supportability, and user-experience quality of its CRM solutions.

Global Sales Experience (GSX)

Challenge:

Slow performance and architectural limitations on Siebel CRM; 170+ local applications.

Solution:

Modified Microsoft Dynamics CRM-based solution; inclusive strategy for migrating all users.

Benefits:

Flexible architecture; faster performance; enterprise-implementation blueprint.

Results:

Role-based user experience; positive TCO impact; overall sales-force productivity gains.

Microsoft IT historically has supported SMSG with a highly customized Oracle Siebel-based CRM solution. Over time, however, the Siebel solution no longer met the needs of SMSG adequately because:

  • Siebel had limitations that did not allow for feature separation between elements of the business. Due to Siebel's single-tenant architecture, a feature either had to be enabled for all users or disabled as whole.
  • Productivity slowed as performance was burdened by heavy customization and the demands of more than 170 local applications, which had been created over time to meet business needs that the Siebel core did not provide. The local applications made for extremely slow performance on most tasks, and a support plan that was no longer intentional or predictable. These local applications also magnified Siebel maintenance costs, and inhibited integration testing of new applications in development.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM, as the basis for GSX, was the right solution for SMSG, because it:

  • Provided features that fit IT's needs for supporting the sales force, particularly the ease with which developers and end users could interface.
  • Enabled IT to create unique user experiences for each business team. This architecture—including built-in Microsoft.NET extensibility— offered low-risk configuration abilities to developers.
  • Provided a more unified, intuitive user experience as an application platform, compared to users running separate applications.

Microsoft IT decided to migrate to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and to retire Siebel. IT worked closely with SMSG and the Microsoft Dynamics product group to develop GSX, a feature-rich, easy-to-adapt tool initially built on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 platform.

Results

The GSX implementation saw an overall $10 million U.S. dollar reduction in operational and capital expenditures (opex and capex). Much of this reduction was the result of the simplified GSX solution architecture. The operational cost advantages alone of GSX, along with its counterpart, Partner Sales Experience (PSX), represents a monthly savings of four times over the same costs with Siebel.

Not included as part of these numbers are the additional savings that each sales division achieved by simplified application-development overhead. By replacing more than 170 local applications with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM–based subscription services, Microsoft IT avoided the need for excessive specialized read/write connections into the CRM data store. This resulted in better performance and greatly reduced the need for custom development and ongoing maintenance.

Additionally, sales personnel now had more time to service their contacts and customers directly. Based on an aggregate savings of $100 an hour, multiplied by 1.5 hours per week of time saved for each seller, and a sampling of 9,500 sellers that were supported by GSX, the total productivity recovery amounts to $74 million U.S. dollars annually.

After several months of using the new solution, SMSG cited GSX as helping to increase win rates (ratio of closed deals per number of opportunities), increased pipeline velocity (time frame within which a deal closes), and improved sales planning.

Microsoft Incident Management Operations System (MIMOS)

Challenge:

Siebel CRM architectural limitations; lack of technology support for process optimization.

Solution:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and OpenText Metastorm BPM-based solution using xRM technology.

Benefits:

Flexible architecture; workflow optimization support; $22M projected five-year savings.

Results:

Process optimization through integrations and BPM-based process modeling tools.

MIMOS was developed for Microsoft IT to improve incident management efficiencies in the Microsoft Regional Operations Centers (ROCs) and to enable workflow management and business process automation for the following incident management activities:

  • Orders, adjustments, and agreements for Microsoft software and services
  • Maintenance and amendments related to orders, adjustments, and agreements
  • Queries about an order, adjustment, or agreement

For all but a few of its Microsoft Operations users, MIMOS replaced an Oracle Siebel-based tool, Microsoft Service Enterprise (MSE), which had provided only incident management capabilities. Another tool, Voice Support Application (VSA), was similarly replaced by MIMOS for one line of business (Microsoft Business Solutions, or MBS).

The success of MIMOS is instrumental to the success of Fada, a larger operations outsourcing initiative. The primary Fada technology goal, as demonstrated by MIMOS, is to modernize Microsoft Operations by providing "a simple and human-centric transaction platform that supports one perpetual relationship with the customer."

With the implementation of MIMOS, the ROCs and the MIMOS team have seen the following benefits:

Automation and simplification of business processes. The ROC processes that use MIMOS now allow cases to be moved into and within a set of queues, either manually or using BPM. This ability is instrumental in driving new efficiencies in ROC incident response quality, and the intelligence for moving cases between queues is based on metadata that MIMOS tracks on a case-by-case basis.

Extensibility to new feature sets. Modernizing the incident management platform from MSE to MIMOS enabled extensibility on a level that was not previously available. The configurable Microsoft Dynamics CRM components allowed the MIMOS team to flexibly develop new features at the request of individual Fada business units, such as LP Chat ability and online agent preparedness checklists. Because of this flexibility, the MIMOS team was able to design, develop and implement a full replacement of MSE in only ten months, and is better positioned than ever before to provide future system improvements.

xRM Integrations

For MIMOS, xRM technology was key to a seamless implementation that would not disrupt any of the existing business processes it was designed to support. The configuration that Microsoft IT completed to integrate MIMOS with existing incident submission and operations business intelligence systems minimized the costs of replacing the incident management platform, and did so without impacting the users of those systems. Additionally, these integrations enabled new capabilities  for internet-based incident submission, online chat, order management, incident and attachment archiving, and incident sharing with internal IT groups.

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The biggest challenges IT faced during this implementation were maintaining network requirements and sustaining the considerable database growth size of the new solution.  To maintain cross-domain connectivity and to provide optimal bandwidth in remote locations, IT worked with the Microsoft Dynamics product group and followed their guidelines for bandwidth and client configuration. To manage database size growth, propagated largely by embedded attachments that were required for processing volume licensing agreements, IT custom-developed an archiving capability that uses SQL mirroring and the xRM capability to remove extraneous CRM data elements.

Results

Because the retirement of MSE, the previous Oracle Siebel-based tool, was executed in a seamless way from the user's perspective, MIMOS has provided a significant positive impact on the businesses it supports. This is especially important when you consider the scope and range of the solution. The MIMOS case load represents the fourth highest number of users and the third highest volume of incidents at Microsoft, and its data (tickets, reports, and attachments) make up one of the largest CRM databases of any enterprise in the world (currently 1.8Tb).

SMB‑CRM: Rapid CRM Development

Challenge:

SMSG required the timely implementation of SMB lead management for cloud products.

Solution:

Rapid development of a Microsoft Dynamics CRM-based tool to serve both U.S. and global sales forces.

Benefits:

SMB-focused lead-management solution; design precedent for future rapid development of CRM instances.

Results:

Rapid delivery of vital sales-support technology; role-based workflows; IT efficiency gains.

The Small and Medium Business for Dynamics CRM project (SMB‑CRM) resulted from the convergence of several challenges facing a particular area of SMSG's sales strategy, namely, how to sell cloud products to small- and medium-sized business customers. Microsoft customers in this fact-moving market require specific attention so that the small- and medium-sized business (SMB) group in SMSG could track and manage individual leads effectively.

SMB needed a solution for lead management in this area, and they needed it to be operational as quickly as possible. Microsoft IT worked with SMB to develop SMB‑CRM. To accelerate its deployment, IT successfully adopted a strategy not traditionally applied to enterprise CRM deployments: agile development, or Scrum methodology. This focuses on iterative development in short cycles, with an intense focus on daily issue resolution and the coordination of focused development resources.

Solution Design

Like most large companies, Microsoft uses a customer life-cycle management model when marketing software to customers. As part of its sales process, SMSG uses multiple tactics for managing leads. The SMB division within SMSG typically manages the smaller businesses that lack a dedicated sales representative. Therefore, when SMB customers indicate their interest in products, those leads are routed to a telesales call center as part of SMSP's customized CRM implementation, GSX. The route that a lead follows to the GSX database depends on whether the customer already uses a Microsoft Managed Partner for its software purchases, or whether the customer would like to have one assigned.

The solution design for SMB‑CRM needed to map to this complex workflow. Additionally, it had to account for differences in requirements between U.S. and non-U.S. sales territories. In the U.S., which has only one call center, the CRM solution must manage leads to the point at which they are closed as sales. Outside the U.S., SMSG uses five call centers, and the CRM solution delivers the lead to GSX as soon as it becomes an opportunity.

Semicustomized Agile Development

SMB‑CRM was implemented by using Scrum, an agile software-development methodology. Scrum focuses on iterative development in short cycles, with an intense focus on daily issue resolution and the coordination of focused development resources.

Using Scrum with the SMB‑CRM project enabled Microsoft IT to achieve a high degree of efficiency via the work- and knowledge-sharing principles that are inherent in the agile-development philosophy.

For example, between sprints, the IT developers rotated their area of focus. So if Developer A worked on lead routing for one sprint, while Developer B worked on GSX integration, during the next sprint they would switch feature areas. In this way, all developers on the team stayed current with the whole-solution design, and if any developer left the project, another developer could pick up the work quickly and easily. This same rotation practice also was applied during the SMB‑CRM testing cycles. In a similar way, the duty of running the daily all-team meetings rotated among all project managers and leads. This ensured that if a Scrum leader left the project, another could take his or her place easily.

Results

SMB‑CRM is expected to help Microsoft achieve its goal of having cloud products and services account for 50 percent, or $3 billion U.S. dollars, of SMB sales growth over the next three years. Additionally, it provides a reusable model for agile development of additional CRM solutions, that Microsoft and its partners can leverage. The benefits of Microsoft Dynamics CRM played a key role in achieving these results: extensible architecture, configurable user experiences, and ease of integration with external systems.

The Future: CRM as a Utility

Many technologies that IT departments use are implemented as stand-alone applications. Over time, multiple instances of each application might be in use throughout an enterprise. As the number of instances grows, the enterprise's IT department looks for ways to create and support each instance more efficiently. If the technology architecture allows, an IT department can create a base deployment that it can use to create new deployments over the corporate network. In turn, this enables business groups to build their own solutions. A common example is SharePoint, which was designed originally as a document-management system. It since has grown to be, among other things, a website procurement service, through which individuals or groups can set up individual SharePoint websites on demand.

This demonstrates the notion of software as a utility, where an IT group manages a technology's central implementation. Then, multiple tenants (business users or groups) can readily set up, or provision, their own implementation of the technology for their specific use.

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM supports this capability for multiple CRM user groups within an organization. As you have seen, the capabilities of CRM stretch into many parts of a company's business structure. This can create a potential challenge for a company's IT department to match the demand for CRM development and support services. To resolve this challenge, Microsoft IT created a central, base CRM platform by using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and then added a user interface that allows for employees to provision their own CRM instance that is configured to match their needs.

One advantage of this solution type is that the Microsoft Dynamics CRM architecture allows many users of multiple tenant instances to view the same data on multiple endpoints (devices or interface types). Another advantage is that an IT department can add technologies connected to the utility implementation easily to the tenant implementations, which reduces and centralizes the IT department's CRM support requirements.

This "common architecture, variable user experience" model is key to the evolution of self-service IT. Utility CRM is an example of how IT organizations can become more agile and efficient by empowering their users to make safe, useful technology decisions on their own behalf. The IT organization then can offer additional services to users, as needed, such as integration or other customization work.

ConnectedCRM: The Platform Utility

To use CRM as a utility at Microsoft, IT developed ConnectedCRM, a shared service that offers a central Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution for internal Microsoft groups. In keeping with the idea of empowering users via self-service IT, ConnectedCRM provides a simple user interface where new tenants can respond to a series of questions about their business needs, and then subscribe to a Microsoft Dynamics CRM instance with live data within minutes. The automated provisioning facilitates the onboarding of users across the private and public clouds. This replaces a more-traditional service model where IT resources would gather requirements, and then develop, test, and implement a custom solution.

Using a menu-driven user experience, CRM tenants have access to reusable services, seamless integration with data sources, and a continuity of reusable assets, including:

  • Feedstore, the Microsoft contact technology for retrieving employee contact information.
  • Honoring Customer Permissions, an integration that protects the privacy of Microsoft customers, and which enables them to manage their own permissions and related contact information for receiving promotional communications at Microsoft.
  • Click to Chat, a technology that translates chat session to leads or case management in CRM.
  • Other helpful integrations, such as Partner Managed Data and business intelligence (BI) reporting systems.

With ConnectedCRM, Microsoft IT seeks to continually improve its service of tenant applications, simplify its own CRM infrastructure and processes, and evolve Microsoft businesses by leading the way for more business processes and applications to move to the cloud.

Summary

Microsoft Dynamics CRM enables Microsoft IT to satisfy a wide range of business needs, while using a single common platform to maintain a simplified implementation and support approach.

The ConnectedCRM platform utility will continue to lead with innovation through mobility and social experience with Skype, Lync, LinkedIn, and other social media. Additionally, it will enhance and support the delivery of solutions to the marketplace.

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