Integrating Microsoft Dynamics CRM With SharePoint

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and SharePoint 2010 are each powerful applications in their own right. However, Integrating CRM’s advanced customer relationship management functionality with SharePoint’s enterprise content management takes relationship management to a whole new level.

Integration enables sales and customer service teams to manage customer related documents from within CRM, simply by linking to corresponding account files and folders set up in SharePoint. The ease in which this can be done improves user efficiency, responsiveness and organisation levels by significantly reducing the time spent managing documents stored in non-integrated systems.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been designed to enable users to access customer information via a familiar Microsoft Outlook experience and it’s no exaggeration to say that if you know how to use Outlook, you already know how to use CRM.

This ease of use also extends to using CRM to share data with other Microsoft applications – like SharePoint 2010. The interface between the two applications is completely seamless and users can move between records files and folders as easily as if they were using a single software application. For example, documents are stored on the SharePoint server but can be opened and edited simply by clicking on a hyperlink stored on a field in the appropriate client record held within CRM.

Moreover, documents held within CRM can be viewed via SharePoint, meaning that non CRM users can access customer information without the need to purchase additional CRM licenses- something any Financial Director will be pleased to hear.

The prime benefits for integrating SharePoint 2010 with Dynamics CRM 2011 are as follows:

  • Improved management of customer related documents – hyperlinks to client documents held in SharePoint can be recorded within CRM customer account records
  • Ease of use – a seamless interface makes it quick and simple for users to switch between SharePoint and CRM
  • Reduced license costs – SharePoint users can view information held on CRM from within SharePoint. There is no need to purchase additional CRM licenses
  • Data security – documents related to an account are only visible to personnel to whom access privileges have been granted by administrators
  • Cost effectiveness – Advanced 365’s award winning team of developers can integrate SharePoint and CRM for far less investment that would be required to provide bespoke SharePoint development by utilising CRM’s out of the box functionality
  • Improved management reporting – SharePoint can be tailored to produce reports based on sales, marketing and customer service data held in CRM. Improved business intelligence provides management teams with a better insight into performance and underpins their decision making.

Having looked at a number of reasons for integrating SharePoint and CRM, let’s move on to look at several department-specific examples of how using the two applications in tandem can optimise customer relationship management.

The marketing department can store campaign information, data and collateral within SharePoint and use dedicated marketing functionality within CRM to execute campaigns. Personnel in the sales department can store quotes, proposals, contracts orders and invoices on SharePoint and records URLs that link to each document to prospect and client records within CRM.

Members of the customer service team are able to store client service records, correspondence and all other documents related to their interaction with clients within SharePoint and, just like their colleagues in sales, access these via tagged records in CRM.

Although the sales department and the customer service teams have joint access to the same records within CRM and SharePoint (enabling effective collaboration), the management team may wish to restrict the access of more junior members of the teams to particular areas. This can easily be administered quickly, easily and centrally and on a case-by case basis.

Decisions made by the management team are underpinned by accurate business intelligence gathering. By integrating SharePoint and CRM, the depth and breadth of reporting is significantly expanded. SharePoint business intelligence functionality can be used to analyse data held within CRM at a far deeper level than is possible by using CRM on its own.

The integration of SharePoint 2010 and Dynamics CRM 2011 is becoming increasingly commonplace in the business world as more organisations become aware of the benefits of improving the flow of information within their sales, marketing and customer service departments. Improved access to data and the ability to analyse it is also central to providing members of management with 360 degree visibility of the performance of the business and essential to understanding client behaviour and trends.

By engaging with accredited and highly experienced SharePoint and CRM developers – like Advanced 365 – and utilising their development expertise, organisations can ensure that a fully integrated solution is tailored to their requirements and that it becomes both essential part of everyday operations and key to devising the strategy for future growth and development.

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For 26 years Neil Cross was an integral figure within the successful IBM midrange solutions house, Chorus, in which he was heavily involved with both IBM and Microsoft. Neil was Chorus' technical architect for many years before taking on the role of Managing Director in 1999. Following Chorus’s acquisition by Computer Software Group plc in 2003 Neil continued to work as a key member of the management team. In 2008, Neil decided to take a career break to go travelling with his family. He returned to the UK in 2009 to become managing director of leading managed services and cloud computing provider, Advanced 365, formerly Business Systems Group. Neil is now helping to shape Advanced 365’s exciting future as part of the rapidly expanding Advanced Computer Software group headed-up by respected CEO Vin Murria.