How Microsoft Has Used XRM to Take Dynamics CRM to a New Competitive Level

Dynamics CRM has been a solid application platform since the launch of CRM 3.0 in 2005, and maybe even earlier depending on who you ask.  But with the growth of CRM Online, along with competitors like Salesforce.com's Force.com platform, and other application platform options in the market, Microsoft has used the last year to try to position its XRM vision ahead of the pack. 

So far, it has made considerable progress.

Interest in XRM appears to be growing considerably.  One measure of the interest in xRM is the conception and rapid growth of the XRM Virtual User Group.  The group, lead  by Julie Yack of Colorado Technology Consultants, a Microsoft application consultancy, has grown well past 500 members since its inception in March 2009.  New members continue to join at a steady rate every day, Yack says. 

True to its name, the XRM Virtual User Groups have built their online presence as an XRM application - a web site hosted on Azure, built with the web site building tool ADXSTUDIO, and connected, via ADXSTUDIO's XRM Extensions, to Dynamics CRM Online for managing everything from the articles and events to the user identification. 

While Yack estimates that as many as 80% of the members of the user group are developers, some are Dynamics CRM users who "know CRM forwards and backwards and have never written a line of code in their lives. "  They see the platform and its re-use as a cost savings measure in developing new applications for their business.

Dynamics CRM veterans are not the only ones being courted by the XRM value proposition.  The CRM Incubation Week event, most recently run in April in Boston, brought in teams from a broad range of companies, including a recruiting software firm and a supplier of mobile radiology solutions, and Microsoft has made a concerted effort to show that XRM is not only viable, but developers with no Dynamics CRM experience can develop new, and hopefully business-worthy applications, in just a few days. 

At the Boston event, the award of "Best XRM Solution" went to MyStaffingPro, a staffing and recruiting software maker.

In only a week, it developed a new solution, MyStaffingCRM, nearly from scratch.  "Industry experience was the most important factor," in designing an XRM application, according to Jennifer Brogee, the CIO of MyStaffingPro.   

MyStaffingPro's existing solutions enable customers to manage their own staffing web sites.  With their XRM project, they decided to branch into the recruiting side of their industry with a sourcing solution for recruiters trying to fill challenging positions.  They impressed the judges at the final presentation with features such as web services integration to TalentFilter, an online recruitment clearinghouse, integration to twitter, and integration to other external job boards.   "[Microsoft's] Larry Gregory said he was totally blown away by what we've made the product do," said Brogee.  

The MyStaffingPro team included an experienced .NET developer, but no Dynamics CRM experts.  Starting with a product spec they had developed after being accepted into the program, the team developed their solution in under four days with guidance from Microsoft staff and consultant Jim Steger of Sonoma Partners, as well as an offshore programmer.  MyStaffingCRM is still in "demo mode", according to Brogee, but still needs some polish and field input before being ready for the market. 
About Jason Gumpert

As the editor of MSDynamicsWorld.com, Jason oversees all editorial content on the site and at our events, as well as providing site management and strategy. He can be reached at jgumpert@msdynamicsworld.com.

Prior to co-founding MSDynamicsWorld.com, Jason was a Principal Software Consultant at Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC), where he implemented solutions, trained customers, managed software development, and spent some time in the pre-sales engineering organization. Jason has also held consulting positions at CSC Consulting and Monitor Group.

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