Setting Up a “Winning” CRM Team Requires Attracting Talent Worthy of Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s Cross-Organizational Applications

The shortage of skilled employees is still one of the biggest challenges in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM world.

Personally I get many calls from headhunters who offer job opportunities worldwide or ask if I know people who qualify for the requested position. The requests usually come from large system integrators, who seem to have trouble finding the high-end skilled people with experience in the CRM market.

The key challenge for system integrators is the fact that their organizations are based on specific knowledge areas, but Microsoft Dynamics CRM requires people with knowledge from different areas. For example, one skill that often is required is analytical skill for business intelligence.

Companies can try set up a team and select each team member from a required knowledge group, but usually this results in a lack of chemistry within the team. Another common method is to build a core team and extend it with knowledge specialists, but how to find cross knowledge specialist?

In my experience, finding the combination between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and technical skills is very unusual. The challenge for setting up your team becomes more difficult due to these unusual combinations of required skills. Nevertheless, with the release of Microsoft Dynamics 4.0, a breakdown in required skills becomes a little easier. In this latest release, we see that the skills required are increased, but it is easier to separate them and assign them to different team members.

The areas of knowledge could be divided into four general areas: project management, functional, technical, and data migration. Within these areas you could define different roles e.g. roles mentioned in Microsoft Sure Step Methodology.

The project management requires, depending on length and type of the project, a very flexible approach-- a combination between methods Prince 2, PMBOK and Scrum. I prefer a pragmatic approach and quickly setup of a proof of concept, and take this as a starting point for further development.

The functional area is a combination of business analytic skills and functional knowledge of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. To enhance your business skills you need to require knowledge of your branch e.g. common issues, trends, way of working etc. The key skill is to know how to map/support business processes in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which requires good knowledge about all functional aspects of the application.

The most complex area is technical--Dynamics CRM requires many technical skills, including IIS, OS, Exchange, SQL/SRS, C# and Workflow Foundations. The key role would be Solution Architect (see Microsoft Sure Step Methodology), the member who can oversee all areas and have knowledge to design the solutions. This member is supported by a product specialist, who focuses on one knowledge field.

The last area I defined is data migration, which could be part of the technical area. Nevertheless, I think this should be mentioned separately, because it requires knowledge of cross platform and cross dynamics stack knowledge, including SAP, Siebel, Lotus Notes, NAV, AX, GP. For data migration, tools like Scribe Insight, Celenia and Biztalk are commonly used.

The core team for Microsoft Dynamics CRM ideally consists of at least one (senior) member aka team leader from the discussed knowledge areas. It's important that every senior member also have basic knowledge of the other knowledge areas. The next step would to add junior members to your core team, who can be trained in basic skills required for all knowledge areas and specializing in their own knowledge area. Just be aware of certain prejudices junior technicians might have, such as, "technical roles won't communicate with customer". Nevertheless good communication and support of the team leader should prevent their prejudice from becoming a reality.

You might have noticed I did not mention one other very important role, which also required basic knowledge of all defined areas. This is the role of the sales representative, usually supported by the solution architect or functional consultant. The sales representative should not only have a good basic knowledge of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, but of course should be able to sell your mother-in-law.
About Sandor Schellenberg

Sandor Schellenberg is the owner and founder of friendlyITsolutions, which mainly focuses on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and related software in the Microsoft stack. He is a Senior Microsoft Dynamics CRM Consultant/Solution Architect and is specialized in data migration & integration. In autumn 2009 his work was recognised and rewarded with a invitation to Scribe Software MVP Program. 

His roots in Microsoft-based Internet technologies go back more than twelve years, and since 2005 he has specialized in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Starting with his first guest post on the blog of Menno te Koppele, he decided to start his own blog, Friendly Microsoft CRM Monster, a blog with a wink. The blog is widely read in the Dynamics CRM community and focused mainly on Microsoft Dynamics CRM technical and integration/migration topics.

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