How to Select a Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM Provider: Five Considerations

May 3 2009

Over the last couple of years, the number of providers of hosted services for Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and Dynamics CRM have been multiplying almost by the week. It seems as if everyone wants to be part of the hosted experience. Unfortunately this is making the right choice for a reliable and professional hosted services provider more difficult. How can we choose the right partner for our business?

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.

More about Sandor Schellenberg


bensonf's picture

Hi Sandor, there are lots more criteria that customers can use that I think can be easier to measure and might be more important: How many Microsoft Dynamics CRM certified professionals do they have on their team? -- this will give you an indication whether they can help you with CRM implementation and support or whether they are just a generalist hosting company. Are they a hosting reseller or provider? -- Resellers are likely to have more experience implementing Microsoft CRM, but not providing support for hosted services and won't have direct access to the servers. Hosting providers run the data centre and provide the hosting services, but may not have deep expertise in implementing or supporting Microsoft CRM. How long have you been hosting Microsoft Dynamics CRM? -- the more experienced service providers have been hosting CRM since 2006 nand have built up a track record of experience? Do you have a Microsoft Dynamics Foundation Plan or a Dynamics Partner Advantage Plan? -- a Foundation plan provides partners with 20 support incidents with Microsoft per year; Advantage gives them 150 incidents, a named technical account manager and access to the CRM development team. If they have neither service plan with Microsoft, then run. What add-ons do you currently support, and what others are on your add-on roadmap? -- most CRM hosting providers already support a number of useful add-ons and this indicates that they've got the platform and R&D processes able to handle your future add-on requirements. At a minimum they should provide the Email Router, Data Migration Manager, Web Services integration, a mobile client, an email marketing add-on and some of the CRM solution accelerators. Hope this helps, Neil Benson, chief addict at Increase CRM

jahanmn's picture

Great article as it really gets people thinking about the folks they choose to partner with. Hosted CRM is not like throwing a website up and all is fine and takes a level of skill that providers are constantly fine tuning. Here is a couple thoughts on each point 1 - Customer Service - it is not enough to ask who you call - push the provider to walk you through there process of delivering customer support. Only those that support a large number of clients will have this worked out, we've found that support comes in many different areas and has a huge positive impact on customer satisfaction when delivered properly. 2- Latency - not sure I fully agree - check the latency and make a decision - and YES talk to some of their customers. 3- Trail account - definitely and if they are a true hosting provider they should be able to stand this up in hours not days - really just takes a few minutes! 4- White label - guess I'd never thought of this as a test, but it makes sense. But be prepared to pay additional as you won't be able to leverage the SSL certs and will need to get your own wildcard certs. 5- Price - Couldn't agree more!!!! Look at what additional value the provider brings out of the box - if they are just standing up a system as it comes from Microsoft....RUN - it is a great product, but those real providers know the pitfalls and have crafted solutions to add more value! The last thing I would add is look at the term they want you to commit for - if the provider doesn't have to earn your business every month they won't. Happy Searching Jim Sheehan PowerObjects