A Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mindset Change

An item that can come up in a Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation is the way that individuals need to adjust their mindset in regard to the reporting possibilities before them.

Before individuals implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM many do not realize how much easier it can be to report data in a graph or chart format with a CRM system.

Often what used to be hours of creating reports can become minutes in an application like Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.

The mindset change required has more to do about where we have come from then where we’re going. Customers are concerned that they will get the reports they require in their new CRM implementation. And that’s a valid concern.

Yet, there are a few underlying assumptions that underpin these customer’s concerns about getting access to certain reports:

  • There is the expectation that only management typically has access to “coveted reports” and these reports need to be defined before the implementation otherwise they will end up never being created (individuals assume they take a lot of work)
  • There is the assumption that reports and dashboards are difficult to create and therefore consultants need to be employed to create reports on an ongoing basis

Both of these assumptions are no longer necessarily true. Times have changed (and so with it our minds need to) and reporting is often performed more on an ad-hoc basis.

The example I’ll use to demonstrate how much easier it can be to create reports inside of a CRM is the example of creating a new chart that shows us how many leads are being created on a monthly basis.

The following is a common sales and marketing scenario; you need to create a report that shows the trend of leads or opportunities.

In a charting example like the task we have before us is we want to simply group “created dates” together to analyse marketing trends. If you were doing this inside of Microsoft Excel a few years ago, you would need to use a formula to group dates together.

Today, somewhat simpler but still not easy, one could use a PivotTable inside of Microsoft Excel together with the grouping function to group the dates together (although most people are not familiar with the grouping function). But what requires formulas, PivotTables and grouping functions to chart in Microsoft Excel becomes much simpler inside of an application like Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

So in order to achieve our “Leads by Month” chart we’ll first take a standard view of our existing leads over the past year (a view which is included in Microsoft Dynamics CRM). The column that’s critical to the chart is the “created on” chart (which is included in this view).

Dynamics CRM Leads View

Secondly, to get started one simply clicks on “create a new chart” and the cart designer pops up. We’ll call the chart “Leads by Month”.

Dynamics CRM Chart Designer

From there, we can easily aggregate leads on a monthly basis (see below). We’ll save the chart by hitting “Save and Close” and we end up with a new chart that we can use moving forward.

Chart Designer End

As noted, we end up with a simple chart that has leads totalled on a monthly basis (albeit with poor data filled in).

Two Months Leads

Once individuals realize how simple charting and graphing can become inside of Microsoft Dynamics CRM many “critical” reporting requirements disappear.

Instead of relying on a few reports, business analysis becomes a day to day function of people on the ground and business intelligence is extended to everyone using the tool.

What becomes the issue then is not how difficult it is to create the report but ensuring that data is being entered into the CRM in a consistent fashion so that we can report on the data.

CRM can help us with that as well – though we’ll leave that for another day.

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