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FULL DISCLOSURE: ThreeWill is both a Microsoft Gold Partner and Salesforce Product Development Partner.  We have 2 free products that integrate Salesforce with Microsoft 365 called Trove and Channel.  We currently use Salesforce internally for our CRM, but wondering if it’s time to take a second look at Dynamics 365.

Here’s the backstory and why we’re taking a second look.

The Backstory

I can remember about a dozen or so years ago trying to install Microsoft CRM on a server in our office.  After a couple of frustrating days away from what I should have been focusing on (sales prospecting), I signed up for a 30-day trial of  Within a couple of hours I had our accounts, contacts and the current state of our pipeline imported and up to date.  Now I just needed to convince others at ThreeWill that it was worth the cost.

Play this forward seven years or so and coming off and on Salesforce two times (I lost the cost battle twice), I got an interesting email from someone in product management at Salesforce.  I somehow convinced them to have us build a SharePoint Connector and our formal relationship with Salesforce started.  I got set up as a partner and as a part of the benefits received 2 enterprise licenses of Salesforce CRM (stingy compared to Microsoft’s generous allocation of 100 licenses).

The Current Story

I’ve always said that you can take Salesforce from my cold, dead hands…but I’m opening up to the idea of looking at Dynamics 365 again (yes, Tommy Ryan, I can see you rolling your eyes).

Here’s why…

Reason 1 – Dynamics 365 is under Scott Guthrie

We have a long history with Scott Guthrie – one of the first things that Tommy and I did as founders was to write a book on ASP.NET (he and Mark Anders were co-developers of ASP.NET).  Since then, he has proven himself at Microsoft time and time again.  More recently, he has been the leader behind Azure – a product that is improving at a staggering pace.  Now that Dynamics 365 is under his purview, we expect the product to take off…

Reason 2 – The LinkedIn Acquisition

Let’s face it – keeping data in your CRM fresh and clean is a full time job.  Salesforce has  Microsoft now has  I have no idea how this is going to get integrated – but for the hefty purchase price you know Satya is thinking how to leverage the asset in Dynamics 365 (and Microsoft 365).  When this does happen, I do not want to miss out.  I’m tired of updating Accounts and Contacts, aren’t you?

Reason 3 – AppSource and PowerApps are Microsoft’s Answer for Line of Business Apps

We’ve got a couple of apps in the Office Store – but for the typical vertical or horizontal app that we create for customers, the place for these apps is AppSource.  PowerApps may be in it’s early days, but if Microsoft can continue to invest it could represent the new way that we build apps for customers.

Reason 4 – Microsoft 365 has been a Great Move for Customers (and for Us)

If Dynamics becomes the natural complement to Microsoft 365, we’ll see a huge influx of customers making the move.  Already, with the recent release of Dynamics 365 you see a common user experience and tight integration with Microsoft 365 (beginning with things like Microsoft 365 Groups).

Reason 5 – Project Service Automation (PSA)

This reason is more specific to our type of business (professional services).  Dynamics 365 comes with a PSA solution built in.  We currently rely on a Sass solution called Autotask and there will be no love lost if we could consolidate.

Reason 6 – Everyone on the Same Page

There is a loss of data in the customer lifecycle for us right now.  We have a handful of people on Salesforce (primarily due to cost, but even if we did have licenses the preference from delivery folks is to stay out of Salesforce).  Once an Opportunity closes and turns into a project there is context and history that is lost (including things like sales notes, contact information, etc).  Giving everyone access to pertinent information from Marketing and Sales is key to keeping customers happy.

Reason 7 – Being a Good Microsoft Partner

Even if we won’t be helping customers get set up on Dynamics 365 (anytime soon), it would be good for us to use Microsoft’s offering as a long-term partner.  Granted, we’re still going to use Dropbox for certain use cases and GoToMeeting/GoToWebinar for customer meetings and webinars.  Since Microsoft and Salesforce have been playing the friendly competitor game I don’t feel that this is the most important reason, but it doesn’t hurt our relationship.  Anyhow, Microsoft gives us 100 licenses vs the 2 licenses from Salesforce so everyone will be included in the party.

Concerns and Risks

I do have concerns about making the move – here’s a short list of my initial concerns:

  1. Performance – One of my favorite things about Salesforce is the speed.  It looks like Dynamics 365 has made some significant improvements, but I don’t want to wait 8 seconds to open a contact.
  2. AppExchange vs AppSource – Like Apple and the App Store, Salesforce is miles ahead with regards to both the number and quality of apps.  I need to evaluate whether the apps that I need are “good enough.”
  3. Impact of the Migration – I don’t want to impact our economic engine so I’d look to roll this out in phases over the next year or so.
  4. Cost of the Migration – I’m not sure how easy it will be to get up and running on Dynamics 365.  As a small business, I’m afraid this will need to be a do-it-yourself project (for me).

So, What are Your Thoughts?

Leave a comment below and I’ll respond.  And if I do decide to make the move (or do a proof of concept), I’ll be sure to blog my experiences.  Thanks for reading.

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