Tip #527: Top CRM Turkeys

CRM TurkeyIt’s Thanksgiving in the United States today. That’s when Americans give thanks and eat too much (actually, they do that last one all year round). The traditional food of choice is turkey, a not so majestic fowl. I suspect that most people don’t actually like the taste of turkey, but they eat it because of tradition and sentimentality. This is reinforced by the fact that turkey is also synonymous with things that fail, flops, and general lame things.

At tip of the day, we love Dynamics CRM, but like many things that are great, not all of its features have always been good. In the spirit of turkey day, lets look back at some of the CRM turkeys from the past:

  • Announcements: The purpose of this feature was to provide useful notifications to users. The problem was that it did not alert them. To see the announcements, the users had to navigate to the announcements. Sure you could make that their primary sitemap area, but users can change that, and no users in the Outlook client saw them. A few releases ago, announcements were removed from the sitemap. Nobody cared.
  • Mobile Express: Mobile express bears the honor of being the first mobile interface for Dynamics CRM. However, it was doomed from the start. When it was released in 2009, the iPhone had already been out for two years, but Mobile Express remained stuck in the Blackberry age, with single column forms and no form automation. Nobody shed any tears when the new CRM for Phones was released in CRM 2015 update 1.
  • Invoices: In the words of George Doubinski

    I used the invoice entity one time, and later wished I hadn’t.

    Not that the invoice is bad, it just doesn’t fit many real-world scenarios. Nobody generates invoices in their CRM system — they do that in their ERP or accounting software. If you are the rare company that converts orders to invoices you may like it. If you generate invoices in another system and integrate them to CRM, a custom entity can give you everything that the invoice entity delivers with additional flexibility (like working on mobile).

  • Faxes: Ah fax entity, what can I say about you? Back in your CRM 3.0 glory days, you were busy integrating with WinFax. After faxing died (except for my doctor’s office), you still had life as the go-to activity entity to be re-used whenever somebody needed an SMS, chat, or some other type of custom activity. Then the product team introduced custom activity support, and now you sit there in lonely solitude while all of the cool kids are eating with accounts and unified service desk.
  • Mail merge: There was a time when CRM mail merge was cool. And that time was 2007. As CRM and Microsoft Office capabilities matured, mail merge remained the same, with the same limitations in number of fields and inability to show related entity data. I’m using CRM mail merge to generate party invitations to the funeral for CRM Mail Merge now that CRM 2016 introduces new document generation capabilities.
  • Read-Optimized Forms: The day Read Optimized Forms were announced as the new default in CRM 2013 Update 7, many of us mounted the barricades in one of the Advanta Building’s conference room and began singing “One Day More” – mostly because of the resulting user experience would have been a disaster for all but a very small number of users. Thankfully, the product team heard our cry, they quickly made some minor adjustments, and RO Forms were released without a hitch. – In a subsequent version, the R-O-Forms quietly went away and were replaced with the significantly improved “Turbo Forms” – a much better, more usable experience all around.
  • Knowledge Base Articles: Since the beginning of CRM there has been a “Knowledge Base” – of sorts. In practice, its only use was to allow someone to answer an RFP honestly with “Yes, there is a KB out-of-the-box. Next question?”. – Thankfully, happy days are here again! – The Parature acquisition in 2014¬†opened the doors to a dramatically re-engineered Knowledge Management area for CRM 2016. I’m excited to see this area get some much needed love and attention.
  • Contracts: With a rigid lifecycle, uneditable templates and a twisted world where “invoiced” does not mean “invoiced”, no wonder only a few brave legends ventured into the world of contracts. With SLAs and entitlements picking up pace, who needs contracts anyway?

Bonus features

Not exactly the turkeys, these are the features CRM could have happily lived without:

  • Unneeded “Bonus” Contact Attributes: Children’s Names, Anniversary, Birthday, UPS zone, etc.(it’s a really, really long list) – I am guessing that at some point prior to CRM 1.0, there was a group of Product Managers sitting around a room brainstorming all the attributes that *might* be useful to someone someday. – (and I’m sure someone somewhere is really fond of having these fields out of the box…)
  • Auto-numbering – “Dear customer, your case is CAS-00033-AS7OX3. No, those are zeros. Except the one before the ‘X’. Yes, unfortunately CAS-00034-DOUCHE is your other case number. I’m sorry, we don’t control it and cannot change it.” Ugh. No wonder every self-respecting CRM consulting and ISV company rolled out auto-numbering solution of their own.
  • Sites, subjects, resources – not entirely useless but without any ability to customize, extend, and re-use, these entities fall into a category “I wouldn’t have used these if I had a choice”. Unfortunately, a lot of other useful entities and features are so intertwined with this bunch that we just have to bite the bullet and explain to every customer why they cannot add a cost centre code to a site.

Got another turkey? Comment below or send it to jar@crmtipoftheday.com.

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3 thoughts on “Tip #527: Top CRM Turkeys

  1. Service Scheduling -> FieldOne acquisition

  2. Andy says:

    If I knew these thoughts when I was configuring the system I’d’ve made different choices and not bothered investigating some of the options. This list should be given to everyone from day one.

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