Since December 2005 we are talking about Microsoft CRM version 3.0. In the case of established corporate business we usually deal with such legacy environment as IBM Lotus Notes Domino (predecessor of all the modern CRM applications as well as legitimate generic CRM platform), integration with Microsoft (such as MS SQL Server) and non-Microsoft database platforms and applications: Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Financials and custom Oracle databases, IBM AS/400 and RS6000 DB2 applications, SUN Java II EJB (as eCommerce front and back ends). Microsoft CRM should be integrated with existing applications and there is no way to simply switch all the corporate ERP to become Microsoft Windows workshop. Let's look at Corporate MRP for large corporation and how Microsoft CRM 3.0 could contribute and be a part of its computer environment.
o Sales Module. You should probably begin with simple. If you are facing sales department reshaping (from computerization standpoint) - you can apply all your MCSE skills and knowledge to install, integrate (with MS Exchange, Active Directory, custom MS SQL databases) and train Sales people to use MS CRM as their sales automation software. It is pretty intuitive: you register Sales Lead, then move it to the Opportunity (where you can create a quote), then move it to Account/Customer and then you can use MS CRM Outlook client to print Sales Quote with Microsoft Mail Merge technology (MS Word format template with your company logo and quotation lines). If you start with Sales module - the investment (MS CRM software license cost) will be optimized/minimized - all the other departments will be working with their "legacy" CRM applications, such as Siebel, SalesLogix, Lotus Notes Domino, custom CRM systems, etc.
o MS CRM Security. Security comes one of the firsts when we are talking about corporate environment. In MS CRM you have two conceptions: Owning and Sharing CRM objects. You can share object with unlimited number of groups, the drawback of sharing - shared object (Lead, Opportunity, Account, Contact) doesn't show in my Leads, my Opportunities, my Accounts, etc. as well as in MS CRM Outlook client calendar
o Integration with Microsoft Dynamics GP 9.0/Microsoft Great Plains. Microsoft CRM 1.2 had Microsoft Great Plains CRM integration tool, utilizing BizTalk behind the scenes and our company used it to move MS CRM Customers and Orders into our Accounting - Microsoft Great Plains 8.0. With the version 3.0 of Microsoft CRM and Microsoft Dynamics GP 9.0 we see that Scribe Software is the champion with the integration between the two - however Scribe Software dictates the price for its integration tool
o Integration with IBM Lotus Notes Domino. This was relatively long story. Both Microsoft Business Solutions and Lotus Software were reluctant to recognize and support Microsoft CRM Lotus Notes Domino connector, written and supported by Alba Spectrum Technologies, beginning with MS CRM 1.2 and Lotus Notes 6.0 (when Java agents were introduced for IBM Lotus Domino). Then, when Microsoft Business Solutions lost Microsoft CRM sales to such client as Caterpillar in LATAM to Saleslogix CRM - Microsoft in Sao Paulo changed its position. Now Alba Spectrum connector is recognized by Microsoft and is on the way to be recognized and recommended by IBM as well. One of the main reasons to keep utilizing both CRM solutions: Lotus and Microsoft - to optimize software licenses cost - IBM Lotus licenses (used in Legal, Production/Manufacturing, Customer Support) and Microsoft CRM licenses (used in Sales & Marketing departments)
o International Considerations. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is preferred Microsoft Business Solutions CRM worldwide, however Microsoft Dynamics AX (Microsoft Axapta) and Microsoft Dynamics NAV (Microsoft Navision/Navision Attain) have their own CRM modules. Integration between Microsoft Great Plains exists, plus integration with Navision and Axapta is and will be available through third parties. If you are Multinational corporation with manufacturing facilities in Latin America, Brazil, Africa, Asia, Australia - and you would like to use one of MBS ERP products in your headquarters: Axapta, Navision, Great Plains or Solomon (Microsoft Dynamics SL). Localization question is relatively simple for Microsoft CRM 3.0 - it is easily translated to Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Russian, Polish, Chinese, Dutch, Japanese, etc.
o Competition. We already mentioned Oracle E-Business Suite. From SAP - you should consider SAP Business One with its CRM module and integration with Microsoft Office/Outlook (this is not related to Mendocino SAP mySAP SAP R/3 or SAP all-in-One project with Microsoft - SAP Business One has its own original integration with MS Office)