Dynamics 365 – What Customers Taught Us
When we designed our RapidStart CRM solution for Dynamics 365, we had a pretty specific idea of how it would be used. It turns out, that when you eliminate the complexity of customizing Dynamics 365, customers get pretty creative.
What have we Learned from Customers?
If you give them an inch, they will take a mile. In the past, if a RapidStart CRM customer told us they had a need for managing projects for example, we would immediately say, “No problem, we can build a custom entity for that, “post-RapidStart”. Some customers frowned, while they might not know what an “entity” is exactly, they did know it was going to cost something to build it. I was following up with a customer who had just completed his RapidStart, and had previously mentioned needing project management, to see if he was ready to move forward with that additional work. He said “I already built it with your Wizards”. Hmm, I said “We don’t have a Wizard for that”, and he said, “Ya I know, but I used the Wizard for the Opportunity, and modified it into an Opportunity/Project record.” My first thought was that he was pretty sneaky, using something we built, for a purpose other than what was intended. He offered to let me take a look. He had added all of his Project related fields to the Opportunity record, and modified the process to not end at the close of the sale, as it typically does, but rather to continue until completion of his project. I said “You can’t do that! It won’t work” and he said “I did, and it does”.
Leads are Dirt
Another customer, in the land acquisition business said they did not have a need for Leads in their business model. However, they said they would like to circle back after their RapidStart and look at building a custom entity for the thousands of properties that they need to import for possible purchase analysis. Just like before, I reached out after they completed their RapidStart to discuss the addition of a Properties entity, and they said they did not need it anymore. I said, “Did you change business model?”, and she said, “No we re-purposed the Lead for that, using the Wizards”.
A Pattern Starts to Form
It has become amazing what people are able to do with four out-of-the-box entities (Leads, Opportunities, Contacts and Accounts) and two processes (Lead Process and Opportunity process) when they are empowered with an accessible way to easily modify them. For the most part, Accounts and Contacts are still Accounts and Contacts, but suddenly Leads and Opportunities and their corresponding processes are being twisted into all sorts of other things.
Why is this Happening?
Customers don’t know what they don’t know. Nobody ever told them that an Opportunity is a specific “thing” for example. They are just seeing it as a record that is already attached to Contacts and Accounts. They are showing a blatant disregard for what Microsoft intended an Opportunity to be! I thought “we need to tighten this up and keep this from happening otherwise all kinds of bad things will happen like… uh…umm… I got nuthin”. Necessity is the Mother of Invention, and in this case, the necessity is to not spend any more money than they have to. Clearly showing little regard for my boat acquisition plans, customers have built their own Travel Booking, Property Management, Solar Energy Construction and other solutions using just these few blocks… ugh.
Perfection is the Enemy of Good
I have used that phase before, it is a good one. Certainly any CRM Partner could look at what one of these customers did to pervert their Opportunity or Lead to serve their other needs and say “That could have been done better with a custom entity”. This is no doubt true, but at a cost. The goal of our RapidStart CRM solution was to allow a customer to get Dynamics 365 off the ground, and adopted, at the lowest possible cost. Some of them have just figured out how to get it farther off the ground than we anticipated… damn sneaky customers.
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