No, we do not actually need to know “Did you get Married Last Year” in order to successfully deploy Dynamics CRM Online with RapidStart CRM. But that question was the genesis of how we eliminated the consulting component from the deployment process.
Eliminate Consulting, Reduce Cost
The RapidStart CRM model today is an evolution of a crude model that we originally developed when we worked directly with end customers. The largest part of a SOW for deployment of CRM is consulting time. Lot’s of talking back and forth with a customer to figure out what they need, and mostly educate them. We knew early on, that in order to build scale, particularly in SMB, we needed to address this “Consulting” aspect. The way we approached this challenge was to make 90% of the decisions for them, in advance, based on best practices gained from many other SMB deployments. This reduced the consulting time significantly, but still left that 10%, which was the latitude we provided the customer to make CRM their own.
Fixed to Fail
You may be hearing the term “Packaged Deployment” lately, added to CRM conversations from Microsoft. This is actually a new term that Microsoft coined to describe… well, RapidStart CRM, and any other similar efforts that may follow us. It is a simple to digest term, but really makes me think of a completely fixed model. Like I said earlier, we developed RapidStart CRM as 90% fixed, but we still can’t get around that 10% of customization that every SMB wants. Without it, we don’t get to “Active Use” and without that, we have nothing, the customer will churn.
A Spreadsheet is Born
The way we originally addressed that 10% customization requirement, while minimizing consulting, was with Spreadsheets. We created spreadsheets that we sent to a customer for the COLAC entities that allowed them to do things like rename or hide fields, change options in lists and create new fields for each entity. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either. The idea was good, but help and context were lacking, so some level of consulting was still required to help the customer. But, we were close.
And then along came Microsoft…
Even with our less-than-perfect system, Microsoft took notice of the uptick in our deals and recognized that we were doing something unique. We were having success where many others were not. I explained to Microsoft how we were approaching the challenges and they immediately grasped the ramifications. It took them all of 2 seconds to suggest that we make RapidStart CRM available to the broad channel as an “enablement” option, and that we consider becoming an ISV. It took me all of 2 seconds to say “Hell Yeah”. They promised massive scale, and I said “Great”, while in the back of my mind I was thinking “How am I going to scale that 10%?“.
My Wife… I think I’ll keep her
Scalability is very limiting. As we were “redeveloping” RapidStart CRM for partners, knowing that a significant percentage of them would know nothing about CRM, lot’s of ideas were floated to me by my team. My canned response became “Can we do that 1,000 times a week?“. I never expected to do 1,000 deployments a week, but it does put into perspective very quickly what you can actually do at scale. The nagging issue that kept creeping back into my mind was the spreadsheets. The spreadsheets were not going to scale, and I racked my brain trying to crack that one. I was explaining the issue to my wife, because she loves to hear me explain issues, I can tell by her eye rolling. She was sitting at the computer at home doing our taxes with one of the online tax solutions, and she said “Why don’t you do this?“. I looked over her shoulder and saw on her screen a simple question, “Did you get Married Last Year?“.
A Bolt of Lightning
I am looking at this question on her screen “Did you get Married Last Year?“, and a little box below it “Yes or No“. I am thinking about the ramifications of an answer; calculations being made, complex forms being filled out, all based on a simple answer, to a simple question, on a form, and I think I might have wet my pants right there. My wife is a genius, but don’t tell her I said that, she already reminds me daily that she solved the core issue with RapidStart CRM. Fortunately, she does not read my blog because, as I mentioned, she is sick of listening to me explain issues.
Wizardizing a Spreadsheet
So the Microsoft turbine is slowing starting up towards turning the CRM flywheel through RapidStart CRM. We have the answer to the 10%, but it does not exist yet; we need to build it, and build it fast. And we did. Part of today’s RapidStart CRM is an ingenious Wizard Portal where a customer, or a partner on behalf of a customer, can easily customize their CRM. No Consulting required.
BTW, the photo above is from my wedding to my wonderful wife, Jessica, at the Belvedere Castle in New York’s Central Park.