CRM 3.0 Whitepaper w/Screenshots Released

Microsoft today released a white paper with directions concerning upgrading from CRM 1.2 to the highly anticipated 3.0. The white paper was generously sprinkled with screenshots of CRM v.Next.Beta, the interim name of the Beta for 3.0. (I need to give props to Sonoma Partners for beating me to the punch with their newsletter and blog.)

I have uploaded the screenshots here for your review, along with some of my notes about the changes these screenshots reveal. Click on the images for a larger view.

The screenshot above shows the form for creating new entities. This was one of the top five most requested enhancements for v.Next. For industries and niche businesses who felt limited by the limitations of Accounts, Contacts and Leads, 3.0 will allow you to create new custom entities -- think Vendors, Partners, Client Vendors. Or perhaps your needs are more specific, such as brokers, underwriters, attorneys, agents, etc. There really is no limit!

You'll notice familiar items on the Settings page, but don't miss new sections for creating Services, Sites, Relationship Roles and Business Closures. The Customer Service module will really take a step into the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) game, with the ability to schedule services and assign resources to provide the services. You will also be able to describe the sites that the services are delivered in, so you can report on more granular items underneath accounts, such as branch offices, warehouses, distribution facilities, manufacturing plants, etc. This will really let you crunch some powerful numbers for your larger clients.

In this screen, you will see that the Import/Export Customization functionality has been moved off the server and into the UI for easier access -- maybe now you'll remember to make backups of your customization XML files more regularly!

Another one of the top 5 requests -- perhaps the top requested improvement: the ability to customize Activities! Looks like you'll be able to customize Activities to nearly the same extent as other entities. Also, though this screenshot doesn't reveal it, CRM 3.0 will allow you to trigger workflow off Activities as well. Talk about a giant leap forward!

Here's an example of an Activity customization screen, this one for E-mails. Notice also two new features of entity customization: Relationships and Messages. You will be able to define true one-to-many relationships and create alert messages that notify users of important items on entities.
Nice little enhancement here: locked or read-only fields, in which user roles will permit or deny edits to fields after they are created. Also, a very helpful feature: 3.0 lets you add IFrames to entity forms for seamless integration. Wow! Now, if you can pass a parameter from the entity into your custom web app, there's no end to how you can tie other applications into your CRM system.
This is the screen where you choose which entity you want to edit. Things to note here: on the left there is now a Marketing module, to which the Campaign, Campaign Activity, and Campaign Response entities belong. Users will be able to quickly churn out marketing campaigns and track the responses and related activities.
New interface for entity customization. Again, note the Relationships and Messages items.

Well, that's it for now. That should be enough to get you excited about 3.0. Drop me a comment below to let me know what you think of the improvements. There are many more that I haven't gone into here, but I'll try to keep my blog up-to-date, so come back soon.

-Matt Wittemann


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