A CRM Wish List

I was recently asked to name the one improvement that I'd like to see made to CRM. I had a hard time limiting my response to one item. Don't get me wrong - I love working with Microsoft CRM. Even after 5 years, I'm still amazed at the product's flexibility to address business needs. But the question got me to thinking, and it's been a while since I compiled, in one place, my wish list for product improvements. So here they are, in no particular order. Leave your suggestions for CRM improvements in the comments section!

  1. More frequent releases of product improvements. Probably the biggest thing I would change about the last 5 years of my career if I were given supreme power over the universe and Microsoft would be to have the CRM Product Group make more frequent releases of feature enhancements and functional improvements. We had a version 3.0 and now we have version 4.0, but there should have been 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, etc. in the interim with little improvements made and new features added along the way. I'm not talking bug fixes or update rollups - those are a given with any product. But to really stay competitive and keep delighting your customer base, I think it's important to show that innovation doesn't take 24 months to surface.
  2. Search: the ability to search across entities from one place - ie, a quick find that isn't limited to one entity.
  3. Ability to select a piece of Sales Literature and send it to a CRM Contact/Account/Lead via email
  4. More robust editing of HTML in Email templates (with CSS support)
  5. Actually release the Mobile Express client already
  6. Built-in ability to expose fields from related entities on a form
  7. Field-level security!
  8. Ability for workflow to update attributes on inactive records (version 3.0 could do this!)
  9. Email Activity enhancements: a) Ability to select secondary email addresses to send email; b) Email to custom entities; c) Associate tracked email activities to all matched records (if a duplicate email exists in the system, the email is unresolved rather than being associated with both); d) Aggregate email threads in History; e) Email preview panes
  10. Combo boxes (multi-select picklists)
  11. Recycle bin like MOSS
  12. Reusable or linked picklists (across entities - so they keep in synch and don't need to be manually edited multiple times)
  13. GUI/Drag and drop sitemap customizations
  14. User-selected default views
Leave your suggestions for CRM improvements in the comments section!


ko ye said...

"Actually release the Mobile Express client already"

Could you post the URL of Mobile Express for CRM 4.0?

Matt Wittemann said...

I certainly will post the URL when it is released, which it isn't as of this date. That's why it's still on my wish list!

Brian Begley said...

How about Built in Dashboards!

Matt Wittemann said...

That would be nice, but I can understand that it would be difficult to anticipate which KPIs, etc., users would want to measure. That does bring to mind a tangentially related item I forgot on my wish list: Record counts in views and/or on left nav links so you can see at a glance how many Contacts you have, or how many Opportunities are in your pipeline, etc.

Michael Höhne said...

Hi Matt,

I vote for general view enhancements: grouping, sums and multiple associated views. Don't want to create a report for everything.

Matt Wittemann said...

Hey, Michael, good suggestions. I especially like the idea of multiple associated views - that would be very helpful.

vidya said...

-The ability to automate and control mailmerge via the SDK.
- Personal (instead of organization-wide) default views.

Atul said...

Open to integrate with other LDAPs like IMB TAM etc. Do not keep the tight control of AD usage.

vandelden said...

I would suggest multiple forms, preferably based on userroles would be neat...

Michael Dodd said...

I concur with all of the above suggestions, and here are some more (advanced) ones:
1.) Configurable entity for Telemarketing Scripts & Marketing Surveys.
2.) Canned icons for custom entities
3.) Dynamic/Dependant picklists
4.) Query tool for Excel reporting
5.) Timer for Activities (configurable through WF?)
6.) A New Activity type for Shipments. Over sized mail, marketing materials, products being shipped and returned are all logged as "Letters".
7.) Ability to paste Images in KB Articles
8.) Bring back the home page and either build out the Announcements section or just drop it entirely.
9.) Entity for Alerts (configured through WF).
10.) Online notification that a CRM record is being edited by another user.

Matt Wittemann said...

Thanks for adding to the list, Michael. Some excellent suggestions. I think some of them could be handled with custom entities, such as alerts. A custom activity type would definitely be helpful.

A couple of other comments: You can do some pretty good Excel reporting by exporting a CRM list view to a dynamic pivot table, and you can use Excel's built-in data tools to connect to CRM just like any other database. What other types of Excel reporting did you have in mind?

Also, there are some samples out there of timers for activities (I'm assuming you want something like a call timer with start and stop buttons). For example, the VPC image for CRM 3.0 that MS provided included a call-timer for the phone call activity. You can probably find it with some googling...

Thanks again for contributing!

Anonymous said...

These are great suggestions. If you haven't done so already I would log them into connect.microsoft.com for Dynamics CRM. This would get more visibility within the CRM community and allow the community to validate and add their comments for the CRM product team to see.

Matt Wittemann said...

Thanks and yes, most of them have been logged at the Connect site, either by myself or others in the community. After I've received a few more comments, I'll probably review the list for duplicate ideas or related suggestions and submit the remainder to the Connect site.

Anonymous said...

Support for multiple forms per entity.

Accounts, for example... I'd like to have one form design for Vendor accounts, and then a different form layout for Customer accounts... without having to show/hide fields and tabs with javascript.

Michael Dodd said...

Hey Matt,

I've used the Timer Tool before, but it would be nice if this were an OOTB feature (again, something that could be rolled up into a nice Telemarkting module in the marketing section.) For that matter, it would also be nice to see some enhancements in the Marketing area. One thing I hear from our internal CRM users is the lack of a more granualar tracking of ROI (tying Campaigns to Orders/Invoices).

As for the Excel Querying tool, I would like to see a more user friendly querying tool (a la the Advanced Find) for Information Workers. I got my start reporting using MS Query, but your average CRM user knows nothing about making an ODBC connection to CRM, much less sifting through all the SQL tables to find the Filtered View and writing a SQL Query.

The advantage of a more user friendly Excel query tool would be that the average user can create Left Joins. A big draw back of the AF is to show, for eg, Accounts with no Orders.

Michael Dodd said...

Hey Annonymous,

That's a great suggestion about multiple Forms. I've done a great deal of customization in a Client's Account, Opportunity and Quote Entity for similar reasons. One way I've accomplished this is to store data fields that pertain to a different CustomerTypeCode in different Form Sections, then dynamically hide/show these sections based on the value of the CustomerTypeCode value.

There are a number of blog posts that can show you how to dynamically hide form sections.
Here's one that I found:

Matt Wittemann said...

Michael: All good suggestions. About the Excel query tool, I haven't done this before, but I understand you can create a report model that users can access through the SQL Server Reporting Services (2005) Report Builder. It would work kind of like the Report Wizard in CRM, but allow you to set up a more flexible report model for the users. I do agree that the lack of Advanced Find to search for accounts with no orders, for example, is frustrating. Been asking for that since CRM 1.0.

Anonymous said...

From a system point of view, it would be good to get a one stop shop performance monitoring and tuning advice utility for sys admins.

One of the most common complaints re CRM is performace and anything that helps pinpoint one of the many possible causes would be great.

Equivalent of Windows Update for Outlook Clients and Server would be nice.

Greater levels of Accounts integration - Microsoft Small Business Accounts integration would be a starting point.

Ability to handle payments against invoices - commerce etc. Some of the new Accelerator stuff looks like it might start to plug that gap.

Autonumber fields. many clients/usesr want sequential numbering of records for audit purposes.

In-built audit trail capability - can be done using workflow + know its disk/processor intensive but could be useful.

Secure fields - capability to encrypt data entered into password fields or fields that store sensitive data.

Ability to audit export of data when using export excel + who + what query was run to export.

Just thoughts but may be of interest.

Matt Wittemann said...

Those are all excellent suggestions. Thanks for adding them!

Jill said...

A better importer! We finally gave up on importing after fruitless attempts at importing tasks as completed. (And don't even get me started with the import of completed tasks into the Notes section...) The folks at Microsoft react as if I'm asking them about the plans for a lunar landing vehicle. I'm sure our company is not the first one to need this.

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