CRM Review of Microsoft CRM

Compare Commence CRM vs. Microsoft CRM

The CRM software sector is one of the faster growing areas in the computer software industry. This substantial growth has attracted a large number of companies all trying to take a slice of the pie. One of the most well known companies to enter the software as a service (SaaS) race is Microsoft. Better known for their operating systems, database and desktop software programs Microsoft is making a strong push into the CRM software arena, but is coming up a bit short when compared to some of the pure play CRM providers like Commence CRM.

How They Compare:

1) Functionality: Commence has been in the CRM software sector servicing mid-size and small enterprises for more than two decades. The Commence CRM product is very comprehensive and covers the entire array of front office business operations. Microsoft is a late entry into the CRM space and its Dynamics CRM product is neither innovative nor impressive and lags behind in several areas including, marketing campaign management, customer service, project management and social CRM. In addition, while Commence CRM also operates natively on the Apple Mac and supports all available internet browsers and e-mail clients such as Outlook, GMail, Yahoo and Lotus Notes Microsoft Dynamics does not and only allows for data access via their Internet Explorer product.

Advantage: Commence CRM

2) Ease of Use: One of the most important aspects of any CRM system is the learning curve and how easy the product is to use. Commence CRM gets the edge here as customers have indicated that the product’s user interface is clean, easier to navigate and easier to use than Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Commence has also cleverly incorporated a number of repetitive daily tasks right within the product’s home page or CRM dashboard. This enables the user to quickly read and compose email, schedule follow-up activities, manage leads and sales opportunities, review projects, even add service tickets without leaving the home page. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is limited in this area.

Advantage: Commence CRM

3) Cost: Commence CRM offers four product editions targeted at small to mid-size businesses with prices starting at just a few dollars per user per month. There are no restrictions with regard to the number of users per edition and customers can add any application from the higher end editions for just $10 per user per month. Microsoft Dynamics CRM pricing is a bit hard to pin down as they have been offering numerous promotions to attract new customers. One of the most noteable concerns is that Microsoft CRM is sold by third party solution providers that often add value added services such as implementation, training and customization to their price. This lack of continuity and potential for “run away” cost should be concerning to prospective customers.

Advantage: Commence CRM

4) Product Platform: Both companies offer a world class system architecture that has been designed to manage high transaction volumes, scalability and performance. Commence is built using the industry standard Java backbone while Microsoft CRM uses their proprietary .Net architecture.

Advantage: None

5) System Deployment: Both Commence CRM and Microsoft Dynamics CRM offer flexible deployment options enabling customers to deploy the CRM software on-premise or as a hosted service. This is unique in the CRM sector and gives both firms an advantage over competitive offerings like Salesforce.com

Advantage: None

6) Data Security: One of the most important aspects of engaging a provider of cloud based CRM solutions is the comfort of knowing that your data is properly secured and protected. Commence CRM has a strategic partnership with Rackspace, the industry’s number one rated hosting facility which has datacenters in the United States, Europe and Asia. Rackspace provides the highest level hosting and cloud computing environment in the industry. Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be hosted by the customer or by third party hosting providers. This may be of concern to customers looking for data security and continuity with regard to data management, new product releases and support services because each hosting provider has different polices for how they address the above. With Commence CRM, data protection, back-up and recovery services and access to customer support is managed directly through Commence Corporation.

Advantage: Commence CRM

7) Customizability: Microsoft Dynamics CRM incorporates tools within the CRM system that enable IT personnel to customize the solution to their requirements. This is perhaps the strongest component of the product offering extensibility and flexibility for system integration. Commence CRM incorporates customization capabilities right within the user interface, thereby enabling a system administrator to quickly create saved searches, custom reports, custom views, and add custom fields all without programmer intervention.

Advantage: Microsoft Dynamics CRM

8) Customer Service: Microsoft traditionally provides customer service and support through third party solution providers or value added resellers. This is a cause for concern as some third parties may be more experienced or better trained than others. In addition, this can add significant cost to the overall cost of ownership and create problems when issues arise, leaving the customer in the middle between Microsoft and the service provider. Commence assigns an account manager to every customer and has a staff of seasoned professionals that can assist customers with their questions and provide expertise regarding the use of the CRM software. Basic customer service is also incorporated within the annual fees making the cost of ownership lower for Commence CRM.

Advantage: Commence CRM

The Final Score

Microsoft has been a late entry into the CRM sector and has been playing follow the leader for the past few years. While the Microsoft brand alone is enough to convince customers to select their CRM solution, the Dynamics CRM offering is marginal at best and will most likely continue to lag behind other pure play CRM solution providers that are fully dedicated to improving and expanding their solutions. While Microsoft is trying to push the integration of their CRM software with back office ERP and Accounting solutions, none of these offerings are native cloud applications, which has made integration with them difficult, troublesome and costly. For mid-size companies and small enterprises, Commence CRM is clearly the better choice.

Take a moment to learn how Commence CRM can help grow your business in our online CRM videos or by taking a free CRM test drive .