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Microsoft CRM Options for Small Businesses

There are three options available for small business that want a customer relationship management (CRM) solution from Microsoft: Business Contact Manager for Outlook, Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Business Contact Manager for Outlook

Business Contact Manager (BCM) is a free add-on for Outlook that enables users to manage leads, contacts, and accounts, and track activities from within Outlook. While it doesn’t offer the power of a dedicated CRM solution like Microsoft
Dynamics, BCM offers three primary benefits: it’s free; it’s easy-to-use; and, it works within Outlook where many small businesses owners spend much of their business day anyway.

BCM has a few limitations, however. It is not a good choice for business with multiple employees that need access to the database, although a SQL Server Express database can be setup up to enable multiple user access. It is also not well suited to companies with traveling sales people because it does not allow remote access to the database, although Contacts can be accessed through Outlook Web Access. Finally, it is not a particularly good choice for businesses that will outgrow the capabilities of BCM. If you think that you will be upgrading from BCM to CRM in the near future, you may wish to consider skipping BCM altogether as it can be difficult to import all of your data from the BCM database to the Dynamics CRM database. The data export function of BCM allows you to export data in .bcm files or in .csv files, but you can only export data associated with one record type at a time using .csv files, which do not include your communication history files. Meanwhile, the .bcm file type, which includes all your data, is not compatible with the Data Importation Wizard of Dynamics CRM.

Business Contact Manager is compatible with Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2010.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM vs. Business Contact Manager

Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a cloud-based CRM solution from xRM, a Microsoft partner that specializes in CRM and private cloud solutions. Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM delivers the full power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 in an easily-consumable monthly subscription.

Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM is an excellent choice for small businesses for several reasons. First, the minimum user requirement is one Professional license, offering an extremely affordable entry point for small businesses with fewer than five users. Subsequent users can be added at the Basic ($30 per month) or Professional ($65 per month) license levels. Second, there is no long-term commitment, and therefore, no early cancellation fees. Third, Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM subscribers get access to all the sales, service, and marketing automation features that Dynamics CRM 2013 offers. Your business will never outgrow Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and if you decide later to move to CRM Online (or another CRM platform entirely), your data is easily exportable.

The minimum cost of Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM is $65 (1 user * $65) per month, plus a one-time setup fee of $50 per user. Learn more about Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM pricing.

Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM subscribers also get free access to the Success Portal, an online video training library dedicated to Dynamics CRM.

Sign up for a Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM subscription.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is the best option for most companies that need five or more Professional users. It also delivers the power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 through a convenient cloud model, providing many of the same benefits of Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The primary difference between CRM Online and Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM is that CRM Online is provided by Microsoft from its global network of datacenters, while Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM is provided by xRM from its datacenters.

The minimum cost of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is $330 (5 users * $65) per month. Microsoft requires subscribers to sign a one-year contract (early cancellation fees apply) and there is no set up fee.

CRM Online subscribers who name xRM as their partner-of-record (POR) can also request free access to the Success Portal.

Start your free trial of Dynamics CRM Online and discover how Microsoft is revolutionizing CRM.

The Heartbleed Bug

We have received a number of inquiries regarding the vulnerability of our services to the Heartbleed bug. Fortunately, xRM services are not affected by Heartbleed. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Office 365 services are also not affected.

What is Heartbleed?

Heartbleed refers to a security vulnerability in OpenSSL 1.01 and 1.02 beta. OpenSSL is used by various web, mail, and VPN systems, including some of the most popular websites and email services in the world.

The technical description of the Heartbleed vulnerability states the following:

“The (1) TLS and (2) DTLS implementations in OpenSSL 1.0.1 before 1.0.1g do not properly handle Heartbeat Extension packets, which allows remote attackers to obtain sensitive information from process memory via crafted packets that trigger a buffer over-read, as demonstrated by reading private keys, related to d1_both.c and t1_lib.c, aka the Heartbleed bug.”

In plain English, the Heartbleed bug allows hackers and other malicious types to bypass the encryption used by many servers and obtain sensitive information such as passwords, emails, usernames, and account information from vulnerable servers that make use of the popular OpenSSL library and Transport Layer Security protocol (TSL).

Why are xRM services not affected?

xRM servers do not make use of the affected OpenSSL Library and TSL. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Microsoft Office 365 do not make use of OpenSSL either. All SSL connections to our environment make use of an F5 external load balancer running BIG-IP LTM version 10.2.2. F5 has declared that this version of its load balancer is known not to be vulnerable. Our own investigation has also confirmed that our services are not vulnerable. We will continue to monitor the situation for any additional developments that may place our customers at increased risk of attack.

What about Microsoft Services?

Here is what Microsoft has said about the vulnerability of its own services:

“After a thorough investigation, Microsoft determined that Microsoft Account, Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Yammer and Skype, along with most Microsoft Services, are not impacted by the OpenSSL “Heartbleed” vulnerability. Windows’ implementation of SSL/TLS is also not impacted. A few Services continue to be reviewed and updated with further protections.”

What should I do now?

Since xRM and Microsoft services are currently unaffected, you do not need to do anything beyond taking standard security steps, such as creating strong passwords and keeping them secure.

However, since the Heartbleed bug affects approximately 2/3s of websites, we recommend that you take the following precautions:

  1. Check with the provider of all of your web-based services and accounts. Find out if they are or were vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug.
  2. If your service providers indicate that they were vulnerable but have since fixed the vulnerability, immediately change your passwords.
  3. Consider implementing two-factor authentication as an additional security measure.
  4. Continue to watch your accounts for suspicious activity.

Further Reading

Here is a list of the 100 most popular sites in the US that updates their status courtesy of CNET.

http://www.cnet.com/how-to/which-sites-have-patched-the-heartbleed-bug/

Here is an extensive review of the Heartbleed bug, courtesy of CODENOMICON.

http://heartbleed.com/

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Update Rollup 2 Now Available

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Update Rollup 2 (UR2) is now available from the Microsoft Download Center. UR2 includes four major compatibility updates as well as a myriad of hotfixes.

Important updates include:

  • Support for Windows 8.1 for the web application and CRM for Tablets
  • Support for Internet Explorer 11 for the web application and CRM for Tablets
  • Support for Safari using the web application and CRM for Tablets using the tablet app for iPad Air
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Server

UR2 also includes hotfixes for several dozen issues that have cropped up since CRM 2013 was introduced.

Issues addressed include:

  • When using the Upgrade Wizard, an error message appears with a red flag in the System Checks window: “The product key is not compatible with the installed version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.”
  • The CRM for Outlook client is unresponsive during startup.
  • The telephone field is not populated correctly when a telephone call activity is created from an existing lead or contact.
  • Some records are duplicated if the user clicks the Save or Mark Complete buttons more than once.
  • The field alignment settings are not respected on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 forms.

You can read more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 UR2 here.

Download Update Rollup 2 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013.

 

End of Support for Windows XP and Office 2003 is April 8, 2014

After years of faithful service in offices across the world, the end is finally near for Microsoft Office 2003 and Windows XP. End of Support (EOS) means that Microsoft will no longer provide support nor release updates, including security fixes, for Office 2003 or Windows XP.

Microsoft will also cease to provide Microsoft Security Essential for Windows XP, meaning that any PC still running Windows XP will become vulnerable to viruses, bots, and other malware.

If you have been putting off upgrading to more recent versions of Windows and Office, now is the time to make the move. Microsoft is even offering an incentive known as Get2Modern to help small-to-midsize businesses make the switch to Office 2013 and Windows 8.1.

For those with older computers, you can use the Windows Upgrade Assistant to check to see if your computer will run modern versions of Windows.

If you are still running Office 2003, now is an excellent opportunity to see if the time is right to switch to Office 365.

Click here to read more about end of support for Windows XP.

Click here to read more about end of support for Office 2003.

 

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 for Tablets

Whether you are waiting for a cup of coffee in a café or sitting on a plane 10,000 feet above the ground, the new mobile functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 keeps you connected to your business on the go.  This exciting application enables you to stay on top of your game with a customizable Sales Dashboard where your priorities are clearly displayed and every topic is easily navigable.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 for Tablets

CRM for tablets is extremely touch friendly; you can organize daily activities and manage sales contacts with a few touches and swipes.  Whether it’s a 9.7’’ IPad or a 10.8’’ Surface, everything is resized nicely to fit on your screen.

Capabilities

On your customized Sales Dashboard, the ultimate platform to manage your business activities, you can create new tasks, update contacts, view accounts, access leads, visualize opportunities, and make calls via Skype
by simply clicking on the contacts phone number. The CRM app allows you to pin your go-to items onto the Sales Dashboard, tailoring the homepage to your everyday business needs.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 for Tablets

It’s also impressively easy to create new records.  From the Sales Dashboard you can pull up the Command Bar with a simple upward swipe on your Windows tablet (or a right click on an iPad), and quickly fill out the forms for accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities, or competitors.  Creating new records can be done easily while you’re on the go.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 for Tablets

Limitations

As with most products that get transferred into app form, Dynamics CRM for tablets is not as robust as its PC counterpart.  Mapping workflows and many app customizations cannot be completed on a tablet. Although these limitations do exist, the app was designed to give you access to what you will need when you’re on the go, such as account and contact info.

You can find the app in the Windows Store for Windows products, iTunes for Apple products, and the Google Play Store for Android products.  The app is called Microsoft Dynamics CRM and is free to download.  CRM is accessible both on Windows Surface RT and Pro, Android, as well as 3rd and 4th Gen iPads.  To get set up on your tablet now check out CRM for Tablets: Set up and use. For more information regarding CRM 2013 for tablets, head over to CRM for tablets: Information for end users.

Office 365 Customers Can Save Up to 40% on CRM Online

If you have already taken your first tentative step into the cloud by subscribing to Office 365, now might be the perfect time to expand your embrace to include Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Until March 31, 2014, Microsoft Office 365 Midsize Business customers can save big when adding Dynamics CRM Online Professional licenses. Midsize Business subscribers who add between 5 and 49 Professional CRM Online licenses
can save 30%. The 30% discount brings the price of new CRM Online Professional licenses down to $45.50 per user, per month, a savings of $19.50 per seat.

Office 365 Enterprise E3 and Enterprise E4 customers who add 50 or more new Professional CRM Online licenses can save 40% on those new seats. The 40% discount brings the price of new Professional licenses to $39.00, a $26.00 savings.

As always, some terms and conditions apply.

  • First, you have to be an Office 365 Midsize Business, Enterprise E3, or Enterprise E4 subscriber.
  • Second, you have to make a minimum purchase of 5 new Professional CRM Online licenses to qualify for the 30% discount and 50 new licenses for the 40% discount.
  • Third, the discount only applies to Professional licenses. Basic and Essential licenses are exempt.
  • Fourth, the number of CRM Online licenses can’t exceed the number of Office 365 licenses that you subscribe to.
  • Fifth, the discount can’t be combined with any other offers.

To read more, view the full terms and conditions, or to take advantage of the discount, visit http://www.microsoft.com/dynamics/offers/CRMM.aspx.

Once you have obtained your discounted CRM Online seats, head over to xRM and attend a free “Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM” demonstration. Then sign up for a free account at the Success Portal, the CRM Online video training library from xRM.

xRM Constant Contact Integration Now Available for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 and CRM Online

xRM has released a new version of its Constant Contact Integration tool that is compatible with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 and CRM Online.

xRM Constant Contact Integration makes it easy to manage contacts between your Constant Contact and Microsoft Dynamics CRM databases. The tool provides three core features that any company using Constant Contact for email marketing and Microsoft Dynamics for its CRM will appreciate. First, it provides one-way synchronization of your Dynamics CRM Marketing Lists to your Constant Contact account, allowing you to make use of your current CRM database without risking overwriting your data in CRM. Second, it allows you to import the results of your Constant Contact Email campaigns to CRM. Third, it imports unsubscribes to CRM.

xRM Constant Contact Integration Now Available for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 and CRM Online

The tool is compatible with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Internet-facing deployments (IFD) and partner-hosted deployments (ADFS) of CRM 2013, and CRM 2011.

For more information, visit www.xrm.com.

xRM Web Gateway Now Compatible with CRM 2013

xRM has recently released the newest version of xRM Web Gateway, adding compatibility with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 as well as with the Fall ’13 release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Web Gateway is a powerful tool that allows you to capture information using a modified version of your existing web pages and push that information directly into your Dynamics CRM 2013, CRM 2011, or CRM Online database. Although frequently used as an Internet-lead-capture tool, Web Gateway works with all Microsoft Dynamics CRM entities, including custom ones, making it an excellent tool for collecting contacts or signing up new members as well as capturing leads.

xRM Web Gateway is compatible with the following versions of Dynamics CRM:

  • Internet-facing Deployments (IFD) of on-premises Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online
  • Partner-hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 and CRM 2011 (ADFS)

Click here for more information about xRM Web Gateway.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Discounts for Charities

Due to its flexibility and powerful features, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is a tremendous tool for building relationships with donors, clients, volunteers, vendors, and other stakeholders. However, a lot of small organizations feel that CRM Online is out of reach for them; the $65-per-user monthly price is just too expensive for them to squeeze into tight budgets.
Fortunately, if you are a charitable organization in need of CRM, Microsoft has a deal for you. The company provides a significant discount on the monthly rate of CRM Online subscriptions to nonprofit companies that meet certain guidelines.

CRM Online Nonprofit Pricing*

Professional – $15.00 per-user, per-month (regularly $65)

Basic – $7.00 per-user, per-month (regularly $30)

Essentials – $3.75 per-user, per-month (regularly $15)

*The pricing above is available in the United States. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online nonprofit pricing is also available in Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Read more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online nonprofit pricing.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to qualify, your organization needs to be non-profit and non-governmental charity.

Nonprofit Pricing Steps

  1. Start your free trial of Dynamics CRM Online.
  2. Review the eligibility requirements.
  3. Contact Microsoft Billing Support and ask them to validate your organization’s nonprofit credentials.
  4. Microsoft will validate your organization and then convert your trial account to a paid subscription.
  5. Enjoy the tremendous efficiency boost that you will receive thanks to the CRM Online subscription that you obtained at a vastly reduced price.
  6. Optional: Sign up for a Success Portal account. The Success Portal is a free online video training library dedicated to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

CRM Online Renewal Pricing Increase Delayed

Microsoft recently announced that it is delaying the implementation of the new Professional CRM Online license renewal rate until February 9, 2014. This date now marks the first day that existing CRM Online customers will have their Professional CRM Online licenses renewed at the higher, $65 per-user, per-month rate.

Read more about the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online licenses.

Existing customers who renew on or before February 8, 2014, can continue to receive their Professional licenses at the previous, $44 per-user, per-month rate. This rate is good for the remainder of the contract.

CRM Online subscribers who renew on or after February 9, 2014 will renew at the new rate of $65 per-user, per-month rate.

The previous deadline was February 1, 2014.

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