Microsoft CRM 4 is a great CRM system…

Microsoft CRM 4 is a great CRM system, however there are a few things about how Microsoft implemented some key aspects of it makes me wonder if the engineers at Microsoft spent enough time thinking through the architecture.

A perfect example of this is CRM Plugin for Outlook. The basic design assumes that each user will install and configure the Plugin to work correctly. Here are a few problems with this design:

1. Client Side Calendar Sync: One of our clients have many internal staff that create calendar entries on behalf of their sales staff. The calendar sync does work, however Outlook has to be open in order for the calendar entries to sync. This is in my opinion is a major design flaw. In today’s world people rely on their mobile device to see their calendars and asking sales staff to have Outlook open all the time does not always seem like a good solution. Exchange and CRM are both Microsoft products why can’t we have a server side calendar sync tool?

2. Email sending. There are two options here, but each has its own flaws. The CRM for Outlook has the same client send problems described above. The CRM router is a better solution, however it relies on manual intervention for adding and removing users. Again both CRM and Exchange are Microsoft products. Why can’t the email part be seamless?

3. CRM Plugin installation. The CRM Plugin can be installed through the web site. On a recent client engagement they wanted all their clients to have the latest plugin. Some of the users had rollup 3 (don’t get me started on the build numbers instead of the a simple version number) installed, which is a very old version. I tried to upgrade the clients directly to rollup 15 however rollup 7 is prerequisite. So instead of just doing one update I had to do two. For the clients that did not have the CRM Plugin I couldn’t use the rollup 15 directly. I had to install rollup 3 first, 7 then 15. What a pain. The CRM Plugin should be a simple installation and it should just work…