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How an expert solution architect consultant will save you money – possibly lots of money

This week I have been working with an interesting client. This client creates orders in CRM and needs the information in Xero (their accounting package) for invoicing. There are many ways of solving this problem. Working with the client, we have reduced the time taken per order by about 30 minutes. At a nominal $50 per hour that is saving this client about $5,000 per month in time alone. Additionally we are saving paper (about a ream per month) and printing resources.

Their process at the moment is

1. Enter the order in CRM
2. Update the status to fulfilled
3. Run a (custom) report
4. Print the report
5. Scan and email the report to another user
6. Second user rekeys the data into Xero

This is the process that was recommended to them by a previous CRM contractor.

From next week their process will be:

1. Enter the order in CRM
2. Update the status to fulfilled
3. A workflow will send an email to the second user which contains a link to the CRM record
4. Second user copies and pastes the data into Xero

Soon this will further improve to an automatic feed into Xero, but thanks to other advice given by various CRM contractors, some other work is required before this final step can be taken.

This highlights the importance of having someone who knows CRM in depth – an expert solution architect - as a part of your CRM team.  For every business requirement there are always multiple possible solutions.  The story above includes three possible solutions to the problem of getting the order data to Xero.  An expert solution architect will evaluate the requirement and compare possible solutions as illustrated below.

solution options - which should be evaluated before progressing with implementation (or remedial) work

Once they have done this they will present the client with their recommended choice and enough of the details for the client to understand the reason for the selection.  Only once this is agreed will any technical work be done.

By contrast an inexperienced technical developer is likely to think until they have one solution and then implement that single solution. Yes, this technical person is quicker and cheaper in the short term. But what is the increased cost of ownership of the solution? In my story above, the current solution has been in place for about two years. This has cost about $120,000 plus the paper and printing and frustration of the users. That is a lot more than the cost of an experienced solution architect for a day or so.

Solution design is the keystone to a successful project.

Another similar story comes from a client who abandoned Microsoft Dynamics because it was too time consuming. This organisation wanted a lot of custom fields in the lead. These fields needed to be passed through to the contact, account and opportunity when the lead was qualified. But the technical person who made the changes did not know that data could pass through, so the users were asked to re-key the data from 97 fields as part of the lead qualification process. No wonder they thought that CRM was too time consuming. Done correctly, this change should have taken about 90 minutes per qualified lead less. A real solution architect consultant knows the technical capability of the products on which they are advising and is skilled in understanding the pros and cons of each option – now and into the future. A technician will just do as they are asked, rather than advising. As the examples above show, the first solution is often not the best solution. A good solution architect will also insist on understanding why a business requirement is being requested. It is impossible to do the evaluation outlined in the diagram above without knowing the 'why'. And to make the situation worse, some technicians are unscrupulous enough to feel happy that they do as asked now, and get paid for it. Then, if the users are unhappy, they will fix it later – and get paid for it.

I believe that CRM technologies are like chess – they only take minutes to learn (enough to be dangerous) but they take a lifetime to master.



Opsis is an expert Microsoft Dynamics 365 consulting company. Our focus is your Microsoft Dynamics 365 success - not licence sales or billable hours. As Principal Consultant, Gill oversees all business operations and strategic planning and execution, yet she still believes in offering personal attention to each and every client, so as to understand their needs and offer tailored solutions.  We are based in Sydney, with clients in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and across Australia.  We offer Microsoft Dynamics 365 strategy, Microsoft Dynamics 365 scoping, Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation, Microsoft Dynamics 365 technical support, Microsoft Dynamics 365 advice and guidance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 training and mentoring.