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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Unleashed: xRM Explained

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This chapter is from the book
This chapter defines the term xRM, provides examples of xRM solutions, and explains how xRM can be leveraged by businesses building LOB applications.

Microsoft has been using the xRM designation to help organizations understand one of the greatest benefits of using Microsoft Dynamics CRM. However, this question is often raised: What is xRM? Another question often follows: What does it mean to my organization?

This chapter explains the term and provides examples and a high-level overview.

What Is xRM?

The x in xRM is the recognition that the world is more than just relationships between customers (as the C in Customer Relationship Management denotes). For example, when a doctor interacts with a patient, the C is replaced by P in Patient Relationship Management (PRM). When a county sheriff’s department uses it to manage their deputies, it becomes a D, as in Deputy Relationship Management (DRM).

How does CRM allow support for such divergent models as both medical patients and law enforcement? It is through the power of xRM. This breadth speaks to the flexibility that is limited only by an organization’s imagination.

Stepping back, take a quick look at the world around you and model some of your daily relationships.

Work:

  • Relationships between you and your employer
  • Relationships between you and your coworkers

School:

  • Relationships between you and your schools
  • Relationships between you and your teachers and other students

Personal:

  • Relationships between you and the cars you have owned
  • Relationships between you and your friends
  • Relationships between you and your hobbies

Figure 3.1 shows a simple graphic of how your life might be arranged.

FIGURE 3.1

FIGURE 3.1 Relationship chart.

This list can become as diverse as the person building it can imagine, or as diverse as an organization’s requirements. We have deployed xRM applications of all sizes and have seen the deployment become a line-of-business (LOB) application countless times.

We don’t usually see someone build an xRM application to manage his personal life. However, the example in Figure 3.1 shows how you can extrapolate from personal relationships to professional ones.

Three Types of xRM Scenarios

You can apply xRM customization to three basic scenarios, as defined in Figure 3.2 and as explained in the following list:

  • Basic customization—This represents the starting point for most individuals just entering the xRM world. Basic customization entails adding a few fields to the out-of-the-box (OOB) entities, such as Orders or Quotes, or maybe changing a label to match your businesses’s language. Examples of this include any of the following:

    • Changing the name of the Contact entity (people) to be Client
    • Removing a field from an entity
    • Adding a new field to an entity

    The changes outlined here are fast and easy and often help drive user adoption, one of the challenges in any new system.

  • Advanced customization/hybrid—During their system design and deployment, most organizations eventually end up recognizing that each business is unique, even within the same industry. Encompassing what is outlined in basic customization, this level also includes morphing Microsoft Dynamics CRM to meet the needs of the organization. Examples of this include many of the following:

    • Adding new custom relationships between existing entities
    • Adding new entities and associated entities
    • Creating new versions of existing forms

    The changes outlined here are more complex and require the customizer to understand both CRM/xRM and the business process. Customizations include both OOB entities and new entities, a hybrid between basic customization of CRM and a pure xRM solution.

  • Pure xRM customization—This is the far end of customization, where the entire solution (or a majority of the solution) consists of custom entities, and no or very few OOB entities are used in the final solution. This approach is using CRM as a custom development platform to rapidly develop solutions tailored to an industry or organization. The builder has cast off the constraints of the existing entities to architect and build the system using Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a development platform.

    FIGURE 3.2

    FIGURE 3.2 xRM defined.

The next logical question is this: What approach should I use? This question is difficult to answer, and the answer may depend on whom you ask. The answer depends, to a large extent, on the ultimate goal, the builder’s experiences, and where the solution is going to be 2 to 3 years from today.

Some CRM consultants always start with the base OOB entities and stick with them as long as they can, depending on Microsoft to provide enhancements to these entities. Others take the other approach, looking to use CRM only as a development platform.

The next section covers a few examples of CRM/xRM solutions, the approaches taken, and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

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