Time to change your Microsoft Dynamics membership CRM supplier?

12 November 2018 by Steve Sydee

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a great product for all sorts of membership associations. Its functional content has been nurtured by a growing number of specialist Dynamics partners for many years now.

Market share has steadily been building and it’s great to see that in the brand new Digital Excellence Research Summary Report 2019 from industry thought leaders MemberWise, Dynamics 365 now has 23% of the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Association Management Systems (AMS) sectors, up from 15% in 2018, when it was already the market leader.

Are all membership associations getting the best out of Dynamics?
Clearly Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a very popular product, and well suited for membership associations. So how do you make sure your organisation can get the most from it?

Successful CRM is based on many factors, but in summary it comes down to:

  • software function (very good in Dynamics),

  • data quality (totally within the control of the customer),

  • staff training and usage (depends on both the customer and the supplier),

  • build quality, integration and ongoing support (totally dependent upon the supplier),

  • a good, trusting customer/supplier relationship for the long term, with a clear direction and plan (depends on both the customer and the supplier).

As SmartImpact has worked with Microsoft Dynamics in membership since 2010, with over 50 happy customers, and have taken over and relaunched a good number of underperforming Dynamics implementations, we thought we’d take a look at some of the above factors where we place a lot of attention to ensure success.

Integration
Good integration between various systems is vital.  It has to be 100% reliable so that there is ongoing faith in what the system does for you. More importantly, it has to be trusted and easily used by your members. All the modules you have must work together, seamlessly.

Take Events for instance. Hopefully your website allows visitors to book events, but it’s likely your events system and membership system are separate (ours is one application). If these systems do not talk to each other reliably, then your website cannot reliably tell whether the visitor is a non-member or a member (and at which grade), so it will not be able to tell them which event price applies to their membership – and this can damage sales values, satisfaction, and retention. 

In addition, your staff will not be able be able to tell which members have been on which events, so you will not be able to market future events to them as effectively as you would if you had a reliable engagement history. You may try to get around this with a lot of manual data transference, but apart from the large expense this incurs (often hidden from the Finance Director but a real cost all the same), data quality will still inevitably be poor and staff morale lower, as they know this sort of work would be unnecessary if the integration worked properly.

At smartimpact, our modules for Membership, Events, Groups, Awards, Accreditations, Grants, Education, CPD and GDPR are all built in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and combine seamlessly together.  Our unique smartconnector makes integration to other systems such as account or online training both straightforward and utterly reliable.

Leveraging Microsoft’s massive investment in new technology

One of the great things about Microsoft Dynamics 365 for membership organisations is that users benefit from the huge R&D budget Microsoft puts into the product. Functional improvements, and new modules, are coming out all of the time, usually at no extra cost to the user. This is particularly relevant at present as Microsoft is making big advances in Artificial Intelligence, Bots, Social Engagement, Customer Insights, and Business Intelligence.

In order to get these new features, customers need to be using the latest releases of Dynamics 365.  Older versions of Dynamics CRM Online, or on-premise versions of Dynamics CRM 2016 (or older) that have been moved to a hosted Azure environment will not have this function and thus not give the same value for money. There is a large functional gap already – it is far better to be on Dynamics 365, and at smartimpact we usually find the business case to move is pretty compelling.

Great support
If built well, Dynamics 365 systems need little support.But when things do go wrong, it is key that customers can get the right resolution, quickly and without any problems. At smartimpact we have a support team of great professionals who have worked as customers and consultants so know exactly what is expected for excellent service.  And as our systems are well built, our support contracts are great value for money.

A trusting, long term relationship
A membership project is not just about getting the first phase in. A good system will help you transform your operation in the direction of your business strategy.  Once it has helped you get to those first business goals, your strategy will likely develop, and so your system should be further configured to help support enhanced goals.

For this, you need a long term customer/supplier relationship based on trust, and a partner who is able to support the future direction of your organisation with really exciting technology. Too often, we see that future phases have not even been considered or are constantly delayed as suppliers struggle to sort the original implementation, which eats into the budget for further enhancement.

Good membership CRM really should not be that painful.

Like Microsoft Dynamics but feel you should be getting more from it?
If you would like to find out what pain-free Membership CRM feels like, please contact us at smartimpact. We can quickly analyse how we can help, and work with you on a fully costed migration plan that will give you a great system for the future that will often save you money.