Sales are one of the most collaborative processes in every organization. While sales force automation is managed through the CRM system, collaboration tools like SharePoint generally enable information sharing. An exciting feature in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is it’s out of the box integration with SharePoint 2010. The integration allows SharePoint users to collaborate on documents from within a CRM record. This is the first in multi-part series blog to help you understand how the integration between SharePoint and Dynamics CRM can benefit your organization.
Documents such as product information, quote, customer meeting notes etc. commonly used in the sales cycle that are associated with customers and opportunities should be tracked in CRM. In MS Dynamics CRM 4.0 the only way to associate documents to CRM records was through attachments which permanently stored the document but did not support collaboration. Microsoft has addressed this limitation in MS Dynamics CRM 2011 by allowing association of documents in SharePoint libraries to a CRM record.
SharePoint is the factor standard for intranet and portals, providing rich collaboration and document management features such as versioning, alerts, check-in /checkout etc. Microsoft made the wise choice in providing a way to link SharePoint document locations to CRM entities instead of trying to build document management capabilities into CRM. Through the integration with SharePoint, users will be able to work directly through Dynamics CRM to:
- Create or upload documents to SharePoint document library
- View, check-in/check-out documents
- View document metadata such as when it was last updated
SharePoint document locations can be specified for any entity within Dynamics CRM and you can also configure automatic folder creation if you use SharePoint 2010. The integration is seamless and presented through the familiar CRM interface.
Some of the main benefits of an integrated CRM and SharePoint installation are :
- The ability to store CRM documents in a SharePoint library provides sales teams with the latest documents and presentations without them having to save it to their local disk or USB drives. As SharePoint is accessed can be accessed with just a browser salesperson can get access to the documents even if they are not within the CRM system.
- Provide access to non-CRM users within the organization to access the documents based on their SharePoint security role. This paves way for efficient collaboration between sales and other teams as they can now collectively work on documents to achieve common business goals. Furthermore, security roles, business process workflows and archival rules that are set in SharePoint will be consistently applied to CRM documents as well. For example, an RFP response document can be created by a sales user in CRM, reviewed by the solutions team outside CRM, approved by decision makers outside CRM and then sent to the client through CRM.
- Reduce the cost of document storage requirements in your CRM system. CRM online is a great way for customers to get on to SaaS-based Dynamics CRM platform at a compelling price point. However, there is a storage cap in CRM beyond which data storage charges apply. Using SharePoint for document management and collaboration could save recurring costs in cloud-based storage usage as well.
Sales must be a collaborative process and easy integration between CRM and SharePoint provides a lot of value.