Microsoft xRM platform-Get the unfair edge

If you are following the Microsoft Dynamics world, in particular MS CRM, most probably you would have heard Microsoft xRM platform if not already using it.

What is Microsoft xRM?

Microsoft xRM (anything Relationship Management) is a rapid application development (RAD) platform on which the MS CRM is built. You get access to xRM Dynamics when you buy MS CRM.

OK, all the successful products have been built on one or other platform. What makes xRM Dynamics special? It’s the ability to develop the line of business (LOB) applications so quickly and enrich those applications with workflows, communication and collaboration features.

Microsoft claims even a not so tech savvy BA can develop the working forms he or she envisions. We definitely agree the real benefits the tool brings to the table.

So what are the typical scenarios in which you will use xRM Dynamics?

  • You have already invested on MS CRM and want to do more with  that
  • You have one or more LOB application needs
  • You have a limited budget, but still you want quick  roll-out of LOB applications
  • You want to reap quick and large ROI
  • You want to get the familiar MS CRM/MS Outlook user experience and want to reduce the end user training costs

When you look at the xRM development of a CRUD-alone screen, you will understand how simple it is. Here’s where xRM Dynamics lives up to the hype of even a ‘BA can do it’.  xRM development is all about the definition of data objects and you get the working screen on mere lining up of those objects in the screen. But is that enough? Are your needs just as simple as that? Probably not.

A typical developer can do much more, building complex logic using Visual Studio, configuring workflows, building collaborative features and extending anything that relates to relationships. The last one is very important, we assume that a relationship oriented application will get 80% out-of-the-box and the rest 20% you develop.

Some points worth noting down before you do some real time stuff with xRM. Even a pure LOB app user will also need a CRM license. Your life as an IT decision maker will be difficult if you choose the wrong LOB application. Following are some

  • An application used by probably all the users in your company (typical ex. Timesheet app in the services industry, you need that many MS CRM licenses)
  • An application that has very little to do with relationships management
  • We might have to wait to find out whether Microsoft will break the tight bond between MS CRM and xRM in future, making it available just like the .NET framework so that people shall freely take this platform and use for their applications.

Though the heading says ‘Get the unfair edge’, we advise you to do a pilot and consider a careful adoption of xRM.

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