The Real Answer to the Question Professional Services Have all Been Asking: Why Budget?

Why prepare a budget?

You may answer:
• My business has been going for many years and I have never had one before.
• I make pretty good money, so why do I need one?
• If I focus on keeping my billable hours up, everything else will take care of itself!
• I watch my debtors and WIP; this is enough to keep everything on track!
• I am a professional, with more than enough on my plate and I don’t have time for this financial stuff. My bookkeeper is on top of all of this.
• I don’t have time for this business planning nonsense. ¹

Many of the professional services firms we work with don’t place importance on budgeting. However, we believe that budgets are enormously important to the operation of your business; not only do they help you manage your costs, but they also help you determine whether your profit goals are within reach and keep you on the right road from month-to-month. In its simplest form, a budget is a detailed plan of future receipts and expenditures. Think of a budget as a tool for providing control. For example, by looking at next quarter’s budget you can anticipate peak periods and schedule stock and labor to handle the sales volume. You can also plan vacations, marketing activities and inventory taking for slow periods.

The resource planning cycle for a company typically consists of planning, budgeting, and forecasting activities. But how is this process different for a professional services company?

Learn how to budget in professional services, and the seven tips and practices for creating a budget that supports your project in our eBook: Why Budget, as well as information about our two professional services automation tools (AXIO for Enterprise companies, and Progressus for small and medium sized companies). Let us know if you have any questions in the meantime.

Best regards,

Robbie Morrison
Chief Solution Strategist, SBS Group

About Robbie
Robbie Morrison has spent nearly 20 years helping customers build and deploy elegant technology and business solutions.  From start-ups to enterprise-class organizations worldwide, his knowledge of the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem and Robbie-2017products helps SBS Group customers maximize ROI on technology investments.

Today, Robbie serves SBS Group customers in his role as Chief Solution Strategist where he provides thought leadership and manages the development of B2B solutions.  Robbie received his MBA from the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/robbiemorrison

 

Microsoft Ignite Announces AI and Bots to Boot

This is our third post covering announcements from Microsoft Ignite in as many days, but there is a lot to talk about following this conference!

Building off much of what Microsoft unveiled at the Inspire conference in July, the company announced new products and innovations that span Azure, Bing, Office 365, Dynamics 365, Windows 10 S, Microsoft Teams, artificial intelligence (AI), security and threat protection, plus a host of developer announcements around SQL Sever 2017 and beyond.

Yes, we said AI. And bots to boot. This isn’t a science fiction movie plot – it’s a reality for businesses, made possible by Microsoft.

New Dynamics 365 AI solutions, such as chatbots and virtual agents, are designed to augment existing customer support and sales processes with intelligent assistant technology and natural language processing (NLP). These agents are already in production within Microsoft Support operations and in pilot with customers – HP and Macy’s are already using the new chatbot to help handle customer queries so that people can get their responses faster. The virtual agents can also integrate with third-party chat apps through the Microsoft Bot Framework, letting them live in apps such as Facebook Messenger, Kik, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and Slack.

Microsoft also announced a preview of updates to Azure Machine Learning: Azure CosmosDB and Azure Functions. These offer developers and data scientists a new set of AI model management tools leveraging open-source frameworks. The Azure CosmosDB database service and server-less Azure Functions offering lets developers write a few lines of code that can tie ML into Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, database changes, and more.

Use AI to solve business problems

Vision
Image-processing algorithms to smartly identify, caption and moderate your pictures.

Speech
Convert spoken audio into text, use voice for verification, or add speaker recognition to your app.

Knowledge
Map complex information and data in order to solve tasks such as intelligent recommendations and semantic search.

Search
Add Bing Search APIs to your apps and harness the ability to comb billions of webpages, images, videos, and news with a single API call.

Language
Allow your apps to process natural language with pre-built scripts, evaluate sentiment and learn how to recognize what users want.

What does all of this mean for Dynamics 365 users? Better customer service for one. Imagine having AI and chatbots continually trolling the Internet for you to determine if, and how, your customers or prospects are talking about you. You would have the ability to proactively solve customer service problems before they become a PR nightmare.

Let us know if we can answer any questions about these or other announcements from Inspire.

Best regards,

Robbie Morrison
Chief Solution Strategist, SBS Group

About Robbie
Robbie Morrison has spent nearly 20 years helping customers build and deploy elegant technology and business solutions.  From start-ups to enterprise-class organizations worldwide, his knowledge of the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem and Robbie-2017products helps SBS Group customers maximize ROI on technology investments.

Today, Robbie serves SBS Group customers in his role as Chief Solution Strategist where he provides thought leadership and manages the development of B2B solutions.  Robbie received his MBA from the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/robbiemorrison

 

What versions of Dynamics CRM are compatible with other Microsoft software as of today?

If you were to setup these versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM today, these are the other pieces of software that you would need to use with it in order to be supported by Microsoft.

As with all compatibilities, these are valid for the day of publishing but could change at any point after.

Office Version CRM 2016 CRM 2015 CRM 2013 CRM 2011
O365 Compatible Compatible Not Compatible Not Compatible
2016 Compatible Compatible Compatible Compatible
2013 Compatible Compatible Compatible Compatible
2010 Compatible Compatible Compatible Compatible
2007
SP2 or 3
Not Compatible Not Compatible Compatible Compatible
2007 Not Compatible Not Compatible Compatible Not Compatible

 

CRM Outlook Client CRM 2016 CRM 2015 CRM 2013 CRM 2011
2016 Compatible Not Compatible Not Compatible Not Compatible
2015 Compatible Compatible Not Compatible Not Compatible
2013 Not Compatible Compatible Compatible Not Compatible
2011 Not Compatible Not Compatible Compatible Compatible

 

Browser CRM 2016 CRM 2015 CRM 2013 CRM 2011
Edge 8
(Win 10)
Compatible Compatible Compatible Not Compatible
Edge 7 Not Compatible Compatible Compatible Not Compatible
Edge 6 Not Compatible Not Compatible Compatible Not Compatible
IE 12 Compatible Compatible Compatible Not Compatible
IE 11 (UR 17) Compatible Compatible Compatible Not Compatible
IE 11 Compatible Compatible Compatible Compatible

Note: Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 are the currently supported versions of Windows for CRM compatibility.

For additional compatibility information, please go to these Microsoft support pages.

CRM 2016

CRM 2015

CRM 2013

CRM 2011

Dynamics 365 will do for ERP and CRM what Microsoft Office did for Word, Excel and Project?

By now, you have likely heard all about Microsoft’s surprising announcement to bundle their flagship ERP and CRM solutions with Office 365, Cortana Intelligence, Azure IoT and PowerBI under the Dynamics 365 brand.  Should we really be so surprised?

Microsoft has a long history in ERP solutions, but not nearly as long as their history in office productivity solutions.  Some would say they invented the concept, if not all of the components.  Today, well over a billion people use Microsoft Office around the world (according to Microsoft). That’s something like 1 in 7 people on the planet.  Man!

Check out these stats from WinBeta.org:

Windows

1.5 billion people

Office

1.2 billion people

Office for iPad

45 million downloads

Office 365

7.1 million subscribers

Outlook.com

400 million active users

OneDrive

200 million active users

Xbox Live

48 million members in 41 countries

Fortune 500 companies on Azure

57%

 

How do you get to these numbers?  Is it that they make great products?  More innovation than the next guy? Do they have better sales and marketing skills?  They’re certainly not the only game in town, so why?

I would say all of the above are true to some extent, but blocking and tackling alone won’t catapult a company or product to the top of the market.  It is at least in part about a strategy that started long ago with Microsoft Office.

What is their secret and how will it impact Dynamics 365?

Again, not a surprise and not a secret.  Microsoft has always created great products that are easy to use, designed them to be interoperable then bundled them in a way that makes them a “no-brainer” purchase decision.   Microsoft Office, right?  They were the first to successfully bundle the basic building blocks of office productivity and market their way into the “market standard” position.  They certainly weren’t the first company to bundle products, but they definitely hit the nail on the head with this one.  (It didn’t hurt that these solutions were tied to Microsoft Windows and helped to popularize an interface that went beyond the keyboard to include the almighty mouse.)

Microsoft Office Launch Advertisement 1990

I realize that I’m oversimplifying the impact and history of Microsoft Office, but I am doing so to focus on the fact that their strategy led Microsoft Office to a position as the market standard.  The solution by which all others are compared.  Today, anyone suggesting to use an alternative solution must be able to answer the question: “Why not use Microsoft Office?”

Will Microsoft Dynamics 365 become the “Why Not” in the Business Solutions category?

Office 365, Microsoft’s answer to office productivity in a cloud world has performed extremely well, especially in the business world and interoperability within Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics CRM is considered a core feature of their design. Cortana Intelligence, Power BI and Microsoft Azure all work in concert to provide the breadth and depth we expect from Microsoft.

Bundle them, provide aggressive pricing models (or subscription in this case) and pour on the marketing.  In short, “release the Kraken”. 

Common Data Model and Role-Based Subscription for products bundled in Dynamics 365

(This graphic is my take on Dynamics 365 and shouldn’t be considered as an official Microsoft illustration)

Let’s take another look at some of the Microsoft numbers in the ERP and CRM sectors.  These stats were shared by Jim Desler, Director Corporate Communications at Microsoft during Convergence 2015 (Microsoft’s annual customer/partner conference) according to ERPSoftwareBlog.

Microsoft Dynamics AX

20,000 companies

Microsoft Dynamics GP

47,000 companies

Microsoft Dynamics NAV

110,000 companies

Microsoft Dynamics SL

13,500 companies

Microsoft Dynamics CRM

40,000+ companies; 4.4 million users

(shared by ERPSoftwareBlog in March, 2015)

Bundling these products makes absolute sense.  Now, of course, we expect that the millions of users working inside the 200 thousand plus companies already using Microsoft Dynamics are included in the billion+ count of Microsoft Office users worldwide.  This strategy of more formally connecting the solutions through a Dynamics 365 CDM (common data model) will set the roadmap on an even closer track for interoperability as well as cloud and mobile access.

As combined pricing and the user experience evolve in Dynamics 365, it is conceivable to believe that Microsoft’s market share in the ERP and CRM space will not only benefit, but could move towards a position as the standard by which other solutions are measured.  I believe in these products and Microsoft’s vision so maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit, but I will be watching closely and so should you.

Robbie Morrison
VP Enterprise Solutions and Services, SBS Group

About Robbie
Robbie Morrison has spent nearly 20 years helping customers build and deploy elegant technology and business solutions.  From start-ups to enterprise-class organizations worldwide, his knowledge of the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem helps SBS Group customers maximize benefits from the ERP investments.  Robbie

Today, Robbie serves SBS Group customers in his role as Vice President, Enterprise Group where he provides thought leadership and manages the enterprise delivery team.  Robbie received his MBA in Business Administration and Management from the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/robbiemorrison

 


Want to learn more about AXIO for Professional Services and Dynamics 365? Register for our webcast on September 13th at 2 PM EDT.

AXIO for professional services webcast

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Compatibility

Have you ever wondered what software is compatible with your current version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM? Have you had issues with the software you used in your previous version of CRM? Do you want to know if the issue is one of compatibility?

Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Below are compatibility links to help you determine whether or not your current (or future) software is compatible with your version of Dynamics CRM.

Compatibility with Microsoft Dynamics CRM

CRM 2016: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3124955

CRM 2015: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3018360

CRM 2013: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3005167

CRM 2011: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3005163

CRM 4.0: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3005186

 

Compatibility for Tablet Browser, CRM for Tablets, and CRM for Phones with Microsoft Dynamics CRM

CRM 2015 and 2016: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3019557

 

Compatibility with CRM for Outlook

CRM 2016: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn832152%28v=crm.8%29.aspx

CRM 2015: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn832152%28v=crm.7%29.aspx

As of March 1, 2016, Microsoft has not yet published a version that is compatible with Windows 10.

Compatibility for imported Solutions by Version Number.

Note: Both 6.1 and 6.1 (Opt-In) have the option of exporting solutions in a 6.0 format and use the 6.0 matrix for compatibility.


Join us for our 30-minute CRM Webinar on Wednesday, March 16 at 2 PM EST. The webinar will address how you can improve your sales productivity in CRM and eliminate the manual entry of leads, accounts, contacts and opportunities. Spend more time selling and less time entering data! Register for the webinar here.

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