2013 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Apps – Pros and Cons

2013 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Apps – Pros and Cons

Written By: Dave Packard

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With the dawn of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 came the release of Microsoft’s own apps for the solution: one for smartphones and one for tablets.

While apps are nothing new for Microsoft Dynamics CRM (Resco and CWR are third-party ISVs who have had robust apps for years), these are the first releases from Microsoft. Providing these apps out of the box with Microsoft CRM 2013 continues Microsoft’s commitment to make the solution available on any device. After all, as more companies move to a bring-your-own-device type of environment, Microsoft Dynamics CRM will need to be available on multiple platforms to remain relevant in today’s workplace. As such, I’m glad to see Microsoft releasing its own apps.

Since these apps are new for Microsoft, I wanted to do a breakdown on some of the pros and cons I have seen so far. I don’t want to compare them to the more mature apps from Resco and CWR, but since “mobile” continues to be a buzzword, I thought it best to show what you now get out of the box with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 online or Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 on-premise (with Internet-facing deployment).

 

TABLET APP
Currently available only on Windows 8 tablets and the iPad (version 3 or greater), the tablet app is by far the nicer of the two apps, but this is true of most tablet apps as the larger screen grants more space for work. Android tablet support is expected to arrive sometime this year.

PROS

  • Uses the same admin form as the web client so updates made to the web will push to the tablet app when it re-syncs (my favorite feature as an admin)
  • Easy to use UI
  • Can add custom entities
  • Multi-entity search can be done across 10 total entities
  • Multi-entity search can be customized to which entities to search
  • Can pin most used items to your desktop
  • Business Rules will work
  • Most JavaScript will work (check SDK for specs)
  • Included with your Microsoft Dynamics CRM license (no additional fee)

CONS

  • Is only for Sales (other default entities can’t be added)
  • Limited to 75 total fields on the form
  • No offline accessibility (only what it caches)
  • Only one dashboard with no ability to create others
  • iframes and web resources do not work
  • Only Task, Appointments, and Phone Call activities are available

There is a lot to like with the tablet app, but it is mainly focused on sales, so it will not work for marketing or customer service at this time. However, you can use most of it for xRM solutions depending on how involved those are; the only drawback will be the inability to create a custom dashboard for your xRM solution. The multi-entity search is a great feature and is only available on the tablets, so that alone can make the tablet app a useful tool.

 

PHONE APP
This is available for Windows, iOS, and Android smartphones in their respective app stores. Be sure to download the app from Microsoft Corporation as there are many other apps available. 

PROS

  • Can include all entities from your Microsoft Dynamics CRM system (including custom entities)
  • Can include all data and fields from all entities
  • Easy to use user interface (UI)
  • Easy to customize
  • Can easily restrict access (read only versus read/write)
  • Included with your Microsoft Dynamics CRM license (no additional fee)
  • The same app UI is available via the mobile access to the URL from the smartphone
  • Takes advantage of certain functionality such as touch for phone and talk to text

CONS

  • Has a separate form that must be set up
  • Does not support JavaScript or Business Rules
  • Does not integrate with the smartphone GPS to get directions by touching the address
  • Does not integrate with the smartphone call history to promote a call to a CRM activity
  • No offline capability

For a free app, this does provide full access to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM data. It is limited in that it doesn’t take full advantage of the native functionality of smartphones; I am hoping for a tighter integration to smartphone functionality in future releases.

In closing, these are the first Microsoft Dynamics CRM apps Microsoft has ever released, so I fully expect them to be a main focus for updates and improvements over the course of this year (and next). These apps have a lot to offer, and I am excited to see what new features will be coming.