Going Mobile

Written By: Dave Packard

from September 5, 2013

One topic that repeatedly comes up during a Microsoft Dynamics CRM project is mobility. With the need for anywhere/anytime/any device access, companies want to understand options and what is needed to make information accessible with mobile devices.

Out-of-the-Box Options
The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Outlook Client can download a portion of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM database to a computer allowing access to records and the ability to create new records while the user is waiting in the airport terminal, for example. When an internet connection is available, it will sync the changes.

Pros:  Easy to use; same user interface as online.

Cons:  Requires a laptop.

Mobile Express is available on all mobile devices that support HTML 4 and JavaScript. Using the device browser, log in to Microsoft Dynamics CRM to access.

Pros:  Access to all Microsoft Dynamics CRM data including custom fields and entities.

Cons:  Dated user interface; hard to use; no offline ability.

The Sales for iPad experience provides access to the default sales entities: Leads, Accounts, Contacts, and Opportunities. It also has dashboard capabilities and can show the What’s New section.

Pros:  Portable with a good display area; consistent user interface; easy to use.

Cons:  Cannot customize; only available for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Paid Options
An off-the-shelf ISV solution (i.e. Resco and CWR) is a pre-packaged application available to purchase allowing users to get as close to the online Microsoft Dynamics CRM experience as possible on their phone or tablet

Pros: Customizable; easy-to-use user interface; offline capabilities.

Cons:  Requires additional cost per user; user interface cannot be changed.

A custom-built application is an ‘App’ built specifically for an organization.  A good mobile partner can help to determine exactly what is needed to build an app that fits an organization’s business process.

Pros:  Built specifically for an organization.

Cons:  Expensive; long time to market.

Should You Go Mobile?  If users are asking for it, certainly consider it. Mobile access can boost user adoption, increase productivity, and improve data quality but only if done right.

How Can You Know?  Look at the end users. What role(s) can use mobile access? How will they use it? How much access is needed? How much updating will be done via mobile? Users are not going to type the notes of a three-hour meeting into a smartphone, so determine how they will they use it. Ride along with them for a day or two and evaluate where and how it could fit. If it improves their role, access, or data updates, then even just one of those three may make it a good investment.

Which Option is Best for Me?  Start with the free options. If leaning toward an app, give a test group of users Mobile Express for a month and get feedback on what they want to see and how it is used. If it is only used for looking up contacts, then stick with one of the free options. If users are quickly updating records on the go, entering good data in the organization’s system, and getting more done, then investigating a more robust app could be worth it.