SharePoint-management company AvePoint is working to bring structured Dynamics CRM records into SharePoint, building on Microsoft’s new “Business Critical SharePoint” initiative announced at the company’s recent Worldwide Partner Conference.
AvePoint is working to help organizations build SharePoint portals and have the content in SharePoint powered by the records in CRM, according to Han Wang, vice president of product management at AvePoint. “We see potential between Dynamics and SharePoint, though Dynamics CRM is not as mature as the SharePoint market. We see Dynamics CRM as where SharePoint was at in 2007,” he said.
The Business Critical SharePoint vision would move Microsoft’s line-of-business applications out front for such things as CRM, ERP and business processes, with SharePoint more of a back-end, core infrastructure piece on which the apps are built, according to Dmitry Kagansky, senior director of compliance and business development at AvePoint. SharePoint is a US$2 billion business, and Microsoft “doesn’t need to sell it to new customers as much as extending it out for existing customers. It’s not just a file share, but a framework for building out apps with CRM or ERP.”
One potential use case of the CRM-SharePoint integration is to track progress of case activities, said Terence Orpilla, product manager at AvePoint. “Accounts or leads should be able to be viewed in SharePoint with partners,” he said, as well as with field salespeople and remote sales managers, though that would come further down the road.
For now, AvePoint is focusing on improving the Dynamics CRM experience with extensions to the platform.
“We were on Salesforce for our CRM, but scaling got costly, so we did our own migration” to CRM, Orpilla said. “We developed mappings for moving from Salesforce to Dynamics, and since we’re not the only guys crazy enough to do this, we created our own, so product accounts in Salesforce should be accounts in CRM.” Thus, AvePoint CRM Migration Manager for Microsoft Dynamics CRM was born, to enable organizations to move from Salesforce.
Orpilla added that after the migration was complete, AvePoint noticed gaps that needed to be filled, so the company created customizations that have been released as the AvePoint Productivity Suite that includes Search All, a universal search engine; Call Assist, to track sales calls; and Record Rollback, to provide the ability to reverse accidental deletions or updates.
Two other Windows 8 applications were released as well. Timeline gives a visual overview of activities associated with a particular record, Orpilla explained, while Pipeline gives sales teams a graphical overview of their sales opportunities. “Any opportunities past the closed due date can be seen and then moved into the next month or quarter, and you can do forecasting to target specific opportunities, or identify only those with a 75% or greater chance of closing,” he said.
Timeline, meanwhile, is available for free in the Windows Store, the Apple Store, and via Google Play for Android and iPhone, as well as for SharePoint. Windows 7 and iPad versions are also on the way, he said.
Orpilla added that AvePoint has created a call integration with Dynamics CRM in the same fashion as how Outlook has e-mail integrations with Dynamics. With the Call Assist feature, “Any PBX (or Skype or Lync) that integrates with Windows can take notice of outgoing calls, so call records can be created for the sales team and support staff all in Dynamics.”
“The whole point of apps is to drive user adoption,” Kagansky said. “If you’re not putting your activity in CRM, there’s no point in having the system. This puts another interface on CRM for end users, apps that are touch-enabled and easy to use, that aren’t administrative-heavy.”