CRM Implementation and Deployment Best Practices

As a Global Program Manager for Financial Services, I often hear variations on a theme in my conversations with our prospects and customers: can you share some best practices with us for an implementation or deployment of a Microsoft Dynamics CRM based solution?

The answer I give depends on the deployments you choose, as there are different considerations for each. As an overview, with Microsoft Dynamics CRM On Premises you would have to install, configure and maintain your CRM infrastructure along with its integration points. Azure-Hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM Infrastructure means you can run a Dynamics CRM infrastructure on Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Services (IaaS) with Azure Premium Storage for production workloads. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online lets you take full advantage of Microsoft cloud speed, scale and economics as well as frequent product release and updates bringing you more innovation and business relevance each time.

Now let’s take a deeper look at each options.

On Premises Deployment

There are a couple of key things to remember when deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM in your environment.

You’ll need to properly size the architecture of your solution: know where you’re going with your solution so that your IT team knows what to prepare for. Will it be a business critical application or can you tolerate some downtime during the year? Do you need to integrate with multiple different systems? Do you need to access the solution from outside your company network? Do you need a mobility approach? Which clients are you looking to use (Web, Outlook, Mobile, Custom)? Will/can you share your infrastructure with other business teams in your organization?…

Your architecture will change depending on your key workload and your infrastructure may need to have specifics outputs or integrations points. For instance, a call center would need a highly responsive environment with multiple points of integration; while a sales team with mobility needs will require access to a secured mobile environment.

Planning for your application lifecycle management approach is a must: typically, in large organizations, we often see the following environments to support the lifecycle of the application: development environment, integration environment, test environment, production environment.

You will want to plan for the deployment. Can you go for a big bang approach? Or do you need to start with a couple of pilots first in order to adjust the infrastructure?

You need to make sure your IT staff is properly trained on this new technology in order to fully benefit from your solution. Even though the solution can look very familiar, there are still a lot of specificities that need proper training to master.

Test, test, test! Performance tests help stress the environment to their limits and ensure that you have properly set up your various components. I have seen a SQL Server “properly installed” but not to the standards need by a large end-users base many times.

Recommended resources:

Azure-Hosted Deployment

When moving your Microsoft Dynamics CRM to an Azure, you will gain cloud speed and scale. You will mostly ask yourself the same questions than for an On Premises deployment. One of the benefits you will get is a streamlined deployment through Dynamics Lifecycle Services (LCS) our cloud based Application Lifecycle Management utility. This will clearly reduce manual deployment efforts, expended time and costs.

Recommended resources:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Deployment

For this option, you will need to think about the following points:

Assess your environment: make sure that your current environments (workstation, mobile devices, …) are up to date to support the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Plan for your integration points: your legacy systems may need specific attention in order to connect to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Plan your Outlook clients’ deployments: you will need to pay special attention to the deployment of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook client. Since everything else (Web, Mobile application) will pretty much be turnkey, you need to plan ahead to make sure that you will manage your end-user expectations and offer a smooth experience of deployments. (luckily, we have done the groundwork for you and you can read about it in the recommended document below).

Recommended resources:

Before starting any of those projects, I would strongly recommend you get the support of Microsoft Dynamics professional resources either via our partner ecosystem or via Microsoft Consulting Services.

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