As both a Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics certified partner, Datix Inc., has a rare, unique insight into two of the most popular CRM systems on the market today. In light of this, this is the final overview piece of a four part series in which we have compared and pit these two powerful and well known CRM systems against each other in order to help you determine which might be the best CRM for your business and its unique goals. Up to this point, our evaluation has included key factors that project managers often look for in their CRM system, including reporting functionality, CRM mobility and product integration with commonly used MS Office tools.
Consequently, in the first part of our head to head series featuring Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM we looked at reporting capabilities, in the second section we shined a light on mobility, and in our third section we looked at common integration. By considering new 2015 updates to each product, we have also noticed how much harder it has become to differentiate between the two products. The CRM arms race has gotten more and more competitive and neither Salesforce nor Microsoft Dynamics is letting their competitor sit comfortably for long; Salesforce recently announced a deepening partnership with competitor Microsoft that will integrate the CRM with Skype for Business, Outlook and OneNote, and Dynamics countered that with a whole new mobile app that threatens Salesforce’s crown as the king of CRM mobility. As a result of all of the recent upgrades, you may be more confused than ever about what your business needs out of CRM software and which vendor will best be able to provide for your goals. Therefore we will use this section of our CRM showdown to (attempt to) wrap a precise bow around our CRM comparisons by looking at what other elements you should take into account when selecting a proper system for your business processes.
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Review the Salesforce vs Dynamics CRM series:
- CRM Mobility
- Microsoft Integration
- Comprehensive Overview
- We’ve added a development comparison as well!
What we know so far…
The right tool for the right job
The above probably can’t be overstated enough and has definitely been drilled into your head throughout this series; however we will continue to mention throughout this series that these two CRM systems cannot undergo a direct, ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison. Deciphering which is the best for your organization is really about selecting the right tool for the right job. Only you know your business processes inside and out and what you need from a piece of software to support both your current requirements and your future goals. After all, a piece of software is useless it has been fully integrated and align with your needs. Both CRM systems have their clear advantages and drawbacks while offering some very different and specific services, which may be what tips the scale in the end towards one system or another. After all, you wouldn’t hang a picture with a hacksaw: you need to be selecting the exact tool required to get your job done.
We looked at the reporting capabilities of both systems, and it’s pretty clear that Salesforce provides the most flexible and powerful reporting systems. Dynamics offers beautiful dashboards, and some nice drill down functions, but is simply more rigid than Salesforce when it comes to customization features and app development. A semi-technical user will find that they can do far better reporting with a program like Salesforce. Of course, this ability for rich customization comes with a caveat as there will be additional work and man hours required for such a tailor-made system.
Now, if your sales organization is not overly sophisticated, nor does it rely heavily on data-driven metrics, this all may be a moot point; as Dynamics and Salesforce may both be able to offer you exactly what your organization needs without the need for specific tools or unique customization functions that allow you to view your data the way you want it. Furthermore, tools like Power BI integrated with CRM may be able to offer you end-to-end performance that better fits your organization anyways.
In a Salesforce vs Dynamics CRM battle, Salesforce was a notable winner in this category as well; although we can’t fail to mention the great strides Microsoft has been making towards more mobile functionality. However, even with Microsoft announcing the reform of its Dynamics CRM mobile experience this year and an already solid tablet CRM experience, Salesforce still has the jump. The UI/UX and overall functionality of Salesforce from a mobile phone is as good, or better, than the software’s desktop application. The same cannot be said of Dynamics at this time; but who can say how long that gap will remain open and if Microsoft can knock Salesforce from its mobility throne come the next update.
If your sales team is often out of the office, or on the road and needs a CRM system that can perform effectively on whatever device it’s being used for, then mobility should be near the top of your software checklist. Look at your sales people and evaluate how they work. Would mobile functionality be a fit for your organization? How would this type of direction fit your company culture? Is this the kind of job you need a specialized tool to fit? As we like to say here at Datix, successful implementations are more about knowing your business processes than the software itself, so you need to consider what you are truly looking for before going out to test software.
Microsoft Product Integration
Microsoft gets better every year at allowing their software to all blend together seamlessly. And it’s safe to say that Dynamics CRM is no exception. Microsoft has created a powerful structure that allows their CRM to easily integrate with common business software like Sharepoint, Outlook, Excel, Yammer, and more. Although we must mention Salesforce is not overly cumbersome integrating with these products and has just recently announced even tighter integration with Microsoft products such as Skype for Business (Lync) and OneNote, Dynamics provides a slick integration that enhances the quality of all the products and makes it easier than ever to complete CRM tasks inside other programs (i.e. assigning OneNote files to CRM leads) or to switch between your productivity and CRM programs with swipe in your dashboard.
If your business is heavily invested in Microsoft products – and uses them well throughout your team – you may want to consider how all these products you already own can work together with CRM. It may be a helpful and already intuitive mix that can greatly benefit your organization. However, you will have to weigh the benefits against factors like mobility and reporting, where Dynamics may fall short, to make a final decision. This is not the right solution for every company, but for some this transition from MS products into Dynamics CRM can be seamless.
Ever heard of the cloud? Yeah, we thought so. It’s the new frontier for hosting everything from ERP software to our much discussed CRM platforms. Salesforce has doubled down from the very beginning on being an exclusively cloud-based software offering. It makes their entire system portable, easy to access, and agile enough for multiple upgrades and compatibilities. However, as a noteable caveat, Salesforce is only available in a cloud format. For some organizations this is still philosophically challenging. If your organization is reluctant about moving your entire CRM architecture to a cloud system it may be worth noting that Dynamics CRM is available in a cloud system and native application, both through single tenant hosting options or on-premise platforms.
Having the option of where you deploy your software may be a key decision maker for your business. Microsoft will even let you choose which cloud platform you host Dynamics through if you do choose the cloud model. It’s worth nothing here that an on-prem Dynamics will often run much faster than a cloud model, whereas Salesforce, who specialize in the cloud,will run much more reliably. Of course all of the these considerations mean very little if your workplace does not have access to a steady and reliable internet connection that can support the cloud.
While the cloud – and it’s recent security concerns – can be a drawback for some organizations, trends in the marketplace suggest that this is the direction developers and businesses are ultimately headed. Additionally, it may actually be more secure for you to host your CRM data with a provider like Salesforce who have whole teams and huge investments dedicated to cloud security as opposed to your IT team if you are a small to midsize business. However, many organizations are not ready for that transition, and if that’s the case, they should strongly consider a native application of something like Dynamics CRM with the assurance that the security is in their own hands.
While in our comparison it is apparent that Salesforce is more dominant than Dynamics CRM in the majority of the categories, it is also noticeably more expensive from a licensing perspective. Without going into exact licensing costs, Salesforce generally costs 30-40% more than Dynamics CRM. In addition to this higher price, Salesforce charges for API calls as well. This is an important consideration if you’re looking at Salesforce. If you plan to make a lot of calls to your database, that would certainly be something that could add to your bottom line cost with Salesforce. Microsoft Dynamics does not charge for these database calls.
It’s also worth considering that Salesforce also provides an entire app store with their product. Users can download and purchase custom apps that provide a limitless potential to integration and compatibility.
While as we mentioned, comparing these costs is far from apples to apples, it’s worth noting that in most cases Dynamics CRM will cost less from license standpoint than Salesforce. However, this should not become the only determining factor in your decision. That rarely leads to a successful implementation. You also need to consider whether a cloud implementation (of either software) is more cost effective for your business. While cloud offerings cost you only a monthly subscription fee for each user login, on premise options will cost you upfront, along with all of the associated investments required for server space, installation and upkeep fees. While this kind of investment may be more astute for a large business, we generally find that the cloud is the smartest move for small-to-midsize companies. Either way, you should be considering all the factors of your budget and exactly where your software investment is going when you do select a CRM system.
What should you do?
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