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Ask Gill is a series of short videos where Gill Walker responds to some common questions asked about CRM or by people new to CRM.  She shows how successful CRM will deliver a range of business benefits.

Is training necessary for CRM success?

During the two decades that she has been working with CRM, Gill has seen both the good, the bad and the downright ugly of CRM implementations. The problems change little, even as the technology moves on - plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

The biggest change is the increase in the belief that it should be easy, that training should not be necessary.  And nothing could be further from the truth.

Gill's passion is making CRM work for organisations.  She achieves this using training and change management rather than unsustainable and potentially risky, complex customisation and coding.

Gill Walker, the owner, founder and principal consultant of Opsis, has been working in CRM for over two decades.  She has been dedicated to Microsoft CRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Microsoft Dynamics 365, since 2002 – since Microsoft CRM v1.0 beta!

 Microsoft Dynamics 365 Training Opportunities - with Opsis

What is CRM and how do I know that it would benefit my business?

In this video, Gill Walker shows you what to look for as a cue to needing CRM.

CRM is no longer only for the big end of town. Even if you only have a handful of team members looking after your clients, if you have not implemented a CRM solution, taking that step now will probably enable a better service to your clients leading to happier and so more profitable clients.

In its simplest form, CRM is, processes that help the people, who are helping your customers, know what they need to know, when they need to know it, to get on better with your clients throughout the association between you. These processes are usually supported by technology.  However, it is the processes that are most important.  The technology is only an enabler, which is why when a CRM project is too technology led, it often fails.

Successful CRM gives your organisation the unfair advantage over your competitors.

Then, additionally, because of the technology, it enables a range of analytics across your customer information, so it is possible to see trends and alerts across the organisation.
If you would like to see how Microsoft CRM / Dynamics 365 will help your sales, marketing, customer service and business analytics, look at our free, self-directed Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE walkthrough - Guide Me Guru. GuideMeGuru sm

How much is information leaking from your business costing you?

Information loss can bring an organisation to its knees - the cost of recovery may be so massive.  No organisation is immune to information loss.  However you can minimise both the amount of information loss that is happening and the potential consequences of that loss, if you have processes that manage your information.  A CRM solution is likely to be a big part of this for your customer sales and prospect information.

Information loss tends to fall into two categories.  There is the slow, steady information loss which occurs because people forget things that they believe that they will remember, and the sudden relatively large loss of information that occurs when a person who has kept their information in some sort of personal store leaves the organisation.

Having CRM processes that are easy to follow protects you and your organisation from both of these risks.

The CRM processes must be designed so that they:

  • are easy, straightforward and logical for the users to use
  • provide the information needed by all users of the solution, both day to day users of CRM, and the users of the consolidated information  - reports and dashboards - that the system should deliver.
Achieving this sort of processes requires that both technical and business people are involved in the scoping of the CRM solution.  For more information on how we recommend that you approach your CRM scoping please look at our scoping workshop . Scoping sm

The cost of not having a CRM solution


What is the cost of NOT having a CRM solution?

Here is a short video to highlight what you get when you do not have a CRM solution.  It is important to note that this refers to a CRM solution, not a CRM technology.  It is very possible to have a CRM technology, to have spent a large amount of money on that CRM technology but still not have a CRM solution.

Let me explain.  A CRM solution is a way of working, not a technology.  Yes, the technology is important, but so are a wide range of othe components which enable that technology to deliver to your business.  Without these other essential pieces of the puzzle, the technology becomes a waste of time and money.  In fact, the technology choice is less important than many of these other pieces.

Too many organisations see CRM as technology, so hand the project in its very early stages to IT.  Unless the IT department has the right people with the right skills, and the right people get to own this project - which is rare, but not impossible - this is doomed to failure.

A CRM project has to seen as cross functional.  To be successful, it needs to be able to get the time and focus or people who can envisage how the business should work to take advantage of the new technology.

This is one of the ways that I see Microsoft's move to rebranding Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Dynamics 365 a positive move.  To me, this move highlights that the technology does not deliver a CRM solution, but is a part, albeit an important part, of the complete CRM solution.

To achieve success with Dynamics 365, as with any other CRM technology, an organisation must ensure that the change management including the training, is front and centre of the project.  To achieve this, within the team there must be one person (at least) who knows both the business, and its future direction, and the functionality delivered by the selected technology before any changes are made.

At Opsis, we have seen the advantages of ensuring that some key users understand the functionality of the technology before any configuration or customisation is done - or even considered.  We strongly advocate that this is the approach taken.  Our subject matter expert courses are what we recommend.  Microsoft Dynamics 365 Training Opportunities from Opsis

The choice of technology is not the most important aspect of your CRM project

In this video you will see why you should invest effort in the early part of your project on ensuring that scoping, testing and training all get plenty of consideration - more than the technology selection.

If you have decided to use a third party company to do the project for you, it is essential to confirm that these aspects of the project are included in the budget.  I have heard too many stories where training in particular, was not included, but budget was spent on software demonstrations.

One of the challenges with training is that most of it is required towards the end of the project, so the budget allocated for it can easily be absorbed by other earlier components, if it was not ringfenced early on.

The end user training is absolutely essential if your users are going to use the solution.  End user training must be done just before your go live, it must be based on your processes and using your data.  This means that your end user training must be dedicated to your project - no-one can provide end user training as a standard product.

 To find out more about how Opsis delivers end user training, click on the button on the right.  End User Microsoft Dynamics 365 training from Opsis

Why scoping of CRM must consider both users and business intelligence


CRM can be likened to a sausage machine - a piece of machinery that takes what is entered at one end and transforms it to produce something different at the other.  Even if the machinery is the best in the world, it can only produce high quality results when high quality ingredients are put in.

In the world of CRM, this means that your solution must be designed and scoped from the perspective of both end users and the reporting or business intelligence needs.  The design of the solution must then take both of these requirements, and link them to the underlying data model of the CRM technology selected.

Every element of data captured must either

  • add value to users who are looking after your customers, or,
  • be necessary for a report that adds value to the business.  

If it does not meet at least one of these criteria, the data should not be collected.

So often, CRM projects fail, because users do not adopt the solution.  This usually happens because the users cannot see the benefit in changing from their previous way of working - the new solution does not offer them any improvement, and may seem harder to use or less useful for no return to them, just a return to 'management'.


How CRM helps sales and marketing sing from the same hymn sheet

Successful CRM will give you an all round, or 360 degree view, of your customers.  For this to be achieved, all customer or client facing users (within an area) need to be working from the same source of information, so that the one source of information is seen as the source of truth.   After all, CRM is essentially processes that help the people, who are helping your customers, know what they need to know, when they need to know it, to get on better with your clients throughout the association between you.

If this is to be achieved, a number of things have to happen:

  • All client-facing users, within an area, use the same system
  • Users understand how to get to the information they need quickly and easily
  • Users have an overall picture of the flow of information through the system
  • Users must grasp their role in maintaining information - it is an (extended) team effort not just for them
  • Users at all levels must trust that their colleagues maintain their information, so CRM is seen as a 'source of truth'.

For an organisation who has not achieved this - and the achievers are the rarity - this probably sounds utopian.  However, it is possible.

The key to successful CRM is to set this as your endpoint and to work towards it, step by step.  As Steven Covey said "begin with the end in mind" or if you prefer, a famous chinese proverb said "a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step".

CRM is very often seen as a purely sales tool.  Without doubt, CRM does help sales.  However, a true CRM will support sales, service and marketing, and will enable each part of your organisation to leverage the intelligence of the other two, when it is appropriate.  To understand some of your options for marketing if you are using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, or Microsoft Dynamics 365 please click on the image to the right.  marketing

Why might your CRM benefit from a health check?


Sometimes, at any stage of the life of a CRM solution, it may benefit from a health check.

Typically, this will be because either CRM is seen to be running too slowly or because users are simply finding alternative ways to meet their objectives - which may in turn be because they feel that CRM is running too slowly or it is otherwise failing to meet their needs.

A Microsoft Dynamics 365 health check from the CRM doctor, Gill Walker, will look at a range of aspects depending on the problems that you are experiencing.  
The results may be:

  • technical changes to CRM - perhaps some new reports or other configuration
  • an upgrade to either CRM or the underlying platform
  • additional user training - either a formal course or simply some social learning such as a lunch'n'learn seminar


c healthcheck

How the Business Intelligence capabilities of CRM solve business problems

If your CRM solution is to deliver value to your organisation, it must be designed to so do from the outset.  It is essential to avoid a cobbled together information architecture so that both data entry and reporting, or end user and managerial needs are met.

In this video Gill Walker explains what Business Intelligence is, and what you need to consider when designing your CRM to ensure that your Business Intelligence reporting needs are met.

Using the analogy of crossing the road, Gill shows you why you need to use the data directly from your CRM without recreating it on the way if you want to know that you are really getting the best information on which to base your decisions.   


Making sense of your Dynamics 365 data

Understanding how the Power of Advanced Find will convert your data into useful, ordered information in Microsoft Dynamics 365

AdvancedFind Titleimage

How to extract your CRM data to create simple reports and views

In this walkthrough video tutorial, Gill Walker takes you through the steps to use Advanced Find to create queries, views and simple reports. Each step is illustrated with a short video.

Why use Advanced Find?

There is little point in capturing all your customer / client and prospect information, and diligently entering it all into Microsoft Dynamics 365, if neither you nor anyone else can get it out in a meaningful way.  Avanced Find enables you to ask lots of questions of your CRM and get meaningful answers.  It helps to convert data into useful information.

Your CRM solution will contain a lot of data - data that has been keyed in by users, data that has been imported, emails and other communi cations, probably from Outlook, and other documents.  And if your CRM solution has been designed properly, and your users have been trained appropriately, you will be able to get that data into useful forms.  One of the mistakes in CRM solution design that we see too frequently is a system, which has been designed with only data entry in mind. When this has happened, it is often extremely difficult to create the reports and other useful information, that users, or their management require. 

There are several tools within Microsoft Dynamics 365 that enable you to make sense of all of the conscientiously captured information including:

  • Out of the box reports
  • Report Wizard reports
  • Dashboards
  • Charts
  • Views

and Advanced Find - the topic of this video tutorial.

Understanding Advanced Find makes using all of the above tools much easier.  At the end of this walk through tutorial, you will be able to create a range of Advanced Find queries, and you will understand some of the ways that you can use this information.

Summary of Advanced Find topics demonstrated

Summon the CRM Success Catalyst on:

Phone: +61(2) 8212 3480

Email: opsisinfo(at)

Postal address: GPO Box 2479, Sydney, NSW 2001

Office Address: Suite 1a,
993 Pacific Highway,
Pymble, NSW 2073

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Opsis is an expert Microsoft Dynamics 365 consulting company. Our focus is your Microsoft Dynamics 365 success - not licence sales or billable hours. As Principal Consultant, Gill oversees all business operations and strategic planning and execution, yet she still believes in offering personal attention to each and every client, so as to understand their needs and offer tailored solutions.  We are based in Sydney, with clients in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and across Australia.  We offer Microsoft Dynamics 365 strategy, Microsoft Dynamics 365 scoping, Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation, Microsoft Dynamics 365 technical support, Microsoft Dynamics 365 advice and guidance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 training and mentoring.