Hooray – we’re listed on AppSource!

We’re delighted to announce that Sales In-a-Box has been listed on Microsoft’s AppSource. You can now download a trial directly from AppSource and assess whether the simplicity of Sales In-a-Box will allow you to quickly deliver the benefits of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales.

You’ll need an environment to deploy into, but after that it is only a matter of clicking on Free Trial and the deploy will start. A few short minutes later, you’ll have Sales In-a-Box with a set of demonstrative sample data. Not long after that, we’ll reach out to you to discuss how it’s going and what your thoughts about the software are.

 

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Would you like some bedtime reading?

As part of our preparation for Microsoft AppSource, we’ve prepared some overview papers on Sales In-a-Box. We couldn’t live with ourselves if we didn’t share them more widely, so we’ve added them to the website too!

[icon name=”file-pdf-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] ¬†Why should I use Sales In-a-Box?

[icon name=”file-pdf-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] ¬†Getting to grips with Sales In-a-Box

[icon name=”file-pdf-o” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] ¬†Why focus on weighted pipeline?

As you’d imagine, we’ve added them to the Sales In-a-Box product page as well.

Happy reading.

News years resolutions for your CRM

In the spirit of new year’s resolutions, we thought we’d share our own targets for our Customer relationship management (CRM) software. All too often, systems (and the associated processes) have stagnated since they were deployed. Over time this results in reduced sales effectiveness and, ultimately, undermining why you have a CRM system in the first place.

View the entire post, written by David, on UK Business Forums.

Does Microsoft Business Edition pricing mean Recursyv In-a-Box is doomed from the outset?

As part of the revamped licensing for Dynamics 365, Microsoft (MS) is also introducing a new “flavour” of the solution – Dynamics 365 Business Edition. This is pitched to be a scaled-down version of the whole Dynamics 365 offering (known as Enterprise Edition) and, as best we understand at the moment, will come to include most of the significant functional areas of Dynamics 365 (i.e. Sales, Customer Service, etc.). The SME focused accounting/financials offering, formerly known as Project Madeira, is already available in the US under the Business Edition licensing. UK release dates are currently pencilled for some time in spring 2017.

This begs a fundamental question for Recursyv: In-a-Box products, should we even bother? (Whoah – deep breath!) In a recent post, we shared the design ambition for the In-a-Box product suite (IaB). If you don’t have the inclination to click through it can be summed up as “paring down the enterprise toolkit within Dynamics 365 to suit the needs of small/medium businesses both in terms of reducing up-front cost and ability to be rapidly deployed”. (We’re getting the marketing department working up mugs with that wording on it any day now). This is part of our vision of work made easier.

We’ve spent some time discussing and debating whether there is a genuine future for our product. It is a sobering thought that forced the consumption of many chocolate-chip cookies. Is it worth putting time and effort into building and promoting IaB when MS are pursuing the same market space with Business Edition? After the consumption of far too many chocolate-chip cookies and fuelled by a sugar-rush high, we’ve decided to progress. Here’s why‚Ķ

  1. ‚ÄėSpring‚Äô is 6 months away and that release date is not cast in stone. It is likely, but it could be pushed out. On top of that, partners will need a few weeks/months to get their heads around the new offering and what it does. Businesses who need something now aren’t going to stand still for 9 – 12 months.
  2. It seems unlikely that MS will be able to get the solution absolutely right for all small/medium businesses and some degree of configuration/customisation will be necessary. Admittedly, this is skating on thin ice as our proposition assumes we’re using our experience to build a “one size fits most” solution. That’s not to say we don’t believe MS will build a remarkable solution, we do – we’re staking our business on the development of the platform after all. However, we also believe that our experience in speaking to local users over many years brings value which we’ve built into IaB and we’re not convinced this is easily replicated.
  3. It seems likely that Business Edition will be a platform which can be extended (i.e. like all previous versions of Dynamics). We expect that we will be able to deploy the IaB solution on top of Business Edition. And if we can’t, we have the design specifications and we can rebuild it on Business Edition relatively quickly. (The value of IaB is in the design decisions made to specify the solution, the actual build is made relatively straightforward by the power of the Dynamics 365 platform).

There’s one final consideration, and an important one at that – price. MS have introduced a number of “pre-business edition” offers on Dynamics 365 targeted at customers who are likely Business Edition candidates (i.e. user communities < 25 users). If customers take Dynamics 365 on these prices, they‚Äôre able to stay on the offer price for 36 months with no obligation to move to Business Edition in that timeframe.

In practice, this means that we can achieve our vision of making work easy by quickly getting customers experiencing the power of Dynamics 365 at very compelling pricing. In time (i.e. at some point in the next 3 years), we’ll have conversations with those customers about the best next step and whether that involves IaB, Business Edition and/or Enterprise Edition. Of course, during those 3 years, the IaB and Business Edition products will undoubtedly mature further creating an even richer set of options.

 

If you want to discuss deploying IaB within your business, or get more insight on the pricing offer, please contact us.

Additional note: as you’d imagine, there are more terms associated with the interim pricing offer than make for compelling reading as part of a blog post. These include being subject to MS annual increases (as you would be on all MS subscription prices). Recursyv prices transparently and will share the MS platform pricing separately from the Recursyv IaB pricing. Please get in touch to discuss the details further.

What inspired us to build the In-a-Box solution?

The inspiration for In-a-Box comes from two things we’ve seen over the past few years of implementing Dynamics CRM.

MS Dynamics CRM, now part of Dynamics 365, is a complex, enterprise product which is feature rich and extendable. In practical terms, it is a massive toolset of options available to the user. This means that it often requires extensive professional services projects to configure/customise the solution to the needs of a particular instance. While these projects are interesting, they’re also expensive and create a significant barrier to entry to many smaller businesses wanting to benefit from the power of the platform.

And all the while, the world is changing. More and more enterprise class services are being sold on a monthly subscription basis (per user, per month) at rates that are very affordable for small and medium businesses. To Microsoft’s credit, the “new Microsoft” has recognised this and is turning many of its traditional boxed software businesses to be cloud first (Office 365, Dynamics 365, Azure services, etc.). Dynamics 365 can be had for well under ¬£100/user/month, a small price to pay for the power it provides.

But there remains a gap between this massive hurdle getting onto the platform relative to the monthly cost of using the platform. Small and medium businesses just don’t have tens of thousands of pounds to hand to spend on software projects.¬†The In-a-Box products were conceived to bridge that gap. We’ve consolidated our experience across hundreds of implementations, looking at the things most businesses have asked for, and built this into a packaged solution.

The design focus has been driven by two principles:

  • Simplification of the solution: pare down the forms to use the most commonly used data fields, provide a handful of well-designed business processes, deactivate views to hide complexity, etc.
  • Don’t break the underlying data model:¬†part of the attractiveness of Dynamics 365 is that it provides a scalable path for businesses who either grow or have new business requirements (Customer Service, Project Service, xRM, etc.). By staying true to the data model, we can ensure our clients are not compromised in any way by decisions taken in respect of using an In-a-Box solution rather than a bespoke implementation.

The downside is plain to see. By¬†using an In-a-Box solution, you’re limited to the design decisions made in building the solution. It’s not really different to buying a physical product at a retailer. There are probably a few options you could exercise, but the core product is the one you bought. The software may only meet 85% of your requirements rather than the 100%¬†that a bespoke implementation may achieve. With a handful of consulting days, you might close that gap to 90% and still stay in the realms of a reasonable cost. (Or, better, use the system for 3 months, and then re-assess whether perceived needs are real needs!)

I guess it boils down to a simple question: do you want stay on spreadsheets (as many of the target customer base are likely to be using) or, for a reasonable cost, cover 85 or 90% of your requirement? Because the 100% requirement is just not realistic for small and medium businesses.

 

Recursyv Sales In-a-Box is now commercially available. If you’re interested in discussing these ideas further or a demo, please be in touch.

Note: We’re aware that Dynamics 365 Business Edition is a similar application of this mindset. In another post, we’ll share some of our considerations in respect of furthering developing of this product versus waiting for Business Edition.¬†

Designing for a happy birthday

In celebration of our first “official” day designing and developing software for Recursyv, we turn our attention to the birthday controls within Dynamics CRM. Getting to know customers and being responsive to them on a personal level¬†is one of the drivers of implementing a CRM system. In this light, it’s frustrating that¬†the storing and use of birth dates is so poorly handled.

Let me illustrate with the birthday selector on the contact form.

2016-11-17-birthday-selector-with-border

It’s a standard date control. You’d think there’d be no problem there, but in practice it means that either you need to know the contact’s birth year or your data is inaccurate. One is unlikely, the other is inelegant. Neither¬†make for great design. In practice, the pragmatic approach is just to ignore birth year in the data set, but¬†it seems that¬†in a mature software system, it shouldn’t be necessary to use workarounds for such basic features.

Our design ambition for the In-a-Box product set is that it should be intuitive and easy-to-use. Inelegant workarounds don’t fit into this mindset. Consequently, our current thinking¬†for the In-a-Box product set is to create custom fields for birthday (day of the month, i.e. 1 – 31) and birth month. This will at least enforce¬†that data held on system is robust (i.e. accurate). It will require¬†some changes to views but that’s straightforward enough. In practice, the data¬†should be used to drive dynamic marketing lists and that is easily achievable with data structured like this.