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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customization or Third Party Product – overview for Consultant

With version 3.0 MS CRM will be more exposed to end-user tuning, software development, customizations. Microsoft CRM SDK is becoming more sophisticated with post-call-out technology reconsidering, deprecating a lot of 1.2 CRM SDK methods, replacing Crystal Reports Enterprise with MS SQL Server Reporting Services, changing MS CRM Exchange Connector functionality, etc. Microsoft itself has to be very flexible and freed up to change/adjust development standards if required. In such situation end customer should be very knowledgeable and savvy to predict the future, when he needs to deploy custom solutions/modules. In this small article we will consider pros and contras of deploying third parties or just go ahead with customer specific unique customization.

Third Party Product.

• Pros: The cost is normally controllable, because product is already developed and ready to be implemented. Plus it is possible to get references on the reliability of the product from all the kinds of user groups, product reviews, etc. Also – sometimes it is referred as weakness but it might be considered as the plus – if product is developed and supported by the known vendor – you should believe that it will be upgraded and available for future MS CRM releases.

• Contras. The first minus we would like to mention is usually not described in the textbooks – this is the problem when, say product A is purchased by Microsoft itself and inaugurated as from now on ‘official’ solutions, and if you historically selected product B – coming from the competitor – you are in a problem – you will see you software vendor to be weakened and slowly phasing out alternative product B
Unique Customization.

• Pros. You will have so-called source code, if you negotiate it right with the custom developer or custom development company – then you can transfer version upgrade or product modification to the market leader (who will be giving you better price and quality assurance in the future). Other pluses might be cost saving, due to the fact that you are paying for required functionality only, not for something you will never use.

• Contras. Cost might be crossing the budgeted line, because you might not be able to select reliable software developer (all of them might be in the learning curve, because MS CRM is relatively young product) – this is very strong argument, when you have just purchased the CRM and yet not know the players on the customization market.
Production Environment Challenges. When you are already in production – be sure that MS CRM needs testing, if you introduce custom logic. You should try to isolate custom logic, and test it in the isolated space – again MS CRM doesn’t have parallel test company environment – opposite to what you have in ERP system, such as Great Plains/Dynamics GP.

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