Microsoft CRM Exposed -
Business Intelligence

Microsoft CRM Reporting

Similar to workflow, Microsoft has multiple options when it comes to reports. There is a standard list of reports available in each module that users can access and print or export them to Excel, PDF and other common formats. Beyond that, there is a Report Wizard that enables users to create basic columnar reports and/or charts using filtering criteria and the ability to define logical groupings of records for summarizing key statistics such as numeric counts or currency. Microsoft CRM Reporting compares favorably with other CRM vendors. The Report Wizard was built upon the robust Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services which allows developers to design, develop and deploy reports using a standard Report Definition Language (RDL).

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If Standard Reports and/or the Report Wizard is not meeting the needs of specific users, customers that have developer knowledge of Microsoft’s Visual Studio environment can develop and publish custom reports.

Microsoft CRM Business Intelligence

This is an area where there appears to be a gap between Microsoft product marketing and reality. Business Intelligence is often put into two categories: 1) executive dashboards that provide insights on day to day metrics against thresholds and analytics; and 2) Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) tools that allow mid management and above to filter, analyze and draw conclusions from data. While Microsoft sells products to do both of these functions; I did not see evidence of any prepackaged components that do either of them in the Microsoft CRM system. This could be due to a number of factors but the primary being that all companies want to measure all things differently. While this is may be true, having a baseline that can be modified or adapted from an existing report is better than having no prepackaged examples at all and is therefore forcing customers to rely on SRS and Analysis Services combined with Visual Studio to build these from scratch.

Many of Microsoft’s competitors offer role based and account level dashboards as well as predefined OLAP cubes for Sales, Marketing and Customer Support functions.

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