Continuing from the previous post, looking at my past experience it would seem that FMPro would be an ideal fit to meet my needs for a single user CRM on the desktop. Overall, FileMaker is the best rapid application development tool I’ve used to date, and has always been a great developer experience. One bugbear: it is impossible to get under the hood — even more so than MS Lightswitch.
However, I have an opportunity to learn Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Dynamics 365 as it is now known.
Dynamics is a business application comprising CRM and ERP. Often deployed as a cloud-based web app. Previous incarnations have been around for a while and there are a number of high-profile customers.
Recently, this product and its licensing structure has metamorphosed; once it was marketed at large enterprise businesses with huge budgets for customisations. This is certainly still one of the target groups for this product, but now it seems that MS want to fill the gap created by the loss of LightSwitch, and by bringing it into the fold of the 365 suite, MS are opening the powerful cross-application capabilities to SMEs too.
It seems that the reasoning behind the latest iteration of the Dynamics offering is avoiding constant reinvention of the wheel: with even more out-of-the-box capabilities, providing many modules for businesses to choose from, this could have a business up and running without requiring a hard-core, and expensive, developer to create a bespoke system.
The key is configuration and optimisation, rather than customisation and under-the-hood tinkering — together with a scalable subscription-based licensing model. As its name suggests, Dynamics 365 is intended to integrate directly with Office 365, bringing all your business admin inside one user interface. One would hope that the power of Excel and productivity of Outlook are fully utilised in this paradigm — reusing the wheel.
I look forward to discovering more about this new offering from Microsoft, and perhaps even playing with it. In the meantime, I will continue to use my ailing CRM.