Estimating Microsoft CRM customization or configuration costs

Expert Richard Smith gives tips for estimating the cost of a Microsoft CRM customization.

How can we estimate the costs for a Microsoft CRM customization project?
In order to answer your question, I think it makes sense to distinguish between customization and configuration. Dynamics CRM provides the ability to achieve a great number of user-requested features and functionality through its configuration tools – for example, creating custom screens or fields, lists of account or opportunity records, custom reports or even complex business workflows. There are still some areas where customers with more complex requirements might turn to customization – for example, developing complex integrations with other applications or highly specialized functionality for a specific vertical market.

In order to estimate the level of customization for your Microsoft CRM project, you really need to break down the...

functionality you want to deliver in the project. You might consider answering the following questions before embarking on a Microsoft CRM customization project:

  • What data do I want to convert to Dynamics CRM? What field or screen changes do I need to accommodate this data?
  • What business processes do I wish to implement in CRM? For example, does my business require a workflow for assigning new prospects to sales teams, or workflow for managing activities and tasks for specific sales processes? What about services workflows (e.g. case assignments, service-level agreements (SLAs)) or marketing workflows (lead follow up and qualification)?
  • What reports do I wish to provide to my users? Can I leverage the out-of-box reports, or do I need to create custom reports?
  • What data and other systems do I need to integrate with CRM? Does the data to be integrated need to be readable, editable and/or searchable in CRM? Does the data need to be accessible for reports?
  • What functionality do I think I might need to build as "custom" with Dynamics CRM? Is there a third party Independent Software Vendor (ISV) that might already have developed a similar solution that I could leverage? What is the cost of the solution?

    The answers to these questions will help guide you to a general level of complexity associated with your Dynamics CRM implementation. If you find that the answers to the questions above raise more questions or identify specific areas you'd like to further investigate, you may want to consider working with a skilled Microsoft partner who can help evaluate your business requirements in light of what is provided out of the box, what is available via configuration or customization and what is best provided by a third-party vendor.

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