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Evaluation tools and trial options to help you determine if Microsoft CRM is the right choice

Is it a good idea to evaluate Microsoft CRM 3.0 by using the trial version? Learn about various evaluation tools and read advice from Richard Smith, SearchCRM.com's Using Microsoft CRM expert, in this tip.

Do you recommend evaluating Microsoft CRM 3.0 by using the trial version? Is it worth the trouble to implement it? Will it interfere with our current CRM system in any way while we are trying it out?
It is rare to hear of a client evaluating CRM for the first time in today's market. The vast majority of our prospects have extensive experience with a variety of CRM products and are therefore more inclined to want to test drive the products.

Microsoft is making it significantly simpler for organizations to evaluate Dynamics CRM by providing four options:

  • Flash demos – For clients who need more information about the product but are not ready to begin a more complex evaluation, we recommend downloading the Dynamics CRM flash demos. These demonstration modules provide an overview of Dynamics CRM functionality and common ways the product is being used by customers.

  • Demo server – The Microsoft Demo Lab provides the ability to work with Microsoft CRM through a Web browser. While the online sessions are time limited, the user has full access to all of the CRM functionality and administrative functions. We strongly recommend that clients spend some time with the demo server, as it provides the hands-on experience to work with the product without requiring any hardware, software or configuration.

  • Virtual PC demonstration – Microsoft also provides a fully functional environment in a Virtual PC image. Virtual PC is a PC emulator that runs a completely configured version of the Dynamics CRM environment on an existing Windows XP or server laptop or desktop. The Virtual PC image offers clients access to all of the user and administrative functionality of Dynamics CRM without the time limitations of the demo server (the demo does have an ultimate expiration date, typically six months out).

  • Trial download – Finally, Microsoft enables users to download a fully functional version of Dynamics CRM for installation and use on the client's network. This is a great way for clients to test the software in their own environment. The best feature of the trial offer is that users can purchase a license key and convert the trial to a registered license, so they do not lose any data or configuration in the trial.

    We recommend that our prospects start with the demo server and the Virtual PC image first, as these can be up and running quickly and will not require additional IT resources for installation on test servers. By providing clients with a variety of options, however, Microsoft has made it exceptionally simple to work with Dynamics CRM before purchasing and installing the product.

    Links to the demonstrations and downloads mentioned above are included below.

    Flash demos

    Demo server

    Virtual PC demo

    Trial download

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