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Microsoft CRM support and maintenance for a small business

Expert Richard Smith offers advice to a reader wondering how much maintenance Microsoft Dynamics CRM requires and who in the organization should manage the maintenance.

Does Microsoft Dynamics CRM require a lot of support and maintenance? We're a small company of about 20 people, without a dedicated person to manage our CRM system. How time-consuming is the maintenance of Microsoft CRM? Should this be the sales manager's responsibility?
This is a common question we hear, as many businesses cannot dedicate a resource to maintaining and supporting their CRM solution. There is not one answer to the question, however, because "maintenance" encompasses a multitude of tasks. These tasks can be broken down into three areas:
  • Server maintenance: There are ongoing tasks that should be performed on a regular, if not daily basis, like backing up the CRM databases and optimizing the database indexes. These tasks are typically performed by an internal or external (outsourced) IT specialist.
  • Ongoing business changes: The more common needs our users experience is the need to make changes to CRM to reflect changes in the business. This might include adding new values to a drop-down field, adding new fields to a form, making a field required, updating sales rep quotas and adding new reps and even creating a new Excel report. Microsoft provides the tools to make these types of changes quickly and easily within Dynamics CRM. While it may not be the best use of the sales manager's time, most of our clients have been able to identify a "super user" who is able to become comfortable with these tasks and who can manage them for the organization. The "super user" can also be a great go-to person for training and questions about using CRM.
  • Enhancements and upgrades: From time to time, your organization may wish to implement more sophisticated changes including an upgrade, new more complex reporting, integration with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) or financials system and the like. Most organizations opt to bring in a qualified Microsoft partner to help them with this type of work.
With this in mind, CRM support and maintenance -- for Microsoft CRM or any other CRM system -- does not have to be a time-consuming task and does not necessarily require a dedicated resource. As a good rule of thumb, you should estimate that your IT resource will need approximately half an hour to one hour each week to ensure that the SQL Server backup and maintenance jobs are executing properly and between one and two hours on average each week for an internal resource to make changes to the system, answer questions and train new users.

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