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Microsoft Dynamics CRM: Designing Survey Applications

Microsoft Dynamics CRM: Designing Survey Applications

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logo_csg Today we welcome our guest blogger and CRM MVP Ayaz Ahmad. Ayaz blogs at Ayaz Ahmad [MVP MIcrosoft CRM, MBSS] and is a CRM Solution Architect at CSG Solutions. CSG Limited is one of Australia’s leading IT services companies providing end to end integrated technology solutions in all major Australian markets including the Northern Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and Western Australia.

I have seen many people talking about designing survey applications in Dynamics CRM. I have analyzed some different approaches to survey application design and their integration with Dynamics CRM 4.0 during my stay at OA Systems.
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Using WSS/MOSS 2007

WSS 3.0/MOSS 2007 provides a very comprehensive tool for planning, designing. Executing and analysing surveys. Following feature are provided out of the box in WSS/MOSS:

• Planning/Designing Survey
• Branching Survey
• Various Question Types
• Comprehensive analysis tool
• Executing survey

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Pros

  1. Out of the box tools for Designing, Distributing, Executing and Analysis
  2. WSS 3.0 is Free so no Licensing Cost
  3. No Development Cost as its out of the box

Cons

  1. Data will be saved outside CRM
  2. Unavailability in offline client

WSS/MOSS survey can be integrated with MSCRM using IFRAME. This is a loose integration and data will be saved and presented in WSS/MOSS and not in CRM.

Using InfoPath

Survey can be designed in InfoPath/Windows Form Server. InfoPath forms can be transmitted and rendered in IE. InfoPath Forms can collect information and save the survey response. This is also not ideal solution as data is saved in InfoPath forms and a comprehensive analysis tool needs to be developed.

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Pros

  1. Surveys can be designed in InfoPath
  2. Can be distributed using Online or by sending emails

Cons

  1. InfoPath required for Email Surveys
  2. Analysis tool needs to be developed for Response analysis and reporting

Custom Solution in CRM (xRM)

Custom solution can be developed with enough development effort. In this solution, survey is planned/designed and analyzed in MSCRM but executed using Custom web application. This custom web application will be integrated in CRM or rendered online to execute Survey and collect survey response.

This solution provides access to survey data using web client, outlook online and outlook offline.

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Pros

  1. Available web, online and offline clients
  2. Fully supported and upgradable
  3. Executed through Custom Web application
  4. Survey Data and Response will be saved in Dynamics CRM

Cons

  1. Considerable development effort is required
  2. License is required in order to expose CRM data to non users

OA Systems Ltd

OA Systems are a specialist supplier of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Business Intelligence and Office Collaboration software and services including Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server.

Whether it’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Business Intelligence (BI), a successful deployment goes beyond just the software and its implementation. It requires a complete business strategy involving a number of factors: processes, technology and professional services.

Please comment or send your suggestions/issues at ayaz.ahmad at hotmail dot com.

Cheers,

Ayaz Ahmad



  • The images are too small to gain any information - is there somewhere we can go to see this information in more detail?

  • Can you publish a higher resolution picture of the CRM entity model that you are proposing for survey data collection?  I am just about to start a survey project and I think your data model will save me some time.

    Thanks,

    Shan

  • There are other cons to the sharepoint survey as well.  The view for the sharepoint survey is not flexible at all and you can't make it presentable to internet users unless you rewrite the UI.

    SharePoint as the frontend probably has the same net result that you're talking about with CRM.  They both require some heavy lifting on the part of the developer.

    You'd expect the display and data creation of these forms to be simple and well developed,  for the internet facing scenarios, but both options are quite immature.

    A standard asp.net solution with a SQL database (rolling your own) almost seems like the easiest option. Kind of odd since both CRM and SharePoint are advertised as making life simpler in terms of creating and deploying forms.  Oh well. ;)

  • Just to echo the other comments it would be really useful if the images (especially the CRM schematic) could be posted in a higher resolution as I am unable to make any use of it in its current form.

    Cheers

    Matt

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