Would MS Dynamics CRM be a good choice to manage a small IT company

We have access to CRM via the Action Pack Subscription. I want to get rid of Connectwise because it drives me nuts. The issue is I don't want to Install CRM for testing because it integrates so deeply into AD.

We are a small IT company with 4 employees if that makes any difference.

Questions:
1.  Does anyone use MS CRM for this purpose and would you recommend it?

2.  If I install it and decide it is not what we want, does it uninstall and leave Outlook and AD messed up?

3.  How would billing reports work?

I feel like I should pick an IT specific CRM like Commit but I have yet to find one that I can customize like I want to and I know that the Dynamics CRM is customizable.

Thanks in advance.

Keith
LSKeithAsked:
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Feridun KadirPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
Your action pack subscription provides you with 5 user licences for CRM workgroup edition. There is no functional difference between workgroup edition and server edition. However, you can't add any further licences to workgroup edition; if you plan to need more than 5 licences then you will need to change to server edition.

CRM uses AD for authentication only. Installing CRM does not extend the AD schema, four security groups are added which are easily removed if you want to uninstall CRM.

Similarly, if you install the CRM client for Outlook, removal is straightforward and does not leave Outlook messed up (in my experience). But you can use CRM without installing the CRM client for Outlook in Internet Explorer.

Dynamics CRM is a general purpose CRM system that is designed to be customized and extended. I think you will need to do a lot of customization to make Dynamics CRM relevant to your IT business. Although it has Service features they are not IT specific.

Whether or not you should use Dynamics CRM or an IT specific CRM is down to you and how your business works. You could install CRM on a virtual server, see how it works before committing. I would make a list of say the top 10 things you need a CRM system to do and then see how Dynamics CRM fares. You could also see how it deals with the areas of Connectwise that you don't like.

I hope this is of some help.
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Chinmay PatelChief Technical NinjaCommented:
Hi LSKeith,

After looking at your requirements I would suggest you go with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online : http://crm.dynamics.com/en-in/on-demand.
It comes with great pricing and almost all features of On premise edition and lot of other freatures that you might want to leverage upon in future.

And if you are not happy with cloud based solution and want to install CRM on your own server, you dont have to worry about AD. It doesn't do many changes to AD. It just adds few security groups and that's all. You can completely uninstall CRM and it doesn't mess up your AD.

I did not understand your question on Reports, could you throw some light on it?

Regards,
Chinmay.
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LSKeithAuthor Commented:
First thanks for the info regarding AD / Outlook!

As for the reporting, I should have been more First thanks for the info regarding AD / Outlook!

As for the reporting, I should have been more specific. I am concerned about 'native' features that would allow me to track time spent on cases (tickets) & tasks / projects. I know there are 3rd party apps to extend that functionality. We do have some programming experience in house but I don't want it to turn in to a dev project.

Specifically:
I want to be able to define contracts for customers:
     *Block of time
     *T&M
     *Managed services

I want to be able to run a report that shows:
     *Cases worked on from DateA to DateB
     *Time utilized on the above cases during date range

I want to be able to track whether a technician's time was spent on Billable vs non billable work plus onsite vs remote or if they wore working on a project(flat fee).
     
I would like for the solution to work out as I am a MS guy and I think utilizing all MS solutions in house makes us better as a service oriented company.(I know that doesn't justify jamming a round peg in a squre hole) Some of the all ready built solutions don't have the flexibility to define customer contracts the way we write them. For example, A managed services customer may get monitoring of defiined assets plus x hours of onsite support and unlimited remote support.

Any input would be appreciated.
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Feridun KadirPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
With regard to tracking time; CRM has activities which can be connected to cases (and other record types). Activity types include appointments, tasks and letters and have durations. When a case is closed, CRM records the time spent on a case as the total of the durations users specify against each activity. A different amount of time for billing purposes can also be recorded.

You will need to customize the case entity (not too difficult) to note whether it was a remote or onsite case or a project. Then you will be able to write reports to track technician's time and number of cases for a date period and time spent on cases. You will need to write these reports, you can use SQL Server Reporting Services or any other app that can connect to SQL Server using ODBC.

The contracts part is a little harder. Out of the box, CRM provides for contracts that track entitlement to support based on either just dates (e.g. 1/1/2012 to 12/31/2012), number of incidents or amount of time. For T&M and managed services you will need to do some customization work.

There is no specific project functionality present out of the box but depending on your requirements it may not be too difficult to extend CRM.
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LSKeithAuthor Commented:
Thank you for your knowledge. I think I will move on to the testing phase now that I am not so concerned about the effects of an uninstall.
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