#MobileCRM: considerations – part 2

One of the advantages of the cold winter season, is that I am literaly glued to my keyboard. Writing code, doing research, cramming out articles. But then…. finally spring season kicked in. So many things to do in and around the house, going out for some mountainbiking, take a long walk in the woods. And then late at night, you realize: “Heh, I’ve not been productive today”.

Last article I left off at the point in which I installed the Mobile CRM client on three different platforms. Not being able to connect because I hadn’t SSL installed on my development server.

Tonight I did an attempt in installing an SSL cerificate authority on my server, but for some reason it failed on me. I’ll investigate this issue later on this week (and ask one of my infrastructure colleagues to take a look and help me out  ). It looks like I need to have Internet Facing Deployment (IFD) in place. On the other hand I always can request a trial for a CRM online environment.

In the meanwhile I did some reading on the Dynamics Mobile CRM app. I read about some of the features I want to share with you:

Offline modus

Yep, you can use the mobile CRM 2015 app while not being connected. You can browse the cached data (recent data) on your tablet. And you can create new records like e.g. accounts, contacts and activities. The new records are created as a concept. Once you reconnect, you’ll have to evaluate the concepts and save them in your CRM environment.

The limitation when creating new records, is that these records must be independant.

From what I read, graphs are not available when in offline mode. And you cannot modify existing records. In order to change existing records, you have to be connected! On the other hand, records you created while you were offline can be changed (these records are in your cache)

The data you are entering while offline, is bound to limitations as well. E.g. you cannot set values of lookup fields.

Working offline seems to be possible, still not ideal. I read a blog by Resco writting in November 2013 in which they did a comparison between the Resco mobile CRM  client and the Dynamics CRM client (article).  The article was written about the mobile CRM 2013 client. I’m curious to find out if things improved.

Optimized for touch

The mobile apps are optimized for touch.  * hmmmz… I’ve got to see it first *

Seamless experience

The mobile CRM client offers a consistent experience. You can use CRM across web, client and device and you’ll be able to pick your job up on a device where you left off at another device.

What really matters!

Enough marketing mumbo jumbo. What really matters is how we can use the mobile CRM application and how we can offer the experience our users need. For me in a good mobile app, these are the key features:

  • Tailored around the job that needs to be done.
  • No distractions: This means a trimmed down user interface.
  • Easy to use: No tonnes of options, buttons and gimmicks. Our users are busy, on the go, and need to get their job done on a small screen.
  • Offline use: Connectivity is not always there. Our users should be able to get their jobs done in the most bizarre places (think: elevator shafts, basements, plants, in the middle of nowhere etc).
  • Secure.
  • Reliable.

I’ll look at the mobile CRM client with all these key features in the back of my mind. In terms of design we need to go back to the basics, and ask ourselves the following questions:

  • What data do we really need to get the job done?
  • What can we do to make the mobile application as simple as possible?
  • Do we really need that particular function?
  • What must we be able to do, in case our connection drops?
  • What must we do in case we get back on-line?
  • What can we do to make it fun for the user to use?

For the regular office worker, these considerations are not that important. I came from an envionment in which I had to deal with field service engineers, working under the most difficult conditions in the most bizarre places.

I seriously doubt if the mobile CRM client is capable of handling the conditions I described.