Design Guide for CRM Applications Integrating with Microsoft Windows 2000 Active Directory
Note For information about the newly released product: Microsoft Business Solutions Customer Relationship Management (Microsoft CRM), see Microsoft Business Solutions Customer Relationship Management.
Summary: This article focuses on applications created by customer relationship management (CRM) vendors. When planning a development effort around Microsoft Active Directory, it is important to look at the workflow involved in the use of the application. It is the analysis of this workflow that can stimulate ideas for adding value to an application through integration with Active Directory. (4 printed pages)
As preliminary reading, I recommend the Design Guide for Directory-Enabled Applications. It focuses on helping customers and partners identify the benefits that Microsoft Active Directory™ can bring to their applications.
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a strategy for improving a company's relationship with its customers. It is not about software, but software is crucial to sharing information for the purpose of building better customer relationships. Based on a company's market, a policy is formulated to direct desired improvements and a plan is devised. This policy should be implemented company wide to maximize the plan's opportunity for success. Once the plan is in place, a software package can be purchased that will make it easier to implement and maintain the plan. It is important to select the right software package for your market.
The CRM Pieces
Companies use CRM packages for many and often multiple purposes. Following is a list of features found in many CRM applications:
- Call center management
- Contact tracking
- Customer management
- E-mail management
- Issue tracking
- Knowledge management (internal/external)
- Marketing campaign management
- Order management
- Sales lead tracking
- Trend analysis
Types of communication modules offered by CRM companies:
- Package Delivery
- US mail
A data center built around CRM can be constructed using many topologies, thus allowing it to span multiple departments and offer a broad range of services to customers and internal users. Even though there are a variety of CRM packages on the market, there is commonality between them.
Following is a list of features generally found in all CRM applications:
- Storage of member and contact data
- Information dissemination
- Tracking of issues and requests
- Report generation
Active Directory adds considerable value to the data center experience in ways that may not be immediately obvious. In the following sample data center illustration, a series of computers grouped in one domain are connected to the admin domain over a high-speed network. Registered users access this service over the Internet, and the service is managed internally. How does Active Directory fit this scenario?
Figure 1. Data Center Scenario
Leveraging Active Directory Functionality in a Data Center
A) Action: A user logs on to the system from the Web. An ADSI script pulls up her record from AD and places her at the appropriate start page, personalized the way she likes it. The user’s group association permits access to approved pages and prevents unauthorized access to other pages.
Added value of Active Directory: Single sign-on, personalization, integrated authentication (roles)
B) Action: An operator at the call center answers a call concerning access to their premier Web site. He looks up the caller's group association and informs the caller that she is not a member of the premier group. He then transfers the caller to the account manager for resolution.
Added value of Active Directory: Integrated authentication, record linking, schema extension
C) Action: A system administrator receives an e-mail indicating that a trouble ticket has not been reviewed in the allotted amount of time. She also notices that the report on the Chilean coffee crops has received a lot of requests and adds it to her user trend report. Later, the system administrator will modify a registry setting for each server in the domain by modifying one setting on her computer. A special application-extended right permits her to do this.
Added value of Active Directory: Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), group policy, extended rights
D) Action: A new user logs into the domain and brings up his CRM application, which was automatically installed for him. He selects the data source for his group from a list and gets to work.
Added value of Active Directory: Group policy, Microsoft Installer (MSI), service publication
E) Action: A system administrator updates registry settings for several groups on various computers using one administrative template file in the Group Policy Editor.
Added value of Active Directory: Group policy with administrative template files
F) Action: Account managers review the trouble ticket reports created at the call center. The CIO looks over the system usage reports from the system administrators. The marketing managers look over the trend reports and add the information to their new marketing campaign.
Added value of Active Directory: Distributed file system (DFS)
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