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Microsoft Dynamics CRM vs. Business Contact Manager

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

Updated: July 14, 2021


In our Microsoft Dynamics CRM sales efforts, we often get asked “What about Business Contact Manager?  Why can’t we just use that?”  The frequency with which we are asked this question convinced me that this would make a good blog topic. Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Business Contact Manager each have their strengths and weaknesses and will fit the needs of a company differently. Below I will give a brief overview of the two products and some of the main points I recommend considering when trying to evaluate Dynamics CRM vs. Business Contact Manager.


Outlook 2010 with Business Contact Manager (BCM) was designed to provide small organizations a way to manage contacts, sales, marketing and projects. BCM provides major improvements over previous versions and allows for customer and contact management with a new interface, new project management and marketing tools, customization. Outlook 2010 with Business Contact Manager was designed to meet the needs of small companies and individuals who do not have complex CRM needs.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is a robust and complete customer relationship management solution that helps companies manage marketing, sales and customer service. Dynamics CRM has extensive customization options and can be widely adapted to meet a company’s specific business practices. Dynamics CRM was designed with the needs of large enterprises in mind, but also fits the needs of many smaller companies.



Pricing and Licensing


One of the biggest differences between Business Contact Manager and Dynamics CRM is the pricing and licensing model. For new customers looking to purchase for the first time, Outlook 2010 with Business Contact Manager is only available through volume licensing bundled with Office Standard 2010 or Office Professional Plus 2010. Previous customers who meet certain requirements can upgrade from a previous version of BCM without going through volume licensing.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM pricing and licensing is available through volume licensing or through a SAS model at $44/user/month. Volume licensing prices vary based on licensing agreements with Microsoft.



Support and Resources


Though both are Microsoft products, Dynamics CRM appears to have considerably more support and resources available when compared to Business Contact Manager.  Looking at the team blogs alone, the Dynamics CRM team blog is much more active than the BCM blog.  As of this blog posting, the BCM Team blog had not had a post since September of 2010, whereas the CRM Team blog has 12 posts in the last 14 days. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is also supported by a large network of certified partners available to provide software demos and implementation support.



Customization


Outlook 2010 with BCM provides huge improvements in the area of customization, allowing for an easier customization interface and deeper customization. BCM 2010 now allows for customization of up to 300 custom fields across all record types, compared to just 40 fields in previous versions. The new visual form designer also makes customization much easier for a standard user. While BCM has made great improvements in the area of customization, it is not as flexible or as easy to deeply customize as Dynamics CRM 2011. Dynamics CRM 2011, along with the Microsoft xRM framework, allows almost unlimited customizations and is supported by a wide network of certified partners experienced in customization. Dynamics CRM 2011 also introduced the Dynamics Marketplace in which customers can search for packaged customization solutions to download and deploy straight to their environment.



Scalability


Business Contact Manager for Outlook uses Microsoft SQL Server Express (a smaller-scale version of Microsoft SQL Server) which has a size limit of 4 GB. For an additional cost you can upgrade to the full version of Microsoft SQL Server, which eliminates the 4 GB size limit. Microsoft Dynamics CRM runs on Microsoft SQL server and therefore does not have a similar limit. The number of users sharing data is also an issue and for large companies. Dynamics CRM is a better fit for companies with many users. Microsoft has done many scalability tests to ensure that Dynamics CRM will perform smoothly with many users and large amounts of data.



Other Factors


Reporting always seems to be a major factor for companies evaluating a CRM solution. While BCM does have some prebuilt reports and the ability to export to excel for reporting, it is not as robust or as powerful as the reporting tools in Dynamics CRM 2011. Dynamics CRM also includes a powerful workflow engine capable of automating business processes and eliminating many manual processes. Dynamics CRM also wins on integration capabilities, providing a stronger platform for companies who wish to integrate CRM with other business line systems.

If you have further questions about which solution would be best for your organization, I recommend reaching out to a Certified Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner who can help you sign up for a free 30 trial of Dynamics CRM Online. Playing with a Dynamics CRM online trial for 30 days will give you a great feel for whether it is too big, or just the right size for your company, with the functionality you are looking for.



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Article by: Brian Tenney - COO


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