About a month ago, Microsoft quietly released a new software as a service (SaaS) into its product catalog, called Project Madeira. This service, powered by Azure, provides small and medium businesses access to lightweight tools that allow them to track things like sales, inventory, finances, and more. This product integrates seamlessly with Office 365 so that users can manage things like creating and sending quotes and invoices and manage customer information right from Outlook.
What is Madeira?
Madeira is a tool that allows business users to manage financial, sales, purchasing, inventory, and relationship management information in a single location. Not only does it allow the capturing of information such as sales leads and financial transactions, it also provides KPIs, reporting, and tax information that allow organizations to make use of the data they are collecting. Madeira provides the following:
- Finance: Users can download and reconcile bank statements; manage accounts (assets, liabilities, income, cost of goods sold, expenses, etc.); keep track of journal entries for cash and payments; and view reports such as cash flow, balance sheet and retained earnings.
- Purchasing: Users can manage vendor information, and create purchase invoices and credit memos, as well as view reports relating to open and closed invoices and vendor statistics.
- Sales: Users can capture sales opportunity leads, manage their sales funnel, keep track of sales contact, and create quotes. Quotes can be converted to an order or an invoice. An order can be invoiced, shipped, or both. Users can manage customer information as well as inventory for products being sold. As with finance and purchasing, there are various reports available for viewing customer activity. Reports in Madeira, in general, can be created as PDFs, Word documents, or Excel documents.
Madeira users can be assigned a primary role, which affects what they will see on their homepage and in the navigation, whether that’s financial information and reporting; sales funnel and activity reporting; user management settings, etc.
Whereas Microsoft has been working in the CRM and finance space for years with its Dynamics CRM line of products, many of the existing offerings are geared toward larger organizations that require the functionality of a complex ERP system. Just as Office 365 enabled enterprise-level functionality for small and medium-sized businesses that didn’t have the capacity to manage server farms on-site, Madeira is a finance and sales tool for business managers and sales professionals in smaller organizations who need software that they can get up and running quickly without a huge investment in configuration or training. Microsoft states that Madeira’s sweet spot is for organizations with 10-100 employees.
When you sign up for Madeira, your Office 365 tenant will receive its own namespace in the web site https://[tenant].projectmadeira.com/. (This is similar to products such as Sway, Planner, or PowerApps, as opposed functional areas like the Office 365 Video portal or Office 365 groups, both of which are provisioned within your own Office 365 tenant.) The Madeira portal provides the main access point for your company information. Additionally, there are apps for Windows 10 devices (phone and desktop), iOS, and Android devices. Finally, an Outlook Add-in (which works in both Outlook Online and the desktop client) automatically detects information when viewing an e-mail and allows you to perform actions right from within Outlook. This is the “secret sauce” that Microsoft hopes will help it win this SMB finance and sales market. Other products require users to leave their productivity tools (such as Outlook) where they land business and conduct transactions, in order to switch to another system to handle finances or invoicing; Madeira allows users to handle these activities right from within their main productivity tool, (namely, Outlook).
Additionally, there’s the ability to interact with Madeira from other tools. Although it’s limited for now, over time the library of extensions that can be added to Madeira will surely grow. With the current preview version of Madeira, your implementation comes with an extension called Envestnet Yodlee that helps automatically download bank statements to Madeira; an extension that adds a link to invoices to allow users to pay with PayPal; and an extension that allows a company to import information from QuickBooks.
You can also access Madeira information using an OData feed, which means you can import data from Madeira into Excel or Power BI if you want to view insights about your data. A number of reports are readily available using OData such as Item Sales and Profit, Sales Opportunities, Top Customer Overview and more.
While Project Madeira is a new venture by Microsoft to infiltrate the SMB market, it’s based on decades of experience building the Dynamics family of products. Expect Microsoft to invest significant resources into this product so it can penetrate the SMB market with this new tool the way Office 365 brought productivity tools to the masses beyond enterprise clients.
Sign up: https://madeira.microsoft.com/.
Getting Started: https://madeira.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/madeira-get-started/
Public Preview Announcement: http://community.dynamics.com/b/msftdynamicsblog/archive/2016/04/12/project-madeira-public-preview-now-available