You've already invested in SharePoint, and now you're looking into CRM solutions. Third-party vendors have created solutions built on SharePoint that let you take advantage of the information that resides in SharePoint. Here's an overview of one such product and pointers to what BPA customers and the SharePoint community have said about BPA CRM.
Problem: How to relate data in SharePoint lists to increase business value by applying it to needs such as CRM
Options: Purchase a CRM solution separate from SharePoint; or find web parts that let you create relationships within data that already exists in your SharePoint implementation
Product: BPA CRM
“Welcome to the new CRM generation. Our SharePoint CRM solution is the most technologically advanced CRM solution for SharePoint with over 30 configurable commercial grade web parts – not just a simple site template.
“We deliver a CRM solution directed at the frontline workforce, configured the way you do business and where you get ultimate control.
“Our global network of certified BPA partners understand Process Automation, CRM and Microsoft SharePoint and will help make your project successful.
“Leverage your existing infrastructure and deploy an enterprise-class CRM running on the most powerful collaboration platform ever.”
What you should know
SharePoint does a lot, and the possibilities for adapting it to additional purposes seem endless. A lot of data resides in SharePoint, so why not put that data to work for your business? For example, take customer relationship management (CRM), and how BPM Solutions provides tools to make SharePoint your CRM solution.
Rob Manfredi, BPA’s director of North America, said that BPA’s focus “is a platform that turns SharePoint into more of a relational database. You’ve got a lot of flat lists in SharePoint. People put items in those lists, but the lists need to relate to each other at some level.”
BPA enables you to use those lists and the relationships among them to create a CRM system. “In CRM, you’re relating contracts, accounts, tasks, opportunities, cases. What BPA has developed, is a kernel of technology that’s supported by 30 web parts on a single installable platform,” Manfredi explained. “And then templates sit on that to do the applications. It’s completely SharePoint based. It’s list driven. It takes advantage of all the security and all the add-ons you can do with SharePoint and it fits into the enterprise as an install for central admin, activated on a site collection.”
Dedicated CRM products and services, such as Microsoft Dynamics are readily available, so what is the connection between BPA’s SharePoint-based CRM solution and something like Dynamics? Manfredi responded, “People ask if we compete against Dynamics. We say no. All our customers want is a SharePoint-based solution. If they want Dynamics, they can have Dynamics. We complement the Microsoft strategy by allowing mid-market companies that have already invested in SharePoint and have moved beyond the team sites in the maturity lifecycle to easily have a solution on SharePoint that’s commercial grade, upgradable, transportable, etc.”
SharePoint is the key to BPA’s success, Manfredi noted. “Ultimately what we do is make customers more effective at managing their clients. That’s the goal, and we’re doing it through SharePoint.”
BPA’s solutions are available both on premises and in the cloud. The company has released an Office 365 version of the CRM product, CRM Light, a free app that you can find in the App Store. BPA is working on a paid versions that will be an in-place upgrade and allow users to set up fields, views, reports, and so on. According to Manfredi, BPA also has “a complete mobile solution for iPad, iPhone, and Android that you can buy for a small fee and attach to your free version of CRM Light.”
BPA has both user-based licensing and server-based licensing. The product consists of 30 web parts, but is a single install that is updated four times per year. You can download a free trial version here.
BPM provides customer references to show how their products are being deployed in the real world, and to demonstrate the product’s value. You can find testimonials on the BPA site, as well as customer case studies. Here are some excerpts to get you started:
“We like the BPA SharePoint CRM template due to its being built on the SharePoint platform which the department is heavily invested.” –Vaughn Hammond, IT, State of Alaska, US
“By implementing the BPA Solutions CRM system, we literally ‘hit the street running.’ The system fit right on our existing platform and is, contrary to many other CRM systems, easy to customize to our needs.” –Maarten Groeneveld, Managing Director, Diethelm Travel, Thailand
“We use BPA CRM since 2010 and are absolutely convinced with the product. It is fully developed around SharePoint and provides a powerful customization function.” Christophe Clement, Head of service Engineering, Steris, Switzerland.
What the Community Says
In addition to the references and materials that BPM provides, the SharePoint community has reviewed the product. To help you learn about the product, below are some summaries of product reviews and links to the full content of these reviews.
CRM SharePoint by BPA, by Han Hegge
“The BPA CRM solution is the only real SharePoint based solution we have seen. This means that the user benefits the complete SharePoint functionality combined with the knowledge and experience BPA added to their CRM solution.”
Great CRM Solution for SharePoint, by Justin Mitchell
“We are an IT consultant that has installed this for our customers and also use it internally. The product has many outstanding features. For the most part, BPA does all its magic without modifying the core of ShareOoint. The backbone of the system is still pretty much standard lists. The robust reporting and viewing web parts sit on top of this and create a very dynamic user environment.
“One of the key features that drew our clients to this project was the ability to send items from Outlook directly into the CRM.
“Although the product costs a bit more than I would like for a small business, I guess you really get what you pay for!”
Easy to Deploy
Explore the options
Armed with this information, you can begin to evaluate options for extending SharePoint’s native capabilities to create a CRM solution for your company. Check out related articles on ITUnity.com, ask our experts, and give us your feedback if you’ve tried BPA products.