I went to the Microsoft CRM 3.0 launch event here in Kansas City on Thursday morning. I wanted to see what had been done with the product since I last saw it demoed (version 1.0 in Sept. 2003). I was pretty sure before I went that it wouldn’t work as a church management system (ChMS), but I figured it was a good use of my time to go find out for certain.
The strength of Microsoft CRM is native integration with Outlook and a full Internet Explorer client (like Outlook Web Access). If you have a “Microsoft shop”, their CRM fully leverages your investment in the Microsoft platform. It now has a cool dashboard view with graphs of key metrics and drill-down capability. Custom reports can be built in SQL Reporting Services. It’s now much more customizable than before.
So, could it be used as a ChMS? In a word, no. The core functionality of tracking people, households, and family relationships it can do at least as well if not better than any ChMS out there. The problem is all the functionality we expect in a ChMS that it doesn’t have – things like online event registration, check-in, attendance, volunteer management, and so on. So the VAR that invited me to the event, NetStandard, asked me if we could build a connector to integrate Shelby with CRM. Of course, the answer to that is yes, but would it make strategic sense? I know what I really want.