One thing is for certain: technology is not stagnant. Over the past couple of years we have seen both platforms evolve significantly, incorporating new features, acquisitions and appearance. The big year for Dynamics was 2013 with the significant UI makeover that distinguished it from Dynamics 2011. Of course, this change was met with mixed reviews, and Dynamics 2015 “corrected” some miscalculations similar to what happened with the Windows 8 and 10 releases.
Salesforce, on the other hand, has kept with a fairly consistent UI for what seemed to be an eternity. The beloved tabbed interface was affectionately tolerated as calls for improvements in many areas seemingly went disregarded. As of the Winter ’16 release this abruptly changed. Salesforce took the Salesforce1 Mobile look and feel to the browser and did it in a big way. As a side, note, it is interesting how much Salesforce seems to have “borrowed” from Microsoft’s direction as covered nicely in this post.
Microsoft as well updated the look of its second tier menus in 2015. With all these changes, we revisit settings/setup and update my earlier post found here.
Contrasting Learning Curves
My first exposure to a major CRM platform was Dynamics. Granted, there is a steep learning curve, but it didn’t take me too long to learn to navigate the Settings area. The fairly intelligent and consistent layout in 2011 made sense. With the introduction of 2013, the second tier menus were tedious simply because they were optimized for touch screens. As of 2015 we are back to something manageable. Regardless, Microsoft has done an excellent job in my opinion of keeping the nested menu system clearly divided into functional and understandable categories.
Salesforce posed a bigger challenge for me. The left rail setup menu, aside from the capability to search, was somewhat paralyzing. During my first Salesforce implementation I spent a lot of time asking members of my team how to find a certain option or setting. Some arrangements made sense while others seemed arbitrarily categorized. Each release, particularly over the past year, further confused me as options moved around, new headings were added and others disappeared or were consolidated. It reminded me of how I handled the settings area in applications I wrote 20 years ago: not wanting to rewrite the entire interface, I did my best to stick in settings where they made the most sense. In many cases, I probably could have done just as well flipping a coin.
This issue came to the forefront recently when another member of our team started learning Salesforce. A Dynamics expert, he criticized the seemingly random and confusing layout and cited Dynamics as much more intuitive.
A Massive UI Overhaul
This blog is not going to cover the mind-blowing UI changes in the Salesforce Winter ’16 release. Rather, I want to point out that Salesforce extended its overhaul into the settings and configuration sections as did Microsoft two versions earlier. What is more impressive is that Salesforce rid itself of a haphazard menu system and adopted a streamlined and much more organized structure that is in line with Dynamics.
You could say that Salesforce is trying to copy Dynamics but that’s not the point. This blog series is designed to assist developers and admins in transitioning between the platforms. The more the two platforms adopt similar and hopefully standardized approaches to sales force automation the easier it will be for the rest of us.
Users, for Example
Both platforms boast a huge number of configuration options. These posts cannot cover even a fraction of the details that an administrator must know to manage these CRMs. I have elected in this post to site one example to contrast the still significant differences between the platforms even with the move to adopt similar menu layouts.
Managing users is one of the first tasks an admin faces. Already we spot major differences.
- Dynamics: System | Security | Users
- Salesforce: Administration | Users
Regardless of which platform you are migrating to, it is important to realize from the outset that these differences exist. The best thing you can do is to take a few hours to open up the menus and familiarize yourself with the layout. If you are moving from Salesforce to Dynamics that is pretty much your only option. As I mentioned in my older post on settings you can “cheat” in Salesforce by using the Quick Find option:
In order to further contrast the user setup for the two platforms let’s drill down a couple of levels:
Both user forms contain substantially more information that is visible here. Regardless, the Salesforce user form contains several times more options than the same form in Dynamics. While I would like to give you a more thorough overview of the differences it behooves me to tread lightly in this area. It is very complicated and beyond the scope of a blog post to explain.
If you look closely at the Salesforce user form notice that many of the fields are check boxes and often contain the word “user.” This underscores major differences in licensing and evolution of the platforms. Dynamics for the most part has a fairly simple licensing model. There are several tiers and each determines the scope of access to features. The top level license for “Dynamics” gives complete access. Salesforce is built on a much more granular licensing model. The Salesforce “Cloud” consists of many acquired products and subsequently introduced features that are licensed separately.
There are other “user” settings that give an individual rights to perform certain tasks. For example, setting “Marketing User” activates the marketing features of leads and campaigns. Whereas Dynamics has taken a simple and predictable growth path, Salesforce has been adding on features at light speed. This exponential growth balloons the configuration settings and still challenges the new admin with a lot to learn.