My first exposure to a major CRM platform was Microsoft Dynamics. Realizing that Salesforce is dominant in the market, my first question was “how are they different?” The short answer is that while both perform very similar functions, and in fact use similar if not identical terminology, under the surface they are very different. I was further advised that each has its strengths and weaknesses, some of them quite significant.
Since our firm provides implementation consulting services for both solutions my present task is to be fluent in Dynamics CRM and Salesforce. In a sense it is no different than learning a new programming language. The basic functionality is the same but the syntax may be quite different.
It is natural to take a task you know how to perform in one environment and emulate the same task in the new environment. Just as with programming languages some tasks easily translate and others do not.
Most of the comparison information currently available is designed to help a customer choose the right platform. Unfortunately, this does not help the administrator and developer translate functionality between the two platforms.
The Journey Starts Here
There are two of us embarking on this endeavor to hike the back-country of the land of Salesforce and chronicle our adventures. Phong Nguyen, a Senior Consultant at Celedon Partners, is joining me on this journey and it is our collective goal as administrators and developers to highlight points of interest, rough terrain and alternate routes. Over the next few months a variety of posts will chronicle our footsteps and these posts will hopefully be an invaluable resource to those who work in both platforms.
Our commitment to you is keeping our sights on the facts and simply reporting what we experience. We will shy away from making any subjective assessments, recommendations or other potentially biased commentary. Of course our posts will be flavored with colorful adjectives from time to time, otherwise this would read like a boring scientific article. Do not take this artistic license as anything other than our attempt to keep you interested.
A Geological History
How did the two CRM landscapes come into existence?
Steve Chipman wrote an excellent overview of the genesis of both platforms. Every administrator and developer will benefit from understanding the evolution of each as it puts the behaviors of Dynamics CRM and Salesforce in context and gives us a sense of where they are headed.
The principals at Celedon Partners have a rich history with Dynamics and we encourage you to read An Interesting History of Dynamics CRM to gain insight into the origin of the platform.
As with any hike we need to become familiar with the terminology found on trail signs. A “Yield” sign in the United States appears as “Give Way” in Australia. That would definitely cause a problem for visitors to either country. Likewise, how many times have you spent hours trying to figure out something simply because you didn’t know what it was called?
Let’s deal with this issue by starting at the top. In Dynamics an administrator or developer naturally heads for the “Settings” menu. This would get you nowhere in Salesforce. You need to look for the “Setup” link.
Now that we know how to access these menus we can now compare the two. Note that the Dynamics menu is horizontal and the Salesforce menu is vertical. I took the liberty of re-arranging the selections for space consideration.
Salesforce uses the traditional nested menu system. Each option with an arrow expands to another level. Dynamics 2013 uses a touch-friendly approach and sub-menus are exposed after the top-level selection is made.
At this point we do not have a map of our complete journey. Phong and I are going to make trail choices based upon the area in which we are currently immersed. Over time we anticipate, at the least, to hit each trail head and hike far enough into the wilderness to give you a good sense of what to expect when you embark on the same path.