8 Big Reasons AEC Firms Go with Dynamics 365 and aec360 and Not Salesforce

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When you think of CRM software, you probably think of Salesforce – and with good reason. Salesforce holds a sizable percentage of the CRM market, amounting to nearly 25% of active CRM instances. As one of the industry leaders in CRM, Salesforce offers many of the most important features and benefits most businesses seek when choosing a new solution for customer data and relationship management. Regardless of the platform’s popularity, however, it isn’t the right choice for everyone. Some industries and business types, including AEC firms, realize more benefits and ROI by investing in a different CRM platform, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 and aec360 by HSO. When you look at Dynamics 365 compared to Salesforce, there are 8 key factors that contribute to Dynamics 365 and aec360 becoming an increasingly popular choice for AEC firms:

1. D365/aec360 are optimized for AEC firms

AEC firms have a unique use case for CRM software, but most CRM systems were built to help organizations sell “widgets.” The core of an AEC firm’s strategy should be the ability to leverage relationships and highlight unique intellectual capital, experience, and qualifications. Several CRM systems are designed to track contacts with current and prospective customers. On the other hand,, the modern CRM goes further than simply maintaining contact information and moves to support marketing engagement and sales outreach.

A 360-degree view of client relationships is made possible by Dynamics 365 and aec360s, for both  employees of the firm and for relationships that exist within their professional networks. Add in aec360 by HSO, and Dynamics 365 provides unique relationship intelligence capabilities that automate the capture of relationship and activity data via an integration with Outlook/Exchange. The system next connects those relationships across the firm, providing profound insights into all aspects of the relationship, from who knows whom, to who’s communicating with whom, and who’s worked with whom in the past. This useful information can be used to make introductions, aid in cross-practice selling initiatives and put the most optimal pursuit teams together.

The ability to track and articulate the firm’s experience is another advantage of this solution. An embedded experience management module is offered with Dynamics 365  used to  track detailed information about a firm’s projects and engagements, including what they did, who they did it for, and which team members were involved. Not to mention, employee experience and qualifications can also be tracked and mined to focus on the unique capabilities of your potential project team. This data is essential to conveying expertise and experience and can be used to acquire similar projects.

Salesforce can be customized to incorporate these features, but for this to happen,  a third-party vendor and significant investment would be required. Due to its configurability and native integrations with popular enterprise applications involved in the capture of data such as Outlook/Exchange and Microsoft Teams, Dynamics 365 has an edge.

2. D365/aec360 offer a better user experience and adoption

It’s common for AEC firms to employ a seller/doer model, with key employees being accountable for developing new business. Ensuring a seamless user experience is vital to achieving user adoption and getting the most out of your CRM investment.

Though  the user interfaces offered by Dynamics 365 and Salesforce are similar , Dynamics 365 gets  provides superior user experience due to its process-driven-interface. Anyone who has experience with a Microsoft product will likely have no issues learning the nuances of Dynamics 365.

Salesforce, on the other hand,  may require additional training for the average user to grasp its system.

Yes, each system can be customized to individual users. Then again, Dynamics 365 offers the more extensive customization options including mobile access options for iOS and Android users.

3. D365/aec360 have better analytics and reporting

CRM data is only beneficial if it is easy to access, analyze and share across the organization.

Salesforce has limited reporting functionality unless an additional investment is made. With Salesforce,  you can export static reports to Excel, but requires an Analytics Cloud subscription  to enable advanced functionality. This, at an additional expense.

Without any additional investment, Dynamics 365 offers many analytics and reporting features. The platform supports immersive Excel experiences embedded in list views and interactive report exports. In addition, Dynamics 365 provides the option to export to Excel from CRM for tablets and phones. With pre-built and shareable reports templates, Power BI users will benefit  because  it’s even easier to share mission-critical data.

4. D365/aec360 improve productivity

AEC firms need to be highly productive,  every hour of billable revenue counts.  It can be  time-consuming using a CRM platform – entering information, updating contacts or building reports takes time and effort. Any lift to help boost  productivity is worth its weight in gold, especially when that boost is seamless and effortless for users.

One of the biggest benefits with Dynamics 365 is  from its integration with the entire Microsoft ecosystem. Power Automate and PowerApps help automate routine time-consuming processes, therefore freeing up time that can be used for the all-important billable hours. With Microsoft’s Common Data Service (Dataverse),  seamless integration with other applications  like Outlook, Office 365, Power BI and more, used by many professional services firms daily, can also be realized. This integration ensures the efficient and accurate capture of data into Dynamics 365, and truly extends the system’s functionality beyond a simple CRM platform. Salesforce is missing this extensive ecosystem and requires costly add-on connectors to support integrations and extended features.

5. D365/aec360 have more flexibility and ability to customize

One of the most important  attributes of a software platform is its flexibility. The capacity to do many different things and be customized to a user’s specific needs is a huge draw for many companies when comparing CRM platforms.

Salesforce can execute many different functions, however, the system’s ability to adapt to an organization’s unique needs is limited. In many cases, businesses find themselves having to adapt to their Salesforce instance, instead of adapting the instance to their business.

The customization opportunities with Dynamics 365 are nearly endless s, which are further extended by not only the integration of Microsoft Power Automate and Microsoft PowerApps, but the rest of the Microsoft ecosystem like Office 365 and Microsoft Teams. These tools and integrations make it simple and painless to customize Dynamics 365 to fit the exact needs of a business, especially the unique requirements of an AEC firm.

6. D365/aec360 are future proof

AEC firms must be flexible to accommodate continually  ever-changing needs of their clients. As the firm evolves, its CRM system must be capable of evolving at the same pace. Investing in a software solution, only to have it become obsolete  in a few years or have to dump another capital investment into updating the system to meet the firm’s changing needs is not a good plan

Dynamics 365 has the edge over Salesforce when it comes to future proofing. Dynamics 365 is ideally suited for the growth and evolution of an AEC firm because it’s extendable and responsive.

7. D365/aec360 offer better pricing and licensing

Getting the most return on your investment is another weighty factor when considering a new CRM solution. Aa vendor that offers the right product, at the right price, with the right terms is critical to your budget and ROI.

Keep in mind that there are many things to consider when determining the true cost of a CRM solution, including the licensing fees, implementation expenses, support costs and the price of any required add-ons or customizations. There is also the issue of  the number of licenses you need, as well as the various types of users throughout your organization.

Dynamics 365 offers a lower cost per user and includes many of the features and functionality needed by AEC firms  without additional investment or subscriptions. In addition, Dynamics 365 also offers a lower total cost of ownership for storage, support, and sandbox, and the unified service dashboard and admin come with Office 365. As a final point to consider, Dynamics 365 offers more flexible licensing options than Salesforce to accommodate different user types and budgets.

8. D365/aec360 provide superior support

An AEC firm’s reputation and bottom line are crucial. Any issue that delays service deliver to its clients can impact either or both. This includes technical issues with enterprise software platforms.

When a technical issue arises with any software platform, including CRM solutions, it is imperative that the problem be  resolved  as quickly as possible, or better yet, to avoid the issue altogether through proactive management of the software solution.

Salesforce users do not see the same superior support that is offered to Dynamics 365 users. Dynamics 365 has 99.9%-backed SLAs, while Salesforce does not. Enough said.

Dynamics 365 and aec360: Find out if they’re the right fit for your firm

It’s not always easy choosing the right CRM platform for your AEC firm.  With the factors we’ve outlined, we hope this task will easier. Contact us to speak to an aec360 expert and evaluate Dynamics 365 for your firm.

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