21 June 2008

CRM Mobile for Windows Mobile

CRM Mobile is always an interesting topic. Some people love it, some hate it.

I built up a Windows Mobile software company about 4 years ago when I study my master course in the University College London. It's quite successful and I'm proud of it so much. And I am a Windows Mobile Specialist since year 2005, in the same year I started working on Microsoft CRM, now I am a Microsoft Certificate Business Management Solutions Professional. So I am an expert on both products, quite comfortable. I'd like to talk about my thoughts about CRM Mobile in this post.

Microsoft hasn’t release CRM 4.0 Mobile software which I don't think they will in a short time. As you may know that Microsoft has a product called: Dynamics Mobile which supports Dynamics AX and NAV, and the good news is: it will support CRM 5 too. With Dynamics Mobile framework, ISVs can build up more and better Windows Mobile software for Microsoft Dynamics.

CWR Mobility is the most popular CRM Mobile provider, even C360 uses (and sales) CWR’s product: I think they are partners. I have to say this software is one of the most complicated CRM Add-Ons. So how good is it? I can tell you my opinion.

The Environment:

I have a fresh CRM 4.0 installed on a Windows Server 2003 R2, with SQL Server 2005(it can be use Virtual PC which needs setup ActiveSync with your mobile device).
I also have a Windows Mobile device (Orange HTC Touch, OS: WM6.0) which has been recently upgraded to Windows Mobile 6.1(WM6.1, the latest version of Windows Mobile OS)


The Server Side:

First you need to download Mobile CRM software from CWR website, install it on the server (it doesn't have to be installed on the CRM server; however my environment is all-in-one box). The installation process will create a Virtual Directory under Microsoft CRM folder on IIS, and a CWR Mobile CRM Website on IIS. It also creates two shortcuts: Mobile CRM Server Configurator and Mobile CRM Server Administrator

You need to run Mobile CRM Server Configurator and select your Organisation and License file (I have an Organisation call Contoso which can use a demo license which also downloadable from CWR website). The configuration process will create two databases just like CRM's: one Config database and one Organisation database.

If everything going well, open CRM, navigate to [Settings] section, you may see a new link call [CWR Mobile CRM] (because the configuration process also modified the CRM Sitemap), then you may import a Profile (a sample Sales profile can be found on CWR website). After that, you can add Users with this Profile.


The Windows Mobile Side:

You can either install Mobile client software through your PC (CWRDesktopInstaller.exe) or through the Device (CWRPDAInstaller.exe), the installation file can be found in the CWR Mobile CRM installation folder. You may follow the steps when first time running the software, it will initialize CRM Mobile on this mobile device and creates a CF database (for syncing data) on it.


Some problems I know:
a. There is an error: "Error while updating Sitemap" when run Mobile CRM Server Configurator;
b. The alert/error message doesn't make much sense, e.g. "......, see log file for details";
c. The interface of mobile device doesn't design very well.

As I said early, this software is one of the most complicated CRM Add-Ons, which I can see there are some problems, hopefully CWR will fix it soon. Frankly, I know the .Net CF, I think Microsoft should put more money and top exports on it. Mobile device isn't the same as PC(which is almost universal), it is quite hardware specialised and it has a long way to go. So if you are going to deploy CRM Mobile for your company, you may need an expert.

10 comments:

Jeffry @ CWR Mobility said...

Hi Jim,

First of all, thanks for reviewing our software :).

You started with a question: "How good is it?", but you didn't actually answer it. I'm curious to hear what your opinion on the software is.

Sure there can be some error messages and maybe they are not all that descriptive. But the details can actually be found in the log files and that shouldn't be too hard for an administrator that's setting up the system, is it?

You also didn't contact our support about any issues you encountered or suggestions you may have, so it's hard for us to fix it if you don't tell us. Or do you expect us to read every mobile crm blog post and pick up the suggestions from there? Well, actually I do, but that's not the point :)

The thing that maybe confuses me the most is your third point about the interface that doesn't design very well.

Obviously I'm biased, but we receive great feedback on the user interface. This is finally a really nice looking mobile LOB application and is also really familiar to Dynamics CRM users. What is it you don't like about the design?

Again, thanks for trying out the software and if you have any issues, bugs, suggestions, don't hesitate to contact us :).

Jeffry van de Vuurst
CTO, CWR Mobility

Jim Wang said...

Hi Jeffry,

That's a very quick response. :)

Generally, I think CWR Mobile CRM is very good, expecially for tis complicated CRM Add-Ons. Frankly, there are something which isn't very comfortable for uesrs. I havn't contact your support team because I don't have problem to set it up. Yes, it has a very nice user interface, but I don't think the software has been passed Microsoft's "Designed for Windows Mobile" certification. This certification has some rules for Windows Mobile designs, which I can see CWR Mobile CRM doesn't follow all of those. e.g, I found a small bug when you type in ServerUrl, UserName, Password and DomainName in the mobile device: The form doesn't scroll down when you use soft-keyboard. So I can't see where to type in DomainName. It might not happen on a keyboard-available device, however it happens on my HTC Touch(which doesn't have a keyboard). I can totally understand how this happend.

The other uncomfortable area is: when there is a alert/error occours, it doesn't tell you where is the log file, of cause an expert can find the location, it's still not comfortable for a junior administrator. I think it's better to give a clickable address to open the log file. Frankly, the alert content doesn't make much sense for user if it's the first time she/he use the software.

Hope it helps.
Jim

Jeffry @ CWR Mobility said...

Yeah, I just happened to be browsing when you just finished your blog post. :)

You are correct, we don't have the "Designed for Windows Mobile" certification.

And thanks for your explanations and suggestions. We will certainly take those into account.

Just to let you know, for version 4.1 logging will be greatly improved. Server and client errors will both be logged to the database so that they can be correlated and combined. This should also make it possible to easily locate the detailed error description like you mention.

BTW, if you're still looking for the log files, take a look here: http://wiki.cwrmobility.com/FAQLocateLogFiles.ashx. :)

Thanks again for the time you've taken to review the software and write this blog post.

Jeffry

Jim Wang said...

No problem, I'd like to helping test the new version of Mobile CRM software. :)
Cheers,
Jim

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Nicholas sparks said...

I agree that CWR mobile is good for its complicated CRM add-ons. By the announcement of microsoft in 2012, it's clear that we can use crm in any browser and any mobile platform not only on IE and windows mobile respectively. 2013 will also be the year during which mobile CRM makes a serious play for the business-to-business user. I could able to understand the status and expectation of MS CRM few years before by this post. I have got the chance to read this blog when I was making a research on mobile crm. I would like to get more suggestions from users so we can expand our knowledge. And as my part, I would like to share an information to the blog readers. I have got a chance to go through an enterprise mobility solutions provider called karya technologies ( http://www.karyatech.com ) who provides mobile crm solutions to enterprises. I wish I get the chance to read more articles regarding mobile crm on this blog.

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