An Interview with PowerObjects Pre-Sales Consultant Jack Howell

Jack Howell worked here at Boyer & Associates in a marketing capacity for a little more than two years. Jack successfully implemented CRM Version 4 for us while doing a host of other useful marketing projects at Boyer & Associates. Now, like most of the PowerObjects staff, Jack lives and breathes CRM.

Jack Boyer: Jack, you were a CRM consultant initially when you first started at PowerObjects. I know that was challenging for you at first because you had less experience than most of the consultants at PowerObjects. How much did that experience help you become a better Pre-Sales Consultant?

Jack Howell: It helped me tremendously. One of the keys to being able to give believable, results-oriented, problem solving presentations is knowing the software. Nothing helps a person to learn software better than being the consultant that people turn to when they can’t figure things out.

Jack Boyer: What else has there been about your move to PowerObjects that you’ve enjoyed?

Jack Howell: I love it that all we do is CRM. Supporting software and even selling software can be so complex that it’s nice to have everyone focused on one thing. It makes it easier to be really good at something when you only do one thing. I love being able to go to an expert in a certain area when I need help preparing for a presentation. We have people that understand the underlying data views (CRM does not encourage direct table writes), how to make screens accommodate the workflow a prospect wants, and industry specialists.

Jack Boyer: What else have you enjoyed? I know PowerObjects core values of always add value, live the technology, think team, do the right thing, and love what you do sound motivating to me. How often and in what ways are you reminded to do these things?

Jack Howell: We really do live the core values here at PowerObjects. It’s not just empty words. In particular the concept of “Think Team” stands out for me. Today we have over 70 employees, but what makes working at PowerObjects great is that everyone who works here is always willing to share what they know. I’m always amazed at the depth of experience of our staff, but it wouldn’t matter if they were not spreading the knowledge around. And the best part is it happens naturally, based in large part on the positive culture at PowerObjects. Our employees are genuinely happy to work here. We all know that sharing what we know helps make the entire team better and in turn makes for happier customers and lots of successful implementations.

Jack Boyer: What about integrations? I know PowerObjects has integrated with almost everything, but to keep this question manageable any thoughts on integrating with the other two Dynamics ERP products, Dynamics GP and Dynamics SL?

Jack Howell: As you know we use the Dynamics SL that you helped us implement here at PowerObjects and we love it. Part of what we love so much is the platform’s ability to allow us to fetch any piece of data we want from Dynamics SL and allow our users to view that in Dynamics CRM. For example, most sales people, consultants, and of course project managers are interested in viewing a project’s budget vs. its actual hours. We don’t however have access to Dynamics SL or necessarily want access to Dynamics SL. We want to see the data in the application we are in all day (CRM) and be able to get what we want from other programs. Dynamics SL allows us to do that.

Jack Boyer: What about Dynamics GP?

Jack Howell: Dynamics GP comes with a number of pre-created integrations with Dynamics CRM. We find that the pre-built integration between those two products works great if that’s what you want to integrate. However with some clients they need additional integrations or need the integrations to function differently then the pre-built connector; in that case we usually build something custom. That being said things like inserting vendors and being able to maintain vendor addresses from either Dynamics CRM or Dynamics GP is quite handy. So there is definitely value.

Jack Boyer: What about tools for integrating the two. I know that in the early days of CRM 3 and 4, PowerObjects was using Scribe a lot for integration. Are web services beginning to replace tools such as Scribe or not?

Jack Howell: Not necessarily. We still use Scribe a lot and really like it. With integrations there are always a lot of different ways to go about it so often it depends on the situation.

When we integrate CRM with GP, we will almost always use Scribe. But when we integrate CRM with other systems we are using SSIS or custom development. On occasion we will use the CRM-GP connector from Microsoft like I mentioned earlier. 

When we interact with CRM using custom development or SSIS, we use web services.

Jack Boyer: I’ve heard talk of PowerPack items. What are they?

Jack Howell: PowerPack items are Dynamics CRM add-ons that PowerObjects develops based on feedback and suggestions we receive from our clients.

For example we have a tool that allows you to search for information across all entities in Dynamics CRM (PowerGlobalSearch ) and display all the information in an easy to navigate and configurable reading pane. Another tool we’ve developed allows companies to create surveys from within Dynamics CRM and send them out to specific groups or marketing lists (PowerSurvey)– and of course as the surveys are completed the responses automatically get tracked back to CRM and associated with the corresponding contact or lead record.

The last one I’ll touch on is PowerMailChimp. This is another PowerPack item we are really excited about. It integrates Dynamics CRM and the email marketing service MailChimp. MailChimp allows you to create really nice email templates to use for something like a newsletter or event invitation. But now with this integration, you create your marketing lists in CRM and then just use your MailChimp Email templates for your campaign. And again, like the survey tool, all the track back statistics, like click- throughs, opens, bounces etc. get tracked back to the corresponding CRM record. It’s really a huge time saver for Marketing Departments because now you don’t have to manage two lists.

One of the best parts is all PowerPack items are packaged as solutions so they are easy to import into your organizations’ Dynamics CRM instance. You can check out these components and others as part of free 30 day trials available for download in the Dynamics Marketplaceor on the PowerObjects Website.