Why you should upgrade your Dynamics CRM to Dynamics 365

26 July 2018 by Naresh Raj

Microsoft Dynamics is the leading membership CRM among membership associations, with over 15% market share and rising. So, like many other membership organisations, you might be using Microsoft Dynamics CRM but are you getting all you can from it?


If you’re not using Dynamics 365 - the latest version of the platform - then you’re not maximising value for money, nor the potential the system can offer.

One of the beauties of Dynamics is that Microsoft spends literally hundreds of millions of dollars on developing the platform, bringing out new functions, improving those that are there, integrating with tools like LinkedIn, and so on – and the beauty is in the fact that you get most of these improvements for free…as long as you are on the latest release.

The importance of staying up to date

Microsoft Dynamics has been a great fit for the membership sector for a long time, so there are professional bodies & associations that have been using this technology for a while and are now on older versions of the platform.

If you are on an older version, there are several implications for you. You are definitely missing out on ways to improve member personalisation & engagement; optimise retention & recruitment; and make your staff more effective in their daily roles.

‘Aren’t upgrades just a way of Microsoft and my CRM provider making more money selling services we don’t really need?’

No. Keeping your CRM system up-to-date with the latest version is important both for increasing your organisation’s effectiveness via new features and for making sure your system is properly maintained, supported and secured. In the old on-premise world, upgrades had to be planned, cost money to execute, and so it was tempting to delay or avoid them. In the new cloud world, this is no longer the case - once you are on Dynamics 365, the upgrades happen behind the scenes so you get new features with little effort. And some of them are great for membership associations.

Let me explain some of the features of Dynamics 365 and how they can help you...

The benefits of 365 v older versions


Dynamics 365 is cloud-based, managed by Microsoft, as opposed to on-premise managed by you or an external hoster. Why is this good? Well, how about:

  • You don’t need to spend money on servers or keeping them going
  • You don’t have to worry about failover or secondary servers in case your main on goes down
  • You don’t have to do backups
  • You don’t need to apply upgrades or patches to any of the software, server, or database stack
  • You don’t need IT administrators to tune your software to keep it optimal
  • Microsoft gives a 99.9% uptime service level

Not bad for starters? It means you can concentrate on what your association needs to do, not the infrastructure tools that help you do it.

As a pure cloud app, Dynamics 365 also works on PCs, MACs, tablets and mobiles of all types, further helping remote working.

Seamless integration with Office 365

A big advantage of Dynamics is that it makes integration with Outlook and Office a cinch, but Dynamics 365 moves it into a whole new realm of ease of use. It allows you to use Excel (either dynamically or statically) from within Dynamics 365 and the new Email Engagement functionality allows you to see who has opened or clicked emails so you can see which members are engaged and which aren’t.

Integrate third-party apps within workflows

Once again, yes, workflows exist in older versions of Dynamics but Dynamics 365 features Microsoft Flow, which allows you to incorporate third-party apps. How is this useful? Well, imagine you use Flow to link Dynamics 365 to Twitter and you set up a workflow that finds people tweeting about your organisation, sends you an alert email and adds that contact into Dynamics as a potential member...

Machine-learning to help you work more effectively

With Dynamics, the future is here already. Dynamics 365 includes machine learning and AI capabilities that are designed to keep you aware of what’s important from the melee of everything going on. The machine learning system learns from existing data & processes and does things like suggest you track & deal with an email in the platform – because it is about a member request to cancel their membership - that’s been lurking at the bottom of your inbox for several days now.

Multi-channel CRM is great as it gives you a huge amount of information you can use. But machine learning gives you the ability to focus on the key stuff.

Another nice AI feature is Relationship Insights which scans emails, works out whether it is positive or negative, and highlights to you if it thinks you need to take action. It also alerts you to any upcoming meetings or deadlines too.

Built-in survey tool

Dynamics 365 features a built-in survey tool called Voice of the Customer, making it easy for users to follow up an event or other member experience with a survey. All data is fed directly back into Dynamics 365, allowing you to easily collate and analyse the event-related data, and plug results into your engagement measurements.

Follow social media conversations more easily

The Social Engagement feature comes as standard with Dynamics 365 and tracks what people are saying about your organisation, event or current PR campaign, and whether the sentiment is positive or negative. You can easily react to them, whether it’s positive - so thanking them via the social platform or rewarding them in some way for being an advocate - or negative so dealing with the issues at hand.

There is now LinkedIn integration to keep track of your organisation’s advocates or followers when they move to another organisation. Think how you could use that to identify new potential members!


These are just some of the headline features; there are many more reasons why it’s worthwhile upgrading to Dynamics 365; to find out more contact us on 0845 544 2043 or info@smartimpact.co.uk.

How do we know all this?

For over ten years smartimpact has focussed on implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM systems for UK membership organisations. Much of our success comes from rescuing failing CRM implementations so we have a very clear view of what it takes to make a project a success and can spot these issues very early on. That’s why our earliest customers are still our customers. We really do understand how organisations in this sector work and how to help you get the most out of your Dynamics CRM system.