Matt Witteman, an MS CRM MVP, posted a nice wish list of 14 improvements that he would like to see in the product. Out of all these, I agree with almost all of them and would take them up on my list as well, except for the first one, which is the request to have more frequent releases of new MS CRM product versions. And that really contradicts with the whole point of asking for feature improvements.
When you are working with a product that has a release cycle of 2 years, there are a couple of things that happen. Number 1, you implement workarounds or acquire add-ons to circumvent some of the features that you are most sorely lacking in the current release. Number 2, you commit yourself to the platform that has been given to you and invest in long, tedious and expensive integration projects that promise to deliver value in the long run.
Imagine that this same platform would suddenly turn into a “perpetual beta” kind of product which continuously insists on updating itself with nice little features and quick polishing. You would end up living in a world of constant fear that a change in the next minor version will either render some of your previous efforts obsolete, or more importantly, break an integration that the whole business has learned to rely on.
I’d very much like to have it both ways, but when it comes to choosing one or the other, I’m actually pretty happy with the way things are for Microsoft CRM. Yes, my company is still on CRM 3.0. Yes, we have a huge number of critical integrations. Yes, there are plenty of features in 4.0 that I want to get my hands on. Yes, upgrading to 4.0 will be a long and hard journey. I just don’t think there really is a viable alternative to this development path, yet. Then again, while reading The Big Switch and seeing what is going on with Salesforce.com and other modern players, I also keep on wondering how many years the current method of implementing business applications will last, and what will be the next platform that I get my hands dirty on after 5 years time?