Experience: Over 4 years of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Development, originally coming from a bespoke .NET development background.
Projects sought: Likes a mixture of long-term and short-term; of full-time and part-time.
Markets: Has only worked in the UK so far but would be happy to undertake short-term contracts overseas, particularly interested in the Middle-East market (in Dubai or Saudi Arabia).
Availability: At the end of January 2015.
Other interests: Spending time with family, going out with friends, socializing. Likes gadgets, technology, cars. Enjoys going to the gym and likes sports such as football, cricket and badminton.
Take a look at Parvez’s profile and CV on 365 Freelance.
Parvez: Initially, I was working for a partner purely as a ‘back-office’ developer with limited engagement with end clients. Overtime, I gained experience in client-facing roles in addition to doing hands-on development. Now, as a contractor, I can easily engage with clients and help them get the best out of their CRM implementation.
I still spend most of my time on hands-on technical development – I specialize in .NET development. What I find the most interesting is integrating CRM with other systems such as Dynamics AX. My first project, for instance, consisted of a number of integration points to several third-party data providers and payment gateways. There was also a customer-facing website. This was a high-tech integration with bespoke interfaces.
For each project, I like to spend time understanding my client’s business processes and requirements, which allows me to develop and customize solutions that really meet their needs. I like to get a balance between working on the technical side and adding value to the client’s processes.
Parvez: Every business runs in a slightly different way. In terms of customizing, though, there are common approaches which will work for most businesses. We start by designing the core data structures after analysing the requirements and identifying gaps in the functionality offered by the standard product; then we evaluate various design options for custom components to fill those gaps before starting the coding and implementation. I prefer to work in an agile methodology whereby functionality is delivered in an iterative manner, always keeping the client and users aware of progress with demonstrations and seeking their feedback to ensure the solution is closely aligned to requirements even before the start of formal testing and UAT. It’s not very difficult, but it keeps things interesting for both the development team and the users/clients as it keeps all stakeholders engaged and ultimately drives user adoption. There are also various generic or reusable components we can build which meet the needs of different customers at the same time – such as membership or event management modules.
What I try to do is build-in configuration pieces whereby the client can build core-configuration and data records, which allows them to adapt the functionality of the product overtime. This way, I’m creating a reconfigurable component: if the client’s processes change in the future, then they can adjust the system to these changes without needing to make any changes to the code.
Parvez: In order retain existing customers and attract new ones, businesses are naturally very keen to ensure they provide the best possible service. A big part of this is achieved by improving their communications and processes, both internally and externally. One of the key aspects of this is having a good CRM strategy in place. I think it’s a driving factor.
As Microsoft are investing a lot of time and money into developing their CRM product, the technology is constantly evolving, so CRM professionals like myself have a lot of work to do to keep their skills up-to-date. In that respect, it’s a challenge to remain competitive in the market. It’s also in the best interests of businesses to ensure they operate at the forefront of technology so that they can get the best possible value out of their investment. For example, mobile technology has grown dramatically over the past few years, and in line with this Microsoft have identified the need for sales and service personnel to have access to customer information on the go. So they have provided the ability to access CRM data from smartphones and tablets as one of the key new features of the recent releases of Dynamics CRM.
In order to keep up to date with the latest developments, I try to keep very active on online CRM communities – I use various forums where I can interact with users and experts; I’m active on the social media channels such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as well the CRM User Group and Microsoft Dynamics Community Forums. I spend a lot of time sharing my own ideas and helping people out, as well as trying to learn from the experiences of other experts. That’s my strategy.
Parvez: It’s very good. It’s refreshing to see something like this come up in the market: a place where clients and freelancers or contractors are given a platform to engage directly, thus taking out the middle man.
Agencies can be difficult and problematic to work with at times, as they rarely understand the nature of the expertise freelancers bring. They don’t always understand what clients really want either and they sometimes try to push contractors into roles that aren’t right for them.
I think 365 Freelance is a brilliant way forward to further open up these communication channels both for clients and contractors.
Sandra: Thank you, Parvez! It’s very insightful to hear your views.
About us: 365 Freelance is the first online platform that gives Dynamics partners and end-users instant access to hundreds of contractors. With a network spanning 78 countries, it allows companies to search for freelancers based on their skills, rates and available dates, enabling them to find the best person for their projects without incurring the hefty fees typical of recruitment agencies. Register here – www.365freelance.com
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