In my last post, I highlighted the tremendous power that SCRIBE Online offers as an integration tool and the role that it played in enabling a Mobile Sales Force. In this post, I’m going to highlight a product named RESCO, which is the mobile framework that allowed us to leverage the data we integrated with SCRIBE and create an experience for a mobile sales force to enter orders from the road with complete pricing and inventory visibility.
RESCO – The Ultimate Mobile CRM Platform
At its core, RESCO is nothing more than a platform that allows for data fromMicrosoft CRM (Dynamics 365) to be extended to a mobile app. However, once you take a peek under the hood of this product, you’ll quickly learn that it is much more than simply a tool for making your CRM data available on a mobile – and instead, empowers both non-technical (functional) and technical consultants alike to create interactive experiences and facilitate workflows that are optimized for mobile use.
How It Works – Online and Offline Mode
RESCO works in one of two ways – you can either use it in Online Mode, which means that you make a live connection directly to Microsoft CRM or you can use it Offline Mode, which like the name implies, means that you sync your data locally to your phone, so that you can use it whether or not you have an internet connection.
Online Mode – The obvious benefit of using online mode is that your data is always current – there is zero discrepancy between what is in Microsoft CRM and your phone. However, while this is great, it also relies on an Internet connection – and all processing has to take place over the Internet.
Offline Mode – While Offline Mode requires you to sync data from CRM to your mobile device to ensure that your data is up to date, RESCO handles this elegantly by performing these syncs incrementally – effectively, what this means is that only data that has changed since the last sync gets pushed to the app; so, while the first sync can be lengthy, all others tend to be very quick. The benefit of Offline Mode is speed and universal accessibility – since you don’t need to process over the Internet, you can perform actions much faster in Offline Mode, because you aren’t relying on the quality/speed of your Internet connection. Furthermore, while Internet connectivity may seem to be ubiquitous, there are still many times where service is less than ideal – like the back of a warehouse, for example.
In our scenario, we were looking to deploy a tool that would enable a sales reps to visit their clients and enter sales orders while interacting with them in person, while giving them access to:
- Real-time pricing data
- Near real-time inventory data
- Customer’s purchase history
The sales reps in our scenario were visiting the back offices of retail stores where cell service was poor. Additionally, because they were looking to ensure that they could keep up with the speed that their client was asking for product, they wanted to ensure that processing speed didn’t slow them down. Lastly, because prices are only updated weekly and purchase history daily, there wasn’t a pressing need to have a live connection to CRM. Therefore, because of all of the reasons above, we opted to use Offline Mode. To overcome the inventory issue, the sales team syncs there apps roughly one every hour without an issue.
Configuring The App – What I Love
There are more features that I love about RESCO than I can cover in this post, so I’m going to highlight a my favorites:
1. Flexible Forms
Any of us familiar with form customization in Microsoft CRM (Dynamics 365) know how simple it is to format our data entry forms to look exactly (or close to it) the way we want. Fortunately, this same level of drag and drop flexibility exist in RESCO as well.
2. Business Rules on Steroids
Anyone familiar with implementing Jscript on your forms will be familiar with this terminology – however, once you dig a little bit, you’ll see that these rules will allow you to do things that you always wished Microsoft CRM would allow you to do using business rules, without writing a line of code!
If you go through some of the actions of the rules engine, you’ll see that you can do the typical things like conditionally make fields mandatory, hidden, set a value, but they take it a step further by allow you to do things like:
-Populate data from a related entity in real time
-Lock or hide an entire form or tab without doing it one field at a time
3. Dynamic Views and Lookups
In CRM, you know that you can show a filtered sub-grid based on the value of a parent record. For example, you can easily show a list of Orders related to a Customer on the Customer record. But what if you need to extend this to multiple variables – for example, let’s assume the following:
Beyond filtered lookups, we can also extend this example to sublists – using the same example, we want to show a list of related Orders, not just associated with the Customer, but again, filtered by the selected Division
Perhaps my favorite feature of RESCO is the ability to convert and field into a barcode field and leverage the camera on your mobile device and have it serve as a barcode scanner. That’s right – out of the box, RESCO enabled us to add items to our order by scanning it’s barcode.
The sheer volume of things that you can do without code in RESCO can offer any organization immediate value. However, there are times where code is necessary – and RESCO and their API don’t fall short here either. Their platforms offers a very high level of extensibility, enabling for the execution of custom logic and custom interfaces using scripts and HTML. And this is the last point that I want to cover in providing an overview for how RESCO enabled a completely mobile sales force to price and enter hours on the road.
In our project, the pricing structure required was far more complex than the basic price lists and discount lists functionality that Microsoft CRM offered – this client has pricing and discounts based on a wide number of variables including Customer, Item, Brand, Family, Quantity and Dates. In total, we ended up creating over seven custom entities in CRM to store the data that drove the pricing and discount logic. While we used SCRIBE to populate and maintain this data, we used RESCO’s API to mine through this data in real time, when an item got added, to price and discount it in real time.
Detailed Purchase History