Microsoft CRM - Freight Forwarding Business Automation

By: Andrew Karasev

Microsoft Business Solutions offers several ERP applications: Great Plains, Navision, Solomon and its own CRM solution – Microsoft CRM.  Targeting to automate all business operations, Microsoft CRM is now integrated with Microsoft Great Plains and in the close future it should have integration with Microsoft Navision.  In this small article we’ll show you business automation example, where Microsoft CRM and Great Plains are integrated and customized to fit Freight Forwarding business processes.

  • CRM.  Central Customer and Vendor records place.  Assuming you have agents across the USA and internationally – CRM, being web-interface application and so, could be used across the globe with good internet connection.  The nice features of this product are central emailing – you send email from MS CRM and receive responses from your clients back in CRM, where they are permanently stored and documented.  You can issue Quote and Sales Order directly in CRM if needed or could have them issues in Microsoft Great Plains with propagation to Microsoft CRM (deploying MS CRM-Great Plains integration tool – BizTalk based connector).
  • Accounting/ERP.  Microsoft Great Plains could play this role, being integrated with Microsoft CRM and with industry-specific business system.  In the case of Freight Forwarding/Transportation – this business system could calculate fees and charged, associated with MBL/HBL and posted against agent accounts.  You could deploy SQL triggers for instant integration or stored procs for scheduled batches. 
  • Great Plains Customizations.  Freight Forwarding specifics require Shipment tracking with SOP and POP invoices posted and tracked against the shipment and probably regular/monthly Agent Settlement report, where you match customer and vendor invoices, associated with the agent shipments and create AR or AP document, depending on positive or negative balance.  This is Great Plains Dexterity customization or web-development (if you need your agents lookup features from remote locations)
  • Microsoft CRM Customization.  Assuming that you have Shipment Tracking system, which might be SQL or Oracle based – you need shipment lookups for your order takers and customer support personnel from Microsoft CRM screens.  Being designed for easy web customization – Microsoft CRM allows you to incorporate .Net web application into its screens, such as Account, Contact, Lead, Opportunity, etc.  You use Web Forms and Microsoft CRM SDK to penetrate into MS CRM security realm and then ADO.Net to call third party MS SQL Server or Oracle data
  • Implementation Advices.  Microsoft CRM should be probably tried as in-house pilot implementation with 5 users license and then you can purchase additional license as you have your users trained.  If you need MS CRM SDK C# or VB.Net programming – you could subcontract.  Great Plains requires consultant help to be implemented and integrated, because it has sophisticated tables structure and documents flow mechanism.


  • Data Conversion.  We recommend you to deploy Great Plains Integration manager to import Vendor and Customers plus open documents.  Historical transactions, if needed – should be moved by outside consultant.  Microsoft CRM has import tool – try it first and subcontract more complex – attachments, for example.

Good luck with implementation and customization and if you have issues or concerns – we are here to help! If you want us to do the job - give us a call 1-866-528-0577!

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