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Microsoft Dynamics CRM versus Outlook Business Contact Manager

Microsoft Dynamics CRM versus Outlook Business Contact Manager


In our Microsoft Dynamics CRM practice, we meet contacts from smaller and larger companies, with varying technology needs, but with one thing in common – the use of some type of database to manage contacts and interactions with their customers, vendors and suppliers. Depending on specific company needs, this may be basic tracking of contact details, activities performed, and following up on new Leads and Opportunities, or all of those plus more complex tasks related to case/project management, deep reporting and charting, or generating automated email notifications through workflows.

In this post, we will examine two applications both available from Microsoft, at near opposite ends of the features scale – Dynamics CRM and Outlook Business Contact Manager.


Fitting Your Needs

Dynamics CRM is for any size environment where users need to track deep details on leads, accounts, contacts, opportunities, cases or any other custom type of record. The permissions options are highly customizable – there are granular controls for access to and sharing of records. Automated workflows can be created to perform tasks, send reminders, and update records using the built-in options. Even greater complexity of automated tasks can be achieved through custom code development. The database is stored in a central location, and built on the solid performance of SQL server.  Microsoft offers the option to have your CRM organization hosted, with all of the server-side details handled for you, and bundled free technical support. For businesses with security restrictions or higher processing needs, there is an on-premise version that integrates with Active Directory security. Either version can be fully accessed via website or through integration with the Outlook client.

Outlook Business Contact Manager is for very small, non-complex environments, where sharing of accounts, activities/tasks, contacts, leads and other business data amongst employees is not necessary. The product is designed to be single-user and intended for local storage of database in SQL Server Express.  Unfortunately, there is minimal support from 3rd parties. It is not available in the cloud, is not scalable, and generally considered not to be an enterprise-class solution. However, for some small businesses, this perfectly meets the current needs and available budget.


Cost and Licensing Options

Dynamics CRM is priced per license/server depending on online (per user and instance) or on-premise (per user and server licenses).

Outlook Business Contact Manager is free with the purchase of Office Home and Business or Professional 2010, or standalone Office 2010. (there is a patch required for compatibility with Outlook 2013)  Single-user application.


Support Options

Dynamics CRM is supported by Microsoft partners who specialize in the practice. There is also free phone support available from Microsoft, for Dynamics CRM online customers.

Business Contact Manager is supported by a limited number of specialists, and through online forums.


Scaling Up

Dynamics CRM is a multi-user product, where data is housed in SQL server, and limited only by the available storage. Whether hosted online or housed on-premise, additional user licenses can be added whenever needed.

Business Contact Manager is a single-user product, with data housed in SQL server Express. The database is by default, on the local user’s PC, but can be stored on server and other users can share it from there. However, it is still single-user, despite locating the data on a server.


Remote Access

Dynamics CRM can be configured with an Internet Facing Deployment allowing full web access to all data and features, over any internet access. The user’s data can also be synched through Outlook, with an offline database on the local computer, so the data can then be accessed when internet service is not available. With web compatibility in all major browsers, and on mobile devices, there are many options for accessing your company’s CRM data.

Business Contact Manager remote access is limited to Contacts which have been synched with Outlook in an Exchange or O365 environment, where Outlook Web Access is available. If the database is stored on a laptop, then is always available locally for the user.


Comparison of Key MSCRM and BCM Features


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Business Contact Manager
Cost Varies with online/on-premise Free w/Office 2010 or 2013 Home/Office or Pro
Lead Management Yes Yes
Account Management Yes Yes
Contact Management Yes Yes
Activity Management Yes Yes
Reporting to Excel Yes Yes
Marketing Activity Tracking Yes Yes
Opportunity Management Yes Yes
CaseService Management Yes No
Marketing Tools Automated Not Automated
WorkflowDialog Automation Yes No
Reporting and Dashboards Yes Limited
Customizable Forms Unlimited Limited
Database MS SQL Server MS SQL Express (single user)
Remote Access to data Yes (full) Via Outlook Web Access, synched Contacts only

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Is your business considering a move to Microsoft Dynamics CRM? Beringer Associates can help your business plan, implement, manage, and fully explore the capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.





Rob is the CTO of Beringer Technology Group, and focuses his efforts on software development, cloud engineering, team mentoring and strategic technical direction. Rob has worked with Beringer since 2005, and has influenced every department from Development, Security, Implementation, Support and Sales. Rob graduated with his MBA from Rowan University in 2012, earned his Bachelors of Computer Science in 1997, and is current with several Microsoft technical certifications. Rob is very active, and loves to mountain bike, weight train, cook and hike with his dog pack.