Posted by: Adam Deane | 02/03/2011

BPM: Dynamics CRM 2011

Dynamics CRM 2011

So Microsoft is trying to sneak into BPM through the back door…

“The feature and function upgrades to Dynamics CRM 2011 include a business process engine that lets power users and administrators develop wizard-driven workflows. A sales team, for example, could create a process that prompts salespeople through the process of qualifying a lead and approving a deal proposal. Microsoft says the Web-based interfaces, workflows and related alerts can be developed without coding.”

Microsoft’s BPM Strategy
Microsoft’s last BPM strategy wasn’t a great success.
After the giant woke up and found that they had missed the BPM wagon, they quickly decided that BizTalk was going to be their ‘BPM solution’.
Now, anyone that has used BizTalk before knows that “BizTalk is great in making complex things simple. It is also great in making simple things complex”.
BizTalk is excellent for System-to-System integration. Solid, stable, solid error handling. The right tool for the job.
System-to-Human, or Human-to-Human – it’s…. (I’m looking for a diplomatic approach here…) not fit for purpose..
A great Goliath, with the finesse of Lurch from the Addam’s family. No ability to adapt, no ability to change.
To fill the “gap” of the missing BPM functionally – they relied on their partners, the BPM Alliance, a nice marketing slogan, but not a real business solution.

Windows Workflow Foundation
Then Windows Workflow Foundation arrived. And the BPMS vendors panicked.
Will WF be the new BPM platform…
Ah… nope.

SharePoint Workflow
And then came SharePoint with its built-in workflow functionality.
Panic… will SharePoint be the new BPM platform…
Ah… nope.

SharePoint’s workflow functionality is great if you need to build simple workflows around documents in SharePoint, but it doesn’t have the basic functionality for a BPM solution (monitoring, design, optimisation, simulation…), nor integration (if I every catch the person in charge of SharePoint’s webservice architecture… )
SharePoint’s workflow functionality is nice, but not fit for real enterprise scenarios.

CRM 2011
And now they are trying to sneak into BPM again through CRM 2011.
Ok.. maybe sneaking isn’t the right word. But their use of ‘Dynamics CRM 2011 includes a business process engine’ was interesting enough to get me to do a little research.

Processes are split into two categories in Dynamics CRM 2011: workflows and dialogs. The workflows are the same as they used to be – behind the scenes system workflows
‘Dialogs’ contain the prompts, which enable users to input data to the process.

In the end, it’s probably a storm in a teacup.
Although there was some talk of Microsoft planning to buy a BPM vendor a few years ago, and their WF engine shows that they don’t mind getting their feet wet, it still looks like they are not ready to jump into the BPM water yet.


  1. Adam, excellent review. Exactly my take.

    If I as a little vendor would do what Microsoft can dump on their customers, I would be out of business vey quickly. Have you looked closer what it means to actually get a user interface configured in Sharepoint with WebParts? It is no more than a joke and most of it is hard-coding stuff it is needs to do anything else than add a few fields. The dialogs presented in the video are a joke to create. We have a much more powerful Wizard player since 4 years. Absolutely amazing …

    Thanks, Max.

  2. Adam

    Another nice article.

    Not sure why Microsoft hasn’t considered building a standalone BPM product, as opposed to building titbits of BPM into some of their existing products? Just shows that anyone can claim that they have a BPM product.

    Maybe I am being naive as I am new to the world of BPM.

  3. […] Publicado el 21 marzo, 2011 por franciscocarrillo En un nuevo salto de estrategia respecto a BPM Microsoft ha incorporado un motor de procesos en su sistema CRM. Como explica el artículo que enlazo los intentos de […]

  4. thanks for nice article about Microsoft CRM 2011

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