Microsoft Expands SaaS Effort With On-Demand Government Apps


The applications, Public Sector On-Demand Solutions Powered by Microsoft Dynamics CRM, are the latest fruits of the vendor's "xRM" strategy of using Dynamics CRM Online as a development platform for other SaaS applications.

While on-demand xRM applications for other vertical industries are likely, Microsoft executives said the vendor focused on the public sector first because of anticipated demand for such applications, given the Obama administration's policies regarding open government and collaborative decision-making, said Bill Patterson, director of product management for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

The new applications were developed by four Microsoft ISV partners: Eskel Porter Consulting, Mitchell Humphrey, Information Strategies and Metaphor Software.

Those ISVs will continue to sell on-premise versions of the applications while Microsoft will sell the on-demand versions. Following the same model as Dynamics CRM Online, Microsoft channel partners can sell the public-sector services and leave the hosting to Microsoft or host the on-demand applications themselves, said Amir Capriles, Microsoft U.S. public-sector Dynamics strategic alliances manager.

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Microsoft also launched an online community site for Microsoft partners and customers called Public Sector Idea Bank that will offer the new applications and serve as a collaboration vehicle to develop related tools and solutions. "This comes back to Microsoft's strategy of creating partner ecosystems," Patterson said.

Among the new applications is Public Records Tracker for processing requests for public records by local, state and federal government organizations under the Public Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act. The application helps government workers track communications and activities associated with a request for government documents.

The FastTrackGov Citizens Service Solutions is a suite of automated community development applications for licensing, permitting, inspection and code-enforcement management tasks.

Agenda Builder is an on-demand application that's integrated with Microsoft Office applications for electronically preparing, reviewing and approving agenda items for public meetings and hearings.

Constituent Issue Manager provides elected officials and their staff with case-management tools for responding to constituent requests. And Inspection Manager is a case management tool for field inspectors and office staff to schedule and perform field inspections, such as for health-code enforcement, and to manage violation citations.

For public-education organizations, the Backpack 2008 Student Information System covers all aspects of managing a school district, down to individual classes and students, including attendance, grades, course scheduling and state reporting. The application also includes a community portal for teachers, students and parents.