Dynamics 365 in Enterprise Feed

Oh Internet Explore

If you have started having difficulty with Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement and you are using Internet Explore v11 then you want to make sure you have the latest KBs. The March 20th updates broke a few things, the March 27th updates fixed these.

For Windows 8.1 and 7 SP1 Users

KB4016446 - https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4016446

KB4016446 Download Link - http://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com/search.aspx?q=KB4016446

For Windows 10 users search the catalog for

Windows 10

http://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com/search.aspx?q=KB4016635 

If you have other Internet Explorer Issues then you might want to walk through this set of Articles.

Compatibility Settings https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/3124955/compatibility-with-microsoft-dynamics-crm-2016

Internet Explorer: Web application requirements for Microsoft Dynamics 365 https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh699710.aspx

Internet Explorer: FAQ for IT Pros https://technet.microsoft.com/itpro/internet-explorer/ie11-faq/faq-for-it-pros-ie11

Microsoft Edge Deployment Guide for IT Pros https://technet.microsoft.com/itpro/microsoft-edge/index

Compatibility Changes in IE 11 https://msdn.microsoft.com/library/bg182625(v=vs.85).aspx

 

 


Extending and Developing with the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Platform

One place to look for information regarding leveraging the Microsoft Dynamics 365 PLATFORM is in the Microsoft Dynamics Software Developer Toolkit (SDK). The Microsoft development teams have included a wealth of samples, knowledge and tips inside the SDK.

With Microsoft Dynamics 365 we have  three areas to consider and this post is about the third

1) Configuration : Walking through a series of questions found in the settings section (Business, Admin, Data, Services, etc.) of the platform, you can change how the system reacts based on your answers.

2) Customization : Using a business interface add new tables, fields, views, charts, dashboards and data entry forms.  

3) Extension : Writing additional code to extend the powerful Dynamics 365 Platform to meet even more business needs.

 So what are some of the resources available to you and things to consider when it comes to Extending the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Developers Center

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Visual Studio Development Toolkit

A Community Alternative to the Visual Studio Development Toolkit for Dynamics 365

AND BECAUSE you want to write the absolute BEST extensions possible, and you want it to be something that any other Dynamics developer can praise, you also tap into the following community shared wonderful practices shared by Minal:

http://minaldahiya.blogspot.be/2016/03/coding-standards-for-dynamics-crm.html?spref=tw

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Development Best Practices

xRM Best Practices

 

 


Dynamics CRM is not just C or X Relationship Management (CRM or xRM) anymore and as such the expansion to Microsoft Dynamics 365!

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is PACKED with powerful features that are fully configurable and can also be extended. Additionally a huge amount of resources, talent and energy are going into adding even more. If you want to keep up with the Microsoft Dynamics Development teams keep an eye on both the development team blogs and on the official Microsoft Dynamics Roadmap

Dynamics CRM is not just C or X Relationship Management (CRM or xRM) anymore and as such the expansion to Microsoft Dynamics 365!


Team: Prescribed vs. Defined

I must be getting old for I am having more of the Carousel experiences of life. 

Take for instance that one of the benefits of getting older is that you get to walk into situations where you have been before. You have multiple similar experiences to draw from based on many other projects. It is a gift to clients, because some processes that are less efficient can be avoided and they get more cream of the crop (potentially).

So the thought of the day?

When defining user stories, gathering requirements, detailing out the current processes of the day. Think really, really hard about defining the specific issues, problems and current state without including the solution.

Ideally what you want is a team solution. A solution that pulls from the experiences of all members of the team. This is harder than it sounds, because it requires that each person really listens to and understands the full scope of the problem. It then requires that the team jointly agrees on the issue or problems and once agreed, solutioning can begin.

Solutioning will need to include the technical best choices and training among the team on the strengths and weakness as well as the business best choices.

Now in an ideal world this would all be done with any egos parked at the door, but rarely is this the reality. People have strong opinions. Humans are designed to compete or culturally trained to compete and thoughts outside of the comfort zones, make people uncomfortable. Mix in the awesome power of diversity and the energy can get very confused.

YET when this energy is aligned and diversity and multiple opinions come together as one. Amazing happens.

So keep stretching for Amazing  and keep learning, because the more we push ourselves to learn outside our comfort zones, the more we learn to listen and hear and the more we learn to share, the better the experiences will be!


Automatic Testing and Dynamics in the world of CRM

Automatic testing is a bit of a niche skill and every application is different in terms of what is needed or what tools can be used. In this situation I depend on knowledge shared, because there is absolutely no reason that we can't learn from each other. Following please find some notes from the field on Microsoft Dynamics "CRM" Automated Testing

Knowledge shared is a powerful skill in the world of technology. It requires that you admit that you might be wrong, that you might have more to learn and that being vulnerable is worth the risk. Yes, it is very much worth the risk in this crazy fast paced world of growth.

 

Tools that the field mentioned:

Sessions discussing Automated Testing

Other Videos in this arena

 

 


Knowledge Management : KB Articles in Microsoft CRM

A few resources to ramp up on all that is new in Knowledge Management in Microsoft CRM 8.1.0.00xx (2016 Spring Release)

Dynamics CRM Knowledge Management by the Microsoft EMEA Support Team

New Knowledge Management Features Introduced by the Microsoft Product Team

New Customer Service Features in CRM 2016 discussed by MSDynamicsWorld

Tip of the Day Video (series): CRM Knowledge Articles

One Minute Overview Video on Knowledge Articles

Streamline Knowledge Management in Microsoft CRM Video

You will also want to ramp up on the new Interactive Service Hub (ISH) which offers even more access to the wealth of data in Microsoft CRM.

Tip of the Day : Interactive Service Hub

Overview of the Interactive Service Hub

Working with Cases in the Interactive Service Hub

 

 


Keeping a Clean House: Sometimes it is about the data

Microsoft CRM supports tracking of e-mail messages and e-mail messages often come with attachments. If you want to prevent Microsoft CRM from storing an e-mails attachments you can set the file size within Configuration to 0.

What if you don't want to block all attachments or what if you inherited a system that has a ton of attachments stored in the database?

You can purge e-mail attachments from the CRM Database.

Take a look at the EMEA Support Teams Blog Post on the subject for more.

Kids-cleaning


Field One: The Mobile Workforce and Microsoft CRM

Did you know there are more field services technicians in the US then sales people in the entire world?

Field One took Microsoft CRM and mastered the platform. What does this really mean? Mastering the platform?

Microsoft CRM as a platform is a parallel growth paradigm. The product grows and matures every day as the developers on the Microsoft teams build, define, refine and release while the teams (external partners, ISVs, other resources) building extended solutions are doing the same. Each team must work closely with the vision of today and the visions of the future. Decisions are not just meeting a requirement or request, they are meeting a requirement or a request in a manner that fits into this parallel growth.

Field One Mastery (now under the Microsoft Umbrella) continues to offer incredible, already mastered, solutions to some of the most complex field services organizations.   

  • Resource Management
  • Complex Scheduling
  • Durations
  • Territories
  • Mobile
  • Routing
  • Modern
  • and so much more

   So what do the developers work on, if the above is already so well matured and defined?

Oh there is so much more that just flows into what you have as time goes one.

Consider the Microsoft Platform and all that is available.

Consider Machine Learning and Predictive analysis and the speed in which Microsoft Azure offerings are growing. Consider Microsoft Portal and Microsoft Project Services within CRM  and, and, and ....

So if you have not taken a few minutes to start thinking about Field Services then perhaps it is time to start? Take a look at Field One.

FieldOne-Sky-devices-medium


A new Marriage between Microsoft Word and Microsoft CRM

Given that so much new has been released, sometimes it is easy to miss some of the powerful new features.

Take for instance USING WORD TEMPLATES in CRM. Sure, letters are nice, but have you ever considered the power of all the other data you can pull into a WORD template?

Here is a good place to get started


Five CRM Thoughts

1. Workflows can be REAL TIME (Synchronous) or ALMOST REAL TIME (asynchronous) and if you are a business user creating workflows you want to coordinate the timing. In the world of plugins and extensions timing coordination of steps is all part of the job, but in the world of workflows sometimes it is easy to forget about what we are really asking for.

2. Deleting and Cleanup in the world of customization and multiple environments are a specialized thought process. The system supports a merge mindset so when you want to do cleanup (and you are using unmanaged solutions) you want to make sure you cleanup all your environments. I like to use the technique of naming fields, business rules, forms, views and other such configurations in DEV with a prefix of something like ZToBeDeleted so that after a deployment to TEST and PRODUCTION it is easy to do house cleaning.

3. You are not the only one extending and configuring. Coordination equals huge successes and incredible power and depth. It is a product that is always evolving from the power and insight of the incredible team at Microsoft and then there are the other new features that are purchased, reviewed, updated, coordinated and released. If you are writing unsupported code you are asking for headaches OR if your hired gun is writing unsupported code. Take the time to get it done right. Take the time to vet your resources. A low hourly rate does not mean long term reduction in cost.

4. Software as a Service (SaaS) in the world of Dynamics CRM means that you are continuously getting the chance to improve your businesses cutting edge differentiator through the use of the newest technology and business techniques. Get the Learning Mindset and embrace the wave while also taking bite sized, very manageable growth steps forward. Setup your environment so you have a DEV, TEST and PRODUCTION instance so that you can have DEV upgraded first, then TEST (with a release to TEST and Regression Testing) and then roll to production. For smaller firms perhaps only two instances, but always give yourself that learning arena for the larger feature releases.

5. Just because it looks pretty, and has a really cheap initial price does not mean that you won't be paying more in the long run. In the world of ONLINE and the CLOUD do your research with other customers. Understand the 1, 2 and 3 year average costs and understand what you get for the money. The models can be very different.  There are hundreds of applications that can be replaced by Dynamics CRM and with the right resources (trained helps) the price is right. Just because Access and Excel are available with office, doesn't mean they are the right solution for a multi-user environment where people need to share real time data across many different devices. Oh and then there is the Out of the Box integration to the Office 365, SharePoint, Microsoft Excel E-Mail, and so much more. 

It really is mind blowing.....  


Technology grows as fast as your kids, if not faster ....

Technology grows as fast as your kids and keeping in touch with the drip just makes life so energized!

Microsoft Dynamics CRM v8.0.0.xxxx (2016) was released last Fall offering more functionality at the deepest level and more options and functionality at the user level. Take for instance the new "Interactive Service Hub". A graphical interface in addition to ALL you have through dashboards, charts and views and then you also have new options around knowledge management and at the deepest level new formats for fields.  

 

Even more important, the incredible ground work around mobile and the mastery of DISTRIBUTED PROCESSING leveraging Azure. Distributed processing with any technology is not easy; although in the world of Microsoft CRM we have long had the Outlook Client, still we needed more options and  now we have more options. The synchronization of data between multiple source locations is just ripe with potential difficulty and yet, here you have in CRM 2016 some great MOBILE Answers to a tough need.

Now before you start thinking about all that you have not yet tried in the FALL CRM 2016 release (v8.0.0.xxxx) understand that the SPRING 2016 release is rolling out to the customer focus group now. A group of customers who totally get keeping up and have signed up and agreed to test the new software before it is generally available. A win/win situation for the product development teams and for customers. A team approach using real world solutions. 

The Spring release is PACKED!

The teams are leveraging not only the power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM (and it really is powerful and occassionally taken for granite), but the depth and power of AZURE, the Out of the Box integration to Office 365 and SharePoint and the maturely integrated solutions like portal and field services.

More Reading

Given how quickly everything is rolling out the teams have also released a new ROADMAP website so you can immediately know what has been released, what is being released and what is pending for the next update. It is easy to get caught up in the buzz, so this site is available for immediate validation.

Want another insight?

Microsoft Social Engagement is now getting monthly updates.  

Look what's new in version 2016 1.3

and then there are versions all the other enhancements on the same page to also catch up on. What? You are interested in Machine Learning? Did you know MSE is ALREADY leveraging the power? Wow! 

I work at Microsoft as part of the Microsoft Global Dynamics Domain focused on services. Keeping up with all of the GREAT old and new functionalities can sometimes be interesting, but it is such a thrill to have such a huge tool chest of options for clients in this complex world. A world where technology, configurable technology can offer a great competitive differentiator.

 

 

 


Microsoft Visio

Now that Adult Coloring Books have exploded on the marketplace perhaps it is time for you move from the joys of PowerPoint (Admit it, you love it because it is easy creativity) to the joys and the incredible POWER of VISIO or SWAY (but I will save SWAY for another post)!

Do you have processes? Do you want to get these processes to be adopted and consistent across all departments? Why not drop them into a SIMPLE VISUAL DIAGRAM and post them around the office?

Or you can really get into it and use them to "visualize the future state of transformative initiatives" or to "stay on top of operational insights". It is true that a picture can communicate 1000 words and in this noisy world, using a picture to communicate can make a huge difference (even for the most sophisticated).

To learn more about the new features of Microsoft Visio you can read up about it on the Microsoft office team's blog. I even enjoy older posts like this one which is already a year old!    

Microsoft Office Team's Blog

Microsoft Office Blog on VISIO

Microsoft VISIO Test Drive


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Support Lifecycle

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a continuous book, with pages being edited and new pages being added with each release. Those who build their projects to live with the growth of their companies do not need to be concerned for the book continues as your business continues.

For those who are still running Microsoft Dynamics CRM older versions, this page might be of interest. The Microsoft Support Lifecycle Page

What is a Support Lifecycle, you ask or more appropriately, what is the support lifecycle policy? There is more on the website, but consider this ...

"What is the Support Lifecycle policy?
Microsoft provides an industry-leading Support Lifecycle policy—in length and provision—giving customers consistent, transparent, and predictable timelines for which software is supported."

 


Choices, choices and more choices : Accessing Microsoft CRM Online

Microsoft has a long history of offering choices! Just consider how each individual can configure their Outlook usage differently from every other user and yet it is also consistent. This is a very interesting balance.

In the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and particularly in the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online (currently v2016 aka 8.0.0.xxxx) the choices list is getting so long that I rarely hit a request that doesn't have many options.

Take for instance the integration to Microsoft Outlook and E-mail.

We have the traditional CRM Outlook Add-In Application which has continued to be updated and upgraded and we have a new Outlook App! Jesper has provided a really nice table of the differences in this blog post.

There is also the new MOBILE EXPERIENCE and MOBILE APPS and it is quite the experience or experiences ! Microsoft is now tapping into the incredible power of AZURE to further enhance the mobile offerings. I so love it when the development teams work closely together for even more WIN/WIN/WIN!

In terms of the details : Many of the partners are blogging on these new mobile features such as indicated in these links

  • http://beringer.net/beringerblog/microsoft-dynamics-crm-2016-whats-new
  • http://blog.dynamicscrm2015.com/2015/10/13/dynamics-crm-2016-and-full-mobile-offline-experience/
  • https://crmspec.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/faq-microsoft-dynamics-crm-2016-autumn-wave/
  • https://cynergies.net/developers/your-business-benefits-of-microsoft-dynamics-crm-2016-part-iii-mobile/
  • http://www.powerobjects.com/events/why-go-mobile-with-dynamics-crm-2016-webinar/

BUT Wait that is not all! Welcome to the world of POWERAPPs!  and you definitely want to follow the PowerApps team blog to keep an eye on this whole new business space.  I mean don't you want to write your own app, without a developer?

The options don't stop there. There was a time when I would hear a bit of grumbling from the senior techie guru programmers who were not CRM Centric, but this grumbling is fading into a thing of the past. Developers can now work in the world of Dynamic CRM with hundreds of different technology choices. They can leverage the incredible application security depth of CRM, the business friendly process control, the "entity" relationship structure and the power of CRM to meet numerous custom solution needs.

Check out these three videos for more on leveraging the ANYTHING transactional relationship management platform.

Module 1: https://youtu.be/GI54dCi2sIg

Module 2: https://youtu.be/MC2NaanB5Mk

Module 3: https://youtu.be/c-TrDYQ6VQY

And as such I encourage all of the readers to adopt a mindset of continual learning, continual re-evaluation and continual planning to adopt all of the great. Choices are relevant depending on timing and given this world of change that we live in, timing constantly changes. So learn and question, learn and question and grow, grow, grow!  

 


Powershell and Microsoft Dynamics CRM (#msdyncrm)

So you think you are the ultimate master of Microsoft Dynamics CRM! This is totally awesome, because now you can empower your entire team with new PowerShell Awesomeness for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Organization Data!

AND don't forget to send some feedback and love to the developer!

Read More and Download Here

 


Visual Studio 2013 Tools and Dynamics CRM 2015

If you have not noticed there is an incredible Microsoft Dynamics CRM Software Developers Kit (SDK), but in previous versions of the SDK there were also a set of visual studio tools.

Working in Technology? As We Know Change is A Constant

So lets look at some changes

Visual Studio Tools for Microsoft Dynamics CRM are now available as part of Visual Studio. Check out these to get started

https://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/0f9ab063-acec-4c55-bd6c-5eb7c6cffec4

https://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/3570204a-352f-4b1d-808f-0d65182dfad0

and there are a ton more available and always more coming -> use SEARCH

You can also use the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 SDK Visual Studio Tools with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015. You update your references to point to the new SDKdlls and update the framework version to 4.5.2.

There are a number of different blog posts buzzing on this, Such as these:

https://ramontebar.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/dynamics-crm-2015-sdk-developer-toolkit/

http://www.waynewalton.com/dynamics-crm-2015-sdk-notes-developers/

https://crmbusiness.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/where-is-the-developer-toolkit-for-crm-2015/

You also need to consider CRM Online and the reality that the current version of CRM Online is v7.1.x and the version of CRM On-Premise is v7.0.1 (although only a few months behind). One of the huge benefits of working with a CRM Online model is the drip feed to stay current. Huge Upgrades are a thing of the past when it comes to Software as a Service (SaaS). This also changes the development and extension model.

 


Dynamics CRM in Enterprise: Areas for More Questioning

 

 

 

 

When working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online in Enterprise there are many variables to consider. These include some of the following, but there are also small tidbits that need to be considered. I have listed some of the items below to raise the bar for everyone.

•Security, Compliance, Authentication
•Integration and Migration
•Extensions, Development and Integrations
•Enterprise Reporting
•Operations and Governance
 

Business Rules: CRM Business Rules are associated to each entity, when you create business rules they are stored with that entity and move with the solution that includes that entity. If you need to delete a business rule you must delete it from every environment that the solution has been deployed.

Process Workflows: In CRM v7.x.x you have the option to END a workflow. One of the issues found in the field when working on existing CRM projects are workflow designs that do not end.

Use Colors: Within the world of Dynamics CRM Online you have custom logos, colors and themes. This allows you to color code different CRM Online instance so that people in large enterprises, who have multiple CRM Online tenants and instances, don’t accidently enter data into the training environment instead of production.

 

Anticipate Product Line Architecture: MCS Offers a CRM PLA service for clients that need a CRM Product Line Architectural engagement to address questions on shared data, hybrid offerings, leveraging Azure, Enterprise data warehouse options and security needs?  Watch out for the spread of silo'ed data that is such an easy trap for all vendors and customers to fall into.

Plug-Ins: You can change the context in which a plugin runs: By default it runs under the context of the logged in user, but there are cases when you want to run a plugin under the context of a user with different security such as a system user.

Security Roles

Security Roles are not only what you can see. All of the Out of the Box security roles contain hidden permissions that can be utilized through cloning. If you create a NEW security role, pay attention to the lack of hidden permissions that might impede functionality.

Service Module: Follow the Sun: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Service Module offers, not only an owner of a case record, but also tracking of the person working on a specific case record at any given time.

Performance: CRM Architecture does make a difference. Quick Search needs to be positioned for small searches with one or two search columns. Advanced find can be positioned for more complex queries or better yet leverage the power of the PowerBI Toolkit. You also have Enterprise Search at the top of the screen, use all your search options and even more are mentioned in the CRM Roadmap. You can also leverage the CRM Online Diagnostics Page and test form performance by Measuring Form Performance: CNTRL+SHIFT+Q

Versioning: Understanding Versioning: The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Product Team has updated their versioning, offering a clearer understanding of Major Releases, Rollup Releases and Service packs, but the true power of the experienced field engineers is knowing which feature was released with which version and the maturity of that feature. Work in partnership with Microsoft Consulting Services.

Client Software: The Outlook Client and the Unified Service Desk (USD) are client side software. One of the key questions within Enterprise are what are some options for pushing out this software. Also the client can have conflicts with certain anti-virus offerings so position and understand these conflicts and install requirements..

Working with the ISV’s: Portals: How many concurrent users was it designed for, used with and supports? Service Agreements with ISVs for outage of dependent components. Who owns updates, upgrades and testing in the fast paced release world of CRM Online?

Outlook Contacts: The Business conversation: Corporate Contacts vs. Personal Contacts and Data Migration. Do users have contacts in Outlook? How will these contacts be reconciled? How will you combine many different silos of contacts into a shared source?

 

 


Dev to Dev, Let them out once in a while

Sometimes the developers have to sit at the table and talk to each other.

In the really big Enterprise projects, where you bring together the greatest of the great (sometimes still bleeding) AND you pull in the well established, proven technologies, you often end up with a wide variety of languages, thoughts, strengths and weaknesses. (sprinkling in acronyms and it can get really crazy) 

Each person is a deep expert in their specialty, but getting each expert to use a language that other experts can understand is a challenge worth noting. 

If one person is talking Plugins, Processes, and Actions and another is talking approval cycles, statuses and signoffs and a third is discussing throughput, bottlenecks and distribution you might have a disconnect.

The trick?

Recognition. : Acknowledge and recognize that different languages are being spoken.

The second Trick?

Diversity Training : Point out that each person is incredibly different, show a few videos.

The Third Trick?

Collect all the egos and put them in a bag on the table. They cause so much heart ache!

Now add transparency. Acknowledgement and diplomacy.

I have yet to master all of the above. My fears, well ingrained XRM/CRM Think, opinions and even my female blond hair have known to get me in trouble, but  I don't regret my transparency and shared knowledge. I regret my lack of occasional sensitivity. I get so excited about the project and the technologies, I can forget about the people.

It does TAKE all variables. People, Process, Technology (well recognized buzz)

So back to the first line of this post. In the world of partners, there is this tendency to yell over the fence to the developers the criteria and requirements that need to be met. This works for many a plugin or DLL, but sometimes the developers really need to talk to other developers.

So this is a shout out to partners, vendors and ISVs to let the guys and gals with their heads down coding out in the field, to fine tuning their business skills and to encourage them to participate in some dev to dev discussions.  It can increase quality and create a bigger network of knowledge shared, knowledge learned.

Oh and a message to all developers in the world of Dynamics CRM and External apps talking to CRM: Keep an open mind, find the STRENGTHS and learn how to work with the not yet released or newer weaker areas, from those who have mastered the road before you.

Your developer peers are a close knit team writing code every day with variables that you might not be aware of.

 


Don't Forget about the SPN? What? Dynamics CRM On-Premise Installation

Dipping my toe into the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 OnPremise installation and a couple of key tips to remember (posting them here so I can find them).

Thanks to the Microsoft Consulting Services CRM Consultants: Thymio and Salvador who shared their knowledge and continue to make incredible wonderful happen for clients working with Microsoft and clients working with Microsoft Partners and Microsoft Consulting Services. 

1) When you create your service accounts - create them in the SAME Organizational unit (OU)! If you create them some where else and copy them you are not going to be a happy camper and you will spend hours trying to figure out why you are getting issues.

2) Don't forget about the SPN's. To read more about the Service Principal Names and what SPN's mean, take a look at this great TechNet Article.

3) Do you host your own web page? Most likely not and Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a very powerful web application with numerous options and offerings. So before you decide you are going to do your own Microsoft Dynamics CRM On-Premise Install - Do some reading and get the help and buy in of the right people from your team. The guru network guys who are swamped (get on their calendar)

A few resources and there are more:

If this is not something you want to tackle there are many options.

1) CRM Online

2) CRM Hosted by a third party partner

3) A certified in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Infrastructure partner or MCS team who can work with your IT Department to get CRM Installed and running smoothly.

4) Leverage the incredible of your professional Field Engineering contract. The CRM PFE Team is so impressive! They really offer a huge amount of experience and lessons learned particularly when it comes to smooth operations, performance and getting this running right.

 


Time for Graphics, Easy Graphics from Dynamics CRM with Excel PowerBI

Major Update: My deepest thanks to David Hurtado for sharing these slides with me, for letting me share them with the world and for supporting all of his peers inside at Microsoft via the Microsoft Yammer Network (Yammer rocks).

What is incredible about this presentation is that putting the PowerPoint together took or takes longer than helping your customers understand how easy it is to use PowerBI and Dynamics CRM.

So Start Here:

Pull up your favorite View such as a view of all your bubbling opportunities

View Data in CRM - 1

Now confirm your view has account information

View Opportunity data in CRM 2

Choose to Export this View of Data to Microsoft Excel (not the only way to do this, but a familiar way)

Export Data to Excel 3

Now Open the Excel Workbook by clicking Open

Open Excel File 4

Have you noticed this new feature in Microsoft Excel?

  Map Excel Data 5
Now Select your locations

Select Location you want to use 6

And Use your Date Fields as Time Dimensions

Use data fields as time dimensions 8

PRESS PLAY

Press Play 9

And Play, and play and play ... with visual immersion into your data


How do Office 365 and CRM Online Work Together?

I can certainly go on and on about all that is wonderful about working with both Office 365 and CRM Online every day.

I can mention items such as having access to the complete hierarchy of my accounts and contacts easily accessible on my phone, to not having to wonder if the calendar on my phone, within my CRM system or on my computer has everything that I am suppose to know about,  BUT

I just read this summary of amazing business productivity when using the suite so I am sharing here for your reading enjoyment.

Screen shots, Videos, Words all wrapped up in one.

Enjoy! 


Office 365, Groups and CRM Online

I was on a call today, actually the incredible CRM Community Technology call and in addition to the great content being presented, we also had a very active IM window of discussions happening. Yes, I can multi-task.

So always learning, I posted a question/statement about synchronizing group e-mails with Dynamics CRM Online. As it turns out my assumption that this could not be done was wrong.

So I went out to do a bit more learning on the newer GROUPS feature of Office 365 and how it interacts with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the CRM Outlook Client.

If you start with the Office "Find Help about Groups" you will quickly see how much is available.

You them might want to read Jesper's post on Office 365, Groups and CRM Online.  

and for a summary the Office team has written Delivering the First Chapter on Groups.

What is amazing about synchronization is how absolutely difficult distributed data technology can be. There are a huge number of variables that the team continues to nail and hit out of the park, none of which can be under-estimated. So to read more about Synchronization check this out.

 

 


So many great resources for Dynamics CRM v7.x.x (#msdyncrm)

Dynamics CRM 2015 Update 1 Content (Spring 2015)

YouTube Videos

Subscribe to the Dynamics channel to stay up to date: https://www.youtube.com/user/msdyncomm/DynamicsCRM

 

CRM Team Blog http://blogs.msdn.com/b/crm

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 (7.1.0) Product Documentation is Available! http://bit.ly/1JfsMl9
  • Microsoft Dynamics Marketing 2015 Update 1 Product Documentation is Available! http://bit.ly/1JGVOxz
  • Microsoft Social Engagement 2015 Update 1Product Documentation is Available! http://bit.ly/1QIgxmq
  • Parature, from Microsoft 15.2 Product Documentation is Available! http://bit.ly/1Pd1625
  • AND SEVERAL MORE excellent blog posts by our field and PMs - check it out!

Security: Microsoft Dynamics CRM gets even more security options

Dynamics CRM 2015 Hierarchical Security

There is so much depth to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Security that it is amazing that they can add more and yet, more has been added. A great post is available on all the new options which you can reach using the link above.


CRM Online in the world of Enterprise : Patterns & Principles for Solution Builders White Paper

"In the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the shift to the cloud is well underway. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is growing by leaps and bounds, including sales to massive customers with huge user counts. If you’re a partner in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM channel, it’s important that you understand what this means for the solutions you build for customers who want Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online."

READ MORE


The Power of Choice (and the risks)

One of the most fabulous features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the number of choices that any given business can have when leveraging the power of the toolset. This helps the solution and the product, the processes and the people to grow and change as businesses grow and change. 

This is also one of the biggest dilemmas for the "New to Dynamics CRM" crowd. Choice makes a number of seasoned veterans to business applications scratch their heads and ask "Why". They assume that what they see is what they get.

They often mention things like "Why does the product do this out of the box" or "I need to talk to the development team about how (pick your vendor Siebel, SAP, Oracle, etc. etc. etc.) models this differently". They can even lock themselves into a box by eliminating a huge number of choices and blocking these from the business because of their own filters.

What is often misunderstood is that the consulting partner, resource, resources, mix and match team or IT department that a business works with, needs to understand both your business, the CRM Industry and methodologies for success and the depth of the technology.

This is a big ask, but so many customers have found success! It is not an impossible ask.

This post is to encourage CxOs to consider and discuss and participate in technology as part of their long term growth and to insure that the adaptability of that technology is part of the discussion. Take small bites (small phases) and let teams grow, change and mature on a continued and seamless path to success.  Lastly don't make a decision and walk away. The heartbeat of a business is living and changing and many times always being updated. Setup reviews both of the solution and of the processes and make continued decisions.


Don't Forget a Bit of Dynamics CRM Housecleaning!

The people who work on Microsoft Dynamics CRM don't always know all the details of loving and caring for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and although it doesn't need much, it does like some care.

This is why the community is so incredible and no amount of thanks can truly show the appreciation for the hundreds of hours community members spend blogging and sharing great information.

So today  I am sharing an older post for those using all versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, but particularly for those who might want to do even more to keep their system singing and moving along.

Take a look at this blog post about maintaining the tables that many business analysts depend on for efficient workflow functionality.


Access Teams and Security! #MSDYNCRM

A user’s security role needs to match the privileges at the ‘User’ level with the Access Team Template Privileges (R,W,A,A2,D,Assign and Share) associated with the Entity.  If an Access Team has Delete privileges and a user's security roles did not, the user will be blocked from being added to the team.  CRM Security is AWESOME and this shows that security can’t be bypassed just by adding someone to a team.  If that user cannot delete a record, then adding them to an Access Team with that privilege won’t work!

Big thanks to the awesome: Thymio Barbatsis, for continuing to share incredible tidbits with the community 


ExtremeCRM : Dynamics CRM Awesomeness!

There are some INCREDIBLE partners and clients doing incredible things in the world with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and a layering of conferences that show the incredible. The Agility, the flexibility and the services that surround the product all create a huge economic advantage to companies from Enterprise to SMB. ExtremeCRM is one of those great conferences.  

A couple of the partners recently presented their solutions at ExtremeCRM and it was summarized so well in this picture.

ExtremeCRM
 


What is a Microsoft Dynamics CRM View?

Within Microsoft Dynamics CRM each entity has a set of system views. These system views can be configured or added to and as such are a powerful feature within the system. You can even create new views.

So what exactly is a view?

If you are familiar with a spreadsheet, you know that you have rows and columns of data and each piece of data sits in its own little cell. A view in Dynamics CRM is just like a spreadsheet. It has rows and columns of data. Additionally any given view in the system also let's you "click" and export to Excel.

Other powerful features of views include the ability to add columns of data from not just the entity where the view is defined, but from every entity that is related to the entity where the view is defined.

You can also sort views of data by clicking on the header of a column and secondarily sort by shift clicking on the next column.

People using Dynamics CRM can also use "Advanced Find" to create their own personal views of data. So if your IT Department is a bit buried under a long to-do list, you don't have to wait. You can create your own personal views AND you can even share these views with your peers or manager.

OK, so you really don't want to give up Excel and all the pivoting and graphics that you can do with it. Guess what, you don't have too! Views feed Excel and all the powerful data manipulation techniques that Excel offers. Check Out PowerView, PowerBI and PowerPivot, if you love Excel, you will go over the top with these Excel add-ins. CRM + Microsoft Excel "Better Together"

Views have another role within the world of Dynamics CRM. They feed charts, so setup your favorite view and then use the CRM Chart feature to chart the data from that view. These charts can be added to Dashboards for instant, dynamic, graphical love!

If you want to learn even more about views you can read about them in the MSDN library entry called Customize Entity Views.  


A Bold New World: Even more choices #CRM2013

As we move into this bold new world of many different devices, we are also opening the door for many different options for accessing our central Dynamics CRM store of data. When learning about all the different options keep in mind the differences between an application that is built to work in different OS environments such as the new Tablet access to Dynamics CRM and an application that is built for a more specific set of criteria such as a specific Windows 8 CRM Phone applications. Key areas of slight shift are items such as on a phone you are usually talking about the "phone" focus and providers like Verizon and AT&T whereas on a tablet your focus on phone might be Skype or Lync.

It is easy to get confused and Dynamics CRM v2013 offers so much!! I have to admit I am excited.

The Tablet access offers cross browser, but also many different tablet centric features like touch, pinning and choice of surfacing what you want to see where.

The Mobile access offers the really tiny form factor (for those small phones) as well as consideration for offline.

We also continue to have the Outlook Client which leverages all that is Dynamics CRM and all the great features within Outlook and the Web Client Access offering the application from your choice of a set of browsers.

In this brave new world you need to figure out how to best communicate all of the power of choice to your customers, peers and team members. As much as we are One Microsoft and One OS across many different devices, there are certain features and options that are very relavant for some devices and not important to others. Given this the technology you are using and the choices it offers does make a difference.

Choice is also not limited to technologies, it is also all about business culture, department process and individual working styles. The convergence of business and information technology is now!

What is amazing about Microsoft is that they offer so many incredible choices without nickel and diming their customers. They help customers use what they need where from their deep pockets of choice.


A Wealth of Resources in the world of #msdyncrm

A little Monday morning wake up and refresh!

Have you found the Microsoft Dynamics CRM IT Pro Center on Technet?

There are a number of nice little goodies in this including the CRM Online Enterprise Planning Guide. CRMOnline is not just for SMB!


Within the world of the CRM Industry there is a cutting edge ...

Within the world of the CRM Industry there is a cutting edge ...

AND when it comes to the cutting edge pushing the design of data consumption is right up there with tying the use of CRM to employee motivation. As in they get more motived the more they use the internal CRM application. (yes, really, but I will save that for a future post)

Thanks to Mark for sharing this great post and a free solution on data display design - Perhaps take a few minutes to check it out and comment.

 http://markmargolis.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/crm-timeline/#comment-500

 

http://markmargolis.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/crm-timeline/#comment-500

 


What the heck is ... CRM:53143123 in my e-mail subject line?

The famous Ben Hosk wrote up a great little post about the e-mail tracking token. I like to call it half of the locket or an automation puzzle piece. It clicks a responding e-mail into the e-mail that is being responded to. Offering incredibly reliable threading. On the other hand it is TOTALLY Optional and Dynamics CRM is sophisticated enough to have even more embedded algoritums of success.

If you would like to know more about the e-mail tracking token, take a peek at Ben's writeup which you can find here.


A day in the life of Enterprise

I can't help sharing when I see stories of companies doing cool things within the world of Dynamics CRM.

Needless to say when this little story crossed my plate today I thought I would share.

Check out Weight Watchers and Dynamics CRM

 


The beautiful world of CRM Multi-Tenant

Rather than dive into writing something again that was so well written by another member of the community I am sharing a post about Multi-Tenant and why this powerful option is now available for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online users.

Read Here


Reporting, Reporting and more reporting #msdyncrm

Time to think differently about this concept of reporting. In some systems your only choice to get the data out of the system is with a report, BUT it is not like that with Dynamics CRM.

In fact it has not been like that for quite sometime, but I find that we often forget to mention some of the "cool" that exists when everyone is buzzing about the latest or next greatest feature.

So thinking about slicing, dicing, analysing,  and looking at the data that is in Dynamics CRM you have a number of choices that do not contain the word "report"

1. Review Data in a Dynamic Excel Spreadsheet or Pivot Table or Chart

    The security on the user opening this in Excel drives the data that is displayed.

2. Review data in a Static Excel Spreadsheet or Pivot Table or Chart

    The data stays static, no matter the user.

3. Use Excel 2013 PowerPivot or PowerView on Dynamics CRM Data

4. Leverage Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services

5. Leverage FetchXML to pull data into your choice of BI Tools.

6. Check out Microsoft's Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS)

7. Use Dynamics CRM Advanced Find to pull data from a relationship tree of entities

8. Leverage the built in Dynamics CRM Report Writer

9. Use Microsoft Word Mail Merge to pull Dynamics CRM data into a favorite Microsoft Word Template

10. Tab into the extensive power of the entire Microsoft Office Stack and the integration between the different applications within this stack from CRM -> Excel -> Word  -> Visio -> OneNote and more.

11. Leverage the power of Entity specific Charts and charts on related entities

12. Leverage the built in Dashboards and the dashboard building wizards for individuals or for the entire company

13.  Use the built in Report Wizard

14. And if the above isn't enough to think about you also have a huge MarketPlace of Reporting and Business Intelligence available addin options.

 


Dynamics CRM Testing: UI Tools

Are you diving into the world of automation testing for extended Microsoft Dynamics CRM projects?

 

Take a look at Visual Studio 2012!

 

There is a whole set of UI Automation testing just waiting to be found!

To get you started you can read about testing for continuous development.

You can also read about What's new in Test Manager 2012.

and then there is the Visual Studio Magazine article on Automating UI Testing and

the list goes on ...

 

 

 


A Second in an Elevator

Do you know how every programmer is a creatively unique person? They like to artistically write and develop their custom code and (to the developers - you then tend to be responsible for it for life). I specialize in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, because I want to see more value for business investments in customized and extended solutions. I work with Microsoft Consulting Services to do this, on projects that are different (and sometimes the same) as standard Customer Relationship Management solutions that solve sales process, marketing process and service process needs.

Solutions can range across a very wide range of needs, but generally flow across numerous different departments.  Integration to Microsoft Office is a common need, tracking of relationships between things or people is a common need and tight ties to Excel for pivoting, reporting and analysis comes up a lot. Document Management with CRM's relationship to SharePoint and so much more.

So if you are still using Access (on speed) or Excel (multipled by 1000s) then maybe it is time to rethink.


Unit Testing CRM v2011 and Enterprise Development BP

1)      Unit testing CRM – Some interesting food for thought  

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/devkeydet/archive/2012/10/31/how-i-develop-and-unit-test-crm-2011-plugins.aspx

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/devkeydet/archive/2012/11/27/unit-testing-crm-2011-javascript-web-resources.aspx

 

2)      Enterprise CRM team development – Feedback from the field from Shan (CEO of ADX) and more good food for thought –

A special 2 hour XrmVirtual presentation on Enterprise CRM team development focusing on change management and application lifecycle management (ALM) tools.  Here is the event page:  http://www.xrmvirtual.com/events/team_dev_ShanMc_CRM2011


Dynamics CRMOnline and the SLA

When it comes to all things SLA the Dynamics CRM team posted a great blog post a couple of years ago complete with a number of great hyperlinks. I was re-reading this today and I realized that it was definitely worth a reshare!

So if you have questions about CRMOnline's Service Level Agreements START HERE 

 


To the Dynamics xRM Developers in the World

SureStep has a little file that is not always that easy to find, BUT it is a very powerful document for any developer ramping up on or learning Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

The specific file name within SureStep is 1.5.1 Development Standards XRM

Additonally any new and old xRM developer should know about the following resources

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Development Best Practices (available in PartnerSource and MSDN)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM SDK Documentation (available in PartnerSource and in MSDN)

MSDN: Design Guidelines for Class Library Developers, Microsoft Corporation, 2004 (MSDN Library)

 

 


Dynamics CRM Integration Continued

Yesterday's post generated some nice feedback. As it turns out there is a nice list of Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration options on the Microsoft TechNet Wiki (A great totally under appreciated resource)

You can read more on Integrating to Microsoft Dynamics CRM here


Integration: the joys, pains and options

One of the core design philosophy's of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and the labeling and use of this application as an xRM platform, is that the application is built with the expectation that developers will extend the functionality and teams will integrate other applications into it. This is particularly common within the world of large enterprise.

The joy of integration for the user:  User's can not only see all their data in one place, they also have options to add external data into that one place!  Data that is display only, window frames that peek into other applications within the same interface (like Google or Bing), data that is synchronized realtime (such as SharePoint) and in batch (like Active Directory integration) and even more derivatives of the same!  

Now to a customer, the term integration can have many, many different meanings. One of the first steps for anyone when faced with the term "integration" in a project meeting is to ask for the business process. What is the true need? Visibility, modification, creation? 

"systems integration is the process of linking together different computing systems and software applications physically or functionally, to act as a coordinated whole"

The key term "to act as a coordinated whole" which does not necessarily mean duplicating data between two systems nor does it imply simple. Distributed system integration is one of the most complex data coordination needs a team can face. In this mobile world, the risk that distributed data is needed on any given project, increases.

Dynamics CRM has some distributed processing built in. When you take your data offline using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Outlook client you are stepping into the distributed world. For instance the timing of when you go back online can impact your data and the coordination and rules around this dip into distributed thought.

OK So integration is a fact of life, so what are the options?

There are some very interesting third party vendor options. Some are loved, some hated, some are loved and hated and others are well brand new and unrated.

One of the new players (at least to me) is Synchronicity Systems out of the UK. They have a product called ECHO. I would be interested in any feedback from the field on ECHO.  They have niched an offering for moving an on-premise Microsoft Dynamics CRM v3, v4 or v2011 to the cloud.  

Another well known player is Scribe Software.

If you are tying into DynamicsGP (Great Plains), eOne is a vendor who has deep DynamicsGP history and Dynamics CRM connecct. 

and there is also always the totally custom route using SSIS or BizTalk.  


Dynamics CRM Utilities, utilities, utilities

For anyone ramping up on Dynamics CRM development make note

There are a TON of utilities to make your life easier available in codeplex, Microsoft Downloads, and in the SDK. Some of these utilities are version specific and some are good for all verisons

Go check them out and to get you started here are just a few to wet the appetite

CRMDiag

– Diagnostics Tool for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 or v4 which helps CRM developers and administrators to enable trace and devErrors on a CRM server.  It also generates an HTML report file with information about the CRM deployment.
 
–A small to tool which Generates CRM 4.0 Picklist Customization XML. This tool allows you to cut and paste a comma separated list of values and descriptions into a text box and then generate a set of XML picklist options which can be pasted into your Customization.xml file.
CRM Documentation - from Microsoft Dynamics CRM Documentation team’s famous Jim Daly
–Automatically generates technical documentation from a CRM Database Metadata
A large set of tools that includes a Sitemap editor, a tool for Dynamics CRM icon resizing (for custom entities), The ability to generate test data quickly and more
–Takes two customization.xml files and compares and reports on the differences
–For those projects where numerous similar views are requested within any entity. This tool offers replication of the Layers, columns and width increasing consistency.
–The tool allows you to display the list of all attributes and select if you want them to be searchable or not. In only one action, you can set all attributes searchable property for one entity. 
–With this tool, you can:
•Indicate which entity you want to inspect
•Enter the identifier of the object in question
•Searching for a user with its name or its unique identifier
•Click the “Retrieve rights” button and the program will tell you what rights the user with respect to the record
Support for all out of the box privileges - By default the export utility will export ALL privileges, including custom privileges.

Performance and Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is built using a number of different techniques and tools from Microsoft. Given these various techniques performance is optimized, but that does not mean that each individual partner, customer and developer doesn't need to pay attention.

Performance of a multi-user, highly dynamic, many moving parts system is worth adding to your project plan. To make fine tuning performance even easier the Microsoft CRM Engineering for Enterprise team has continued to keep their "Optimizing and Maintaining the Performance of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Clients" and their testing documentation such as the "Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Performance and Scalability with Intel" white paper current.

There are even more resources when it comes to performance and Dynamics CRM so if this is a hot point for you, take a look!