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.
I am amazed at how I continue to learn more and more about Dynamics CRM despite focusing on the platform for over eight years. The product team continues to release small and large updates and are amazing in how fast they manage to keep up with the pace of technology change.
Additionally the current product (even before any updates) has a ton of depth and a number of under utilized functionality. When was the last time you decided to add something new to your business processes? What about learning one small area of the software in full?
Consider Goals, or Connections - take a peek at subjects or perhaps you want to become a FetchXML guru
Did you know you can tie web sense into charts?
There is so much that can be done.
Given this I offer this link and suggestions: Go review the Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2011 IMPLEMENTATION GUIDE. You might not have looked at it for a few years, a few months or even ever and it is packed with great information. So take an hour for study, each day this week - shoot make it a team effort and start up a Dynamics CRM brown bag lunch or book group. You will be pleasantly surprised.
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
CRM is highly personal just like each of our own direct relationships. It must also meet corporate and team shared needs. This post dives into this concept.
Take for instance the tracking of details on a relationship between two people. The USER of CRM (such as a sales person) and their prospect or client (such as a key contact at a prospect site)
Some details of a relationship are as unique as each person within that relationship and others are common for all relationships with a specific person no matter who is in that relationship.
These details of a "relationship" can include an incredible list of variables.
What would be considered common and easily shared and valuable to a team? Personal characteristics such as a specific job title, the contacts features (height, gender, eye color) or perhaps even the name of a contacts spouse and friends.
Other variables are unique to a specific relationship and might or might not be valuable to the team.
What would be considered unique? The level of trust between two people, an inside joke, their shared history, perhaps a specific experience and shared networks. This could even extend to likes and dislikes that a person has and their level of likes. A person who is great at skiing might love skiing with a person at their same level, but hate it with a beginner. We could even go so far as to look at other unique traits such as what job or what role is taken as part of a specific relationship. If I think of one person in my network as an example, this same person is a contactor, a developer, a senior software developer (language being a factor), a software engineer, an architect (role being a factor), a speaker, a reference, a father, a son, a coach, a builder and more. So how are all these different variables tracked and shared?
Within the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM these variables are handled in a number of different ways and at various different companies extended with different styles. Partner extensions to the software, customer driven extensions to the software, base use of already available features. This one subject is a great one for the user group! (www.crmug.com)
Depending on the version of the software choices within the software change significantly between version 4 and verson 2011.
In the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM v4.
Contacts are people who have a set of shared fields and these include not only what shipped out of the box, but also any other fields you wanted to add. Out of the box fields include title, gender, e-mail addresses, and how the person likes to be contacted. User defined fields might include if they are a referral source or if they are an influencer within a prospect account.
Microsoft also offered a table in v4 for relationships. This is a two column list where a CRM user could custom define that a specific person (such as person A) was a vendor contact and that a specific second person (person B for instance) was the customer of that vendor contact. You could also choose a company and put it in this relationship table such as company A was a vendor for person B as the customer contact. This relationship feature offered both company and contact cross reference choices.
The feature had/has an interesting set of powerful potential, but it also had limits and I would dare to say it is under utilized inthe field and as such in the world of Dynamics CRM version 2011 a whole new world of options was born under the CONNECTIONS umbrella. Relationships exists in 2011 but has been retired and replaced with connections.
If you have not discovered CONNECTIONS then you want to take time to REALLY understand the power before you architect it into your business process.
So with those thoughts and my writing time ended I open up the idea for discussion and perhaps a few more posts over the next few days.
How does your company track all the variables between all the different relationships for each prospect or client contact that you have?
In this incredible world of both technology offering calculated date and people capturing data from all over the world the two concepts can sometimes collide!
Take for instance the world of dates.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers UTC adjustments, personal settings and Date and Time fields. What this means is that depending on how you have your computer configured and your Dynamics CRM Personal Options the dates that you enter are adjusted.
Microsoft Outlook does this as well. If I was to setup a meeting with an associate in California for instance on my calendar for today the meeting would display as Eastern Time (2pm for instance), but for my associate (CRM Guru Marc Wolenik) the date and time would display as (11am) and if we then added in another person such as a cool CRM Guru in Australia (Leon Tribe) the time would not only be different, the DAY would be different.
So what happens when you start capturing these types of dates inside of Dynamics CRM for analysis or reporting?
If all the dates are entered by "humans" correctly configured for their local time zones then the software correctly handles all the adjustments. The only trick with regards to this set of considerations is that DATE Only fields are well not really date only so watch that!
If all the dates however are entered by other "Systems" then a bit more thought needs to go into the architecture. Take for instance a system that resides on a server in a data center that is capturing date information based on that servers date. If you then take that date and enter it via an integration, how would you expect Dynamics CRM to react?
How would that date be managed?
Do you want it to be fixed? or adjusted?
If you want it to be adjusted, how are you going to tell the system to adjust it?
What if you want it to be a date field BUT you want to lock it to a certain time zone?
These are the joys of the world of global!
Posted at 08:55 AM in CRM Development, MS CRM Configuring , MS CRM in Enterprise , MS CRM Installing, MS CRM Roll Out, MS CRM Selling, MS CRM Studying, MS CRM Tip of the Day, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
PowerObjects had a great little blog post on Internet Explore 8 when it came out highlighting a few of the cool NEW features that are worth learning about if you are using Dynamics CRM.
Now that IE 8 is part of your everyday routine (and you are thinking about IE 9) take a look at this post on some of the features that might have slipped your notice in what you ALREADY have.
Oh and in terms of security (for those of you running other web browers)
"Testing conducted by the independent NSS Labs found that IE8 provided signifigantly better malware blocking capabilities than Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome and Apple Safari."
The CRM development team at Microsoft slid in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobility option called Mobile Express a while ago - (I could even say years ago -Check out Settings, Mobile Express) and as far as I can see they have been updating it little by little as the rollups and new versions come out.
What does this mean? It means that Mobile Express is an option worth checking out, BUT that it does not necessarily meet ALL your extensive mobility needs depending on what you need in a Mobile client and what and how many platforms you need it to run on as well as how many extra mobile specific features you want.
The mobile ISVs including TenDigits and CWR Mobility are totally focused on working with mobile teams to empower them and encourage them to get more from their Dynamics CRM Investment. They also have additional features that are integrated so if you need those additional features get the teams at CWR and TenDigits to give you a demo, BUT if you just want to access Dynamics CRM from your cell phone once in a while then take a peek at Mobile Express.
Of note Mobile Express is a Free feature in Dynamics CRM and yes, there are a number of people who don't realize this. Pay to get it configured and to learn the best way to use it from your partner, but don't worry about extra licensing fees.
Articles on Mobility and Dynamics CRM are as follows:
Caution: You might want to think twice about this one, but it does take care of a user annoyance when exporting from Microsoft Dynamics CRM into Microsoft Excel 2007..
Thanks to Joel over at Customer Effective for summarizing!!
Click To Read - Getting Rid of the CRM Export to Excel WARNING message
David Jennaway has a great post on the Asynchronous Service as well. You can read some of it here and link to the rest over on Dave's great CRM blog at http://mscrmuk.blogspot.com/
CRM 4.0 UR 3 brought in a useful feature, the ability to configure the CRM Asynchronous Service to automatically delete records from completed asynchronous operations, and hence keep the size of the asyncoperationbase SQL table down to a reasonable size. This behaviour is configured by the registry values AsyncRemoveCompletedJobs and AsyncRemoveCompletedWorkflows
At the moment, the only workaround I have is to remove the registry values, and to use a scheduled SQL job to periodically clear out the asyncoperationbase table. Here is an example of such a script.
To set Internet Explorer to open a NEW instance of IE in a NEW window do this:
Note: You have to turn off tabs feature for this to matter (of note this also applies to those using older versions of IE that do not have tabbed browsing functionality)
Posted at 08:58 AM in MS CRM Configuring , MS CRM Installing, MS CRM Roll Out, MS CRM Tip of the Day, MS CRM Users: Network and CRM SQL Database Administration, MS CRM Users: The Support Department | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
For anyone new to Microsoft Dynamics CRM – This recording is a great start on how to modify the UI without writing a line of code. It also has one or two tips that are helpful for those a bit more experienced.
As a follow-up to my system jobs post earlier this week I was pleased to find and to have shared with me two other related posts.
Customer Effectives post titled "Bulk Deleting Waiting Workflow Instances from Microsoft Dynamics CRM"
Phil Adam's Blog post titled Performance is slow if the AsyncOperationBase table becomes too large in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0
Both add additional insight on the subject matter that is well worth the read.
If you are a "CRM Administrator" have you looked at your System Jobs recently? Now for all those working on various projects ... Have you checked out the System Jobs in your development environments?
Choose SYSTEM JOBS
Immediately you will see a list of various information regarding various "system jobs" that might have run or might be "waiting".
Make particular note of the items in the waiting state. Do you know what they are waiting for? Should they really be waiting? Do they need to be cancelled?
Next Question: Are you managing your system job log? Has it been purged lately?
Did you know that Duplicate Detection is a System Job?
There are a number of cool little tools that the partners use to quickly populate user drop down lists.
Here are various blog posts and links to pick from in no particular order
which was updated here 3) http://dynamicscrmbyalfredo.blogspot.com/2006/09/recently-i-found-this-useful-blog.html
4) and back in the 3.0 Days http://blogs.infinite-x.net/2006/08/26/release-utility-to-generate-picklist-options-for-dynamics-crm-30/
Have you found an easier way? Feel free to share!
Have you been working hard at developing and documenting changes to a Microsoft Dynamics CRM environment?
This little tool might be helpful!
This week I had a need to rename the Sub-Account. Well sub-account isn't an entity and it isn't listed in any of the places I could think of.
Given that we had a choice of hiding it or renaming it I did a bit of searching and low and behold thanks to the great team at Microsoft support we found the answer. To chance the display of the term sub-account to something different you edit Messages!! (Go Figure)
PS Twitter let me down on this one :( Despite having a focused following of great people some of these stranger questions get lost in the water flowing quickly under the bridge.
The ISV Config offers some interesting options for developers
1) It offers two places where you can add buttons and menus at the application level. The Global Menu Bar and the Application Level Tool Bar.
2) It also offers three areas where you can add menus, buttons and navigation items at the detail level including the Form menu bar, the form toolbar and the form navigation pane.
3) You also have two areas that can be modified in the Entity Grids which include the Entity Grid Action Menu and the Entity Grid Buttons
Make note that if you change the Web Interface you will also want to change the Outlook Interface.
I had in the back of my mind that somewhere there was a sample reports book available for Dynamics CRM, but despite my efforts today I could not find one.
One of the best ways to really understand what your client wants to capture in Dynamics CRM is to ask them what reports they want to get out of the system and not only what reports, but actual copies or mocked up examples of those reports.
You might be able to get the same data from a view or from never printing text on a piece of paper, but the goal of the exercise is to find out what the client is looking for, not necessarily how they want it to look.
Personally I find that a sample reports book is extremely helpful when it comes to really understanding some of the captured data and a great tool for training as well.
Go ahead and create a sample reports book - On one page of the sample report book add a short paragraph describing the report on the facing page. Bind it using wire or three ring so it lays flat and use it as a workbook. Feel free to add views, dashboards, mockups of desired reports, printed samples of the custom reports you have created and more.
Building Workflows in Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a subject that is not often covered and yet it is one of the keystones of power behind the software.
One of my favorite bloggers, Richard Knudson, president of IMG, has recently released a small book called "Workflow in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
In these tight economic times many a business is looking to improve efficiencies using a variety of techniques. One of the key terms that I learned and adopted from Convergence 2009 is "the Anthropologist." This isn't necessarily new to me, but it is something that is worth re-emphasizing.
When trying to improve a process the first step is to first ask the right question (explain to me and show me exactly what you do on a daily or monthly basis) and then document and listen (Visio is very help for this - for a picture validates a 1000 words all on one page)
So the next time you are talking with someone who is asking if Microsoft Dynamics CRM does A, B, or C and the next time you are trying to figure out what someone wants as you design and configure - step back and put that anthropologist hat on.
Find out exactly how the person is working, what technologies and applications they really using and how are they using the tools available to them.Have them show you versus tell you. You might be very surprised. (They might be as well)
One of the coolest features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the slicing and dicing you can do with security roles. It is also one of the more complex features of the software.
Microsoft uses the concept of a Business Unit as a core security feature. I often explain business units as a rock wall divider within any given database, but given that Microsoft allows for a tree factor this is not necessarily a black and white rule.
The reason I emphasis "rock wall" is because once you create a business unit it becomes difficult to share data across business units without a more complex design. For those firms who do not have complex security needs I recommend keeping business units to a minimum. They are easy to abuse and can create some long term pain.
One of the most common mistakes I see in CRM is the decision to use a checkbox as opposed to a completed activity.
A checkbox is easy to add and easy for a user to "click on", but it totally bypasses the ability for the system to track historical information. It is also a feature that is harder to audit trail as the checking of or the unchecking of a checkbox is not easy to track. (although with creative workflow it is possible)
So if you are thinking about "adding a few fields" to increase the communication from your teams and people around what has and has not been done than you might want to think a bit more about the whole picture.
One of the most frequently requested items when it comes to a slight enhancement to Dynamics CRM is the enhancement to track activities and associated time to a specific client project.
To do this you can configure Dynamics CRM using what I like to refer to as the modify functionality. You do not have to write big custom extensions or .NET or JAVA code to do this (thank you Microsoft).
Utilizing the "Customize" menu in Dynamics CRM create a new Project Entity (this is a new database table and entity is a word you customizers want to add to your vocabulary)
Add appropriate attributes to the project entity (the data you want to capture on the head project record such as the project name, project budget, and timeline)
Create a relationship between Activities and Project: For any given project you can have many activities (unlimited actually)
Create a relationship between Account and Project (For any given account you can have unlimited projects)
Presto! You can now track activity records to a specific project in addition to direct to the Account, Contact, Ticket, User and more. Within the ACTIVITY RECORD is the ability to capture a start time, end time, duration and more.
One of the comments to this blog today was asking about how to push custom field data from LEAD into CONTACT or ACCOUNT once the lead is converted to a prospect.
To do this using CRM Customization, you drill down into the specific RELATIONSHIP within the entity (in this case LEAD to ACCOUNT) and then you can add a MAPPING that maps a custom field in the LEAD to a similarly designed custom field in the ACCOUNT. This map pushes data from one to the other when the Account is created. It is not ideal and can be supplemented with some workflow (for instance if the account already exists), but it is similar to how the current system fields are being populated during convert.
If you are still unsure as to how to approach this make sure you talk with your Dynamics CRM partner technical specialist. There is SO much that can be learned and mastered within Dynamics CRM! Tap into all that experience that surrounds you!
If a relationship is defined as the interaction of two people; how would a company track all the numerous relationships between perhaps a single person at a company and the various staff members within the servicing firm.
So John Smith works for ABC Corporation and ABC Corporation purchases services from PSI. PSI has 5 technical people who at any given time work with John Smith.
You want to document these relationships and perhaps unique notes from each PSI tech, but you also want want historical flow for John Smith.
This can be done with the opening and closing of activities and you can also use the Relationship feature of Dynamics CRM to build the relationship table.
Let’s look at a specific account and discuss how it can be documented in Dynamics CRM. One of the incredible (and many times underutilized powers) of DynamicsCRM is its ability to track what I would consider the spider web of relationships. Rarely are, say a 100 people with relationships, easily dropped into a tree format. Sure it works for families, but larger companies are not always truly hierarchical in nature. They are much more likely to intertwine and have multiple touch points.
Let’s look at Microsoft Corporation for instance.
In getting to know the new contacts here in Houston I was immediately faced with how should I track these in Dynamics CRM. You see I use Dynamics CRM heavily to do what I do and as such have to apply the framework to my own intertwined world.
Now of the 10 blue badges (Microsoft Employees) I have met to date in the Houston area I have at least 5 different addresses, 3 different departments and definitely different individual success points. Each of the people I have met is driven by different factors. Understanding these success points allows me to continue to not only get from Microsoft, but to continue to give in return. A Win/Win.. As opportunities cross my plate that might help any one person meet their success point I can add a little sugar, but I digress.
Now before I share with you how I tackled this, let’s look at the options (for this “word problem” and for now I will not include the international offices). So we have Microsoft Corporation (Infrastructure) and Microsoft Business Solutions. These two main lines of thought tend to be unique in their culture. There are overlaps and yet in the partner world there are also distinct differences in model in those that focus on one or the other.
We also have divisions under the two above such as the SMS&P division. Now would you make Microsoft SMS&P an Account in DynamicsCRM or would you make Microsoft Houston an Account or perhaps just Microsoft Corporation and let every Microsoft contact be simply a contact and yet if you only had contacts how would you build the relationship map to show which of the contacts were related to which of the other contacts. There are peers, umbrella divisions, regional groups, and more.
Would you use the relationship table (certainly an option) and one that is not flat if you really think about it?
What about the third party vendors who compliment the Microsoft solutions OR the third party vendors who are contracted by Microsoft and as such are listed under Microsoft Corporation (often seen as an e-mail address starting with a v-)?
These are the challenges and yet challenges that can be met with numerous options by using Microsoft DynamicsCRM.
Recently I presented Microsoft Dynamics CRM for the Information Technology Professional industry at SMB Nation. I was given a couple of hours on the Virtual Server machine prior to the presentation and with some speedy fingers and the concepts I wanted to apply I was able to pull together a complete working demonstration of the IT Pro Firm.
Unfortunately I can easily talk about Microsoft Dynamics CRM for a good 4 days and there was soooo much I was not able to get to in my 90 minutes. :( Still the crowd was a buzz with questions and answers came easily.
In this day and age one of the key things to incorporate into your contact management system is how people like to be contacted or perhaps just their preferred method. I have contacts who are totally e-mail oriented and others that have a phone pretty much always glued to their ear. There are also those who still appreciate a nice handwritten note once and a while.
Are you tracking these details? Better yet are you thinking about them before reaching out?
One of the powers of MS Dynamics CRM is the ability to change data entry forms and views. A key item to remember when doing this is that in the FORM modify screen you have the option to preview your changes prior to saving and publishing.
I know when I work on this screen I have often forgotten that these choices exist.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 is compatible with Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP. However, to run Internet Explorer 7 correctly in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0, you may have to turn off the application mode setting for the Microsoft CRM Web site. To Do This!
Internet Explorer 7 closes unexpectedly when you export records to Microsoft Excel in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0. For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: 911328
So Andy Goodman (aka Handy Andy) and Amy Babinchak have been doing a bit of work together to figure out all the little ins and outs that are required for ISA and MS CRM SBE to work happily together. I have been reading and trying to keep up.
I have been amazed at how easy Amy makes ISA on SBS look. She truely is an SBS ISA goodess! Andy, Andy flies so fast through SBS that I have a hard time picking up any of his resources of knowledge.. On the other hand he is a genius at grabbing screen shots and documenting with pictures every step of the way. Andy has a great website called www.sbs-rocks.com where he posts a number of his articles. If you like to study and you want to learn more about CRM in the world of SBS you might check out these two resources..
The Work in Process
I love pictures as much as I love wizards!
It continues to amaze me that something that we all think should be straight forward can have layers and layers of knowledge and thought built into it.
Some days when I work on the computer I feel like the mechanic looking at a 2007 automobile. The dang things is so beefed up that it is hard to figure out how to do the easy things like change the oil.
Will people loose the knowledge of how to do things or gain more as each "project" becomes layered and more sophisticated?
I printed out the Planning Files for MS CRM today and realized that the shear volume was worth mentioning. The combined documents when stacked are over 2 inches thick! If you consider that these are simply screen shots and field descriptors you have to appreciate how much "configuration" you can do to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0!
I am not talking about using the SDK (also available) and customizing the software (aka writing code). I am not talking about development expertise or understanding ASP.NET. I am not even talking about whipping of a few scripts.
What I am talking about is configuration. Changing the display, adding fields to capture data, modifying views or adding views that are unique for the firm and business.
When Microsoft totes "Works the Way you Do" they really mean it.
Thanks to Gavin for reminding me to post on the new MS CRM MOBILE client!!! I downloaded it this morning and then managed to get totally distracted by the information super highway here in the office.
The MS CRM Mobile client for 3.0 is now available for download and can be used by all the MS CRM 3.0 customers. If you want to take a sneak peak before you install you can also check out the pictures Gavin posted. He is definitely Mr. Mobile of Canada!
You found the Configuration screens, you modified a form, added a few more items to a pick list on a field in attributes and various other things.
You save and close and go on your way.
Wait why are you changes not showing up? You notice the form looks as it did before you hard work?
This occurs when you forget to PUBLISH.
To fix, go back into configuration and choose to publish all.
"Learn how to build portals and dashboards in SharePoint sites by using Web Parts that display Microsoft CRM data. This article accompanies a sample Visual Studio .NET solution that contains sample Web Parts for a Customer Service Portal. This article includes information about how to install and use Web Parts, and explains how to retrieve and display Microsoft CRM data in Web Parts."
The developer community has asked for a long time: Where is the free developer toolbar for IE? We recognized the popularity of free IE tools like Fiddler and we listened to your feedback. I am glad to announce the next addition to our developer tool support: The IE dev toolbar. This tool will help developers to explore their HTML documents and understand everything about it.
With the IE Dev Toolbar you have several features at your fingertips to go deep into existing pages or pages that you are currently creating. You will be able to explore the DOM tree and find elements on the page, disable IE settings, view information, outline elements, control images, resize pages to common screen resolutions and have a powerful ruler that lets you measure pixel perfect content on your page. It also will help you to validate against existing standards and provides pointers to W3C specs.
At Chris’ talk at the PDC on Tuesday, he announced that we would have a beta version available very soon. This is now ready and available for download. It is designed to work on IE6 as well as IE7.