MS CRM Installing

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

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:

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.


Managed vs. Unmanaged Solutions (MS Dynamics CRM v7.x.x)

Let us take a look at Managed and Unmanaged Solutions.

Unmanaged and managed solutions

There are two types of Microsoft Dynamics CRM solutions: managed and unmanaged. Managed solutions  require a clear depth of understanding of managed solutions. They are used by the Independent Software Vendors (ISV's) who sell a set of IP that is not expected to be changed or modified by the customer purchasing these solutions. They are positioned to be updated or upgraded only by the ISV that sells them.

This is an important point for customers (who purchase these solutions and then extend CRM) and for partners (who create solutions for customers that are designed to be given to the customer to maintain).

UNMANAGED solutions are the more historical, potentially more flexible and what I like to call more organic. Organically I can generally fix most issues found in unmanaged solutions whereas managed solutions I must go back to the ISV.

It is also worth mentioning the "System" Solution.

The system solution represents the solution components defined within Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Without any managed solutions or customizations, the system solution defines the default application behavior. Many of the components in the system solution are customizable and can be used in managed solutions or unmanaged customizations.

If you add customizations without using a unmanaged or managed solution you are modifying the system solution. If you create an unmanaged solution (so you can easily move your changes to other environments) you are merging your changes in with the system solution. Every component of an unmanaged solution is prefixed with the prefix you define in the publisher. Every component that you add to the system solution (without leveraging managed and unmanaged solutions) is prefixed with new_

The team doesn't let you add, without some indication that it was added. (smart team)

So some easy and hard questions to consider as we thinking about Managed and Unmanaged Solutions

1) How do you create a managed or unmanaged solution?

2) What is a CRM publisher?

3) What benefit does the publisher give the customizer?

4) What happens when you import an unmanaged solution?

5) Can you export a managed solution?

6) Who is the primary audience for managed solutions?

7) What are the disadvantages for the customer of using managed solutions?



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.


Microsoft PFE Team (Premeire Field Engineering) releases awesome ticklers as well

AND the PFE Team (Premeire Field Engineering)  releases awesome ticklers as well. Take a peek at this little tidbit enhancement to Quick Find !

and you can follow the CRM PFE Team Blog !

Are you ready for some Dynamics CRM v2013 Videos from YouTube?

Are you ready for some CRM v2013 reading?

 Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013 Implementations Guide

Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013 Software Developer Kit (SDK)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013 Performance Counters

Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013 Connectivity and Port Requirements

Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013 Server

Scalable Security Modeling for Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013

Using multi-tenancy in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 to address challenges in enterprise business environments


Rollup 15 MS Dynamics CRM v2011

Microsoft has posted CRM v2011 Update Rollup 15.

Do you have a lot of other OutLook Integrations? CRM Outlook Client causing you grief on just one machine? 

This  rollup includes “process isolation” to split the Outlook Client out from the core Outlook process, an upgrade to SQL CE 4.0, and reductions in isolated performance issues with a large address books (among other things, it’s all in the KB)


Dynamics CRM v2011 Rollup 14 Released

General best practice for OnPremise users is to stay within two roll-ups. Just consider the large team of developers writing code, fixing any issues (reported by the millions of users) and continuing to make Dynamics CRM the absolute best CRM product on the market.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2011 Roll-up 14 has just been officially released. Learn more here.

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!

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.

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 ...




Keep Learning

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.


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

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


– 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!

Fun with Dates

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!  

IE 8 and CRM - Something you might not know

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."

Mobility v4 and v2011

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:

Dynamo with Dynamics CRM on Mobility, Mobile Express and CRM v4

Customer Effective on Mobile Express (Oct, 2010)

The more Powerful Mobile Express in CRM 2011

CRM v4 as a Baby - Quick Reference

Back in the day, and well ok I admit it this is still on my bulletin board in the office, Tim Dutcher put together a Microsoft Dynamics CRM v4.0 Quick Reference Sheet. This was a GREAT resource for all things new and new back in October 2008 was Dynamics CRM v4.0!

Now before you roll your eyes you might want to take a peek. A similar reference page can be put together for all things Dynamics CRM 2011. It just needs to be done and to get started here is the model! 


if you have yet to move to Dynamics CRM 2011 and you have people ramping up on Dynamics CRM v4.0 they might like it


if you want to follow my style and always know what features came out with which version so you can know the version number of the features (see this lets you know if the feature is robust or maybe just a bit wet behind the years)



CRM Industry News and Cloud Debates

Lauren Carlson, a CRM Market analyst over at The Software Advice blog, recently shared a number of new videos that some of you might be interested in.

The first I watched is an up close and personal interview with Brad Wilson answering the question

"What percentage of [CRM] customers choose the Cloud?"

To watch the full video click here !

A few interesting points from the video and from my thoughts for debate.

1) The cloud offers smaller customers the option of an instantly available application without any of the server installation or support requirements.

2) The cloud offers larger customers the option of an instantly available application without being queued up in the often over loaded information services department list of tasks.

3) If you pick the cloud and want to switch to OnPremise, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM code base is the same for both environments, making a switch in the future an option.

4) .NET extensions and plugin options are not (easily) available in the cloud. If you want to extend Dynamics CRM beyond the power of Customization and simple workflows, you potentially need OnPremise.

5) Smaller customers often need as much power (or more) as larger customers when it comes to traditional CRM. Relationship building and management of prospects and support handling and management of customers. Why? Because they have fewer people with more titles and responsibilities. CRM can greatly supplement human resource time constraints.

6) Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online does offer a bit more out of the box marketing functionality (web lead capture, different analytics), but the OnPremise ISVs in this arena really kick some tail. If you need advanced marketing features, such as click through analytics, then there are additional variables to consider.

7) Data matters, Security matters:  but who has better security? A professional hosting company whose reputation and business is on the line every day when it comes to their business model or your computer room or data center where the network administrator (s) live? The debate and history shows an even 50/50.  There are weaknesses in both arenas

To summarize the perfect CRM environment is different for each customer as each comes with positives and negatives, so I have to give Microsoft kudos for choice.

Despite the overhead of keeping two offerings current and defined (and yes there are significant overhead costs), Microsoft made the right choice in giving customers options.

These include Microsoft's Dynamics CRM Online, partner hosted Dynamics CRM and the OnPremise "customer hosted" Dynamics CRM.

Not only did they give customers the option of choice, they also give customers the option of changing their mind.     

Bit by the Dynamics CRM 2011 Marketing Bug? Read this First

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 has been released now both as an Online offering and as an OnPremise offering.

The buzz from the field is that the product is packed with 500+ new features and a ton of new options with regards to customization and after working with the product I have to agree. The team is offering some incredible power and flexibility while still maintaining all that is great in v4.0.

Power however comes with a price. As partners and customers across the world learned in Dynamics CRM v3.0 and v4.0 if you don't take the time to understand then it is easy to dig your own hole of frustration.

So how can this be avoided by those just getting interested? Particularly given that 2011 offers even more!!

Here are five key steps to getting off on the right foot!

1) Take baby steps and small bites, grow with the product 

2) At a minimum READ the installation guide twice (OnPremise)

3) Remember, just because it is easy to configure and customize doesn't mean you know the best way to configure and customize. Tap into experience.

4) Good "CRM" partners have already invested in the basics and offer those as part of every project (why pay to rebuild these, just for the learning exercise? There are better ways)

5) Senior .NET developers who don't know XRM/CRM still have a lot to learn when it comes to thinking XRM. Junior XRM/CRM developers still have a lot to learn when it comes to thinking .NET

           and as a little bit of extra - Item 6

6) Many of the features within Dynamics CRM are version 4.0! but some are v1.0 - set proper expectations when utilizing a specific feature set.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Excel 2007

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

A Little Bit More on ASYNC

Thanks to Matt Wittemann over at ICU MSCRM  


Posted by Matt Wittemann

There have been several KB articles and updates published to help control the size of the AsyncOperationBase table, which can cause your CRM database to grow very large, very quickly. (See here and here.) But just what are all those records anyway?

I pulled the following lists together from the SDK and technet in order to put this info in one place, where it’s a little more user-friendly (at least for me!).

First, the list of AsyncOperationTypes:





1 Event Specifies a system event.
2 BulkEmail Specifies a bulk e-mail operation.
3 Parse Specifies an import file parse operation.
4 Transform Specifies an operation to transform parse data.
5 Import Specifies an import operation.
6 ActivityPropagation Specifies a campaign activity propagation operation.
7 PublishDuplicateRule Specifies an operation to publish a duplicate detection rule.
8 BulkDetectDuplicates Specifies a bulk duplicate detection operation.
9 CollectSqmData Specifies an operation to collect SQM data.
10 Workflow Specifies a workflow operation.
11 QuickCampaign Specifies a quick campaign operation.
12 PersistMatchCode Specifies an operation to update the matchcode.
13 BulkDelete Specifies a bulk delete operation.
14 DeletionService Specifies a Deletion Service operation.
15 IndexManagement Specifies an index management operation.
16 CollectOrgStats Specifies an operation to collect an organization's statistics.
17 ImportingFile Specifies an import subprocess operation.
18 CalculateOrgStorageSize Specifies an operation to calculate an organization's storage size.
19 CollectOrgDBStats Specifies an operation to collect an organization's database statistics.
20 CollectOrgSizeStats Specifies an operation to collection an organization's size statistics.
21 DatabaseTuning Specifies an operation for database tuning.
22 CalculateOrgMaxStorageSize Specifies an operation to calculate an organization's maximum storage size.
23 BulkDeleteChild Specifies a bulk delete subprocess operation.
24 UpdateStatisticIntervals Specifies an operation to update statistic intervals.
25 FullTextCatalogIndex Specifies an operation to generate an organization full text catalog index.
26 DatabaseLogBackup  
27 UpdateContractStates Specifies an operation to update contract states.
28 ShrinkDatabase  
29 ShrinkLogFile  
30 ReindexAll Specifies an index management operation.
31 StorageLimitNotification  
32 CleanupInactiveWorkflowAssemblies  
38 ImportSampleData  

Next, here’s a list of the different state/statuscodes that each of these operation types can be in:

State Status Numeric status value
Ready WaitingForResources 0
Suspended Waiting 10
Locked InProgress 20
Locked Pausing 21
Locked Canceling 22
Completed Succeeded 30
Completed Failed 31
Completed Canceled 32

Hope this is useful to you! Have fun with it.

SureStep Methodology

Over the years I have been keeping my eye on the Microsoft SureStep Project Methodology. It was originally very ERP centric and as many of the CRM Consultants in the field know - CRM and ERP are very different projects! The audience, the style of design and the rollout are a different mindset.

Consider for instance that an ERP project is focused on a small group of people in the financial department with some interaction from management. CRM on the other hand spreads far and wide and can impact ever department and every person within a firm.

Needless to say despite keeping on eye on SureStep I have yet to embrace it.

With my latest deep dive into the application I can say that it has matured to a point where it is definitely worth checking out. There are still documents that need updating (references to Payroll and AP), but there are also a number of documents that can make your CRM projects much more professional, more organized and more successful.

So if you have not taken a look at SureStep and you are "reinventing the wheel" with regards to project templates or you think it is time to update what you are using then I would suggest that you log into Microsoft PartnerSource and download SureStep.


IE Tabbed Browsing, Defaults from Shortcuts and CRM considerations

To set Internet Explorer  to open a NEW instance of IE in a NEW window do this:

  1. Open the Control Panel or from the Tools menu inside IE access the Internet Options
  2. Click on the Advanced tab.
  3. Look for the following question "Reuse Windows for Launching Shortcuts (when tabbed browsing is off)" under Browsing
  4. Uncheck the box

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)

Tabbed Browsing

CRM Multitenancy

There is a lot to learn about Microsoft Dynamics CRM; although many have been tripped up by the ease in which you can configure and customize the system and the general marketing buzz. Don't let this fool you into thinking you are not still working with a powerful machine!

Dan Blake offers a primer on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Infrastructure multi-tenancy options. His post on this is now a year and a half old, but it still packs a mean punch with some great tidbits so if Multi-Tenancy is within your radar take a look.

So Many Variables: Windows Server 2008, 64 Bit

One of the benefits of blogging is having a place to capture items that might be worth remembering when problems occur.

Recently Microsoft released a technical article on running Microsoft Dynamics CRM v4.0 in a Windows 2008 64 Bit Server environment.

Some of the Key Items include an

"Error message when you try to open the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Web application"

but the article also includes work arounds to many of the issues discovered in the field.

The CRM Configuration Manager

A big shoutout thanks to Daniel Halan for creating this little toolkit (CRM Configuration Manager) and for sharing it!!! and thanks to Joel Lindstrom over at Customer Effective for point it out as something useful to have.

System Jobs: Follow-up

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.


Back in the pre-Microsoft SQL days I spent a good amount of time thinking about databases. There were databases that needed constant tweaking and maintanence and there were databases that were like chunks of granite that rarely had trouble, but when they did have trouble they could be a monster to fix.

I am curious as to if anyone out in the community has run across any favorite Microsoft SQL Server database tools and Dynamics CRM database maintanence best practices.

The World of Dynamics CRM Help

Microsoft has a world of "XRM" within Dynamics CRM and as more and more of the framework matures we will see growth.

On my latest deep dive I have been looking at modifying Dynamics CRM Help and the general structure around how changes to Dynamics CRM help are supported in a multi-tenant world. In summary they are not (yet). The help files are stored with the application files.

But luckily there is some great reading material to get started with changes you might want to make to help in a single tenant world and customizing help is supported. You can read the complete Microsoft Dynamics CRM Configuration Guide on Technet and when talking HELP you can focus on this section.

Data Migration

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has the builtin tool to import data; however this is not always the right choice when consider your first initial data migration.

Data Migration is packed with risk, unknowns, data cleansing opportunities, layers and eye opening potential. Needless to say there are numerous tools on the market that make data migration that much less painful. Additionally Microsoft also offers a Data Migration toolkit to support the developer and database crowd in their efforts to create a custom experience.

How have your experiences with data migration been? Feel free to comment and share - Perhaps you will help someone else just getting started.

Are you a Service Provider considering hosting Dynamics CRM?

Download the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0: Planning and Deployment Guidance for Service Providers

"Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0: Planning and Deployment Guidance for Service Providers contains the following documentations and tool:
1. Deployment Walkthrough Guide for Service Providers
2. Planning Guide for Service Providers
3. Development Guide for Service Providers
4. Microsoft Software License Terms
5. Deployment Configuration Tool"



One of the biggest places to trip up with Microsoft Dynamics CRM is during the installation process and one of the biggest factors is the security settings around some of the core complimentary and dependent software and tools.

Take for instance SQL.

Now some might think that being that they are logged into Windows Server as a Server Administrator they don't have to worry about anything, BUT a Microsoft Server Administrator password does not necessarily mean that you have Microsoft SQL Administrator rights.

When installing Microsoft Dynamics CRM you definitely want to be totally aware of your access and rights to the SQL Server or you could create a mess which is not fun to clean up.

Uninstalling Dynamics CRM

There are times when Microsoft Dynamics CRM needs to be uninstalled. It is a sophisticated application that changes the way a business operates and it is tied to it's sister applications tightly. Microsoft Office, SharePoint, IIS, Microsoft Exchange, Server and more. Needless to say installing Microsoft Dynamics CRM incorrectly can make quite a mess AND trying to fix the mess by uninstalling Dynamics CRM incompletely can make an even bigger disaster.

From the world of LinkedIN Dynamics CRM Experts comes this reminder from Steven Banner a CRM Technical Infrastructure Engineer at Crimson Ltd.

Microsoft has released a technical white paper called how to Manually remove the Microsoft Dynamics CRM server. You can read this white paper by following this link.

If you have to uninstall Microsoft Dynamics CRM I highly recommend a good clean sweep of all the components prior to a reinstall.  

ISA, SBS and MS Dynamics CRM

ISA is a software firewall that comes bundled as part of Microsoft Small Business Server Premium. It is an optional component and yet tends to be either loved or hated. If loved and you are installing MS Dynamics CRM SBE in the mix then you need to do a bit of research.

Luckily a few of the tough and passionate SBS Professionals and SBS MVPs have done some of the work for you.

A major thanks to HandyAndy's persistence in mastering MS Dynamics CRM SBE and ISA. His latest article on the subject can be found here

AND before Dana borrows Susan's 2x4 and smacks me.. Please make note.. You need to define, refine and master your own security best practices. One solution is not necessarily the best solution for all environments. The nice thing about MS Dynamics CRM is you DO have choice.

Having INSTALL issues?

MS Dynamics CRM is as sophisticated in its install as Small Business Server. It ties to just as many Microsoft Applications! It should never be approached lightly EVEN when it can be installed in 30 minutes.. (YES it can be done in 30 minutes when the karma is right)

We now ALWAYS recommend a full environment review before dropping MS CRM into the mix. MS CRM ties to Exchange, MS SQL, IIS, .NET framework, Outlook, Excel, Word, MS SRS and more..

It even runs a full review during the install and will not move forward until you resolve the issues. MS Dynamics CRM PROFESSIONAL can NOT be installed on a Domain Controller and as such MS DYNAMICS CRM SBE is a unique version of MS Dynamics CRM PRO. It has ALL the same features and more – it not only can be run on the domain controller (SBS) but it also ties to SBS features such as FAX services.

Soo.. what do you do when you get an error during the install?Particularly if you are not working with a partner who has been there and done that!

  1. Post to the CRM PARTNERS Newsgroup. Every e-mail in the partners newsgroup gets a response from Microsoft. Microsoft BUSINESS solutions/The Dynamics Team is a totally different subculture of Microsoft. (for better and for worse ;)
  2. Post to the CRM PUBLIC Newsgroup. Tons of the MVPs and community are talking, posting and responding in that space.
  3. Start a support incident with Microsoft Support Business Solutions. If it is a MS CRM problem.. it is WORTH the money. The problems are usually complicated. Try to stay with the CRM team and not get bumped to any of the auxiliary teams (such as the SQL team or Exchange team). The Auxilliary teams just don’t have the experience with MS CRM in the mix and the CRM knowledge that is needed to totally fix the issue.
  4. Posting to is an option – fairly quiet but some good SMB IT Pros doing CRM in that forum.
  5. Post to the CRM Sandbox – All developers writing extensions to CRM in that community.. so good .NET and SQL experts in that forum. The Sandbox and communities can be reached off the MS Dynamics CRM web site at

DIY MS Dynamics CRM

So you want to teach yourself Microsoft Dynamics CRM. You have tried and mastered a number of other CRM applications and you want to see if you can learn MSCRM quickly and if it is a good fit for your organization.

The other products didn't quite do it.

My suggestion. Don't waste your time with false expectations. Sure running CRM from within Outlook is a piece of cake for staff, but it takes a well thought out roll out to do any CRM product right! For the product to be a piece of cake for staff, the deployment needs care and attention.

Understand that learning MS Dynamics CRM is both easy and difficult. If you install it and you expect it to be just like any other flat system (outlook contacts, ACT!, etc), one screen that offers you everything, then you are going to be disappointed. The product has depth, so much depth that it grows with you. As you get better and better at MSCRM, it offers you more and more.

I like to compare MSCRM to Golf. You can quickly understand how to swing a golf club in an hour if you take lessons. You can even figure it out on your own (although the years of torture for doing it wrong are a bummer). BUT learning to swing the golf club feels different, awkward even. You have to want to learn and master and once you do.. You SOOO get it. It is sooo easy!

So realize that the relationship map in our heads, of who knows who and how they relate to each other and all the little nuances of 6 Degress of Seperation are finally mastered in one CRM System. MSCRM, but it does make it a WHOLE lot easier if you work with someone who has experience with MSCRM to configure it.

I am not talking about custom code or customizations (also things you can do), but these are things a small business DOES NOT want to pay extra for nor take long term responsibility for. I am talking about training ad configurations from someone who has spent a lot of time configuring MSCRM systems.

OK, ok you don't want to work with an expert. No problem, then read the books. For the Installation/Deployment Certification there is one book, 8 1/2 x 11 with 548 pages in it. Now this does not mean that the installation is hard, it can be extremely easy because the team has built in checks, balances, wizards and all!

For the Application Mastery there are three books!~ etc. etc..

Get it. MSCRM easily competes with multimillion dollar CRM products. Respect the power of the system AND understand that even if you don't use all the power it can be as simple as you need it to be.

MS Dynamics CRM New Users

So you have just purchased MS Dynamics CRM and you are not sure what CDs or DVDs to use and what updates are needed.

Here is a list

MS Dynamics CRM v3.0 dated January 2006

MS Dynamics CRM v3.0 Rollup dated December 2006

MS Dynamics CRM Outlook Client v3.0C (compatible with Vista and Office 2007)

Key Patch for v3.0C to smooth out the bumps running v3.0C on an XP machine.

This rollup can be downloaded and added after installation, BUT if you have not installed you might want to downloaded the December 2006 90 day trial which includes everything and can be activated with your new license code.

Saves a step and makes for a smoother installation.

There are of course other KB Articles with various tweaks, but none that are screaming loudly off the page as of yet.

Also be aware that other product updates can impact your environment and you want to be careful of Windows Server SP2, MS SQL 2005 SP2 (you want SP2a), etc.

Walking the Line

There is a definite line between small businesses who cruise along with a nice Small Business Server and those businesses who have grown out of a single server hardware footprint.

For instance there are small firms (as in even as small as 10 - 50 people) who really need to move some of their primary applications off the main box. Companies that use applications that demand powerful, dedicated hardware.

Now if you talked with Infrastructure Gurus/Passionists/Pros, often you would know that at any given time you can take a Windows Server Professional and a Small Business Server Professional and immediately start a heated debate with no winner! The debate which is the better recommendation for a small business.

The Windows Server Pros roll there eyes at anyone who would even consider running one server with everything. In fact some even go so far as to call it crazy. On the other hand the SBS Pros know how successful this model is in the field and love that the SBS Development team has made the changes to the core software to make all the applications play nice together. Realize that the Windows Pros don't get all the SBS Teams modifications(nor do they understand that SBS is it's OWN product not just a paste together) so THEY have to make all the applications play nicely together or put them on different boxes.

Now we consider Microsoft Dynamics CRM. For small businesses we have Microsoft Dynamics CRM SBE which has been designed to tap into all the nice features of MS Small Business Server. As in MS CRM DYNAMICS SBE MUST run on the domain control because it has no choice.

When we get into Microsoft Dynamics Professional; however we run into different situations. For instance Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional should not be installed on a DOMAIN Controller (can't has been mentioned). This means that for those firms who have 2 servers, a primary Domain Controller and a Secondary Domain Controller, we get stuck..

If MS Dynamics CRM Pro can't run on a domain controller and if the (MS SQL TEAM cringes when you mention running MS SQL on a DC) then where do you install SQL or CRM in a firm that has 2 servers?

You have 2 choices

1) Add a Member Server to the environment for MS SQL and MS CRM increasing the number of servers supported and managed to 3.

2) Run the environment with a Primary DC Server and a Member/Application Server

Ah the joys of choices at the 10-50 person level firms. Always walking the line between what they have to give up versus what makes sense for their model!