MS CRM ISV and 3rd Party Add-on Products

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 !


It might be available as an Add-On? #msdyncrm

Clients want to purchase a software package that has absolutely everything they need all nicely bundle in a shiny box, but the reality is that each client's business process has many unique variables.

In order to meet all the unique needs of clients Microsoft has built not only a product with a ton of features (#msdyncrm), but also with a framework for development (stick within the framework and upgrades and updates go fairly smoothly). So what have the great partners in the field done?

They have built additional modules, utilites, full products and even feature sets for purchase that click into Dynamics CRM.

 


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.

 


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.  


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


Bridge 2 CRM

I haven't heard much from Bridge2CRM over the last couple of years and have not had the pleasure of talking to them at some of the big Dynamics Conferences like Convergence 2011, but their solution looks to be another option in the mobility space.

Menno blogged about them a while back, but alas my link to Menno's post has grown cold, brittle and broken.

Comments from the Crowd?

    Are you using this solution?

    Have you used this solution?

    What do you think?


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!

http://mscrmrocks.blogspot.com/2008/10/dynamics-crm-40-quick-reference.html 

OR

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

OR

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)

CRMQuickReference 

 


More on Advanced Marketing Options

Tis the year to dive into business cultures and technology that have had significant change 

If you have not looked under the covers at the marketing industry lately then it is time. What you used and assumed yesterday could use a refresh based on some of the newer offerings. Take for instance CoreMotives, who is another very interesting player within the world of cutting edge marketing combined with great technology advances.

To get a feel for what they do take a peek at some of their upcoming webinars covering

> Email marketing

> Auto Responders
> Web intelligence
> Web form creation
> Surveys
> Landing pages
> Social media tracking
> Google AdWord tracking

Advanced Marketing and Dynamics CRM

It is not easy to grow a business these days, but when you have years and years of experience and tons of connections and there is a good need, it is often the right thing to do.

John Gravely and his team have just that company with ClickDimensions.

On June 1st, join John to hear some of that great experience as he presents REAL stories of MARKETING with Dynamics CRM. This is a premier event for marketers (not sales people who do a bit of marketing)Offering True Stories of Marketing with Microsoft Dynamics CRM

This live workshop will include examples of real world campaigns where Microsoft CRM was used to:

  • Double a newsletter list in two weeks using a unique approach toward email marketing and lead scoring
  • Develop an easy way to improve web traffic by understanding the quality of visitors by traffic sources
  • Implement a strategy for creating great content that positions your firm as a leader
  • Apply simple tips for search engine marketing and search engine optimization
  • Provide sales with easy to use automated prospecting and marketing tools to make them more effective and efficient
  • Identify how to best use the right social channels to drive business value

It should be fairly interesting as there is so much more that can be done both with the built in features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Marketing AND with some of the incredible ISV offerings that tie the power of the internet, statistics and technology with the CRM platform.

TO REGISTER


CodePlex and Dynamics CRM

Wow - CodePlex grew while I wasn't paying attention. There are now almost one hundread different free solutions available, all with interesting hints of cool stuff.

Searching on Dynamics CRM: Check it Out


Business Card Scan Options for Dynamics CRM

When it comes to learning Dynamics CRM one of my favorite blogs to keep up with is Richard Knudson's Dynamics CRM Trick Bag and as I was catching up I caught a quick little tip at the bottom of one of his posts.

He was summarizing Convergence and low and behold a favorite subject of mine appears. Business card scan options for Dynamics CRM. It always made me sad that Corex cardscan evaporated, because I really liked their integration and devices. Anyway here is a clip from Richard's post.

"What are the best card scanners for CRM?  (How could this topic NOT be included in a Convergence summary article?) Here are the two I’ve had personal experience with, and have recommended to clients who’ve had success with them:


Thoughts on Convergence 2011 in Atlanta

If you work with any of the Microsoft Dynamics products or if you are just thinking about jumping onto the xRM/CRM bandwagon then you will want spend some time thinking or rethinking about attending Convergence 2011 in Atlanta!

Microsoft Convergence is one of the largest Microsoft shows in North America and as such it draws a large number of cool people from a wide variety of vendors and from Microsoft. I love just having a chance to sit down for 15 minutes or so with a number of different partner contacts, support staff, guru field experts and even the people who happen to sit next to me at breakfast. There are so many fascinating minds at work in this world!

Additionally although some of the presentations can be a bit too marketing oriented (the last couple of years have shown huge improvement in this area), there are even more that are totally intense field feedback packed. Not to mention that many of the speakers come right from the front line.

Realize that this year the EXPO hall at Convergence was sold out way in advance. Welcome back buzzing economy! AND the conference attendence is so full that Microsoft marketing doesn't have to do much so don't expect any extra motivation from your local Microsoft Rep!

Here are my top 5 tips for getting the most out of Convergence 2011 AND if you are going to be in Atlanta watch for me!

1) Spend the time to setup meetings in advanced. These can be a quick lunch, a specific breakfast table or an agreement to go to selected sessions together. Meet with people you don't know!  A lot can be accomplished in those first 15 minutes before a presentation starts.

2) Line up your agenda now, but give yourself choices. One of the morning sessions might influence which session you pick in the afternoon.

3) Know the speakers and pick the speaker that is going to offer you the content at the level you are interested in. This could be highly technical, a mix of business and technical, 101 or case studies.

4) Make time to visit the Expo Room so you can connect and learn about all the incredible third party offerings. Many of the people in the booths are GREAT contacts to know from CEOs, to developers to passionate CRM gurus.

5) Attend DAYOne sponsored by CRMUG and supported by xRMVirtual. It is a great way to warm up, ask questions, find out how the week will unfold and meet some of the people who spend a significant amount of their time helping the community and learning from answering CRM specific questions.

6) Follow the TWEETs on the event so you know where things are happening and what you don't want to miss. The tweets let you find out about unpublished events and can give you access to Convergence experienced feedback minute by minute. #CONV11

Now jump on over and get those logistics nailed down before it is too late!


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile Access

I had not heard much from Ten Digits in the last few months and I was wondering what was up. They are such a big player in the Dynamics CRM Blackberry market.

Well as it turns out Ten Digits has been heads down in development mode.

Today they announced the newest versions which include new features and new software for a number of different platforms. I was particularly pleased to see they now have an iPad version.

In terms of new features - The mobile market offers some really nice fine tuning focus. Adding in items such as picture capture and association (it is a phone, it has a camera, it has CRM with contacts) and voice record and capture (it is a phone, it does voice, it has CRM with attachment support).

If you have not had a chance to check out what the Mobile ISV's to Microsoft Dynamics CRM are doing then you definitely want to check them out. Don't depend on just press releases. Dig into their website and see the videos, feature lists and discussions. OR step it up and visit the teams at any of the numerous conferences going on this summer and fall. If you are in Washington D.C. this week: The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference is happening and according to the CRM Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook buzz Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a big part of the event.


Why no HTML Editor in Dynamics CRM

ExactTarget offers some great insight about HTML e-mails and the challenges they can cause! Variables such as which e-mail client, which browser and which software your clients are using can have an impact.

As such this area of technology gets to be a lot thicker and more complicated than one would first suspect.

If you then mix that with all the cool new tricks for tracking opens, subscribes, unsubscribes and marketing statistics as well as the international and national SPAM laws you are stepping into an area that requires its own experts.  The experts exist and they are working with Microsoft! Companies like CoreMotives and ExactTarget for instance.

So if advanced marketing is a focus of yours then start at the top of the trees, in the right forest, with the right tools and the right partners and then get into the nitty gritty.


Dynamics XRM Bundles? Check out today's xRM Virtual presentation on IP

Join the XRM Virtual User Group today for a Crash Course in Intellectual Property with Jonathon Zuck from the Association for Competitive Technology.

When: Thursday, May 27, 2010 9:00 AM (PDT)

https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/usergroups/join?id=9TT4PK&role=attend&pw=rf6r%3DX4%26c

Meeting time: May 27, 2010 9:00 AM (PDT) 

AUDIO INFORMATION

-Computer Audio(Recommended)

To use computer audio, you need speakers and microphone, or a headset.

 


Send a Report PDF via Workflows

The cool team over at Power Objects has a nice little post that my library and I wanted to go ahead and share it.

Have you ever had a need to send a generated report in PDF format to someone? The PowerObjects team has developed a workflow extension that allows any user to schedule a SQL Server report to be sent via email.

Here is their post on the Subject


Just one Button: LinkedIn and Dynamics CRM

Just a small bit of code placed in just the right place. Sometimes the biggest business benefit is not necessarily the biggest development effort. 

Marco has a great post about how to turn on access to LinkedIn within Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

A small little button opening a world of possibilities.


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.


Third Parties

I have been keeping an eye on what some of the third party vendors have been doing that run parallel or within the world of customer relationship management software. 

Take for instance HOOVERS - For anyone in sales, Hoovers is one of those resources that at some point over the life time of their career they have probably had access to it. A wealth of core information on public companies to support the Enterprise sales effort.

Well Hoovers has been busy and is now offering both touch points of import/export on key company information from Hoovers to Dynamics CRM and the ability to serve up the Hoovers information in the Dynamics CRM Resource center.

To read about what is new with Hoovers take a browse at some of their new white papers - Oh and before you roll your eyes and think now how much more is that going to cost me.. If you are already a Hoover's client you might be very pleasantly surprised ! Now that is what I call customer service - new value add without new value add prices.


Testing the Extended Sales Forecast Accelerator

First - Thanks team for providing both the Installation documentation and the Installation video. The mixed media makes installing the accelerator fairly easy.

Next if you want to install the Accelerator onto the Microsoft VPC to test, try and overall get a feel for the process you might want to add the following to the tail end of the installation instructions:

1) Login into the VPC as Administrator

2) Select All Programs, Windows Administrative Tools - Active Director Users and Computers

3) Change the password on Paul West and so you can login as Paul West, a sales person.

4) Login to CRM as Administrator

5) Turn on the Display Goals and/or Goals Audit in the Sales menu so you can get to the menu items

6) Change the Salesperson security role to include the ability to add goals and access goal audit.

7) Logout of administrator and login as Paul West (Paulw)

- Of note you also have to add some configuration information such as entering a Fiscal Year End Date.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Accelerators

They might be version 1.0, but the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Accelerators are redefining the concept of click and play. These core bundles basically are developed and released by Microsoft to add enhanced features to your Dynamics CRM environment.

Take for instanced the Extended Sales Forecasting Accelerator which quickly adds the ability to include sales budgets and forecasts for comparative reporting.


Third Party Solution: SalesCentric

One of my newest contacts, Eivind Sandstrand, tickled my "wow" that is needed bone and as such I have spent a considerable time getting to know more about SalesCentric and what the third party solution has to offer users of Dynamics CRM.

In short executive summary: 

SalesCentric offers a graphical view of all the complex relationship data that you can track in Dynamics CRM.


Exchange 2007 and MS CRM v3.0

Was just doing a bit of catchup and caught this post.. Looks like Nathan has announced the release of an/the Exchange router for Exchange 2007.

"Hi All,

For anyone trying to integrate CRM v3 with Exchange 2007 another piece of the puzzle has just been released!

Check out and download the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0-Exchange E-mail Router Update here

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=f7656f0f-4195-4a7d-b654-2786787e1422&DisplayLang=en

Cheers
Nathan
"


Quotes

So you managed to realize that you can't really print a detailed quote from CRM. (I know what were they thinking :) The line items are in a seperate table then the summary information and despite the video you are still scratching your head. Using the Single Entity view and Merge to Word doesn't quite do it.

To solve this problem you could jump into the MS Dynamics CRM Sandbox and download the shared code for the Quote Report. It pulls all the Quote data prompting for a specific client, into one report and prints it. If youwant to doctor it up a bit you can then save this to a format that any of the other Office applications can read (you get the choice of many different formats), pull the saved report into an office file and add your logo etc.

What too many steps? Needless to say you have the choice to either write your own Microsoft SQL Report Services quote report and/or get your partner of choice to customize the existing to be unique to you.

It would be a small customization to an existing report.

What have other clients done? They have also chosen to invest in some of the third party specialty products from companies like Quotewerks, MSCRM-Addons, C360 and more. Companies who have focused and released applications specifically for creating beautiful quotes that interface to MS Dynamics CRM. 


QuickBooks Integration

Today I was contacted by a partner who is developing a QuickBooks bridge to MS Dynamics CRM. He had seen my post in one of the forums and had asked about the other vendor solution I knew about. It took me a while to find the reference and I realized I was not utilizing this particular blog as a total CMS Solution. Blogs make great hosted CMS repositories.

Needless to say I plan to correct that.

The Partner who has the QuickBooks to MS Dynamics CRM integration is eBridge Software www.ebridgesoft.com 

To Download the PDF on their product. Download productsheet_mscrm_direct_data.pdf

I have not used their product yet.