MS CRM Roll Out

Office 365, Groups and CRM Online

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


Turbo Forms in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 (v7.1.0)

Although not necessary: Writing Code for Forms provides a way to increase interaction between the user and the entity forms. This is often done by using JavaScript that is executed for events that occur on the form.

 

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 7.1.0 (2015) offers TURBO Forms which are seriously worthy of consideration, both for the Experienced Dynamics CRM Developer and for the CRM end user.  Performance differences have been clocked anywhere from 3x to 7x times faster.

 

Here are some materials and videos to help get you started.

 

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 - New Form Rendering Engine

 

Form rendering enhancements

 

Writing code for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 or CRMOL Forms : Read More

 


Security: Microsoft Dynamics CRM gets even more security options

Dynamics CRM 2015 Hierarchical Security

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


The Power of Choice (and the risks)

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

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

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

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

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

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


MDM and CRM : Working Together

So you have been wondering how an application as powerful as MDM (Microsoft Dynamics Marketing) can work so seamlessly with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It is for instance built and released for the large enterprise marketing department who likes to control their own data and applications.

Well the bridge exists and here is a great blog post that shows the numerous links between MDM and CRM.

 

 


Integration, Integration, Integration

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is providing ONE PLATFORM for so many different applications out there that I can't even keep up. It is built to be one and it is built to integrate so that it can display, interact, pull in and/or integrate all of your data and all of your applications.

Now that Dynamics CRM is one of your options, what are options for integrating all of your other applications? Don't get stuck with even more distributed data, leverage MCS or leverage one of the great Microsoft CRM partner resources.

A bunch of field resources put together their knowledge and released this WIKI article on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Integration and I must admit it is one of the most requested tips that I get. If you have more to add, dive in or if you just need answers take a look.


Access Teams and Security! #MSDYNCRM

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

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


Understanding Sentiment Analysis

It is time to get social! and when you want to get social, you want to understand the incredible power behind Microsoft Social within the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

As a primer take a look at this great blog post by one of the greats in the industry!

http://blogs.technet.com/b/lystavlen/archive/2014/09/25/understanding-sentiment-analysis-in-microsoft-social-listening.aspx 


CRMUG has not been sleeping! GREAT Connects, GREAT Content

If you have not visited the CRMUG website lately, you might want to go take a look. They have been using new community software and have continued to organize and host local, national and webinar enabled meetings for users of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

One of the best things you can do if you are using Microsoft Dynamics CRM is to get involved in the community.


xRM Best Practices

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is an incredible out of the box, configurable system AND is also used as a development platform. As users adopt and learn some of the incredible features they quickly realize how many other systems it can replace.

It is like an awesome heart that embraces and wraps all things "need a solution" into it's solution platform, BUT if you have never worked with Microsoft Dynamics CRM then you can make a bit of a mess.

The following are some best practices for working with any technology in today's world.

1) Always ask yourself. If I extend or I get a developer to extend my product how does that align with what the Out of the Box Development team is releasing. They are writing code daily as well., but MANY extensions are 100% supported with all rollup updates and upgrades being easy to install, but some are not and we know how creative developers can be. Make sure your developers think xRM. 

2) Understand and stay current with the product roadmap. Major releases are now coming faster and faster and faster. Two incredible major releases this year and with CRM Online driving an elimination of the world of the "upgrade" staying alert is key.

3) Love the SDK. Yes, you are a .NET Master and a long time senior developer, BUT the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Software Developer's Kit offers you so much more and helps to define the rules of engagement.

4) Embrace the well loved and well used Dynamics xRM Tools, but know who wrote them and their strengths.

5) The Dynamics CRM platform is a set of many different options. Too much choice, but so much choice can also be wonderful. Understand your choices - there are times when adding an ISV solution is so much smarter then building your own, and even within Microsoft the choices are many. Take for instance customer service on the Dynamics platform with and without Parature or Microsoft Social Engagement (also referred to in the past as Microsoft Social Listening) and of course there is the entire Office 365 suite that is forever growing in terms of new cool.

6) Work with a partner who has proven experience building long term supportable xRM projects OR if you work with a partner new to Dynamics CRM understand the risks. Learning curves can be frustrating for teams.

7) IT looks easy, and can be easy, but never under estimate the power of the CRM Architect. It is easy to drive a nail in a piece of wood, but rarely do you build a house without an architect OR add an addition onto an existing house without some review of impact.

8) Don't change software products because you picked the wrong vendor. Hundreds of CRM failures across all vendors have occurred going back 40 or 30 years. People, Technology, Process all have places that need continual current review. Many times it is not the software that is the issue.

 

 

 


What's New - Thanks to Dynamics CRM

One of the best parts of being semi-snowed in is that I can convert my travel time into learning and sharing time.

Let's look at a feature that everyone assumes that everyone else knows about. The What's New Social Pane.

Why do I point this out? If your team uses activities to track, retain touches and to communicate (e-mails) this pane gives you an incredible look into which contacts and accounts are actively engaged. It also lets you see an account that is requiring extra attention, a colleague who is working on something that you can help with or an activity that you needed to know about. (but because it is so easy to get into our own little spheres it was missed)

It is about raising the bar of transparency and shifting a culture and it is about creating a culture of sharing among all the users of your Dynamics CRM system.

What only inside Dynamics CRM?

Well actually NO! If you have YAMMER enabled you click a button in configuration and configure Yammer and your YAMMER Feeds become an option under What's New. Bringing in other (even perhaps non-CRM user) conversations into the mix.

Just imagine!

WhatsNew
 


Dynamics CRM v2013 Rollup 1 has been released #mscrm2013

I have recently changed my daily process to include Yammer and the value add has been significant. Take for instance the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013 Rollup 1, Yammer post with link and discussions letting me know it was available.

If your company currently has YAMMER and you are not using it, you might want to reconsider. Timing is everything when it comes to accepting new and sometimes you just need to re-evaluate on an ongoing basis.

 


Jump Start your MS CRM 2013 Understanding #crm2013

Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013 has so much to offer and one of the best ways to start getting your head around what is being offered is to regularly attend some great either 100 or 300 level webinars.

Luckily Microsoft is offering such webinars for partners, customers and prospects.

You can find the whole series here: http://www.microsoft.com/dynamics/offers/crm2013demos/

Or if you want to just sign up for tomorrow's session, here is the link: https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032569331&Culture=en-US&community=0

Promote via LinkedIn/Twitter as well!  Thanks!


A Bold New World: Even more choices #CRM2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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.


What is xRM?

We intermingling the term xRM and CRM when talking about Microsoft Dynamics CRM, but in all reality the name is talking about exactly the same product. A product that can be customized, configured and eXtended.

Changes DO NOT require a developer, but a developer can add an entirely different option set and layer to your already powerful application. The system is built to be configured or extended or both. Developers who work within the defined methodology are also treated by upgrades and updates seemlessly keeping the base option current and in this really fast paced world this is a real PLUS for businesses.

So what is xRM, really?

Here is one example of Dynamics CRM meeting a very different type of need outside your typical Sales, Marketing and Service.

Constitute Relationship Management

http://www.crmsoftwareblog.com/2013/04/schools-as-crm-users-constituent-relationship-management/ 

 


What's in Your Toolkit?

Anyone who develops within the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM has a secret stash of favorite tools.

Want to know what some of those tools are?

Check it out

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/11290.microsoft-dynamics-crm-2011-list-of-tools-and-software.aspx


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.

 


To the Dynamics xRM Developers in the World

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

The specific file name within SureStep is 1.5.1 Development Standards XRM

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

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

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

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

 

 


Dynamics CRM Integration Continued

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

You can read more on Integrating to Microsoft Dynamics CRM here


Integration: the joys, pains and options

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another well known player is Scribe Software.

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

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


Sharing CRM, Sharing Contacts and Collaborating

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?


Dynamics CRM Utilities, utilities, utilities

For anyone ramping up on Dynamics CRM development make note

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

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

CRMDiag

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

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!  


Oh Async: Introducing the Chef "Mr. Processor"

Async

"The term asynchronous is usually used to describe communications in which data can be transmitted intermittently rather than in a steady stream" :

Now given this simple fact you might be surprised to discover that sometimes people forget that if you use asynchronous processes (such as workflow or asynchronous plugins) and you have dependencies particularly on a variety of async processes, timing might be an issue!  

An interesting way to consider this is from the perspective of looking into a professional kitchen. Take the Master Chef (Mr. Processor): He must prepare certain items in sequence, for instance the pork chops have to be cut and spiced before they can be put in the pan to be cooked and before they can be prepared for display.

On the other hand if serving two vegtables for the same plate, if the broccoli comes out before the carrots, the chef (Mr. Processor) does not have a problem. The preparation of the broccoli and the carrots can happen in order, reverse order or at the same time. They can be asynchronous. They both need to be prepared in a timely manner (within the same approximate window of time) and they both need to get done within that time frame, but which gets done first doesn't matter that much. They are not dependent on each other.

Now the Chef might prefer the broccoli to come out first, as he has his own habits and best practices to make it all come together, but he can (and does) deal with the reality if they get reversed. On the other hand if an assistant chef forgets to spice the pork chops or spices them after cooking then the flavor of they chef's prized dinner is ruined and sometimes considered unacceptable!

These same concepts apply to functions and processes within the world of Dynamics CRM. There are functions that should be asynchronous, there are processes that need to be synchronous and knowing the difference is an important variable in any developer or power user.    

Related Posts

What is Asynchronous?

Dynamcis CRM v4 Asynchoronus Process pushing CPU to 100%

AsyncOperationBaseTable: What are those records anyway?  

 


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


Adding Soundex

Soundex is not necessarily the ultimate solution to expanding the power of Duplicate Detection, but it is definitely one option.

Check out this post for one approach (comments from the development crowd welcome)

Pimp your Duplicate Detection with Soundex

 


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?


Async, Performance and Dynamics CRM v4

Just because we are a year or two away from the initial release of Dynamics CRM v4 does not mean that we are past some of the long ago solved problems.

Needless to say here is a item that you might want to look into if you are in "Database Cleaning Mode" or if you are having performance issues with a Dynamics CRM v4 footprint.

1) Run cleanup scripts to address existing Database problems!

Warning (probably unnecessary but): Before running any SQL Cleanup scripts backup the database in case you run into problems.


Note: You might want to set the Max Degree Of Parallelism option greater than Zero (1 is just fine) if you are running a multi CPU SQL Server. This option is under the Advanced options of your SQL Server. This one is a bit debatable among the DBAs and CRM experts. On small queries you want to define resources so the system doesn't burn up resources figuring things out and on more complex queries the benefits exist to let the system figure it out.

MaxDegree 

Now the next question you are going to ask is WHERE ARE THESE Cleanup scripts. Good Question!

Right now most teams (particularly in the larger CRM footprints) have their own or perhaps it is better to consider the partners supporting your CRM footprint. They have their own utilities, tips and tricks for great maintenance as well.

So where do you start?

Start here: An easy way to identify if you are running into an old issue with the AsyncOperationBaseTable is by checking how many records are in this table. Run a simple Count(*) and checking how many records you have of OperationType = ‘10’ and Succeeded/Completed.

If you do have this issue you can go back and check out Ben's blog and/or do a bit of Binging.


Case Sensitive Searching

Thanks to David Fronk at Dynamics Methods for sharing a quick little trick for changing a field to be set to Case Sensitive. Now before I share this tip be aware that it is NOT supported by microsoft so what this means is that a Rollup, A SQL Server Update, a Upgrade or any other quick little patch might disable this feature.

This tip was also shared in the heavy v4.0 Days of CRM so when it comes to SQL 2008 R2 you might have to updated the steps.

Now on that note here is the link to David's quick checklist for setting the Case Sensitive Flag.

http://dmcrm.blogspot.com/2009/04/case-sensitive-searches-in-crm.html  

 


Swimming in the MS CRM 2011 Ocean

I was going to say lake, or pond but it is way too big for that. I spent the weekend working hard on adding to all of the great Dynamics CRM 1.2, 3.0 and 4.0 knowledge.

First and foremost it is such a joy that there is almost nothing that I have to painfully have to throw away. All the great features within CRM v4.0 are enhanced and expanded and then they added more functionality and more power. All while simplifying the concepts so that the developers have easy tools to bundly (Solutions) and the users have power to personalize (Charts and Forms)

What more can a passionate CRMLady ask for!

Key areas that I have been working with, you ask?

The new Service module has been injected with more TEAM power. You can now share cases using key techniques like "working on" and team ownership.

The Knowledge Base has a number of new enhancements which PowerObjects has done a nice job of quickly summarizing here.

The Relationships functionality has matured and a new concept, "Connections" is introduced.

and lastly as much as an entity is an entity is an entity, the entity concept now has a long list of sister components organized in a nice list for mastery such as Option sets, Connection Roles, Templates, Security Profiles, web resources and more.


Rollup Sweet Sixteen (CRM v4)

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM development team has released CRM v4.0 Rollup 16 and not only have they managed to resolve some of the issues reported from the field, they have also fine tuned some of the existing features. (it is amazing what a team of programmers writing code every day can create in 8 weeks) Particularly given there are change control processes, testing processes, QC, Builds, Deploys and more to pull together.

Key Areas

  1. The Deployment Manager and Importing an Org
  2. Performance (around deployment manager)
  3. IE 9 Support
  4. Appointments and Synchronization

Do you have feedback?

  • Have you installed the latest rollup?   
  • Did it fix an issue you reported?
  • Did it cause other issues?
  • Did it add some new bling? or a feature you discovered?

Share your comments !


Dynamics CRM and Custom Reports

I just found this great little How To series on creating custom reports in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

It starts here with Part 1 

and is summarized as part of the last of the series (part 5)

This little series is a great learning tool for the interns that dive into learning about the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.


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.


Caring for ASYNC

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/ 

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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

However, I recently met an issue with this behaviour, where the CRM Asynchronous Service appears to get in a state where all it is doing is deleting completed jobs, to the exclusion of all other activity. This can leave the CRM Asynchronous Service to have effectively hung (not responding to service control requests, nor polling for new jobs to process) and not to process any new jobs for a considerable period of time (in one environment, this could be several hours).

The main symptoms are:

  • No jobs being processed for a considerable period of time
  • The Crm Asynchronous Service not responding to service control requests (i.e. you cannot stop it through the Services console, so you have to kill the process)
  • No values reported for most performance counters (e.g. 'Total Operations Outstanding', 'Threads in use')
  • If you do restart the service, you see a burst of activity (including performance counters) whilst outstanding jobs are processed, then it reverts to the same behaviour as above
  • If you look at the SQL requests submitted by the Crm Asynchronous Service (I use the SQL dynamic management views sys.dm_exec_requests and sys.dm_exec_sessions) you see just one DELETE request and no other SQL activity

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.

 

Read More:

http://mscrmuk.blogspot.com/2010/12/stability-issues-with.html

 


User Adoption

Well said, overall well said

Over my 12 year career in the CRM space, I have seen customers take a variety of approaches to creating training materials.  From leveraging software manufacturers’ user guides to multi-deck power point presentations, I believe I have seen it all.  More often than not, these approaches are nothing short of failure.  Expecting users to learn your CRM philosophies and strategy from software reference material is akin to expecting one to learn how to drive by simply reading a vehicle’s owner manual.  To be successful we must know the rules of the road, or in this case, the business rules to support CRM strategies.” More on the same subject at http://www.dynamicscare.com/blog/index.php/increase-user-adoption-with-effective-training-materials/


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



Microsoft Dynamics CRM v4.0 Rollup 11 has been released

In a wonderfully consistent best practice the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Development team has released their latest rollup for Microsoft Dynamics CRM v4.0. Nice Job Guys!

R11 has a number of updates and enhancements for Enterprise including items focused on performance improvement when dealing with tens of thousands of workflows and fine tuning around active directory user settings.

The Microsoft team has also managed NOT to neglect the help files (something easy to do when developing at the speed of light). The documentation team has continued to update the electronic help files that come with the system. A new release of help is included in this rollup and it is recommended that this also be installed.

Download Rollup 11

Read More about Rollup 11




Accelerators for Dynamics CRM

You wouldn't add nitro to just any car without a good bit of knowledge and the same holds true with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Accelerators. They are powerful! Just put them in the right hands, with the right knowledge and a little bit of tender loving polish and look out.

My hope is that Microsoft will continue to increase the amount of polish, but for now know what you are dealing with and don't expect to just drop in the fuel without understanding.

Release 2 of The Partner Relationship Management (PRM) Accelerator has now been posted. The PRM Accelerator allows businesses to use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to distribute sales leads and centrally manage sales opportunities across channel partners.

More Information

Ross Dembecki's Blog Post on This Accelerator

 

 


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


From my "Add to the Library" as I might need these at some point

If you are looking at importing a large amount of data into Microsoft Dynamics CRM then you might want to get caught up with this post Speed up your CRM SDK imports and updates

If you are a Microsoft PARTNER then you will definitely want to check out the current version of the SureStep Project Methodology for Microsoft Dynamic CRM (I think they finally got it) AND have a few of the consultants take the exam

  • "Managing Microsoft Dynamics Implementations Exam MB5-858The exam for Sure Step 2010, MB5-858, is now available on Prometric."

Are you looking for more Address Data Validation? How about tying to a Standard Source? Check out PostCodeAnywhere Address Lookup.

Trying to Solve a Problem with Dynamics CRM v4? Did you turn on Trace? Scott gently offers a reminder on problem solving and disk space.


 

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.