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Extending and Developing with the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Platform

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

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

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

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

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

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

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Developers Center

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Visual Studio Development Toolkit

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

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

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Development Best Practices

xRM Best Practices



Are you ready to exceed the expectations of the 72% of customers who expect a response to a complaint in under 1 hour?

Are you ready to  exceed the expectations of the 72% of customers who expect a response to a posted complaint in under 1 hour?

Thanks to one of my associates, Nick Fratello, for taking the time and energy to put this little video together which shows how to

  • Listen & engage customers on popular social channels
  • Understand customer's sentiment & intent toward your brand and organization
  • Escalate & resolve customer care issues consistently
  • Collect customer feedback & measure results
  • Transform customers into Fans

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

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

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

Building a Demonstration Environments : Data

Microsoft CRM is tightly married to Microsoft Excel and as such some of the EXCEL functions can come in very handy.

When putting together a demonstration system check out the RANDBETWEEN() Function for generating random numbers in Excel. It can also be used for randomly picking values from a list and many other derivatives.  


Field One: The Mobile Workforce and Microsoft CRM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider the Microsoft Platform and all that is available.

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

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


A new Marriage between Microsoft Word and Microsoft CRM

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

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

Here is a good place to get started

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Support Lifecycle

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

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

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

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


Much, Much More Depth on SharePoint + Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Lovin'

Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers so much choice that it is good to take a deep dive around some of these choices and features. Additionally the features keep on improving and growing with speed unseen in any previous years. Please take information provided to you with a grain of salt and do your own research.

Never make the assumption that the product can't do something for if it can't do it today, it might be available tomorrow. Additionally Services (MCS) is doing incredible on every project (as are many of the partners)

Incredible Happening!

Dana Martens offers a great deep dive presentation on Hybrid mixing of CRMOnline and SharePoint OnPremise and other configurations.  

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

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


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.

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! 

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!


Keeping up with Dynamics CRM Versions

Keeping up with the incredible Microsoft Dynamics CRM versions in the old days was hard enough, but now the team is  updating and releasing at an even faster pace. 


  • If you don't like something, enter a CONNECT request and you might be surprised sooner than you think or VOTE on one already submitted.


  • Competition: There information is probably outdated, ask multiple sources. Also make sure you include an experienced servcies provider in your conversations. The Field Service teams at Microsoft and at Partners configure and extend past most all objections.


  • You need to make sure to plan on staying current.
  • You need to interrupt the versioning.

These Resources can help

 The Dynamics CRM in the Field Blog

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Team Blog


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.

Purchasing CRM? Style considerations

Thinking on CRM : The last time you purchased a TV, did you purchase it because of the new features? The better picture quality, the smaller form factor, perhaps even a new connection or cutting edge bling?

OK so that is how you buy a new TV, but this mindset does not work as well for the purchase of a new CRM System. A CRM System is not the solution to your business process problems, it is the empowerment of your decided upon business process. Perhaps even new business processes. It is a new road with growth possibilities and potenial. It is a new culture.

You might be limited today by technology, but the technology that you buy for tomorrow should not limit you and your business processes.

Needless to say why I am a big fan of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is as much a development framework (xRM) as it is a product. Those who are masters understand not only the features they get out of the box, but also the strengths, weaknesses and when to use which feature. They also understand the age and maturity of each feature. Knowing if the feature can easily be used outside it's designed purpose or if it needs to stay in it's comfort zone. They understand when to configure,  when to customize and when to extend using standard Microsoft Development methodologies.

 As a business owner stepping into the world of implementing and incorporating technologies into the heart beat of your company you need to think flexibility. Change is constant, but the change of technology is so fast that you need a product and a partner that offers you choice. Constant choice. Microsoft Dynamics CRM has a long history (10 years and counting) of not only offering you choice , but of also staying current with the latest technologies and not removing all that has been an incredbly solid framework since 2003.

Choose carefully your product

Choose carefully your partner

and you will have an engine behind your business processes that helps keep you consistent, organized, empowered and current.

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

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

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

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


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 


Convergence: It is that time of year again! #CONV2013

I won't be at Convergence this year, but I wanted to go ahead and share some getting the most out of the event tips and tricks. because Convergence isn't just about great sessions and learning, but it is also about


1)      Networking

2)      Meeting the Third Party Providers and ISVs who partner with Microsoft on Dynamics CRM
and add value add

3)      Meeting the Microsoft CRM Support Team and technical resources (bring your questions)

4)      Meeting the Microsoft CRM Developers and development team (there are new faces to watch for)

5)      Meeting other Microsoft team members

6)      Communicating with other CRM users (Look for CRMUG)

7)      Listening and learning from Authors, Field Experts and great consultants


So In my many years going to and presenting at Convergence I offer you the following



1)  Know which sessions you want to go to before you go and have a backup option
(sometimes sessions are sold out)

2)  Know who the speakers are: Ask or search the net or read their blogs, being great at what you know doesn't mean you are a great speaker. Look for both!

3) Use Twitter during the conference to keep up with the live session buzz and to connect with other CRM tweeters. My guess is the tweet tag will be #conv2013 or #conv13

4) Know the level of the session: They can range from 100 to 400 and have a lot to do
with presenter and audience. Convergence has both sales sessions to show what is new and deep technical sessions to get you up to speed fast so you have to know how to pick them.

5) Go to the parties and don’t stay at one. Roam from one party to the next and check out the culture, the mood, the tone, the side talks, the buzz

6) Talk to Strangers

7) Eat with people you don’t know and when you sit down, talk to them

8) Make time to visit the bookstore (even if to just see what CRM books are available)

9) Make time to visit the booths (I have had more great technical talks with CEOs at
trade shows than anywhere else)

10)  Go to some non-CRM Sessions such as Office, SharePoint and BI – products that work
great together with CRM

11) Go to some business sessions – they have some incredible leaders presenting on
leadership, change management, etc. Many are well recognized business book
writers. (loved hearing Malcolm Gladwell a few years back)

12)  Setup a Meet the Expert Connect session and have a one on one with a developer,
business leader, or other resource. A few years back I met with the development team working on a key feature in the newest version of CRM. What a blast to get their perspective.

13)  Attend the Pre-Convergence CRMUG Day, the sessions are smaller and the content incredible.

14) Bring business cards, share your business cards, collect business cards AND schedule time when you get home to follow up. Not just the week after, but again two weeks after and a again after 2 months, etc. Networking is about meeting and then building relationships that offer win/win value to both people.

15) Share what you know! Evaluations make a HUGE Difference in the world of Microsoft. Peer to Peer sharing makes a HUGE difference in the success of Dynamics CRM.

16) Attend the last session of the day and the event. Those speakers are sometimes the best, because they draw out the day.


Social Tips

1) It is New Orleans! Get up on the balcony and share the fun of throwing beads at people.

2) Plan to eat incredible food.

3) Don't plan on sleeping too much, but don't burn up all the brain cells so you don't have time to learn.



A Second in an Elevator

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

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

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

Dynamics CRMOnline and the SLA

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

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


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!  

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?

Being Non-Traditional - Sales

Walk down the street

Make notes on which companies on your block would be great customer fits for your business.

Now add these to your Dynamics CRM system, check out their company websites, learn a bit more about them. Use the search engines.  I bet there are a few key contacts that you see every morning at the coffee shop. You might even ride up the elevator with someone who might take you weeks to get an appointment with using the traditional methods. Just take some baby steps. Eye contact, an unexpected hello?

Opening doors sometimes takes a bit of leg work, but if you focus on win/win and you truely care about great fits amazing traction can occur and the benefits overflow for all involved.

Upgrade? Already? 4.0 to 2011 to ???

You just settled in with Microsoft Dynamics CRM v4.0

In fact you are feeling pretty good with it. You have started with the basics, learned a few of the intermediate features, added a few reports that you like and all is good. Next week you might even add a few more workflows to the mix to automate even more of those painful manual processes and THEN

Microsoft comes out with this upgrade. Oh and you took a look and it has some cool new stuff that you want. BUT, but, but there is still so much you can do in Dynamics CRM  v4.0

Well no worries: We have a session to discuss all of these considerations at the VIRTUAL FREE DecisionsWorld conference.

Mark your calendar today - Register (yes, it is free but you need to register) and gather up all of those questions and perhaps a few assumptions so you are ready to debate the timing and benefits of staying vs. upgrading.


Ok I admit it, I did give the Speakers of the general sessions a hard time yesterday! I have high expectations when it comes to spending time at a conference because there are so many opportunities that even one hour of lost value hurts my soul.

Here is the thing: it is not all about me and with years and years of both Convergence and Microsoft Dynamics CRM experience it takes a bit more to teach me something new and to impress me.

And yet of the 20 hours a day that I spend awake and aware this week I am continually impressed and I am continually learning. So how can I really justify unhappiness over a little bit of prospect bling?

So Kirill, Bill and Steve I apologize for putting a bit of cold water on your fire. Connect, Discover and Exceed are much better mantras than Easy!

For success with Dynamics and Dynamics CRM is not always easy, lots of people do it the hard way, but it is worth it and it does offer discovery, excellence, growth and profit!

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.     

Hashtags and Product Marketing

Last night, on twitter, there was a bit of a debate on which hashtag to use for the upcoming release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2011 (as if Microsoft Dynamics CRM isn't long enough let's add a few more characters)

There were a number of suggestions batted around, but alas they were all soooo long. The whole concept of using a hashtag is quick, easy and don't take up too many of my 160 characters.

Needless to say I weighted in with #mscrm11 and #helpmscrm11

This also solves my internal marketing dilemna that was created when the big grey battle ship changed from Microsoft Dynamics CRM v5 to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 - The natural default thought process and comfort that users get when they immediately recognize that v5 comes after v4.

As such if  I just shorten 2011 to 11 - I now have a v11 that not only comes after v4 (a bit of a jump but not something that hasen't been done before) and it can also be used to imply the year released. As well as, of course, staying within the general full name of the product.

This is all just my personal opinion and is nothing "official" - I am a huge fan of repeating the marketing and positioning like a broken record, but sometimes you just need something to quickly squeak open the door. 

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)

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


-Computer Audio(Recommended)

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


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.

Integrating with SharePoint

The perfect pair: SharePoint and Dynamics CRM and yet there are times when users might only be in SharePoint and/or only in CRM.

Pierre Hulsebus over at EHTC has a great use case post today regarding how licensing is managed when the two products are married and yet seperate.

CRM v5.0 (or 6.0) Wish List - Better Late than Never

I still need to get these into the Microsoft Request engine, but here are a couple of the hot ones on my plate that bubbled up in thought when I was reading Richard Knudson's blog post today on the same subject.

What would be great to see in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 5.0

1) Business Unit Ownership
2) Enterprise scalability for Team ownership
3) Performance Tuning/Improvement for Form Assistant
4) Outlook Client Configuration Flexibility including the locking down by user of configuration options
5) Menu management/Navigation Pane management without editing XML files
6) From a "It is a CRM application" support for common field functionality so programming doesn't have to bother with this such as Country lookup, SIC and NAICS code management, Zip Code options, etc.

7) From the perhaps this would be a cool utility category: a tool to rename all the New_ prefixes to something else.

8) A super easy, don't need to be technical advanced find option to create views. Yes, the one we have today is powerful, but it is still "techie" and frustrating for some business users. In this same light let them pick any field from any entity to include in the view.

9) A really advanced report writer with a really super easy interface. There are some pretty cool third party  BI tools on the market that meet this need, but talk about a blow a few users away feature.

10) User definable portals and dashboards

11) For the developers: The Developer toolkit which is so cool that traditionally trained advanced software developers can't keep their hands off it. Creating a situation where they would rather write in "xRM" than in .NET only ;)

Microsoft WPC

I am here at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference and started today at the Small Business Symposium Pre-conference day. A packed day of great information on growing small technology businesses and partnering with Microsoft.

What has been fascinating is that at breakfast today I have already had a couple of great conversations on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and how partners in this SBSC space are working with it.

What did we talk about? Selling Microsoft CRM!

Let's face it, the sale is different. Yes, it changes the entire culture of the firm, but this is something that can happen so slowly that the small business owner doesn't feel the pain of the process.

So what doesn't work in the sales process (or at least doesn't work the majority of the time)? It doesn't work to tell the CEO that every process and every person in his firm will have to change with adoption of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.


Sorry Ben but I need to blog about this one !  Today I watched a webcast on the new VPC for MS CRM from Microsoft and I was excited to see a number of new feature. What I wasn't thrilled about was that they were simply custom applications written using the MS CRM Framework. Custom as in they are not part of the software package MS CRM, but simply show the art of the possible!

Hello Team: As much as I think it is totally cool that you can design, architech and create the world using MS CRM I also want to mention that I am not a big fan of custom software for everything. You see when you write custom code you move away from "Standard" and into that what you create you must feed, water, tend, care for and forever update.

This is the world of software development! Code should never be written lightly. Releasing software code either as a stand alone package or as a customization needs serious thought and consideration! 

Here are a list of just a few of the questions:

What will be the long term ROI?

Who will maintain updates?

Who will do Q&A and testing every time a patch is applied to the operating system, to the software, to the hardware environment to insure these unique customizations don't break?

Will these changes become part of the core product over time or will they always need to be maintained?

Is the person making these items a good documenter?

Will someone else be able to easily take over and understand what was done?

After 10 years of eating/drinking/living and being in every roll at a small Software Development company writing core plumping code for medium size businesses.. my thoughts come right off the plate of "learning it all the hardway".. so

I would suggest we don't make the world of technolgoy harder by demonstrating things that don't exist, that are not available and that have to be "custom coded" for every client. 

Ok, ok you had some happy big player partners! A couple of quotes. Perhaps they love the show and tell, because the customer's appetite gets wet and the customer just wants it and will pay for it... They want what they see, but at what price? Sure the partners make money, Microsoft might even make money and for a little while the customer is happy.. but will the solution then also turn into the "Sales Logix" model.. A product with a strong reputation for being a black hole sink for money into customizations and development.. hurting business, hurting technology's reputation and hurting the success of the firm over the long haul?

I suspect many will disagree with me! In fact maybe some very strongly, but is a custom programmer, creating custom solutions for every client really the right answer?


Things to think about when selling MS CRM

Are you tasked with selling MS CRM? Will thinks of these major items when preparing for presenting to a new prospect –

  • Dynamics CRM can work how your client wants to work and where your client wants to work
  • You’re selling Business Process Management so listen for the customers “pain points”
  • Stay focused on Relationship Management not Contact Management

I try and avoid these no win “pitfalls"

  • Product feature wars with a peculiar product Selling just the software or a software installation
  • Lingering on bells and whistles that us technologists think are neat at the expense of addressing business issues

Major wow factors that work for us:

  • The right information at the right time to the right person – SharePoint integration with Dynamics CRM, Office 2003 Professional, SQL Reporting Services.
  • User customizations to enable users direct impact on system adaptation and project success (customer involvement in the solution) Workflow, Integration, etc. that powers automation of critical business processes
  • Dynamics CRM is like Microsoft Outlook on steroids” – a quote from one of our customers
  • Ease of use - almost everyone knows how to use Outlook and a web browser

A major thanks to Will Hadly, Project Manager, TIP Technology Integration Providers, LLC for sharing!


Dynamics_masthead_ltr "Improved Microsoft Office Outlook integration: Work without leaving Outlook

The foremost design objective in creating Microsoft CRM 3.0 was tighter integration with Microsoft Office Outlook, the most used application in the Office suite. Tighter Outlook integration means less application-switching, faster adoption by users, and higher productivity for every customer-facing employee in your organization. Users can look up customer information, send and manage e-mail, set up appointments, and capture customer discussions, all without ever leaving Outlook."

Sometimes trying to resay the same thing is just not needed. Needless to say this little quote off the Microsoft Dynamics website pretty much sums it up!