MS CRM Training Resources

Answers to the easy and hard questions to consider as we think about Managed and Unmanaged Solutions (#Msdyncrm)

Answers to the easy and hard questions to consider as we think about Managed and Unmanaged Solutions

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

  • Select Settings
  • Select Solutions
  • Select New

New Solution

  • Give your solution a name
  • Add a publisher (see next question for details on publishers)
  • Add a version such as
  • Add existing entities you want to modify or new entities you want to create
  • Save your solution
  • Export as either an unmanaged or managed solution

2) What is a CRM publisher?

A publisher allows you to define a prefix and variables for your solutions. A publisher can be used to organize or classify components added to a solution. To create a publisher

  • Select Settings
  • Select Customizations
  • Select Publishers
  • Select New
  • Publisher
    Give your publisher a name
  • Set your prefix
  • You can also set the starting number for any values in option sets
  • Save your publisher (you can now use it when creating solutions)

3) What benefit does the publisher give the customizer?

  • Every component (attribute, entity, etc. is prefixed with that publisher prefix)

4) What happens when you import an unmanaged solution?

  • The solution is merged with all other unmanaged solutions.

5) Can you export a managed solution?

  • No, you can only export an unmanaged solution which gives you the option to create a managed solution.

6) Who is the primary audience for managed solutions?

  • Independent Software Vendors (ISVs)

7) What are the disadvantages of using managed solutions?

  • The components of a managed solution can not be changed.

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

Let us take a look at Managed and Unmanaged Solutions.

Unmanaged and managed solutions

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

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

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

It is also worth mentioning the "System" Solution.

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

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

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

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

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

2) What is a CRM publisher?

3) What benefit does the publisher give the customizer?

4) What happens when you import an unmanaged solution?

5) Can you export a managed solution?

6) Who is the primary audience for managed solutions?

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



Microsoft Dynamics CRM Administrator? How about these Top Tasks

I remember when it was difficult to find answers to the easy questions. The "How Do I ......?" Questions.

This difficulty has now been resolved with the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customer Center. Check out the Top Tasks that a CRM Administrator might perform. 

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.  

Developer? New to Microsoft Dynamics CRM?

Many years ago when I was trying to ramp up on all things Microsoft Dynamics CRM, I started with the What's new features. I took each feature and mastered it and moved to the next. We also had a great need to depend on books and externally provided information. Needless to say one reason I wrote a book.

Today is Different.

Today developers new to Microsoft Dynamics CRM are lucky to have the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Developer Center.

If you have not visited, check it out!

Are you a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customer? Do you know about Customer Source?

If you have not tapped into Microsoft Customer Source (provided by Microsoft) and some of the incredible resources in the community then you might want to dip your toes into the CRM User Groups offerings, by signing up for a trial and watching the presentation "Getting the Most out of Microsoft Customer Source"

Where is CustomerSource, Right Here!

Where is the CRM User Group?

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.

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."


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online vs. CRM On-Premise

A number of people have asked, what is the difference between Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Microsoft Dynamics CRM On-Premise other than where the actual software lives.

This has generated a few articles and resources that answer this question.

An Exposé on the differences between Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and On-Premise

Demystifying business value of CRM in the cloud

The US Dynamics Partner Team And the Dynamics Academic Alliance have teamed up to create some new offerings

The US Dynamics Partner team has joined forces with The Microsoft Dynamics Alliance Team ( (DynAA)) to train students and recent graduates on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015, interest them in Dynamics careers, and connect our Partners with this pool of quality candidates who are new to the CRM channel.   

This Microsoft Dynamics CRM Career Connect Boot camp is comprised of:

  • Five days of in-person technical training led by a Microsoft Certified Trainer on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
  • Microsoft Sponsored Career Fair for Partners to engage with Students
  • Certification in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • Virtual Learning sessions with MCTs, Partners, and Microsoft Dynamics experts focused on product functional skills (i.e. consulting, project management and soft-skills training).

Currently they are hosting this in 3 locations, inviting, juniors, graduating seniors, MBAs, graduate students, and recent graduates from local universities:

  • Chicago, IL – at the Chicago Microsoft office
  • Seattle, WA – hosted by the University of Washington
  • Boston, MA – hosted by Northeastern University

All of the boot camps will take place different weeks in June.

Please contact the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Career Connect Bootcamp Team if interested by sending mail to  usdyns2b at with questions.  Please note that space is limited and applications are only accepted for another couple weeks.  Space is filling quickly!

Form Load Performance: Did you know you can ... in the latest versions?

I always learn something new when I follow and read the incredible Microsoft Professional Field Engineering CRM Teams Blog! Today I thought it was worth reposting and linking to their tip number 4 from Convergence that they shared.

So you might be wondering about performance on your forms. Check out this handy little tidbit.

CRM Performance Center     

  • Ctrl+Shift+Q (Chrome & Firefox –> Ctrl+Shift+E)  Performance tool built into CRM 2013+. 
  • Gives you the ability to see load times for each component on the form.  Available on form loads only

And thanks to PowerObjects for blogging about this item worth of consideration.

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 

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.

ExtremeCRM : Dynamics CRM Awesomeness!

There are some INCREDIBLE partners and clients doing incredible things in the world with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and a layering of conferences that show the incredible. The Agility, the flexibility and the services that surround the product all create a huge economic advantage to companies from Enterprise to SMB. ExtremeCRM is one of those great conferences.  

A couple of the partners recently presented their solutions at ExtremeCRM and it was summarized so well in this picture.


What is a Microsoft Dynamics CRM View?

Within Microsoft Dynamics CRM each entity has a set of system views. These system views can be configured or added to and as such are a powerful feature within the system. You can even create new views.

So what exactly is a view?

If you are familiar with a spreadsheet, you know that you have rows and columns of data and each piece of data sits in its own little cell. A view in Dynamics CRM is just like a spreadsheet. It has rows and columns of data. Additionally any given view in the system also let's you "click" and export to Excel.

Other powerful features of views include the ability to add columns of data from not just the entity where the view is defined, but from every entity that is related to the entity where the view is defined.

You can also sort views of data by clicking on the header of a column and secondarily sort by shift clicking on the next column.

People using Dynamics CRM can also use "Advanced Find" to create their own personal views of data. So if your IT Department is a bit buried under a long to-do list, you don't have to wait. You can create your own personal views AND you can even share these views with your peers or manager.

OK, so you really don't want to give up Excel and all the pivoting and graphics that you can do with it. Guess what, you don't have too! Views feed Excel and all the powerful data manipulation techniques that Excel offers. Check Out PowerView, PowerBI and PowerPivot, if you love Excel, you will go over the top with these Excel add-ins. CRM + Microsoft Excel "Better Together"

Views have another role within the world of Dynamics CRM. They feed charts, so setup your favorite view and then use the CRM Chart feature to chart the data from that view. These charts can be added to Dashboards for instant, dynamic, graphical love!

If you want to learn even more about views you can read about them in the MSDN library entry called Customize Entity Views.  

What is an Entity? #msdyncrm

What is a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Entity?

Think first about a table within a database and then add more. A entity in CRM is one focal point of data including a set of fields, a set of views, a set of forms, a set of relationships and more.

An  entity includes an unlimited number of system views that display the data in a spreadsheet like format. Views can also include related data.

An entity includes an unlimited number of data entry forms, although many rollouts have one form per entity. A form is a set of fields laid out in a manner that allows easy data entry. Forms can be tied to security roles.

An entity  includes relationships to other entities. For instance you have an Account entity that has a relationship to a contact entity and this relationship is one account to many contacts. You can also have different types of relationships including One to Many, Many to One, and Many to Many.

An entity includes Charts. A chart is a graphical representation of the data that is contained in the entity and it's related entities. Charts can also be filtered and displayed based on the views.

An entity includes system messages that can be configured.

An entity can be named or renamed to represent the specific needs of a business. Take for instance Account, the Account entity can be renamed to be Company, Corporation, Building, Farm, Sign, Hospital, Department, Office and more.

New entities can be created to meet the demands of many different types of businesses and data tracking.  

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:

Or if you want to just sign up for tomorrow's session, here is the link:

Promote via LinkedIn/Twitter as well!  Thanks!

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

Polaris: What about Extending these new Forms?

Well another new world has opened in the universe of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and a number of long time Dynamics CRM Guru's have questions.


To get you started on what can be extended in the new forms take a look at this great little blog post just released on MSDN 


Sept 20th, 8-11am - Southern New England CRMUG Meeting

Have You Registered Yet?  @crmug: #msdynCRM

Next week is the Southern New England CRM User Group meeting in the Waltham, MA Microsoft Offices.

Come On Over to share in the joys and pains of INTEGRATION!


CRM v4 as a Baby - Quick Reference

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

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


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


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



The Benefits of User Groups

The Summary from the Southern New England Customer Relationship Management User Group meeting (Microsoft Dynamics CRM User Group - Regional Meeting)

June's SNECRMUG Meeting Summary

Boston once again managed to get the best of me (traffic, late to meeting), BUT  I still made it to the Southern New England CRM User group meeting in time to hear the better part of the first presentation and all of the second and third presentation.

I, unfortunately, missed the introductions so if you were there I look forward to seeing you in July or September! Still it also reinforced what a great option it is to have more than one great leader helping to organize and coordinate (Thanks Pat!)

The meeting started out with a presentation by Edgewater Technology on the great new charts, graphs and visual display and reporting options in Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2011.  What constantly amazes me is that reporting techniques used in the v1.2, 2.0 and 3.0 days still get a viewing and offer value, as well as all the new cool stuff in Dynamics CRM 2011. Never stop learning just because there is a new version around the corner is a GREAT motto to remember when it comes to Dynamics CRM.

The second presentation had me doing some wows! One of the Gold Certified ISVs, experlogix, showed their highly visual addition to Dynamics CRM. Products, Quotes and Orders will never be the same for me again. This product not only added break down to a very grandular bundling level but it also includes all with product pictures and built in workflow. Jeff showed the process of ordering a fish tank and with each decision the visual choices followed business rules in such a way that if you picked something such as a piranha  for your fish tank, it will mark the other fish as not an option. Who wants dead fish!

The last presentation was done by a Customer. Lojack did not do the standard presentation around how sales features are used which although is definitely interesting is not as interesting to those who have seen that type of presentation before. They actualy stepped it up and did a great presentation on how the inner workings of customer service get value out of Dynamics CRM. No PowerPoint, just look this is what we do!  They also offered some technology wow with some of the new things that LoJack is offering such as alerts when your "key" is not with your car when it is moving. Hey, I would want an alert on that as soon as possible! Text anyone?  What was fun was some of the stories about unusually things that can occur when offering these new offerings.

An extra thanks to experlogix for sponsoring lunch and to Edgewater Technology and LoJack for presenting!!

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

Too Busy to Travel? Decisions 2011 is coming to your desk (FREE)

Over the last couple of years I have participated in the MSDynamicsWorld Decisions conference and the first year it was pretty cool, but a little light by the second year the speakers and vendors were really starting to get the format and now VIRTUAL CONFERENCES are well just hot. (Hey, just checking out the technology is cool)

Yes, the world is noisy, people are busy - but given that Decisions 2011 has one full day packed with great CRM Speakers I am helping to spread the world. Last year I heard and shifted my perspective when listening to a talk on Dynamics CRM and the marketing features (how to really leverage what is there) and this year who knows what I will learn.

SO Mark your calendars as June 17th is CRMDAY!

CRM Day 

and for those of you also working with the other products within the Microsoft Dynamics Family you might be interested in these virtual conference days as well.

  • June 14 - AX Day 
  • June 15 - GP Day 
  • June 16 - NAV Day 

  • The International CRM User Group

    As a firm believer in sharing technical nuances, field tips and general best practice experiences I was thrilled to be nominated and approved as a member of the CRMUG Board of Advisors

    If you have not visited their website for a while, check it out


    If you are looking for advanced training (developer, infrastructure, user and more) tap into all the new that is happening with the CRMUG Academy


    if you are in Southern New England keep an eye on your local CRMUG Subgroup for upcoming face to face meetings.


    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!

    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.

    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

    The Value of Training

    A big thanks to Steve Noe, CEO of one of the great Microsoft Dynamics CRM training facilities, Biz IT Pro.

    Here are a few great links to help support those who want to get training, but who are struggling with the justification.

    1. Articulating the Value of Training by Zacharias Beckman
    2. The Value of Training by By Steve Muench, PhD, PE
    3. The Value of Training and the High Cost of doing nothing by IBM


    The Training Difference between CRM and XRM

    Now that everyone is grumbling about how much there is to learn about Microsoft Dynamics xRM it is time to separate the difference between CRM and XRM.

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be thought of as an application that sits on top of the Microsoft Dynamics XRM platform. It appropriately stands for Microsoft Dynamics Customer Relationship Management.

    Learning to USEMicrosoft Dynamics CRM is generally not very difficult. If you hire a new staff member and show them around your Dynamics CRM system they quickly realize that it is very similar to the Microsoft Office products. They get a few new folders in Outlook, They learn the difference between a View and a Form and they can immediately get their job done.

    As they learn your business and their new job they might expand into doing more. It is no different than mastering Microsoft Word (including growing into the advanced features) or learning Microsoft Excel (and growing into the advanced features)

    Is training recommended for the user? Personally I like training when it comes to increasing efficiency and reduced human grumbling.

    The human brain is creative and you never know what direction it will go, so training helps to set the right path and the right direction. Additionally many times training is 50% or even 70%  about your business processes with a swirl of how to use the software. So it is an excuse to reinforce best practices in process and there are never enough chances to do that so grab it when staff are open and egar to listen. 

    Another Thought on Training

    Training marks the difference in the field between exceptional Dynamics CRM partners and those who just market that they are Dynamics CRM partners (and who are paying the price in time, dollars and internal marketing hits both to the product and to the partner technical credibility)

    As far as I can tell - Microsoft is still trying to figure out what to do about this. Although you might have noticed that they have expanded their Dynamics CRM certification suite from 4 tests with a masters level capstone exam to 6 (or more).

    Training or No Training?

    It is true that there are some incredible technical resources in the world and most of these technical resources have taught themselves a good bit of technology. Perhaps they learned one or two development languages in school and then the other five they have mastered on our own.

    Or they might know five or six or 15 different applications so what is another application. A word processor is a word processor is a word processor or a spreadsheet, is a spreadsheet, is a spreadsheet.  AND for some CRM applications I can even say that a Contact management system is a contact management system


    Now let's talk about Microsoft Dynamics CRM

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a new tool and platform!Yes, it is written in .NET so one could argue if you know .NET then you can teach yourself Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Alas some have tried, many have failed - a few were open minded enough to have success, and some that have failed are still tripping over their own feet and not admitting their failures, but there is more as follows:

    1) Dynamics CRM is built in a manner to enforce standard development practices on the XRM platform. Do you know those standard practices? Every MS CRM deployment can be unique and Microsoft had to come up with a way to both honor the uniqueness and not tick off all their customers when they ship rollup updates and major upgrades. (they figured it out)

    2) The Dynamics CRM MS SQL databases are well .. they are not a SQL developers vanilla databases(even for the most advanced SQL guru). They have security built into them and leverage filtered views. Do you know how the filtered views work and why they are the way they are?

    3) The application is server side and client side code. Development methodologies need to change so that individual developers can do server side coding and have the option to do client side coding as needed.

    4) Team Collaboration when extending Dynamics CRM is unique. Have you learned how to do team programming on the XRM platform? You most likely do not want to be changing, refactoring, deleting and moving around attributes in multiple locations to be pulled together in one place. Key word here is that the XML customization file is additive.

    5) Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure:When CRM 1.2 was released it took myself and a guru infrastructure guy 7 hours to install. Now in the world of v4.0 much of that is wizard driven and the time is much, much more reasonable. BUT DO you know what those wizards are doing? Particularly so you don't change something and break the world. I have seen a lot of newbie and oldbie infrastructure mistakes (and I don't tend to play in the infrastructure world).

    6) Windows Server, SQL Server, MS SQL Express, Outlook, WSS and MOSS, Office Communicator, and the MS CRM Application footprint.They are all involved when talking about a single instance of Microsoft Dynamics CRM (ok SharePoint and MS SQL Express and Outlook are semi optional) Now what do you think happens when you have a multi-tenant environment with multiple domains and trees? There is a reason that the Installation manual is inches thick and there are  specific EXAMs for MSCRM infrastructure only.

    7) Speaking of Exams on MS CRM- Microsoft has at least five different exams for Microsoft Dynamics CRM which I can think of off the top of my head. These include Infrastructure and Installation, the Application, Configuration and Customization, Extending and Solution development methodology. If you take and pass all those exams they also have master level exams. 

    So if you LOVE to read then there is a TON of material to read in the exam manuals; however there is even more. A wealth of books all coming at the CRM and the XRM platform from different perspectives.  

    Do realize that the cutting edge guru, guru Microsoft Dynamics CRM guys (and gals) are not spending time on their CRM developer toolkit (a must have and most likely you will have to build resource), nor are they worried about their library of code snippets that they can always tap into (code used for the other 100+ projects built on XRM they have rolled out), the master level CRM gurus are leveraging tools like Silverlight to make Microsoft Dynamics CRM sing and dance.

    So back to the question at hand. Should I teach myself Microsoft Dynamics CRM? or should I ramp up with some of the well known field experts so I can start thinking CRM sooner, get to the fun stuff faster and avoid the deep scar tissue that many have from trying things and getting burned.

    I highly recommend training from well regarded, highly referenced Microsoft Dynamics CRM trainers. I also recommend a continued training mindset. There are not a lot great resources out there, but they are out there so do your homework AND if you have had training from someone really good (or really bad) then please share your experience.


    "Teach Yourself Microsoft Dynamics CRM in 24 Hours" Book Review

    I found this today and thought I would share. Thanks Muhammad for taking the time to post your comments and thoughts. Your feedback makes a huge difference.

    4.0 out of 5 stars Very gentle and fluid introduction, January 2, 2010
    This review is from: Sams Teach Yourself Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4 in 24 Hours (Paperback)

    "I am a Software developer looking for CRM Dynamics custom development but first wanted to explore the concepts and out of the box functionality. I have thoroughly read until Hour-7 and skimmed over the rest, the book did a great a job so far elaborating and aligning the CRM concepts that most reader will subconsciously be aware of.

    I bought another text and was overwhelmed by the information presented only from a usage viewpoint. Definitely, one would have to refer an adavnced title for custom development and that's not suggested by the book's title either. However, unlike its counterparts, the book handles a simple subject with utter simplicity.

    No twinkle in fifth star due to size of illustration, hardly can peek into the pictures"

    Author's Note:  As the book gets updated I will definitely depend on a different tool for capturing screen shots. Vista's Snipping Tool just didn't do the job it needed to do.

    Learning to Think CRM

    You are a new customer to Microsoft Dynamics CRM and one of your first questions might be "How do I get started?" and "What training resources are available to me?" 

    The Top 7 8 New Customer Resources

    1) Microsoft Partner of Record: Never under estimate the power of working with your Partner of record. Microsoft Dynamics CRM partners have been there and many times done that and they have a variety of resources available including consulting services, training options, white papers, and relationships to key contacts both at Microsoft and within the ISV (add-on applications) community. I might also add that if your partner of record isn't working out you do have the power of choice. Invest in a win/win relationship.

    2) Books: There are now a number of books available which provide a solid foundation of knowledge. These can be found at your local and online bookstores. For the developers search on the following authors: Mike Synder, Jim Stegner and David Yack and for the users the Microsoft Step by Step book and you can get a good primer and start from my book "Teach yourself Microsoft Dynamics CRM in 24 hours"  

    3) User Groups: There are two great user groups providing some awesome recorded and live training sessions. The XRM User group has a focus on the people working with, developing in, extending and customizing Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the CRM User Group has a focus on leveraging the CRM features of the software to their highest potential. CRMUG additionally has some special interest groups based on industry and both XRMUG and CRMUG have local chapters.

    4) Blogs: I follow about 60 blogs (all on Microsoft Dynamics CRM) and I know there are more that I am most likely missing. I have a couple of favorites when it comes to a user focus and the first is Richard Knudson's Dynamics CRM Trickbag blog. Richard is a Microsoft Dynamics CRM trainer and as such his blog is packed with learning CRM resources. The second is the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Team blog which is a great place to search for answers.

    5) Dynamics CRM Forums: In the Dynamics CRM forums you can post a question and you will get a variety of answers. No questions is to basic!  There are forums for all the different audiences using and working with Dynamics CRM. My personal tip: When working with the forums make sure you post your question in the right forum to the right audience. For instance if you have a question about sales process then you might not want to post that in the developer forum.

    6) Twitter, LinkedIN and Facebook: On Twitter Search on #MSCRM and you will immediately feel the buzz. If you are not tweeting or if you are just getting into twitter then choose to follow one or two of the consultants in the field and feel free to post your own questions using the #MSCRM tag. On LinkedIn and Facebook (Jim Glass, Guru CRM Community Liasion) has some awesome Dynamics CRM Groups where people from all over the world share information.

    7) Microsoft Dynamics CustomerSource: CustomerSource is a benefit of your service contract and is managed by Microsoft Business Solutions.

    8) Don't Forget the resources within the third party software vendors (ISV's): The Independent Software Vendors writing solutions on top of Microsoft Dynamics CRM have a TON of educated and trained resources. Talk to them, invite them in to do a presentation and ask them about the Dynamics CRM way of life.

    Learn to Think CRM

    Microsoft Dynamics Convergence

    It is snowing and raining in New England today and yet we have had an early spring! The daffodils are blooming, the grass is green and the buzz of the Microsoft Dynamics conference "Convergence" in Atlanta is in the air!

    If you are an Enterprise Dynamics CRM USER or IS Contact at an Enterprise account you will want to mark the underground lunch meetup on your calendar. We are meeting at lunch on Sunday at the edge tables in the lunch room. (signs on the table) This is informal so please come on over and introduce yourself to some peers!! (Meals are in Building B, Hall B3-4)

    If you are not planning on attending Convergence you might want to reconsider after reviewing Julie Yack's great post on "Why Convergence?" or you might want to follow the Microsoft Convergence threads on Facebook or search Twitter via #CONV10. Some of the best information on Dynamics CRM is FIELD learning and there are not many places where you can get this kind of training from peers. 

    Key things to make sure you do!!

    1) Plan on spending time after sessions finding out about where information is being "shared"!

    2) Sit down for 15 minutes or so with the Dynamics CRM Technical support team. They have usually have a few kiosks or booths.

    3) Find out about the Dynamics CRM events/parties and after hours networking. I have learned so much from these!

    4) Don't be shy talk to the people you sit next to on the buses. To and from the hotel, to and from events, etc.

    5) USE MICROSOFT CONNECT and setup at least one meeting.

    I will be doing/participating in two presentations. One is sponsored by CRMUG (a great learning resource) and it will focus on "Is the Customer always right?" and the other is a panel with a few of the developers where they ramp up a totally new Dynamics CRM/XRM solution in two sessions!!  

    There is a week left! It is not too late to register! Come on down and join in the fun.

    If you are in the ATLANTA area you can also consider a Day Pass!

    Enterprise Architecture: New Article on R7 Outlook Synchronization

    The Nuts and Bolts article Outlook Synchronization in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0, which is available for download from the Microsoft Download Center:

    Outlook synchronization enables Outlook users to view Dynamics CRM information, including contacts, tasks, phone calls, letters, faxes, appointments, and e-mails, within the Outlook interface. This document describes the client synchronization process that is associated with Update Rollup 7 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 or later (for on-premise deployments) and with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online November 2009 Service Update or later (for online deployments).

    System Jobs: Follow-up

    As a follow-up to my system jobs post earlier this week I was pleased to find and to have shared with me two other related posts.

    Customer Effectives post titled "Bulk Deleting Waiting Workflow Instances from Microsoft Dynamics CRM"


    Phil Adam's Blog post titled Performance is slow if the AsyncOperationBase table becomes too large in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0

    Both add additional insight on the subject matter that is well worth the read.


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

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

    Google on: Teach Yourself Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4 in 24 Hours

    The Book is Officially Released :)

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  • Free Training

    Just ran across a great post about some excellent available online training and best of all it is free! This made me realize that I needed to blog not only about this, but also about all the incredible resources from Microsoft Dynamics CRM with regards to training material. 

    If you are a Dynamics CRM customer make sure you have total access to Microsoft Dynamics CustomerSource! CustomerSource is a great place to find white papers, videos, forums and links to all things Dynamics CRM.  

    Additionally the Dynamics CRM Resource center is now packed with great little videos, one page quick help sheets and more. The Dynamics CRM Resource center is directly available from Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

    In terms of other free classes and training from great colleges like MIT or via Microsoft and their extensive application stack check out this blog post from John F. Moore.

    For Customers

    If you are a Dynamics CRM Customer make sure you do the following things (Major thanks to Holly Holt, Microsoft Group Manager)

    1. Log into CustomerSource
    2. Register your Partner
    3. Activiate your license
    4. Check out the training and certifications for users
    5. Look at the Downloads
    6. Tap into the knowledge base/self-help
    7. Give Product Feedback
    8. Cross your Microsoft Solution (all your products should be listed!)
    9. Tap into the CRM Resource Center with the product
    10. Check out your current Service Plan

    Dynamics CRM and E-Mail

    When it comes to E-Mail and Microsoft Dynamics CRM you will find that users have a number of questions. In fact partners have a number of questions. These questions range from what is the CRM Tracking token and can I get rid of it to why are some e-mail addresses red and others blue within the activities view.

    One of the great resources that is available for answering e-mail in Dynamics CRM questions is the Troubleshooting e-mail in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 FAQ.

    Take a look!

    A blast from the Past : Bulk Mail

    When Dynamics CRM v3.0 was first released the ability to automatically send bulk sets of e-mail was just not available. You could generate them as activities, but then the send was a bit .. well let's just say manual.

    Given the feedback from the field the team released a midupdate release that offered clients a choice of e-mailing options. This midstream update allows for the automatic send of bulk e-mails. To read more about your choices when sending out e-mails you can follow this link. 

    Microsoft CRM E-mail Communication Methods

    Bulk E-Mail

    Quick Campaign

    Full Campaign





    Response Tracking

    Yes (as an activity)

    Yes (as a campaign response)

    Yes (as a campaign response)

    Unsubscribe Request Tracking




    Return on Investment Tracking




    Automatically Send E-Mail Messages


    Yes (with update KB 911520).

    Yes (with update KB 911520).

    Use Marketing Lists for Recipient Selection




    1 Return on investment (ROI) can be tracked based on the cost of the campaign and its activities. The Campaign Performance and Campaign Comparison reports can be used to track and compare ROI.

    Getting Started with Microsoft Dynamics CRM

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Blended Learning Boot Camp – Applications Track

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Blended Learning Boot Camp – Applications Track
    This blended learning boot camp explores the Microsoft Dynamics CRM application from a user's perspective so that you can prepare for customer scenarios and exam preparation. Application functionality covered in the course includes Core CRM Navigation, User Interface, Outlook Client, Sales Management, Service Scheduling, Service Management, and Marketing Automation.

       Course Details
    Level: 300 Training Format: Classrooms (Live)
    Audience: Technical

    Date & Time Duration Location Your Price
    8/1/2007 - 8/1/2007 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Chicago, IL $250.00
    8/8/2007 - 8/8/2007 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM San Francisco, CA $250.00
    8/15/2007 - 8/15/2007 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Washington DC, DC $250.00
    9/12/2007 - 9/12/2007 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Dallas, TX $250.00
    9/19/2007 - 9/19/2007 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Seattle, WA $250.00
    9/26/2007 - 9/26/2007 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Hasbrouck Heights, NJ $250.00
    10/10/2007 - 10/10/2007 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Fargo, ND $250.00
    10/17/2007 - 10/17/2007 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Hasbrouck Heights, NJ $250.00
    10/24/2007 - 10/24/2007 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Los Angeles, CA $250.00
    10/31/2007 - 10/31/2007 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Tampa, FL $250.00
    11/7/2007 - 11/7/2007 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Denver, CO $250.00
    11/14/2007 - 11/14/2007 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM St. Louis, MO $250.00
    11/21/2007 - 11/21/2007 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Waltham , MA $250.00
    12/5/2007 - 12/5/2007 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Phoenix, AZ $250.00
    12/12/2007 - 12/12/2007 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Atlanta, GA $250.00

    With this blended learning program, you will receive:

    • 5 eLearning Sessions: Online eLearning to build the fundamentals and the ability to start curriculum at your own pace from your own desk
    • 3 eLive Sessions:  4-hour online sessions with an instructor in a virtual training environment
    • 1 Day Instructor Led Course: Access to a live instructor for one day in a live training environment
    • Exam Option: Option to take the appropriate certification exam following the in-classroom review session
    • Electronic Access to the courseware

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM Applications Professional training is recommended for individuals who will be on the implementation team, administering or using the Microsoft CRM application.

    At course completion
    After completing this course, partners will understand:

    • Microsoft Dynamics CRM User Interface and application terminology
    • Basic and advanced navigation and record maintenance
    • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Sales for Outlook functionality and synchronization
    • Account, Contact, Lead, Opportunity and Activity record management
    • Sales functionality, including Lead, Opportunity, Quote, Order, Invoice, and Product Catalog management
    • Customer Service functionality, including Contract, Case, and Knowledge Base management
    • Options to personalize the Microsoft Dynamics CRM User Interface and personal settings
    • Microsoft CRM Advanced Find functionality to evaluate customer data
    • Planning and budgeting tasks related to marketing campaigns; creating and managing customer lists; create marketing campaigns; manage campaigns and track campaign responses
    • Service Scheduling functionality. This includes Scheduling Services, Scheduling Administration, and Defining Service

    Before attending this course, partners must have:

    • An understanding of Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution processes and practices

    Additionally students must have completed the following prior to attending the Instructor Led Portion and receiving their Certification Exam Voucher:

    • Complete the 5 eLearning Courses
    • Complete the 3 eLive Sessions

    To Register
    1) Select the city and date that you will attend the classroom portion of the blended learning boot camp.
    2) You will receive a confirmation email confirming your attendance in the classroom portion of the course.
    3) Within 1-2 business days, you will be contacted by our registration coordinator to facilitate the registration for the eLearning, Electronic Courseware and eLive portions of the course.