There was a nice little feature released as part of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015. You can now add CUSTOM HELP to your Microsoft CRM system.
MS CRM Users: Network and CRM SQL Database Administration
Dipping my toe into the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 OnPremise installation and a couple of key tips to remember (posting them here so I can find them).
Thanks to the Microsoft Consulting Services CRM Consultants: Thymio and Salvador who shared their knowledge and continue to make incredible wonderful happen for clients working with Microsoft and clients working with Microsoft Partners and Microsoft Consulting Services.
1) When you create your service accounts - create them in the SAME Organizational unit (OU)! If you create them some where else and copy them you are not going to be a happy camper and you will spend hours trying to figure out why you are getting issues.
2) Don't forget about the SPN's. To read more about the Service Principal Names and what SPN's mean, take a look at this great TechNet Article.
3) Do you host your own web page? Most likely not and Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a very powerful web application with numerous options and offerings. So before you decide you are going to do your own Microsoft Dynamics CRM On-Premise Install - Do some reading and get the help and buy in of the right people from your team. The guru network guys who are swamped (get on their calendar)
A few resources and there are more:
- Deploying Dynamics CRM https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=45022
- The Dynamics CRM 2015 Server https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=45012
- Setting up the Dynamics CRM E-mail Router (if you are going to use this option) https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh699800.aspx
If this is not something you want to tackle there are many options.
1) CRM Online
2) CRM Hosted by a third party partner
3) A certified in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Infrastructure partner or MCS team who can work with your IT Department to get CRM Installed and running smoothly.
4) Leverage the incredible of your professional Field Engineering contract. The CRM PFE Team is so impressive! They really offer a huge amount of experience and lessons learned particularly when it comes to smooth operations, performance and getting this running right.
Oh Partners and IT Department Leads:
Is it time that your little data center gets an injection of extreme power and versatility? What about adding to your customers CRM Online experience?
So you ramped up a development instance, used it heavily, crammed a bunch of testing into it and now you want a clean fresh start. The following is how you delete a development or sandbox instance of CRM Online.
Switch or delete an instance of CRM Online
Switch an instance
Delete an instance
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"
Are you hosting your own instance of Microsoft Dynamics CRM? Have you invested in training your IT Professionals and Network Administrators in the infrastructure behind Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Ask yourself this question "Are you hosting your own web pages?" If the answer to this question is NO, then you want to seriously consider training your resources on hosting the incredible power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Take for instance IFD (The Internet Facing Deployment Options) or The Tablet and Mobile Apps .. So many options :)
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online conforms to ISO/IEC 27018, the only international set of privacy controls in the cloud
Microsoft is the first major cloud provider to be independently verified as having adopted ISO/IEC 27018, the world's first international cloud privacy standard. The adoption of ISO/IEC 27018 by Dynamics CRM Online is part of a broader commitment from Microsoft to protecting the privacy of our customers, as described in a Microsoft on the Issues post from Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President. In addition to Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Microsoft Intune have adopted ISO/IEC 27018."
They started with Microsoft Social Listening (MSL), empowering one user at a time to embrace and filter through all the social noise using technology! Empowering users to leverage more data to get their individual goals met and offering more depth of functionality both with and without Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
NOW there is MORE! Now MSL has morphed into Microsoft Social Engagement where you can do more than just listen. MSL Matured into more features, more interaction and more user power.
So if you have been waiting for the bleeding edge to stop bleeding and you are ready to empower your users with more than just an e-mail system and more than a robust customer relationship system then start dipping your toes into the water with the Microsoft Social Engagement tool (MSE).
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.
The people who work on Microsoft Dynamics CRM don't always know all the details of loving and caring for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and although it doesn't need much, it does like some care.
This is why the community is so incredible and no amount of thanks can truly show the appreciation for the hundreds of hours community members spend blogging and sharing great information.
So today I am sharing an older post for those using all versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, but particularly for those who might want to do even more to keep their system singing and moving along.
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
The new CRM page is live on YouTube and Facebook. This will enable better discovery of the video assets being created for the releases.
You can access the YouTube page here:
The Facebook App can be accessed directly at:
- This app is mobile optimized
- Users can discover this tab either directly via URL or through this link https://www.facebook.com/msftdynamics under 'More'.
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.
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.
There are some great posts summarizing this wonderful development effort of updates, features, fixes and new!
Bullets of Interest
- Developers? There is a new SDK
- Visionaries? Dynamics CRM with MarketingPilot and NetBreeze
- Features : First there was Decembers R12 Polaris and then RU13
Links for More
- The CRM Team Blog summary
- Upgrade Instructions
- The Download Center
- Studying and Extending Dynamics CRM -> Dynamics xRM
- The Report Authoring Extension
- Connecting the Data is talking about it
- Amreek Signh is talking about it
- The xRM.com Writing Team is talking about RU13
- Donna Edwards talking about RU13 Including a Great little Video!
Microsoft Dynamics CRM comes with a number of extras and one of those powerful extras is the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Outlook Client. (free to all Microsoft Dynamics CRM users)
Not only can you access the entire Dynamics CRM system from within Outlook, but the Outlook Client and the Microsoft Outlook software share information between their data storage systems.
Choices, Choices, Choices to leverage all the powerful functionality of Outlook 2013 on data from Microsoft Dynamics CRM or leverage all the powerful functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM on e-mail, contacts, tasks and appointments and outlook functionality which possibly drives your daily life.
You can run Dynamics CRM without the Outlook Client, but the Outlook client offers you even more features and functionality.
Here are a few of the key ones
- Track E-mail that you receive and respond to in Outlook against the contact's account (or case, or contact record or opportunity or, ... ) in Dynamics CRM, sharing this with your team
- Complete a task in Dynamics CRM by checking off the task in the Outlook task list
- Use Word Mail Merge to use Dynamics CRM data in letters and word documents or even word templated reports
- Take your data offline when there is no internet access for the Outlook Client gives users the ability to take a all or a subset of data “offline”
What are your favorite features of the Outlook Client? Colors, Categories, appointment tracking?
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
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
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.
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.
If I had a dollar for every time the following question was asked in the field I could.. ! Well here is a much better response then a flat No and my thanks to Steven Vlaanderen Oldenzeel from Microsoft PFE for sharing!
Can I write directly to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM SQL Database?
- We will support everything you would do when you are using the CRM application layer.
- For CRM users we do NOT allow direct SQL Server connections, except for excel touching filtered views (but the user might not even know how this technically works).
- For a DBA, CRM Consultants and other technicians, we will allow anything you do on the SQL Server directly (maintenance, indexes, select statements), but we cannot support it, but your SQL team can support it. This means, test it first and document it properly!
- We will NOT allow direct data inserts or updates at all. Do this via the CRM application layer and do not bypass the CRM Security model. This also counts for writing SP’s, Triggers, Functions directly on SQL. Please use Workflows and Plugins.
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)
Occassionally the need arises to double check exactly what version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM you are running and when I say version, I mean the exact .0000000 version. Christian recently posted on exactly how one goes about doing that.
His post can be found HERE or below are some of his wise, wise words.
"As many Dynamics CRM 4.0 aficionados know, Microsoft releases regular updates to iron out documented issues [and to sprinkle in a little love]. CRM 2011 is no exception; three Update Rollups have already been released since RTM.
Note that the On-Premise build numbers I list below may be different than what you will find in CRM 2011 Online. Microsoft continuously adds new updates behind the scenes, thus the likelihood of having a greater build number in comparison to the latest Update Rollup version.
To determine your current build number from the IE web client, simply:
To determine your current build number from the Outlook CRM client:
A window will pop up with your build number listed. If you used Outlook, you will see the build numbers for both the Server and Outlook CRM Client (sample screenshot below).
See below for a chart of the Dynamics CRM 2011 build versions. I’ll try to keep it current, so be sure to bookmark and check back later!
Microsoft Dynamics CRM is built using a number of different techniques and tools from Microsoft. Given these various techniques performance is optimized, but that does not mean that each individual partner, customer and developer doesn't need to pay attention.
Performance of a multi-user, highly dynamic, many moving parts system is worth adding to your project plan. To make fine tuning performance even easier the Microsoft CRM Engineering for Enterprise team has continued to keep their "Optimizing and Maintaining the Performance of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Clients" and their testing documentation such as the "Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Performance and Scalability with Intel" white paper current.
There are even more resources when it comes to performance and Dynamics CRM so if this is a hot point for you, take a look!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
The best part (s) of the Dynamics xRM platform
1) Developers don’t ever have to “line up fields on a form”
2) DBAs are not needed to build the database, although a few database indexes are good to have (if wanted) DBAs are still needed!
3) Users can design their own forms (ok this is only in xRM 2011) and not step on other people’s preferences – In v4.0 the CRM trained BA can do it, no developer necessary.
4) Users can come up with their own views, dump the data to Excel, save it as a report and be glorified heroes to their boss. In fact they can export to a Dynamic Excel Pivot chart (that when the boss opens it, shows the bosses secure data in all sorts of cool graphs)
5) In 2011 – Users can create their own charts on the fly, charts have built in drill down (IS doesn’t have to write as many SSRS Reports!)
6) Programmers can focus on the fun stuff like Silverlight interfaces ((not the stuff they have developed 100 times before))
7) The bling – doesn’t take a year to develop
8) Users get new features every 6 weeks and over 500+ new features every 1-2 years from Microsoft (if the extensions are written in the supported framework, it is an upgrade – not an expensive rewrite or a risky set of custom reactive patches that over a number of years gets painful to support)
9) To solve a user problem, to fix a bug or to figure out what is up is usually a phone call away. With 1 million other users you are not always the first one to find it and with Tier 1, 2, 3 support not to mention the blogs and books and a crazy wild community ... well nice to have community.
10) Integration to Google Maps, GeoData or Bing Maps takes less than a week to complete.
11) Popping any other web application (with a link) from the menu can take less than an hour to enable, add role security ok a day or two
12) There are hundreds of Apps that you can buy to plug in. iPad interface, Advanced Marketing, Hoovers integration, BI and OLAP analysis, mobility,
13) You still need .NET developers! Integration, extensions, cool stuff, new things in .NET and SQL and more! not redundant done it 100 times before like authentication code, Form Field line up, etc.
Ok, ok there are some change requirements (believe it or not I am not 100% CRM Kool-Aid (maybe 80%;))
1) Experienced .NET developers have to change process to fit within working with another .NET development team that is external (Microsoft Dev team)
2) The team writing the framework is not perfect and do make mistakes
3) The efficiencies to Microsoft Dynamics xRM have to be learned via training, reading and experience. (the first two are the least painful) particularly if you skip them.
4) The first project never lives up to the expectation of a more efficient turn around particularly when the people trying to hit this expectation do not get the time to get training, or think they can train themselves, (field feedback and connection with the MS Developers helps a lot)
5) Business users also need to realize they get the cool stuff but it comes with other features that don't necessarily just turn off if they don't like that way of doing it.
6) Infrastructure matters: Supporting CRM infrastructure requires expanded network administrator skills and it helps to have DBA input and involvement
7) You can screw it up (but then what else is new)
8) When people screw it up, they blame it on xRM/CRM instead of on all the factors
9) CRM is not an ERP or financial application framework, sometimes the DynamicsAX Framework is a better choice particularly when it comes to crazy tax codes that you don’t want to be the one keeping current.
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.
xRM/CRM User Group Southern New England Meetup
Join us for the next meeting of the CRMUG New England Regional Chapter on Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at the Corner Pocket Billiards & Grill, Johnston, RI from 4 to 7 pm. This will be an informal connect with other CRM customers with topics to include: "Getting the Most Out of Convergence" & "Upgrading - Why? and When?". Please register no later than Friday, April 1st!
Meeting Date & Time: Tuesday, April 5, 2011, 4 to 7 pm
- Getting the most out of Convergence 2011
- Upgrading - Why? and When?
Audience: All CRM users are welcome to attend, regardless of whether they have joined CRMUG. Partners should be accompanied by a customer. Partners should bear in mind that the objective of Regional Chapters is to exchange knowledge and Dynamics CRM experience. Partner personnel should possess deep CRM expertise and refrain from sales activities.
About CRMUG Regional Chapters: Regional Chapters enhance your membership in CRMUG by offering face-to-face interaction and knowledge-sharing with other Microsoft Dynamics CRM users in your region. By having meetings centrally located within your region, users from all job roles and levels in your company can participate by only driving a short distance. All job roles are welcome: • Customer Service • Sales • Information Technology Join us so you can optimize the functionality, flexibility, performance and return on investment offered by CRM—and get better results from your CRM implementation back home. Feel free to invite CRM colleagues and other users within the region. For more information about CRMUG, visit www.crmug.com.
Event TypeRegional Chapter
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
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?"
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.
Caution: You might want to think twice about this one, but it does take care of a user annoyance when exporting from Microsoft Dynamics CRM into Microsoft Excel 2007..
Thanks to Joel over at Customer Effective for summarizing!!
Click To Read - Getting Rid of the CRM Export to Excel WARNING message
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/
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
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.
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.
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
To set Internet Explorer to open a NEW instance of IE in a NEW window do this:
- Open the Control Panel or from the Tools menu inside IE access the Internet Options
- Click on the Advanced tab.
- Look for the following question "Reuse Windows for Launching Shortcuts (when tabbed browsing is off)" under Browsing
- 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)
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.
There is a lot to learn about Microsoft Dynamics CRM; although many have been tripped up by the ease in which you can configure and customize the system and the general marketing buzz. Don't let this fool you into thinking you are not still working with a powerful machine!
Dan Blake offers a primer on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Infrastructure multi-tenancy options. His post on this is now a year and a half old, but it still packs a mean punch with some great tidbits so if Multi-Tenancy is within your radar take a look.
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.
If you are a "CRM Administrator" have you looked at your System Jobs recently? Now for all those working on various projects ... Have you checked out the System Jobs in your development environments?
Choose SYSTEM JOBS
Immediately you will see a list of various information regarding various "system jobs" that might have run or might be "waiting".
Make particular note of the items in the waiting state. Do you know what they are waiting for? Should they really be waiting? Do they need to be cancelled?
Next Question: Are you managing your system job log? Has it been purged lately?
Did you know that Duplicate Detection is a System Job?
The maximum number of attributes within the world of Dynamics xRM is defined by any limits within the world of Microsoft SQL Server.
To Quote "Eg: SQL 2005 & 2008 is 1024. Which means you can have 1024 attibute[s] per entity creation."