Bob Stutz’s Blog:
Customer Center Get Ready Page:
Bob Stutz’s Blog:
Customer Center Get Ready Page:
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.
Posted at 01:17 PM in MS CRM Configuring , MS CRM in Enterprise , MS CRM Knowledge Base Articles , MS CRM Partner Resources, MS CRM Studying, MS CRM Tip of the Day, MS CRM Training Resources, MS CRM Users: Network and CRM SQL Database Administration, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office, MS CRM Users: The Marketing Department, MS CRM Users: The Sales Department, MSDYNCRM04, MSDYNCRM11, MSDYNCRM13 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Keeping up with the incredible Microsoft Dynamics CRM versions in the old days was hard enough, but now the team is updating and releasing at an even faster pace.
These Resources can help
Posted at 09:13 AM in Announcements, CRM Development, MS CRM Partner Resources, MS CRM Selling, MS CRM User Resources, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office, MS CRM Users: The Support Department, MS Dynamics xRM in the field , MSDYNCRM13 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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.
Posted at 09:00 AM in CRM Development, MS CRM Tip of the Day, MS CRM Training Resources, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office, MS CRM Users: The Marketing Department, MS CRM Users: The Sales Department, MS CRM Users: The Support Department, MS Dynamics xRM in the field , MSDYNCRM04, MSDYNCRM11, MSDYNCRM13 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
You don't have to live with only all the powerful out of the box charting options. You can also Modify the Chart XML and inject steroids into the system.
Check out Alex's post on the basics.
Thinking on CRM : The last time you purchased a TV, did you purchase it because of the new features? The better picture quality, the smaller form factor, perhaps even a new connection or cutting edge bling?
OK so that is how you buy a new TV, but this mindset does not work as well for the purchase of a new CRM System. A CRM System is not the solution to your business process problems, it is the empowerment of your decided upon business process. Perhaps even new business processes. It is a new road with growth possibilities and potenial. It is a new culture.
You might be limited today by technology, but the technology that you buy for tomorrow should not limit you and your business processes.
Needless to say why I am a big fan of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is as much a development framework (xRM) as it is a product. Those who are masters understand not only the features they get out of the box, but also the strengths, weaknesses and when to use which feature. They also understand the age and maturity of each feature. Knowing if the feature can easily be used outside it's designed purpose or if it needs to stay in it's comfort zone. They understand when to configure, when to customize and when to extend using standard Microsoft Development methodologies.
As a business owner stepping into the world of implementing and incorporating technologies into the heart beat of your company you need to think flexibility. Change is constant, but the change of technology is so fast that you need a product and a partner that offers you choice. Constant choice. Microsoft Dynamics CRM has a long history (10 years and counting) of not only offering you choice , but of also staying current with the latest technologies and not removing all that has been an incredbly solid framework since 2003.
Choose carefully your product
Choose carefully your partner
and you will have an engine behind your business processes that helps keep you consistent, organized, empowered and current.
Look out! It is a whole new and old CRM world!
Take a huge amount of depth and years of development (Dynamics CRM v2011) and add onto it a whole new way of working. Shake out a few of the old features, park a couple of items for just a bit and add some much very cool new. Now mix well, test and release.
Oh and hold onto your hat, because although change is constant it always has an impact.
There are some great posts summarizing this wonderful development effort of updates, features, fixes and new!
Bullets of Interest
Links for More
Posted at 08:44 AM in Announcements, MS CRM General Announcements, MS CRM User Resources, MS CRM Users: Network and CRM SQL Database Administration, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office, MS CRM Users: The Marketing Department, MS CRM Users: The Sales Department, MS CRM Users: The Support Department | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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
What are your favorite features of the Outlook Client? Colors, Categories, appointment tracking?
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.
Posted at 01:57 PM in Announcements, CRM in General, CRM Vendor News, MS CRM General Announcements, MS CRM Partner Resources, MS CRM Selling, MS CRM Studying, MS CRM Tip of the Day, MS CRM Users: Network and CRM SQL Database Administration, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office, MS CRM Users: The Marketing Department, MS CRM Users: The Sales Department, MS CRM Users: The Support Department | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
One of the beauties of the web is that much of the valued work that was
released over time, is still available today.
The Discipline of CRM, by Anne Stanton and Herb Rubenstein,
iSixSigma Magazine http://www.isixsigma.com/library/content/c040323a.asp
How much do you invest in Mastering your Accounting
Software? by Anne Stanton, Accounting Software 411 http://www.accountingsoftware411.com/Press/PressDocView.aspx?docid=6460
Accounting Software, Maintaining Control, by Anne Stanton
and Joel Eisenhandler http://www.accountingsoftware411.com/Press/PressDocView.aspx?docid=6613
Software and Systems
Instant Messaging: Why communication needs new tools, by Anne Stanton,
Accounting Software 411 http://www.accountingsoftware411.com/Press/PressDocView.aspx?docid=5900
Other items of Interest
Utilizing Technology to Market Smarter by Melissa Farmer,
Accounting Marketing http://www.accountingmarketing.org/images/2006_UsingTechnology.pdf
CRM making life easier for CPA firms, by Lisa Spinelli,
5 signs that it's time to automate your customer data, by Jo
Anna Krotz, Microsoft Small Business Center http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/resources/marketing/customer-service-acquisition/5-signs-that-its-time-to-automate-your-customer-data.aspx#signsthatitstimetoautomateyourcustomerdata
Do you know how every programmer is a creatively unique person? They like to artistically write and develop their custom code and (to the developers - you then tend to be responsible for it for life). I specialize in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, because I want to see more value for business investments in customized and extended solutions. I work with Microsoft Consulting Services to do this, on projects that are different (and sometimes the same) as standard Customer Relationship Management solutions that solve sales process, marketing process and service process needs.
Solutions can range across a very wide range of needs, but generally flow across numerous different departments. Integration to Microsoft Office is a common need, tracking of relationships between things or people is a common need and tight ties to Excel for pivoting, reporting and analysis comes up a lot. Document Management with CRM's relationship to SharePoint and so much more.
So if you are still using Access (on speed) or Excel (multipled by 1000s) then maybe it is time to rethink.
Although most of us would not like to admit it, we all like to crash and decompress in front of the TV. Please welcome a new way to decompress CRMSoftware.TV.
This week Lauren Carlson, CRM Analyst, interviews David Pennington on exactly where Microsoft is investing when it comes to the many social marketing venues and applications. As well as how this plays in the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
A quick lick of the upcoming ice cream!
In this incredible world of both technology offering calculated date and people capturing data from all over the world the two concepts can sometimes collide!
Take for instance the world of dates.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers UTC adjustments, personal settings and Date and Time fields. What this means is that depending on how you have your computer configured and your Dynamics CRM Personal Options the dates that you enter are adjusted.
Microsoft Outlook does this as well. If I was to setup a meeting with an associate in California for instance on my calendar for today the meeting would display as Eastern Time (2pm for instance), but for my associate (CRM Guru Marc Wolenik) the date and time would display as (11am) and if we then added in another person such as a cool CRM Guru in Australia (Leon Tribe) the time would not only be different, the DAY would be different.
So what happens when you start capturing these types of dates inside of Dynamics CRM for analysis or reporting?
If all the dates are entered by "humans" correctly configured for their local time zones then the software correctly handles all the adjustments. The only trick with regards to this set of considerations is that DATE Only fields are well not really date only so watch that!
If all the dates however are entered by other "Systems" then a bit more thought needs to go into the architecture. Take for instance a system that resides on a server in a data center that is capturing date information based on that servers date. If you then take that date and enter it via an integration, how would you expect Dynamics CRM to react?
How would that date be managed?
Do you want it to be fixed? or adjusted?
If you want it to be adjusted, how are you going to tell the system to adjust it?
What if you want it to be a date field BUT you want to lock it to a certain time zone?
These are the joys of the world of global!
Posted at 08:55 AM in CRM Development, MS CRM Configuring , MS CRM in Enterprise , MS CRM Installing, MS CRM Roll Out, MS CRM Selling, MS CRM Studying, MS CRM Tip of the Day, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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.
Posted at 09:23 PM in MS CRM Studying, MS CRM Training Resources, MS CRM User Resources, MS CRM Users: Network and CRM SQL Database Administration, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office, MS CRM Users: The Marketing Department, MS CRM Users: The Sales Department, MS CRM Users: The Support Department | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
You just settled in with Microsoft Dynamics CRM v4.0
In fact you are feeling pretty good with it. You have started with the basics, learned a few of the intermediate features, added a few reports that you like and all is good. Next week you might even add a few more workflows to the mix to automate even more of those painful manual processes and THEN
Microsoft comes out with this upgrade. Oh and you took a look and it has some cool new stuff that you want. BUT, but, but there is still so much you can do in Dynamics CRM v4.0
Well no worries: We have a session to discuss all of these considerations at the VIRTUAL FREE DecisionsWorld conference.
Mark your calendar today - Register (yes, it is free but you need to register) and gather up all of those questions and perhaps a few assumptions so you are ready to debate the timing and benefits of staying vs. upgrading.
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.
Posted at 09:34 AM in Announcements, CRM Vendor News, MS CRM Studying, MS CRM Training Resources, MS CRM User Resources, MS CRM Users: Network and CRM SQL Database Administration, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office, MS CRM Users: The Marketing Department, MS CRM Users: The Sales Department, MS CRM Users: The Support Department | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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.
We had dinner with a couple of wonderful people on Saturday night and one of the conversations turned to the new hospital wide medical software that was recently rolled out. The couple we dined with were users of this software and had first hand experience with having to change to new tools. The approach for this project was everything changed and all the old was ditched.
Everything was replaced and each of the 1000+ users was given a mandatory 12 hours of training.
Do you see something wrong with this picture? It is not ditching the old (radical but it has it's benefits)
BUT 1 day of training does not a surgeon or doctor make and 1 day of training does not allow the users to master new tools, adopt and change their processes to functions, features and power nor even gives time for them to really think about how to embrace and get excited about the potential to alleviate headaches. It does create frustration and it is the frustration that then has to be managed. If on the other hand there is a major pro-active initiative that includes
My Mantra - Drip, Drip, Drip, Drip training needs to be first given in very small groups. Keep the training to 2-4 hours (brain overload after that) and ideally add some one on one for at least an hour each so that individual questions can be efficiently addressed.
Training should not end nor be limited to just face to face. Software changes every day, why not the human as well. Supplement training with a wiki (shared knowledge), 5 minute videos, reading material, weekly webinars and regular followup.
If you really want people to get the most out of the tools they have, then sit down with them and watch what they do, offer them insight into functions or features that might make what they do easier and listen, listen, listen. After listening, empower them - empower them to master what is offered, entrance them with the prizes for mastering and excite them with the potential to do what they want to do easier, better, with less hassle.
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.
Posted at 08:14 AM in CRM Development, MS CRM Roll Out, MS CRM Users: Network and CRM SQL Database Administration, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office, MS CRM Users: The Marketing Department, MS CRM Users: The Sales Department, MS CRM Users: The Support Department | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
If you had to be 80-90% billable could you do it? (BTDT)
I always find it fascinating to tap into prior experience, even if that prior experience was not necessarily the best. What is fascinating is mixing experiences and thinking about them. It is nice to have hindsight and perspective.
Take for instance the time it costs to write and/or respond to an e-mail. When I was tracking time, yes I counted e-mails and I counted them at 5 minutes a piece (reading, thinking, responding, review and send). When you consider that a similar question not sent via e-mail is most likely a minimum of a 15 minute conversation (well the time adds up) and that doesn't even include the interruption factor.
So is e-mail more cost effective or is the 15 minute face to face? As much as it is tempting to pick the 5 minute item it depends!
As with anything, professional judgement is a factor. If you really have 15 minutes of material that needs some great back and forth then a face to face might be much more efficient than 10 e-mails. Look at the math.
10 emails at 2 people at 5 minutes a piece = 1 Hour 40 Minutes
1 face to face meeting between 2 people = 30 minutes (plus perhaps 5 for travel and 10 for coordination)
In this example the face to face wins.
On the other hand if every question tends to be face to face then you are significantly increasing interruption, breaking individual blocks of concentration time and burning up a lot of productivty cost. So there must be a balance.
Here is another interesting comparison. The time to actually do a timesheet. I cut my 20 year old teeth having to fill in a timesheet and kept one for the next 25 years. There were times when I was inefficient and ended up doing the timesheet at the end of the week and other years when I managed to enter time as it was used.
When doing technical support, it was easy to be on the phone, fill in the timesheet entry and save before hanging up and the analytics were extremely accurate. When I was multi-tasking and doing three things at once, keeping the timesheet current was a much bigger deal. It required carving out time to not only get those three tasks entered, remember the details of each and to actually enter them. I certainly spent more than one Sunday afternoon getting a timesheet completed.
Ron Baker would argue that the model of the billable timesheet is torked, and he is correct. The value of any one persons time can very significantly. Take for instance the time the person took to become that expert or how fast they actually work.
On the other hand there is value in understanding where time is going and how to make better use of time used to meet business goals. This is not just about an individual's productivity, it is much more about process. Inefficient processes (or no process) creates rework, miscommunication, role confusion and more.
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
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.
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
Posted at 09:28 AM in Announcements, MS CRM General Announcements, MS CRM ISV and 3rd Party Add-on Products, MS CRM Partner Resources, MS CRM Training Resources, MS CRM User Resources, MS CRM Users: Network and CRM SQL Database Administration, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office, MS CRM Users: The Marketing Department, MS CRM Users: The Sales Department, MS CRM Users: The Support Department | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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.
Posted at 06:57 AM in CRM in General, MS CRM Installing, MS CRM Selling, MS CRM Users: Network and CRM SQL Database Administration, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office, MS CRM Users: The Marketing Department, MS CRM Users: The Sales Department, MS CRM Users: The Support Department | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 has been released now both as an Online offering and as an OnPremise offering.
The buzz from the field is that the product is packed with 500+ new features and a ton of new options with regards to customization and after working with the product I have to agree. The team is offering some incredible power and flexibility while still maintaining all that is great in v4.0.
Power however comes with a price. As partners and customers across the world learned in Dynamics CRM v3.0 and v4.0 if you don't take the time to understand then it is easy to dig your own hole of frustration.
So how can this be avoided by those just getting interested? Particularly given that 2011 offers even more!!
Here are five key steps to getting off on the right foot!
1) Take baby steps and small bites, grow with the product
2) At a minimum READ the installation guide twice (OnPremise)
3) Remember, just because it is easy to configure and customize doesn't mean you know the best way to configure and customize. Tap into experience.
4) Good "CRM" partners have already invested in the basics and offer those as part of every project (why pay to rebuild these, just for the learning exercise? There are better ways)
5) Senior .NET developers who don't know XRM/CRM still have a lot to learn when it comes to thinking XRM. Junior XRM/CRM developers still have a lot to learn when it comes to thinking .NET
and as a little bit of extra - Item 6
6) Many of the features within Dynamics CRM are version 4.0! but some are v1.0 - set proper expectations when utilizing a specific feature set.
I love it when partners step it up and share key tips that make their Microsoft Dynamics CRM clients happy. Today on the PowerObject's blog "JoeCRM" wrote up a really nice post about empowering users in the task of configuring Outlook to get even more out of the embedded Dynamics CRM functionality.
One extra point to bring to everyone's attention. You can quickly find URLs within Dynamics CRM for any number of pages so if you have a favorite specific account that you want to link to directly you can do it.
Open the Account, Select Actions, Select copy shortcut (you can now paste this shortcut into a new outlook shortcut property)
Posted at 08:34 AM in MS CRM Studying, MS CRM Tip of the Day, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office, MS CRM Users: The Marketing Department, MS CRM Users: The Sales Department, MS CRM Users: The Support Department | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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.
Posted at 08:16 AM in MS CRM Training Resources, MS CRM User Resources, MS CRM Users: Network and CRM SQL Database Administration, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office, MS CRM Users: The Marketing Department, MS CRM Users: The Sales Department, MS CRM Users: The Support Department | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
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.
Posted at 05:38 PM in MS CRM Studying, MS CRM Tip of the Day, MS CRM Training Resources, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office, MS CRM Users: The Marketing Department, MS CRM Users: The Sales Department, MS CRM Users: The Support Department | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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
Posted at 07:52 AM in MS CRM Partner Resources, MS CRM Studying, MS CRM Training Resources, MS CRM User Resources, MS CRM Users: Network and CRM SQL Database Administration, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office, MS CRM Users: The Marketing Department, MS CRM Users: The Sales Department, MS CRM Users: The Support Department | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The following is such a great thought, concept and quote that I had to share it! So many people think adoption is all about usability, but there are so many other factors that come into play and often take a much higher priority in the grand scheme of things!!
"Putting aside my belief that actually there has been very little change in the usability of CRM software in the last 10 years, ease of use is only one piece in the user adoption puzzle, and it doesn’t matter how easy to use you make software, it doesn’t mean it will be used. The following are the bits that I believe make up the bigger picture" Read More
Just a small bit of code placed in just the right place. Sometimes the biggest business benefit is not necessarily the biggest development effort.
A small little button opening a world of possibilities.
Posted at 09:12 AM in CRM Development, MS CRM ISV and 3rd Party Add-on Products, MS CRM Partner Resources, MS CRM Selling, MS CRM Tip of the Day, MS CRM Users: The Executive Office, MS CRM Users: The Marketing Department | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
A few weeks back Duplicate Detection was quite the focus in parts of my world and as per usually someone pointed out that Soundex wasn't an option.
Low and Behold - Check out this recent post called "Pimp your Duplicate Detection"
The big news today are all the interesting things announced for Microsoft Outlook 2010 when it comes to Social Media connections! If you have not seen the numerous posts check this out.
This is also good motivation to take another look at the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Social Media Accelerator. Barry Givens gives a great demonstration in this little video.
For those in the technical arena take a moment to touchbase with your clients marketing departments and connections. Their world is changing and it is changing fast.
One of my goals in life is to continue to invest in improvement as opposed to reinvention. Needless to say when I see something that makes a great foundation I tend to capture into my library of thought.
Here is a great list about capturing or assigning content responsibilities.
David taps into an excellent subject today on his blog and it is worthy of further discussion. The concept is Why should I care about where my data is stored?
Word, Excel, A Database, ... which database ...
The perfect pair: SharePoint and Dynamics CRM and yet there are times when users might only be in SharePoint and/or only in CRM.
Pierre Hulsebus over at EHTC has a great use case post today regarding how licensing is managed when the two products are married and yet seperate.
The concept of starting with the Dynamics XRM framework for development is sometimes a tough concept for developers to grasp. I mean they have years of experience programming custom solutions in .NET and they know if they write it from scratch "everything will be in their control".
Well let's think about this. Is this really the case? Certainly when programming on a team every line of code is not controlled by a single developer so that "concept" is often broken almost immediately.
So what other barriers arise?
Well the biggest is that without training, focus, reading and experiencing a slightly new "XRM" mindset, there is risk that you really can screw it up. I have seen more than one developer have to eat crow and other developers who just start getting negative and "anti-CRM" when they really just don't get it.
So what to do, what to do, what to do?
If you are new to XRM and you are a developer make every effort to spend a good amount of time with senior experienced Dynamics CRM or Dynamics XRM developers. You know the folks. The ones whose blogs you read, the ones who offer deep dive boot camps and the ones who have rolled out hundreds of successful custom Dynamics CRM projects. Believe me it makes a BIG difference.
IF you don't have the option to surround yourself by these gurus (or perhaps the ego) then you will need to really start diving in and reading, reading, reading and learning. Once you do this master a very small project. Realize that you can ramp up a project in 24 hours so it is not like this is a totally wasted energy thing.
Learn the difference between how Dynamics CRM uses SQL, tables (entities), database structure and relationships between things. Learn to think CRM. It really is a different way of thinking to a certain extent.
Now this might seem easy, but you would be surprised at how challenging this can be. I am not talking about a side thought. I am talking about really understanding the depth so you can use the depth. The advantages are incredible.
So ask myself how did I get started? One of the best things I did in my first year or two working with Dynamics CRM is to spend three - four hours every Saturday teaching a Dynamics CRM class with Larry Lentz. We tag team taught and we deep dove into a ton of manuals a page or chapter a week for a good six months. We also used the software as we read, trying everything that was explained. This effort established a great base for me to continually learn and believe me I am still learning.
Just consider the tip I posted earlier today. Hey I just didn't know that trick, but I sure as well wanted to share it once I learned it.
So here is a last thought. You never stop learning and Dynamics CRM is so deep that even after years there is more to learn. It also continually changes, so for those of you who have never been to a class or never read a Dynamics CRM book. Well you might be able to "just figure it out", but I can guarentee that there is a lot more for you to experience. So don't be shy - come to the party and jump right in but be ready for being pushed outside your comfort zone and for change!
Developers are a unique breed with strong opinions, creative talent and a deep understanding of tools that many of the people they work with do not necessarily understand. They also come in two groups - those that are confident and open to other expertise, opinions, input and getting pushed out of their comfort zone and those who are so excited about the tools that they use and that they have a deep mastery of that pushing them out of their comfort zone to learn something new is almost impossible.
Now introduce Microsoft Dynamics CRM (xRM) into this crowd. A fairly new way of thinking that both pushes senior developers out of their comfort zone and introduces the concept that perhaps some of the "requires a programmer" techniques now can be done by someone who might not have the history, scar tissue, experience or vision to do the techniques right.
The other variables it that depending on the Microsoft Dynamics xRM framework to build out intense and robust solutions with senior developer talent also requires that those senior developers trust the teams who design, update and maintain the Microsoft Dynamics xRM framework.
An interesting cultural challenge being faced and WON (and unfortunately sometimes lost) across the country.
I share the virtual stick in this post.
This stick can be used to smack one or two people upside the head, it can be used to poke people and it can be used to build bridges of connect between people and even backend systems and databases to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It can also be used to draw stick people to outline requirements and can be the base for any number of graphical demonstations.
Lastly the stick's real purpose is to sprinkle a bit of humor in to it all, because change is hard even when it makes a ton of sense!
Have you thought about the use of Queues? Sometimes a feature within a software package is so unique that it hints of being a major deal to implement. This means more training, change (everyone's favorite subject) and risk. Yes, change does bring risk.
Still Queues (despite the descriptive and yet fancy name) are a powerful feature that is not necessarily that hard to get your head around.
You can define a Queue in Settings, Business Administration, Queue. You give it a name, an e-mail address and assign it to a Business Unit.
You can add things to a Queue by assigning an Activity or sending an e-mail to the e-mail address you setup when you created the Queue.
How do you get things out of the Queue?
You open the Queue via Service, Queues, Select the Queue.
You then grab an item you want to work on by picking an item from the list and pressing the ACCEPT button.
Did I loose you yet?
Queues have three sections. The main bucket of things to do, the In Progress Bucket and the Assigned Bucket.
If you are not using Queue's but you really have activities that can be assigned to a line as opposed to always the same person perhaps it is worth reading up on them a bit more. The above pretty much sums up the basics.
It lasts about a day for most (when looking at Vanilla Dynamics CRM), but other people get tripped up on it and their impressions linger. This is the first impression of the ease of use of the complexity and depth of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
In watching this (stickiness) I rolled around in my mind this thought.
If it takes 2 minutes and 58 seconds to show a video on a specific feature (advanced find) and this video is fairly comprehensive, is there still a possibility of total rejection by the user community?
Microsoft has a world of "XRM" within Dynamics CRM and as more and more of the framework matures we will see growth.
On my latest deep dive I have been looking at modifying Dynamics CRM Help and the general structure around how changes to Dynamics CRM help are supported in a multi-tenant world. In summary they are not (yet). The help files are stored with the application files.
But luckily there is some great reading material to get started with changes you might want to make to help in a single tenant world and customizing help is supported. You can read the complete Microsoft Dynamics CRM Configuration Guide on Technet and when talking HELP you can focus on this section.
I was talking to a client today and out of the blue this quote came up in conversation. I was so thrilled with her matter of fact statement that I asked if she would mind if I captured and shared it and she agreed.
"I love CRM, because everything we do is pretty simple and clear." - Tonya Kraning
When Microsoft CRM v3.0 was released back in December 2005 (yes it was that long ago) the team included a new first time release of Microsoft Outlook Client for CRM and as such technically the Outlook Client for CRM was version 1.0 and true to form the release of a 1.0 version can have it's issues. (I can debate that this should not be the case, but it is what it is)
What numerous Microsoft CRM clients might not realize is that as of today the current version of the Microsoft CRM Outlook Client is at least 3 versions beyond that and that does not include minor patch releases.
Have you stopped using the Microsoft CRM Outlook client because of v1.0 issues? It is time to revamp.
A few huge things have signifcantly made a difference to the Outlook Client for CRM.
1) The release of SQL Express 2005 (with the release of SQL 2005 in 2007) - This changes the local database that the Outlook Client for CRM uses when going offline from a fairly low end access oriented database (MSDE) to a very robust and more enterprise level local database (SQL Express 2005) SQL Express 2005 has form, function and power similar to SQL 2000
2) The adoption of Microsoft Office and associated Outlook 2003 Service Pack 2 (released late 2005) and other updates released over the last 3 years - Certainly the Outlook Development team also continues to fine tune and improve their products and client adoption of Outlook updates helps the CRM team. When v3.0 first came out many clients were not running Office 2003 Sp2
3) The release of Microsoft CRM Outlook Client v3.0 R1 (December 2006) and R2 (June 2007) in response to the new VISTA operating system and the new office suite 2007.
4) The release of Microsoft Outlook 2007 (Totally changes and improves the Outlook footprint)
The CRM Development team rewrote the CRM outlook client for Microsoft Dynamics CRM v4.0 based on Outlook 2007, SQL Express 2005, and a major truck load of CRM outlook client v1.0 field feedback.
Now the world isn't perfect. When they released the Microsoft Outlook client v3.0 R2 for VISTA and Outlook 2007 they had to release another "fix" for those clients using Microsoft Outlook v3.0 R2 on older systems (such as Outlook 2003 and Windows XP)
The total key for companies using the Microsoft CRM Outlook client ! If you are having problems talk to your partner about readdressing what is really going on.
1) Check which version of the Outlook Client for CRM you are using.
2) Strip off and uninstall the Outlook Clients for CRM that are not working (INCLUDING deleting the associated CRM MSDE local database)
3) Check what other Outlook Add-ins are running (nothing like 3 toolbars and 4 different popup blockers to cause headaches for CRM)
4) Check the RAM in the workstation. RAM is cheaper now and the current applications in the owrld require and fight for it regularly. (1Gb is not enough, in my machine with all I do 2Gb is not enough)
Dashboards are the key hot term and valuable feature request which comes up over and over again! Consider one quick fix to an instant powerhouse of data (even integrated data) in a familiar and (much loved) tool "Excel". Excel really is being used for dashboards of key information (despite the availability of other tools), and you get all of this data in a very beautiful chart like format.
Do Once: (this can even be done during the installation process)
1) Using Advanced Find choose the criteria of data you are interested in on an ongoing bases. Take for instance closed sales totals by month, sales person and category.
2) Save your Query
3) Display your Query
4) Using the Excel Button, Click and choose create a Dynamic Excel Pivot Chart
5) Design your chart from the numerous powerful Microsoft Excel features leveraging the data from your Query.
6) Save your new Dynamic Excel spreadsheet.
Do when you want:
7) Each week/day/hour (etc.) Open your Dynamic Excel spreadsheet to check out your chart. (you do not need to be in Microsoft Dynamics CRM) Notice that your custom chart/graph automatically updates with current Dynamics CRM Sales data!
8) Want to take it a step further?
9) Add other data from other systems into the same spreadsheet, add some formulas, do some more charting..
Wow! without writing one line of CODE you now have integrated data from disperse systems all in one pretty picture.