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Custom Help in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 and beyond

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.

The awesome, Josh Wells, provides a nice little video on the subject

Time for Graphics, Easy Graphics from Dynamics CRM with Excel PowerBI

Major Update: My deepest thanks to David Hurtado for sharing these slides with me, for letting me share them with the world and for supporting all of his peers inside at Microsoft via the Microsoft Yammer Network (Yammer rocks).

What is incredible about this presentation is that putting the PowerPoint together took or takes longer than helping your customers understand how easy it is to use PowerBI and Dynamics CRM.

So Start Here:

Pull up your favorite View such as a view of all your bubbling opportunities

View Data in CRM - 1

Now confirm your view has account information

View Opportunity data in CRM 2

Choose to Export this View of Data to Microsoft Excel (not the only way to do this, but a familiar way)

Export Data to Excel 3

Now Open the Excel Workbook by clicking Open

Open Excel File 4

Have you noticed this new feature in Microsoft Excel?

  Map Excel Data 5
Now Select your locations

Select Location you want to use 6

And Use your Date Fields as Time Dimensions

Use data fields as time dimensions 8


Press Play 9

And Play, and play and play ... with visual immersion into your data

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Power BI

If you are currently using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, particularly if you are using a more current version or if you are always current with CRMOnline, then it is definitely time to go dive into the world of Microsoft Power BI and all the imbedded tools like Power Map.  

People can be incredibly visual and communicating CRM information using a visual medium like the Microsoft Power BI suite adds a huge refresh to how data and reports are consumed.



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

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

Where is CustomerSource, Right Here!

Where is the CRM User Group?

27018: Cloud Trust - Learn More about this Differentiator at Microsoft

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."

Microsoft Social Listening has MORPHED into Microsoft Social Engagement

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).

You can take a GUIDED Tour Here!  

Even More Dynamics Love on Youtube and Facebook! #MSDYNCRM

The new CRM page is live on YouTube and Facebook.

You can access the YouTube page here:

The Facebook App can be accessed directly at:

    New Dynamics CRM YouTube Channel

    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:

    Get Ready for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM FALL release! #msdyncrm

    Press Release:      


    Bob Stutz’s Blog:


    Customer Center Get Ready Page:

    What is a Microsoft Dynamics CRM View?

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

    So what exactly is a view?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What is an Entity? #msdyncrm

    What is a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Entity?

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

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

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

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

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

    An entity includes system messages that can be configured.

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

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

    Dynamics CRM 2011 Rollup 13 has been released

    There are some great posts summarizing this wonderful development effort of updates, features, fixes and new!

    Bullets of Interest



    Links for More

    A day in the life of the Outlook Client

    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?


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

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


    1)      Networking

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

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

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

    5)      Meeting other Microsoft team members

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

    6) Talk to Strangers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Social Tips

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

    2) Plan to eat incredible food.

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



    CRM and the Holiday Opportunities

    Now that it is the holiday season and everyone is distracted with high stress, extra after work errands (or lunch time runs to the local toy store) perhaps utilizing your CRM system is not top of mind.


    there are a number of different opportunities that are not present (or presents) at other times of the year.

    Take for instance sending out holiday cards (either electronically or via a hand written note) an address is needed (e-mail or postal) and what better time to confirm that all your addresses are correct then right before sending out a caring thought.

    There is also the tracking that you sent something, as there is nothing more embarressing (or perhaps more business limiting) then sending the same card to the same person twice. You definitely want to complete and activity once you get those messages out to your audience. Lastly well how about those great responses or the people who send you a gift or card who you did not send a gift or card to!! A thank you note, a reach out or even simply adding them to your list for next year.

    CRM is not just about management or BOD statistics, it really is about helping you to be more organized, more connected or simply a bit kinder because you can remember the small details a bit better.  

    The Benefits of User Groups

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

    June's SNECRMUG Meeting Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More on Advanced Marketing Options

    Tis the year to dive into business cultures and technology that have had significant change 

    If you have not looked under the covers at the marketing industry lately then it is time. What you used and assumed yesterday could use a refresh based on some of the newer offerings. Take for instance CoreMotives, who is another very interesting player within the world of cutting edge marketing combined with great technology advances.

    To get a feel for what they do take a peek at some of their upcoming webinars covering

    > Email marketing

    > Auto Responders
    > Web intelligence
    > Web form creation
    > Surveys
    > Landing pages
    > Social media tracking
    > Google AdWord tracking

    Advanced Marketing and Dynamics CRM

    It is not easy to grow a business these days, but when you have years and years of experience and tons of connections and there is a good need, it is often the right thing to do.

    John Gravely and his team have just that company with ClickDimensions.

    On June 1st, join John to hear some of that great experience as he presents REAL stories of MARKETING with Dynamics CRM. This is a premier event for marketers (not sales people who do a bit of marketing)Offering True Stories of Marketing with Microsoft Dynamics CRM

    This live workshop will include examples of real world campaigns where Microsoft CRM was used to:

    • Double a newsletter list in two weeks using a unique approach toward email marketing and lead scoring
    • Develop an easy way to improve web traffic by understanding the quality of visitors by traffic sources
    • Implement a strategy for creating great content that positions your firm as a leader
    • Apply simple tips for search engine marketing and search engine optimization
    • Provide sales with easy to use automated prospecting and marketing tools to make them more effective and efficient
    • Identify how to best use the right social channels to drive business value

    It should be fairly interesting as there is so much more that can be done both with the built in features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Marketing AND with some of the incredible ISV offerings that tie the power of the internet, statistics and technology with the CRM platform.


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

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

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

    SO Mark your calendars as June 17th is CRMDAY!

    CRM Day 

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

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

  • Training

    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.


    Swimming in the MS CRM 2011 Ocean

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

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

    What more can a passionate CRMLady ask for!

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

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

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

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

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

    April 5th: xRM/CRM User Group Southern New England Meetup

    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

    Discussion Topics: 

    • 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

    Event Type

    Regional Chapter

    Location Details

    Corner Pocket Billiards & Grill Phone: 401-383-9889 1428 Hartford Avenue Johnston RI USA 02919

    Thoughts on Convergence 2011 in Atlanta

    If you work with any of the Microsoft Dynamics products or if you are just thinking about jumping onto the xRM/CRM bandwagon then you will want spend some time thinking or rethinking about attending Convergence 2011 in Atlanta!

    Microsoft Convergence is one of the largest Microsoft shows in North America and as such it draws a large number of cool people from a wide variety of vendors and from Microsoft. I love just having a chance to sit down for 15 minutes or so with a number of different partner contacts, support staff, guru field experts and even the people who happen to sit next to me at breakfast. There are so many fascinating minds at work in this world!

    Additionally although some of the presentations can be a bit too marketing oriented (the last couple of years have shown huge improvement in this area), there are even more that are totally intense field feedback packed. Not to mention that many of the speakers come right from the front line.

    Realize that this year the EXPO hall at Convergence was sold out way in advance. Welcome back buzzing economy! AND the conference attendence is so full that Microsoft marketing doesn't have to do much so don't expect any extra motivation from your local Microsoft Rep!

    Here are my top 5 tips for getting the most out of Convergence 2011 AND if you are going to be in Atlanta watch for me!

    1) Spend the time to setup meetings in advanced. These can be a quick lunch, a specific breakfast table or an agreement to go to selected sessions together. Meet with people you don't know!  A lot can be accomplished in those first 15 minutes before a presentation starts.

    2) Line up your agenda now, but give yourself choices. One of the morning sessions might influence which session you pick in the afternoon.

    3) Know the speakers and pick the speaker that is going to offer you the content at the level you are interested in. This could be highly technical, a mix of business and technical, 101 or case studies.

    4) Make time to visit the Expo Room so you can connect and learn about all the incredible third party offerings. Many of the people in the booths are GREAT contacts to know from CEOs, to developers to passionate CRM gurus.

    5) Attend DAYOne sponsored by CRMUG and supported by xRMVirtual. It is a great way to warm up, ask questions, find out how the week will unfold and meet some of the people who spend a significant amount of their time helping the community and learning from answering CRM specific questions.

    6) Follow the TWEETs on the event so you know where things are happening and what you don't want to miss. The tweets let you find out about unpublished events and can give you access to Convergence experienced feedback minute by minute. #CONV11

    Now jump on over and get those logistics nailed down before it is too late!

    CRM Industry News and Cloud Debates

    Lauren Carlson, a CRM Market analyst over at The Software Advice blog, recently shared a number of new videos that some of you might be interested in.

    The first I watched is an up close and personal interview with Brad Wilson answering the question

    "What percentage of [CRM] customers choose the Cloud?"

    To watch the full video click here !

    A few interesting points from the video and from my thoughts for debate.

    1) The cloud offers smaller customers the option of an instantly available application without any of the server installation or support requirements.

    2) The cloud offers larger customers the option of an instantly available application without being queued up in the often over loaded information services department list of tasks.

    3) If you pick the cloud and want to switch to OnPremise, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM code base is the same for both environments, making a switch in the future an option.

    4) .NET extensions and plugin options are not (easily) available in the cloud. If you want to extend Dynamics CRM beyond the power of Customization and simple workflows, you potentially need OnPremise.

    5) Smaller customers often need as much power (or more) as larger customers when it comes to traditional CRM. Relationship building and management of prospects and support handling and management of customers. Why? Because they have fewer people with more titles and responsibilities. CRM can greatly supplement human resource time constraints.

    6) Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online does offer a bit more out of the box marketing functionality (web lead capture, different analytics), but the OnPremise ISVs in this arena really kick some tail. If you need advanced marketing features, such as click through analytics, then there are additional variables to consider.

    7) Data matters, Security matters:  but who has better security? A professional hosting company whose reputation and business is on the line every day when it comes to their business model or your computer room or data center where the network administrator (s) live? The debate and history shows an even 50/50.  There are weaknesses in both arenas

    To summarize the perfect CRM environment is different for each customer as each comes with positives and negatives, so I have to give Microsoft kudos for choice.

    Despite the overhead of keeping two offerings current and defined (and yes there are significant overhead costs), Microsoft made the right choice in giving customers options.

    These include Microsoft's Dynamics CRM Online, partner hosted Dynamics CRM and the OnPremise "customer hosted" Dynamics CRM.

    Not only did they give customers the option of choice, they also give customers the option of changing their mind.     

    Tips from the Field: Configuring Outlook

    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)


    The Training Difference between CRM and XRM

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Training or No Training?

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

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


    Now let's talk about Microsoft Dynamics CRM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Learning to Think CRM

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

    The Top 7 8 New Customer Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Learn to Think CRM

    Why no HTML Editor in Dynamics CRM

    ExactTarget offers some great insight about HTML e-mails and the challenges they can cause! Variables such as which e-mail client, which browser and which software your clients are using can have an impact.

    As such this area of technology gets to be a lot thicker and more complicated than one would first suspect.

    If you then mix that with all the cool new tricks for tracking opens, subscribes, unsubscribes and marketing statistics as well as the international and national SPAM laws you are stepping into an area that requires its own experts.  The experts exist and they are working with Microsoft! Companies like CoreMotives and ExactTarget for instance.

    So if advanced marketing is a focus of yours then start at the top of the trees, in the right forest, with the right tools and the right partners and then get into the nitty gritty.

    Dynamics CRM doesn't have an HTML Editor BUT

    Dynamics CRM doesn't have an HTML Editor BUT that does not mean you can't do HTML e-mails.

    Customer Effective has posted a nice little link on some of the steps they have used to make both HTML an dpictures display correct. Here is the beginning of their post with a link to read more.

    "May 12, 2010

    Getting User's to Love their CRM

    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!!

    Richard Boardman, a guru CRM expert and consultant out of the UK sums it up beautifully

    "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 one Button: LinkedIn and Dynamics CRM

    Just a small bit of code placed in just the right place. Sometimes the biggest business benefit is not necessarily the biggest development effort. 

    Marco has a great post about how to turn on access to LinkedIn within Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

    A small little button opening a world of possibilities.

    Thinking about Social Media

    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.

    Marketing Lists

    A very nice post from Customer Effective that starts out as follows ..........

    "Running Microsoft CRM Workflows Against Marketing List Members

    I love the marketing list functionality in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  It really is like advanced find on steroids, so you can use multiple step logic to build a list of people or companies to target in a campaign or direct email." 

    Read More

    Marketing Lists can also be dropped into Excel and shared with outside marketing initiatives so even if you do not use the full marketing functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Marketing Lists can be a powerful feature to tap into.

    Feature of the Week: The Special Relationship between Accounts and Contacts

    Accounts and Contacts

    Once you create a new account you can use this information to making adding new contacts more efficient.

    From the Account Left Navigation Pane

    Select Contacts

    Select New

    Make Note: The address from the Account and the Parent Account are copied into the new contact record automatically.

    Tip of the Day: Merging Data

    The Merge Feature

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM gives you the option to merge two accounts or two contacts. On Merge a person can select which fields in each record are accurate and using the data from the selected fields the primary record is updated and the secondary record is flagged as deactivated.

    This ability to merge is fairly powerful because of the human interaction. A human can easily tell which of the data from individual fields is most accurate when data gets really messy, whereas a system would have to have more rules and black and white requirements.

    Good for review of a few duplications, but not as good for mass cleanup.

    A couple of things to watch out for. If you merge two contacts and those contacts are uniquely tracked in two different peoples Outlook. The deactivited or secondary contact would be unlinked. This means that one person might not be too happy.

    If you have a lot of cleanup to do you will want to consider how that data is being used "offline" or in other applications before your cleanup efforts.

    Once the data is cleaned up you might want to review your deactivated data for further cleanup via the delete functionality.


    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.

    Accounts in the Top 10, 100, 500, 1000 lists

    There are some key things in the world that are occassionally interesting to users of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. One of those things is which of the current accounts within a CRM database are in the US Fortune 1000 list and another twist on the same might be which current Fortune 1000 accounts are missing from a CRM database.

    Given that the Fortune 1000 list changes every year this would need to be updated regularly.

    Another area within the world of vendors playing in the AICPA space might be which accounts are in the SourceMedia Top 100 List,

    In other worlds and industries there are other Top 10, 100, 500, 1000 lists.

    Is anyone doing anything creative with the above? 

    From business card to electronic lead

    One of the tools I have used for years is the Cardscan 700c from Cardscan, Inc.

    A couple of years ago they released a new piece of software that offered even more. The ability to scan a business card right into Microsoft Dynamics CRM as either a LEAD or a CONTACT.


    The product comes with a small carrying case, plugs into your laptop via USB and fits in the palm of your hand.

    A gadget that makes a difference in the world with software that offers users options!

    For instant you can also use the Cardscan for Outlook software, scan your cards into Outlook and then selectively choose which card to track within the CRM software via the Outlook client for CRM.

    Justifying Marketing Efforts

    One of the most common requests that bubbles up in some of the marketing professional forums is how do I justify and find ROI around the work that I do.

    This particular request is even more predominate in professional service firms who are measuring time invested against return and staff utilization. The trouble with this in the marketing space is that the marketing seeds that are planted today and the time invested today can  sometimes take  a good two to three years to be realized.

    You also have a progressive measure.

    For Example: You might start working on building up the market to grow a set of standardized lunch and learns, but the first lunch and learn could have a smaller audience than your lunch and learns later in the year. Measuring can take a number of forms.

    1) You can measure total attendence.

    2) You can categorize and then measure total attendees, such as people who are attending for training credit, people who are interested in a new product, clients who are getting value add from your company, business development connections who will be better referral sources and more.

    3) You can measure total number of people invited versus total number of people who attended.

    4) You can measure total people within certain titled roles such as CxO vs. Administrative staff.

    and the list goes on. One of the things you can't do is easily measure any of the above without the support of some good software tools. Now it is true that you can create numerous Excel spreadsheets, but this is not the best system. In fact if you really thought about it, you could consider using Excel fairly manual.

    One of the features that has been built into Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the ability to track an entire campaign. In my example above a campaign could be 2008 Lunch and Learns or it could be configured to focus on one specific lunch and learn event. A campaign tracks all of the different tasks associated with getting this event off the ground, the time associated with any activities, the mailing list or lists of people, the responses from said people and more.

    Many firms have not used campaign tracking so I recommend you start small and build up your knowledge as time goes on!