MS CRM Studying

Powershell and Microsoft Dynamics CRM (#msdyncrm)

So you think you are the ultimate master of Microsoft Dynamics CRM! This is totally awesome, because now you can empower your entire team with new PowerShell Awesomeness for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Organization Data!

AND don't forget to send some feedback and love to the developer!

Read More and Download Here


Visual Studio 2013 Tools and Dynamics CRM 2015

If you have not noticed there is an incredible Microsoft Dynamics CRM Software Developers Kit (SDK), but in previous versions of the SDK there were also a set of visual studio tools.

Working in Technology? As We Know Change is A Constant

So lets look at some changes

Visual Studio Tools for Microsoft Dynamics CRM are now available as part of Visual Studio. Check out these to get started

and there are a ton more available and always more coming -> use SEARCH

You can also use the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 SDK Visual Studio Tools with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015. You update your references to point to the new SDKdlls and update the framework version to 4.5.2.

There are a number of different blog posts buzzing on this, Such as these:

You also need to consider CRM Online and the reality that the current version of CRM Online is v7.1.x and the version of CRM On-Premise is v7.0.1 (although only a few months behind). One of the huge benefits of working with a CRM Online model is the drip feed to stay current. Huge Upgrades are a thing of the past when it comes to Software as a Service (SaaS). This also changes the development and extension model.


Smart Clients

In catching up with the communities I saw comments regarding a client who wanted to make sure development and extensions were supported.

Kudos to the client for recognizing that Microsoft Dynamics CRM is flexible, configurable and extendable with supported paths and that developers can sometimes be a little too creative without remembering the long term cost.

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

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

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

  • Select Settings
  • Select Solutions
  • Select New

New Solution

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

2) What is a CRM publisher?

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

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

3) What benefit does the publisher give the customizer?

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

4) What happens when you import an unmanaged solution?

  • The solution is merged with all other unmanaged solutions.

5) Can you export a managed solution?

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

6) Who is the primary audience for managed solutions?

  • Independent Software Vendors (ISVs)

7) What are the disadvantages of using managed solutions?

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

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

Let us take a look at Managed and Unmanaged Solutions.

Unmanaged and managed solutions

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

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

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

It is also worth mentioning the "System" Solution.

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

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

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

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

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

2) What is a CRM publisher?

3) What benefit does the publisher give the customizer?

4) What happens when you import an unmanaged solution?

5) Can you export a managed solution?

6) Who is the primary audience for managed solutions?

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



Don't just stay on this side of the Ocean! Microsoft Dynamics CRM in EMEA

The Microsoft Dynamics EMEA Team also shares a ton of great information. Follow their blog and quickly get information on items such as Auditing.

Take for instance this little statement and the article that follows ..

"You have the ability to audit a user's logon access to the CRM Server. The information that is recorded includes when the user started accessing Dynamics CRM and if access originated from the Dynamics CRM Web application, Dynamics CRM for Outlook or SDK calls to the web services."


Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 (Version 7.x.x.x) Exams


Three Words: Do the training 

It is available on PartnerSource, the Dynamics Partner Learning Portal

Exam title

Exam number

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Applications

Extending Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Deployment

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Customization and Configuration

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Application

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Deployment

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customization and Configuration

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Installation

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing

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

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

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

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

Incredible Happening!

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

Developer? New to Microsoft Dynamics CRM?

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

Today is Different.

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

If you have not visited, check it out!

Office 365, Groups and CRM Online

I was on a call today, actually the incredible CRM Community Technology call and in addition to the great content being presented, we also had a very active IM window of discussions happening. Yes, I can multi-task.

So always learning, I posted a question/statement about synchronizing group e-mails with Dynamics CRM Online. As it turns out my assumption that this could not be done was wrong.

So I went out to do a bit more learning on the newer GROUPS feature of Office 365 and how it interacts with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the CRM Outlook Client.

If you start with the Office "Find Help about Groups" you will quickly see how much is available.

You them might want to read Jesper's post on Office 365, Groups and CRM Online.  

and for a summary the Office team has written Delivering the First Chapter on Groups.

What is amazing about synchronization is how absolutely difficult distributed data technology can be. There are a huge number of variables that the team continues to nail and hit out of the park, none of which can be under-estimated. So to read more about Synchronization check this out.



Deleting a CRM Online Development or Sandbox Instance

So you ramped up a development instance, used it heavily, crammed a bunch of testing into it and now you want a clean fresh start. The following is how you delete a development or sandbox instance of CRM Online.


Switch or delete an instance of CRM Online


Switch an instance


Delete an instance

Turbo Forms in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 (v7.1.0)

Although not necessary: Writing Code for Forms provides a way to increase interaction between the user and the entity forms. This is often done by using JavaScript that is executed for events that occur on the form.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM 7.1.0 (2015) offers TURBO Forms which are seriously worthy of consideration, both for the Experienced Dynamics CRM Developer and for the CRM end user.  Performance differences have been clocked anywhere from 3x to 7x times faster.


Here are some materials and videos to help get you started.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 - New Form Rendering Engine


Form rendering enhancements


Writing code for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 or CRMOL Forms : Read More


The Infrastructure of Microsoft Dynamics CRM (#msdyncrm)

NEW Deploying and administering Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015

Are you hosting your own instance of Microsoft Dynamics CRM? Have you invested in training your IT Professionals and Network Administrators in the infrastructure behind Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Ask yourself this question "Are you hosting your own web pages?" If the answer to this question is NO, then you want to seriously consider training your resources on hosting the incredible power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Take for instance IFD (The Internet Facing Deployment Options) or The Tablet and Mobile Apps .. So many options :)

So many great resources for Dynamics CRM v7.x.x (#msdyncrm)

Dynamics CRM 2015 Update 1 Content (Spring 2015)

YouTube Videos

Subscribe to the Dynamics channel to stay up to date:


CRM Team Blog

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 (7.1.0) Product Documentation is Available!
  • Microsoft Dynamics Marketing 2015 Update 1 Product Documentation is Available!
  • Microsoft Social Engagement 2015 Update 1Product Documentation is Available!
  • Parature, from Microsoft 15.2 Product Documentation is Available!
  • AND SEVERAL MORE excellent blog posts by our field and PMs - check it out!

Security: Microsoft Dynamics CRM gets even more security options

Dynamics CRM 2015 Hierarchical Security

There is so much depth to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Security that it is amazing that they can add more and yet, more has been added. A great post is available on all the new options which you can reach using the link above.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dynamics CRM 7.x.x Certification Exams

Some good news about exams - You now have some Online Proctored Options so for those of us in more rural areas, we don't have to drive a couple of hours to an exam center!! Hurray!

  • MB2-704            Application
  • MB2-704OP               Online Proctored
  • MB2-706            Online Deployment
  • MB2-706OP
  • MB2-707            Customization and Configuration
  • MB2-707OP
  • MB2-708            Installation
  • MB2-708OP

MB2-720    Microsoft Dynamics Marketing

and there are so many more !     

Don't Forget a Bit of Dynamics CRM Housecleaning!

The people who work on Microsoft Dynamics CRM don't always know all the details of loving and caring for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and although it doesn't need much, it does like some care.

This is why the community is so incredible and no amount of thanks can truly show the appreciation for the hundreds of hours community members spend blogging and sharing great information.

So today  I am sharing an older post for those using all versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, but particularly for those who might want to do even more to keep their system singing and moving along.

Take a look at this blog post about maintaining the tables that many business analysts depend on for efficient workflow functionality.

Access Teams and Security! #MSDYNCRM

A user’s security role needs to match the privileges at the ‘User’ level with the Access Team Template Privileges (R,W,A,A2,D,Assign and Share) associated with the Entity.  If an Access Team has Delete privileges and a user's security roles did not, the user will be blocked from being added to the team.  CRM Security is AWESOME and this shows that security can’t be bypassed just by adding someone to a team.  If that user cannot delete a record, then adding them to an Access Team with that privilege won’t work!

Big thanks to the awesome: Thymio Barbatsis, for continuing to share incredible tidbits with the community 

CRMUG has not been sleeping! GREAT Connects, GREAT Content

If you have not visited the CRMUG website lately, you might want to go take a look. They have been using new community software and have continued to organize and host local, national and webinar enabled meetings for users of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

One of the best things you can do if you are using Microsoft Dynamics CRM is to get involved in the community.

Class at 8am, Class at 9pm, Still Loving and Learning Dynamics CRM

After 10 years you would think that I know a lot about Microsoft Dynamics CRM and I am so very thankful that I what I learned yesterday still brings me great value today (including the yesterdays of 2004, 2005, 2006, ... , but with an incredible client base of users giving input and an incredible team of developers writing new everyday - learning is ongoing.

So this week I am participating in a morning class with the incredible MVP, Gus Gonzalez, who is providing some great field perspective and an internal evening class on some really cool new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Sales Productivity functionality.

Life is Good!    


What's New - Thanks to Dynamics CRM

One of the best parts of being semi-snowed in is that I can convert my travel time into learning and sharing time.

Let's look at a feature that everyone assumes that everyone else knows about. The What's New Social Pane.

Why do I point this out? If your team uses activities to track, retain touches and to communicate (e-mails) this pane gives you an incredible look into which contacts and accounts are actively engaged. It also lets you see an account that is requiring extra attention, a colleague who is working on something that you can help with or an activity that you needed to know about. (but because it is so easy to get into our own little spheres it was missed)

It is about raising the bar of transparency and shifting a culture and it is about creating a culture of sharing among all the users of your Dynamics CRM system.

What only inside Dynamics CRM?

Well actually NO! If you have YAMMER enabled you click a button in configuration and configure Yammer and your YAMMER Feeds become an option under What's New. Bringing in other (even perhaps non-CRM user) conversations into the mix.

Just imagine!


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 Are Some of the Default Entities? #msdyncrm

When you purchase Microsoft Dynamics CRM a number of entities come with the system (if you need a refresher in entities, see previous post). You can create hundreds more, but here are some of the building block Entites.

  • Lead
  • Account
  • Contact
  • Address
  • Opportunity
  • Case
  • Case Resolution
  • Activities including
    • Social Activities
    • Tasks
    • Appointments
    • E-Mails
    • Phone Calls
    • Faxes
    • Letters
  • Product
  • Article
  • Competitor
  • Connection and Connection Role
  • Contract
  • Document Location
  • Entitlement
  • Goal
  • Invoice
  • Order
  • Price List
  • Queue
  • Campaign
  • Team
  • User
  • and so much more!


Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013 (#mscrm2013)

One of the often forgotten goodies in the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the wealth of available options in the CodePlex Library.

This library also has Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 goodies such as the

CRM 2013 Quick View Menu 

"The Quick View Menu helps you navigate to any location in Dynamics CRM quickly and seamlessly by taking your existing Sitemap and presenting it in an easy to navigate interface"


Jump Start your MS CRM 2013 Understanding #crm2013

Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013 has so much to offer and one of the best ways to start getting your head around what is being offered is to regularly attend some great either 100 or 300 level webinars.

Luckily Microsoft is offering such webinars for partners, customers and prospects.

You can find the whole series here:

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

Promote via LinkedIn/Twitter as well!  Thanks!

A Bold New World: Even more choices #CRM2013

As we move into this bold new world of many different devices, we are also opening the door for many different options for accessing our central Dynamics CRM store of data. When learning about all the different options keep in mind the differences between an application that is built to work in different OS environments such as the new Tablet access to Dynamics CRM and an application that is built for a more specific set of criteria such as a specific Windows 8 CRM Phone applications. Key areas of slight shift are items such as on a phone you are usually talking about the "phone" focus and providers like Verizon and AT&T whereas on a tablet your focus on phone might be Skype or Lync.

It is easy to get confused and Dynamics CRM v2013 offers so much!! I have to admit I am excited.

The Tablet access offers cross browser, but also many different tablet centric features like touch, pinning and choice of surfacing what you want to see where.

The Mobile access offers the really tiny form factor (for those small phones) as well as consideration for offline.

We also continue to have the Outlook Client which leverages all that is Dynamics CRM and all the great features within Outlook and the Web Client Access offering the application from your choice of a set of browsers.

In this brave new world you need to figure out how to best communicate all of the power of choice to your customers, peers and team members. As much as we are One Microsoft and One OS across many different devices, there are certain features and options that are very relavant for some devices and not important to others. Given this the technology you are using and the choices it offers does make a difference.

Choice is also not limited to technologies, it is also all about business culture, department process and individual working styles. The convergence of business and information technology is now!

What is amazing about Microsoft is that they offer so many incredible choices without nickel and diming their customers. They help customers use what they need where from their deep pockets of choice.

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

Are you ready for some CRM v2013 reading?

 Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013 Implementations Guide

Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013 Software Developer Kit (SDK)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013 Performance Counters

Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013 Connectivity and Port Requirements

Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013 Server

Scalable Security Modeling for Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2013

Using multi-tenancy in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 to address challenges in enterprise business environments


The word of the day is: Composite Control

Within the world of millions of pieces of data, relating certain data to other data can create a new piece of data. Take for instance a Full Name.  

A full name can be considered one piece of data or it can be broken down into two, three, four or more pieces of data. Take the full name : Mr. John Jay Smith III and broken down we see the following:

  • Salute: Mr.
  • First Name: John
  • Middle Name: Jay
  • Last Name: Smith
  • Prefix: III

and these pieces can be data or can be combined to create a number of different data names. John, John Smtih, John Jay Smith, John Jay Smith III, Mr. John Jay Smith III

Why does this even concern anyone? Well these are details that are important within the world of development and coding.

So welcome to Composite Control! A development choice for grouping the need to enter like data through a smooth user friendly interface.

In Dynamics CRM v2013 Composite Control is offered on Name and Address and via the SDK even more can be done.

To read more on Composite Control in the world of Dynamics CRM, CLICK HERE.

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

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

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

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


What the heck is ... CRM:53143123 in my e-mail subject line?

The famous Ben Hosk wrote up a great little post about the e-mail tracking token. I like to call it half of the locket or an automation puzzle piece. It clicks a responding e-mail into the e-mail that is being responded to. Offering incredibly reliable threading. On the other hand it is TOTALLY Optional and Dynamics CRM is sophisticated enough to have even more embedded algoritums of success.

If you would like to know more about the e-mail tracking token, take a peek at Ben's writeup which you can find here.

Do you think "CRM"?

Julie Yack has such a great way with words that I just had to share. Take a look at her summary about how you might fit in the world of Dynamics CRM.


oh and after you read the above, here are a few more

You might be a Dynamics CRM Power User if…

  • You share Dynamics xRM videos with friends because you think the solutions are cool
  • You wake up thinking of yet another Excel application that can be replaced *or MS Access

You might be a Dynamics CRM administrator if…

  • You have a bookshelf full of more than 5 different Dynamics CRM books
  • You know that when it comes ot CRM On-Premise CRM infrastruture support makes a big difference
  • Staff augmentation is not in your best interest for CRM extensions and development


You might be a Dynamics CRM developer if…

  • You would rather developer on the Dynamics CRM Platform then build security and UI from scratch
  • You know that a new SDK has been released
  • the word Caching and GAC are in your vocabulary
  • You roll your eyes at beginner lessons learned because you have been there and done that
  • You know where to post and vote on feature and function requests

What is a Lead? Isn't that the same as a prospect?

Most worlds have a subset of definitions for terms that perhaps you have another understanding for. In the world of Dynamics CRM the term LEAD and the term PROSPECT are actually very different.

So What is a Lead?

A lead is a hint, a potential and an unqualified set of data. The data usually contains a person's name, sometimes the company they work for and maybe some initial information such as a phone number and address. A lead can can from many sources including purchased lists of name, trade show events, advertising, or direct calling. A lead generally is not HOT, but is still being reviewed. There is not much history on leads; although there might be if you are watching a lead from afar. The structure of a lead in Dynamics  CRM is flat. One record.

And what is a prospect?


A prospect on the other hand is more qualified. A prospect is more formal. The structure of a prospect in Dynamics CRM is hierarchical and might contain not only a contact and an account record, but also numerous contacts, an opportunity and even assigned potential products. History can be found on these contacts rolling up to the prospect. You might also have a long list of activities or a sales process that you are following on a prospect. A prospect is qualified, known and many times is being actively worked.

If a prospect is associated to an opportunity then there is an associated timeline that has a process that ends with either a signed deal (as they become a client or customer) or with a loss. A loss that can be reported on, analysized and then used to improve processes. 

And what is an Opportunity? (ah material for the next post)

Polaris: What about Extending these new Forms?

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


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


Reporting, Reporting and more reporting #msdyncrm

Time to think differently about this concept of reporting. In some systems your only choice to get the data out of the system is with a report, BUT it is not like that with Dynamics CRM.

In fact it has not been like that for quite sometime, but I find that we often forget to mention some of the "cool" that exists when everyone is buzzing about the latest or next greatest feature.

So thinking about slicing, dicing, analysing,  and looking at the data that is in Dynamics CRM you have a number of choices that do not contain the word "report"

1. Review Data in a Dynamic Excel Spreadsheet or Pivot Table or Chart

    The security on the user opening this in Excel drives the data that is displayed.

2. Review data in a Static Excel Spreadsheet or Pivot Table or Chart

    The data stays static, no matter the user.

3. Use Excel 2013 PowerPivot or PowerView on Dynamics CRM Data

4. Leverage Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services

5. Leverage FetchXML to pull data into your choice of BI Tools.

6. Check out Microsoft's Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS)

7. Use Dynamics CRM Advanced Find to pull data from a relationship tree of entities

8. Leverage the built in Dynamics CRM Report Writer

9. Use Microsoft Word Mail Merge to pull Dynamics CRM data into a favorite Microsoft Word Template

10. Tab into the extensive power of the entire Microsoft Office Stack and the integration between the different applications within this stack from CRM -> Excel -> Word  -> Visio -> OneNote and more.

11. Leverage the power of Entity specific Charts and charts on related entities

12. Leverage the built in Dashboards and the dashboard building wizards for individuals or for the entire company

13.  Use the built in Report Wizard

14. And if the above isn't enough to think about you also have a huge MarketPlace of Reporting and Business Intelligence available addin options.


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.



To the SQL Guru Audience - Can I write directly to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM SQL Database?

If I had a dollar for every time the following question was asked in the field I could.. ! Well here is a much better response then a flat No and my thanks to Steven Vlaanderen Oldenzeel from Microsoft PFE for sharing!

Can I write directly to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM SQL Database? 

  1. We will support everything you would do when you are using the CRM application layer.
  2. For CRM users we do NOT allow direct SQL Server connections, except for excel touching filtered views (but the user might not even know how this technically works).
  3. For a DBA, CRM Consultants and other technicians, we will allow anything you do on the SQL Server directly (maintenance, indexes, select statements), but we cannot support it, but your SQL team can support it. This means, test it first and document it properly!
  4.  We will NOT allow direct data inserts or updates at all. Do this via the CRM application layer and do not bypass the CRM Security model. This also counts for writing SP’s, Triggers, Functions directly on SQL. Please use Workflows and Plugins.


Keep Learning

I am amazed at how I continue to learn more  and more about Dynamics CRM despite focusing on the platform for over eight years. The product team continues to release small and large updates and are amazing in how fast they manage to keep up with the pace of technology change.

Additionally the current product (even before any updates) has a ton of depth and a number of under utilized functionality. When was the last time you decided to add something new to your business processes? What about learning one small area of the software in full?

Consider Goals, or Connections - take a peek at subjects or perhaps you want to become a FetchXML guru

Did you know you can tie web sense into charts?

There is so much that can be done.

Given this I offer this link and suggestions: Go review the Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2011 IMPLEMENTATION GUIDE. You might not have looked at it for a few years, a few months or even ever and it is packed with great information. So take an hour for study, each day this week - shoot make it a team effort and start up a Dynamics CRM brown bag lunch or book group. You will be pleasantly surprised.


Unit Testing CRM v2011 and Enterprise Development BP

1)      Unit testing CRM – Some interesting food for thought


2)      Enterprise CRM team development – Feedback from the field from Shan (CEO of ADX) and more good food for thought –

A special 2 hour XrmVirtual presentation on Enterprise CRM team development focusing on change management and application lifecycle management (ALM) tools.  Here is the event page:

Dynamics CRM Integration Continued

Yesterday's post generated some nice feedback. As it turns out there is a nice list of Microsoft Dynamics CRM integration options on the Microsoft TechNet Wiki (A great totally under appreciated resource)

You can read more on Integrating to Microsoft Dynamics CRM here

A Writer Never Knows

A writer never really knows the impact of their book until it is out in the field and feedback is coming in. They can judge if it was helpful by the number of sales, but that is more a matter of publisher marketing than general "Did it make a Difference". They can also judge based on the internal editing process and the critical eyes of the editorial teams, but it isn't really the same.  

I have now moved past, that unsure stage, that most writers experience when a book is released. The book Teach Yourself Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2011 in 24 Hours feedback is excellent, people are getting value out of their investment in time and dollars, and a few more hundred souls are more efficiently getting more bang out of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

I was motivated to write this little post today, because the newest Microsoft BizSpark webpage included my book within their FURTHER READING section (bottom right). I am now helping the worldwide economy in one tiny way by supporting Entreprenuers and Microsoft in growing new business seeds of success!

For a gardener like me - this is just as exciting as the new sprouts peeking their heads out of the Spring soil outside my window!   


Sharing CRM, Sharing Contacts and Collaborating

CRM is highly personal just like each of our own direct relationships. It must also meet corporate and team shared needs. This post dives into this concept.

Take for instance the tracking of details on a relationship between two people. The USER of CRM (such as a sales person) and their prospect or client (such as a key contact at a prospect site) 

Some details of a relationship are as unique as each person within that relationship and others are common for all relationships with a specific person no matter who is in that relationship.

These details of a "relationship" can include an incredible list of variables.

What would be considered common and easily shared and valuable to a team? Personal characteristics such as a specific job title, the contacts features (height, gender, eye color) or perhaps even the name of a contacts spouse and friends.

Other variables are unique to a specific relationship and might or might not be valuable to the team.
What would be considered unique? The level of trust between two people, an inside joke, their shared history, perhaps a specific experience and shared networks. This could even extend to likes and dislikes that a person has and their level of likes. A person who is great at skiing might love skiing with a person at their same level, but hate it with a beginner. We could even go so far as to look at other unique traits such as what job or what role is taken as part of a specific relationship. If I think of one person in my network as an example, this same person is a contactor, a developer, a senior software developer (language being a factor), a software engineer, an architect (role being a factor), a speaker, a reference, a father, a son, a coach, a builder and more. So how are all these different variables tracked and shared?
Within the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM these variables are handled in a number of different ways and at various different companies extended with different styles. Partner extensions to the software, customer driven extensions to the software, base use of already available features. This one subject is a great one for the user group! (

Depending on the version of the software choices within the software change significantly between version 4 and verson 2011.

In the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM v4.

Contacts are people who have a set of shared fields and these include not only what shipped out of the box, but also any other fields you wanted to add. Out of the box fields include title, gender, e-mail addresses, and how the person likes to be contacted. User defined fields might include if they are a referral source or if they are an influencer within a prospect account.

Microsoft also offered a table in v4 for relationships. This is a two column list where a CRM user could custom define that a specific person (such as person A) was a vendor contact and that a specific second person (person B for instance) was the customer of that vendor contact. You could also choose a company and put it in this relationship table such as company A was a vendor for person B as the customer contact. This relationship feature offered both company and contact cross reference choices. 

The feature had/has an interesting set of powerful potential, but it also had limits and I would dare to say it is under utilized inthe field and as such in the world of Dynamics CRM version 2011 a whole new world of options was born under the CONNECTIONS umbrella. Relationships exists in 2011 but has been retired and replaced with connections.
If you have not discovered CONNECTIONS then you want to take time to REALLY understand the power before you architect it into your business process.

So with those thoughts and my writing time ended I open up the idea for discussion and perhaps a few more posts over the next few days.

How does your company track all the variables between all the different relationships for each prospect or client contact that you have?

SNECRMUG - Information Share, Information Gained utilities continued

During the December 15th Southern New England CRM User Group meeting, which was focused on Dynamics CRM development utilities, we had some great interactive discussion and I captured some of the tips from the group. Here are those goodies shared.

  1. Dynamics CRM v2011 Visual Ribbon Editor - Definitly make use of the Visual Ribbon Editor and be aware that Office 2010 and it's ribbon are packed with features and a very deep well of opportunity.
  2. Tap into the ODATA Query Designer
  3. Take a look at FetchXML Builder
  4. Don't underestimate the power of the Visual SiteMap Editor (and remember that when editing sitemap you want to use the Microsoft CRM Editors)
  5. The JavaScript Web Resource Manager is a good utility to check out when upgrading v4.0 Javascript to v2011.
  6. Advanced Find can be used to generate FetchXML in v2011 (oh AND in v4)

Other Tidbits

  1. Solutions are well ... just released in v2011 so consider them v1.0 features and study accordingly. Lean more towards UNMANAGED solutions as opposed to MANAGED solutions. Know what is available and what is not.
  2. ODATA IE8 JSON, JQUERY and Required Libraries - totally have no clue what we were talking about around this as my notes trailed off, but perhaps my audience of readers can fill in and add comments.