MS CRM Tip of the Day

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."


Tips, Tricks, Resources: Put on your reading hat and fasten your seat belt

Mucho Thanks to Shawn Dieken for continuing to embrace Knowledge Shared, Knowledge Learned and by summarizing an incredible library of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Tips, Tricks, White Papers and Resources.

I have even known people to respond to posts in the community with comments like "Oh that is Tip #147, read more here"

To see the list, all you have to do is CLICK

and Shawn is not the only one ..  check out these other resources as well

Prefer Video? How about the Microsoft Professional Field Team talking about Dynamics on YouTube

and the Dynamics CRM Tip of the Day

and the Performance Tips and Tricks

and Partners  also offer Dynamics CRM Tips


Visual Studio Online

Did you know that if you track all your requirements and backlog iteration items in Visual Studio Online you can easily bridge Business Speak and Developer Speak?

The developers live in Visual Studio, writing code and looking at lines of characters that are often Greek to the non-dev folks, but by using work items in Visual Studio Online you can all work in one world.

Better yet, you can add Microsoft Test Manager test cases and link those to the work items. Just for fun you also get full graphing on burn down and task management.

I like the AGILE TEMPLATE, but also use the SCRUM Template despite my mantra of all CRM projects should be ITERATIVE or a mix of AGILE and WATERFALL.

Check it out: 

PS: Online, available from anywhere and it sync's with your local version of Visual Studio and Office AND there are some free try it out options.

Don't Forget about the SPN? What? Dynamics CRM On-Premise Installation

Dipping my toe into the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 OnPremise installation and a couple of key tips to remember (posting them here so I can find them).

Thanks to the Microsoft Consulting Services CRM Consultants: Thymio and Salvador who shared their knowledge and continue to make incredible wonderful happen for clients working with Microsoft and clients working with Microsoft Partners and Microsoft Consulting Services. 

1) When you create your service accounts - create them in the SAME Organizational unit (OU)! If you create them some where else and copy them you are not going to be a happy camper and you will spend hours trying to figure out why you are getting issues.

2) Don't forget about the SPN's. To read more about the Service Principal Names and what SPN's mean, take a look at this great TechNet Article.

3) Do you host your own web page? Most likely not and Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a very powerful web application with numerous options and offerings. So before you decide you are going to do your own Microsoft Dynamics CRM On-Premise Install - Do some reading and get the help and buy in of the right people from your team. The guru network guys who are swamped (get on their calendar)

A few resources and there are more:

If this is not something you want to tackle there are many options.

1) CRM Online

2) CRM Hosted by a third party partner

3) A certified in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Infrastructure partner or MCS team who can work with your IT Department to get CRM Installed and running smoothly.

4) Leverage the incredible of your professional Field Engineering contract. The CRM PFE Team is so impressive! They really offer a huge amount of experience and lessons learned particularly when it comes to smooth operations, performance and getting this running right.


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 Administrator? How about these Top Tasks

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

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

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

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

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

Incredible Happening!

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

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

Office 365 + Groups + CRMOnline : Amazing

For those of you privileged enough to be using Office 365 you might have a grasp on all the incredible new being released! Fairly recently the concept of GROUPS was released and these GROUPS can now been seen as folders in Outlook.

Rojy takes us one step further and shows how you can configure Office 365 + GROUPS + CRM Online to make for some incredibly powerful 360 Degrees for users. 

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM SPRING Release is incredible so make sure that you are planning for a review of all that you are doing with the system. Work with Microsoft Consulting Services, or one of the proven and experienced Microsoft Dynamics CRM partners.


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

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


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online vs. CRM On-Premise

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

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

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

Demystifying business value of CRM in the cloud

The Power of Choice (and the risks)

One of the most fabulous features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the number of choices that any given business can have when leveraging the power of the toolset. This helps the solution and the product, the processes and the people to grow and change as businesses grow and change. 

This is also one of the biggest dilemmas for the "New to Dynamics CRM" crowd. Choice makes a number of seasoned veterans to business applications scratch their heads and ask "Why". They assume that what they see is what they get.

They often mention things like "Why does the product do this out of the box" or "I need to talk to the development team about how (pick your vendor Siebel, SAP, Oracle, etc. etc. etc.) models this differently". They can even lock themselves into a box by eliminating a huge number of choices and blocking these from the business because of their own filters.

What is often misunderstood is that the consulting partner, resource, resources, mix and match team or IT department that a business works with, needs to understand both your business, the CRM Industry and methodologies for success and the depth of the technology.

This is a big ask, but so many customers have found success! It is not an impossible ask.

This post is to encourage CxOs to consider and discuss and participate in technology as part of their long term growth and to insure that the adaptability of that technology is part of the discussion. Take small bites (small phases) and let teams grow, change and mature on a continued and seamless path to success.  Lastly don't make a decision and walk away. The heartbeat of a business is living and changing and many times always being updated. Setup reviews both of the solution and of the processes and make continued decisions.

MDM and CRM : Working Together

So you have been wondering how an application as powerful as MDM (Microsoft Dynamics Marketing) can work so seamlessly with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It is for instance built and released for the large enterprise marketing department who likes to control their own data and applications.

Well the bridge exists and here is a great blog post that shows the numerous links between MDM and CRM.



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

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

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

CRM Performance Center     

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

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

Perhaps it is not Dynamics CRM - Updates to Excel

Dynamics CRM is such an integrated platform, it leverages a ton of really cool Microsoft Technologies and taps into the Microsoft technology stack. This means that you get all the power of Excel, Outlook, Word, SQL Server, Windows Server, Exchange and more!

Sometimes however an issue is not a CRM issue and is resolved with a service pack to one of the other applications. Take for instance Excel.

Check out this little Tidbit from the Microsoft Excel Support Team Blog.

Dynamics CRM files do not open in Excel 2013 as expected

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 

Fine Tuning MS CRM for Enterprise Level Performance

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has now been running in some of the largest enterprise accounts across the countries, but with millions and millions of transactions comes a need to fine tune so here are a few tricks of the trade from the Enterprise Technical Developers, Database gurus and Consultants!

1) Although perhaps obvious, it is worth adding Indexes to your  SQL Server Database if you are dealing with millions of transactions

2) Enable the Quick Find Limit and encourage users to use Advanced Find when doing more sophisticated searching

3) Kerberos authentic can cause performance issues if it is not turned on AND if it is hitting various incompatibility with different server versions, particularly really old versions so check your server versions and your Kerberos.

4) Go back to the basics at the front end CRM Server, Do you have "Enable HTML Compression?" Set to  Yes?  Turn it off

5) You can also "Turn off the Page Counter" for the Grid  1 of 250, 5000+

6) Review the columns that you have enabled on Quick Find, for each column added the query is increased and overhead is increased.

7) Review the following SQL Server Flags with your CRM SQL Server guru

  •  MAXDOP =
  • IDSCountForUsingGUIDString =
  • IDSCountBeforeCausingJoinsForSecurity =
  • Optimize for Adhoc =
  • ERMO =


MICROSOFT Dynamics CRM and the huge CRM Community!

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Community has an incredible history of leveraging the Dynamics xRM platform to meet some really tough business challenges. If you work with a proven Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner or with Microsoft Consulting Services (the MCS CRM Team), they bring to the table their own incredible library of experiences, but also their own depth and reach of resources and tools.

Knowledge in "CRM" is critical.

There are also great open source resources such as CODEPLEX where partners and clients can download and take ownership of kick starters and CODEPLEX is not Dynamics specific so you can tap into the entire Microsoft stack.

To follow the team at CODEPLEX, read and follow their blog.

Search on CRM on CODEPLEX

AND CODEPLEX is really just a small taste of the greater community resources. Take for instance following a few Dynamics CRM Specific blogs such as some of the ones listed on this blog. You start and the list just grows and grows and grows.  The number of shared resources, code snippets, tools, configuration best practices and more is so unlimited. OK, so you are now tapped into the blogs ...

Have you looked into the ISVs? The Independent Software Vendors writing solutions to compliment the Dynamics CRM platform? Take a peek at ADXStudio for instance who has a huge library of PORTAL options and ALM! or perhaps empowering SALES Teams with complex ordering proposals and integration? Look at Experlogix or maybe you just want some nice address verification and compliance, you can talk with Dun & Bradstreet.  The list really is endless!

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!


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.  

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"


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.

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.

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.


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?

Dynamics CRM Utilities, utilities, utilities

For anyone ramping up on Dynamics CRM development make note

There are a TON of utilities to make your life easier available in codeplex, Microsoft Downloads, and in the SDK. Some of these utilities are version specific and some are good for all verisons

Go check them out and to get you started here are just a few to wet the appetite


– Diagnostics Tool for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 or v4 which helps CRM developers and administrators to enable trace and devErrors on a CRM server.  It also generates an HTML report file with information about the CRM deployment.
–A small to tool which Generates CRM 4.0 Picklist Customization XML. This tool allows you to cut and paste a comma separated list of values and descriptions into a text box and then generate a set of XML picklist options which can be pasted into your Customization.xml file.
CRM Documentation - from Microsoft Dynamics CRM Documentation team’s famous Jim Daly
–Automatically generates technical documentation from a CRM Database Metadata
A large set of tools that includes a Sitemap editor, a tool for Dynamics CRM icon resizing (for custom entities), The ability to generate test data quickly and more
–Takes two customization.xml files and compares and reports on the differences
–For those projects where numerous similar views are requested within any entity. This tool offers replication of the Layers, columns and width increasing consistency.
–The tool allows you to display the list of all attributes and select if you want them to be searchable or not. In only one action, you can set all attributes searchable property for one entity. 
–With this tool, you can:
•Indicate which entity you want to inspect
•Enter the identifier of the object in question
•Searching for a user with its name or its unique identifier
•Click the “Retrieve rights” button and the program will tell you what rights the user with respect to the record
Support for all out of the box privileges - By default the export utility will export ALL privileges, including custom privileges.

What Version Am I Really Running?

Occassionally the need arises to double check exactly what version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM you are running and when I say version, I mean the exact .0000000 version. Christian recently posted on exactly how one goes about doing that.  

His post can be found HERE or below are some of his wise, wise words.

"As many Dynamics CRM 4.0 aficionados know, Microsoft releases regular updates to iron out documented issues [and to sprinkle in a little love].  CRM 2011 is no exception; three Update Rollups have already been released since RTM.

Note that the On-Premise build numbers I list below may be different than what you will find in CRM 2011 Online.  Microsoft continuously adds new updates behind the scenes, thus the likelihood of having a greater build number in comparison to the latest Update Rollup version.

To determine your current build number from the IE web client, simply:

  1. Browse to your CRM 2011 website
  2. Click on the File tab
  3. Navigate to Help
  4. Click on “About Microsoft Dynamics CRM”

To determine your current build number from the Outlook CRM client:

  1. Open Outlook with the CRM Client installed
  2. Click on the File tab
  3. Click on the CRM side tab
  4. Click on the “About Microsoft Dynamics CRM”  button

A window will pop up with your build number listed.  If you used Outlook, you will see the build numbers for both the Server and Outlook CRM Client (sample screenshot below).

See below for a chart of the Dynamics CRM 2011 build versions.  I’ll try to keep it current, so be sure to bookmark and check back later!


Release Date

Build Number

KB Article

Release Candidate




Beta (On Premise)




Beta (Online)





February 16, 2011


Download RTM

Update Rollup 1

April 7, 2011



Update Rollup 2

June 2, 2011



Update Rollup 3

July 28, 2011




Fun with Dates

In this incredible world of both technology offering calculated date and people capturing data from all over the world the two concepts can sometimes collide!

Take for instance the world of dates.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers UTC adjustments, personal settings and Date and Time fields. What this means is that depending on how you have your computer configured and your Dynamics CRM Personal Options the dates that you enter are adjusted.

Microsoft Outlook does this as well. If  I was to setup a meeting with an associate in California for instance on my calendar for today the meeting would display as Eastern Time (2pm for instance), but for my associate (CRM Guru Marc Wolenik)  the date and time would display as (11am) and if we then added in another person such as a cool CRM Guru in Australia (Leon Tribe) the time would not only be different, the DAY would be different.   

So what happens when you start capturing these types of dates inside of Dynamics CRM for analysis or reporting?

If all the dates are entered by "humans" correctly configured for their local time zones then the software correctly handles all the adjustments. The only trick with regards to this set of considerations is that DATE Only fields are well not really date only so watch that!

If all the dates however are entered by other "Systems" then a bit more thought needs to go into the architecture. Take for instance a system that resides on a server in a data center that is capturing date information based on that servers date. If you then take that date and enter it via an integration, how would you expect Dynamics CRM to react?

How would that date be managed?

Do you want it to be fixed? or adjusted?

If you want it to be adjusted, how are you going to tell the system to adjust it?

What if you want it to be a date field BUT you want to lock it to a certain time zone?

These are the joys of the world of global!  

Oh Async: Introducing the Chef "Mr. Processor"


"The term asynchronous is usually used to describe communications in which data can be transmitted intermittently rather than in a steady stream" :

Now given this simple fact you might be surprised to discover that sometimes people forget that if you use asynchronous processes (such as workflow or asynchronous plugins) and you have dependencies particularly on a variety of async processes, timing might be an issue!  

An interesting way to consider this is from the perspective of looking into a professional kitchen. Take the Master Chef (Mr. Processor): He must prepare certain items in sequence, for instance the pork chops have to be cut and spiced before they can be put in the pan to be cooked and before they can be prepared for display.

On the other hand if serving two vegtables for the same plate, if the broccoli comes out before the carrots, the chef (Mr. Processor) does not have a problem. The preparation of the broccoli and the carrots can happen in order, reverse order or at the same time. They can be asynchronous. They both need to be prepared in a timely manner (within the same approximate window of time) and they both need to get done within that time frame, but which gets done first doesn't matter that much. They are not dependent on each other.

Now the Chef might prefer the broccoli to come out first, as he has his own habits and best practices to make it all come together, but he can (and does) deal with the reality if they get reversed. On the other hand if an assistant chef forgets to spice the pork chops or spices them after cooking then the flavor of they chef's prized dinner is ruined and sometimes considered unacceptable!

These same concepts apply to functions and processes within the world of Dynamics CRM. There are functions that should be asynchronous, there are processes that need to be synchronous and knowing the difference is an important variable in any developer or power user.    

Related Posts

What is Asynchronous?

Dynamcis CRM v4 Asynchoronus Process pushing CPU to 100%

AsyncOperationBaseTable: What are those records anyway?  


IE 8 and CRM - Something you might not know

PowerObjects had a great little blog post on Internet Explore 8 when it came out highlighting a few of the cool NEW features that are worth learning about if you are using Dynamics CRM.

Now that IE 8 is part of your everyday routine (and you are thinking about IE 9) take a look at this post on some of the features that might have slipped your notice in what you ALREADY have.

Oh and in terms of security (for those of you running other web browers)

"Testing conducted by the independent NSS Labs found that IE8 provided signifigantly better malware blocking capabilities than Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome and Apple Safari."

Adding Soundex

Soundex is not necessarily the ultimate solution to expanding the power of Duplicate Detection, but it is definitely one option.

Check out this post for one approach (comments from the development crowd welcome)

Pimp your Duplicate Detection with Soundex


Case Sensitive Searching

Thanks to David Fronk at Dynamics Methods for sharing a quick little trick for changing a field to be set to Case Sensitive. Now before I share this tip be aware that it is NOT supported by microsoft so what this means is that a Rollup, A SQL Server Update, a Upgrade or any other quick little patch might disable this feature.

This tip was also shared in the heavy v4.0 Days of CRM so when it comes to SQL 2008 R2 you might have to updated the steps.

Now on that note here is the link to David's quick checklist for setting the Case Sensitive Flag.  


xRM Developers, CRM v4.0 and SDK 4.0.13

For those of you who are cruising along on your last years knowledge of xRM development habit you might make a note to add a task to your to do list!

SDK v4.0.13 (and SDK v4.0.12) offers NEW options and CHANGES old accepted xRM development practices

This release includes the new Advanced Developer Extensions for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, also referred to as Microsoft xRM. This is a new set of tools included in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM SDK that simplifies the development of Internet-enabled applications that interact with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

In addition to the documentation, this download package includes the projects for all sample code found in the documentation, and full featured samples that are not included in the documentation. The package includes a visual style guide you can use to make your customizations fit in smoothly, and a style sheet you can use as a basis for your work. There are also tools and helper code provided in this package. Look for regular updates to this SDK!

So now that you have completed all your New Years Resolutions (or abandoned them) take a bit of time and do a bit of deep diving into the new v4.0 SDK

and for those guru, gurus who are developing on the v2011 platform. The same applies :) as many of the new concepts within the sdk world made it into the v2011 SDK world as well.

Dynamics CRM and Custom Reports

I just found this great little How To series on creating custom reports in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

It starts here with Part 1 

and is summarized as part of the last of the series (part 5)

This little series is a great learning tool for the interns that dive into learning about the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

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)


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.


IE Tabbed Browsing, Defaults from Shortcuts and CRM considerations

To set Internet Explorer  to open a NEW instance of IE in a NEW window do this:

  1. Open the Control Panel or from the Tools menu inside IE access the Internet Options
  2. Click on the Advanced tab.
  3. Look for the following question "Reuse Windows for Launching Shortcuts (when tabbed browsing is off)" under Browsing
  4. Uncheck the box

Note: You have to turn off tabs feature for this to matter (of note this also applies to those using older versions of IE that do not have tabbed browsing functionality)

Tabbed Browsing


In his continued awesome way, Richard Knudson writes up and shares a nice post on Form-Scripting in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. What is he referring to with regards to Form Scripting?

"placing JavaScript code behind the onLoad and onSave form events, and behind the onChange event of any field on a form"

but he also takes it one step further and describes alternatives to this little technique and yes, there are many times when the alternatives are the better choice.

Read the Full Post


Dynamics XRM Bundles? Check out today's xRM Virtual presentation on IP

Join the XRM Virtual User Group today for a Crash Course in Intellectual Property with Jonathon Zuck from the Association for Competitive Technology.

When: Thursday, May 27, 2010 9:00 AM (PDT)

Meeting time: May 27, 2010 9:00 AM (PDT) 


-Computer Audio(Recommended)

To use computer audio, you need speakers and microphone, or a headset.