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February 2011
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April 2011

Training

We had dinner with a couple of wonderful people on Saturday night and one of the conversations turned to the new hospital wide medical software that was recently rolled out. The couple we dined with were users of this software and had first hand experience with having to change to new tools. The approach for this project was everything changed and all the old was ditched.

Everything was replaced and each of the 1000+ users was given a mandatory 12 hours of training.

Do you see something wrong with this picture? It is not ditching the old (radical but it has it's benefits)

BUT 1 day of training does not a surgeon or doctor make and 1 day of training does not allow the users to master new tools, adopt and change their processes to functions, features and power nor even gives time for them to really think about how to embrace and get excited about the potential to alleviate headaches. It does create frustration and it is the frustration that then has to be managed. If on the other hand there is a major pro-active initiative that includes

My Mantra - Drip, Drip, Drip, Drip training needs to be first given in very small groups. Keep the training to 2-4 hours (brain overload after that) and ideally add some one on one for at least an hour each so that individual questions can be efficiently addressed.

Training should not end nor be limited to just face to face. Software changes every day, why not the human as well. Supplement training with a wiki (shared knowledge), 5 minute videos, reading material, weekly webinars and regular followup.

If you really want people to get the most out of the tools they have, then sit down with them and watch what they do, offer them insight into functions or features that might make what they do easier and listen, listen, listen.  After listening, empower them - empower them to master what is offered, entrance them with the prizes for mastering and excite them with the potential to do what they want to do easier, better, with less hassle.

 


Swimming in the MS CRM 2011 Ocean

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

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

What more can a passionate CRMLady ask for!

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

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

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

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

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


Utilization and Process

If you had to be 80-90% billable could you do it? (BTDT)

I always find it fascinating to tap into prior experience, even if that prior experience was not necessarily the best. What is fascinating is mixing experiences and thinking about them. It is nice to have hindsight and perspective.

Take for instance the time it costs to write and/or respond to an e-mail. When I was tracking time, yes I counted e-mails and I counted them at 5 minutes a piece (reading, thinking, responding, review and send). When you consider that a similar question not sent via e-mail is most likely a minimum of a 15 minute conversation (well the time adds up) and that doesn't even include the interruption factor.

So is e-mail more cost effective or is the 15 minute face to face? As much as it is tempting to pick the 5 minute item it depends!

As with anything, professional judgement is a factor. If you really have 15 minutes of material that needs some great back and forth then a face to face might be much more efficient than 10 e-mails. Look at the math.

10 emails at 2 people at 5 minutes a piece = 1 Hour 40 Minutes

vs

1 face to face meeting between 2 people = 30 minutes (plus perhaps 5 for travel and 10 for coordination)

In this example the face to face wins.

On the other hand if every question tends to be face to face then you are significantly increasing interruption, breaking individual blocks of concentration time and burning up a lot of productivty cost. So there must be a balance.

Here is another interesting comparison. The time to actually do a timesheet. I cut my 20 year old teeth having to fill in a timesheet and kept one for the next 25 years. There were times when I was inefficient and ended up doing the timesheet at the end of the week and other years when I managed to enter time as it was used.

When doing technical support, it was easy to be on the phone, fill in the timesheet entry and save before hanging up and the analytics were extremely accurate. When I was multi-tasking and doing three things at once, keeping the timesheet current was a much bigger deal. It required carving out time to not only get those three tasks entered, remember the details of each and to actually enter them. I certainly spent more than one Sunday afternoon getting a timesheet completed.   

Ron Baker would argue that the model of the billable timesheet is torked, and he is correct. The value of any one persons time can very significantly. Take for instance the time the person took to become that expert or how fast they actually work.

On the other hand there is value in understanding where time is going and how to make better use of time used to meet business goals. This is not just about an individual's productivity, it is much more about process. Inefficient processes (or no process) creates rework, miscommunication, role confusion and more.  


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

xRM/CRM User Group Southern New England Meetup 

Join us for the next meeting of the CRMUG New England Regional Chapter on Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at the Corner Pocket Billiards & Grill, Johnston, RI from 4 to 7 pm. This will be an informal connect with other CRM customers with topics to include: "Getting the Most Out of Convergence" & "Upgrading - Why? and When?". Please register no later than Friday, April 1st!

Meeting Date & Time: Tuesday, April 5, 2011, 4 to 7 pm

Discussion Topics: 

  • Getting the most out of Convergence 2011
  • Upgrading - Why? and When?


Audience: All CRM users are welcome to attend, regardless of whether they have joined CRMUG. Partners should be accompanied by a customer. Partners should bear in mind that the objective of Regional Chapters is to exchange knowledge and Dynamics CRM experience. Partner personnel should possess deep CRM expertise and refrain from sales activities.

About CRMUG Regional Chapters: Regional Chapters enhance your membership in CRMUG by offering face-to-face interaction and knowledge-sharing with other Microsoft Dynamics CRM users in your region. By having meetings centrally located within your region, users from all job roles and levels in your company can participate by only driving a short distance. All job roles are welcome: • Customer Service • Sales • Information Technology Join us so you can optimize the functionality, flexibility, performance and return on investment offered by CRM—and get better results from your CRM implementation back home. Feel free to invite CRM colleagues and other users within the region. For more information about CRMUG, visit www.crmug.com.

Event Type

Regional Chapter

Location Details

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


Using the Service Module

I am looking for your field questions when it comes to the CRM Service Module (HOW DO I .....), just in case we have an audience of mice at Convergence.

If you could post here or just drop me a note via e-mail I will review and incorporate some of the best!  

Thanks!


Rollup Sweet Sixteen (CRM v4)

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM development team has released CRM v4.0 Rollup 16 and not only have they managed to resolve some of the issues reported from the field, they have also fine tuned some of the existing features. (it is amazing what a team of programmers writing code every day can create in 8 weeks) Particularly given there are change control processes, testing processes, QC, Builds, Deploys and more to pull together.

Key Areas

  1. The Deployment Manager and Importing an Org
  2. Performance (around deployment manager)
  3. IE 9 Support
  4. Appointments and Synchronization

Do you have feedback?

  • Have you installed the latest rollup?   
  • Did it fix an issue you reported?
  • Did it cause other issues?
  • Did it add some new bling? or a feature you discovered?

Share your comments !


Convergence and The CRM 2011 Service Module

Convergence is just around the corner and one of the key presentations I am involved in is totally focused on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Service Module!

How are organizations using the Service Module of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011?  

  • Increasing Service Efficiency
  • Organizing Incredible Case Routing
  • Managing Alerts
  • Controlling and distributing volume
  • Filtering Knowledge with the Knowledge Base
  • Historical View of the “Customer” issues
  • Management Analysis On Volume, For Resource allocation, On Common Issues requiring a bigger picture solution

and much more!

In addition to core key knowledge I am also going to make sure we get a ton of audience sharing happening. So nail down those logistics and get your questions ready for the developers who are going to be on stage with me! We are prepping for the best event yet!

 


Thoughts on Convergence 2011 in Atlanta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


Congratulations to the Team!

A late but very heart felt congratulations to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Development team who have now officially released Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2011 OnPremise.

Not only do they now have Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online v2011 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM OnPremise released, but they released the OnPremise version ahead of schedule.

Sweet ! Download Information (warning: please do not try to install without reading the implementation guide)

(They now shift their focus to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Rollup1 and the next version)

 


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.