Incredible Flexibility

I am working with some incredible technologies, and I am working with the Power Platform and so many cool things that can be done with this incredible engine of growth. 

Consider this: You have an incredible repository of many different data sources. You have an entire team of people who work on "DATA" (and AI and all the cool new in the data space), but you also use one or many of the Power Platform, Model Driven, Dynamics PowerApps (Sales, Field Service, Customer Service, Connected Field Service, Marketing, Talent, Custom and so many more)

Did you know that you can work with a Power BI team to create incredible reports off of your data "repositories" (pulling data from many different places) AND you can then embed these Power BI reports in a Power Platform, Power Portal. Why use a Power Portal over a custom web page or some other option? well there is that little gem of application and/or data access security. Yes, the templates are also incredibly nice, but where Microsoft shines is in the layers of awesome. 

One of the reasons that I continue to focus and grow within the Power Platform is the huge flexibility and pivoting of new technologies to meet the demanding business needs. These needs are met leveraging the same platform and the platform continues to grow and be supported. 

 


Knowledge Sharing Power Platform Vocabularly

One of my favorite ways to learn is to share knowledge. I find that all of the other perspectives I get from this exercise really help me shift and refine what I have learned. 

In the last two years I have been under the fire house learning. It is both exciting, amazing and daunting when we consider how much more there is always to learn. It is also a twist for those of us who have years of experience. The experience makes a huge difference, but it also always has to be continually refined.

One of the first major learning tips is to get your head around the vocabulary quickly. It has served me well to think about the following.

Microsoft EcoSystem with Power Platform

The Power Platform, this is really an evolution to getting closer and closer to using the entire Microsoft Stack of awesome. The long loved deep integration to Office is now 100 times better AND there is also the deep integration to Azure and many of the new Azure functions. 

PowerApp
Microsoft Dynamics 365 "Apps"
are all Model Driven Power Apps on the Power Platform. 

Flow

Power Automate (Flow) The ability to automate, respond and receive responses and an alignment/replacement or stepping stone to both work flows and logic apps and you can learn more here.

Power BI with Name
Power BI Much loved and amazing reporting and business intelligence and analytics and you can learn more here

 

Power Virtual with Name

Power Virtual Bots, Not only bots, but Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and you can learn more here and here.


One Why | Model Driven Apps | Configurable Role Based Entitlement Security | Who gets to access What

1) Business Unit Hierarchy | The ability to divide the data into isolated silos with bridges of controlled access aligned to the defined.(Security + Performance)

2) Out of the Box Entities | The configuration of entity permissions when the entity is doing backend functionality for the system and not something such as Account, Contact....

3) Management Hierarchy | The ability to give permissions to a manager based on the permissions and data and functions that their child team member has access to.

4) Field Level Security | The ability to mask, encrypt and control who can see a specific field within an entity

5) Entity Security | The ability to control who can Create, Update, Read, Delete, Append, Append to and Share specific out of the box entities or custom entities by Organization, Business Unit, Business Unit Hierarchy or User Ownership. 

6) Flow Context | The ability to control what permissions a flow runs under, either Contextual User or a Defined User such as a system account.

AND there is more so when considering "Building Your Own", consider if you want to recreate the concept of Role Based Entitlement 

  


Power Platform - Model App Configuration

I was doing a little bit of work this weekend and I could not figure out what happened to BULK EDIT in some of my entities. Given that we are always getting new updates I thought that perhaps it was a feature in transition. 

After a little more thinking I realized what happened.

When you turn on EDITABLE GRIDS, you loose the more traditional BULK EDIT. 

 


VOCABULARY, It matters -> Dynamics 365 Sales, Dynamics 365 Service, Dynamics 365 Marketing these are all Power Apps.

One of the huge transitions for the Dynamics 365 CRM world is a shift in vocabulary and terminology and aligning what the experienced resources know (Dynamics 365 CRM or Dynamics 365 CE) with all the new buzz and development options.

One way to think of this shift is that all of the modules in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement are "potentially" their own Power App. So it is true you can combine sales, service, marketing, talent, etc. into one app, but basically the thinking trend is that each module is a Power App.

The other way that I have found that people quickly grasp the concept is to mention MOBILE and get them in a mobile mindset. I can then say, you can create any number of mobile apps to access your Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement data. Each mobile app is a PowerApp. 

And as such the Power Platform offers the potential for hundreds of Power Apps, as well as other complimentary technologies such as Power BI, Power Automate and Power Virtual.  


Dynamics 365 Relationship Sales and LinkedIn's Sales Navigator

One of the huge shifts and benefits for a sales person is when technology gets aligned so that keeping data current falls to the most logical location. Consider for instances a prospects name, company and job title. A shift is when this information is kept current by that specific prospect rather than the sales person following that prospect. The prospect updates their name, role and company information because it is beneficial to the work that they are doing. The sales person who has a relationship with this person, or who is following them, can then be a straight consumer of data managed by a logical source.

Now this isn't perfect .. not everyone updates their information even with the power of a product such as LinkedIn and Sales Navigator so technology still needs to take another step in validating that the data is current. A futuristic option on this will be when AI technologies can tap into larger or the largest data repositories and filter out what they need to validate a person's name, role and company. If we take this one step further we add address, telephone numbers, historical information.

Data exists, we can purchase this data, but we are not quite to the point where the data on a person is 100% transparent when we need it AND there are many reasons why this also sends chills up many a spine. 

If we circle back to what is happening in the world of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales we find that Relationship Sales is a combination of the knowledge within LinkedIn and the Power of the Dynamics 365 platform. 

Unifying the best of both worlds to further empower the business sales teams. It also uses AI Technology in addition to the combination of data. This takes this one step further.

Take a Peek 


Products, 3D 360 Degree Mixed Reality and Product Visualize

At the Microsoft Business Applications Summit this week I had a chance to take a look at and discuss Microsoft Product Visualize. I loved seeing how it worked, but more importantly I had dug into the details of where data is stored and how is it created. 

So first What is Microsoft Visualize? 

Consider the Microsoft Dynamics Product Catalog. You have a list of products associated with an opportunity and each item has a description. This doesn't really offer the most efficient way to quickly grasp all that you want to know. We then consider the flat, 2D ability to add a picture. Great! Wonderful, but can we do more? This is where Product Visualize for Dynamics 365 comes into plan. 

I have my Tablet (Surface/iPad/etc), I am at a client site and I am discussing an opportunity that includes a number of products. I might even have two similar products, because my prospect or client has not decided on what they want.  Product Visualize offers not only a 3D Image of the product, but it offers the ability to show a full 360 Degree 3D View of the product depending on how the "user" (myself, the prospect or customer) moves the tablet. 

So how does Product Visualize technically do this? 

Product Visualize uses a product .glb file stored in an integrated SharePoint library. The library that can be configured when Dynamics 365 is setup and configured. The file contains the 3D model saved in GL Transmission Format (glTF).  gITF offers the ability to store such information such as node hierarchy, cameras, materials, and animations and a GLB file is the binary version of .GLTF files.  

Note: For those of you who are old hands at gITF and glb, please feel free to expand on this.. 

BUT how do we actually get the images and the data for the GLB file? 

I have my product and I have Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement, but I don't have a glb file. This is where the growing momentum in partnerships between the new worlds within the graphical industries and the ever evolving world of customer engagement becomes a huge win/win.  

 


Vocabulary! Model-Driven vs. Canvas in the world of PowerApps

I had the opportunity to answer a bunch of questions today and PowerApps ... Canvas Apps vs. Model-Driven Apps was key on the agenda. 

In my mind I think .. PowerApps = Dynamics or Model-Driven Apps and  Microsoft 365 + = CanvasApps, but alas I am not quite right. PowerApps actual applies to both. 

What I need to get straight in my head is Model-Driven apps are all the apps I have already built as part of a Dynamics 365 solution (or project). This includes creating apps as a "new" app or modifying an existing app that comes with one of the Microsoft Solutions. (Such as the Sales App). 

The next piece too ingrain in this thick skull is CANVAS apps. I have created a canvas app, but I have not had the chance to create one for an actual customer project. This little app starts from a slightly different interface and brings with it new. It is not that the new is difficult, it is just new. 

Others explain it as either starting with the "interface" (Canvas) vs. starting with the "data" (Model-Driven) AND if you want to watch a great little video on the subject this video is well worth the time to watch. Check this out from PragmaticWorks

Note: Please forgive me Andrew!

In my next post we will tackle other new vocabulary such as the Common Data Service (CDS) vs. the Common Data Model (CDM). 


Do you know where your bottleneck is? Microsoft Dynamics 365 for CE

Now that we are running in larger data centers with the power of Microsoft Azure and with hardware technology such as solid state storage (moving away from the limitations of rotating platters) we all want to take a deep breath and make a sigh of performance joy. 

Unfortunately when you eliminate one bottleneck the data moves to the next. Additionally bottlenecks are not just hardware.

Consider a rock wall layered in a stream of water, you remove the rocks blocking the water, and the water rushes to the next barrier. The same concept applies to data. 

If you are working with millions or hundreds of thousands of data records you might want to consider:

  • Performance Tune the Microsoft SQL Server Database (SQL Server gurus can appreciate this one!)
  • Adding MS SQL Server Indexes to your largest Entities.
  • Watching out or reviewing JavaScript (JavaScript is a language that allows developers to inadvertently and easily create application bottlenecks) Luckily OOB Dynamics 365 has been deeply tested for bottlenecks continuously over the years and has continued to pass with flying colors.
  • Consider Latency (Microsoft now offers data center distributed processing for their Worldwide Dynamics Customers, reducing the trips across the oceans)
  • Understand if you have a bottleneck and where it is (Dynamics actually ships with a Diagnostic tool to check latency and bandwidth: Use https://[your crm url]/tools/diagnostics/diag.aspx  
  • If you are hosting your own environment, you can also tap into the Microsoft Professional Field Engineering teams Performance Analysis and Tuning Services (the PFE Sustainability Engineers Rock) or
  • you might consider a powerful tool such as ThousandEyes:  https://blog.thousandeyes.com/monitor-dynamics-crm-performance/ and https://www.thousandeyes.com/solutions/dynamics-365-monitoring 

What are your favorite tips and tricks for performance? 

Oh and as a last note .. there are customers processing 100,000s of data records a DAY with the Microsoft Dynamics platform. The power is incredible with a little love.

 

 

 

 


Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement - Search

The following table provides a brief comparison of the four available search options in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for CE. Microsoft often provides many options for achieving the same goal (just look at all you can do with Outlook!)

The link to this information and to read more https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/customer-engagement/basics/search-and-find-header

Functionality

Relevance Search (Online Only, the power of Azure)

Full-text Quick Find (also called Categorized Search)

Quick Find

Advanced Find

Enabled by default?

No. An administrator must manually enable it under system settings.

No. An administrator must manually enable it under system settings.

Yes

Yes

Single-entity search scope

Not available in an entity grid. You can filter the search results by an entity on the results page.

Available in an entity grid.

Available in an entity grid.

Available in an entity grid.

Multi-entity search scope

There is no maximum limit on the number of entities you can search. Note: While there is no maximum limit on the number of entities you can search, the Record Type filter shows data for only 10 entities.

Searches up to 10 entities, grouped by an entity.

Searches up to 10 entities, grouped by an entity.

Multi-entity search not available.

Search behavior

Finds matches to any word in the search term in any field in the entity.

Finds matches to all words in the search term in one field in an entity; however, the words can be matched in any order in the field.

Finds matches as in a SQL query with “Like” clauses. You have to use the wildcard characters in the search term to search within a string. All matches must be an exact match to the search term.

Query builder where you can define search criteria for the selected record type. Can also be used to prepare data for export to Office Excel so that you analyze, summarize, or aggregate data, or create PivotTables to view your data from different perspectives.

Searchable fields

Text fields like Single Line of Text, Multiple Lines of Text, Lookups, and Option Sets. Doesn't support searching in fields of Numeric or Date data type.

All searchable fields.

All searchable fields.

All searchable fields.

Search results

Returns the search results in order of their relevance, in a single list.

For single-entity, returns the search results in an entity grid. For multi-entity, returns the search results grouped by categories, such as accounts, contacts, or leads.

For single-entity, returns the search results in an entity grid. For multi-entity, returns the search results grouped by categories, such as accounts, contacts, or leads.

Returns search results of the selected record type with the columns you have specified, in the sort order you have configured.

Wildcards (*)

Trailing wildcard supported for word completion.

Leading wildcard supported. Trailing wildcard added by default.

Leading wildcard supported. Trailing wildcard added by default.

Not supported.

 


Microsoft Dynamics 365 Portals with the awesome, unicorn loving, Colin and the incredible, Griffin loving, Robert Bailey

Tips and Thoughts

1) Is it the right technology for the need?

2) Have a solid design and a long term iteration and maintenance plan

3) Never forget about the customers, customer who might be using the portal.

4) Consider Identity and Authentication for the customers, customer, but also for portal versus Dynamics 365. 

5) Golden Keys: The right development team, the right methodology, the right relationships with the customers/users and their continued involving involvement. 

6) Graphics and Web Design are part of portal projects, pictures can communicate 1000 of the wrong words. 

7) Bring Joy

8) If Multilingual is a need, do it as part of PHASE I. It is harder to  add additional languages in later phases. 

 


In the world of Dynamics 365, configuration/customization/extension does not equal the old world assumptions of "custom software"

When thinking of the experiences or backgrounds needed for any specific project, don't let assumptions trip you up. These terms can help with your communications. 

 

 

Configuration – knowing of and Answering all the questions related to setting up the system for a specific customer. These include all the options under SETTINGs including but not limited to items such as turning on auditing, configuring number formats, turning on relevance search, setting up duplicate detection, configuring territories, setting fiscal year end and more. This is done on every Dynamics 365 project (hopefully) and there are more than 50 questions.

 

Customization – A functional consultants power to configure the system for specific business models such as renaming entities, adding entities, adding system charts, lists/views, adding workflows, creating business rules, formatting the data entry fields and forms, creating PowerApps, setting up relationships between entities and more. The term customization often waffles between configuration and extensions depending on who is using the term.

 

Extensions – extending the functionality of the system using developer resources and many, many, many different code options (.Net, C++, JavaScript, AngularJS, and about 30 more) and includes items such as creating an integration layer with queuing to manage external data integration (although this is shifting to configuration), adding new advanced features, adding advanced automation, extracting/manipulating and resaving data from numerous entities, onSave/onChange/onLoad have the data jump through hoops and blink, etc. The platform is built to be extended and extensions upgrade as they are built using a predefined best practices Software developer kit (SDK) from Microsoft.

 

The world of technology is deep and wonderful. 


Spring 2019 is just around the corner: Dynamics 365 for CE Release Notes

Spring is just around the corner and in addition to the drip updates that continue for the Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement ONLINE users the semi-annual update has been documented and announced. 

Take a look at the Spring 2019 release notes


Successful Delivery

In the world of soccer you will find that although everyone on the team has scored goals over the course of their career, there are very few who are consistent finishers. A finisher has a special talent for always being able to move the soccer ball over the goal line. They have a skill for being in the right place at the right time. They have the mindset and the art form. In high school, my step daughter, Janna, was an incredible finisher. 

She was always in the right place, at the right time and when the time came she put the ball over the goal line. Unfortunately,  we don't often recognize the diversity and strengths in our teams. Janna for instance was constantly judged for not being a gazelle and because of this her interest and her motivation shifted from soccer to hockey. I always considered this a great loss for the school and for her long term ability to feel good about her gift. 

The same concept applies to CRM/AnyRM projects. It is actually very hard to successfully deliver across the goal line. As projects move to Agile Scrum methodology there is a delicate balance between moving as fast as the team needs to move, while also capturing all that was built (so future teams can understand the critical details) and delivering to production successfully every 2 to 4 weeks.

The business SME's need to be engaged and trained on process while the overall user audience needs to be well positioned for what's coming. They also need have proper expectations when it comes to what level of maturity and when their requests for changes are going to be incorporated. There are also very small balls that are juggled within the immediate project team. These include dealing with unforeseen problems, refactoring needs and managing expectations and there is a very real need to understand the time that something might take. On a Dynamics 365 for CE engagement the skills needed to successfully deliver are more than being able to write code or configure the system. 

An Agile project shifts responsibility to each developer to be more rounded. If this is not possible, then perhaps a different methodology is needed, but the team needs to understand what is being asked, they need to know what approach will be used and they need to be able to present what was built in a user friendly and articulate manner. They also must be honest, transparent and not distracted by the shear nature of human against human. 

I have been on many project teams and the ones where all of the above came together is a gift! 

 


Calling all St. Louis Dynamics 365 Peeps! Oct 4th - CRMUG Chapter Meeting

I am in  St. Louis this week and I will be heading over to the CRMUG Chapter meeting on the morning of Oct 4th.

Come on over and knowledge share on the greatest platform on earth! Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement.

CRMUG Missouri (St. Louis) Chapter Meeting - October 4

Oct 4, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM (CT)

Agenda:

  • Welcome & Introductions Marketing Tools
  • Fall Release – New Features
  • Summit Tips for new attendees
  • Round Table

Location

UniGroup One Premier Drive Suite 203 Fenton, MO 63026

 

 

 


Understanding the Maturity of a Feature

As Microsoft releases more and more features, modules and wonderful goodness into the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform it is good to build out your understanding of the maturity of each feature. The maturity defines the number of layers of updates or changes that any given feature might have experienced as well as it's depth of functionality. You can also relate this to the version of a feature; although, the version is not always the deciding factor. It is possible to have a very mature version 1.0 feature. 

Why is this important? It helps to set the expectations of where the strengths and weaknesses are as you adopt the platform and extend the features. It also helps you understand and manage your expectations around what the speed of change will be with regards to a specific set of features. 

Extract from the people on your team who have worked with the platform for many, many years - You need to knowledge share around the age and growth of key features. It is also important to have these conversations so you can stretch all resources into considering alternative approaches including the experienced team members. Change is not only constant in this wild world of the Microsoft Stack, but it is also speeding up.

So how do we go about understanding maturity? 

As much as I would like to list every known feature in the system (I might save that for a future blog post), I think the key area to start with on each project is with a list of the features that are relevant. When working on a custom service/call center project you might not care as much about the sales automation processes or when working with an xRM or AnyRM project you might not need to be as concerned with cases and knowledge management.

So once you have a high level understanding of the areas of the platform that you want to leverage, make a quick chart of maturity.  There are a few items that you want to capture as follows:

1) When was the feature released? What version (your choices include version 1.2  all the way up to version 9.1.x.xxxx)

2) Understand how the feature or area of the platform fits within the Microsoft Roadmap. Is this a feature that is waning into deprecation or is it positioned for rapid growth? 

3) Acknowledge what the team knows about the strengths and weaknesses of the feature. A good brain sharing exercise. 

4) Understand the feature dependencies. Take for instance, Cases - Cases have a wide set of dependent entities and functionality that goes fairly deep from SLAs to Contracts to Knowledge Base(s) and Closures. 

5) Acknowledge what can and can't be configured. 

6) Understand which ISVs (third party vendors) have bundled offerings that extend the features so you know your choices. Take for instance Accounts - There are numerous offerings that validate addresses and that help with extracting data on accounts from the internet. There are also numerous social engagement offerings including Microsoft's own Microsoft Social Engagement (MSE) Offering.

7) Always keep an open mind for the way that you would solve a problem on your last project is not always the same way to solve the exact same problem on your current project. 

and lastly do a little deep diving into who on the product team or what group among the product team owns the feature set. This research is a key exercise for anyone attending one of the many conferences. Understanding or even meeting the product team who updates and extends features can help you better understand the vision and growth. 

 


SLAs. SLAs, SLAs - The simplicity and complexity of Service Level Agreements in #DYN365

Using SLA's with Cases

There are a number of features built into Microsoft Dynamics that support the configuration of an SLA associated with the Case Entity. When working with any of the features in Dynamics it is always a good idea to understand what the programming team has already created AND what the strengths, maturity and weaknesses of these features are. When it comes to SLA's and CASES there are layers on each.

Take for instance CASES. Cases are not just one simple entity, cases include both the case entity and the Case Resolution Entity. When a case is resolved, key information is captured in the case resolution entity. Each are interdependent. Additionally each offer SOME customization and SOME you can't change that. It is that "you can't change that" which generally trips people up.

SLA's also have layered complexity. An SLA has both FIRST RESPONSE and COMPLETION functionality. You will want to consider what rules you would like to use to indicate a first response and what rules you would like to consider for the completion. Technically these get applied as two separate line items within one SLA and when the system runs these line items they are two separate, but dependent system generated workflows.

I have tried configuring without using a first response and the system just doesn't like this configuration. At this time I always recommend a first response even if the first response doesn't mean much to the end user.

So to use SLA's with Cases

1) Setup your service Calendar

2) Setup your Holiday Calendar

3) Create your SLA and associate the calendars, Add your SLA Line items with both a First Response line item and a Final SLA Line Item.

Pretty Straight forward? Well not exactly for there are some tricks. The first trick is all about those working hours. The working hours in  the calendar can significantly impact the end date for your SLA. PowerObjects has a nice screen shot, by screen shot blog post on setting up the service calendar.  

Key items to consider.

  • Are your users working in different time zones?
  • Have your users configured their Personal Options?
  • Will there be different working times on different days?
  • Do you want to stick with the 24 hour clock? *most likely
  • What time zones are using the results of the SLAs?
  • Do you want your due date to be updated by the SLA?

The next item to consider is your holidays. You need to decide which holidays need to be applied to the Calendar used by the SLA and these need to be entered into the Holiday Calendar. If you have holidays from different countries a reconciliation will need to be decided upon or different SLAs for different countries.

One last trick on calendars: Both the Service Calendar and the Holiday Calendar do not deploy as part of your solutions so update your pre-deployment checklist to include creating these calendars before you deploy to any downstream environment.

3) SLA Line Items - SLA's do not like to stop on activity status = inactive and as such it is always better to find a different way to end your SLAs. On case they might be slightly happier, but on a number of different projects .. ending an SLA line item on activity status = inactive has tripped us up. Each SLA line item that is triggered against a case is reflected as a workflow on the case. The clauses that you defined based on trigger for success, warning and failure are converted in Wait and If conditions.

When it comes to out of the box configuration there are also decisions that need to be made around pausing an SLA. For instance if a CASE is put on HOLD, you can set system settings to pause the SLA. Take a look at Allan Mira's write up on how to pause an SLA on a case (again great screen shots and recreating screen shots seems a bit redundant) 

For more on using SLA's on CASE, here is a STEP by STEP by Vishal Grade.

Using SLA's with a Custom Entity

The Components that make up an SLA include

  •  Customer Service Calendar – defines the business hours to be used in the SLA calculation. A business can have multiple calendars to support different SLAs i.e. 24x7, 9-5 business days, Customer specific calendars
  • Entitlements – defines the agreed number of Cases or Time that has been contracted with the customer for support. Entitlements can only be associated to one SLA. An SLA can be associated to many Entitlements.
  • Service Configuration – define which statuses place an SLA on hold (shortcut to System Settings). Note that the pause and resume statuses apply to all SLAs and thus are not SLA specific.
  • Holiday Schedule – defines the dates that are considered holidays in a particular region. If you work in multiple regions then you may have multiple holiday schedules. Holiday schedules can be applied to the Customer Service Calendar to be observed.
  • Service Agreements – define the rules that apply to the agreement, when a SLA is triggered, when and what should occur if the SLA is successful, non-compliant or nearing non compliancy. (thanks to MVP Stephan for summarizing these in his insiders guide to SLAs post which is another great read)

BUT when configuring SLA's to work on CUSTOM Entities there are a number of other steps that also need to be configured.

1) The Custom Entity must be enabled for SLAs  (there is a checkbox on the Entity to enable SLAs) "A few words of caution! SLA needs a committed relationship. Once you have selected that checkbox and saved, (by the power vested in you by Dynamics CRM and the position of a configurator) SLA cannot be disabled for the entity."

2) The Custom Entity must have a relationships established with the SLA Entities (such as the SLAKPIInstance Entity)

3) You must use Enhanced SLA's with Custom Entities that need SLAs

 To configure the relationships for your Custom Entity with SLAs you can follow the Microsoft Customer Engagement Team's step by step. I have summarized it below, but there is more on the full post such as setting up timers and some key things to remember so I recommend you jump on other to the post.

  1. Enable the custom entity
  2. In the same Customization window, expand the SLA KPI Instance entity.
  3. Click 1: N Relationships.
  4. Click the New 1-to-Many Relationship button.
  5. Select custom <entity> in Related Entity dropdown. Here is a catch! As soon as you select custom entity in the Related Entity dropdown, the Name field gets auto populated to “new_ slakpiinstance_custom entity”. You can use it as it is, but you will face issues if you want to export the SLAs created in this org to an org that also has SLAs enabled for customentity. This is because while importing the SLAs, the system will attempt to create this relationship in the target org. Since there will be a relationship already existing in the target org, the import will fail. So it is strongly recommended to add a different name or change the name to a GUID (with underscores).
  6. Fill the Display Name to your taste
  7. Save and close

 

I have found that I still wish there was more documentation available on Microsoft Dynamics 365 SLAs. They are almost entire module unto themselves.

Happy SLA'ing!

 


Editable Grids

Have you discovered the joy of editable grids? This feature was introduced in December of 2016. Editable grid is a custom control in Microsoft Dynamics 365. 

"You can enable editable grids at the entity level to use in the main grid, or at the form level to replace read-only sub-grids (associated grids) with an editable grid." An editable grid is similar to entering data into an Excel spreadsheet and has a number of usability benefits. For instance, users can quickly enter lots of data on different records without needing to open new windows or the editable grid usage can align to business processes that include popping in and out of Microsoft Excel.

Additionally, configuration teams can adjust what a grid looks like based on a set of parameters or data.  Editable grids also support business rules and form scripting so you can apply custom business logic according to your organization's requirements.  

If you want to learn more about how to work with and configure editable grids you can reference the following article  or if you want to see some examples of how editable grids are used this TechNet Article has some interesting use cases.


Oh Internet Explore

If you have started having difficulty with Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement and you are using Internet Explore v11 then you want to make sure you have the latest KBs. The March 20th updates broke a few things, the March 27th updates fixed these.

For Windows 8.1 and 7 SP1 Users

KB4016446 - https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4016446

KB4016446 Download Link - http://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com/search.aspx?q=KB4016446

For Windows 10 users search the catalog for

Windows 10

http://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com/search.aspx?q=KB4016635 

If you have other Internet Explorer Issues then you might want to walk through this set of Articles.

Compatibility Settings https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/3124955/compatibility-with-microsoft-dynamics-crm-2016

Internet Explorer: Web application requirements for Microsoft Dynamics 365 https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh699710.aspx

Internet Explorer: FAQ for IT Pros https://technet.microsoft.com/itpro/internet-explorer/ie11-faq/faq-for-it-pros-ie11

Microsoft Edge Deployment Guide for IT Pros https://technet.microsoft.com/itpro/microsoft-edge/index

Compatibility Changes in IE 11 https://msdn.microsoft.com/library/bg182625(v=vs.85).aspx

 

 


Extending and Developing with the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Platform

One place to look for information regarding leveraging the Microsoft Dynamics 365 PLATFORM is in the Microsoft Dynamics Software Developer Toolkit (SDK). The Microsoft development teams have included a wealth of samples, knowledge and tips inside the SDK.

With Microsoft Dynamics 365 we have  three areas to consider and this post is about the third

1) Configuration : Walking through a series of questions found in the settings section (Business, Admin, Data, Services, etc.) of the platform, you can change how the system reacts based on your answers.

2) Customization : Using a business interface add new tables, fields, views, charts, dashboards and data entry forms.  

3) Extension : Writing additional code to extend the powerful Dynamics 365 Platform to meet even more business needs.

 So what are some of the resources available to you and things to consider when it comes to Extending the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Developers Center

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Visual Studio Development Toolkit

A Community Alternative to the Visual Studio Development Toolkit for Dynamics 365

AND BECAUSE you want to write the absolute BEST extensions possible, and you want it to be something that any other Dynamics developer can praise, you also tap into the following community shared wonderful practices shared by Minal:

http://minaldahiya.blogspot.be/2016/03/coding-standards-for-dynamics-crm.html?spref=tw

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Development Best Practices

xRM Best Practices

 

 


Dynamics CRM is not just C or X Relationship Management (CRM or xRM) anymore and as such the expansion to Microsoft Dynamics 365!

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is PACKED with powerful features that are fully configurable and can also be extended. Additionally a huge amount of resources, talent and energy are going into adding even more. If you want to keep up with the Microsoft Dynamics Development teams keep an eye on both the development team blogs and on the official Microsoft Dynamics Roadmap

Dynamics CRM is not just C or X Relationship Management (CRM or xRM) anymore and as such the expansion to Microsoft Dynamics 365!


Team: Prescribed vs. Defined

I must be getting old for I am having more of the Carousel experiences of life. 

Take for instance that one of the benefits of getting older is that you get to walk into situations where you have been before. You have multiple similar experiences to draw from based on many other projects. It is a gift to clients, because some processes that are less efficient can be avoided and they get more cream of the crop (potentially).

So the thought of the day?

When defining user stories, gathering requirements, detailing out the current processes of the day. Think really, really hard about defining the specific issues, problems and current state without including the solution.

Ideally what you want is a team solution. A solution that pulls from the experiences of all members of the team. This is harder than it sounds, because it requires that each person really listens to and understands the full scope of the problem. It then requires that the team jointly agrees on the issue or problems and once agreed, solutioning can begin.

Solutioning will need to include the technical best choices and training among the team on the strengths and weakness as well as the business best choices.

Now in an ideal world this would all be done with any egos parked at the door, but rarely is this the reality. People have strong opinions. Humans are designed to compete or culturally trained to compete and thoughts outside of the comfort zones, make people uncomfortable. Mix in the awesome power of diversity and the energy can get very confused.

YET when this energy is aligned and diversity and multiple opinions come together as one. Amazing happens.

So keep stretching for Amazing  and keep learning, because the more we push ourselves to learn outside our comfort zones, the more we learn to listen and hear and the more we learn to share, the better the experiences will be!


Automatic Testing and Dynamics in the world of CRM

Automatic testing is a bit of a niche skill and every application is different in terms of what is needed or what tools can be used. In this situation I depend on knowledge shared, because there is absolutely no reason that we can't learn from each other. Following please find some notes from the field on Microsoft Dynamics "CRM" Automated Testing

Knowledge shared is a powerful skill in the world of technology. It requires that you admit that you might be wrong, that you might have more to learn and that being vulnerable is worth the risk. Yes, it is very much worth the risk in this crazy fast paced world of growth.

 

Tools that the field mentioned:

Sessions discussing Automated Testing

Other Videos in this arena

 

 


Knowledge Management : KB Articles in Microsoft CRM

A few resources to ramp up on all that is new in Knowledge Management in Microsoft CRM 8.1.0.00xx (2016 Spring Release)

Dynamics CRM Knowledge Management by the Microsoft EMEA Support Team

New Knowledge Management Features Introduced by the Microsoft Product Team

New Customer Service Features in CRM 2016 discussed by MSDynamicsWorld

Tip of the Day Video (series): CRM Knowledge Articles

One Minute Overview Video on Knowledge Articles

Streamline Knowledge Management in Microsoft CRM Video

You will also want to ramp up on the new Interactive Service Hub (ISH) which offers even more access to the wealth of data in Microsoft CRM.

Tip of the Day : Interactive Service Hub

Overview of the Interactive Service Hub

Working with Cases in the Interactive Service Hub

 

 


Keeping a Clean House: Sometimes it is about the data

Microsoft CRM supports tracking of e-mail messages and e-mail messages often come with attachments. If you want to prevent Microsoft CRM from storing an e-mails attachments you can set the file size within Configuration to 0.

What if you don't want to block all attachments or what if you inherited a system that has a ton of attachments stored in the database?

You can purge e-mail attachments from the CRM Database.

Take a look at the EMEA Support Teams Blog Post on the subject for more.

Kids-cleaning


Field One: The Mobile Workforce and Microsoft CRM

Did you know there are more field services technicians in the US then sales people in the entire world?

Field One took Microsoft CRM and mastered the platform. What does this really mean? Mastering the platform?

Microsoft CRM as a platform is a parallel growth paradigm. The product grows and matures every day as the developers on the Microsoft teams build, define, refine and release while the teams (external partners, ISVs, other resources) building extended solutions are doing the same. Each team must work closely with the vision of today and the visions of the future. Decisions are not just meeting a requirement or request, they are meeting a requirement or a request in a manner that fits into this parallel growth.

Field One Mastery (now under the Microsoft Umbrella) continues to offer incredible, already mastered, solutions to some of the most complex field services organizations.   

  • Resource Management
  • Complex Scheduling
  • Durations
  • Territories
  • Mobile
  • Routing
  • Modern
  • and so much more

   So what do the developers work on, if the above is already so well matured and defined?

Oh there is so much more that just flows into what you have as time goes one.

Consider the Microsoft Platform and all that is available.

Consider Machine Learning and Predictive analysis and the speed in which Microsoft Azure offerings are growing. Consider Microsoft Portal and Microsoft Project Services within CRM  and, and, and ....

So if you have not taken a few minutes to start thinking about Field Services then perhaps it is time to start? Take a look at Field One.

FieldOne-Sky-devices-medium


A new Marriage between Microsoft Word and Microsoft CRM

Given that so much new has been released, sometimes it is easy to miss some of the powerful new features.

Take for instance USING WORD TEMPLATES in CRM. Sure, letters are nice, but have you ever considered the power of all the other data you can pull into a WORD template?

Here is a good place to get started


Five CRM Thoughts

1. Workflows can be REAL TIME (Synchronous) or ALMOST REAL TIME (asynchronous) and if you are a business user creating workflows you want to coordinate the timing. In the world of plugins and extensions timing coordination of steps is all part of the job, but in the world of workflows sometimes it is easy to forget about what we are really asking for.

2. Deleting and Cleanup in the world of customization and multiple environments are a specialized thought process. The system supports a merge mindset so when you want to do cleanup (and you are using unmanaged solutions) you want to make sure you cleanup all your environments. I like to use the technique of naming fields, business rules, forms, views and other such configurations in DEV with a prefix of something like ZToBeDeleted so that after a deployment to TEST and PRODUCTION it is easy to do house cleaning.

3. You are not the only one extending and configuring. Coordination equals huge successes and incredible power and depth. It is a product that is always evolving from the power and insight of the incredible team at Microsoft and then there are the other new features that are purchased, reviewed, updated, coordinated and released. If you are writing unsupported code you are asking for headaches OR if your hired gun is writing unsupported code. Take the time to get it done right. Take the time to vet your resources. A low hourly rate does not mean long term reduction in cost.

4. Software as a Service (SaaS) in the world of Dynamics CRM means that you are continuously getting the chance to improve your businesses cutting edge differentiator through the use of the newest technology and business techniques. Get the Learning Mindset and embrace the wave while also taking bite sized, very manageable growth steps forward. Setup your environment so you have a DEV, TEST and PRODUCTION instance so that you can have DEV upgraded first, then TEST (with a release to TEST and Regression Testing) and then roll to production. For smaller firms perhaps only two instances, but always give yourself that learning arena for the larger feature releases.

5. Just because it looks pretty, and has a really cheap initial price does not mean that you won't be paying more in the long run. In the world of ONLINE and the CLOUD do your research with other customers. Understand the 1, 2 and 3 year average costs and understand what you get for the money. The models can be very different.  There are hundreds of applications that can be replaced by Dynamics CRM and with the right resources (trained helps) the price is right. Just because Access and Excel are available with office, doesn't mean they are the right solution for a multi-user environment where people need to share real time data across many different devices. Oh and then there is the Out of the Box integration to the Office 365, SharePoint, Microsoft Excel E-Mail, and so much more. 

It really is mind blowing.....  


Technology grows as fast as your kids, if not faster ....

Technology grows as fast as your kids and keeping in touch with the drip just makes life so energized!

Microsoft Dynamics CRM v8.0.0.xxxx (2016) was released last Fall offering more functionality at the deepest level and more options and functionality at the user level. Take for instance the new "Interactive Service Hub". A graphical interface in addition to ALL you have through dashboards, charts and views and then you also have new options around knowledge management and at the deepest level new formats for fields.  

 

Even more important, the incredible ground work around mobile and the mastery of DISTRIBUTED PROCESSING leveraging Azure. Distributed processing with any technology is not easy; although in the world of Microsoft CRM we have long had the Outlook Client, still we needed more options and  now we have more options. The synchronization of data between multiple source locations is just ripe with potential difficulty and yet, here you have in CRM 2016 some great MOBILE Answers to a tough need.

Now before you start thinking about all that you have not yet tried in the FALL CRM 2016 release (v8.0.0.xxxx) understand that the SPRING 2016 release is rolling out to the customer focus group now. A group of customers who totally get keeping up and have signed up and agreed to test the new software before it is generally available. A win/win situation for the product development teams and for customers. A team approach using real world solutions. 

The Spring release is PACKED!

The teams are leveraging not only the power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM (and it really is powerful and occassionally taken for granite), but the depth and power of AZURE, the Out of the Box integration to Office 365 and SharePoint and the maturely integrated solutions like portal and field services.

More Reading

Given how quickly everything is rolling out the teams have also released a new ROADMAP website so you can immediately know what has been released, what is being released and what is pending for the next update. It is easy to get caught up in the buzz, so this site is available for immediate validation.

Want another insight?

Microsoft Social Engagement is now getting monthly updates.  

Look what's new in version 2016 1.3

and then there are versions all the other enhancements on the same page to also catch up on. What? You are interested in Machine Learning? Did you know MSE is ALREADY leveraging the power? Wow! 

I work at Microsoft as part of the Microsoft Global Dynamics Domain focused on services. Keeping up with all of the GREAT old and new functionalities can sometimes be interesting, but it is such a thrill to have such a huge tool chest of options for clients in this complex world. A world where technology, configurable technology can offer a great competitive differentiator.

 

 

 


Microsoft Visio

Now that Adult Coloring Books have exploded on the marketplace perhaps it is time for you move from the joys of PowerPoint (Admit it, you love it because it is easy creativity) to the joys and the incredible POWER of VISIO or SWAY (but I will save SWAY for another post)!

Do you have processes? Do you want to get these processes to be adopted and consistent across all departments? Why not drop them into a SIMPLE VISUAL DIAGRAM and post them around the office?

Or you can really get into it and use them to "visualize the future state of transformative initiatives" or to "stay on top of operational insights". It is true that a picture can communicate 1000 words and in this noisy world, using a picture to communicate can make a huge difference (even for the most sophisticated).

To learn more about the new features of Microsoft Visio you can read up about it on the Microsoft office team's blog. I even enjoy older posts like this one which is already a year old!    

Microsoft Office Team's Blog

Microsoft Office Blog on VISIO

Microsoft VISIO Test Drive


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Support Lifecycle

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a continuous book, with pages being edited and new pages being added with each release. Those who build their projects to live with the growth of their companies do not need to be concerned for the book continues as your business continues.

For those who are still running Microsoft Dynamics CRM older versions, this page might be of interest. The Microsoft Support Lifecycle Page

What is a Support Lifecycle, you ask or more appropriately, what is the support lifecycle policy? There is more on the website, but consider this ...

"What is the Support Lifecycle policy?
Microsoft provides an industry-leading Support Lifecycle policy—in length and provision—giving customers consistent, transparent, and predictable timelines for which software is supported."

 


Choices, choices and more choices : Accessing Microsoft CRM Online

Microsoft has a long history of offering choices! Just consider how each individual can configure their Outlook usage differently from every other user and yet it is also consistent. This is a very interesting balance.

In the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and particularly in the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online (currently v2016 aka 8.0.0.xxxx) the choices list is getting so long that I rarely hit a request that doesn't have many options.

Take for instance the integration to Microsoft Outlook and E-mail.

We have the traditional CRM Outlook Add-In Application which has continued to be updated and upgraded and we have a new Outlook App! Jesper has provided a really nice table of the differences in this blog post.

There is also the new MOBILE EXPERIENCE and MOBILE APPS and it is quite the experience or experiences ! Microsoft is now tapping into the incredible power of AZURE to further enhance the mobile offerings. I so love it when the development teams work closely together for even more WIN/WIN/WIN!

In terms of the details : Many of the partners are blogging on these new mobile features such as indicated in these links

  • http://beringer.net/beringerblog/microsoft-dynamics-crm-2016-whats-new
  • http://blog.dynamicscrm2015.com/2015/10/13/dynamics-crm-2016-and-full-mobile-offline-experience/
  • https://crmspec.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/faq-microsoft-dynamics-crm-2016-autumn-wave/
  • https://cynergies.net/developers/your-business-benefits-of-microsoft-dynamics-crm-2016-part-iii-mobile/
  • http://www.powerobjects.com/events/why-go-mobile-with-dynamics-crm-2016-webinar/

BUT Wait that is not all! Welcome to the world of POWERAPPs!  and you definitely want to follow the PowerApps team blog to keep an eye on this whole new business space.  I mean don't you want to write your own app, without a developer?

The options don't stop there. There was a time when I would hear a bit of grumbling from the senior techie guru programmers who were not CRM Centric, but this grumbling is fading into a thing of the past. Developers can now work in the world of Dynamic CRM with hundreds of different technology choices. They can leverage the incredible application security depth of CRM, the business friendly process control, the "entity" relationship structure and the power of CRM to meet numerous custom solution needs.

Check out these three videos for more on leveraging the ANYTHING transactional relationship management platform.

Module 1: https://youtu.be/GI54dCi2sIg

Module 2: https://youtu.be/MC2NaanB5Mk

Module 3: https://youtu.be/c-TrDYQ6VQY

And as such I encourage all of the readers to adopt a mindset of continual learning, continual re-evaluation and continual planning to adopt all of the great. Choices are relevant depending on timing and given this world of change that we live in, timing constantly changes. So learn and question, learn and question and grow, grow, grow!  

 


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

https://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/0f9ab063-acec-4c55-bd6c-5eb7c6cffec4

https://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/3570204a-352f-4b1d-808f-0d65182dfad0

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:

https://ramontebar.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/dynamics-crm-2015-sdk-developer-toolkit/

http://www.waynewalton.com/dynamics-crm-2015-sdk-notes-developers/

https://crmbusiness.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/where-is-the-developer-toolkit-for-crm-2015/

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.

 


Dynamics CRM in Enterprise: Areas for More Questioning

 

 

 

 

When working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online in Enterprise there are many variables to consider. These include some of the following, but there are also small tidbits that need to be considered. I have listed some of the items below to raise the bar for everyone.

•Security, Compliance, Authentication
•Integration and Migration
•Extensions, Development and Integrations
•Enterprise Reporting
•Operations and Governance
 

Business Rules: CRM Business Rules are associated to each entity, when you create business rules they are stored with that entity and move with the solution that includes that entity. If you need to delete a business rule you must delete it from every environment that the solution has been deployed.

Process Workflows: In CRM v7.x.x you have the option to END a workflow. One of the issues found in the field when working on existing CRM projects are workflow designs that do not end.

Use Colors: Within the world of Dynamics CRM Online you have custom logos, colors and themes. This allows you to color code different CRM Online instance so that people in large enterprises, who have multiple CRM Online tenants and instances, don’t accidently enter data into the training environment instead of production.

 

Anticipate Product Line Architecture: MCS Offers a CRM PLA service for clients that need a CRM Product Line Architectural engagement to address questions on shared data, hybrid offerings, leveraging Azure, Enterprise data warehouse options and security needs?  Watch out for the spread of silo'ed data that is such an easy trap for all vendors and customers to fall into.

Plug-Ins: You can change the context in which a plugin runs: By default it runs under the context of the logged in user, but there are cases when you want to run a plugin under the context of a user with different security such as a system user.

Security Roles

Security Roles are not only what you can see. All of the Out of the Box security roles contain hidden permissions that can be utilized through cloning. If you create a NEW security role, pay attention to the lack of hidden permissions that might impede functionality.

Service Module: Follow the Sun: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Service Module offers, not only an owner of a case record, but also tracking of the person working on a specific case record at any given time.

Performance: CRM Architecture does make a difference. Quick Search needs to be positioned for small searches with one or two search columns. Advanced find can be positioned for more complex queries or better yet leverage the power of the PowerBI Toolkit. You also have Enterprise Search at the top of the screen, use all your search options and even more are mentioned in the CRM Roadmap. You can also leverage the CRM Online Diagnostics Page and test form performance by Measuring Form Performance: CNTRL+SHIFT+Q

Versioning: Understanding Versioning: The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Product Team has updated their versioning, offering a clearer understanding of Major Releases, Rollup Releases and Service packs, but the true power of the experienced field engineers is knowing which feature was released with which version and the maturity of that feature. Work in partnership with Microsoft Consulting Services.

Client Software: The Outlook Client and the Unified Service Desk (USD) are client side software. One of the key questions within Enterprise are what are some options for pushing out this software. Also the client can have conflicts with certain anti-virus offerings so position and understand these conflicts and install requirements..

Working with the ISV’s: Portals: How many concurrent users was it designed for, used with and supports? Service Agreements with ISVs for outage of dependent components. Who owns updates, upgrades and testing in the fast paced release world of CRM Online?

Outlook Contacts: The Business conversation: Corporate Contacts vs. Personal Contacts and Data Migration. Do users have contacts in Outlook? How will these contacts be reconciled? How will you combine many different silos of contacts into a shared source?

 

 


Dev to Dev, Let them out once in a while

Sometimes the developers have to sit at the table and talk to each other.

In the really big Enterprise projects, where you bring together the greatest of the great (sometimes still bleeding) AND you pull in the well established, proven technologies, you often end up with a wide variety of languages, thoughts, strengths and weaknesses. (sprinkling in acronyms and it can get really crazy) 

Each person is a deep expert in their specialty, but getting each expert to use a language that other experts can understand is a challenge worth noting. 

If one person is talking Plugins, Processes, and Actions and another is talking approval cycles, statuses and signoffs and a third is discussing throughput, bottlenecks and distribution you might have a disconnect.

The trick?

Recognition. : Acknowledge and recognize that different languages are being spoken.

The second Trick?

Diversity Training : Point out that each person is incredibly different, show a few videos.

The Third Trick?

Collect all the egos and put them in a bag on the table. They cause so much heart ache!

Now add transparency. Acknowledgement and diplomacy.

I have yet to master all of the above. My fears, well ingrained XRM/CRM Think, opinions and even my female blond hair have known to get me in trouble, but  I don't regret my transparency and shared knowledge. I regret my lack of occasional sensitivity. I get so excited about the project and the technologies, I can forget about the people.

It does TAKE all variables. People, Process, Technology (well recognized buzz)

So back to the first line of this post. In the world of partners, there is this tendency to yell over the fence to the developers the criteria and requirements that need to be met. This works for many a plugin or DLL, but sometimes the developers really need to talk to other developers.

So this is a shout out to partners, vendors and ISVs to let the guys and gals with their heads down coding out in the field, to fine tuning their business skills and to encourage them to participate in some dev to dev discussions.  It can increase quality and create a bigger network of knowledge shared, knowledge learned.

Oh and a message to all developers in the world of Dynamics CRM and External apps talking to CRM: Keep an open mind, find the STRENGTHS and learn how to work with the not yet released or newer weaker areas, from those who have mastered the road before you.

Your developer peers are a close knit team writing code every day with variables that you might not be aware of.

 


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

Press Play 9

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


How do Office 365 and CRM Online Work Together?

I can certainly go on and on about all that is wonderful about working with both Office 365 and CRM Online every day.

I can mention items such as having access to the complete hierarchy of my accounts and contacts easily accessible on my phone, to not having to wonder if the calendar on my phone, within my CRM system or on my computer has everything that I am suppose to know about,  BUT

I just read this summary of amazing business productivity when using the suite so I am sharing here for your reading enjoyment.

Screen shots, Videos, Words all wrapped up in one.

Enjoy! 


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.

 

 


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: https://www.youtube.com/user/msdyncomm/DynamicsCRM

 

CRM Team Blog http://blogs.msdn.com/b/crm

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 (7.1.0) Product Documentation is Available! http://bit.ly/1JfsMl9
  • Microsoft Dynamics Marketing 2015 Update 1 Product Documentation is Available! http://bit.ly/1JGVOxz
  • Microsoft Social Engagement 2015 Update 1Product Documentation is Available! http://bit.ly/1QIgxmq
  • Parature, from Microsoft 15.2 Product Documentation is Available! http://bit.ly/1Pd1625
  • AND SEVERAL MORE excellent blog posts by our field and PMs - check it out!

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."

READ MORE


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.


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 


ExtremeCRM : Dynamics CRM Awesomeness!

There are some INCREDIBLE partners and clients doing incredible things in the world with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and a layering of conferences that show the incredible. The Agility, the flexibility and the services that surround the product all create a huge economic advantage to companies from Enterprise to SMB. ExtremeCRM is one of those great conferences.  

A couple of the partners recently presented their solutions at ExtremeCRM and it was summarized so well in this picture.

ExtremeCRM
 


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.