Microsoft Documentation

A big kudos to the Microsoft Documentation Team for the Power Platform Documentation. Any and every time I need to reference a bit more depth or details on a feature in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, Sales, Service, Marketing or many other applications I have found that the documentation has been reviewed and updated in 2020.

This was a huge undertaking and one that is often not well appreciated so today I am saying a big green (for success)

Thank You

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 

Simplicity in the face of Complex business needs

There is a reason that "Google" quickly became the go to for all things search. A simple white screen with one box. Type what you are looking for and a million results will follow. 

People do not need to be trained to use Google. (in general)

On the other hand if you do get trained in some of the search techniques or advanced search techniques amazing extra value is delivered (for instance, filtering occurs). What you don't want a million results? OK, fine tune your search criteria. What? There is a trick to that? Yes, there are advanced Google skills.

Now apply this same concept to the speed of technology change. OUCH!

"Everything is changing"

"I can't keep up"

"I learned something yesterday that is slightly different today"

These are some of the biggest challenges that business leaders face today. How do they manage the impact of change on their processes, their staff and with the technology products they so depend on? Change Management is one thought and change management is starting to be part of most all projects, BUT change management techniques also must adjust to the speed of today's change. 

Similarly to the shift from traditional marketing, to marketing with the impact of social. Change Management must also adapt to the world of the cloud and Software As a Service (SaaS). The technology world went from 2 year major upgrades to 1 year major upgrades to 6 month major upgrades to was there an upgrade? The SaaS drip, drip, drip software growth utopia.

Business needs software that can manage their complex needs, but they also need software that can be simplified and flexible. This is one of the interesting beauties of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform approach. The foundation is solid technology, proven technical, coding, database and design best practices, and the details are configurable. 

Can you purchase configured modules? Yes

Do you still want to configure them? Yes

Just as each user uses Outlook slightly differently, there are choices for how you might want to approach even the canned modules.  So how do you really get to that place of simplicity? This is where working with people becomes quite interesting.  In an ideal team, each team member contributes how they might approach a given problem and then the team and team leadership figure out the solution that makes the most sense for the audience. This ability to listen to how others might approach a problem is a key skill to keep in mind and one not always found.

I remember a side conversation with one of the geniuses I had the gift of talking with. He said it best .. When building an application sometimes we have to remember to build for the average person, not the vocal and more advanced member of the project team or solution matter expert (SME) audience. The person who is busy, who is focused on their work and who perhaps just wants to be empowered in their position without a lot of heavy training. 

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. 


NH/VT Dynamics CRMUG New England User's Group Meeting - September 27th, 2018

Come help us kick off the initial meeting of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRMUG NH/VT New England Chapter Meeting!

  • Where: Hanover, NH
  • When: September 27, 2018
  • Time: 10:00am - 12:00pm
  • Questions: Reach out to Anne Stanton, Evan Workin or Jeff Hudgins
  • Subject: What's new in Microsoft Dynamics 365 v9.x.x.x !

Let's deep dive on what came out in the Spring 2018 release and what is about to be released as part of the

Fall 2018 Release. We will also round table questions and share industry wide experience and knowledge.

Want to help? Invite your friends, put together your questions, create a carpool, get involved!


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.

Don't forget the Glossary and the overwhelming desire to over use status fields

Project Considerations

1) Start with the concept of a glossary and agree on terminology. This seems like such a trivial concept, but has huge ramifications as the systems grow and mature. If everyone agrees on terminology then when fields are named, and option sets defined, the terminology is consistent throughout the system. In fact I know of a company that has a department that defines and manages all of the option set values in every system that they release. This three person team keeps terminology consistent not only in one application, but across all applications created for internal use.  Alignment to the bigger picture and more consistency for the entire company.

2) Now about those status fields. If the status field(s) are option sets then aligning the values to a glossary offers more common understanding.  Each option has a reason and these reasons generally align to business rules. Given the sometimes difficult nature of understanding business rules, common vocabulary can help.

There is a beauty to simplicity.

So how do you simplify complex business rules? Focus the system on the people who are using it and what they care about. Complex business rules are not complex to those who work with them every day. This is their life, so make sure that business rules align to the roles of those who need and care about them.

Eliminate noise: User's do not want to see what they do not care about. Use good definitions of security to allow the system to hide what people don't need to see. This also greatly simplifies the system for their use.

Leverage the power of the out of the box ability to segregate data by business units. Business units are all about segregating data, eliminating noise, speeding up processing and so much more and although they occasionally line up to offices, defining offices is not their primary goal.

Very, very, very carefully consider why and how many status fields you are using and determine a way for the system to manage and keep these status fields updated based on normal human day to day activities.

Understand the personality types of the users in different roles. Are these people task driven? Do they like to complete a list of things to do or are they more organic givers and workers who react to the day? Make sure the system can handle multiple styles of getting work done.

Re-evaluate and Refactor as many times as is necessary to simplify the system.







Knowledge Management : KB Articles in Microsoft CRM

A few resources to ramp up on all that is new in Knowledge Management in Microsoft CRM (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



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. 

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

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

Where is CustomerSource, Right Here!

Where is the CRM User Group?

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

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online conforms to ISO/IEC 27018, the only international set of privacy controls in the cloud

Microsoft is the first major cloud provider to be independently verified as having  adopted ISO/IEC 27018, the world's first international cloud privacy standard. The adoption of ISO/IEC 27018 by Dynamics CRM Online is part of a broader commitment from Microsoft to protecting the privacy of our customers, as described in a Microsoft on the Issues post from Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President. In addition to Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Microsoft Intune have adopted ISO/IEC 27018."

CRMUG has not been sleeping! GREAT Connects, GREAT Content

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

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

New Dynamics CRM YouTube Channel

The new CRM page is live on YouTube and Facebook. This will enable better discovery of the video assets being created for the releases.

 You can access the YouTube page here:


The Facebook App can be accessed directly at:

New Business Process Flows with 2015 Release

Improving functionality to make it easier to configure your system right out of the box is one of the benefits of the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 update. A feature I am finding great value using is the business process flow (BPF) display of a set of predefined steps for users to follow to achieve a desired outcome.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2015 offers a method to create these complex BPFs in a Single Edit Experience! Now, all the improvements made to BPF in v2015 such as stage and step configuration, selecting entity relationships and new branching capabilities are all performed in the same process edit window. Let's take a deeper look into these new features on the Single Edit Experience as compared to CRM v2013!


There is now rule based branching. In CRM v2013, the BPF were new and were liner: you had to complete one stage before you moved on to the next one. In CRM v2015, it is now possible have BPF to change to the next stage or to future stages depending on the actions and input of the user. This enhancement displays the most relevant information to the user and ultimately allows them to create more complex BPF. The instant feedback allows for users to be updated in real time, improving the accuracy of direction while performing their tasks. Dynamically changing BPF are enabled by the new branching and merging features, which now include the conditions if, else, and else if for business rules logic.


These conditions are just one of the updates to the entities in BPF. You can create a branch with a single entity, or now with v2015, you can cross the branch with multiple entities! In the previous version, only certain entities were allowed to be included in BPF, now you can choose any custom entity to be involved as long as you've enabled the BPF capability. Another improvement in 2015 is the ability for the BPF to go in and out of the entity loop as many times as necessary to complete the action; opposed to v2013 where you could only loop back to the primary entity once. The relationships between entities has also been updated and a 1:N relationship with the associated entity is no longer necessary. In v2013 there was a predefined set of entities and relationships that could be used, now you get to customize your relationship by choosing "Previous Stage", "Entity", and "Relationship" on the Edit window.  While a relationship is not required anymore, it is recommended to use relationships to allow data to more easily flow between records.


At the end of your BPF, branching will come to a single merge step, which is the condition after the else statement. With the new feature to select the "Previous Stage" at the end of a stage, you now have the ability to create a unique relationship with different field mapping depending on the actions of the user. This is useful in that is allows you to dictate a relationship based on the branches that merge to verify that the correct data is being mapped over from one stage to the next.


These enhancements to Business Process Flows are just a part of the all that is new in Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2015. Check back for more blog posts regarding the newest release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM!


Keeping up with Dynamics CRM Versions

Keeping up with the incredible Microsoft Dynamics CRM versions in the old days was hard enough, but now the team is  updating and releasing at an even faster pace. 


  • If you don't like something, enter a CONNECT request and you might be surprised sooner than you think or VOTE on one already submitted.


  • Competition: There information is probably outdated, ask multiple sources. Also make sure you include an experienced servcies provider in your conversations. The Field Service teams at Microsoft and at Partners configure and extend past most all objections.


  • You need to make sure to plan on staying current.
  • You need to interrupt the versioning.

These Resources can help

 The Dynamics CRM in the Field Blog

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Team Blog


Jump Start your MS CRM 2013 Understanding #crm2013

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

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

You can find the whole series here:

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

Promote via LinkedIn/Twitter as well!  Thanks!

Dynamics CRM 2011 Rollup 13 has been released

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

Bullets of Interest



Links for More

Polaris: What about Extending these new Forms?

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


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


A day in the life of the Outlook Client

Microsoft Dynamics CRM comes with a number of extras and one of those powerful extras is the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Outlook Client.  (free to all Microsoft Dynamics CRM users)

Not only can you access the entire Dynamics CRM system from within Outlook, but the Outlook Client and the Microsoft Outlook software share information between their data storage systems.

Choices, Choices, Choices to leverage all the powerful functionality of Outlook 2013 on data from Microsoft Dynamics CRM or leverage all the powerful functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM on e-mail, contacts, tasks and appointments and outlook functionality which possibly drives your daily life.

You can run Dynamics CRM without the Outlook Client, but the Outlook client offers you even more features and functionality.

Here are a few of the key ones

  • Track E-mail that you receive and respond to in Outlook against the contact's account (or case, or contact record or opportunity or, ... ) in Dynamics CRM, sharing this with your team


  • Complete a task in Dynamics CRM by checking off the task in the Outlook task list


  • Use Word Mail Merge to use Dynamics CRM data in letters and word documents or even word templated reports


  • Take your data offline when there is no internet access for the Outlook Client gives users the ability to take a all or a subset of data “offline”


What are your favorite features of the Outlook Client? Colors, Categories, appointment tracking?


SNECRMUG - Information Share, Information Gained utilities continued

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

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

Other Tidbits

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

CRM and the Holiday Opportunities

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


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

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

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

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

Self Support - Something New

If you have not discovered the new searchable Microsoft Product Support page then you might want to take a look. You can pick your product of choice and then search the knowledge base on your issue of the day! This includes cool products like Microsoft Dynamics CRM, but also includes almost any product Microsoft related (phone, IE, XBox, Security, Zune, you name it)  


CRM v4 as a Baby - Quick Reference

Back in the day, and well ok I admit it this is still on my bulletin board in the office, Tim Dutcher put together a Microsoft Dynamics CRM v4.0 Quick Reference Sheet. This was a GREAT resource for all things new and new back in October 2008 was Dynamics CRM v4.0!

Now before you roll your eyes you might want to take a peek. A similar reference page can be put together for all things Dynamics CRM 2011. It just needs to be done and to get started here is the model! 


if you have yet to move to Dynamics CRM 2011 and you have people ramping up on Dynamics CRM v4.0 they might like it


if you want to follow my style and always know what features came out with which version so you can know the version number of the features (see this lets you know if the feature is robust or maybe just a bit wet behind the years)



The Benefits of User Groups

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

June's SNECRMUG Meeting Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO Mark your calendars as June 17th is CRMDAY!

CRM Day 

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

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

  • 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!

    The Training Difference between CRM and XRM

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Learning to Think CRM

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

    The Top 7 8 New Customer Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Learn to Think CRM

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile Access

    I had not heard much from Ten Digits in the last few months and I was wondering what was up. They are such a big player in the Dynamics CRM Blackberry market.

    Well as it turns out Ten Digits has been heads down in development mode.

    Today they announced the newest versions which include new features and new software for a number of different platforms. I was particularly pleased to see they now have an iPad version.

    In terms of new features - The mobile market offers some really nice fine tuning focus. Adding in items such as picture capture and association (it is a phone, it has a camera, it has CRM with contacts) and voice record and capture (it is a phone, it does voice, it has CRM with attachment support).

    If you have not had a chance to check out what the Mobile ISV's to Microsoft Dynamics CRM are doing then you definitely want to check them out. Don't depend on just press releases. Dig into their website and see the videos, feature lists and discussions. OR step it up and visit the teams at any of the numerous conferences going on this summer and fall. If you are in Washington D.C. this week: The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference is happening and according to the CRM Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook buzz Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a big part of the event.

    Tip of the Day: Merging Data

    The Merge Feature

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Cool Tools: Entity Mapping

    Given that I placed this little tool on my desktop and then totally forgot that perhaps I might build using it into our project I thought I would share it here.

    Once you have a Designed Microsoft Dynamics CRM system the following Entity Map Drawing Tool can be a great resource for documenting (or even debating) architecture and relationship design.

    Differences: Dynamics CRM Online vs. Dynamics CRM On-premise

    There are some very minor differences between CRM Online and CRM On-Premise that are worth mentioning.

    The one that tripped me up yesterday was my inability to import a new report extracted from one of the new accelerators. I was thinking about running a quick test and not thinking about my rule changes in the CRM online world. Doing what I normally would do in one of my test VPC images I moved forward only to be stopped.

    You can not upload custom reports into the world of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

    You can use the Report Wizard, the Power extraction of Dynamic Excel pivot charts and spreadsheets and much, much more so don't go screaming away. Still there are some benefits to having total control of the source.

    Getting the Most out of User Groups

    I am a firm believer in information shared, information gained and as such over the years I have participated in, created, moderated and invented many a user group. I have also seen both success and failure when it comes to the time invested.

    Here are some top tips for really finding that sweet win!

    1. It is not just about joining. Time invested = higher returns on the investment

    2. Although you might be an incredible wealth of information it is highly likely that most people in the room know something that you do not know. Egos need to be checked in at the door.

    3. If you feel like you are constantly offering information and not getting much in return then perhaps you are talking too much :)

    4. A user group is not a training session. It is an interactive discuss. Come to the meetings ready to have a conversation.

    5. Never hesitate to follow-up after any meetings with those that you met. If you didn't get a specific card or e-mail address reach out to the organizer.

    6. If a side conversation was of value  to you, then it might be valuable to the rest of the group. Share.

    7. Preparing for a user group meeting by gather tidbits of interest during the week helps jump start a meeting that might consist of a crowd of strangers.

    8. The best presentations are the ones where you get to work with real software or solve real problems and the solving is a team activity. Share the keyboard, mouse or choose a driver that gets input from all.

    9. Providing pizza and soda tend to be a necessary evil that works ;) 

    10. Go ahead and stick your neck out - there are no dumb questions and someone else in the room will be thankful that you asked.

     So you ask what about Microsoft Dynamics CRM User Groups? Are there any available in my area? What do they offer? Can I participate even if there is not a group close to me?

    The answers Yes, very possibly, tons of resources and yes! For more details check out CRMUG.

    Ah The Cloud

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM is in the cloud and was built to run happily in a variety of environments. This includes at the Microsoft data center, through a partner hosted offering (including additional bundled in goodies), within your office or even within a footprint managed by your Microsoft partner of choice.

    If you are thinking of organizing your contacts, documenting and managing a process, building on or out your network of people and yet you are not really sure if you want to put all the infrastructure in place. You might dip your foot in the water with the cloud.

    Did you know that despite the cloud, your data still integrates and can synchronize with Microsoft Outlook running in your office? I am not talking about Export and Import - I am talking about realtime sync (or close to real time sync). You don't have to do anything other than to get the intial configuration right. 

    Bulk Editing

    One of the best features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is Bulk Editing, but the option might not be enabled for your role by default. Certainly you do not want to give the power of bulk edit to everyone, but offering it for the right situation can be very powerful.

    For instance if you want to reassign all the leads from a previous employee to a new employee or if you want to mark a selected set of contacts with a new category or classification.

    Bulk Edit is a wonderful and yet sometimes unknown feature of Dynamics CRM v3.0


    What is an Opportunity?

    I have found that the concept of an Opportunity and the Opportunity Record can sometimes be hard to grasp. What my standard line tends to be is that an Opportunity is actually the tracking of the dollar value or the actual "sale". This sale has a potential of close and for any given Account or Contact you can have unlimited opportunities.

    One thing to keep in mind with regards to opportunities is how they impact the sales analysis reporting. Consider this when creating an opportunity. Are you comfortable enough with the realistic expectation of close around that opportunity to report it all the way up to perhaps a venture capital team. A team that (even if you assign a 5% probability) would expect those dollars to be considered revenue even at 5%.

    If you are dealing with a sales funnel with thousands of prospects I would argue that not every prospect should be classified as an opportunity.  At some point they cross the line, but until that time you don't necessarily want to have a huge dollar value of potential mucking up your weekly reports.

    In general people tend to fall on one side or the other in this argument. It is really a matter of style.

    What is a Lead?

    In Microsoft Dynamics CRM the database contains a table for Leads. Leads are generally classified as UNQUALIFED contacts. A lead could easily not exist in the real world. You purchase a list or you get a list from a trade show. This list contains hundreds of people who no one at your company has had any contact with. This is what would truly be classified as a lead.

    Once a call is made and the lead is qualified you would then "Convert" them to a regular Account record/Contact record in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM system. The type on this record would be PROSPECT and as you worked this prospect you might add more and more contacts and/or more and more notes and actions.

    Needless to say in most of our historical references LEAD and PROSPECT are interchangable, but in the world of using Microsoft Dynamics CRM the concept of LEAD and PROSPECT are unique and need to be defined based on how your company does business.

    Could it be your Anti-Virus

    I heard a comment the other day, that McAfee's system for scanning for viruses is a bit tough on it's neighbor, MS Dynamics CRM. I gave up McAfee and Symantec in 1999, because at the time many of my clients keep running into issues with the supported Line of Business application I was working with and these two major vendor products.

    Now in the last 5 years Symantec has caused some real issues for the micro-clients. Norton on the desktops can be a very bad neighbor and as such I have had to clean it up more than once. So despite the improvement of applications over time I still hesitate about these two products.

    This is a good time to really consider the impact that your bundled security has on your web applications! Including MS Dynamics CRM.

    Do you know? If anyone has a link or two on some white papers or articles on this subject please share. I suspect we could nail down some dogs with just a little bit of tuning and knowledge sharing!