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.

 

 

 


Teamwork, Code Reviews and the Speed of Technology

Reading a Blog post a day really is an awesome way to get your drip learning on!

Ben Hosk has a thoughtful Microsoft Dynamics CRM Blog and he makes some interesting points in this post.

I love this quote

“Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand“.
Martin Fowler

Code Review is a great topic, particularly in this world of faster and faster and faster deliver.  

In terms of reusing code, one trick is to have a team (even if just a team of two) people who code review each others work. You can also purchase code reviews from Microsoft Services or from a partner. the Microsoft Dynamics CRM team also has tons of samples, white papers and trainings that define best practices. Adding code review and refactoring  into your processes can significantly increase quality. The other variable is to include TIME to do code reviews and to think about the bigger picture.

It is the default to "solve the issue and request quickly", but to solve the issue and need with sustainability is the goal.

 


In the world of databases, do you really need all that you have?

Sonoma Partners had a great little post on their blog about all of the different databases that a company might be using and all of the solutions that the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Platform brings to the table. So perhaps "XRM" does not really grab you and define how big the world of possibilities really is! What if you put your head around Any Transactional Relationship Management System?

Pieces of a Lab (the age of the equipment, the pieces that go together, the serial numbers, the experiments related) 

Signage on a road (and the vendors that buy the space on those signs and the stores who care (they are located close to the exit))

Accessories for a Fashion Show (and the models and their agents and the clothes they will wear and )

The list can go on and there are some cute little videos on YouTube that sum it up better than I can so click and enjoy !

 

 


Microsoft CRM Online : Moving Data, Migrating Data, Getting All Setup

It is true that you can import data into Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

It is true that you can setup complex integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

It is true that you are not the first person to do this nor the first company or complex Enterprise or complex small business environment.

When you need to get started it is; however, helpful to have a service that supports getting you started. Needless to say Microsoft now offers the DATA LOADER SERVICE for CRM Online.

There are two great blog posts on this service written by the team!

Data Loader for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Post 1 of 2

Data Loader for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Post 2 of 2

 


So you want to configure your Dynamics CRM System?

First define your desired architecture! (Think Design your addition or house)

Then do some reading and planning! (for instance you might want to have your upstairs bathroom above your downstairs bathroom to make the plumbing easier)

Consult an expert or hire an expert! (They have the experiences of numerous projects rolled out successfully that are often very, very, very similar to what you are doing)

If you want to learn by doing, calculated in the learning curve, because you will make mistakes and you will want to have a plan for fixing the mistakes so that the system is not compromised. (Consider what happens when that addition to the house or the house is not built to code)

Reading: Take a peak at this great TECHNET content!


Gold Nuggets for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Users

Microsoft offers so many choices that sometimes finding out about new choices is noise, noise, noise, but then there are the noises that are worth listening too. Take for instance that for CRM Online users there is a solution that is free and is tucked into your administration options and that makes users go "wow".

Start by going to your CRMOL Administration Portal (http://portal.office.com) and selecting Service Settings, Dynamics CRM

Service Settings Dynamics CRM

You then want to select Dynamics CRM Administration which will  list your instances and solutions

CRMOL Instances ManagementNOW choose the PENCIL: The tiny pencil on the right hand side of the screen under solutions. This represents EDIT and will allow you to step into a very interesting world.

Solutions

 

The world of CRM Online Offered Solutions

Solutions for CRMOL

 

and I started this post with InsideView's Microsoft Dynamics CRM Insights on my mind. It offers some very interesting Account and Contact updates for users who want "web" data options for updating of account and contact details. READ the readme to fully enable for there is some need to update your forms to take advantage for the solution feature offerings. It also requires that you have configured your system administration account correctly.

In addition to the free offering the company also has more extensions and some international features. Take a peek at their website. and reach out to their team for more support and more awesome.

 


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!  

 


Let's Talk About Productivity

CRM 2016 and Productivity

 The above paragraph is from the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM v2016 (also called v8.x.x) Preview Guide. It is important to dive deeper into what this really means, because it can make a huge individual and corporate difference.

Why do we use CRM? In the traditional thought process ..

We use it

  • to document and keep track of all of the people that we interact with
  • to keep track of the companies that those people are associated with 
  • to individually keep track of the hundreds and thousands of interactions that we might have through e-mail, phone calls, face to face meetings and social interactions
  • to keep track of promises we made to follow-up or send material 
  • to track sales opportunities and their status
  • to track tickets/cases and the associated tasks and information to these cases
  • and to support the companies we work for with information and statuses on deliverables.

In a less traditional sense we also use it to

  • Document standard processes and embed those in the way people work
  • automate processes to reduce the need for a person to do redundant work (which the system can do)
  • Organize information under any given contact or account or defined thing
  • Pull together silo'ed information from many different systems
  • manage compliance and auditing of efforts within business
  • support field resources with information
  • manage complex scheduling needs
  • drip feed our relationships so they don't forget us
  • organize events, survey people, track dollars spent   
  • and so much more ....

Why do we keep track of these interactions?

We keep track so that we can remember, we can grow, we can offer services, solutions, and opportunities to those that we have met.

We keep track so that we can meet our goals.

So how does productivity play into this? Why is productivity so very important and emphasized in the cutting edge, just about to be released, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 system?    

It is all about how any given individual works on any given day. We write letters in Microsoft Word, we do analysis in Microsoft Excel, we read and respond to e-mail in Microsoft Outlook. We might even have hundreds of libraries of documents and files in SharePoint.

And we work with CRM, BUT what is important to realize is that for those super shined up, and refined businesses! They work with all of these tools seamlessly as if they were one application and they do this by leveraging the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Glue that Office 365 and CRMOnline offer.

It doesn't matter if you are in the CRM Interface or the Outlook interface or your mobile device all of your data is available.

Your contacts are organized against accounts and your documents for that account are available easily. Any sales opportunities are visible as are all of the account specific support cases.  

Your  client critical e-mails can be stored with one button click or other e-mails that are not worth saving can just remain in the noisy world of your personal Outlook. 

WE work in our individual silos, BUT we also work on teams and information needs to be shared. MS CRM adds this duality of shared e-mail and private e-mail. The 360 degree view into the client. It does it by it's deep integration to the Office products.

You love Microsoft Excel! You want to do your data entry in Microsoft Excel. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 offers Immersive Excel where you can enter data into this beloved tool and have it update the centralized system of records.

You love writing letters in Microsoft Word! Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 supports creating Microsoft Word documents with data pulled from your CRM System. This data is not limited to client name and address. This data can be any data you want to include in your Microsoft Word document that you have access to in your MS CRM System.

Outlook: Ah yes Microsoft Outlook offers so many choices. Do you like using Outlook tasks, well these can be tracked as CRM contact activities with a single click the work you are doing in Outlook updates the client activity record in CRM that was pending completion. This also applies to appointments so valued in your calendar. Others need to know about many of these even if they are not invited.

Now let's talk about Microsoft Office 365, which is flying out of the gate and disrupting the calm world of Microsoft Office. Why ? Because Office 365 is so very much more than just Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook E-mail. O365 offers more and more APPS to office users. Products like SWAY, DELVE, POWERBI, PLANNER and even a new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Client Application for e-mail management. It is also disrupting with features such as GROUPS and all work tightly with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

So productivity is huge, but Microsoft also continues to offer choice. So many choices and so many ways to work, with one consistent experience, the experience  of one application with many, many features.

SO How do firms really become super refined and polished with this software? They work with consultants who specialize in helping you to make the right choices from the hundreds of choices to fit your business needs.

As canned as the triangle sounds : PEOPLE, PROCESS, PRODUCT/Technology it really is true. To get the most out of your investment in technology, invest in a partnership with a company who provides the product, and commit to working with people who can provide the experienced services, and refine and document and consult on your processes.