Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May 17 Blog Review

Here is my overview of some of the interesting blogs and news in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 World this week:

This week PowerObjects keeps the daily tips coming with Out of the Box Repoty: Dynamics CRM User Summary. If you haven’t already seen this feature you should check it out. Consider the situation where someone says to you, I want to change this role how many people will be affected? Sadly, there is no way to search for users who have a specific role using Advanced Find. So how do you do it? Go to your Enabled Users view and then to Reports -> User Summary. Make sure you choose all records in all pages of this current view. Do not choose all applicable records because then you will see data on records that have already been disabled. This report will list all users by business unit and indicate the roles that they have.

CustomerEffective told us to Use the Right Tool for the Job in their article about reporting and analytics within CRM. There are many analytics tools built right in CRM such as Advanced Find, reports, dashboards, etc. Plus you can always export to Excel. Each of the tools available can fit specific use-cases and levels of complexity. There are several things to keep in mind when determining the right tool: Limitations (views have 5,000 limit, charts have 50,000 record limit), Questions that need to be answered (what you trying to find out?), Next Steps (what is going to be done with the data?), Don’t forget about Pivot Tables, Don’t forget about SSRS Reports and other such tools and finally keep it simple. Use the least-complex tool for the job.

Altico’s Friday Funday helps us out by explaining some abbreviations and acronyms that might have us confused. They also led me to this article, Secure Software Standard in the Spotlight, which talks about how Microsoft is working to push a new security standard/framework/lifecycle to encourage developers to build more secure systems.

DynamicsWorld discussed lowering costs and improving patient care with Automated CRM Systems. Chronic Diseases were mentioned specifically as the long-term nature of these diseases causes them to be very expensive. Also many lifestyle factors can contribute to chronic diseases so health care providers need to find ways to modify these behaviors in patients. CRM can automate notifications, integrate systems, ensure compliance as well as patient services such as automated alerts and online portals.

Jukka Niiranen had a great article: LinkedIn, Dynamics CRM and Social Selling. It describes your options for integrating with LinkedIn and the troubles associated with actually getting that data into your CRM system.

That’s all folks! Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Webinar: Best Practices in Leveraging Extensibility Options for Dynamics CRM

Today, I attended a webinar about extending CRM featuring @MitchMilam hosted by CRMUG. Mitch discussed the extension options, their features and limitations as well as some examples with possible solutions. I wanted to review the main takeaways here.

Always remember there is not one correct answer but many different options. Depending on your situation and requirements, one of the options may be more correct than another.

There are 3 main questions to ask when looking at a project: immediacy, available resources, and Budget.

Immediacy: Does the user need to see what’s happening (JavaScript)? Can it be done on the Save (Plugin, Workflow)? Think about Asynchronous operations versus Synchronous operations.

Available Resources: Do you have someone who can do what you need? Can you hire a programmer?

Budget: Not just money budget (hiring developer, consultant, purchasing a tool) but also time budget. Do you have time to hire someone new or learn a new skill?

I compiled some notes on the tools along with my knowledge of the matter.

Skill Set
Bulk Import
Allows you to quickly create records from a file
Limited duplicate checking against only one entity, cannot create additional records
Consider instead writing a custom App that can do exactly what you need
Bulk Edit
Power User
Quickly update a set of records
Same edit to all, no logic
Advanced Find
Power User
Find specific groups of records for other operations (Marketing Lists, etc.)
This came up in the context of deleting E-mail Attachments - you can find E-mails with Attachments by using Advanced Find but you can only delete the whole message not just the Attachment.
Quick, no developer necessary, can create/update records, send e-mails, etc.
Limited processing options but can be extended with Custom Workflow Activities, all run asynchronously
Allows for user interaction
Requires user interaction, cannot be run on multiple records, runs as the user
Note: if a Dialog calls a child workflow it runs with similar access to an on-demand workflow, as the user.
Field Level Security
Can allow user to see/update the data only if they are included on the FLS Profile
Based on User/Team membership not security roles
See more information in my earlier post
Role Based Forms
Can hide data from the form but expose to other users, based on Security roles
Data is only not visible on the form, users would still have access in Advanced Find
This could be combined with FLS for more granular permissions
Can run whenever the form is loaded, saved or a field is changed; does not necessarily require a developer
Performance (form load time) can become an issue
Can be asynchronous or synchronous; can run as the user or as another user
Runs on the save, user will not see the change unless they refresh; requires a developer
External Applications
Can be designed to fit any business need; many options
Requires a developer and time to design/write.

 If you are a CRMUG Collaborate user, you can watch the recording and download the slides.

Friday, May 10, 2013

May 10 Blog Review

Here is a summary of the most interesting happenings this week in the world of CRM.

CustomerEffective: Everybody has bad data – People interact with data so it is not perfect. It naturally is grouped into silos and separate systems. When we try to gather this together into one system it can be very daunting. Plan to work hard to get the data clean and plan the migration. Involve a service provider and/or a data cleansing tool to assist you. Make sure you have a strategy. Don’t forget this is an on-going effort and you should consider implementing a tool to help keep your data clean in the future.

CustomerEffective: Data Types available with CRM 2011 – a nice review of the available data types and what they mean.

Dynamics World Top 100 – The Dynamics World top 100 most influential people in the world of CRM were announced. I was not on the list even though I am ranked 80th in the world on CRM Rock Star. Maybe next Year. See the blog section to see get the link to Chris Cognetta (#49) and Leon Tribe (#55).

Electronic Arts: Social Technology But a Less Social Attitude – EA was again voted Worst Company in America. Leon Tribe discusses the COO’s thoughts on this and how this shows a bad attitude towards social listening. They have implemented Salesforce but are not using it to listen and respond to their customers.

C5: Web Resources on a Dashboard – this describes in simple, non-developers terms how to create a web resource and put it in your dashboard. The situation they describe is interesting – use a Web Resource to include your directions. Great idea! Put the instructions they need directly in front of them!

C5: Option Set Best Practices – Be careful with your option set options especially if you are working with outside vendors. When a vendor sends a managed solution with an Option Set it will contain all the Options – so if you have modified the labels on those options, they will be changed back. So it is better to delete options you don’t need and add new ones. Or at least keep very good documentation on the Label-value combinations so you can correct them when necessary.

Pandas are Terrible Investments – Not related to CRM except that it is on a consultant’s site. Still humorous.

PowerObjects: Date of an Email – Sometimes it can be confusing to look at an Email in CRM because it will say created on say 5/10/2013. Does this mean that’s when it was sent/received? Or is that just when it was tracked? Answer is when it was tracked. Look at the Actual End field. This will be the date on the actual email.

PowerObjects is good for quick, helpful tips that you can use every day. Check out their 5 Tips for Daily Work in Dynamics CRM. They also had a good blog about Migration tips for the consultants among us.

Auditing Workflows – This is a bit older but a helpful tip; use Auditing on your workflows to see who Enables/Disables them. Good idea since this is not automatically tracked.

That’s all for today folks! Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Field Level Security vs. Not Searchable

I have found that there can be a bit of confusion about what making a field Searchable=no means. Someone may say, “Set this field to not searchable and remove it from the form so no one can access it.” Sadly, this is not exactly the case.

Review the chart below for a bit more information:

Remove from Form / non - Searchable
Field Level Security
FLS & Non-Searchable
Delete Field
·         All data is saved
·         Existing searches with field as criteria cannot be run
·         Access could be granted to specific groups if desired
·         All data is saved
·         Existing finds using field as criteria cannot be run
·         Column can be added but will not display data
·         Cannot be included in Views
·         Not Searchable
·         Data is still viewable in Finds
·         Non-searchable for everyone
·         Field can still be added to views even though data is not returned
·         Views with field as criteria can be run but return no data
·         Some users can be given access to view data in field but all users will be unable to search for it
·         All data is lost
·         Manual change in all environments
·         Remove
·         Remove
·         Remove
·         Needs to be removed from form prior to delete
Existing Views
·         Criteria: on Find page "There was an error in showing this condition". When running "There are some clauses that have errors in them please remove and try again"
·         Column: Data is still Visible
·         Criteria & Column: Same as Criteria above
·         Criteria: no error on criteria, find returned is blank (I cannot see the data)
·         Column: Column is visible, no data is displayed
·         Criteria & Column: Same as Criteria above
·         Criteria: on Find page "There was an error in showing this condition". When running "There are some clauses that have errors in them please remove and try again"
·         Column: Column is visible, no data is displayed
·         Criteria & Column: Same as Criteria above
·         Error: "To Use this saved view, you must remove criteria and columns that refer to deleted or non-searchable items"
Future Views
·         Criteria: Cannot be added
·         Column: Can be added, data is still visible
·         Criteria: Can add but no data will be returned
·         Column: Can be added, no data is returned
·         Criteria: Cannot be added
·         Column: Can be added, no data is visible
·         Cannot be included

See making a field Searchable = no only does exactly what it says. It stops users from searching for the field. It does not prevent people from viewing and using the data already in the field. If the field is removed from the form, it will not be easily accessible but can be viewed in Advanced Find. Don’t forget users could already have Advanced Finds with the field in it, they would not notice a change.  But if it was criteria in an existing view, they would need to change it.

Now Field Level Security effectively hides the data everywhere. If a user does not have access they will not see any of the data contained in it. However, the field could be included in Find Criteria and Columns but it would act as if the field was always blank.

One other note, if you enable field security on a field it will automatically be hidden from everyone except users with the System Administrator role. Then you can add it to other FLS Security Profiles if you need to. (Side note, FLS is not role based. System Administrator is a special case. Users and Teams are added directly to FLS profiles.)

I hope this clears up some confusion!

Monday, May 6, 2013

May 3 Blog Review

Here is a quick review of the top articles and interesting pieces from the CRM world this week:

Yammer Integration Demo Video from Customer Effective – This video demonstrates how you can use Yammer within your organization. There are also a few other important tidbits brought up:
  • To use Yammer in CRM you must have the Enterprise Yammer subscription. That’s the paid version.
  • If you are already using Activity feeds and you begin to use Yammer, you will lose those posts. They will not be visible in your Yammer feed, but only through Advanced Find.
  • Finally, you need to keep Security in mind and verify it is set correctly inside Yammer. Yammer is beneficial because employees without CRM access can view the Yammer feed, just make sure they aren’t seeing more than they should.

Case Study on Data Load Performance – Interesting case study on the time/resources required for a large data load. Here is an exerpt from the Conclusion.

The results of this benchmark illustrate how a Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 implementation can scale to support performance on large data loads. By scaling out and adding more CRM application servers and scaling up the database server (with processors, memory and IO capacity), data processing capacity can improve linearly.
Customers may be able to achieve even higher levels of performance and scalability via customization and a finer level of optimization.
SQL Server is the crucial component for Dynamics CRM, proper sizing and performance tuning of the SQL Server/database is very critical for performance. This is not limited to data loads, but also for daily operations and use.

CRM for DHS and DoD – DefenseReady is a new CRM solution designed for Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense organizations. It contains “out-of-the-box mission-enabling solutions for Force Readiness, Mission Execution and Training Management”. It looks to have many interesting features.

Using CRM to Meet Patient Standards – This describes a new solution developed by PowerObjects that can help to automate Hospital follow up with patients. This can ensure they are getting the care they need. The system can automate reminders to visit their primary care physician, refill prescriptions and even send information to assist patients.

Finally, in the April 26 Blog Review I discussed the Meet the Experts Webinar. There were several articles released this week related to the announcements made there:

Vision for Game-Changing CRM - For his part, Stutz maintains his focus on innovation and forward progress. "We're innovating at a pace that is pretty unbelievable," he said near the end of last week's webcast. "We made some very serious decisions to not charge for social, to just blend it in. If you buy CRM you get those capabilities. We're not charging for mobile, we think it's just another piece of CRM that you can't charge for. Things that become part of a CRM suite should just become part of the experience. That's one of the things that is so powerful about our system. Some we've acquired, some we're building, some we've borrowed from Microsoft, all come together for a solution."

Will Microsoft split MarketingPilot into a series of Components? - While features like campaign management, email automation, and lead nurturing are core features of many third party solutions, they are just a small sliver of what MarketingPilot offers. But based on market interest over the last few years, these features are the ones that most Dynamics CRM customers are interested in tackling first, and have been doing via third party marketing automation solutions.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 26 Blog Review

The week of May 26th had a few different topics on the blogosphere. There were several articles about Gamification (or with mentions of it) as well as several new articles about Polaris/Orion features. Finally, I will tell you a bit about the Meet The Experts webinar hosted by Dynamics Café featuring Bob Stutz and Connor Marsden.

Gamification is a hot topic in the CRM world right now. Everyone wants to know how to make their employees more productive at work. The answer of course is, employees work harder if they enjoy the work they are doing. What do people enjoy doing? Playing games. How can we make their work seem more like a game?

Here are the specific related articles I am referring to:

Forbes: When Work Resembles A Video Game, Millennials Thrive – This is not just a CRM topic. This is something employers everywhere are working on. This is especially prevalent in call centers where the employees are young people who grew up playing games and immersed in technology. Plus, these places are trying to reduce turnover.

Microsoft Dynamics World: MBS president Kirill Tatarinove Sees future of Microsoft Dynamics in more large enterprises – This relates to gamification in some of the research Microsoft is working on. The article mentions they are working on more immersive experiences with unified communication. They are investigating machine learning and artificial intelligence. However, this is the most interesting quote:

"We'll be tracking eyeball movements, going to motion-based user experiences with Kinect and touch," he said. "Almost everyone will have access to technology. Just 10 years ago, people couldn't use computers because they required programming skills and technical knowledge. Today anyone can access that power."

One day, we will be managing our CRM contacts through our Xbox Kinect. Definitely some interesting times coming.

Microsoft Reports profit growth, beats earnings estimates – Of course they are investigating how to make CRM more like Xbox. Xbox LIVE has over 46 million members worldwide. This is an 18% increase.

Ok enough playing around.

In regards to the new features introduced in Polaris and continuing in Orion, there were two articles that stood out.

Explanation of Auto Save – Auto save is a new feature that comes with the process-centric forms. This means it is only included with the process forms, so no need to re-evaluate code/script/WFs, etc. until you plan to begin using these forms. However, when you do begin using these process forms it will affect things that are called when a save occurs: Plugins, workflows, auditing of records. The Auto Save will save the form 30 seconds after the first edit is made and when the form is closed but this only occurs for updates. New forms will only be saved when they are created. The auto save does not reload the form but it will grab and display any updated data from the server. In Polaris the auto save is no be default and the timer (30 seconds) is not configurable.

Side Effects of the Polaris UI – When upgrading to Polaris there are several things to keep in mind. This article summarizes some of the side effects to keep in mind.

Upgrade vs. Re-implementation – This is not related to the Polaris upgrade but to upgrading between 4.0 and 2011. It discusses the challenges of Upgrading along with the problems of re-implementation. There is a very handy chart that describes which way is easier for each area of CRM (Data migration, Data integrity, code, etc.).

Finally, there was also the Meet the Experts Webinar hosted by Dynamics Café. It featured a Q&A style conversation between Connor Marsden, Microsoft Dynamics Directory US CRM, and Bob Stutz, Microsoft Dynamics Corporate VP CRM. A major topic of the discussion was social components. Today, customers decide how they interact with businesses. So every interaction has to take into account social.

The Process driven forms are meant to make it easier for people to work, do job better and interact better. Also the goal is to allow people to collaborate easier. Individual applications need collaboration tools. People are already using Microsoft products to collaborate (Lync, SharePoint) so they are working on bringing these together.

Also everything needs to be mobile. It needs to be available on any device and allow people to work how they want to. Users need the right data at their fingertips. Microsoft is working towards location specific information so when you arrive at a location you will see all the information about that account without needing to search for it.

Marketing is quickly becoming integrated with everything. Marketing used to be a separate department but now it plays an important piece in everything a company does. Marketing is a very broad topic it is not just sending emails, it is not just marketing automation. MarketingPilot is a full Marketing Suite, it should allow users to do everything related to marketing from buying media time, to building and executing sophisticated campaigns.

Orion will bring the social components, marketing components and process-driven forms all together. For the future, they will continue looking towards how customers interact on the web, how they use Xbox and apply these principles to CRM. The goal is a fully collaborative system that helps people in their lives and that has an emotional connection with users. They want users who love the system and are happy to use it.

Schedule discussion indicated that Orion will be out this summer; Leo will arrive 6 months later. There will be some incremental releases in between, especially for Online. There will be no change for social or mobile, these will just be features of CRM.

That’s all I have for today. Soon I will have an update on the happenings of the week of May 3rd.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Road to CRM MVP

I have decided that one day I would like to be a CRM MVP. I know it is a fair amount of work and time, so we will see if this is a lasting dream.

I have started on my way by passing two of the four CRM Certifications test: Applications and Customization and Configuration. I am currently studying for the Extending CRM Certification.

The next step is to influence people. So I must begin contributing to more discussion boards like CRMUG Collaborate and such. That is a goal for another day.

Another way to influence people is by writing a blog. That is my goal for today. 

I usually spend several hours a week perusing the hot CRM blogs for updates, tips and new information. I would appreciate it if someone would compile that information into one place and recap the week's news. So I am going to be that person.