Friday, October 30, 2015

October 30 Blog Review

Happy Halloween!

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I do not have any spooky CRM Stories for you other than users saying they didn’t do something the system says they did. Instead I have a quick blog review touching on the highlights of the last few weeks while I was busy with Summit and such. Let’s jump right in.

PowerObjects is working on a series about CRM Upgrades. Check out this installment – Upgrading CRM: Reimplementation vs. Upgrade – Choosing What’s Right for you. This talks about what the options of reimplementation and upgrade mean along with the reasons you might select one or the other.

EMEA Dynamics Support posted a helpful troubleshooting article, Dynamics CRM Bulk Delete – General Support Questions. This works through the common questions and issues that they deal with and how to respond.

A little bit ago we talked about the CRM 2016 Release Preview Guide. This is a very long document, so if you don’t have time to read it you should check out Leon Tribe’s slightly shorter summary – Review of the Latest Dynamics CRM Release Preview Guide. There are lots of great new features centered around Microsoft’s themes for Productivity, Intelligence, Mobility and Unified Service.

Sonoma Partners shared the Negative Effects of a Disjointed CRM Environment. This touches on the importance of ensuring your CRM supports and aligns with your business as it grows and integrates with all the necessary systems. Some of the impacts of a disjointed CRM environment include customer satisfaction, employee productivity and retention and company performance.

Lastly, I will put all of you in charge of reviewing the recent posts of CRM Tip of the Day. What was your favorite tip? Anything that can help your business?

Have a great weekend and a happy Halloween!  

P.S. Make sure you come out to the Washington, DC Chapter Meeting on November 4th get more details and register here

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Summit 2015: Day 3 Takeaways

Let's quickly catch up on the last day of Summit! Of course the big announcement is that Summit 2016 will be in Tampa! Make sure you block your calendars and plan to be there for lots of great learning and networking. (But before that remember to come out to the Washington, DC Chapter Meeting on November 4th!)

Change Management Tips
Keep a backlog of all of the changes that need to be made - large issues and minor changes. Releases will need a balance of small and large items. Prioritize and review the backlog consistently.

Have "Story Jam" or Sizing sessions to fully flesh out requirements. These should involve the business team, development, QA, and anyone else who would need to be involve in the process. Make these fun, team-building days to improve relationships and ease future work.

Be sure to communicate changes to users. Make use of the custom help feature, consider linking to a SharePoint folder with short videos that help with that record type. Constantly remind users about this in training.

Always keep performance in mind. Scale and performance need to be key. Process should not be decided before the structure. Everything must be built to scale.

Standardize where you can. Users need to get what they need but may not always get what they want.

Customer Service
The 4 C's of customer service are Communication, Commitment, Consistency and Customer Connectedness.

Define your KPIs and remember they may not be traditional KPIs. Define your process and goals first and use this to build out metrics based on what matters to you.

The experience must be flexible. Engaged Employees create happy customers which are easier to deal with and make happier employees. Define the roles and responsibilities for each group and define the experience you want to provide. Then define the processes to support this experience. Next train and enable employees to apply these flexibly.

Ensure you are aligned with business and organizational goals. Know the long term plans or the organization and make sure technology is aligned to support this.

To manage knowledge, empower users to create and publish. Define what you are looking for and ask for the resources to assist. Only maintain articles that are in use, let the older unused articles fall away.

Advanced Workflows
Glen Wolinsky (@glenwol1) lead a great presentation on combining workflows with some custom workflow activities and form Java Script. Be on the lookout for a follow up webinar. This really shows the power of CRM when combined with creativity and a little bit of code.

It also demonstrated the value of fully mapping out your processes. Use Visio to show all the logic including IF conditions, Waits, Child Workflows, etc. This is a great way to understand what is happening and find any gaps in your process.

That's all for today. Have a good evening!

Summit 2015: Day 2 Takeaways

It's a bit late but it's always good to learn more Summit takeaways. Here is what was discussed on Day 2 of Summit 2015.

Between 2011 and 2015 there are over 1500 updates so there are many reasons to upgrade. Keep in mind that the longer you wait to upgrade the more difficult it will be. To upgrade (not migrate/re-implement) you will need to go through each version. Keep in mind the optional table merge for 2013 needs to be done to move to 2015. Make sure you schedule time for this in your upgrade if you want to skip 2013.

Upgrades are difficult because of the little hacks and things we did to get around limitations. Using Business rules will make future upgrades easier. Make sure you take advantage of the new features to replace the code you have.

Keep in mind that some new permissions were added with 2013. This means if you have custom Security Roles these will need to be updated to include the new permissions.

If you are considering using mobile, set up IFD and ADFS now. Code will need to be updated to work correctly with IFD. Take the time to do that work with the upgrade so that when you are ready you can just turn on IFD.

Make sure you talk to your ISVs early and ensure they have a migration and upgrade plan. Be sure to follow this plan to prevent accidental deletion of data.

When reviewing your reports, look on the SSRS server to see the date for the last time it was run. If it hasn't been run for 6 months, remove it.

When demoing new functionality, use CRM Online. CRM 2015 online is the same code base for CRM 2016 on-premise.

  • Legacy Upgrade Tool - report of everything that I going to fail in IE or Other browsers with the upgrade
  • XRM Tool box: Document generator  shows all of the items that have been added to entities

CRM was designed for sharing data. Don't over complicate it with too many business units or security limitations.

New in 2015 - Hierarchical security. This allows you to configure security based on manager or position hierarchy. In both, users will have full access one level down, then read access down the rest of the chain.

A great way to prevent mistakes that are more difficult to control is real time workflows. You can have these run pre-delete for instance to stop users from deleting records of certain statuses. These can be used for many user-error items such as changing status, reassigning, deactivating, etc. Bonus tip: You can even put the user's name in the error!

When looking at a new to you implementation, first take time to evaluate security. This helps you be effective on day 1 as you evaluate concerns, risks, etc.

When building, create an implementation strategy. This gives you something to follow and later will provide historical data of what was done, when, and why.

When working on changes, ensure there is a gate keeper for these requests. This person can manage any dependencies and act as the owner for all changes that go into the production implementation. It is good if this person has a technology background so they can understand and monitor all dependencies for multiple areas (within CRM, integrations, plugins, etc.).

Share the love of CRM with your developers. Show then CRM and explain the power (i.e. creating a field here is updating the database schema). Show them how to build fields, workflows, business process flows, etc. This is a great way to get them involved and help to make sure all changes are fully evaluated to see if they can be done inside of CRM or not.

User Adoption tips:
  • Find your biggest resistor and determine the main reason for the resistance
  • Work with the resistors through personal training. Show them how CRM will help them. They will become your cheerleaders without even realizing it.
  • Continuously provide tips and tricks
  • Drive excitement by showing them new features and how these will solve their problems
  • Show users what's in it for them

That's all for today. I hope to have Day 3 posted soon!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Summit 2015: Day 1 Takeaways

Summit is already in full swing! Make sure you keep up with all the action by following #CRMUGSummit, #INreno15 and of course #CRMUGDC. So many exciting things are going on!

The day started out with a keynote from George Kourounis who is a professional adventure, storm chaser and all other crazy endeavors. He talked about how fear is important because we need to harness it to do great things.

Today we also had a keynote with Bill Paterson from Microsoft. He talked about Microsoft's focus for the rest of the year and the changes they are working on. The newest item is task based experiences. They demoed a situation where a user wanted to record details from an appointment. Instead of the usual process, you could run a mini-app which would quickly and easily walk you through filling in the appointment details and give you an opportunity to update the regarding record without needing to navigate to any other records.

Here are some other pictures of the items shared:


I attended several other sessions which were of course filled with great content. Be sure to download all the slides if you can or look for encore presentations in the next few months. Here are the top things I learned:
  • When upgrading, do not introduce new features. Save this for a separate project later. You can still change current features to take new out of the box functionality.
  • Keep in mind the longer you wait to upgrade, the more complex your upgrade will become (more versions to go through).
  • If upgrading from 2011 to 2016 you must go through 2013 and 2015.
  • When working on new features/customizations, don't do it if you aren't willing to stick the landing. And make sure your executive leadership is too. Anytime you make a change be ready to make good documentation and training materials.
  • For user adoption, take time to find the influencers in your environment and make them your fans. They can be your advocate to the users to drive adoption.

Those are just a few quick takeaways. So much more to come over the next few days! Have a good night everyone!

Monday, October 12, 2015

#CRMUGDC Q4 Chapter Meeting

Before all of the CRMUG Summit craziness begins I wanted to remind everyone in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area to save the date for the Q4 Chapter Meeting on November 4th. 

We will be focused on Marketing including a showcase of Microsoft Dynamics Marketing in use as well as a comparison with Click Dimensions and other Marketing tools. We will also discuss our top Summit takeaways and work on plans for our 2016 chapter meetings.

Check out this video for more information:

To stay up to date on these events make sure you join the DC Chapter Community. You can also register for this event and find more information on

Also, be on the lookout for the #CRMUGDC Monkey around CRMUG Summit this week! This is the gorilla marketing plan for the group, just don't go bananas on my spelling! :)

Travelling in Style! #CRMUGDC is in the plane on the way to Reno.

#CRMUGDC has arrived in Reno!

Friday, October 9, 2015

October 9 Blog Review

It’s a short blog review today because I still have lots of packing to do for CRMUG Summit! I’m looking forward to the week out in Reno connecting with so many great CRM professionals! My goals this year are to learn how to successfully upgrade from CRM 2011 to (hopefully) 2016 with minimal loss of sanity. As well as learning how to be a better Chapter Leader for Washington, DC (and promoting #CRMUGDC too)!

Some other reading for this weekend includes PowerObject’s JavaScript Best Practices for CRM 2015. This talks about what you can do but also gives some things to keep in mind while you are coding away.

CRM Tip of the Day shared Whatever happened to the “copy a link” button? This talks about how the button was removed in 2015 but there are a few ways to still get the link. (Spoiler alert: It was removed due to cross browser compatibility issues.)

CRM Tip of the Day also posted Do not Reuse the Owner field. This describes how the Owner field is much more than just a user lookup and how you need to make sure you consider security and all the implications before reusing that field.

Sonoma Partners blogged on Upgrading to CRM 2015? Here’s what you should Consider. This walks through a few things to keep in mind and the new features that you may want to upgrade for.

That’s all for today. I hope to see many of you in Reno!

Friday, October 2, 2015

October 2 Blog Review

Suddenly it is very apparent that fall is upon us! It is dark, cloudy and rainy. But it is only a week until I escape to sunny Reno for CRMUG Summit!

Let’s quickly catch up on some blogs this week so all of us east-coasters can get back to preparing for the hurricane.

CRM Tip of the Day shared Why can’t I set the Default Dashboard? This talks about the difference between your home dashboard and default sales or marketing dashboard.

We have looked at lots of items from the PowerObjects blog so you should check out Behind the Scenes with the PowerObjects Blog: A Dynamics CRM Workflow in Motion. This walks through how they use workflows inside CRM to review and approve blog articles before they are posted.

One of the pieces that went through this workflow is How to Find MS CRM Records without Activities using Advanced Find. This gives a step by step guide on how to use Marketing lists combined with Advanced Find to find records without a certain associated record. Keep in mind Marketing lists can only have Accounts, Leads, or Contacts as members so you can only use this method when you are looking for one of those 3 record types.

Lastly, if you have ever wondered about what CRM consultants really do check out Sonoma Partner’s Day in the life: Meet Melanie. This walks through a day for one of their consultants.

That’s all for today folks. Have a nice (hopefully flood-free) weekend!