Monday, November 20, 2017

Get involved in your local CRMUG Chapter!

With 2017 drawing to a close, it's time to plan your volunteer activities for the new year! So it's time to help your local CRMUG chapter to be more successful!

There are so many ways to get involved, even if you can only commit a small amount of time. Some ways to get started:
  • Invite your colleagues and customers to come with you
  • Post event reminders on the chapter community and social networks
  • Respond to questions in the chapter meeting
  • Take notes during the meeting and post these on the chapter community
  • Take pictures during the meeting and post on your social networks
When you are ready to take it to the next level, you can volunteer to present a member showcase. This is a short presentation where you talk about how you use CRM in your organization. It is always great to see the ways different organizations use the system we all know and love.

For those in the DMV area, you have three great chapters to check out. We have planned our dates for 2018 so you can get them on your calendar now!

Visit your chapter community to make sure you are signed up for updates and comment how you want to get involved!

Richmond, VA   (Tuesday)
Washington, DC (Wednesday)
Reston, VA   (Thursday)
Regional Meeting: 8/15/2018

Friday, November 10, 2017

CRMUG Summit 2017 Recap

It’s hard to believe that CRMUG Summit Nashville was already a month ago! The 2017 event was amazing! Full of live music, great content, and lots of networking! Of course, the #CRMUGDC Monkey was hanging around and we even had a party for all the DC, Virginia, and Maryland Attendees. If you didn’t make it out to this party, be sure to check out the Photo Gallery.

Better late than never, check out the top takeaways from the sessions I attended at #CRMUGSummit2017 (I also linked to the materials for those who attended Summit to download).

Alex Fagundes

Data breaches are very common and very expensive plus on average the breach isn’t detected until after over 6 months. We discussed statistics, ways to prevent and detection techniques. In addition several tools were discussed for different security functions.

Top ways to prevent:

·       Move to CRM Online – 99.9% more secure

·       If On Premise: Set up external and internal scans weekly to check for issues and follow best practices (network and windows server hardening best practices)

·       Have a security awareness program to train your users – they are the weakest point! Plus minimize their security to eliminate risky access they don’t need (Export to excel, SDK access, etc.)

·       Follow Service Account best practices – one server account per integration, do not grant admin rights, set as a non-interactive user (cannot login via the web)

·       Turn on Two Factor authentication

Rick McCutcheon leading a panel featuring: Peter Vieira, Anne Stanton, Beth Burrell, Jennifer Codding, and Neven Bradasevic and Melita Bouchet.

The panel broke the discussion into the different phases of the project and discussed their tips and tricks for user adoption including:

·       Set expectations for the initial release

·       Gather information from your users and identify your key stakeholders and champions

·       Involve end users in the building process

·       Discuss end results with stakeholders especially reporting needs – Remember that data has value and explain this to users

·       Don’t forget about less frequent tasks users need to perform (What tasks do you perform weekly? Monthly?)

·       Find the low effort, high reward items to resolve pain points (the gold nugget)

·       Involve department influencers in testing

·       Plan trainings carefully

o   Set up groups based on level of skill with the system, knowledge of past systems, keep departments together

o   Find Training Champions to become subject matter experts and help other users

o   Consider pairing stronger and weaker users together to assist each other

o   Keep training materials specific and provide in multiple formats (manual, video, email, etc.)

o   Use real data to keep training relevant

Alex Fagundes

So many tips on performance and many beyond my level of expertise. Here are just my top takeaways that I can put into practice:

·       Use a modern browser with temporary files (cache) set to >=250 MB

·       Views – sort by only one column, minimize or eliminate columns from related entities

·       Remove “All Accounts” Default views on large entities, no reason to display everything

·       Forms – Collapse unnecessary sections, avoid using too much JavaScript and instead use multiple forms

·       Workflows – keep Asynchronous, auto delete when complete and only have ONE running per entity (then use child workflows for different actions)

·       Follow SQL Best practices and use tools to review your indexes

·       Avoid Plugin chains – one plugin triggering two more

·       Run enterprise reporting against a read only replica of your system

·       Set up automated monitoring that can notify you if there is an issue

Panel featured Jennifer Johnson, Trisha Tunilla, Rob Harrison and Victor Guven

This is a topic that I especially needed assistance on – how to help Marketing and IT get along and get the results both sides want. The major take away from this session was just to get shared understanding on both sides. Have IT spend time with marketing to understand how they manage their business. Have Marketing learn more about the systems so they can better understand the framework. Build relationships on both sides to ease the process of working together.

This understanding and personal connection will build the trust necessary to get work done. When work comes from the other side, the team knows it is necessary. Most of the problems between marketing and IT can come down to poor communication. Take the time to build that understanding.

We also spent some time discussing the value of data and what to do with “dirty” data. These discussions can be hard when IT may not want “bad” marketing data in the CRM system. This comes down to determining a data governance plan at the beginning. This allows us to choose what data is the master and what data can go where. Remember that marketing sees all data as an opportunity!

Ryan Talsma

This was an excellent session that helped to clear up the confusion between the Outlook App and the soon to be deprecated Outlook client (expected to be gone by the 10.0 major release, end of 2018?).

Most importantly – the App is available for On-Premise. The main difference is that the Client must be installed on all workstations where as the App is a light-weight add-in pushed via Office 365. The App does require Office 365 and Server Side Sync. Server Side Sync means that the user does not need to be logged in for a workflow to send email and appointments can sync when out of the office as well. The App is also much more stable than the client so fewer (if any) issues with disconnecting, re-enabling, etc.

Last important note – the App can be pushed out to users if webmail (OWA) while they still use the full Outlook client on their office machines.

Panel discussion featuring Nhung Le, Bill Meadors, Beth Burell, and Phyllis Eriksen.

In this session, common issues were broken down into a few categories and then tips were discussed for how to handle each type.

·       Permission Problems

o   Do not edit the Out of the Box Roles – then you can review these if issues arise

o   XRMToolbox: Access Checker – select the user and entity to see the final permissions they have with all roles combind

o   If intermittent – try clearing the cache and restarting

o   Remember with Field Level Security – no access is granted by default

o   If it could be a permissions issue, assign Admin role temporarily to see if it resolves the issue. If it does, then the issue is permission related.

·       Data Import/Export Errors

o   Review the data mapping

o   If error on export, verify there are no duplicate field names as this will cause an error

o   To update data, an export must be done (must export for re-import, you cannot import and match)

·       Error Messages with no Information

o   Check Application log for details

o   Use Auditing to isolate issue (do not turn on for everything)

o   F12 for client-side troubleshooting

o   On-Premise: monitor event log for errors. These could be a sign of something bigger.

·       Testing tips

o   Clear cache and try to reproduce

o   Turn on F12 then try to reproduce

o   Test on a different browser, different computer, etc.

o   Check browser plugins

Gus Gonzalez

This session covered some great tips to keep in mind for all changes being made in your system. The goal of many of these is to change our thinking to implement with a business mindset as we want to enhance business outcomes not just think about the technology. These rules exist to help us avoid potential problems.

1.       Keep it simple – always look for the simplest, easiest, least work solution.

2.       Check before Create – if you can use something that already exists, use it. Avoid adding additional entities, fields, views, etc.

3.       Allow users to deactivate – remove delete permissions. Tell them “Deactivate” is the CRM word for delete, same behavior from a user perspective.

4.       Don’t customize production – plan then deploy to development, move to test and test, then deploy to production. Use unmanaged solutions.

5.       Use Tools – When getting a requirement, see if there is a tool you can use before building yourself.

6.       Change management systems – follow a change management system to help you implement successful change

7.       Field best practices

a.       Never use “Whole Number” because they may want more precision later

b.       Stay away from “Two Options”, use Option Set instead (no default, allows for change)

c.       Always use Global Option Sets

d.       Turn off “Searchable” for unused fields

e.       Use “Field Security” only if really needed

f.        Deactivate “Auditing” if info is not important

g.       Create “Mappings” if added to multiple related records

8.       Decentralized Command – get help and share administration tasks with others

9.       Be Proactive – stay up to date with Microsoft releases and new features, get involved in the preview program to test things before they are released

10.   Reach out! – Reach out to the experts for help! Don’t try to do everything on your own.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

July 2017 Blog Review

To get started, Microsoft released a new Dynamics 365 Documentation site. This makes sure all the training and information you need is front and center. Also check out Ledgeview Partners Overview of the site.

Ledgeview Partners also posted on Planning for CRM Success: 4 Key Characteristics of a Successful Project. This talks about the important areas to focus on when releasing a new CRM or even doing an upgrade to ensure the project is a success.

On a related note, Sonoma Partners discussing Driving Project Value through Change Management and Project Management integration. These tips are helpful in the initial implementation of CRM but also in the on-going product support and CRM expansion within your organization.

PowerObjects shared a tutorial on Auto Capturing Emails. Learn why you would want to automatically capture emails and how this will display for users.

PowerObjects also walked us through how to capture audit data using Real-Time Workflow: Capturing Pre and Post Values. Keep in mind that out of the box audit records do not allow for Advanced Finds or Workflow interaction so solutions like they demonstrate are necessary if you want to act on Audit changes.

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Team Blog shared Predicting Business Outcomes with Customer Insights. This gives us a look into how Customer Insights can be used to drive business.

As always, make sure you check out the new tips on CRM Tip of the Day before getting back to your summer fun!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

June 2017 Blog Review

There were lots of great posts shared in June but first a quick reminder to check out your local CRMUG events! CRMUGDC (Washington, DC Chapter) will be hosting a combined event with the Reston, VA chapter. This Summit Preview will be a full day event with 6 speakers! We will discuss a variety of topics from How to Use CRM to Drive Success to Extending Workflows; from Administrator Tips to Virtual Entities and Odata consumption. This is going to be a great event for all experience levels and job roles. To learn more and register check out the chapter page at!

Ledgeview Partners shared Using Advanced Find in Microsoft Dynamics 365/CRM. This article walks through the information needed to get started on your first Advanced Find. This is a powerful skill that helps you understand more about CRM and how your data is related.

System Administrators often need to add new fields to their CRM implementation. There are several articles to check out on this topic:

PowerObjects also shared Custom Action Quick Tips. Check this out to learn how to create a simple Action that can be used to do more complex logic without code. Refresher: Custom Workflow steps are code pieces that can be called by a workflow to do more complex steps, Actions are additional steps built inside CRM that can be called from code or workflows. Actions allow for the input of parameters as well.

Sonoma Partners worked to help with a very confusing topic in Best Practices for Microsoft Security Settings: Append vs. Append To. This discusses the differences between and meanings of the Append privileges as well as some tips to keep in mind.

This month details were also released on the July 2017 release for Dynamics 365. To learn more check out Jukka Niiranen's All You Need to Know About Dynamics 365 v9.0 (For Now) and Chris Cognetta's Dynamics 365 Spring Release: 5 Takeaways from a Business Solutions MVP.

As always, keep an eye on the CRM Tip of the Day to see if there is anything relating to your organization. This month I was particularly interested in:
That's all for today. Back to summer CRM enhancements!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

May 2017 Blog Review

Let's jump right in to this short summer recap!

PowerObjects shared about Searching Relevantly in Microsoft Dynamics 365. This discusses the Relevance Search in Dynamic 365 which allows you to use filtering in your regular CRM searches.

Great reminder from Mitch Milam to Always Maintain Control of your Dynamics CRM/365 Assets. It is very important to have a structured release process that is followed and maintain the details/solutions from these releases.

Sonoma Partners also introduced us to Learning Paths with Learning Path Authoring Basics and Learning Path Authoring Guided Tasks. Learning Paths allow administrators to provide more contextual help to users. One of the tools for this is Guided Tasks which walk users through specific steps within the application.

Jukka Niiranen is keeping us up to date on new things in this CRM Life with Spring in the Dynamics 365 World.

As always, it's a good idea to keep an eye on the CRM Tip of the Day to see which of your issues they are solving.

That's all for today!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

April 2017 Blog Review

Let's run through some interesting CRM blogs posted over the last month.

Ledgeview Partners posted a quick tip on Custom Coloring Dynamics 365/CRM Dashboards which shows how to set colors for different options in an option set.

Hitachi Solutions teaches the basics of entity creation through an example in Dynamics 365 Roadmap: A complete guide to Dynamics 365 Fields and Entities.

Hosk discusses How Machine Learning will Change Dynamics 365. This explains the basics of what machine learning is and where to look for more information.

Sonoma Partners shared CRM: When Homemade Doesn't Cut it. The article explains the benefits of going with a market-leading CRM system instead of building in house. I would add to this that these benefits also apply to utilizing market-leading CRM systems in the way they were designed (i.e. evaluating how your business should change to fit standard processes, avoiding unsupported changes, not over-customizing, etc.).

ReadyXRM posted on how to Stop Deactivation of Records in Dynamics 365. This utilizes a workflow to solution to inform users they should not deactivate.

Jumping ahead to May for a minute I need to share ReadyXRM's Dynamics CRM Business Rules Not Working Issue. This is an issue that my organization was battling for months and Nick Doelman was battling even longer. Spoiler Alert: even though the issue occurred even for Administrators the issue was caused by security. Microsoft is working on a fix as it involves corrupted security on the form using the Business Rule.

As always, keep an eye on the CRM Tip of the Day for news and help. This month I particularly liked When Export to Excel Fails for No Reason. This explains how having columns of the same name will cause the export to fail.

That's all for today folks! Have a great day!

Friday, March 31, 2017

March 2017 Blog Review

Let's jump right in and catch up on all the CRM News and Training that has been floating around this month!

PowerObjects shared several great how to articles:

Ledgeview Partners shared how to Turn your Report into a Dashboard in Dynamics 365/CRM. Take all your beautiful reports and make them easily visible within the dashboards your team is accessing.

For those interested in getting certifications, be sure to check out Hosk's post containing Dynamics 365 Certification Study links.

Sonoma Partners posted Bulkify Bulk Edit which walks through several ways to improve the out of the box Bulk Edit functionality with the help of workflows and plugins. In addition it gives some great background information on Bulk Edit.

Sonoma also shared Dynamics 365: Miscellaneous Security Permissions. This explains what those extra permissions actually control in your system.

And of course you should check out the CRM Tip of the Day!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Releasing Field Level Security Profiles

Field Level Security (FLS) is a great feature which allows you to lock down certain fields to specific users or teams. You can control who can read the data, create the data and edit the data. This allows administrators to account for many security needs. For more detailed information on Field Level Security review this TechNet documentation.

It is also a good idea to use solutions when moving customizations and this includes customizations to your security model and security settings. These are areas that can greatly impact users so they always should be tested in a development environment if possible.

Here are some things to keep in mind when moving Field Level Security Profiles between environments:
  1. The field must have FLS enabled before the FLS Profile can be updated. This means your release process must be a 2 step process: (1) Import a solution containing the field and publish, then (2) Import a solution containing the FLS profile and publish. If all is contained in one solution you will get a warning on the FLS profile but not an error. Then all permissions for the field (with FLS freshly enabled) will be set to No. This means that only Administrators can view and edit the field.
  2. When creating a new FLS profile, members must be added in each environment. The linked teams and users are not included in the solution and must be added manually.
  3. Test thoroughly in each environment. Remember Administrators will always have access to any field with FLS enabled so other users need to be involved in testing. If one users is doing the testing for multiple roles, double check your changes and have them clear their cache between test cases. This will ensure any issues from items 1 and 2 do not occur.
How have you used Field Level Security? Any other tips for Administrators to keep in mind?

Sunday, March 5, 2017

February 2017 Blog Review

Let's quickly catch up on the CRM news floating around this past month.

First of all, the December 2016 update for Dynamics 365 is available so you should check out the release notes and podcast. Keep in mind this is just version 8.2 so more like a 2016 update then any kind of upgrade.

PowerObjects posted a great resource on Troubleshooting Solution Import Failures. This walks through common error scenarios as well as gives some general customization tips to avoid these issues.

Ledgeview partners shared 10 tips to Improve User Adoption. This has some great tips for your training and keeping your team informed. Also remember to have strong executive buy in and ensure managers are involved so they can keep their people accountable.

Hitachi Solutions shared What is the Dynamics 365 Common Data Model? The article explains what the Common Data Model is and how you can use it as an Admin or Developer.

As always, you should keep an eye on the CRM Tip of the Day for help with all kinds of issues and questions.

Any articles I missed? What topics are you interested in about CRM right now?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

January 2017 Blog Review

Welcome back to another exciting year with Microsoft Dynamics CRM!

I hope all of you are already involved in your local CRM User Group. For those in the DC, Maryland, Virginia area please check out the groups in Richmond, Reston and Chevy Chase (DC). At the DC Chapter, we have scheduled all of our 2017 meetings and these dates/links are below. Please come out and join us for our first meeting of the year on February 22. We will have a presentation on Power BI and a user upgrade success story.

CRMUGDC 2017 Meetings:
Let's jump into the CRM blogs and news from the last month.

Leon Tribe posted on Actions: The New Workflow Function. Actions are steps designed in a workflow but called from code. This allows business-side administrators to control some steps or logic in a larger coded effort. Now in Dynamics 365 these can be called from workflows with the added benefit of accepting and returning values.

Sonoma Partners shared Driving CRM Adoption through Effective Communication. This discusses the need to determine where the business is and where you want it to be and then building a strategy to bring you there.

The Dynamics 365 Team blog discusses how to Make Business Recommendations Based on Business Intelligence with Dynamics 365. This gives some examples of how you can guide users and help provide recommendations using Portable Business Logic.

Everyone has been super excited for Editable Grids in CRM. PowerObjects takes this opportunity to show you 2 Rockin' Ways to Enable Editable Grids with Dynamics 365.

Ledgeview Partners shared Dynamics CRM workflow: Mapping Data between Fields. This is a quick walk through of how to create your first workflow and set up dynamic field updates.

As always, be sure to review the CRM Tip of the Day to make sure you didn't miss anything. Have a great day!