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May 28, 2015

The Hitachi Solutions CRM Blog has moved

The Hitachi Solutions CRM blog has moved to the Hitachi Solutions America blog. Please visit http://us.hitachi-solutions.com/blog/ to read our new blog or to subscribe.

 

 

April 03, 2015

One More Reason to be Part of the Microsoft Ecosystem: Dynamics CRM and OneNote

Convergence 2015 left nothing to be desired and there were plenty of dazzling things the Microsoft team had in store, and the Hitachi CRM team is extremely excited to FINALLY be able to talk about the new Spring 2015 enhancements. While there were tons of new features in core 2015 to get excited about, there is one in particular I am pumped to blog about: OneNote and CRM integration!

 

OneNote_and_CRM

 

Continue reading "One More Reason to be Part of the Microsoft Ecosystem: Dynamics CRM and OneNote" »

April 01, 2015

Plug-in Tracing Enhancements in the Spring Release of CRM 2015

Background

During a session at Convergence 2015, Matthew Barbour introduced a new enhancement to the Tracing Service in the Spring release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 that greatly enhances the value of this service to developers for logging and troubleshooting purposes. The Tracing Service was introduced in CRM 2011 and it allows developers to write log debugging messages from plug-in and custom workflow activities. The value of this feature was limited because it was written only to the Event Log of the CRM server or included in the error message displayed to end users. The former location is not accessible to CRM Online customers and although it is accessible for on-premise customers, log messages are hard to pinpoint among all the other events logged there. To address these limitations, a lot of development teams, including some I worked on, attempted to use a custom entity for logging purposes. They quickly found out that the log records they were looking for were somehow missing. This problem was due to the fact CRM plug-ins execute in transaction and the transaction is rolled back whenever an exception occurs anywhere in the event pipeline. As a result, the records written to the custom entity would also be rolled back in the exact scenario when they would have been of greatest value.

 

Continue reading "Plug-in Tracing Enhancements in the Spring Release of CRM 2015" »

March 26, 2015

CRM in Professional Services Organizations: Driving Return on Investment

Conceptually speaking, leaders in professional services organizations see the potential value of a CRM system. After all, a well-implemented and connected CRM helps drive more effective sales efforts, a higher bid-to-win ratio, and quality and consistency during pursuits.

Circulating this message, and ultimately driving excitement and user adoption, is a tougher prospect. Simply stressing the "importance of a Client Relationship Management system" only goes so far. This is especially true if folks are at or above their utilization targets (which is kind of important…). Even suggesting an hour of activity in a CRM system can be a touchy subject. I don't have time for this and I'm successful enough already without spending time in a CRM; there aren't enough hours in the day.

This is a fair point—and one that needs to be heard and addressed throughout the organization. The users of CRM, even the business development folks, are often a billable resource. Time is money. A $300/hr resource spending 1 hour per week over 50 weeks translates to $15,000 in opportunity cost. It doesn't matter if you're a 20 person specialty firm or a 5,000 person global organization: time spent interacting with a CRM (or any system for that matter) translates into real dollars.

It's easy (and common) to leave the conversation right there, dismissing CRM as a waste of time and money even if it benefits the firm. But let's step back a bit from the CRM specifically and ask a few other questions about the situation: How much time is spent…

  • …coordinating who should join internal meetings for a client pursuit?
  • …reviewing whitespace in a client account?
  • …reconciling the deal funnel across business units?
  • …determining the right action to take on a referral?
  • …figuring out who knows whom inside of a target account?
  • …building lists for event invitations, customer appreciation, and references?
  • …researching, collaborating, and revising RFP responses?

I'll pause the list there because I think you get the point. There are many areas where good time is being thrown at low-value items. Each of the questions above speak to capabilities of a well-implemented CRM. If the 1 hour a week in CRM can ease some of that pain and otherwise wasted time, the equation starts to tip in favor of CRM.

Addressing this and spreading this message inside of the firm needs to happen not only at a management level, but for anyone who is going to be expected to contribute to CRM. Identifying the benefits and levers to pull for each person is a key element to success. Technology alone does not cut it—the people and process need to be addressed as well.

At the same time, user maturity also needs to be considered. Not everyone will use the system the same way (nor should they). This can be the result of different roles within the organization or even folks just being more comfortable doing things the way they are used to. The latter can be dangerous, so care must be taken to identify these pockets of resistance and have a means of addressing them.

The process is straightforward on paper, however that's not to say it's "easy". If implemented properly, the benefit to both individuals as well as the organization as a whole are fantastic. When users can see the return on their own time investment at the user level, all of a sudden it becomes easier to collect the detail needed at the strategic decision making level.

March 24, 2015

Optional Parameters in a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Fetch Report

So you’ve written a lot of SQL-based reports in your day, and you’re sitting down to write a FetchXML report for online Dynamics CRM.    You realize that you need to include an optional parameter in the dataset, but FetchXML doesn’t allow for SQL standbys for situations like this such as like COALESCE, ISNULL, or CASE WHEN.  For starters, you came to the right place because this blog will show you how to proceed.  This blog is written with the audience in mind of those who do have experience writing SQL based reports, and are venturing out into the brave new world of FetchXML reporting.

Continue reading "Optional Parameters in a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Fetch Report" »

March 18, 2015

Hitachi Solutions CRM Convergence Day Three Highlights: CRM 2015 for Sports and Entertainment Announcement, Mobile Phone Update, Visual Themes

Three days of Convergence have now come to an end (well, except for tonight's OneRepublic concert) and there is lots of great stuff to highlight.

CRM 2015 for Sports and Entertainment

Hitachi Solutions announced our CRM 2015 for Sports and Entertainment packages, which focuses on ticket sales, fan services, and integration into a common ticket systems such as Ticketmaster and Tickets.com.

"For our clients, it's all about enabling them to provide a better fan experience," said Gary Peterson, executive vice president, Hitachi Solutions America. "Now with a more complete picture of who those fans are, what their past experiences are, and what they're interested in next, sports teams can upsell, service, and engage customers faster and better."

Find the full announcement at http://us.hitachi-solutions.com/hsnews/hitachi-solutions-releases-crm-2015-sports-entertainment-integration-ticketmaster/

Mobile Phone Update

We have some great updates coming for accessing Dynamics CRM via mobile phones. Earlier today Microsoft posted a video highlighting a quick overview of what's offered. A few high points for me include:

  • Leverage the existing entity forms (not a special form type)
  • Granular settings in forms to hide fields, sections, or tabs not relevant to the mobile phone experience
  • The same experience in iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone

Watch the entire video:

 

Themes!

Have you wished that you could update the color scheme in Dynamics CRM or add a logo to fit with your organization's brand identity? You won't have to wish much longer! The navigation menu color, entity button colors, link colors, and an optional custom logo are all part of this exciting update.

Dynamics CRM CustomTheme Configuration

This "Theme" information is controlled through settings, and your own custom themes can be exported, imported, and previewed before publishing. This will be great for those customers who have been asking for control over the color scheme, while also being a great way for teams to distinguish between separate environments (such as a training environment).

Even if you're not attending Convergence…

…you can still view all of the major keynotes. Microsoft will have a live stream tomorrow's closing keynote Digital detectives: Protecting data, commerce and privacy in the age of cybercrime. The session will bedelivered by David Finn, Associate General Counsel and Executive Director, Microsoft Cybercrime Center, right on the Convergence website at 9:30AM EDT.

You can also watch the rest of this weeks' keynotes in the Convergence Video Library.

Stay tuned for more updates!

March 17, 2015

Hitachi Solutions CRM Convergence Day Two Overview: Hitachi’s New Investment Bank Package, ThousandEyes Announcement, and Impressive Professional Service Success Metrics

Another great day at Microsoft Convergence 2015 and some pretty cool announcements.

Hitachi Solutions announced today the release of their new Investment Bank for CRM 2015. This update helps advisory firms effectively manage and foster relationships across corporate clients, partnerships, financial sponsors, and other institutional constituencies.

"As an organization, we strive to provide clients with turnkey industry solutions tailored to their specific industry needs." Scott Millwood, Hitachi Solutions senior vice president and global CRM leader. "Our newest release of CRM for Investment Banks and Advisory combines Hitachi Solutions' abundant experience with investment banks with the robust capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 to add value and meet the very specific business needs of investment banks and financial advisory firms."

For the full announcement, please check out http://us.hitachi-solutions.com/hsnews/hitachi-solutions-america-releases-crm-2015-investment-banks-financial-advisory/

 

Continue reading "Hitachi Solutions CRM Convergence Day Two Overview: Hitachi’s New Investment Bank Package, ThousandEyes Announcement, and Impressive Professional Service Success Metrics" »

March 16, 2015

Hitachi Solutions CRM Convergence Day One Wrap Up: Mobile CRM Success, an Updated Insurance Industry Package, Spring 2015 Upgrades and Meeting Satya

What a great way to start the week! Pandora lit up the Convergence 2015 keynote with the MSFT gang including showing off the mobile app demo we built for them while Satya and crew wowed us with the latest and greatest coming down the pipe for CRM from Microsoft. And we didn’t part ways before team Hitachi snagged a quick photo op with the Microsoft CEO. Then we rounded off the morning by announcing our CRM for Insurance IP! If you aren’t here to soak in the action live, here is the details of what you missed:

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Continue reading "Hitachi Solutions CRM Convergence Day One Wrap Up: Mobile CRM Success, an Updated Insurance Industry Package, Spring 2015 Upgrades and Meeting Satya" »

March 09, 2015

CRM Business Rules + Calculated Fields = Amazing

If you have read our blog for long, you know that we love the new calculated field feature in Dynamics CRM 2015. It’s never been easier to perform real-time calculations. But sometimes, your calculated fields (or rollup fields) may not calculate correctly—the field is blank.

This is often caused by one of the fields in the calculation not containing data. If one of the fields in the calculation has a null value, the calculation result will be null.

This can be avoided by using one of the other great new features in Dynamics CRM 2015: default values in business rules.

For example, say I have a calculation that involves a number of different number fields. I want to make sure that the fields have a default value of 0 so that my calculation can happen even if one of the fields is blank.

  • Create a business rule called “Default Values.” Set the scope to “entity.”
  • Add an action for each field that you want to default to set the default value to 0 for each field involved in the calculation. No condition is necessary.
  • Activate the rule.

Screenshot 2015-03-03 15.08.42

By setting the scope to “Entity,” the rule will fire for all records created, not just those created via the form.

March 02, 2015

Dynamics CRM Mission Advanced Find Impossible?

A scenario that seems to come up a lot is one where managers want to identify a list of records that do not have a certain related record. For example, “Give me a list of all the companies that don’t have any associated opportunities.” Seems like a fair enough request. However, there is no out-of-the-box way to accomplish this in CRM.

I recently came across a scenario where a client wanted to identify Opportunities that did not yet have a related Project. Increasingly, I am finding sales process requirements are including a step for creating a related Project or Implementation or Contract (or fill in the blank) against an existing Opportunity or Account. Managers often want to know which of their Opportunities are ready for a Project to be created, but do not have a Project created yet. The problem is there is no way to do this with Advanced Find.

Here is one way I’ve found to get around this limitation using what you learned in my previous post about FetchXML Builder (go read it).

You can begin building your Advanced Find with the appropriate criteria. Be sure to include the related criteria in your query. Simply choose the record you want to relate and enter a simple line like where Project Contains Data.

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Continue reading "Dynamics CRM Mission Advanced Find Impossible? " »

February 27, 2015

Great FetchXML Tool for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

If you’re like me, you love Advanced Find. …But you don’t love FetchXML. Sure, we’ve all seen this button at the top of our Advanced Find queries, but how many of us have used it?

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Let’s take a look at what happens when we use this button.

First, build an Advanced Find query. Something simple or complex, doesn’t matter. Click the button and you will download the .xml file. Click Open.

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This is what appears:

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Continue reading "Great FetchXML Tool for Microsoft Dynamics CRM" »

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