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November 24, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics CRM - Online vs. On Premises Decision Matrix

Many companies considering Microsoft Dynamics CRM are weighing the options of installing Dynamics CRM On Premises or going with CRM Online. In this post we compare the two platforms, look at what is similar, and compare the differences.

Core Application Functionality

The core application functionality is at parity, with the same core application entities and extensibility features.


Customizations developed in a supported way for CRM on premise can be moved to CRM Online (and vice versa), and plugins, workflows and any custom extension can be used in either Online or On Premises deployments. Any supported code will work in both CRM online and On Premises.


CRM clients for phone, tablet, and Outlook (including offline) work exactly the same between CRM Online and CRM On Premises.

Continue reading "Microsoft Dynamics CRM - Online vs. On Premises Decision Matrix" »

November 20, 2014

Product Key Compatability and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Upgrades

Occasionally when upgrading Dynamics CRM 2011 to CRM 2013, you may receive a warning that "The Product Key is not compatible" in the environmental diagnostics wizard.  If this happens, typicaly you can simply put the IgnoreChecks = 1 in the registry and avoid this issue.

Recently, I was working with a client and despite all my efforts of trying with a CRM 2013 MSDN key, a CRM 2013 VLK key, and the CRM 2013 trial key, I was getting the same error.

Midway through the upgrade, I received this warning:


For those of you hitting on keywords, let me give you the log entry as well.

14:26:50|   Info| Executing Install action: Microsoft.Crm.Setup.Server.AddLicenseAction

14:26:51|  Error| System.Exception: Action Microsoft.Crm.Setup.Server.AddLicenseAction failed. ---> Microsoft.Crm.CrmException: Cannot upgrade to specified license type.

   at Microsoft.Crm.Admin.AdminService.LicenseHelper.SaveLicense(LicenseData license, Version expectedExistingBuildVersion)

   at Microsoft.Crm.Setup.Server.Utility.ConfigUtility.SaveLicense(String licenseKey, Version licenseSourceVersion)

   at Microsoft.Crm.Setup.Common.CrmAction.ExecuteAction(CrmAction action, IDictionary parameters, Boolean undo)

   --- End of inner exception stack trace ---, Error, RetryCancel, Option1

At that point, the only option was to restore the server and databases.  Fortunately, CRM was a VM and we had taken the time to snapshot as well as make the database backups.

Continue reading "Product Key Compatability and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Upgrades" »

November 17, 2014

Announcing the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile Survival Guide

The CRM Mobile Survival Guide is my latest book. In this book I cover the rapidly changing world of Dynamics CRM mobile.


This book was inspired by the Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementations that I have lead that included phone or tablets. I've been working with Dynamics CRM for 8 years, and it is amazing how rapidly the world has changed during that time. For several years, CRM deployments were limited to internal users connected to their corporate networks. Users would travel, but when they did, they would connect to the application via VPN or use offline data via the CRM Outlook client.

Then came the mobile explosion. Starting in 2009-2010, many customers were starting to want to use CRM from their smartphones. Then the iPad arrived in 2010. We did not have a great answer for mobile. There were third party apps and custom solutions, but most were expensive to implement and complicated.

The BYOD revolution was originally met with a lot of hype, as magical devices that would replace computers. But after living with smartphones and tablets for several years, reality has set in. Mobile devices have changed our lives in many positive ways, but we now have a more realistic picture of what they are good for (and for what they are not).

And that is the reason for this book. Look beyond the hype to what it really means to live with CRM on mobile devices, even using a mobile device as your primary CRM access device.

Continue reading "Announcing the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile Survival Guide" »

November 14, 2014

Dynamics CRM 2015: Every Interaction Matters

The Microsoft Dynamics team has recently released some great new ads showing how various Microsoft technologies will work together in Dynamics CRM 2015.

In this post we looked at the “Dynamics CRM for your Business” ad. the next ad is called “Microsoft Dynamics CRM Helps Your Customers.”


Continue reading "Dynamics CRM 2015: Every Interaction Matters" »

November 12, 2014

Three Ways Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Will Speed Up Quoting

Regardless of whether your organization offers products or services, quickly putting together an accurate proposal is crucial to winning business. Often times, however, the process of physically quoting out those components can be quite frustrating and slow.

The upcoming December release of Dynamics CRM 2015, for which Microsoft recently published a preview guide, hints at key updates that will help make the quoting experience much more positive and intuitive.

Easily Add Multiple Related Products

image from http://s3.amazonaws.com/hires.aviary.com/k/mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp/14110422/134d9c26-40fa-427e-be90-a4a6337f73da.png

When pursuing a deal and quoting out products, the reality in Dynamics CRM has been that I'm stuck adding products one-by-one unless we've done customization work or bought a CPQ tool. Each additional product requires 5 or more clicks, resulting in a process that is prone to errors and omissions.

The 2015 release brings the concept of related products to out-of-the-box Dynamics CRM. When a product is set up in the system we can now define product relationships as well. Each relationship can be an Cross-Sell, Accessory, or Upsell, all of which will be available in-line as a suggestion when adding a product to a quote. Each related product can be selected with a single click, then once I've made my choices I confirm "Add to Quote" and they're all added in one pass.

Instead of searching for each related product or service that fits the proposal, I multi-select from a list of suggested products saving time and hassle.


Continue reading "Three Ways Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Will Speed Up Quoting" »

November 10, 2014

Single Sign-On with ADFS, BigMachines and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

Recently, we were working with a client to convert an existing system over to Microsoft Dynamics CRM  2013. Their current system leveraged a web application hosted on BigMachines (Oracle) and they had Single Sign On (SSO) working there.  Because CRM was going to be an Internet Facing Deployment (IFD) we needed to move that SSO configuration over to use ADFS.

In this case, we were using ADFS v2.1.  There was little documentation on how to accomplish this specific task, and the solutions did not surface easily in a search engine.  

Below are the steps we used to get this working.

Go to ADFS FederationMetadata.xml page:

1. https://ADFS.domain.com/FederationMetadata/2007-06/federationmetadata.xml

2. Get the X509Certificate (should be the first one, but within the Signature section it is after, but NOT the Signature Value as they do look similar) Get the whole line minus the <X509Certificate> and </X509Certificate>

Continue reading "Single Sign-On with ADFS, BigMachines and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013" »

November 07, 2014

Duration Calculations in Microsoft Dynamics CRM with Little or No Customizations

Duration fields are not often utilized within Microsoft Dynamics CRM except in the case of activities (such as Tasks). However, there may be times when it is very useful to know the duration between two dates.

Did you know that Microsoft Dynamics CRM can calculate the days between two dates?

Let’s examine how we can use a calculation that the system performs automatically to achieve this goal.


Example/Use-Case Scenario

A client would like to know the duration between the Estimated Close Date and Actual Close Date for Opportunities.

Continue reading "Duration Calculations in Microsoft Dynamics CRM with Little or No Customizations" »

November 06, 2014

Dynamics CRM 2015: It's More Than CRM

The Microsoft Dynamics team has recently released some great new ads showing how various Microsoft technologies will work together in Dynamics CRM 2015.

The first ad is “Microsoft Dynamics CRM for your Business


This ad pack a lot into about 2.5 minutes, so let's dissect it and take a closer look at what is going on.

Continue reading "Dynamics CRM 2015: It's More Than CRM" »

November 05, 2014

Have It Your Way: A Closer Look at the Latest Search Options in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

Microsoft has really enhanced the user experience with the last few releases and updates and this is especially true when it comes to search. The Hitachi team has also added a few cool features for searching. There are multiple ways to get to the record you are looking for but let’s specifically take a closer look at the search options that are now available to our customers both out of the box and enhanced features from Hitachi. No worries, we won’t make you choose; our custom solutions simply enhance the search experience and you can leverage all three for comprehensive search in your CRM deployment.

Continue reading "Have It Your Way: A Closer Look at the Latest Search Options in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013" »

November 03, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 – Hurrah for Curah!

Since Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 is in preparation and ready for release this year, it is time for a new Curah!  To that end, I’ve begun the task of compiling helpful resources. 

You can check it out at https://curah.microsoft.com/211516/crm-2015-helpful-resources.

This is a work in progress and I plan to add new links as I discover them.  Feel free to share your favorite CRM 2015 links with me, in comments below, and I will add them to the Curah with a nice big callout to You!



October 31, 2014

Moving Data Between Microsoft Dynamics CRM Organizations

Today, I’m going to look at some of the ways to move data between two CRM environments. There are multiple ways to do this, including third party products like Scribe Insight or SSIS.

In this post, I am going to focus on the “free” options that come with Dynamics CRM.

Continue reading "Moving Data Between Microsoft Dynamics CRM Organizations" »

October 27, 2014

Showing Entity Logical Names on Forms in Dynamics CRM 2011 & 2013

While there are a few scripts out there that sets the labels for fields on a CRM form to be the logical names, they aren't the quickest to copy/paste from. These scripts also remove the existing field labels which can sometimes make it hard to identify fields especially if the name of fields have changed. It might not be obvious to someone new to a project that two years ago the "Technichal Specialist" role was renamed to "Solution Architect" while the logical name of the field stayed the same.

To make things easier, I wrote a script that shows all controls, sections, and tabs then inserts a textbox next to the existing field labels and selects the text when the textbox is focused to make it easy to copy. It also widens the labels displayed on the form to make room for showing both a textbox and the existing label. While this can crowd out the input, the primary purpose is for quickly pulling out logical names anyways. 

Continue reading "Showing Entity Logical Names on Forms in Dynamics CRM 2011 & 2013" »

October 24, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Financial Services Webinar: Customer 360 Success in Financial Services

Join Hitachi Solutions, Microsoft's U.S. 2014 Financial Services Partner of the Year for a webinar on November 4th on how Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Hitachi Solutions can help your Financial Services Organization succeed. Click Here to Register!

Today's customers expect fast, informed and intelligent interactions with financial institutions.  Join us for a fast-paced presentation that will demonstrate how the financial industry expertise of Hitachi Solutions, coupled with the best-in-breed CRM form Microsoft Dynamics can help you know and market to your customers better. 

During the presentation, you will see:

  • The power of a complete, customer-centric view of your business.  Integrated with your core financial systems.
  • Ways to increase profitability and marketing effectiveness with powerful BI tools working directly in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
  • Efficient, streamlined process from the office or on the road using intelligent, pre-defined business workflows and user guides.

October 21, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Professional Services Webinar: "What's in it for Me?"

Join the Hitachi Solutions team as we partner with  Microsoft for this "Show Me the Demo" webinar on October 28th!

Click Here to Register

Whether a dedicated business developer or a seller-doer, a successful CRM will guide and automate process while offering visibility into key insights. Hitachi Solutions' CRM Solution for Professional Services organizations offers account planning, relationship intelligence, and analytics to provide a cohesive experience from any device. 

This webinar will feature:

  • Account planning, execution, and measurement
  • Who knows who/relationship intelligence
  • Mobility for a professional services organization  

October 03, 2014

The Best Little Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Feature You Might Not Know What To Do With: Timers

Microsoft’s latest releases and updates for CRM have really enhanced the user experience, but one of my favorite features is the new Timers Control. This great little feature is a new control which you can place on any customizable out of the box or custom entity form. They can also be added to Quick Create and Quick View forms. But how do we use them exactly? In this blog we will briefly cover how to add a timer to a record and then I will review some real life scenarios where they may be useful for any business user.

To add this feature to a form you simply go to the individual form editor, click on the insert tab, and select the timer to create it.


Continue reading "The Best Little Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Feature You Might Not Know What To Do With: Timers" »

October 01, 2014

Questions To Ask Before Forklifting Data Into Dynamics CRM

“We want to give our sales representatives access to sales history from Dynamics CRM. It will be about 50 million records. Is this ok?”

Can you do it? Yes. Should you do it? Maybe not.

Before forklifting a large quantity of legacy data into CRM, there are some questions you should ask.

1. Is the data actionable data or reference data? Just because you want to present data to users doesn’t mean that the data has to live in Dynamics CRM. If data is actionable, it drives business processes. For example, if you have a change in a field that drives a workflow process, that is actionable data. Granular transactional data like sales orders are not typically actionable data. They are consumed as reference data while researching a customer, planning a sales call, completing a support call. They provide valuable insight to users, but typically don’t drive CRM actions.

Continue reading "Questions To Ask Before Forklifting Data Into Dynamics CRM" »

September 19, 2014

What is Unified Service Desk for Dynamics CRM?

So one of the major, but under-appreciated features of the Spring release of Dynamics CRM was the Unified Service Desk, or USD. If you work in call centers, you might have known it under its older names, CCA (Customer Care Accelerator), and CCD (Customer Care Desktop). In any case, the USD in an application that allows Dynamics CRM to interact with other applications your employees might need to use.

So what does USD do? Well, it brings a unified interface to all these disparate apps, and a common way to call them together. For example, let’s say you wanted your telephony system to be able to pull relevant customer information from CRM. Most customer support and call-centered phone systems have some kind of API that lets you “talk” to the system, and receive data from it when a call comes in.  Now when that call comes, the USD could pick up the call, recognize the verification information your phone system required to get to support, and load the CRM screen with your customer’s information on it, ready to work. But that’s not just it. Say your CRM only contains your relationship information, but not your transactional information. You could also use that customer ID entered in during the initial phone call to pop the last bill of your customer from your transactional system right beside the CRM information.

Continue reading "What is Unified Service Desk for Dynamics CRM?" »

September 17, 2014

Extending CRM for Banks to Regulatory and Government Affairs

From the ashes of the recent financial crisis rose a competitive banking environment with more sophisticated and demanding customers. Today's bank customer demands a seamless, multi-channel customer experience and meaningful interactions. Many banks have turned to CRM systems to provide a holistic customer view and streamline operations. Hitachi Solutions has a CRM for Banking solution that includes bank-specific data and reporting model, best practice business processes, and portal and mobile capabilities.

For banks, it's not just the customer that has changed since 2008. The regulatory environment has changed as well. Fortunately, banks can utilize the same tools they use manage their customer relationships to manage their regulatory relationships. Hitachi Solutions has extended its CRM for Banking to include CRM for Regulatory Relations.


Sometimes referred to as regulatory and government affairs, regulatory relations is about managing the banks’ relationships with regulators, government bodies, and often finance media. These relationships are usually at a senior level and require senior executives to be fully briefed on any material issues in-flight or due to arise.

Continue reading "Extending CRM for Banks to Regulatory and Government Affairs" »

September 11, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Rapid Release Cycle and Why You Should Try To Keep Up

Since the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, the platform has been on a very rapid release cycle. As was announced three years ago, the release cycle now includes two releases a year, a minor one in the spring and a major one in the fall.

For Online customers, you get these updates automatically. For On premises deployments, you have to decide when you upgrade to the new version.

Approaching CRM upgrades with the same mindset you did in 2010 will not serve you or your users well. Back then there were 3-4 years between major releases. It was not uncommon for a company to sit out one upgrade cycle and then upgrade for the next one. But the world has changed. CRM 2013 was released about a year ago, and the next major version, CRM 2015 (Vega), is coming by the end of the year. Here are a few points to consider:

  • If you sit out a version, you are going to make your upgrade much more difficult and expensive. CRM 2013 was probably the last of the traditional upgrades for Dynamics CRM. it was a major change in user interface. The upgrade after 2013 (SP1) was much more iterative. It added great new functionality and refined the user experience, but it was not the user shock that the user experience change in 2013 was. If you upgrade one version, you can typically upgrade fairly quickly. However, if you upgrade two or more versions, your upgrade process is longer and requires multiple environments to upgrade, as the upgrade scripts only work with the previous version.

Continue reading "Microsoft Dynamics CRM Rapid Release Cycle and Why You Should Try To Keep Up" »

September 03, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Performance: Form\View Load Analyzer

With the release of Service Pack 1 for Dynamics CRM 2013 Microsoft has introduced an analyzer to track performance on CRM form Loads. To take advantage of this feature open a form on CRM and then using your keyboard select Ctrl + Shift + Q to view the performance analyzer. To activate this utility choose Enable on the utility and then using F5 refresh your CRM form, the utility will close, normal behavior.

Once the form has refreshed select Ctrl + Shift + Q again, this time the utility will display showing the performance of the form load.

Some items of note when using this utility.
- Probably a good idea to Disable the Utility when not in use, only Enable when needed
- It appears to only work with IE
- It will work with CRM Online and appears to work on CRM On Premise as well but some have had issues, maybe browser choice.
- This is not restricted to Forms, it will work on Views as well.



In addition to the graphical view of the load performance you can Copy the stats for a more detailed exam. Included is a sample showing some of the parameter, this captures more rows of data but I have limited the output due to blog realestate.


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