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December 19, 2014

10th Day of CRMas: Using Calculated Fields to Help Determine Total Cost to Santa (TCS)

Santa-claus-moneyWelcome to Day 10 of our 12 Days of CRMas. In this blog series, we have been exploring the best and brightest of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015's new features. Today we'll take a look at Calculated Fields.

Yesterday, we helped Santa get a quick view of Tiny Tim's naughty/nice ratio with the use of Rollup fields. Today, we'll use the new Calculated Field feature to help Santa establish a dollar estimate for Tiny Tim's toy allocation.


Buddy the Elf is responsible for benchmarking the amount of gifts to make for each kid. From the previous lab, we established that a record is kept for each child for Naughty Things and Nice Things. Buddy has determined that Nice Things will result in a $10 credit and Naughty Things will be debited based on severity of Naughty-ness. The scale he established was 'Not so bad'=-$3 and 'Just awful'=-$10. When he is finished, he'll have a good idea about how much Elfen Magic to apply to each kid. We will be calculating in USD since 'Elfen Magic' is not a recognized currency in Microsoft Dynamics 2015.

Continue reading "10th Day of CRMas: Using Calculated Fields to Help Determine Total Cost to Santa (TCS)" »

December 18, 2014

9th Day of CRMas: Rollups Help Santa with Naughty/Nice Conundrum

Welcome to Day 9 of our 12 Days of CRMas. In this blog series, we have been exploring the best and brightest of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015's new features. Today we'll take a look at rollup fields.

In previous versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, rollups were possible, but required development and utilized jscript, plug-ins, business rules and workflows. In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015, rollup and calculated fields are included out of the box and can be utilized by business users. They are executed server-side and updated synchronously, so you will see the updates immediately when you save the record.

In this example, we'll use rollup fields to help out Santa with Naughty/Nice rollups and calculations

Rollup Fields

Continue reading "9th Day of CRMas: Rollups Help Santa with Naughty/Nice Conundrum " »

December 17, 2014

8th Day of CRMas: Business Process Flows: The Gift That Keeps On Giving!

8th Day of CRMas: Business Process Flows: The Gift That Keeps On Giving!

Well well well, the CRM product team has really outdone themselves this time. As if Business Process Flows weren’t cool enough! BPF’s are an excellent way for users to provide guided visualization of processes that match their internal business processes to make CRM more real and meaningful in their organization. We love leveraging them for sales cycles, case management, and many other aspects of our customers’ business where a process has been established and CRM can reflect it. We have written several blogs on how to use this excellent feature in CRM to enhance user experience and add value and user adoption to your implementation.


Continue reading "8th Day of CRMas: Business Process Flows: The Gift That Keeps On Giving!" »

December 16, 2014

7th Day of CRMas: Stop Sync Grinch

Outlook sync is great. It allow us to keep our calendars and contacts in Outlook (or other exchange clients if you use Server Sync) in sync, so that when an update is made in Outlook, the CRM contact or activity is up to date. it’s a beautiful thing. I can track a contact, somebody else can update her phone number in Dynamics CRM, and suddenly I have the new phone number on my smartphone. We’re all in harmony.

Continue reading "7th Day of CRMas: Stop Sync Grinch" »

December 15, 2014

6th Day of CRMas: Mobile Presents


Getting a shiny new device under the tree? Good news! There are some great new mobile features in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 that you will be able to use on that new tablet or phone.

1. Disconnected record creation

When disconnected from the internet, the user can click the new record (+) button from the dashboard to create a new draft record.


Continue reading "6th Day of CRMas: Mobile Presents" »

December 12, 2014

5th Day of CRMas: Searching for the Perfect Thing!

Welcome to Day 5 of our 12 Days of CRMas. In this blog series, we are going to explore the best and brightest Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015's new features. Today we'll take a look at the expanded search capabilities offered.

The searching and filtering capabilities inside of Dynamics CRM are key foundations to so much of what we see inside of CRM. Unfortunately, getting to the right place to initiate that search often sits several clicks away…until now! A flexible Search box and Advanced Find are now front-and-center from any record, list, or dashboard in CRM. Not only that, but we also get additional capability to filter through records in new ways.

Global Search

Global search is now prominently displayed in the CRM navigation bar. Entering any search term (even with wildcards) will direct you to a search results page that shows the search term along with the matching records from any matching fields.

Continue reading "5th Day of CRMas: Searching for the Perfect Thing!" »

December 11, 2014

4th Day of CRMas: Have A Holly Jolly Hierarchy!

Yes you read that right! It’s finally here! One of my absolute favorite new features is finally here, and I feel like a kid on Christmas morning! HIERARCHY VISUALIZATIONS!


Microsoft's CRM Product team has really been listening this year and it looks like CRM users ended up on the nice list! The latest and greatest release of CRM 2015 is chock full of new enhancements across the board from the marketing module, customer service, mobile, and sales. There are some great enhancements that are truly user focused additions that we are just tickled pink about and hierarchies is no exceptions to this rule. So without further ado, let’s jump right into the features!

The new hierarchy visualization allows the user to graphically visualize the hierarchical relationships of specific records in their CRM system. In the Example below, you can see the parent company account record of Contoso, and as you move down the tree, you see the relationships each of those additional account records have to the other accounts in the same family. The records are represented by tiles and their relationships are mapped out between them. The left hand navigation includes an outline version of the tile visualization for easy navigation to a different layer in the group.

Continue reading "4th Day of CRMas: Have A Holly Jolly Hierarchy!" »

December 10, 2014

3rd Day of CRMas: Help me Dynamics CRM, You’re My Only Hope

Welcome to Day 3 of our 12 Days of CRMas. In this blog series, we are going to explore the best and brightest Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015's new features. Today we'll take a look at the new custom help capabilities.

A high level of flexibility is a powerful thing. In your CRM system it means you can leverage both existing functinality with a few tweaks, all the way to custom functionality that supports your organizational needs. However, with great power comes greater responsibility.

All of this flexibility means, unfortunately, when users click the help button, the out-of-the-box help can fall a little out of touch.

Continue reading "3rd Day of CRMas: Help me Dynamics CRM, You’re My Only Hope" »

December 09, 2014

2nd Day of CRMas: Hierarchical Security

Welcome to Day 2 of our 12 Days of CRMas. In this blog series, we are going to explore the best and brightest Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015's new features.  Today we'll take a look at the hierarchial security.

You use Dynamics CRM, and you are a sales manager. You want access to all accounts to which your sales team has access. Simple requirement, but in reality fairly complex to deliver. Security roles couldn’t get you there. Sure, you could just give the sales manager Business Unit or organization level permission level, but that would give access to everything in the business unit or organization, which will be more than just your sales team.

Team ownership would not meet this requirement, as you need to have individual sales owners.

Continue reading "2nd Day of CRMas: Hierarchical Security" »

December 08, 2014

1st Day of CRMas: A Personal Side to Power BI

Welcome to Day 1 of our 12 Days of CRMas. In this blog series, we are going to explore the best and brightest Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015's new features. Today we'll take a look at the new capabilities of Power BI in Dashboards.

Power BI integration and Power View visualizations are a powerful way to analyze and display CRM 2013 data. Now with CRM 2015 can now be embedded not only in a System Dashboard, but also in a Personal Dashboard. While a seemingly small change, this is yet another change that puts powerful tools in the hands of users.

image from http://s3.amazonaws.com/hires.aviary.com/k/mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp/14112600/cf0b913b-af9a-4e1a-bbd6-9fd07c39e11b.pngTo set this up, CRM Administrators will first need to enable the feature in the CRM Organization:

  • From the Settings->Document Management area, create or edit a SharePoint Site record
  • Set Allow Embedding of Power BI Reports to Yes
  • Repeat this process for any SharePoint Sites that will hold Power BI elements

This wasn't possible before because of security measures meant to protect users. The growing popularity of the Power BI functionality has prompted Microsoft to add a specifically supported exception for PowerBI.

Continue reading "1st Day of CRMas: A Personal Side to Power BI" »

December 05, 2014

Using Voice Input with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 and 2015

I didn’t know that CRM was voice enabled? How to I turn on voice data capture for CRM? The inherent issue with these questions is that we are wondering what CRM has to do with voice recognition. The reality is that you can access CRM from your phone or tablet and those devices are voice enabled. Speech Recognition is included with Windows 8, so voice input is possible from your laptop.

With CRM 2013, most users are entering data using the Web Client or the CRM Client for Outlook. Hence, they are adding data from their PC. However, CRM 2013 (and later versions of CRM 2011) expands the offerings to access CRM from a phone or tablet. The addition of cross browser support opens up just about any device (but there are unsupported combinations of browsers and OS’s so don’t quote me on this). If that device allows you to enter data using voice, you can enter data into Microsoft CRM using voice.

Continue reading "Using Voice Input with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 and 2015" »

December 03, 2014

Dynamics CRM 2015: Upgrade Options

Dynamics CRM 2015 is a major CRM upgrade for CRM On Premises. In the past with upgrades like CRM 4->CRM 2011 and CRM 2011->CRM 2013, it was always a best practice to set up new servers and import upgrade your CRM environment to the new version. This was because there were major changes in system requirements and user experience between major versions.

Continue reading "Dynamics CRM 2015: Upgrade Options" »

December 01, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server 2015 Released and Available for Download

Microsoft has released CRM 2015 as a Thanksgiving present to all of us.  I guess they knew we would have a few days off and could spend it looking at the new version of CRM.  Don’t miss the Hitachi Solutions CRM 2015 Release Webinar presented by one of our CRM MVP’s.  Use this link to sign up!


Below is a short list of “What’s new in CRM 2015” along with two links to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customer Center page with full details.  The first link is to the 2015 release preview guide.  The second is to the “What’ New” page.  Don’t overlook the “Updating from an earlier version” tab to see what is changing if you are an existing customer.

  • Cortana support to speak CRM commands on Windows 8.1 phones
  • Microsoft “"Social Listening” for on-premises systems
  • Hierarchical charts to more easily see an overview of an account
  • Expanded capabilities when building Business processes
  • “Quick find” enhancements
  • Additional information available to synchronize between CRM and Outlook
  • Customizable Help



A trial is a great place to start to check out the new offerings of CRM 2015.  Use the following link to sign up for a trial today.


You can download the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server 2015 files here:


If you want to get started with your own CRM 2015 online environment, use the link that follows and click on “Buy” on the page.


You will need to enter some information to define the organization you are creating but then you should be all set.

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" »

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