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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.


August 26, 2014

Add Microsoft Dynamics CRM Shortcuts in Outlook in Windows 8

This is one of those little issues related to CRM usability that is probably easier solved by a CRM newbie than someone who has been working with CRM for a while. In order to add CRM folders to Outlook Favorites in previous versions of Outlook and Windows, it was sometimes necessary to modify the registry. Details about that can be found here: http://blog.customereffective.com/blog/2011/03/adding-crm-2011-entities-to-favorites-in-the-outlook-client-.html This scared some people and the registry would sometimes reset so you would lose your shortcuts.

Unfortunately, that trick does not work with Windows 8; dragging and dropping non-Outlook items to Favorites is not allowed. So we had to come up with another method to put commonly used CRM items in a designated, easy-to-access folder. The following process is specifically related to Outlook 2013.

Continue reading "Add Microsoft Dynamics CRM Shortcuts in Outlook in Windows 8" »

August 22, 2014

Overcoming Challenges When Using CRM IFD and ADFS

We had an interesting occurrence with a client this week.  Like many security conscious clients, they have limited ability for their servers to access the internet.  In this client's case, they had a proxy that was required for access.

Fairly typical CRM setup with an IFD CRM, leveraging an ADFS internal server, with an ADFS proxy supplying the gatekeeping for the outside.  CRM was using a standard SSL certificate from a public provider.

Continue reading "Overcoming Challenges When Using CRM IFD and ADFS" »

August 20, 2014

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 - How to Change the Tiles on the Menu

When Microsoft released CRM 2013 with its new look and feel, one of the biggest changes was how to navigate around the product.  The left navigation pane was replaced by the menu/tile user interface.  This menu, designed to take full advantage of touchscreens and tablets, takes a bit of getting used to when using a mouse.  I’m still amazed by the learning curve difference between clients using a table or Surface Pro versus those with a full laptop or desktop.  Touch screen users seem to find the menu navigation very intuitive and easy to advance to and from forms.  Mouse users, seem to be playing catch-up.

Although this blog is not about how or why the new menu UI exists, it is about how to change it.  Before I jump into that, I do want to add a quick tip to all those legacy mouse users:

Useful Tip: Use the wheel on your mouse to ease the navigation through the tiles that span more than a screen width.  Scrolling the wheel up and down has the effect of swiping the tiles left and right.

Let’s a take a look at a vanilla CRM 2013 menu:

Continue reading "Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 - How to Change the Tiles on the Menu" »

August 18, 2014

Lessons Learned Using Business Rules in CRM 2013

By now, you are probably familiar with Business Rules in CRM 2013. If not, check out this post for a nice introduction. Using Business Rules is a great way for CRM administrators to customize Form logic without having to know any JavaScript. They are extremely useful in many situations, but administrators should also know when to use a Business Rule and when to reach for another tool instead.

There are tons of conditions that I can evaluate using a Business Rule before performing certain actions. I can evaluate a field’s value (or multiple fields’ values) and I can evaluate calculated conditions like whether or Field A is greater than the sum of Field B and Field C. I could even multiply a field’s value by a static number as a part of a condition, like shown. Pretty nice feature.


Continue reading "Lessons Learned Using Business Rules in CRM 2013" »

August 15, 2014

Dynamics CRM Cross-Entity Business Process Flow

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 introduced cross-entity business process flows. Up to five different entities can be combined in the same process flow.

Dynamics CRM includes an example cross-entity process flow called “Lead to Opportunity Sales Process”


In this process flow, the Qualify stage is on the Lead entity, while the develop, propose, and close stages are on the Opportunity entity.

Before a lead is qualified, the opportunity level stages are unavailable to be clicked.


After the lead is qualified, the next stages become available. When you click on the qualify stage, it toggles back to the lead form, when you click on “Develop,” it toggles to the Opportunity form.



So cross-entity process flows enable some really exciting user experiences:

  • They link multiple records together in one process, providing a smooth user experience, as if they were the same record.
  • They make moving between records in a process very easy (easier than popping up another window or drilling through).

Now that you are excited about cross-entity process flows, what about using them with custom entities or other system entities. What is the user experience?

Continue reading "Dynamics CRM Cross-Entity Business Process Flow" »

August 11, 2014

CRM 2013 Quickstart Excerpt: Dynamics CRM Quick View Forms

I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with some of my MVP friends on a new book called CRM 2013 Quickstart. This book is a follow up to the CRM Field Guide and is designed for someone who is familiar with earlier versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and wants to get familiar with the new features of CRM 2013. See the table of contents here.

You can buy the book at http://www.crm2013quickstart.com. Enter code JoelLindstromQuickStartBook for a discount at purchase.

The following is an excerpt from chapter 3—customizing CRM forms. this chapter covers the new form types and form layout, with best practices for configuring good looking forms.

Continue reading "CRM 2013 Quickstart Excerpt: Dynamics CRM Quick View Forms" »

July 25, 2014

Accessing Controls within Composite Control Flyouts Using Javascript

One great new feature in Dynamics CRM 2013 is that certain fields are displayed as a composite control with a flyout to edit the individual parts of the composite field. This blog post on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Blog gives details on how they work.

Controls within the flyout require special consideration when dealing with them in javascript. For example, imagine a scenario where address fields on some contacts are integrated with another system and shouldn't be edited in CRM. Instead of being able to write


you need to find the controlid for the address 1 line 1 field inside of the flyout. The format for these controls appears to be "CONTROLNAME_compositionLinkControl_ATTRIBUTENAME" In this case, the composite control's id is "address1_composite" so the "address1_line1" control in the flyout's id is "address1_composite_compositionLinkControl_address1_line1" so you'd need to use


One easy way to access the flyout control without dealing with the cumbersome control id is to iterate through the controls of the attribute instead of going to the control directly using the id. This can also be handy when you have an attribute that is bound to several controls and you want to manipulate all of the controls for that attribute at once.

Xrm.Page.getAttribute('address1_line1').controls.forEach(function(c) {


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