September 30, 2011
I was recently involved in implementing Microsoft CRM for a large organization, and one of their requirements was a simplified, stripped down UI. One of the ways that we accomplished this goal was by hiding ribbon buttons that were not used in their deployment.
First, I found a great tool that made it very easy to add or remove ribbon buttons. I would recommend giving this tool a try. It was created by Pragma and did a pretty good job; and, it can be found on CodePlex.
Here is an example screenshot of hiding buttons for the case entity.
However, when you are editing the ribbon, either by using a tool or editing an entity xml manually, you can make mistakes that cause problems with your customization. In my case, I accidentally created two "hide" entries for the same item in the xml. As a result of this, the solution could not be imported.
Here is sample XML associated with hiding a ribbon entry. I placed big **** next to my duplicate records.
Once I deleted one of the duplicate rows from the xml file and reimported the solution, everything worked fine.
Lesson learned: It is fine to use tools and utilities to help customize your environment, but it is important that you still understand what is being changed "under the hood," as you may need to edit the xml file in case something doesn't work right.
September 29, 2011
As we have covered earlier on the CEI blog, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 introduces some great new form customization capabilities. One of my favorites is the ability to remove Navigation bar links from a form.
Prior to 2011, the only way to remove nav bar links was to use jscript to hide them. This complicated form customization, and also made the form appear to “dance” when you first opened it, as all of the hidden nav bar links would appear momentarily and then hide.
Now, with CRM 2011, you can go to the form customization and select the “Navigation” node from the ribbon.
Then from the left side of the form customization, you can select visible navigation bar links and remove them by either clicking delete on your keyboard, or clicking “Remove” from the ribbon.
If you want to add a link to the navigation bar that is not currently displayed on the navbar, you can select the link from the “Relationship Explorer” on the right side of the customization form, and drag and drop it to where you want to display it on the navigation bar. So if you remove one, then want to add it back, just move it over from the Relationship Explorer.
This will work with most of the relationships in CRM. One of the few for which it doesn’t work however is the “Closed Activities” link.
"Closed Activities" is basically a link to the same entity as the “Activities” nav bar link, just filtered to show a different view—Closed activities.
If you delete the Closed Activities nav bar link, you will not be able to add it from the relationship pane. It will no longer exist.
To get the link back, create a solution containing the entity from which the link was deleted and export the solution.
Then from another CRM environment, export the same entity, extract the solution .zip file, and edit the customization.xml file. Search for “<NavBarByRelationshipItem.“ You will find a section in the XML that looks like this:
<NavBarByRelationshipItem RelationshipName="Incident_ActivityPointers" Id="navActivityHistory" TitleResourceId="Tab_Label_History" Icon="/_imgs/ico_18_history.gif" ViewId="21E2B905-6FDB-470d-8517-AD69B4C01268" Sequence="20" Area="Info">
<Privilege Entity="" Privilege="ReadActivity" />
<Title LCID="1033" Text="Closed Activities" />
Note this section may be different based on the entity in question. In this example, I’m using the case entity.
Copy this section, then go to your exported solution customization.xml for the environment where you deleted the closed activity link. Paste this section in the appropriate place, then zip up your solution and import into your environment.
You will once again see the “Closed Activities” navigation bar link.
An existing customer of ours, in the process of upgrading to CRM 2011, was testing an upgraded development organization against workstations that previously had the CRM 4 Outlook client installed on them. They encountered this strange behavior relating to the Outlook ribbon bar missing. This only happened on one of the desktop clients they were testing from. Initially they tried uninstall the CRM 2011 Outlook client and the ribbon bar would magically reappear.
The process that they were following:
- Uninstall CRM 4 Outlook client
- Install CRM 2011 Outlook Client
- Configure CRM 2011 Outlook Client
- Open Outlook
The workstation was Windows 7. I did not spend a lot of time troubleshooting because I found this MS KB article. In addition to that, we do know that there were some ribbon bar issues were introduced in earlier MS CRM 2011 releases. As a result of that we recommend doing the following process of for changing Outlook clients for CRM 2011.
We updated the client installation process as follows:
- Close Outlook
- Uninstall CRM 4 Outlook client
- Install CRM 2011 Outlook Client
- Install CRM 2011 Outlook Client rollup 3
- Configure CRM 2011 Outlook Client
- Open Outlook
Obviously, if that does not work the following KB article did fix their particular issues.
September 26, 2011
As both veteran consultants and customers will tell you, one key to a successful Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation is user adoption. Like most other companies, financial services organizations face challenges getting users to adopt new CRM systems.
At a recent online meeting of the CRM User Group's Financial Services Special Interest Group, members shared some tips and tricks to getting users to more easily adopt Dynamics CRM.
"What we've done to ensure user adoption is institute a policy that if it isn't in the solution it doesn't exist," said one member of the group. "When they're looking at sales activities or promoting a specific process, then the system of record is Dynamics - the solution itself - so they really have to go back and make sure that all of that activity is recorded in the solution. That's one of the primary ways - making sure either through the use of workflows or the use of recording activities, follow-up events, pipelines-that they consistently use that solution as the system of record to record those activities, those events."
Additionally, senior management has to reinforce the "system of record" policy as well, he said.
User adoption starts in the planning phase, according to the event presenter, Brad Koontz, product manager at Customer Effective.
"We found that it's [important] to have a good champion in the project, who's not only going to be the executive sponsor but also the head cheerleader," he said. "And as part of their cheerleading duties, they need to hammer on the ideas of increasing productivity, saving time, all of the things that the executive sponsor thought it would be a good idea to buy CRM for. They need to be preaching this on a fairly consistent basis."
Koontz said it comes down to adhering to some basic project management tenets like frequent updates and always reminding people of the strategic vision that you had when you decided to implement Dynamics CRM.
"Then making sure that training is provided often and it's provided early and then it's provided later," he said. "You might have some user adoption but you might have some people who are not adopting as quickly or as well as some of the power users might be. So make sure that they're getting the training."
Another member of the CRM User Group, said his company, which has been live on Dynamics CRM for about three months, took advantage of workflow processes to simplify users' ability to manage tasks.
"The planning teams just have to select what they want to do and CRM automatically routes the task to the various departments behind the scenes," he said. "So the teams just have to say, ‘What do I need to do?' And the system will just push the various tasks where they need to go. We've received a lot of positive feedback on that particular process that we implemented. It was a big win for us."
You should also identify the KPI consumers early-the people in your organization who consume these key performance indicators more than others-and make them your cheerleaders as well, Koontz said.
"You can also build and configure your CRM to make sure that the needs [of the KPI consumers] are met because if they're happy, that has a tendency of spreading throughout the organization," he said. "Also find a partner that understands the importance of user adoption and makes it the top KPI of the project."
Koontz also said that simplifying the system for users can also make them more productive. He said sometimes users are confused and they don't know what the system does because there's so much going on.
"The truth is your task probably doesn't need all the stuff that's on your screen," he said. "So if we go in there and sit down with specific users, not just inside specific idustries but inside specific roles inside companies, and we ask them what they need to see to do their jobs correctly, to do their jobs productively day to day. Then we can take the time to pull these things out, that really helps."
Another key to user adoption is data integration because it keeps people out of other systems, Koontz said. It reduces the duplication of effort that happens when someone has to go into a third-party system or a legacy system, look up the data and then transfer that data manually into the CRM system. At the very least, the user won't have to use two screens to try to make a decision about a particular client or a particular issue, he said.
This can frustrate the users and make them angry about CRM, he said.
Users will also adopt Dynamics CRM more quickly if they're able to access it via their iPads or other tablet devices in a way that fits those devices, he added.
Another attendee went took a more blunt approach to quell dissatisfaction among users migrating from Saleforce.com to Dynamics CRM. To get users more comfortable with using Dynamics CRM she looked at the Salesforce.com screen and simply rearranged the fields in Dynamics CRM to match the way they looked in Salesforce.com.
"I put the labels of the fields flush to the right and the value of the fields flush to the left, and all the fields in the same order as Salesforce," she said.
Koontz said another way to convince former Salesforce.com users to make the switch to Dynamics CRM was to appeal to productivity gains.
"[Talk about] the whole idea of Office integration, which should be easier for them moving forward inside CRM," he said. "So showing them those features like the integration with Outlook. Say, ‘Look how it fits into your day. You're in Outlook all the time anyway.' Also like being able to have Dynamics worksheets in Excel and how easy that is. Getting data into the system from an Excel template. Getting those in and out of the views that you create. Once we share those with people that ususally gets about fifty percent of the Salesforce.com users."
Originally published on MSDynamicsworld.com as "Tips for Putting the 'Use' in Microsoft Dynamics CRM User Adoption". Article written by Linda Rosencrance.
September 25, 2011
Here’s an easy example to help remember the distinction between the Append and Append To Rights defined in CRM's Security Roles.
Consider the situation when a user needs to set the Parent Customer field on the Contact. Beyond the obvious ‘write’ permission on the contact, they also need the “Append” right for that Contact and the “Append To” right for the intended parent Account record.
For more information, Joel Lindstrom provided an explanation in this blog post. (http://blog.customereffective.com/blog/2009/11/microsoft-crm-append-vs-append-towhats-the-difference.html)
September 19, 2011
The Microsoft Insurance Vertical Team recently identified the Top 5 Technology Trends on the TechNet Blog. One of trends discussed is mobility. Our team recently built some mobile solutions that allow insurance professionals to engage with their CRM system while on-the-go.
Customer Effective: Insurance, is our xRM product that provides a comprehensive and collaborative platform for managing relationships between carriers, agencies and policy holders. Customer Effective: Insurance includes all of the robust sales, marketing and customer service features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, but also includes out of the box insurance industry functionality.
Top Insurance Trend: Mobility. Producers and carriers are both looking for ways to take advantage of the proliferation of mobile communications. Field personnel often carry multiple mobile devices (phones, laptops, tablets) and expect to use the most convenient device for a particular task. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 features out of the box Outlook or browser-based accessibility options, which cover most tasks that field personnel would address with laptop or desktop computers. Since Microsoft Dynamics CRM syncs with your Outlook and Exchange server, syncing your smartphone with basic data such as appointments, tasks, and contacts with CRM is a snap. For more robust smart phone tasks, Mobile Express is available out of the box with Microsoft CRM 2011 and allows you to access standard CRM entities, as well as custom and insurance-specific entities, right on your smartphone.
Tablets are perfect for applications that exist in that middle place; a task that is too complex for a smart phone, but doesn't need the full features of a laptop. At Customer Effective, we have developed insurance applications for this middle place. Tablets are typically quick to start and highly mobile. This lends itself perfectly to very specific, very repetitive, and very mobile tasks. Our insurance clients are telling us that a call report for field sales personnel would be well received and could increase user adoption. Customer Effective has a Call Report application that can run on virtually any tablet (Windows, Anrooid,iOS) and is directly connected to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It is not meant to replicate full blown Microsoft Dynamics CRM; it is a discreet application for a common but important task in the day in life of insurance field personnel. Users of this application are guided through a simple, intuitive process that record the details of the meeting, including the attendees (which are pre-populated from the companies contacts in CRM), and the outcome. A "Submit" button sends the meeting data instantly back to CRM. Our tests indicate that completing a call report with a tablet and this application can be done quicker that booting up a laptop!
If you would like more information about this or any other Microsoft Dynamics CRM product or service, please contact us a email@example.com
September 07, 2011
Mark your calendars! The fourth annual Customer Effective CRM Customer Conference is coming up in October. We will be hosting the conference at the Westin Poinsett Hotel in beautiful, Downtown Greenville, South Carolina on October 19 - 21.
This year's conference will highlight Industry Roundtables for Insurance, Capital Markets & Banking, and Manufacturing on Wednesday afternoon. Thursday will be a day full of sessions on a wide range of topics surrounding Microsoft Dynamics CRM, a keynote by Mary-Jo Foley of ZDNet, and a customer presentation. On Friday we will wrap up the conference with another customer presentation and a customer panel discussion.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
We hope to see you in Greenville in October!