Microsoft CRM Customizations
January 05, 2015
A customer of ours has invested a significant amount of money and time into a portal built on top of CRM 2011. A Custom UI was created that displayed the data most used by their employees in a way that has really increased adoption primarily because it is customized to exactly how they do business. As the process of creating this UI evolved, it became more and more apparent that we needed a mechanism that allowed multiple entities to be searched from a single place. While CRM 2015 offers the Multi Entity Searching functionality, no such wizardry exists for prior versions of CRM (an upgrade is not in this client’s immediate plans). Even the Multi Entity Search would present limitations that would have to be overcome in order to work as desired.
The method chosen to create this functionality needed to use existing software and hardware and provide the ability to both define the entities and attributes to be searched but also execute fast enough to keep the UI from lagging.
November 07, 2014
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.
A client would like to know the duration between the Estimated Close Date and Actual Close Date for Opportunities.
August 20, 2014
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:
August 18, 2014
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.
August 11, 2014
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.
July 21, 2014
Well if so, fear not! We have unlocked the potential to do more with custom Web Resource development by utilizing the following work around when trying to upload and use files that do not seem to be supported by Web Resources in CRM.
February 26, 2014
While working with a client, we made an interesting discovery. They had lost the button on the subgrid on some of their entities. This button will pop-out the associated view for the related entity in question. Picture below, it is the one that when hovered over, displays "See the records associated with this view."
When we were working on the navigation on the form for Account, (though this would be the case on any entity) they had removed many of the related entities. Their theory was that they were displaying the data within a subgrid on the form, so they could reduce clutter on the navigation of the related entities. The unintended consequence of some of these removals was that it also removes the button noted above.
The ensuing search on Bing was filled with entries regarding the behavior of the + button on subgrids and wasn't germane to the problem we had. Finally we stumbled across the following link by Jason Lattimer : http://community.dynamics.com/crm/b/jasonlattimersblog/archive/2013/10/29/context-sensitive-sub-grid-commands-in-crm-2013.aspx which effectively describes the issue we had encountered. We give full credit to Jason for his excellent write up on this problem.
The easiest way to determine if you are having a similar issue is the following (we will use Contact on the Account form as the example, but this could easily be translated for other subgrids on other forms) :
1. Open an account using the form that you have the subgrid for contacts on.
2. Pull down the Related Records view from the dropdown next to the particular account as pictured below.
3. If the related entity is NOT listed, that is likely your subgrid problem.
To resolve the issue, you will open the form in question from your solution or the default solution.
1. Open the form and click on Navigation as pictured below:
2. Once you have selected that, the Side Navigation bar becomes available and the right side available to pick the relationships from. Here is a screenshot to show you that view:
To summarize, the resolution to the disappearance of the button and functionality was to add the related entities back on the navigation within the form.
January 29, 2014
December 19, 2013
Welcome to Day 8 of our 12 Days of CRMas. In this blog series, we are going to explore the best and brightest of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013's new features. Today we'll take a look at the new single window navigation feature and how a configured sitemap will make your CRM users and administrators “happy, happy, happy”!
Memories of CRMas Past
Recently, I was reminiscing about one of my favorite features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011: the role-based security feature, allowing you to grant access based on business units, users and teams. Once set-up an administrator could show or hide parts of forms, tabs, forms and views with a bit of code and some imagination. This feature helped users access the data and functions they needed while hiding stuff they did not need.
October 09, 2013
In my recent adventures into CRM 2013 online, I found "Business Rules!"
Yes, you can make a field calculate with Business Rules. Business Rules is a new feature in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013. Business Rules will even allow even the less technical person to configure a form to calculate, show/hide, update fields. Prior to CRM 2013, you would need to know how to write Jscript to execute these tasks. With a simple point and click of a Condition (s) and Action(s), you can have a calculated field in minutes. Not to worry, CRM 2013 still supports Jscripts for the more complex tasks.
Business Rules allow you to:
- Set a field value/ or to apply a formula to calculate
- Set a field to Required/Not Required
- Hide/ Show a field
- Lock/Unlock a field
- Show an error message
Finding the Business Rules in CRM 2013.
In Form Customization, on the ribbon, click on "Business Rules" .Then click on "New Business Rule" to create a new rule.
Setting up the Business Rule (3 steps)
- Set the Condition(s) on when to run the rule
- Set the Action
- Then Save and Activate your rule
I see Business Rules as a valued step towards empowering the Business Power User/Administrator more control and understanding of CRM. Have fun making up your own rules.
September 26, 2013
With my eyes focused on visual studio, I didn’t even notice her walk into my office. No knock, no “hello”, just an aura of frustration crashed into one of my pleather chairs. I looked up to say “hi” and was met with a silent cry for help. I’ve seen this look before and knew whatever it was, it wasn’t going to be easy.
Turns out a new customer was coming to us after a failed CRM implementation with another partner. Doing what I do, I see it every now and again. This customer, was a really good kid, but unfortunately got mixed up with the wrong crowd. It happens. You can’t blame the kid, but sometimes those shiny lights turn out to have a dim glow and user adoption turns into user betrayal.
My colleagues frustrations came from how the configuration was all over the place. Fields were scattered all over the place; some were used, some were hidden, but all of it was a mess. We didn’t have a requirements document to fall back on, but we did have one crazy idea to solve this mystery… CRM Data Detective!
July 23, 2013
In Dynamics CRM 2011, when you select queues from the workplace menu, you will see many different Queues listed in the Queue drop-down.
This is because in CRM 2011, each user has a queue, and queues are also used for group queues, such as incoming e-mail to a support queue. Queues that begin with < are personal queues linked to user records.
This can sometimes cause “queue overload” when a user just wants to monitor a specific queues.
One approach to reduce the number of queues that a user sees to just those that he monitors is to use teams and views.
1. Modify the user’s security role to limit queue read access to user level.
2. Create a team for each “public” queue, and make the team the owner of the queue.
3. Add users to the teams that own the queues that he monitors.
Using this approach, the user’s view of queues will be limited to his own personal queue and the public queues that he monitors.
June 28, 2013
We have a lot of customers in the Insurance Industry, specifically dealing with Health Plans. As we help them implement and manage their CRM envionments, we have become very well acquainted with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and the issues it can surfaces to anyone trying to manage a system where HIPAA rules apply.
This is a deep and far reaching piece of legislation that includes data storage and architectural issues and Microsoft has information on some of the more technical pieces including this white paper http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/confirmation.aspx?id=29565 . This blog however is going to take a high level view of HIPAA in regards to PHI (Protected Health Information) and how to know if your CRM system is HIPAA capable AND how easy is it to do.
May 06, 2013
When creating custom fields in Microsoft Dynamics CRM (CRM), the following data types are available to you as a customizer.
Single Line of Text – This is the simplest field type and is a string attribute. The length can be defined between 1 and 4000 characters. This field has special formatting if desired for storing Email, Text Area, Ticker Symbol, and Url. Using email will create a mailto link for that field. Ticker Symbol will provide a quote for the ticker entered into the field when the value is clicked. Url will display a link to the value entered in the field. Text Area can be displayed as more than one line on the form.
Option Set – This is commonly referred to as a pick list or drop down field. A user is only allowed to select from the choices provided. A “blank” value is acceptable. A default value can also be defined. NOTE: If you have an option set that will be used on other entities in your deployment, you will want to create a global option set for system consistency.
Two Options – This is similar to an option set but only contains two values, Zero (0) and One (1). The display of those values can be changed to represent whatever you like. No (0) and Yes (1) are common display values for this field. Another interesting note about this field is that it can be displayed on the form as a pick list, radio buttons, or check box. The value is set in the form designer after the field is placed on the form.
Multiple Lines of Text – This field is similar to Single Line of Text, however, it can store much more data than Single Line of Text. This field will be displayed as more than one line on the form.
Date and Time – This field stores date and time data. You can choose to have both the Date and Time displayed or only the Date portion.
Lookup – This field represents a link to another entity. It will create a 1:N relationship in the database with this field representing the “1” side of the relationship.
The fields below are different ways to store numerical values in CRM. In all cases, you can set minimum and maximum values. This is valuable if you want to constrain data entry to non-negative
values or from 0 to 100 for example. The minimum and maximum values are different for each data type and are set at the minimum and maximum range when the field is created.
Whole Number – This field allows you to store round (or whole) numbers, meaning no decimal points. The whole number field has different types which can be selected for Duration (activity), Time Zone, and Language (multilingual support).
Floating Point Number – This field allows for numeric values with up to five (5) decimal points. The precision of this field is arbitrary, which means it can be used to represent both very large numbers as well as very small numbers.
Decimal Number – This field stores numeric values with up to ten (10) decimal points. The precision of this field is absolute.
Currency – This field is used to store monetary values. Based on your currency settings, the correct currency symbol is also displayed such as the dollar sign or euro symbol. It can also hold up to four (4) decimal points.
January 24, 2013
Businesses are constantly looking for new ways to view, analyze, and interact with their data, and we have developed several tools to facilitate this request. We recently had a request to pursue a new way of visualizing entities and relationships that allows the user to interact with the data in a different way. We call it Spiderview and it is a customization we built that leverages graph visualization technology.
Why this visualization is needed?
In the past we have pursued other techniques for allowing users to quickly view data about an entity and its relationships. We’ve designed customized global searches, hierarchical viewers, etc. but we had no tool that allowed users to physically navigate a relationship and view entities at a particular level. Enter this tool. Words can’t really describe the power of this technique, so what follows is a screencast demo of the tool in action.
Hopefully you got a good idea from the video the potential usefullness of this type of customization. Also please keep in mind that we can setup the viewer to show any entity/relationship and the customizations can also include different custom icons for each particular entity and things like scaling between the nodes, line color, depth, etc.
We are excited about how using graph visualizations of this nature can allow our users to see complex relationships and patterns in data that would otherwise be very cumbersome and expose data in a visual and interactive way. This type of data visualization is applicable across several industries and could be leveraged in multiple ways.
Please let us know your thoughts by commenting at blog.customereffective.com and for more information on this customization and other solutions we can provide for your organization please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 03, 2013
Microsoft provides the rich foundation, the various interconnecting blocks, and the many special pieces to easily extend Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Using Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a platform and extending CRM to meet new and different business needs is often referred to as xRM.I always enjoyed playing with LEGO® sets when I was a kid. I guess I still do, just look at my handy work for the images in this blog post. Maybe that explains why many enjoy working with Microsoft CRM. The two are similar in that you can build and create completely new and different things from the common set of building blocks.
Let’s take this analogy further. You could say that Microsoft provides three pre-built “Lego sets” with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. These sets include Sales, Service, and Marketing for a compelling Customer Relationship Management solution. You can use the features in Sales and even build on top of it if you wanted like adding your own custom fields. To perform specific tasks, you could use the special pieces that Microsoft provides such as workflow or charts for example. These special pieces fit nicely with the existing blocks. You could even dismantle Sales down to the core blocks and rebuild it your way. As a matter of fact, you could dismantle all three sets and build something completely new and different that had nothing to do with Sales, Service, or Marketing.
Using Legos to explain xRM
Building a solution using CRM that is completely new and has little or nothing to do with traditional Customer Relationship Management (sales, service, marketing) is sometimes a challenging concept to grasp. Hence, the Lego analogy. What occasionally throws people off is the name of the solution, CRM. Microsoft really can’t change the name of CRM at this point. I think that is why the term xRM is so popular and used so widely. xRM is not a product but rather a strategy for innovation using CRM. This makes CRM unique - using CRM as a platform to create solutions. Since this idea is similar to the use of Microsoft Access, I have sometimes heard CRM called “Access on steroids” but that is not a fair description. Not because CRM uses a more powerful Microsoft SQL Server database but that there is so much more in CRM as well as its well documented Software Development Kit (SDK).
Snap it all together with CRM
Microsoft has different offerings for businesses and people such as Outlook, Office, Skype, Lync, SharePoint, and Yammer to name a few. Microsoft CRM helps unify your experiences and connect these solutions together. By “together”, I mean data and a central point for solutions. Companies need one source (one database) to go to for the truth - the complete truth of a customer. Companies desire a true 360 degree view of customer activities, transactions, communications, social interactions - all the layers of customer information. Companies looking to deploy CRM often have customer data, product data, inventory data, financial data, events data, accounts receivable data, you name it, stored all over the place in separate databases and Excel files. Microsoft Dynamics CRM can help integrate to or replace those systems entirely. Just like adding the right Lego blocks, CRM can be extended to bring the data AND the business process of the retired solution directly into CRM. This makes Microsoft CRM a pivotal and key component to consolidating systems, operations, and experiences across a diverse set of screens.
Before you start putting blocks together
As easy as playing with Legos may sound, most companies seek experienced assistance to properly implement and strategically extend CRM. Before you start putting blocks together in CRM, it is recommended that you form a roadmap and plan that is specific to your CRM goals and business drivers. Start strategically by asking the critical “why” questions such as why are we doing this? As you seek help, look for partners that not only have many bright and shiny CRM blocks (some of which may already be put together for you giving you a head start), but more importantly a partner that has the discipline to know when to set those blocks aside to focus on developing your plan for measurable business improvement. Otherwise, without a plan for your CRM, you may end up with a bunch of pretty and flashy blocks snapped together that few wish to use.
CRM is like using Legos
The blocks all fit together – particularly the many unique special pieces – to consolidate business systems and data, connect applications, make it easy to use, and unify experiences.
The use of the word “Lego” and “Legos” is a registered trademark under the LEGO® brand.
November 26, 2012
This blog is going to take a closer look at the Out of the Box (OOTB) codeless customization functionality of both Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com. Why OOTB? Well of course in every implementation of software there is going to be some necessary customizations because every business is different; but what happens when the developers leave? What can you do in each system without spending any more money? What happens when a new position is created, a policy or process changes, or if a department is reorganized? A business is a living and breathing thing. Your software should be able to support that. The reality is that businesses evolve and so do their needs. This post will look at how each system’s OOTB functionality supports that reality without needing to call the IT department or write another check.
There are several business cases for wanting to customize your system. A very common type of customization is a change made to a record such as adding a new field or creating a view within the record to surface relevant data. Both Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com facilitate basic record customization, and while the Dynamics approach in regards to this feature is clean, intuitive, and simple, the SalesForce.com approach is disjointed, cumbersome, and complex.
Let’s compare the two different systems in regards to these 3 simple and basic customization functions:
- Customizing record forms: fields
- Customizing record forms: Surfacing related records and data
- Saving/Publishing your customizations
First things first, let’s review the overall UI for record customizations:
In Dynamics CRM you can go to the record you want to customize and it’s one click on the customizations tab, and one click on the customize form button. You are then brought to a single screen that facilitates all 3 of the mentioned customizations as well as a few others.
SalesForce offers similar functionality (you can customize directly from the record) however each customization link brings you to a different screen. There is no one screen that allows the user to visually see the record AND all of the customization options in one place. The UI is disjointed and confusing.
Screen for Account customizations
Screen for customizing Account form
In Dynamics CRM you can customize fields right from the Customization form. A field explorer or list of fields menu is on your right hand side and you can drag/drop or edit fields as you choose.
To create a new field you simply select the “New Field” button from the customization form and a new screen pops up to create the field.
Customizing a field in Salesforce.com can bring you to a few different screens. The user has to navigate all 5 of these screens just to create and place a custom field on the form.
Furthermore, Salesforce.com will automatically place the field on the form in a default location, you then need to go find it and move it where you want it. Overall, something as simple as customizing a field is very complex.
Feature 2: Surfacing related records and data:
Dynamics CRM provides the functionality to embed subgrids and charts into your record that are created from related or non related records. Why is this relevant? It allows the user to surface any other record or chart and any fields on the record itself. There are several business cases where this feature is helpful including an embedded chart of orders for an account or subgrid of activities associated with an account.
The best feature about subgrids and charts is that they allow the user to leverage multiple views, including custom ones. So let’s say you created multiple custom views for a specific record. You can have one custom view be the default for the chart or subgrid and still have the option to see other views as well all within the same place on the form.
Here we can see the order total by month chart on the account as a default, but we can also select a different chart for orders from the drop down if we choose.
Salesforce.com answers this function with “Lists”. The functionality is limited to which “lists” are available. You can’t just have a list of any records you want. Furthermore while you can customize which columns of data are displayed in the view, and apply relevant filters to the lists, you cannot have more than one view for the record. So you are married to whatever view you choose to surface for a specific record… Choose wisely.
Feature 3: Saving Customizations
The final feature we are going to compare is saving your customizations: (It’s more important than you think)
Dynamics offers a “save” function throughout their system as does salesforce.com, but when it comes to customizations they have added a “publish” feature that enhances the functionality quite a bit.
Saving a customization in Dynamics does not necessarily mean it will be globally changed automatically. The user is allowed to “save” and then get some input, think about it, and come back
later to finally “publish” their changes.
So why is this so great? Well, your CRM system runs your business. Any small glitch can cause a huge headache. So this feature allows the user to think through their decisions about changes to their system for as long as they like.
Salesforce.com only allows the user to “Save” the changes. Compared to Dynamics, this is obviously not as good.
Overall, the two systems both provide lots of functionality, especially around codeless customizations. But it seems apparent that Dynamics CRM provides a better UI for these customizations. Furthermore Dynamics provides a more comprehensive functionality that allows the user to perform relevant and simple customizations with ease and confidence. Dynamics seems to have put in extra effort where it counts in regards to OOTB codeless customization and the results reflect that effort.
November 15, 2012
Often there is a need to create a complex Process (workflow) and then shortly thereafter, recreate it with slightly different parameters. Dynamics CRM does not come with a "Save as" mechanism for workflows like it does for advanced finds and Views so it would seem you would have to go in and recreate the new workflow to match the one that already exists. There is a better (read 'easier') way!
Recently a customer had a need for the creation of multiple views (27 to be exact) and accompanying
workflows that could be run on demand to affect just the records in these views. The views were fairly easy to recreate as only one piece of data in the grid was changed and after creating one and doing a "Save As" for the other 26, the process was straight forward.
The workflows were not quite that easy to create but very simple to duplicate. Each workflow did
essentially the same thing (set a completion date on an entity after some validity checking) but each view represented a different date field on that entity. What we did was create a workflow for the first view and instead of saving with the ‘Activate As” value of "Process”, we saved it as a "Process Template”. We published this and as we created the other workflows, we simply chose to base them on this template.
All that needed to be done with this new workflow was to change the values being looked at in the
steps that determined if an update was required and also change the field that was being updated. After the 26 “copies” were made, we unpublished the original "template" workflow, set the “Active As” to “Process" resaved it and we had all 27 workflows done in a very short time.
As an additional benefit, all of the commenting of the workflow was identical so the end result was in a consistent form.
August 29, 2012
Microsoft Dynamics CRM in the Call Center: How to leverage Multiple Source Systems through CRM - Third in Series
Another common challenge in the Contact Center is Customer Service Representatives (CSR’s) having to access multiple systems to get the information they need to do their job. Whether it’s a back-end Billing or Claims system to access policy information, each additional click to navigate adds precious seconds to each customer interaction.
Customer Effective created an Agent Desktop Solution Framework as a streamlined way to search across multiple systems. This Dynamics CRM solution was designed to provide Customer Service Centers with a quick, intuitive, and a consistent user- interface for logging customer interactions via Phone Calls, Emails, Faxes, Letters, etc.
Key Concepts of the CE: Agent Desktop Solution
Multiple Data Sources: For different reasons, many enterprises will want to have their data stored in disparate systems, but accessed in CRM. CE’s Agent Desktop Framework creates a streamlined way to search across multiple systems (via web services) and bring the results back in a native CRM way.
Activity Management: CSRs will often work on a case using multiple communication channels. As they work through the cases, their activities are tracked in the left hand navigation tab. Each activity can have different notes and outcomes, but they will roll to the same case, account, or customer. Each time the CSR accesses an outside system, an activity record is created automatically.
Activity Threads: In the screenshot above, it displays how this solution can serve as a CSR email solution. Each correspondence is rolled into an Activity Thread, which is associated with a customer and a policy.Example: In a service center environment where each correspondence with customers will require actions to be taken by CSRs, these actions can be spread out over a series of touch points (email/phone call/fax/letter). With this requirement in mind the Customer Effective: Agent Desktop has incorporated custom code intended to rollup multiple related activities and the actions performed against them.
In the screenshot example the following functionality is highlighted.
- Section A: CRM can be pre-populated with the caller’s record, also known as screen-pop, with integration to the Phone System (For example: it can perform a database lookup in the background based on the Phone# calling in).
- Section B: Ability to populate “Activity Type” along with free form text to capture the issue in the “Activity Notes” section.
- Section C: This section can be integrated with the phone system to prepopulate the Insured or Agency search results.
- Section D: This is the system accessing data from multiple data sources. In this example it shows the system is “Billing”. Search is being performed on the policy number.
The more ways you leverage Microsoft Dynamics to display relevant content to your CSR’s, the more you will alleviate them having to log into multiple systems creating increased efficiencies across the organization.
June 28, 2012
Here are the pieces you need to build in order to replicate this functionality.
1.) Create a new lookup entity. We called it “Processors”. There are two main sections in this lookup entity. The first part we called “Field Lengths.” The following section called “Default Values” (See screenshots below) shows samples of the default values that to be set on the form.
Sample default values are listed below. Each processor lookup option could have had different default values. When creating these attributes we also made the attribute name the same but added “_def” to the attribute.
Click on Create Host Parameter
Select a Processor and see default fields get populated automatically based on the lookup entity.
Field lengths are now restricted based on the lookup entity.
If this is something your organization could leverage, feel free to reach out to Customer Effective at email@example.com
June 11, 2012
With CRM 4.0, you could set your page to “/_root/blank.aspx”. This page however, is no longer an option inside CRM 2011.
With CRM 2011, I like to use the loading screen “/_static/loading.htm”. Although this page contains an animated .gif and slightly more HTML than a blank page, the reason I prefer this page is because it is already cached by the browser and provides the user with a nice loading graphic.
May 21, 2012
In my last blog, I talked about how Dialogs and Connections can be useful to Investment Bankers who use CRM. Another example of using Connections and Dialogs comes from the Asset Management arena, where it’s important to track, among other things, Consultants and Custodians for the customers of the Asset Management firm. The importance of these relationships, especially the Consultant, cannot be undersold. Using Connections is ideal in this case, but using Dialogs really simplifies the process of creating these Connections. Dialogs reduce the process of data entry to questions and answers that are very intuitive.
May 10, 2012
When an account or a contact isn’t currently engaged in business with your company, we might think of them as “inactive.” – CRM offers a button on the ribbon to ‘deactivate’ the record - but is that the right way to manage the status of a record? - Typically not. – The Active/Inactive status of CRM records really refers to the status of the ‘record’ rather than the contact or account the record refers to. Setting a customer to ‘inactive’ means that it cannot be edited, re-assigned, shared and it immediately gets excluded from most views and reports.
While an administrator may ultimately want to de-activate records if the customer goes out of business or is merged, everyday users shouldn’t be deactivating records on-the-fly. Far more useful is to add a customer “Classification” options to include a more descriptive set of data around why the customer is not an ‘active customer.’ – Once that information is captured, a data administrator can review and deactivate those records through a more methodical process.
May 09, 2012
As you’re thinking about or discussing the announced CRM cross-browser support coming in R8 (Q2 2012) be aware that there are some expectations that may or may not be realistic.
If you expect users in your organization to use browsers other than IE to access CRM, it's important to be ready to understand what is supported out of the box - and what modifications to your existing customizations will enable users to get the most out of CRM, regardless of their browser choice.
April 25, 2012
Since the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, Microsoft has encouraged users to a 30-day free trial of CRM. And this has been successful in demonstrating key features like Outlook integration, sales productivity, analytics, service productivity, and basic marketing automation. But extended features, like data mart and communication platform integration, have not been readily available in trial demos. Thanks to Microsoft’s recent release of Demo Builder, these features and other, are available by running a ClickOnce application.
February 06, 2012
Setting up our Environment
First thing first, open your CRM 2011 development environment and browse to an account form. Once the account form is open, hit F12 on your keyboard. A window should popup that looks like this:
February 01, 2012
If you have ever had the privilege of developing a plugin for CRM 2011 you know that one of the most important aspects of plugin development is understanding what is available in the context that is passed to the plugin by CRM. After creating a few plugins you generally have a good idea of what is available for the common operations of CRM such as Create, Retrieve, Update, and Delete, but some of the more uncommon request to the OrganizationService may still be cloudy.
One of the methods that I use to understand what is available in the IPluginExecutionContext of a plugin is to use a no-operation plugin registered for the message that I will be handling that will trace the context out to the event log. This is a great way to see a list of all of the data contained in the context’s InputParameters, OutputParameters, SharedVariables, and images. Once you have a trace of what is available in the context of the plugin, the plugin development seems like a much less arduous task.
January 30, 2012
One of the great set of tools provided by the CRM 2011 SDK are the SDK Extensions which provide the OrganizationServiceContext for accessing data in CRM. The OrganizationServiceContext provides a way to access CRM and provides features such as change management, exposing an IQueryable interface, implementing a LINQ query provider, and providing caching services. It is the caching services that I would like to take a look at today.
January 13, 2012
There is already some code floating around to create a 4.0 style button inside of CRM 2011. The button we’re creating will instead create a CRM 2011 style button (i.e. “Example Button”).
January 12, 2012
After spending time on several of the CRM forums, I noticed a few people having trouble with iFrames and saving data inside of the iFrame. While a forum post is a little difficult to write a full response, I wanted to share some insight on capturing the form save event to then trigger a save event inside of your iFrame.
From a business case, this is a fantastic way to tie multiple systems together. If all you are doing is syncing data, then look first at a plugin or scribe. However, if you are looking for the user to interact with multiple systems simultaneously, then an iFrame is a wonderful way to integrated with an existing system. A good example might be where CRM is only storing the summary information and the iFrame contains the details. The user may update the details which should save both the CRM record and the details of the web site.