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From the category archives: Customer and Employee Engagement Blog

Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM, Customer Engagement, Sales, Customer Care and Marketing

Blogging Naturally (make it a part of your day)

There isn’t a day that goes by, where I come across some type of challenge, situation, issue, or piece of new learning that isn’t worth sharing with others. This article encourages you to blog, explains why it's important, and provides ideas on how to make it a natural part of your day.

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A RAD Approach to CRM Projects

This entry will provide an overview of project implementation approaches from SureStep Methodology, as well as define the benefits of a RAD approach to CRM projects with automated business processes.

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Does your business hinge on the government?

Does your business hinge on the government?

If you’re in healthcare, manufacturing, energy and education, the answer is definitely and in any other industry, the answer is probably so! Regardless, the government and its respective actions are initiating new laws and regulations that could not only impact but dramatically adjust a business operation. While the news may carry a story for the world to see, chances are that your business may just take some notes in an old notebook and hope to keep up with the story.

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Tracking and Approving Sales Commissions in SharePoint

As a company that provides customer relationship management (CRM) services, we’re big advocates of using your CRM system to track and approve sales commissions.  But sometimes it can be impractical to do this.  This is particularly true in complex organizations, small organizations or fast-growing organizations where you need the flexibility to quickly adapt your commission model to a changing situation in the marketplace.  Long-term, everyone should aim to handle commissions in their CRM system, but what do these organizations do in the short-term?

The good news is that SharePoint is an excellent tool for giving you all of the flexibility you need, while still having an efficient process for setting, tracking and distributing commissions.  Here’s how it can work for you.

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CRM 2011 Option Set Mapping in Workflows

Using Global Option sets in CRM 2011 can simplify the process of mapping option sets.  But what if you have a local option set in one entity and a global option set in another?  This blog explains how to map data from a local option set in one entity to the equivalent in another via workflow.

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Update the Default Associated View on a CRM 2011 Form

SNAGHTML164e6e7bOur Project Managers use Microsoft CRM to manage and track all of our projects – including the project plans, financials, time tracking and expenses.  When combined with SharePoint, our Agile Project Management solution has become a great way to carefully track all the details of our projects and communicate with our clients.  During a recent update to this solution, our Project Managers asked us if we could use a different view for the Time Tracking entity than the associated view.

After doing a bit of research we found that this is possible to some extent, but it is not well documented.  So here are some options for changing the associated view on a specific Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 form.

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End of Mainstream Support for CRM 4: what does it really mean?

Why should you care that the mainstream support phase is ending for Dynamics CRM 4.0 in April 2013? Read this article to understand what this really means for your deployment of CRM 4.0 on-premise, and how you can decide when it's time to upgrade to Dynamics CRM 2011.

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Is Your CRM 2011 Ready for the Next Update (UR12, aka Polaris)?

Microsoft will be rolling out Update Rollup 12 (UR12), also known as the Polaris update, for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Online and On-Premise in January, 2013.  This update contains some exciting new functionality that your users will love.  But it may also require that you make updates to the JavaScript on your CRM forms or you may experience errors.  Be careful - if you're not prepared, your CRM 2011 could stop working as expected and slow your team down!

This article was updated on 1/23/2013 with additional information about UR12.

This article contains the information you need in order to make sure that your CRM is ready for this update.

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Cloud Computing and the Public Sector

Several days ago I wrote a post in response to the successful South Carolina cyber-attack (that earlier post can be found here).  Although the security benefits alone are enough to justify starting the move to the cloud, there are numerous other cost-saving and productivity improving reasons for state and local governments to consider making the move. 

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How the Cloud May Have Prevented the Cyber-Security Storm in South Carolina

 

Cloud C5 largeEarlier this week it was announced than an international hacker had successfully made off with over 3 million social security numbers and almost 400,000 credit and debit card numbers from the state of South Carolina.  State and local governments have collectively spent billions of dollars trying to secure their data systems.  In spite of this investment, a hacker was able to identify and exploit a weak spot in their armor.  As public sector budgets are continuing to shrink, there is pressure to add more software applications to automate tasks and lower costs; increasing pressure to cut costs on security for these applications; and increasing pressure to extend the life of less secure and aging legacy computer applications.  The result is that our government agencies are at increasing risk of successful cyber-terrorism through a greater number of applications, lower security standards, and aging applications that should be replaced.

How could South Carolina and other state and local governments cost-effectively protect vital citizen, business and government records?  The answer comes from an emerging private-sector technology: cloud computing.

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CRM 2011 for Outlook with Windows 8 and Outlook 2013

 The latest update rollup for the Dynamics CRM 2011 client fixes some compatibility issues with Outlook 2013.  However, we are finding some issues with users that have upgraded from Outlook 2010 to Outlook 2013.  There was a similar issue when Office 2010 was released.  At that time, we had a client who purchased new computers that had Office 2010 pre-installed, but their corporate standard was Office 2007.  They uninstalled Office 2007 and installed Office 2010 – and CRM for Outlook no longer worked.

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CRM 2011 Sitemap issues where it removes the Organization Name from a URL

 

Recently while performing a client upgrade from CRM 4.0 to 2011 I ran into an issue with the SiteMap stripping out the Org Name in a URL. This particular client’s 4.0 environment had a SiteMap entry that brought them to a report to view. During a review of the system post upgrade I found that these links were broken. After further investigation I found CRM was stripping out the Org Name even though it was in the URL inside of the SiteMap. I struggled with this for quite some time. I discussed this with a few of my colleagues and we threw around some suggestions such as creating a dashboard which would then reference the report via an iFrame. However, this client had some special security policies around the SiteMap and we all know that there is zero security controls around a system dashboard so I kept digging. After some testing I figured out a way to get this to work 2011 without CRM stripping the Org Name out.

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Use JavaScript with Parent Entity Forms to Update and Retrieve Records

Dynamics CRM makes it easy to customize forms.  But businesses frequently require that a form needs to inherit some data from the parent record.  A hypothetical example of this is a part on a piece of equipment might inherit some information about the piece of equipment that it is a part of (in this particular case, both of these would be custom entities).  This article discusses some best practices for using JavaScript to inherit this data.

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Quick Tip: Finding the Activity Feed Solution

It has come to our attention that the Activity Feed solution is temporarily unavailable for download from the Microsoft Marketplace (the link for the download had been: http://pinpoint.microsoft.com/en-us/applications/microsoft-dynamics-crm-activity-feeds-12884926310).

Fortunately, we had downloaded a recent copy of this for a client deployment. If you need a copy of the file, please contact us (click here) and request the file and we will email it to you. To install it:

  1. Be sure you are running UR6 or later (we have tested it on UR8)
  2. Import the .cab file into CRM as a solution

It is provided without warranty, but we have installed it in a test environment and it works without an issue. If you become aware of the download becoming available again, please reply to this post so we can update it accordingly.

Thanks!

 

UPDATE 6/11/2012: The solution is now available from the Microsoft Marketplace again. You can now visit the above link to download it directly. Cheers!

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Application Data Integration – Part Three, Timing and the Rules

This is my third blog in a series concerning data integration. In my first two blog entries we overviewed some of the data integration hurdles as well as some of the common methods used to discover the net-change data that will need to be translated. Here in my third blog I’ll discuss some of the benefits of not integrating in real-time, but creating a batch job to perform the integration. We’ll also look at the Business Rules that may need to be applied within the integration process.

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Application Data Integration – Part Two, Net-Change

In my previous blog focusing on the hurdles of real-time, two-way data integration, I highlighted the hurdle of how to discover the data you need translated. In most cases, discovering the net-change data is all you want to translate on a real-time basis. Remember, a two-way integration means net-change data going in two directions or more (depending on the number of systems you’re integrating) at a rate determined by how many end-users there are on each of the systems being integrated. Business systems with a significant amount of end-users can create substantial volumes of net-change data.

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Convergence Report 2: The Future of Dynamics CRM from #CONV12

CRM 2011 on Windows 8

I am back home from Convergence and still trying to digest the wealth of information that was shared!

Of course one of the most anticipated parts of the Microsoft Convergence 2012 event in Houston was learning about the future of Dynamics CRM … what new features and functions does Microsoft plan to add?  I must say that Microsoft did a better job than normal in providing a vision of what the future may hold.  The very short summary is that over the course of the next 12 months, you will see Dynamics CRM become more: anytime, any device, any business – than ever before.  In this article we’ll take a deeper look into exactly what that means and how to expect this to translate into changes in the platform over the next several releases.

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Convergence Report 1: The Future is Collaborative at #CONV12

After concluding the first day at the Microsoft Convergence 2012 event here in Houston, TX, I can summarize my feelings in one sentence, “It is a great time to be alive and working on collaboration!”  Why do I say that?  Here are a few brief insights:

 

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Application Data Integration – Part One, Overview

In some cases, if not all too some extent, integration between Dynamics™ CRM , Salesforce® or/and SharePoint® with your back-office system is the key to user adoption. Real-time, two-way data integration allows all segments of the business to access the very latest transactional data, and the information that the data contains.

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Get a CRM Bible at Convergence 2012!

This weekend I’ll be packing my bags and heading off to Houston, TX to attend Microsoft Convergence 2012 to experience all of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM goodness I can get.  I’ll plan to publish at least a couple of blogs while I’m there on whatever news or tips I can pick up.  Feel free to leave a comment here if you’d like to request any specific topics Are you planning to attend?   Great!  Ping me and let’s plan to chat.  It would be great to network with individ ...

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How to Avoid Orphan Contacts in Dynamics CRM 2011

Create as Contact - Outlook to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011Have you finally gotten users to start creating contacts in CRM only to find out that they are often forgetting to associate them with an account?  For B2B organizations, this can become a significant data quality issue.  Most B2B organizations are business centered rather than contact centered.  What this means is that users tend to use the account entity in CRM to search for information.  So if a contact is not associated with an account, then users are not nearly as likely to find it.  This problem is exacerbated by Outlook integration features, such as the ability create a new contact directly from an email address.  In this blog, I’ll offer a couple of practical solutions to aid you with creating higher quality data by ensuring that the Parent Customer field is always populated on contact forms.

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Game-Changing Dashboards Combining SharePoint and CRM

 

SharePoint 2010 and CRM 2011 Dashboards on a Large Monitor

SharePoint has had excellent dashboard presentation capabilities for a long time now.  Dynamics CRM formally rolled out dashboard reporting with CRM 2011 (although using SharePoint and/or SSRS enabled dashboard reporting with previous versions of CRM).  Now that this functionality is getting embraced and adopted by many organizations, how can it best be leveraged to change the game by truly accelerating performance?  Simple.  Combine the best of Microsoft SharePoint, Dynamics CRM 2011 and TV or large monitors placed in public areas within your business.  Here’s how we’ve done it at C5 Insight.

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CRM 2011 Activity Feeds: Gaining User Adoption

CRM 2011 Dashboard with Activity FeedsActivity feeds are a great new feature of CRM 2011.  But, as compelling as they are, there is a problem.  Getting users to adopt them can be daunting.  Some users are not yet comfortable with social networking.  Others don't want to have to go to yet another place to track and record information.  Still others just have a hard time establishing new habits and work patterns.  

But starting to get value out of activity feeds doesn't have to be difficult.  This article outlines 3 practical ways that we have been working with activity feeds to boost the value of them, and the adoption of them by users.  Read on for more - including a free solution to expand how activity feeds are used in your organization.

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Role Based Business Logic Strategy for CRM 2011

Security roles are inherited by child business units in Microsoft Dynamics. As I mentioned in a previous blog Sneaky Cylon Copies of Your CRM Security Roles, security roles have linked copies that have the same name but are separate entries with their own unique guids for each business unit. This creates an interesting situation when you want to base business logic on a user’s security role memberships. Since the only thing that is effectively guaranteed to be the same between parent and inherited security roles is the name you need to enact some design patterns to use them in a consistent manor in your code.

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Dynamics CRM Security Role Harvey Balls

Harvey BallsI was on a conference call the other week when Jack Bender, a Senior Consultant from Microsoft, mentioned Harvey Balls in reference to security role privileges. Later on I asked him what the heck he was talking about with this Harvey Ball stuff. If you already know the whole Harvey Ball story then feel free to roll your eyes and give me the gas face. I just thought it was a somewhat odd description of the little balls used to adjust security permissions. For those of you who don't know what Harvey Balls are here is a brief summary so that when the time comes and you hear about Harvey Balls or you just want to impress someone by talking about them you'll be in the know.
 

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Blog Topics

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CPR for CRM Study

The complementary paper includes over 12 years of research, recent survey results, and CRM turnaround success stories.

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SharePoint Readiness Assessment

This 60-second assessment is designed to evaluate your organization's collaboration readiness.

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CRM Self Assessment

Learn how you rank compared to organizations typically in years 1 to 5 of implementation - and which areas to focus on to improve.

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SharePoint Feedback Solution

This is a sandbox solution which can be activated per site collection to allow you to easily collect feedback from users into a custom Feedback list.

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SharePoint Upgrade Checklist

Whether you are upgrading to SharePoint Online, 2010, 2013 or the latest 2016, this checklist contains everything you need to know for a successful transition.