Archive for October, 2009

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Interesting article on SalesLogix SaaS Strategy

October 31, 2009

Soon, SalesLogix will be offered as a single-tenant hosted solution in the sky, hosted on Amazon EC2 sites.  Pricing on the SalesLogix top tier product is more than twice the price of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online’s top tier product.

Another key difference between SalesLogix Cloud Edition and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is that with SLX, you are responsible for hotfixes, updates, etc. just as you would be with SalesLogix on-premise.  Sage is spinning this as a positive thing that most users would want. 

This is an interesting article on SalesLogix’s SaaS strategy: http://blogs.zdnet.com/SAAS/?p=868

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Installing the Outlook plug-in

October 29, 2009

You always have Outlook open.  If you don’t, you’re probably not working anyway. One of the greatest features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is that you can access all of your data directly within Outlook.  There isn’t another button to click.  There aren’t other windows to open.  If you have e-mail up, you also have your database open.

If you are familiar with Outlook, then getting used to Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook should be a cinch.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. On a computer that doesn’t have the Outlook plug-in installed, log into your Microsoft Dynamics CRM database by going to yoursite.crm.dynamics.com in Internet Explorer
  2. Click the CRM for Outlook button on the toolbar.
  3. Run the client installer when prompted.

Tips and Tricks:

  • If in doubt, choose the option to install without offline access. Installing the Outlook plug-in will install a local instance of MS SQL Server and slow your computer down big time.



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Creating a custom “Dear…” field in Microsoft CRM

October 26, 2009

When you write a letter, e-mail, or other correspondence to a customer in your Microsoft Dynamics CRM database, you’ll start the letter with a saluation line:

Dear Mr. Smith:
Dear Joe:
Dear Mary:
etc, etc.

The text that comes after the “Dear” in your letters is easy to pull in CRM, as long as you want either the first name (like Mary) or the name prefix and last name (Like Mrs. Smith). 

Some customers want to have full control — on a contact by contact basis — of what shows up after the “Dear” in your letters.  For this, you can create a custom field called Dear for Letters.  With a very simple script on the first name field, you can set a default value for the field.  With this script in place, any new contact will copy the first name for a contact into the Dear for Letters field.  You can always override this default value. 

Here’s what you’ll have to do to create a  Dear for Letters field:

1. Create a custom contact attribute.  Call it Dear for Letters and make sure it is visible on the Contact form.

2. In the Form editor, double-click the First Name field.  In the Events tab, click the Edit button.  Paste the following code into the screen that appears:

if(crmForm.all.new_dearforletters.DataValue == null)
   {
        crmForm.all.new_dearforletters.DataValue=crmForm.all.firstname.DataValue;
   }

Save your changes, and publish the customizations.  Now, you’ll have a custom Dear for Letters field that will default to the first name of your contact, unless you override it.

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Bulk Update and Export tool

October 26, 2009

All Microsoft Dynamics CRM administrators should have this tool in his or her toolbox.  The Bulk Update and Export tool allows you to export data from CRM to Microsoft Excel/CSV.  What makes this tool pretty cool is that you can mass update data in Excel and then pull the updated data back into your CRM database. 

The tool is available on Codeplex at:
http://mscrmbulkupdatetool.codeplex.com/

Happy updating!

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So what is xRM?

October 24, 2009

xRM is  the use of CRM software as a development platform to create industry-specific applications that extend beyond the traditional use of CRM within sales organizations.

Ten years ago, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) replaced SFA (Sales Force Automation) as the buzzword-of-the-day.  Today, xRM is the new CRM.  A lot of folks ask us about the hype surrounding xRM, and so here’s a quick explanation of xRM.

Basically, traditional CRM focused on the customer.  In fact, the “C” in CRM stands for customer.  In a traditional CRM deployment, salespeople have used the CRM platform to create  a mechanism for tracking customers. 

With the advent of xRM, though, the CRM platform has been extended to focus on a variety of businesses.  The “x” in xRM is a wildcard.  It could stand for anything.  If you are a political office, xRM could be Constituent Relationship Management.   If you are a doctor’s office, xRM could be Patient Relationship Management.  If you are a charity, xRM could be Donor Relationship Management. 

In other words, xRM has extended far beyond the original focus on the salesperson/customer relationship.  Anyone tracking a relationship in a business environment can use xRM to stay organized.

This video from Microsoft talks about the concept of xRM.

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Rollup 7 Available for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Users

October 23, 2009

Here’s the download link:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=a4893988-7804-4e23-ab58-740441cc696e

Important information is available here:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/971782

Plus an article on the permissions required on your server:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/946677/

Here are a few of the improvements to the Outlook plugin:

Computer performance

  • Reduced sign-in time. This is especially significant for users who have a large amount of offline Microsoft Dynamics CRM data. In earlier releases, Microsoft Dynamics CRM stored many files in the roaming profile, such as metadata, logs, traces, and the offline database. To reduce sign-in time, these files are now located in a local data folder.
  • Improved overall performance. In earlier releases, the hoster process and offline database continued to run, even while the computer was in online mode. This could decrease performance and reduce battery life. These processes now run only in offline mode. The desktop client no longer requires the hoster process.

Outlook performance and synchronization

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook now loads in the background. This enables users to read e-mail messages before Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook is fully loaded.
  • E-mail tagging now runs in the background. This improves Outlook performance, especially for users who have a large number of tracked e-mail messages in their inbox.
  • CRM Address Book Provider (ABP) run-time storage of in-memory ABP XML has been moved to a Microsoft SQL Server CE in-memory representation. This helps manage CRM address book data more efficiently.
  • State management logic has been improved. This enables Microsoft Dynamics CRM to handle network, authentication, sleep, and hibernation transitions more efficiently without requiring users to restart Outlook for each transition. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Laptop Client now automatically transitions to offline mode when a remote Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server cannot be contacted (as long as user has gone offline at least once in past). It automatically switches back to online mode when the connection is restored.
  • Outlook synchronization now runs in the background and has significant performance improvements in terms of numbers of records synchronized per minute.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook now supports Outlook delegates.  If an Outlook user is a delegate for another Outlook user, the delegate can mark items for tracking in the primary user’s inbox. The Exchange Server stores the tracking information until the primary user starts Outlook. At that time, Microsoft Dynamics CRM verifies the data and then synchronizes with Outlook.
  • Manually synchronizing with Microsoft Dynamics CRM produces item-level failure details. The synchronization code now handles row-level failures in a way that does not cause the entire synchronization process to fail. Also, the synchronization progress dialog box now displays the list of specific record-level failures.
  • The synchronization process is now optimized to help prevent synchronization failures from damaging the offline database.
  • The synchronization process has been improved to ensure that changes made to CRM tracked records inside Outlook are propagated to CRM server even when CRM addin is not active (e.g. – via OWA or when addin is in disabled state).

Setup and configuration

  • Background Intelligence Transfer Service (BITS) has been implemented to improve component download performance.
  • Configuration Wizard now starts automatically when the user restarts Outlook after Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook is installed. An ability to auto-configure CRM for Outlook has been added via use of config.xml file.
  • The number of Configuration Wizard screens has been reduced and the overall configuration process is simpler.
  • After Update Rollup 7 is installed, updates will no longer require the user to have Administrator privileges on the client computer.
  • A download button has been added for CRM Outlook client in application web UI to help users discover the right client for their deployment type. Additional flexibility has been enabled for organizations to modify the download package in a manner that enables them to package CRM configuration information specific to their organization (Please refer to KB 2004601 that will be published shortly)
  • Silent unattended installations of CRM via SMS has been enabled by adding support for MIF files and removing the need for end users to be logged into the machine during laptop client deployment.
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Social Networking Accelerator Released!

October 23, 2009

The new social networking accelerator has been posted to CodePlex.  Instantly feed tweets into your CRM database and respond/analyze with dashboards and pretty amazing reports.  By far, one of the coolest CRM/social networking integrations we’ve seen.

For all of the accelerators, go to:
http://www.codeplex.com/crmaccelerators

To download the social networking accelerator, go to:
http://crmaccelerators.codeplex.com/Release/ProjectReleases.aspx?ReleaseId=29979
The Social Networking Accelerator for Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows business professionals to monitor and analyze customers’ conversations on social networking sites, and as a result, provides real-time status updates about their products and services. This first release of the accelerator delivers integration with Twitter; other networks will be introduced in future releases.

The release contains full source code, automated installer, documentation and step-by-step installation and functional videos.