Dynamics Connector is being discontinued, What does it mean?

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

Confucius

I read this article Connector for Microsoft Dynamics support for Microsoft Dynamics CRM beyond Dynamics CRM version 2016, it has this quote

Dynamics CRM version 2016 will be the last major version of Dynamics CRM to be supported by Connector.

The latest version can be found here

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/dynamicsconnector/archive/2014/12/04/connector-for-microsoft-dynamics-v3-cu-4-released.aspx

What does the Dynamics connector do?

The Dynamics connector connects Microsoft Dynamics CRM and other Microsoft Dynamics products (NAV, AX, GP).  It‘s a product created by Microsoft and given away free to Microsoft partners.

The Dynamics Connector is like a free version of Scribe but harder to use and with less functionality (but its free).

I used the Dynamics connector for a while, the biggest obstacle was the lack of information and blog posts written about the connector.  As soon as anything went wrong it was almost impossible to get help to resolve the problem.

You can my blog posts on the Dynamics Connector, they are primarily focused on fixing problems

https://crmbusiness.wordpress.com/category/dynamic-connector/

Who uses it

Many Microsoft Dynamics partners use the Dynamics connector, it‘s useful tool to synchronise data between CRM and other dynamics products.

The biggest advantage it has is it‘s free, so can reduce the cost of the project, which is useful for small projects where money is tight.  When using the connector you often end up spending pltenty of time getting the connector to work, any money you save on not buying Scribe licences will is used development and setting up the Dynamics connector, particularly if you need to synchronize custom entities.

What does discontinuing mean

It‘s seems a strange decision to drop support because you would think Microsoft would want to integrate Microsoft Dynamics CRM with other Dynamics products.

The question I’m asking is – why wouldn’t they continue to support it? because to synchronise you need licences to two seperate Microsoft Dynamics products, surely something Microsoft would encourage.

In Dynamics AX they are bringing in functionality to Synchronize AX with Dynamics CRM.  The functionality is not ready yet but as always it’s imminent.  The discontation of the Dynamics Connector and new functionality inside Dynamics products is perhaps the model Microsoft are moving towards..

The communication between Microsoft and the Dynamics community is not open, so we are left guessing for the time being.

If Bob Paisley managed a CRM team

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”

Ronald Reagan

People are the most expensive and valuable asset of Microsoft Dynamics CRM re-sellers, a great leader can make the difference between a successful company and an average company.  Great leadership creates a vision of the future and engage and inspire individuals to achieve the vision.

People are to Microsoft Dynamics CRM re-sellers because most sell people not products.  Its the CRM professionals who deliver projects, capture requirements, design solutions, document, interact with user.

People are an important resource for Microsoft Dynamics CRM reseller,  a leader is needed to direct them, motivate them and manage them.

I read a great article on Bob Paisley and like most things it brings my thoughts back to how the lessons and insights show to Microsoft Dynamics CRM and working in IT.

Bob Paisley was one of the most successful managers ever in England, he was assistant manager at Liverpool between 1959-1974 and manager from 1974-1983.  Whilst managing Liverpool winning on average on 2.1 trophies per season, winning 19 major trophies in 9 years.

The article raises many great points about leadership and like most things I read, I apply the information to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM industry.

Leadership

The article discusses leadership.

Good football teams require direction and leadership. The captain functions as the on-field general, rallying the troops in the heat of competition. The manager is really the captain steering the ship, navigating the crew through football’s tempests save for 90 minute bouts where he must lead from the other side of the chalked white lines.

Every team/organisation needs a leader to create a future, outline the direction of the company.  Leaders create and develop other great leaders in an organisation, these are the captains.  Management set the culture of the company and the values its employees should show.

The skill of simplifying a companies strategy can motivate a team to deliver the strategy, a fuzzy strategy or direction reduces commitment and effort of a team.

A CEO/Head of CRM practice and upper management who steer the ship, below them you are the captains and leaders, such as solution architects, senior consultants.  To deliver multiple projects you need a strong team,  the senior members offer guidance and direction to the junior members, setting standards, avoiding problems, helping them grow and improve and deliver projects on time.

Being listened to not just being heard

“The man exuded class and calm and once spoke of the importance of speaking softly so people actually make the effort to listen. Paisley knew man-management was about being listened to over being heard.”

 

Listening is a key skill needed by CRM professionals.  A boss once said CRM developers must keep listening until the users stop talking, CRM developers should listen more than they talk. When a CRM developer hears requirements they formulate a solution.  Creating the solution too early means they switch off listening to the rest of the requirements.

The boot room

Liverpool in the time of Paisley used the clubs boot room as a place to discuss strategy, the game, players, everything and anything.

On Sunday mornings we’d go in and talk about the Saturday game. There were differing opinions and disagreements and everyone put their oar in. But it was all done in the right manner. We liked everyone to air their views and you probably got a more wide-ranging discussion in the Boot room than you would in the boardroom. But nothing spilled out of there. What went on was within these four walls. There was a certain mystique about the place, which I also believe there should be about the dressing room. What’s said in there should, by and large, be private too.

 

Liverpool had the boot room but for many CRM professionals going to work, having a coffee, lunchtime is their virtual boot room.  Talking and sharing ideas on CRM with your colleagues is a great way to learn about CRM and it’s practical implementation.

Experience is valuable with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, many key lessons are learnt from trying, failing and find problems with solutions.  The limitations of functionality is fundamental in the choice of customization, experienced CRM developers/architects choose the right customization for a requirement.

The ideas, thoughts and experiences of your work colleagues is one of the most potent sources of learning available to many CRM professionals, be sure to use it.

Team game

Bob Paisley wasn’t kidding when he said, “It’s not about the long ball or the short ball, its about the right ball.” In football, there’s a phrase good coaches use with young players: ‘make it easy for the other man to play the game’. Liverpool players played for one another through selfless, supporting and fluid football.

When working in any team you need to view your actions in the long term
  • gains for individuals and the team
  • documenting procedures
  • creating best practices
  • sharing information/code/documents.
  • Creating and maintaining relationships with other team members
  • maintaining development environments

Some tasks need to be done

  • Production deployments (often out of hours)
  • help desk duties
  • Time sheets

Supporting each other and the team is required to work, these two articles focus on working as a team.

The articles focus on keeping quality and standards high as individuals and as a team.  The actions of individuals effect the team physically and mentally, individuals working hard and to high standards will influence their peers into doing the same, individuals can inspire their team mates.

 Alan Hansen surmised Paisley insatiable appetite for success by saying: “If there was one word that Paisley hated, it was the ‘C’ word: Complacency’.”

We must improve, look for opportunities, keep learning.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM industry is evolving, adding new version, new related services, the speed of change is highlighted in this article – The rise of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 

continuous improvement is key to a successful career Why CRM Developers should always start with the CRM SDK, I have this quote

My aim each day is to know more about CRM development when I leave work than when I started it.

If you want to learn more about Bob read this book Paisley: Smile On Me And Guide My Hand

I will leave you with some quotes from the great man

 

I can let the team do the talking for me. Bob Paisley

 I love the city and the people here. I’ve been with them for many years and I fought alongside them. Bob Paisley

“If you’re in the penalty area and don’t know what to do with the ball, put it in the net and we’ll discuss the options later.”

“Mind you, I’ve been here during the bad times too – one year we came second.”

CRM 2016 – Default CRM mobile app works fully offline and the limitations of previous offline versions

You can only make sense of the online world by going offline and by getting the wisdom and emotional clarity to know how to make the best use of the Internet. Pico Iyer

I was investigating accessing CRM functionaity offline, once you have requirements for CRM data and functionality to work offline, it narrows down your options.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM has some good mobile solutions with offline capabilities, I chose to look at
  • CRM for phones and tablets (awful name Microsoft)
  • Resco

The default CRM 2016 mobile app (called CRM for phone and tablets) has draft functionality, I wasn’t sure how useful it was, Resco on the other hand has full offline capabilities. Would the draft functionality be enough but during my internet search investigation and trying it out,  I came across two articles which said CRM 2016 fall release has full offline capabilities, I get to that at the end.  First let me tell you a story….

Hosk Dev Story

I wanted to learn about the functionality in Microsoft Dynamics CRM mobile app – MACA.  You can read about it’s limitations and functionality but I find it’s hard to understand how the important of limitations until you are trying to do something.

It’s often here you find Deadends, which I have written about before

CRM 2013 – Why wasn’t an updated Custom workflow used by CRM?

Deadends

Learning how the CRM works, helps diagnose future problems and avoid making similar mistakes.  The CRM developer centre is a great resource to help navigate the CRM SDK.

CRM developers benefit from learning the CRM SDK and CRM Developers should always start with the CRM SDK, understanding how it works and its quirks.

The better you understand how CRM works the fewer error/mistakes and dead ends you will make.  Dead ends can waste time because

  • Create a customization
  • find it doesn’t work
  • Remove customization
  • Have to create another customization

CRM is the framework sitting on top of languages JavaScript and .NET,  you need to learn CRM as well the programming languages.  This explains why .NET developers struggle with CRM development

I hadn’t really used CRM mobile app much, I had quickly assessed and compared it to Resco and found Resco has tons of functionality and the Microsoft Mobile app has a long way to catch up but Resco costs money and Microsoft give the mobile app for free.  You can find the pricing for Resco here

Resco pricing

Could I use a form to collect data on a mobile device and based on certain answers show/hide fields.  I remembered back to my CRM 2015 customization and configuration exam (Hosk Tips on passing) learning about business rules and this was exactly what they were made for, to work on the mobile application.

I started a CRM 2016 trial,  created a new custom entity, added some fields.

Created the field as two options – have you used Dynamics CRM

Created 5 two options for the version

If you clicked no – it hid 5 fields with the versions

If you clicked Yes 0 it showed the version fields

  • CRM 4
  • CRM 2011
  • CRM 2013
  • CRM 2015
  • CRM 2016

I don’t count before CRM 4, as you can tell from Rise of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

I was using Windows 8, so I downloaded the app and was testing it on my laptop (yes trying to be clever and avoid having to download it on my Iphone)

I found they weren’t working in my windows 8 version but do work on iPhone.  morale of the story, don’t use windows 8

Business rules aren’t the only option, I think Javascript works in a limitated way, check out the page Customize CRM for phones and tablets for your customisation options

if you haven’t used CRM for phones and tablets then it’s best to start here

I managed to blunder my way through it but setting up the Mobile (note A CRM Administrator has to enable Mobile offline),  this page walks you through it, if you are using a CRM trial ignore the bit about mobile offline configuration, it won’t work or do anything because the new CRM 2016 full offline capabilities only work with an production or sandbox instances not trails

CRM Offline – Draft mode

when you go offline, most things stop working and it comes to an odd halt and the message pops up on the side saying Offline.

You can create some new entities but no lookups work, I suddenly realized most records have lookups this makes the whole draft functionality not nearly as useful as I imagined.  If you were creating an opportunity, you could fill in opportunity fields not link it to any contacts or accounts, products, even if they already existed.

No one is going to like draft functionality, it’s not really a feature, more of a fudge around.

The good news was business rules worked perfectly in offline mode.  I haven’t used business rules for a while and creating business rules is really easy (in comparison to workflows) and the If and else functionality makes it easy to create rules to show and hide fields.  I remember when you had to create two separate business rules CRM 2013 – Business Rules work in pairs because the condition is AND and not IF.

These are the actions business rules provide

business rule actions

I wanted to compare the draft functionality in the CRM for phones and tablets to Resco’s offline mode.  I created the same functionality using Resco and it worked perfectly and offline.  Every time I use Resco I find the Woodford framework intuitive and easy to use.

I was able to create a form and add business rule type things on there without looking up how to do it.  As a mobile development platform Resco is excellent and Microsoft have quite a way to go to catch them up.

Current Limitations for CRM 2015 and CRM 2016 initial release

  • You cannot set lookup fields.  All lookup fields are disabled in offline mode.  This sounds like a minor problem but it’s a massive headache and something Microsoft need to resolve quickly
  • In offline mode you can only create new records.
  • You cannot edit existing records.  This is extremely annoying.

This page has some limitations

While disconnected, you can only create standalone records or associate records to those that are available for offline access on your device. For example, you can create an opportunity for an account only if that account was created before you went offline, and if it’s available for offline access. You can’t create an opportunity for an account while offline if you also created the account while offline.

Not all entities are available in the mobile client, you can look here to see the list but you will notice

Quotes, invoice, resource and lots of others cannot be enabled.  Custom entities can be enabled.  I assume it’s because some of the forms have been modified by Microsoft so the default behavior isn’t the same or maybe they are not in the new form types.

There is also a list of entities which are not modifiable which you can find here.

The non entities can be a show stopper because if you want quotes or another default entity then you cannot use the Default CRM mobile application.

New CRM for phones and tablets has full offline capabilities

An interesting thing happened whilst searching for information about the draft mode, I found in CRM 2016 full offline capability should be available.  You can’t access it through a trial instance, this is always a bad sign when you are trying to assess how it works, it’s limitations and how you can use it.

It makes it really difficult to demo it because you have to go through your Microsoft contact to get a trial environment.

I read this article saying full offline sync is available for CRM 2016 in the fall release

New Offline experience with Mobile Dynamics CRM App

but it wasn’t working in my trial, I then found this article – Configure mobile offline synchronisation for CRM for phones and tablets

  • At least 5 Professional CRM Online licenses OR
  • At least 1 Enterprise CRM Online license
Note

Keep the following in mind when enabling mobile offline synchronization:

  • You need to make sure the licenses are assigned to a user before you can enable mobile offline synchronization. CRM won’t recognize the licenses if they’re not in use.
  • Mobile offline synchronization isn’t available for Trial, Preview or sandbox CRM organizations.
  • Offline drafts mode (the existing offline experience) will continue to be available for all users if they aren’t using the new offline capabilities.

How does the new CRM 2016 offline capability work

The article Configure mobile offline synchronisation for CRM for phones and tablets mentions Azure and it got me wondering

How did offline capability work with Azure (a cloud based solution).

This article explains it in details – configure Mobile offline synchronisation for CRM for phones and tablets

When you sign up to use Mobile Offline capability it downloads a local database to your phone.  The CRM mobile app will sync the data periodically to an SQL Azure database using Azure cloud services.

I believe the reason you have to enable this functionality is some people might not need it but also there is a privacy notice because Microsoft will store a copy of your data in their SQL Azure database and you need to give permission for that (e.g. enabling).  This sounds like Bing maps which are turned off by default – CRM 2016 – Bing maps not appearing

This is a great improve for the default CRM mobile app, particularly when you think Microsoft give the CRM mobile app for free and now it works offline.

A good run through of the new functionality with pictures here

Useful links for CRM mobile

CRM 2016 – Bing maps not appearing

I created a new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online trial, went to the account screen and realised Bing maps wasn’t appearing

Usually when things don’t work, the first place to look is in System settings and found the setting

no bing map.

The reason it isn’t enabled

 

By enabling this command, you consent to share your data with an external system. Data imported from external systems into Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online are subject to our privacy statement that can be accessed here. Please consult the feature technical documentation for more information.

It links to two articles

Microsoft Online Services Privacy Statement

Manage Bing Maps for your organization

I assume Bing maps is disabled because Microsoft must use the data and so must need users to consent to the data being used.

Stop sending error reports

A developer asked me how he could stop the annoying error report messages.  My answer to most questions about CRM is, I think I have written a blog about that.  I remembered it

CRM 2013 – How to stop these annoying things in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Here is the answer

Disable Send Report to Microsoft pop up

I personally have always wondered what Microsoft does with all those error reports it asks people to send!

You might be tired of clicking on these message and you probably don’t want your end users to see this popup.

Good news – Luckily Microsoft have added a setting we can turn off

Bad news – it’s hidden in a place where no one would dream of looking

If you want to stop this message, you need to go to

Settings –> Administration –> Privacy Preferences –> tick box and select Never send

privacy settings

Thoughts on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Strategy

All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.”
― Max McKeownAdaptability: The Art of Winning in an Age of Uncertainty

Strategy is about shaping the future.  Look at how you can win, where the opportunities are, create actions develop knowledge, skills and resources to deliver the strategy.

Strategy is important because what brought a company success in the past might not work in the future, you must keep evolving at a company.

Successful companies are those who adapt to their changing environments, those who understand the direction of an industry, create and deliver strategies suited to opportunities arising from change.

“Change is inevitable, progress is not.”
― Max McKeownThe Truth About Innovation

Do I need to know about strategy

Individuals need strategies to progress, the skills and knowledge you have might not be in demand in the future, you must learn new skills, technologies to adapt to new roles.

You might think I don’t need to know this, it doesn’t affect me, I go to work, do my job and go home at 5.30 but what about?

What technologies will in the next Microsoft Dynamics CRM project, it could be CRM Online, portal, Azure services, Machine learning, gamification.  Could you deliver this project or will they need to hire someone else?

What are you going to learn next? if you pick one new technology used in Microsoft Dynamics CRM which is it? why did you choose that? is it the best choice?

You are making strategic decision’s daily but if these are not linked with your future vision, you could be investing your time and energy into areas not helping to progress your career.

Plain and Simple

I’m reading the excellent book Leadership:Plain and Simple: Plain and Simple (2nd Edition).  It discusses when John Harper become UK Managing director of Hasbro (a global toy company), when he came in things were in bad shape, losing money, morale and confidence were low.  His plan was to energise and engage the workforce.  He closed the company for a day and they discussed the ideas

  1. What is the future we want want and how great can we be?
  2. How do we play to win and perform at our best
  3. How do we build relationships internally and with customers, so we can deliver the future together as a team.

The questions are direct and decisive, they create a vision of the future and create a strategy to make it happen.  A leader cannot do the work himself, he needs to inspire the workforce deliver the vision.

These quotes highlight the role of a leader and limitation of a leader because without an engaged workforce they have no one to implement the strategy

A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.”
— Ralph Lauren

“A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.”
— David Gergen

The book Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works simplifies strategy to these two questions

  1. Where to play?
  2. How do you win?

Successful companies answers to these two questions seems obvious

Apple

  • High end smart phones and gadgets
  • beautifully designed, easy to use, high quality gadgets

Facebook

  • Social interaction
  • easy to use, different methods

Microsoft and Microsoft Dynamics CRM

To help me understand the questions I would answer the questions if I was head of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM division.  I wrote about the evolution of Microsoft Dynamics CRM in the blog The rise of Microsoft Dynamics CRM

1 – What is the future we want want and how great can we be?

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM strategy filters down from the global strategy of Microsoft – Mobile First, Cloud First.

  • The future for Microsoft Dynamics is Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.
  • Improve the Microsoft Dynamics service,  redesign the internal design of to incorporate azure’s scalability to improve performance.
  • Improve the mobile functionality to match Resco
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM act as a hub, linking to many specialist services (Machine learning, Big data analysis), Microservices/app structure.
  • Portals used more, allowing CRM deployments to offer self service portals, contractor functionality and extending CRM to none CRM users.
  • Social CRM to really take off

2.  How do we play to win and perform at our best?

Ask yourself what is Microsoft good at? why do people choose Microsoft Dynamics CRM?  Office Integration, competitively priced, cloud solutions/Azure functionality is world class.  Microsoft are constantly innovating Microsoft Dynamics CRM and surrounding products.

  • Keep improving Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • Purchase strategic Microsoft Dynamic Solutions/companies
  • Keeping prices cheaper than Salesforce.
  • Microsoft can continue to benefit from improved Azure functionality and an increase in Azure services and data centres.
  • Microsoft must improve their mobile application or buy Resco
  • Strategic purchased of related services.

3 – How do we build relationships internally and with customers, so we can deliver the future together as a team.

Microsoft work hard to embrace Microsoft Dynamics CRM partners and help enable them to sell Microsoft Dynamics CRM (although perhaps more focused on larger partners and enterprise solutions).  The training materials Microsoft offer is pretty good and the Azure training is really good.

Microsoft offer a competitive price for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Internally hiring the best people who want to make a difference.  Under Satya Microsoft have started to innovate rather than copy.   This outlook should be brought to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM division to create innovative new functionality and have a workforce engaged to deliver it.

Hosk’s Dynamic CRM Practise

How would I answer those questions with my virtual Hosk’s Dynamic CRM Practise and what strategy would I come up with.

1 – What is the future we want want and how great can we be?

When implementing CRM solutions I find lots of cautious companies who wary about signing up for the project due to earlier bad experiences with IT projects and failed CRM projects.  There are many companies who have lost confidence in their existing Microsoft Dynamics CRM supplier.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM companies don’t sell products they sell people, processes, technical knowledge and experience (I know companies who create products).

The future  vision is to create a reputation for being an innovative company delivery quality projects, collaborating with the customer.  You want your CRM company to be the best in their sector and who put quality and customer satisfaction at the top.

It‘s difficult to differentiate through price alone, focus on being the best choice to deliver CRM projects for the customers requirements with regards to experience, vision and capability (skilled people, resources).

When a customer buys CRM from your company

  • you know the reason,
  • the staff know the reason
  • the customer knows the reason.

To win business you must have strengths which other companies cannot match.  Pick an area of expertise and become the best at it

2- How do we play to win and perform at our best

The future for Microsoft Dynamics CRM practices is to specialise in an industry or technological service.  The Microsoft Dynamics CRM industry is crowded with lots of companies offering similar services and at similar prices.  Ask yourself why would someone buy CRM from my company?

  • price?
  • experience?,
  • an existing solution?

Most successful Microsoft Dynamics CRM resellers and the ones Microsoft have purchased, they focused on a specific area and become the market leader.

FieldOne – The best Field Services company in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM space (the only one I know to be honest).  They were so good Microsoft brought them, which is an indication you are doing something right.

Parature – Fantastic self-service portal, knowledge base, which can run alone and is slowly (very slowly) being integrated with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

FantasySalesTeam – Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Gamefication (Hosk blog –  Is Gamification in a Microsoft Dynamics CRM a gimic?)

Resco – The leading Microsoft Dynamics mobile application/framework (Hosk blog – Why Resco acquiring CWR’s mobile CRM is important)

My strategies

  • Focus on Microsoft Dynamics Online solutions and specialise in delivering complex Microsoft Dynamics CRM projects online.  Align skills with Microsoft’s vision – Mobile, Cloud (Azure)
  • Concentrate on delivering FieldOne projects.  Field services is a growing marketing with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
  • Get a head with Azure Machine learning and CRM.
  • Focus on 2 sectors, Create solutions to speed up projects.

3 – How do we build relationships internally and with customers, so we can deliver the future together as a team.

You need leaders, who can create a vision, mission and goals and explain this to the organisation.  Everyone should understand what the company strategy is and it’s goals.

Employees

You need to engage the employees so they will deliver the strategy.  Fully engaged employees not only understand the strategy but add to it with ideas, energy and hard work.  Engaged employees feel valued, listened to and believe they are making a difference, this leads to quality work.

If you think about the difference in amount and quality of work when you were engaged on a project compared to other projects, the difference is huge.

Staff must have the skills/training to deliver projects to high standards, customer satisfaction is vital.  The focus is on quality projects, quality individual performance and constant improvement.  In the Microsoft Dynamics CRM industry you are mostly selling people.  Happy, motivated and engaged in order to deliver great projects.

Team is important in Microsoft Dynamics CRM community, the number of technologies/products and services used in Microsoft Dynamics CRM projects is growing, the team must collaborate, talk, support and share knowledge to deliver quality projects to meet customer expectations and enhance the reputation of the company.

Customers

Great relationships with customers come from delivering projects which meet business requirements and delivered on time.

Conclusion

Writing this article helped me understand I haven’t thought deeply about the subject before and my  thoughts and ideas were other people’s or snippets of articles I had read.   I could see some of original thoughts on the subject emerging but more work is needed to come up with a viable strategy for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM industry.  I’m not sure my Hosk CRM practise would have done particularly well with the strategy outlined above.

It‘s difficult to create strategies without understanding the current Dynamics CRM market, identifying where the Dynamics CRM industry is heading and what opportunities are available.

I hope you found the article interesting, please leave some comments on the subject

If you are interesting in learning more, I recommend these two books

ALL VIEWS AND OPINIONS ARE PERSONAL OPINIONS OF THE HOSK 

CRM 2016 – How to rename the default business unit

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. Thomas A. Edison

I came across an annoying bug, I couldn’t rename the Default business unit because the parent business unit is mandatory.

History of default business unit renaming

The renaming of business units is a long and extremely interesting subject…..said no one ever.

The default business unit or parent business is automatically created using the name of your organisation.  In CRM 4 I don’t think you could rename any business units.

In CRM 2011 they allow you to rename business units which were not the default

CRM 2011 – You can rename and delete business units

In CRM 2013 (according to my study notes) you couldn’t rename the default business unit in CRM 2013

CRM 2013 – MB2 703 – Manage user access, Teams and sharing

Another interesting fact

default business unit team cannot be re-parented, deleted or renamed and it’s members cannot be modified.

In CRM 2015 you could rename the default business unit, well it’s possible but Microsoft make it difficult for you to do because the parent business is a mandatory field but if you are editing the default business unit it has no parent business unit, which means you can’t save the record.

CRM 2011 forms?

I tried using God Mode JavaScript shortcut but this didn’t work and I’m guessing this might be because this form is an old school CRM 2011 style form?  What is it doing in CRM 2016!

rename business unit 2

You can see the annoying required Parent Business unit field

Solution

There are a few ways to resolve the problem but the easiest way is to go to

  • Settings –> Customization’s
  • Entities –> Business Unit
  • Open the field – Parent Business – parentbusinessunitid

rename business unit

  • Change the Field Requirement from business required to optional

rename business unit 1

  • Save and publish customisations.
  • Change the name of the Default Business Unit – Save
  • change the Field Requirements of the Parent Business field back to required and publish

Mission accomplished

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it. W. C. Fields

 

The rise of Microsoft Dynamics CRM

human-evolution

If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands? Milton Berle

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has evolved at a frantic pace in the last 6 years I have been working with it.

The effort and development put into the product means it’s exciting to work with because Microsoft Dynamics CRM is constantly being improved, new features added, new companies purchased and add on’s created.

For people who use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to deliver customer projects it means you need to work hard to keep up

  • Understand how new features work, where and when they should be used
  • Create code correctly, so it can be upgraded
  • Learn new products Microsoft has purchased, ADXStudio, Parature, Field Services, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, etc, etc.
  • Take Microsoft Dynamics CRM certifications for each version
  • Learn the differences between CRM online and CRM on-premise

I have blogged why it’s important to keep up to date before and the benefits

Should you keep up with releases and how?

Rapid rise

Microsoft had arrived to the CRM game late and launched CRM 1 in 2003 and stuttered along slowly.  The Microsoft Dynamics CRM wikipedia page notes CRM 3 was the first which saw reasonable uptake by customers.

I started working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4 released in 2007, which was a good place to start because the previous versions have been described as difficult to work with by colleagues.

Microsoft released a version of CRM Online and CRM 4 saw Microsoft pass 1 million users.

What I have enjoyed about working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the speed and breath of change in the product.  During CRM 2011 onwards Microsoft have developed the front end and back end of Microsoft Dynamics CRM at a frantic pace.  It makes working as a CRM professional challenging dealing with the new versions and changes, often leading to upgrades needed all customization to be rewritten.

Looking at the releases it struck me the speed of innovation and releases of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

In 5 years Microsoft has released 4 new versions of CRM

  • CRM 2011
  • CRM 2013
  • CRM 2015
  • CRM 2016

Screen shots

Looking at the screenshot of CRM 4, makes me feel nostalgic and glad I don’t have to use CRM 4 anymore

CRM 4

Here is the sexy CRM 2015/2016

CRM 2016

CRM 2016 form

The head start Microsoft gave it’s CRM competitors has had moved from challenger in 2007 to leader in 2015.

The post from Leon Tribe on Gartner Trajectories of CRM solutions shows the gradual move from Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  The picture is taken from Leon Tribe’s post in June 2007 was a challenger and the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online doesn’t even get a mention!

The Gartner Magic Quadrant shows Microsoft Dynamics having both its online and on premise versions in the leader category and recognized as winner in the CRM magazines Market Leader wards.  Microsoft kindly highlight these in their Analyst coverage page, below I have shown two

Gartner Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center – read report

In recent years Microsoft has focused on improving the CRM online functionality and administrator tools to where the differences in on premise and cloud are negligible.

SalesForce

Microsoft started behind Salesforce but have been catching up the functionality with every release and now the product functionality is similar, it‘s difficult to say there is one clear winner.  The advantages Salesforce has over Microsoft Dynamics CRM is its large customer base, created due to its head start.

There are some good comparisons between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce

Microsoft CRM Professionals view Salesforce as the main competitor to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, for tenders you are competing with Salesforce.  Microsoft made an unusual move in 2015 and partnered with Salesforce, causing confusion in the Microsoft Dynamics community.

I wrote a blog post – Why did Microsoft partner with Salesforce?

There were rumours Microsoft was trying to buy Salesforce

I can understand why Microsoft attempted to buy Salesforce

getting rid of the competition

stop wasting money competing agaisnt each other

Create shared services

Microsoft can create products/services to be used by both CRM services e.g. Azure services, Office products, PowerBI, etc.

It‘s the same tactics Resco used when buying CWR mobile CRM activities

Why Resco acquiring CWR’s mobile CRM is important

Microsoft CRM Online is growing

Microsoft is focusing on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online version and according this press release, Microsoft CRM is growing fast

Dynamics products and cloud services revenue grew 9% in constant currency with Dynamics CRM Online seat adds more than doubling year-over-year

Cloud solutions are growing in popularity with customers and CRM Online solutions are growing in complexity as developers understand the limitations of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and how do you work with them?

Solution architects are improving at designing cloud solutions and integrating with Mobile devices.

Conclusion

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has evolved as a product and the type of CRM projects are changing, there are lots more cloud solutions, mobile devices and portals.

In the future projects could involve machine learning, big data and integration with lots of devices and plugging into the Internet of things.  The social CRM functionality keeps growing in CRM.

With change comes opportunity but take advantage you must be prepared to learn new skills and approach CRM projects differently.

picture from thezoom