Study tips for the Scrum Certification

 We don’t need an accurate document, we need a shared understanding – Jeff Patton

I became a certified Scrum master yesterday, I love the title of Scrum master, it’s by far the most silly title, mixing rugby and ninja skills. There could be some alternatives

  • Scrum Ninja
  • Scrum master general
  • Scrum lord
  • Head of Scrumperation
  • International Scrum
  • Michelin starred Scrum Vicar

Why get certified

Certifications can be divisive, people who aren’t certifications can get angry about the silliness of them and can be found shouting “They don’t mean anything“.

I heard a good quote “Scrum masters who are certified are usually crap

What we should remember is a certification doesn’t mean anyone is good at their job, it means they have studied on how a tool works, which is different from how to use a tool.

The benefits of certification

I am partial to getting certified because it gives a deadline and creates a sense of urgency around learning a topic.

Studying for a certification gives you a broad in-depth knowledge of a topic, it doesn’t guarantee you will use that knowledge or you good at your job.    If you view knowledge as a tool then it‘s your job to make sure you understand what the tool is, how it works and when to use it.

I have written about CRM certifications What are the benefits of CRM certifications

Tips on passing the PSM 1 certification

The scrum guide has all the answers, the certification is multiple choice questions based on a 16 page document.  Read this small document many times and make notes.

Here are some useful pages on passing the Scrum certification

This book was quite useful and it has some practice questions

Scrum Narrative and PSM Exam Guide: All-in-one Guide for Professional Scrum Master (PSM 1) Certificate Assessment Preparation

Test yourself

I view studying for a certification as two steps, the first step is learning theory and ideas and the second step is testing yourself to reinforce the knowledge and be able to retrieve it at will.

Once you have read about Scrum you need to keep testing yourself until you can recall the information easily.

practice these exams until you get 100 percent (every time)

https://www.scrum.org/Assessments/Open-Assessments

15 questions

http://www.bostonagiletraining.com/Sample-Scrum-Master-Certification-Practice-Exam

Mikhail Lapshin 80 questions are great because they explain the answers by quoting the scrum guide.

PSM1 – Learning mode

finally this is a useful page on product owner

http://www.scrumcrazy.com/New+New+Product+Owner+-+The+Videos

 

 

The Birmingham Dynamics 365 user groups historic first meeting

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” -Helen Keller

“None of us is as smart as all of us.” –Ken Blanchard

Work is not about being clever it’s about working together

The Birmingham Dynamics 365 user group meeting and 15 people meet up at the chambers of commerce to discuss Dynamics 365 – Dynamics 365, What is it, Pros, Cons?

Group details

  1.  Check out the official meetup page and sign up – Birmingham Dynamics 365 user group
  2. To understand why you should join read this blog post – Birmingham Dynamics 365 User Group has startedJoin now
  3. We have 56 members and new members are joining all the time
  4. We plan on meeting once a month and having a deep dive on new Dynamics 365 features and functionality
  5. The group has great CRM professionals, including a CRM MPV – Neil Parkhurst USD MVP – who blogged a

The first meeting

The meeting started with a small talk from Neil Parkhurst summarising the recent CRM MVP summit.  Unfortunately due to the NDA he couldn’t tell use the details but it was interesting to hear about the work which goes into becoming a CRM MVP and  the MVP summit experience.

15 people turned up to the first meeting and the Dynamics 365 presentation produced interesting discussion on Dynamics 365, everyone’s understanding of it and how it will affect the future of Dynamics professionals and solutions.

bout the first meeting – new user group up and running 

I think the group will grow from strength to strength with more people turning up for meetings and I’m looking forward to seeing some interesting presentations and discussions.

The Hosk Blog

A few people at the meeting  thanked me for the content I published on my Dynamics CRM blog, it‘s great and humbling to know sharing my experiences and knowledge on Dynamics CRM has helped people.

When I started out blogging about Dynamics CRM, the goals of blogging was

  • Increase my knowledge on Dynamics CRM by explaining it to others
  • log errors and workarounds to help myself and others
  • An online brain dump for issues I had resolved
  • develop my understanding of how Dynamics CRM works

My goals focuesd on improving myself and improving my understanding of Dynamics CRM.  I have blogged about Dynamics CRM for years and I am meeting quite a few people recenctly who thank me for writing my blog posts and explain how my blog helped them either learn to develop Dynamics CRM solutions or helped resolve a problem.

I appreciate the great comments and I’m glad other people find the blog useful.

Two people who helped my blog

  • CRM MVP Adam Vero has left many comments which corrected parts of my blog posts and encouraged me to keep writing my blog
  • CRM MVP Gus Gonzalez who encouraged me to create posts featuring my own thoughts and ideas (the first 500 blog posts were of poor quality)

I’m not a CRM MVP but I’m glad the Hosk CRM blog has helped lots of people in the Dynamics CRM community.  Blog writing persistence pays off because I am meeting more and more people who tell me they are readers of my blog.

It gives me a platform to annoy people like Adam with #HoskWisdom to poor subsribers expected Dynamics 365/CRM posts but instead get some HoskWisdom

Signup, learn and have fun

If you live in the Midlands please sign up for the user group and meet excellent Dynamics professionals sharing experience, knowledge, opinions and stories on Dynamics 365 development.

I look forward to more interesting presentations and learning points from future meetings.

Great thanks to Imtiaz for setting up the Dynamics 365 user group

 

Are you a Dynamics Craftsman or a CRM developer?

“Don’t comment bad code—rewrite it.” ― Brian W. Kernighan, The Elements of Programming Style

The quality of your work is related to the standards you set yourself #HoskWisdom

 

A few months ago I joined Capgemini and people have been asking me what attracted me to join the Capgemini CRM team and what it‘s like to work for Capgemini.  What attracted me is Capgemini’s want to bring software development principles to Dynamics CRM development and focusing on delivering quality enterprise Dynamics CRM/365 projects.

What I really like is Capgemini Dynamics CRM projects have DevOps who setup automated deployments, Continuous integration,  one of the greatest gifts to dynamics developer because it allows more time in creating customisation

Are you a Craftsman?

When interviewing developers I like to ask them if they are Craftsmen or developers, this question finds if the person being interviewed is driving the quality of their work, if they have pride in what they are creating.

Creating quality code like motivation comes from within and can’t be forced using standards or rules.

Dynamics developers need passion – CRM Developers need Passion and joining Capgemini is a good fit because we shared many beliefs.

It‘s importance to keep the quality of CRM projects high and manage technical debt, these principles are even more important on large projects where poor quality code can slow the project and maintaining code can become a nightmare.

I experienced a project where it took 1 day to add an easy fix because a plugin had one method with 2000 lines of code

I can recommend the book

I recommend a few other books in the post – Why isn’t code reused in Microsoft Dynamic CRM projects?

My experience of CRM development

I started out as a Java developer and learnt traditional programmer principles.  Learning about programming and I remember being iinspired by code craftsman and reading Effective Java : Second EditionHead First Design Patterns, Object orientation programming and other books listed on Recommended Books for Developers.

There was a story about a developer learning to become a craftsman, it was featured in a magazine and was a regular column. It talked sbout problems newbie programmers walk into without realising.  (it was called something like the woodcutter or craftsman)

When I moved from Java/.netdevelopment it seemed many CRM development companies didn’t follow good software development practices or good coding standards.

  • CRM code often put all the code into one method in the plugin
  • Lack of classes
  • No unit testing
  • No automated builds
  • No code reviews or static analysis

There are a few reasons for this

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM made it difficult for automated builds (before solution packager)
  • Companies were not interested in invested in
  • Many CRM projects were small with no budget for automated builds and unit testing
  • CRM developers often didn’t have programming experience or knowledge of SOLID principles
  • Timescales were short in projects – focus on short term gains

Dynamics CRM and developer principles

When I interviewed with Capgemini they wanted to know my opinions on unit testing, code quality.

Capgemini wants to bring software developer principles to CRM but what does this mean?

Capgemini CRM projects are big enterprise integration projects where code quality is important when creating lots of code, which means you will be maintaining lots of code.

Enterprise projects are long projects, technical debt must be kept low and members of the development team adhere to high standards (high standards are a habit)  Here are some of the methods we use to keep quality high

  • CRM DevOps help developers do their jobs
  • Automated deployments/CI environment
  • Solution packager can import data
  • Solution packager splits up customisations to XML file and stored in source control
  • Code check ins to master have to be reviewed and accepted by senior developers
  • Static analysis on code
  • Static analysis errors and warnings must be removed
  • Capgemini hire good Dynamics developers and make them better (join us here)
  • Minimum 90 percent unit test coverage on Business logic code
  • The Quality code message comes from the top
  • The standards implemented on a Capgemini Dynamics project are higher than developers implemented

Regrets I have a few

After working on a project with automated deployments I think this should be a priority for all Dynamics projects to setup on a project, it offers so many benefits which I discuss in the post below

CRM 2016 – Release management, Solution packager and why you should automate your deployment

I wish I had pushed for higher quality on Dynamics projects I had worked on earlier in my career because if you are not writing high quality code you are adding to the technical debt of a project.  I have seen many Dynamics CRM projects start adding technical debt straight from the first line of code because they used poor standards and practices, these projects get harder and harder

It’s great to work on a Dynamics CRM project using software principles.

Capgemini aim to take good CRM developers and make them better by delivering hard projects with well crafted solutions

You can join the Hosk at Capgemini by applying here

Looking at the ideas behind SCRUM

“No Heroics. If you need a hero to get things done, you have a problem. Heroic effort should be viewed as a failure of planning.”
Jeff Sutherland, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

I have looked at the concepts behind Scrum.

There are many projects which are Agile in name but chaos in reality #HoskWisdom

What is SCRUM?

Start with Wikipedia SCRUM definition

Scrum is an iterative and incremental agile software development framework for managing product development

 

Scrum is a framework which shares values with the Agile Manifesto

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

 

SCRUM and Agile for a time was seen as a magic solution to IT projects, a way to deliver a project successfully and quickly.  There has been a backlash and growing discontentment with Agile and SCRUM.

Here are links criticising Agile/Scrum framework

My experience of working on Agile projects is many of those projects are Agile in name but turn out to be a Waterfall-Agile hybrid often called WaterScrumFall.

Delivering Software with Water-Scrum-Fall

Here is a good point to compare WaterFall and Scrum

Agile vs Waterfall: Comparing project management methods

My experience of mixing Waterfall and Scrum is those projects struggle but not because of the way of delivering the project, these projects struggled because of people and the collaboration between the customer and the project team is weighted to one side (customer), successful projects are always a collaboration.  The mix of project style wasn’t the sole cause of the problems with the project.

Mixing Agile/Scrum with Waterfall removes the benefits of Scrum removing many of the opportunities to inspect and adapt.  One of the major disadvantages is the loss of transparency and time-boxing events.

The Scrum guide online is a simple 16 pages and is adamant you may not change any meetings, artifacts or meeting lengths

Hosk Experience of Agile

I worked on many Agile projects in name but only one was Scrum project which adhered to all the rules.

The project which stuck to all concepts was successful and enjoyable.  Estimating, the retrospective and the daily scrum all worked well and the team bonded. One of the benefits of a Scrum project is the transparency and clear understanding and regularity of the Scrum events and artifacts.

The Agile project in name but not in execution were disorganized and lacked clarity and direction.  The people on the project were not sure when things were happening and the purpose of events.

Little consideration of project was suitable for Agile\Scrum framework or if the customer could execute an Agile project.

One of the most frustrating part of a poorly executed Agile project is a daily scrum which goes on and on and on.  They should not go exceed the 15 minute timebox

Good practices

I have worked on Agile and Scrum projects but not thought about the concepts and ideas behind it.

What is Scrum and Agile

“Adaptive methods are called Agile.  There are many Agile frameworks.  The most famous Agile framework is Scrum.”

The Scrum Master Training Manual: A Guide to the PSM Exam
By Nader K. Rad, Frank Turley

 

Agile is a framework and Scrum is a flavour of it.  The focus on adaptive, prepares the customer the project will need to adapt and change.  The longer the project continues, the more you learn about the business requirements and more feedback from the customer on the iteration/solution created.

Scrum forces customer to prioritize the items on the product backlog, you can add the high priority items to the sprint, which should give the most business value.

The priorities and scope changes with time and feedback, Scrum acknowledges this will happen and encourage

Change is inevitable but customers don’t expect or like  it when it happens to their project. #HoskWisdom

When should you use Scrum?

  • You should use Scrum on projects where its suitable to do incremental and iterative development.
  • The product owner must have a good understanding of the business
  • Where a product is hard to define upfront
  • Where the customer is willing to devote time to the project
  • Customer is willing to make quick decisions

Agile Manifesto

I mentioned the Agile manifesto earlier but lets focus on two points.

Customer colloboration

Successful projects involved a good relationship between the project team and the customer.  The project should be a collaboration between the customer (business knowledge expert) and the technical team (solution experts).

Projects which don’t work well involves unsuccessful relationships between customer and project team dominated by one side, instead of a collaboration, failed projects are often involve one side dictating the solution.

When the customer (business experts) dominate you often end up with poor technical solution.

When the technical experts dominate the product doesn’t help the users achieve the business requirements or contribute to business goals.

Working Software

Sometimes people forget the goal of an IT project is to create a working solution to help the users achieve their business goals.

The Agile manifesto puts it right up front and focuses on getting a working product to the customer quickly to enable open and honest feedback.  Scrum welcome customer feedback which might disrupt the current iteration.

The difference between the planned product and working software can be huge and the sooner the customer can see it and try it the sooner the product can be changed to give the customer an effective product.

Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs.

Bill Gates

Development Team

In Scrum all developers are equal, have the same title and are all focused on delivering the sprint.

The development team are self organised and cross functional, enabling them to deliver a sprint without any outside assistance.

Scrum focuses on team work and empowering the development to find solutions to problems.

Progress monitoring

Splitting the projects into sprints allows the project to never fall to far behind schedule and if it does the customer knows quickly and a discussion can be had.  This limits bad news to never being too bad before it‘s discussed with the customer (if it‘s bad).

Burndowns and velocity monitor the speed of the project and daily scrums make sure everyone is pulling their weight and problems are cleared.

The daily scrums ensure there is constant communication in the sprint team, progress is monitored and problems are raised with solutions found.

Any problems only have the potential to be one sprint long.

Product backlog

The product backlog is a prioritized list of requirements to be done.  A list of deliverable’s grouped into sprints and prioritized (sprint backlog)

The concept of a prioritized list of deliverables avoiding prioritising and say all the deliverable’s are all high priority.

The sprint backlog of a sprint is the items are not changed once the sprint is started.  This means the customer cannot add new items to a sprint and cause the sprint to be delayed.  This process stops users squeezing more functionality in and extended sprints.

The working software and feedback keep happening at the end of every sprint.

Successful projects involved a good relationship between the project team and the customer.  The project should be a collaboration between the customer (business knowledge expert) and the technical team (solution experts).

Projects which don’t work well involve unsuccessful relationships between customer and project team, instead of a collaboration, failed projects are often involve one side dictating the solution.

When the customer (business experts) dominate you often end up with poor technical solution.

When the technical experts dominate the product and hurts the users achieve the business requirements or contribute to business goals.

Sprint events

Each sprint has a number artifacts

Sprint

  • The items to be delivered during the sprint

Sprint planning

  • Done at the start of the sprint by the whole sprint team.  The estimating is done by group vote, which gives an accurate average

Daily scrum

  • A daily 15 minute meeting
  • progress is monitored
  • impediments are discussed and resolved
  • standup so not to take too long

Sprint Review

  • Showing the user the functionality of the sprint
  • Feedback

Sprint Retrospective

  • Discuss what worked well in the sprint
  • Discuss what didn’t work well in the sprint

Looking at the framework all the events and activities seem like a great idea and are likely to help a project be successful.  They give opportunities to inspect and adapt, to get feedback.

The reason many Agile projects go badly because often steps are missed and the Scrum team don’t understand what they are doing or why they are doing it.

Retrospective

One method for improving a team and individuals is to analyse past performance and work out what worked and what didn’t.  This reflection often doesn’t happen because people don’t have time or don’t want to do it.

Scrum ensures you learn from past performance by scheduling a retrospective after every sprint.  It looks at

  • People
  • Relationships
  • Process
  • Tools

What worked, what didn’t and how it can be improved for the next sprint.

Review

This quote is inspiring and scary

“We welcome changes in Scrum and encourage them to be demanded, because it increases satisfaction of the customer and will create a final product that better matches the needs of the customer Jeff Sutherland

The quote comes from the book – Scrum: A revolutionary approach to building teams, beating deadlines and boosting productivity

The quote initially seems like it could create a nightmare project with customer potentially giving lots of negative feedback but the goal of the project is create a product which is effective for the end users.  Reviewing the product and getting feedback is a core part of collaboration with the customer and will increase the chance of creating a product the customer wants.

Considering the concepts of Agile and Scrum

Looking a Agile/Scrum I can see many aspects of successful projects.  If you flip it round and look the common problems with IT projects

  • Product not doing what the customer wants or needs
  • Projects falls behind schedule
  • Customer  changing, adding or removing requirements
  • Customer and developer team are not collaborating well
  • Communication between the developers

Scrums uses many tools and techniques to resolve many of the common problems with IT projects.  The goals of Agile projects are positive and if executing well the benefits can be great, faster projects, working product shown to the user and feedback given often.

“Scrum incorporate the concepts of continuous improvement and minimum viable products to get immediate feedback from consumers, rather than waiting until the project is finished

Jeff Sutherland

Scrum: A revolutionary approach to building teams, beating deadlines and boosting productivity

Common language

A benefit of Scrum is it gives a common language for everyone to use.  Common rules and processes must be followed by the customer and project term as outlined by the Scrum framework itself which insists on it.

It makes the customer prioritise requirements and stop adding or changing requirements half way through a sprint.

Summary

Scrum is made up of many good practices such as adaption, incremental/iterative development and getting feedback as soon as possible.

A goal of Scrum is to get feedback from the customer on a product as quickly, so can be changed to create a product useful to the customer.

The individual components of Agile/Scrum are good practices which makes me wonder why it generates such negativity.

Many companies sold Agile to customers as a super weapon to lowers costs, deliver projects quicker but Agile is suited on projects which can be delivered incrementally and where people are trained and experienced delivering Agile\Scrum projects.

The Agile framework reminds me of someone who has got a hammer, suddenly all problems look like nails and all projects look like Agile projects.

Many companies did Agile/Scrum projects without training people in the framework, if you don’t have some people with experience the project could hit problems without someone to guide the project back on course.

Companies need to make sure employees are given time to learn new skills and are not on project work 100 percent of their time.  Agile projects can be relentless and it‘s possible the tasks are all focused on sprint backlogs with no maintenance, code refactoring, builds or house keeping tasks factored in.

Resources

The Scrum Master Training Manual: A Guide to the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) Exam

This ebook is free and gives a good overview

Scrum: A revolutionary approach to building teams, beating deadlines and boosting productivity

Written by Jeff Sutherland who was one of the creators of Scrum

Scrum and Xp from the Trenches 2nd Edition

You can buy it from Amazon or you can download it for free here

Confessions of a Scrum Master

free download here

CRM 2016 – Release management, Solution packager and why you should automate your deployment

I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

–Dwight Eisenhower

I found this articles on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the application life cycle, I thought I would share them.  These

Deployment best practices

The articles above got me thinking about the CRM deployments best practices but which focuses on manual deployments and the best practices involved with that.

Another consideration is organising your solutions – CRM 2016What’s the best way to organise solutions in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

make surec ustomizations are kept at a high standard

Here are a few bet practices to follow
  • ID on lookups
  • early binding
  • Unit tests
  • never change production
  • CRM Configuration mover
  • Automate where possible

Automate your deployments

When I wrote the article on deployment best practices I only worked on projects which deployed projects manually and I had no experience with the solution packager.

I believe automating the deployments would be the best practice because manual deployments are

  • Manual deployments are boring
  • Manual deployments take a lot of time
  • Manual deployments can go wrong due to use error
  • it‘s a waste of developer
  • More environments more time wasted

The question CRM developers should ask is why are most CRM projects not using the solution packager?, it‘s best practice, it saves time, fewer deployment mistakesso why isn’t it standard practice.

Companies and project managers don’t give time for the team to learn and setup the solution packager because it‘s time spent on infrastructure with no business value.  Setting up the solution packager for Dynamic CRM projects is short-term pain for long-term gain.

The solution packager allows you to commit your customisations into source control because it breaks down the customisations into xml files.

One of the reasons I moved to Capgemini is because they have a DevOps team for Dynamics CRM projects.  Capgemini focus on delivery high quality large difficult projects, to do this you need to think long-term, focus on keeping quality of customisations high, keep technical debt low and automate where you can.

Now I have worked on a project with DevOp, the solution packager, continuous integration I am of the opinion all Enterprise CRM projects should have this setup.

Having a dedicated DevOps team or someone who has learnt to use the solution packager and creating builds will help the process.  Building automated build environments takes experience and the job falls to a developer they will take time to get up to speed in the same

Benefits of the Solution Packager

The solution packager is a powerful tool which can automate importing solutions between environments but it has a number of other useful benefits.

Automated deployments

Importing solutions is a boring and time consuming which should be automated to not waste developers time, allowing developer to concentrate on creating customisations.

If you can automate a boring task then you should automate it #HoskWisdom

The solution packager enables scripted automated deployments and some other benefits

Track changes

The solution packager gives you control and visibility on what changed, who changed it, what it was for and when.  The solution packager shows CRM changes, including customisation change (form, fields, views) gives visibility of those changes.  This enables CRM developers to check in changes to tasks and stories

Data

The solution packager can be scripted and incorporated in builds using Visual studio Team Services (VSTS).  Automating the build processs allows data to be imported into different CRM environments (a step which is often missed or done incorrectly).  Automating data import keeps the guids the same between environments.  CRM 2016The importance of keeping the same guids between CRM instances

Solution Packager articles

Here is a collection of Solution packager articles if you want to learn more

Conclusion

The article started out with links to the ALM – CRM lifecycle but morphed into clarifying the purpose and benefits of using the solution packager to automate solution deployment.

The solution packager allows automated builds/continuous integration which can save time and reduce import errors.  The solution packager breaks down CRM customisation to XML files which can be checked into source control (VSTS/GIT) and linked to individual tasks and stories.

Solution packager isn’t easy to configure but the benefits are worth it, companies and projects should see it as an investment in quality, long-term benefits which pay dividends on large CRM projects.

 

Programmers imagine #NoEstimates

Estimates aren’t bad, but there usage is #NoEstimates #HoskWisdom

Estimates are often incorrect, a waste of time and misused, why do we bother #NoEstimates #HoskWisdom

I heard the words today – Imagine a life with no estimates, for a developer this is a radical idea, particularly if you consider most developers have been beaten with an estimate at some point.

The word imagine instantly made me think of the John Lennon song Imagine

I progressed to imagining the song with the lyrics changed to focus estimating or #NoEstimates, I have done something similar in the blog post Why CRM Developers should always start with the CRM SDK changing Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Pray! to focus on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM SDK

CRM developers: [chanting]

This is my CRM SDK. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My CRM SDK is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my CRM SDK is useless. Without my CRM SDK , I am useless.   I must development with my CRM SDK true.  I will.

Before Hosk I swear this creed: my CRM SDK and myself are defenders of my CRM Solution, we are the masters of the CRM Solution, we are the saviours the CRM Solution. So be it, until there is are no bugs, but peace in CRM dev land. Amen.

 

Here is Imagine no Estimates

Imagine there’s no Estimates
It’s easy if you try
No reports to management for us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the programmers
Writing code for today… Aha-ah…

Imagine there’s no deadlines
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to deliver late for
And no requirement changes, too
Imagine all the programmers
Writing code in peace… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And developers will be as one
(expect arguing about which programming language is best)

Imagine no documentation
I wonder if you can
No need for Word or Powerpoint
A brotherhood of devs, man
Imagine all the programmers
Sharing all their code… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the programmers will live as one

image from here

Will Dynamics 365 redesign Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online?

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Arthur Ashe

Your life will not get better if you don’t move from where you are #HoskWisdom

With the imminent release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 (Dynamics 365 is coming and why you need to be ready) Microsoft is making significant step forward.  I looked at my draft blog posts and found this blog and it seemed an interesting time to publish it.

Dynamics 365 gives Dynamics professionals a time to reflect and ponder the future and the past of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  Microsoft is removing the faithful CRM from the product, it’s a distinctive move.

Dynamics CRM moves to the cloud, will Microsoft redesign the architecture of Dynamics 365 to a cloud solution and utilize Azure and scalability. Is the one database design creating a bottle neck in performance?

If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands? Milton Berle Microsoft Dynamics CRM has evolved at a frantic …

The post was inspired by a response to the blog post The rise of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and a response from Andrew

That’s a great summary. Have been on the CRM journey since being early adopter of 1.2 in the UK. I do wonder if Microsoft need to take a step back and consider the whole product as its rapidly becoming an unmanageable scattergun collection of products..

Fixing some of the really annoying, and in most cases very well established issues in the product that make users stare at you in that ‘are you serious’ way would help.

Bolting several varieties of UI together, new, old an positively ancient makes for a confusing collection of experiences. Lookups that require many mouse clicks to get to the entry you want, the fact you still can’t return a count of how many records you have due to how database, security and localisation conspire against you to kill performance – and sure everyone has some other feature they wish would get sorted.

Don’t get me wrong, overall it’s a great product but stapling on newly aquired functionality at a rate of knots isn’t sustainable.

CRM needs to evolve into a new platform – probably not called CRM as even its name is a distraction.

Take the good stuff, turn it into a cloud based platform then add a modern, mobile first, cross platform adaptive UI and allow us to add or remove stuff so you get the system you actually need minus clutter and bloat. If I am never going to use marketing, or finance entities, allow that.

CRM should then be just one of a number of Dynamics products that sits on the platform. If I need accounts let me add modules from a proper accounting solution, or elements of ERP, or an Event Management solution – all modular, extensible and integrated.

The other core feature that’s needed is inbuilt integration and Master Data capabilities. I should be able to define one instance of contact, address, and account and share across multiple applications. Single version of the truth.

It will be interesting to see how things evolve as it moves to an inevitable cloud only model – looking forwards to the journey..

Thanks for a great blog…

CRM Architecture

The CRM SDK architecture page is a great resource to understand the architecture of Dynamics CRM

this picture explains the architecture, showing the moving parts along with the order and flow of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

How did the original CRM Artchitecture come about?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is one product made of multiple Microsoft products knitted together.  The programmer in me thinks this is good design, splitting up the solution into logical parts.

  • CRM is made up of many separate parts
  • Active Directory
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Reporting Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Internet Information Services
  • Active Directory Federation Services – ADFS – for expose CRM to the web
  • Microsoft Exchange

The reason for using these separate parts is they are Microsoft products and it made sense to use existing products and delegate responsibility to products and service which specialize in.

When CRM was released cloud solutions were not popular, common or achievable (no Microsoft Data centres).  It made sense for Microsoft to use it‘s own products because it could then persuade people to buy more Microsoft products or integrate CRM with existing Microsoft products a customer already owned (Exchange, Active directory, etc)

CRM evolving

In the article The RISE OF CRM, Microsoft has upgraded the CRM front end making it look better.

The new forms is so they compatible with Microsoft mobile friendly functionality such as Business rules and Business Process flows.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 has new forms mixed in with old forms.  I learnt this when investigating why I couldn’t add a business rule to the article entity – Why can’t I add a business rule to the article entity and in this article – CRM 2016 – How to rename the default business rule

Architecture

There is a great comment in this article comparing Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce

Since its day one, Salesforce was designed as a cloud based application with design features optimized for a browser experience not a desktop program experience.

Microsoft created Windows-style drop down menus within its CRM tool and has modified the look and feel dramatically. This gives customers a common user experience across different Windows products and its web-based CRM tool.
The article discusses how products evolve and where you need to stop refactoring and start again.  Starting again and focusing effort on a better long-term strategy is where Dynamics 365 is at.  Creating Dynamics 365 using an app approach or Microsoft services structure will allow Microsoft to stop wasting time and money developing multiple products and instead develop shared services.
The POA (Principle object table) is a constant cause of Microsoft Dynamics erformance problems and I wonder if Microsoft started again would they design the database tables to force security privileges to use one table.   Recent security enhancements tried to work round this with Access teams adding security to teams instead of individual roles.

Where are we

Joel on Software’s article on why you should rewrite/refactor products Things You Should Never Do, Part I recommends you think before you recreate something because it’s easy to underestimated the complexity of the product.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has a front end with a mixture of modernized forms and old CRM 2011 form style (5 years old).

The architecture wasn’t designed for the cloud.
CRM online can be painfully slow read this
Microsoft cloud solutions needs CRM solution architects to change the way they design solutions, plugins have a limit of two minutes, so you need to do these long running processes in an
When I attended on the Azure architecture training, it opened my mind to the fact as solution architects we biased by old designs.  There are lots of different databases in Azure which can be used in different scenarios.  hey mentioned Amazon shopping basket using a document storage database for it.
I wonder if the single database is a bottle neck for performance, too much table locking with relational databases
Will a common data model help resolve this problem – Powerapps common data model

Conclusion

The article raises questions on the architecture of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, most of them related to the technologies used to create Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.  Will Dynamics 365 resolve any of these problems?
Will the promise of Dynamics 365 be realized by the performance and functionality of Dynamics 365.
Is Dynamics 365 a great rebranding or will it be a real game changer which tackles the problems Microsoft Dynamics has and creates an environment where integration is a priority.
Dynamics 365 brings enhanced functionality, cheaper prices and greater integration.  Is this the time Microsoft Dynamics makes a decisive move against Salesforce.