Microsoft CRM 2011 – Reasons to Upgrade

This blog offers a good summary of the new features in CRM 2011.  Not only does it list all the enhancements but it gives a concise description of each enhancement from a users point of view rather than a salesman.


Microsoft CRM 2011 – More Reasons to Upgrade

I blogged about some of the more important Microsoft CRM 2011 End User Features several months back.  I’ve recently put together a list of additional items that you’ll want to be aware of when considering an upgrade, or new install, to CRM 2011.

The features listed in the Core CRM section have a broad impact across both users, and administrators.  You’ll find that there are a number of the items listed below will positively impact your business.

  • Dashboards
    • We’re happy to say that dashboards have been included into CRM 2011. These dashboards will allow your group to construct multiple sets of charts and grids that make the most sense for your business. Several dashboards are shipped out of the box.
  • Charts
    • You’ll find the ability to view charts all through the application. These charts can be created and customized with the appropriate security roles.
  • SharePoint Integration (Document Management)
    • Ability to easily configure CRM to allow for SharePoint document management within CRM forms.
    • SharePoint 2007 and 2010 are supported. Microsoft SharePoint 2007 versions will be shown in Microsoft Dynamics CRM inside an iFrame, while Microsoft SharePoint 2010 can be shown with rich integration features if the Microsoft Dynamics CRM List Component is installed.
    • The two major advantages of using SharePoint 2010 are:
      • The List Component enables you to achieve the appearance and behavior of a Microsoft Dynamics CRM view while using SharePoint functionality.
      • You must have folders created in Microsoft SharePoint to store the documents for your Microsoft Dynamics CRM records. You can either create the folders manually or you can let Microsoft Dynamics CRM automatically create folders in the context of Microsoft Dynamics CRM records on Microsoft SharePoint. To let Microsoft Dynamics CRM automatically create folders and deliver the documents stored on SharePoint with the same appearance and behavior as the Microsoft Dynamics CRM lists, you can install Microsoft Dynamics CRM List Component on a site collection on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.
  • Auditing
    • Organizations need to track changes made to records for many purposes. These include maintaining security, examining the history of a particular record, documenting modifications for future analysis, and record keeping necessary for regulation compliance. Auditing allows customers to effectively track creates, deletes, and updates.
  • Field Level Security
    • Allows administrators to set permissions on each field to allow a user to Update, Create and/or Read that specific field. (limited to custom attributes in CRM 2011)
  • Multiple Forms
    • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 introduces the capability to define more than one main form for each entity. Use multiple forms to create forms that are customized to specific roles or tasks in the organization. Use Security roles to control which groups will be able to use the forms you create.
  • Team Ownership
    • Teams in CRM 2011 can own records. It’s also possible to assign security roles to teams. This allows customers to manage overall security at a team level, rather than a user level.
  • FetchXML Reports
    • In CRM 2011, it is possible to create both FetchXML reports and standard SQL RS reports. Fetch-based reports use the Microsoft Dynamics CRM proprietary FetchXML queries to retrieve data for reports. Because these reports use FetchXML queries instead of SQL queries, they do not need to use the filtered views in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM SQL database to retrieve data for reports. Since FetchXML reports no longer have to use filtered views in order to honor CRM security, the time that it takes to execute these FetchXML queries should decrease quite a bit.
  • Data Import Wizard (and reimport)
    • The Import Wizard facilitates a smooth data import process by providing an easy way to migrate your legacy data into the Microsoft Dynamics CRM System. Several new features in CRM 2011 are:
      • Support for CSV, TXT, XML, or ZIP file types
      • Support for Option Value Mapping (aka picklists)
      • Support for Lookup Mapping
      • Support for a single source file with multiple entities (Account & Contacts)
      • Support for Bulk Update of records via Import Wizard
  • Application Related
    • Get Started Pane
      • It’s best that CRM users be given some training before setting them lose on the application. The system does have a great Help feature that will answer many of your CRM questions. New in CRM 2011 is the “Get started pane”. The pane provides your users with relevant information for the grids they are viewing.
    • Connections
      • In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 you can create and view the relationship between two records by using Connections. Connect a lead to the account that referred it to you. Connect one contact to another to show employer and employee statuses. Connect a record to yourself and identify each as a colleague, friend, employee, or other relationship. The Connections feature is available for most CRM entities.
    • Attachments & Bulk Emails
      • It’s now possible to include attachments when sending bulk email. Only one actual attachment will be stored in the database when sending out multiple bulk emails with an attachment.
    • Negative Pricing
      • The Negative Pricing feature allows for negative quantities, amounts, and negative prices.
    • Enhanced Decimal Precision
      • Decimal precision can now be set based off of the Pricing Decimal Precision (System Settings), Currency Precision (set at the currency level), or Field Precision (set at the field level).
    • Opportunity Enhancements
      • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 allows you to create Write-In Products on the Opportunity and also to create a Quote, Order, or Invoice directly from the opportunity.
    • Sales Goal Management
      • Sales Goal Management is for users and managers who need to manage and monitor their achievements. They need to monitor things like how many units were sold and how much revenue was earned. The monitoring periods can be annually, quarterly, or even weekly.
    • Recurring Appointments
      • The recurring appointment type is available in CRM 2011 as a new activity type.
    • Dynamic Marketing Lists
      • In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, you can specify a query in the Marketing list. Depending on the list type those Leads, Accounts, or Contacts that fulfill the criteria are automatically added as the members of the list whenever the list is used. This is a change from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 where users can have only a static list of members.
    • Queue Enhancements
      • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 brings many enhancements to queues. These enhancements include:
      • Queues are securable through role privileges.
      • Default queue added to Users and Teams.
      • All entity types can be enabled for queues.
      • The Queue entity can be customized.
      • Queue and Queue Item are supported in Processes “Workflows”.
      • Separation of Queue Item assignment “Working On” and record ownership.
  • Solutions (Managed & Unmanaged)
    • Solutions are the new functionality in CRM 2011 that will allow you to move your customizations in and out of your CRM organizations. Solutions are used to author, package, and maintain a single unit of software that extends Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. You can distribute your customization work as Solutions so that organizations may use Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 to install and uninstall the business functionality as defined by the Solution. Solutions can be unmanaged (you can add, remove, update, test, and export or import any of the components of the Solution) or managed (cannot be modified or exported once it is imported and deleting a managed solution will uninstall all of the solution components….including any data that has been entered in the system from entities created by that solution). Using managed solutions is a great way to control the customizations that will move between your environments.
    • Once plug-ins are brought into an organization through the plug-in registration tool, they can be added to a solution. After that, the plug-in will be contained within the solution. Therefore, it will not be necessary to bring the plug-in over to the new organization in a separate manner.
  • Bulk Record Deletion
    • Allows users that hold the correct security role to bulk remove data from the CRM system via an advanced find-type tool.
  • Processes
    • You’ll notice that we now have Processes in CRM 2011. Processes are either workflows, or dialogs. For the most part, workflows have the similar look and feel to CRM 4.0. A dialog, when presented to an end-user can be a conversation and a guide, which helps achieve a set of tasks in a standardized and repeatable fashion. Dialogs enable any user (sales, marketing, support) to interact with the customer in a standardized manner, using a script as a guide to enable an effective customer engagement. Since work typically involves complex interconnected tasks, a script detailing the tasks will be used as a guide to complete the tasks.
  • IFD/Claims Authentication
    • Since the release of CRM 4.0 a number of developments have happened in the Industry around standards based Authentication. A number of Auth protocols have matured since CRM 4.0 namely WS-Trust , WS-Federation, and SAML 2.0(protocol) . Microsoft Windows Server released Claims based access platform where it added support for these protocols. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 discontinues the 4.0 IFD design and snaps into the new Claims based options. After Claims is properly enabled in your environment, it will still be necessary to go through the CRM IFD setup steps to make your CRM application accessible outside of your network.
  • Administration & Customization
    • Global Option Sets
      • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 now enables the use of Option Sets (previously picklists) on multiple entities, called Global Option Sets. Global Option Sets are sets of values that are available to be re-used.
    • Form design
      • Now possible to drag and drop customizations easily on the form.
      • Access to customize forms from the ribbon
      • Easily customize the form elements (ex. navigation area)
    • Web Resources
      • Web Resources are “virtual files” that are created within the context of a Solution, stored in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM database, can be retrieved using a unique URL address. They represent files that might normally be placed on a web server to extend Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. Using Web Resources, you can store and use common types of web content that will enable you to create rich client-side extensions, such as HTML pages, JScript libraries, and Silverlight applications.
    • Filtered Lookups
      • In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0, lookup dialogs did not have any filtering capabilities. For example, a lookup dialog for an Account record would display all Account records in the system to which the user has access. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 enhances lookup dialogs and offers several methods to filter lookup values. It is possible to easily do this through the UI in the customizations section. It is also possible to enable filtered lookups at runtime by programmatically filtering lookups using APIs included in the SDK.
    • Custom Activities
      • Provides the ability to add new activity types to your CRM system. The Activity Party fields are automatically available to the custom activity when this option is selected.
  • Setup
    • Specify Server Roles (via setup wizard)
    • It’s now possible to specify specific server roles for CRM server install when using the install wizard.
  • CRM Update Rollups & Windows Update
    • CRM 2011 will make Update Rollups available through Windows Update. If using Windows Update or WSUS to push out updates, this functionality will be very beneficial.
  • Dynamics Marketplace
    • The Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace will help customers discover applications and professional services that extend the value of Microsoft Dynamics. The Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace will be accessible directly from within Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, making it even easier to find solutions.
  • SDK Enhancements
    • Sandbox
      • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online support the execution of plug-ins in an isolated environment. Plug-ins can be registered to this isolated environment, also known as a sandbox, and make use of the full power of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM SDK to access the Web services. Access to the file system, registry, system event log, network, and more is prevented in the sandbox. However, sandbox plug-ins have access to external endpoints like the Windows Azure platform.
      • The sandbox is the recommended execution environment for plug-ins as it is more secure, supports run-time monitoring and statistics reporting, and is supported on all Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployments.
    • Jscript Libraries
      • JScript libraries refer to JScript Web Resources that contain functions you can use to: 1) handle form and field events, 2) perform actions for controls configured in the Ribbon, 3) support other functions.
      • JScript libraries allow developers to consume JScript libraries in multiple places such as forms and ribbon. With JScript libraries, you can more efficiently manage code used in Web Page (HTML) Web resources or Ribbon Commands by linking them to a shared library of JScript functions.
    • Showing and Hiding UI Elements
      • All form elements in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 support the ability to be shown and hidden using the supported JScript method setVisible().
    • Backward Compatibility
      • When a Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 organization that contains JScript code is upgraded to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, the existing code is automatically upgraded and should still continue to function.
        • Note:  There is no guarantee that ALL Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 client-side code will upgrade correctly (especially in the case of unsupported code). However, every attempt has been made in order to ensure most Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 code will upgrade correctly.
      • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 includes support for executing plug-ins developed for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. A limitation of using Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 plug-ins is that they are not able to take advantage of any new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 capabilities such as executing in the sandbox (isolation mode) which includes running on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, using tracing to help in debugging, and more.
    • Test and Debug JScript Libraries
      • You can edit scripts through the Web Resource form or from the Events tab where you configure form libraries and event handlers. The ability to make changes this way facilitates small, easy changes as needed.
    • WCF in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011
      • In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, the service-oriented architecture design is extended with a WCF endpoint. The WCF implementation:
        • Improves overall performance
        • Improves the data integration experience
        • Improves compatibility and interoperability support through improved use of native .NET capabilities
        • Streamlines the Microsoft Dynamics CRM developer experience



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