CRM 2011 – CRM free Support to Compliment Microsoft’s Support

The CRM Riff from Jim Glass was a cracker today, it was basically listing all the potential support offerings Microsoft offer for CRM users.  There is a great deal of free resources out there.

I will have to mention he didn’t list the biggest and most useful support tool of all – The internet and the CRM community.  Although I found Jim’s article interesting and useful I thought I would offer an alternative solution and focus on other areas of CRM content out there.

I think CRM has a lot of fantastic blogs offering solutions and ideas.   Blogs like this one :-), well you didn’t expect me not to big up my own blog did you!

This got me to thinking why are there so many good CRM blogs, here is a few reasons I came up with.

  • MVP – Microsoft created an excellent motivation tool, reward excellent bloggers (don’t forget to nominate me at some point), forum posters, codeplexers etc by making them MVP’s.  This also adds motivation for the people to keep up the good work to retain their MVP status.
  • companies – There are quite a few company blogs for CRM.  Companies use blogging to raise their status/reputation in the CRM world and some of them like Sonoma use their blogs to flog some books as well consultancy.  Although to be fair their books are very good , so fair play to them.
  • Consultant/individuals – the same explanation as above but individuals use blogs to raise their profile as well.
  • One good blog deserves another – I think the amount of good blogs has had a positive effect and encouraged other bloggers to contribute.
There is clearly lots of good CRM blogs but I also have to congratulate Microsoft who contribute some of the best blogs with the CRM RIFF and the various development blogs.   Also you do have the forums to offer solutions to problems but these forums are also backed up by the CRM community because although I do not often go onto the forums there are a number of blog posts linked to on the forums helping people with various problems.
Twitter just popped into my head as well.  Twitter is a good tool for quickly linking to interesting blogs and articles and this has helped publicise good posts and solutions to everyone.  Many times my twitter tool pops up with an interesting article I fancy reading.
Linkedin also offers a great way for CRM people to discuss topics, offer solutions and network with each other.  The groups tool is excellent to get like minded people together discussing topics and passing information between each other
Here are the free resource mentioned in Jim’s excellent blog post, to read the whole thing click here and well done to Jim for rightly pointing out the excellent free resources available to people and well done to Microsoft for contributing a lot of them

Find support in the forums (free) ~ Public forums enable partners and customers to solve real-world problems through a peer-to-peer exchange of ideas, experience, and resources. To access a forum, visit the Microsoft Dynamics Discussion Forums and enter your question there.

Search the Microsoft CRM Team Blog (free) ~ Search an ever-growing number of insightful web log (blog) postings from Microsoft CRM team members that includes how to’s, tips, and other little known Microsoft CRM facts.

Join our Open Source Community (free) ~ CodePlex is Microsoft’s open source project hosting web site. Start a new project, join an existing one, or download software created by the community.

Community Web Pages (free) ~ Find articles, product information, and links to resources.

Search and view information on the Resource Center (free) ~ View articles, tips, and information in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Resource Center.

Online Support Resources ~ Microsoft Help and Support: Search Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Knowledge Base articles, or contact a support professional.

CRM 2011 – Why PowerShell is Great

I noticed that CRM 2011 had powershell shipped with it.  My initial understanding of power shell is it was similar to DOS/Command/shell window and it allowed you to write scripts to automate tasks.

The few times I have had to write DOS scripts it has been a struggle with lots of googling trying to work out how to do anything

then I read this, powershell is like a mix of shell and scripting language

here is a link to some videos which will give you a great introduction to powershell

The reason I was looking at powershell was from a great blog post from the mcscrm blogger called creating users in active directory using powershell

Here included a powershell script and from reading his blog and looking at this I thought how much easier it would be writing a powershell script rather than just shell.  It was the addition of the if and for loops that really opened my eyes to the potential of powershell.  I’m sure many people reading this blog post have already realised that powershell is an extremely useful tool

$domain = (get-addomain).distinguishedname
$path = "OU=Employees,$domain"
$employees = Get-ADObject -Filter {distinguishedname -eq $path}
If ( -not $employees) {
  $employees = $domain.Create("OrganizationalUnit", "ou=Employees")

$users = import-csv "C:\Scripts\usersToBeCreated.csv"
$ldappath = "LDAP://$path"
$container = [ADSI] $ldappath
$users | foreach {
    $first = $_.FirstName
    $last = $_.LastName
    $username = "$first" + "." + "$last"
    $email = "$username" + "@demo.local"
    $newUser = $container.Create("User", "cn=" + $username)
    $newUser.Put("sAMAccountName", $username)
    $newUser.Put("description","Demo Account")
    $newUser.psbase.InvokeSet('AccountDisabled', $false)