CRM 2011 – Quick 10 reasons to choose Microsoft CRM 2011

I read a good quick summary on Microsofts CRM dynamics website called Top 10 Reasons to Choose microsoft Dynamics CRM, the list provides a really good quick summary of the reasons why Microsoft CRM is a great a product.  I have often seen these points made in various articles about Microsoft CRM is better than Salesforce etc but never in such a succinct manner

 

The top reasons organizations choose Microsoft Dynamics CRM to create world-class customer experiences include:

  •  Value

    When considering costs—including licensing, services, training, deployment, administration, and maintenance—customers, press, and industry analysts regard Microsoft Dynamics CRM as one of the best values in the industry.

  •  Productivity

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps increase productivity and create a connected organization that is equipped to please your customers. The result is a compelling and engaging experience for customers that sets your business apart.

  •  Familiarity

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides you with a powerful set of CRM capabilities right within the familiar Microsoft Outlook application.

  •  Innovation
  •  The Cloud

    Microsoft invests over $2 billion dollars in cloud infrastructure every year. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is one of the quickest and easiest ways for your business to take advantage of the cloud and cloud economies, including reducing systems management and maintenance costs as well as paying only for the capacity you need. Additionally, to ensure your CRM system is always available, Microsoft provides a financially backed service agreement to give you piece of mind.

  •  Partner Network

    Microsoft helps you get your solutions up and running quickly with one of the world’s largest network of professional services and third-party applications to complement your Microsoft Dynamics CRM investment.

  •  Global Availability

    With Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, you can provide your teams around the world with integrated yet localized tools to help them to communicate, collaborate, and drive global results.

  •  Microsoft Office

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM works seamlessly with Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Office productivity tools so your CRM professionals do not have to learn new applications and can be instantly productive.

  •  Business Insights

    Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides your users with a multitude of business intelligence and data visualization capabilities that they can use to instantly get accurate, up-to-date information— sales forecasts, targets, quotas, customer buying patterns, and promotions—to drive sales growth.

  •  Extended CRM

    In addition to their relationship with customers, organizations need to manage and maximize other critical relationships—with partners, suppliers, and contractors, to name a few. Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be easily customized to support these extended CRM scenarios—at no additional fee.

CRM 4 – Why downloading CRM 4 plugin dll’s is useful

It’s funny how things of interest and usefulness can turn up at exactly the right time, it’s frustrating when they turn up after you have solved the problem.

Today one of my CRM buddies was wondering what values were set in a CRM 4 plugin and we weren’t sure what code was actually deployed in a plugin.

I then happily chirp up that just yesterday I blogged about  a perfect tool for this problem.  So after remembering the tool was a command line tool we managed to export the dll’s and then we used http://wiki.sharpdevelop.net/ILSpy.ashx, which is a dll decompiler to see what was in our own dll (it sounds a bit daft when you say it out loud).

Hey Presto we could work out what code had been deployed.

This is a very useful tool if you have been left to look after a project after someone has left.

CRM 2011 – A tool to recover deleted CRM records

I remember reading somewhere that records are never deleted in CRM, instead their state is set to deleted.  I’m not sure if that is true but I think that’s because I haven’t had to retrieve any deleted items so haven’t worried about seeing if this was true

today I found a tool which says it can recover deleted records, here is how it describes the tool

Record Recovery gives a system user the ability to recover deleted CRM records. Providing that auditing is enabled this tool can utilise auditing data to recover deleted records. Record Recovery has been produced using the Microsoft Silverlight 4 framework and integrates seamlessly into Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. Record Recovery is one tool that CRM developers and consultants alike should have in their arsenal.

you can go here to read about the tool, you will need to sign up for the website but you can then download the tool for free

interestingly it comes as a solution file, I don’t know why I find this unusual because it’s actually a very neat way of doing things.

I’m not sure how it works but when I tried to use it said that auditing has to be enabled.  So I guess it picks up the audited values and then recreates them?

This solution sets the mind thinking, very interesting indeed.  It might be more interesting once I actually get it to work but I will probably file it away for now until I need it later

 

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CRM 2011 – Tool – Sitemap editor for CRM 2011

The man of 1000 CRM tools has solved one of the more tricky areas of CRM 2011, editing the sitemap.  He recently added in a viewer but has now gone one step better and created a CRM 2011 site map editor, WOOHOO

here is a link to the blog

and he has created a codeplex project which you should go and download the tool here

 

here is a brief description of the tool

Features

  • Connections to OnPremise, Online and Claim based deployments
  • Solution management: Open or Create a solution with SiteMap included
  • TreeView display of SiteMap
  • Add SiteMap component with mouse usage
  • Add default SiteMap component if you removed one
  • Cut/Copy/Paste of SiteMap component
  • Display Xml of SiteMap component
  • Add SiteMap component from Xml
  • Reste SiteMap to default system one
  • Import back the solution

Screenshot

SiteMapEditor

Tanguy has done a lot CRM 2011 tools, here are the other tools he has done

CRM 2011 – Why Microsoft Dynamics Cloud offering is so popular

I like the blog entries from the CRM software blog because they are often focus on less technical aspects of CRM.  They recently had an interesting article titled

Three Undeniable Reasons why Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a better choice for cloud CRM than Salesforce.com

The articles three reasons are these

  • How much will it cost?
  • Will your employees use it?
  • Will it continue to evolve with changing technology?

 

They obviously come out saying that Microsoft is better than salesforce.com in all three areas.  Although it’s a nice short article the areas it brings up can be looked at in more depth.

Cost

I think the small up front cost is a fantastic benefit to SME’s thinking about using a CRM system.  The fact you no longer need to purchase servers, technical know how and expensive CRM licences breaks down the entry barriers for lots of small businesses.  At the moment Microsoft are not only giving CRM away but they are paying people to take it, it doesn’t get much better than that.

There will of course come a time when Microsoft start to up the costs but I get the feeling it won’t be  until the next release.  The one areas I am a bit shocked by is the fact Salesforce haven’t really come back at Microsoft with a good offer of their own, perhaps they are waiting to try and buy back the users in a years time with a similar offer.

 

Standard interface
I was explaining to someone in the office one of the main benefits of CRM 2011 is the outlook integration looks and acts a whole lot better.  He was wondering why this a major benefit, the way I see it is a lot of jobs involve employees using outlook for a lot of the day to correspond with clients, they also store emails/information, have the contacts in there.  The beauty of CRM is they can still use outlook all day but it will now be filled with all account information, extra contact information and a link to the documents.  Basically it will fore fill all their CRM needs to help them be more successful in their job (life is all about networking really).  So the benefit of CRM 2011 is they can still use outlook and it will look and feel like outlook.
When I think of a standard look and feel I think of the Microsoft office products, everyone is comfortable with them.  Although I would add that with every major release they hide buttons and things so I can’t find them.
The future is bright the future is Microsoft CRM Dynamics
I think this is the really exciting area of Microsoft CRM dynamics.  Microsoft is really pushing forward with CRM (although sadly not the reporting side of it) and is making great strides with each major release.  I think the leap from CRM 4 to CRM 2011 is vast.  They have spent a lot of money getting CRM in the cloud and have plenty of servers.  An important factor of the cloud offering is the fact they promise to it to be up more than 99.5 percent of the time.
Microsoft have also brought skype and have their eye firmly on integrating social media into the next release of CRM.  This is one of the area where salesforce has the edge and I hear a lot of chatter about the chatter functionality in salesforce.com.  It doesn’t seem that impressive (basically a chat feature from what I can tell) but Microsoft haven’t integrated any tools and this interconnectivity is import to organisations with regards to the home/ on the move networking.
Extendability
I think the functionality of extending Microsoft CRM dynamics in the cloud is important.  As good as CRM 2011 is out of the box, most people who use it will want modify it.  It is also common you will need to add javascript for client side functionality and plugins for more complex functionality.  The ability to do this in the cloud is an important step, it allows at least 90 percent of companies to use CRM in the cloud and modify/extend it to their needs.  Without this ability a lot of companies would get frustrated with the out of the box CRM offerings.
The CRM community
I think Microsoft have helped generate a fantastic CRM community with their CRM wiki’s, CRM resources, CRM blog, forums, codeplex and the concept of CRM MVP’s.  There is a vast collection of resources and the ability to ask questions to problems.  Rarely is their problem which you cannot find an answer to by searching for it.
Excellent Partner resources
There are lots of great companies offering partners solutions for CRM, this means companies who want a CRM solution to be created or one to be modified can be done without the company having to invest in technical staff.

CRM 2011 – Tool for extracting CRM 4 plugins

 

 

Mitch Milam featured a very interesting utility on his blog today and one which will be very interesting to people upgrading from CRM 4 to CRM 2011.

I will also be of interest to people who need to document CRM installations like DEV teams.  Another problem that can occur is you need to export the plugin to see what version has been deployed.  Although plugins do have version, not everyone bumps up the versions when they are deploying updated versions.

The tool can extract CRM 4 plugins from the database.  You can read about it on mitch’s blog here

 

 

You may download it here.

CRM 2011 – Tool – JavaScript Web Resource Manager for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

I do enjoy a good CRM tool, especially when they make developing in CRM easier.  So it was with great interest today I saw a new tool to help with Javascript development in CRM 2011.

You can get the tool at codeplex here

The reason why thsi project is great because it saves you a few clicks every time you want to update some javascript, which means you don’t have to go to the form properties and paste the javascript in.

This tool was created by the CRM tool guru, Tanguy, who only recently finished making another tool to view the CRM Ribbon in 2011, which you can find here

Project Description
JavaScript Web Resource Manager for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 helps CRM developers to extract javascript web resources to disk, maintain them and import changes back to CRM database.

You will no longer have to perform mutliple clicks operation to update your js web resources

Features

  • Export scripts web resources from CRM server
  • Save scripts web resources to disk
  • Load scripts files from disk
  • Edit scripts with default text editor or Visual Studio
  • Edit web resource properties
  • Save scripts to CRM server
  • Publish scripts to CRM server

 

Screenshot

jswebresourcemanager


CRM 2011 – Problems setting a manager for a user

I knew of the manager setting on a user and it’s theorecitical use because I learnt it whilst studying for one of the CRM exams.

You basically have use a manager role to escalate messages, warnings, noticiations in CRM.  So rather than hard coding a particular user you use the manager role and then in your workflows etc you use this role rather than hard code it to an individual.

I had problems today whilst trying to  set a manager for someone, in fact it was greyed out.  This had me puzzled for a while and then I managed to figure it out.

You can’t set a manager to someone who is a  manager.

which doesn’t sound like real life because most managers have managers.

This is a bit quirky but if you run into this problem one day I hope you will remember this.

CRM 2011 – Frequently asked questions from Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers

I read an interesting blog post from Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Team Blog today which had a link to CRM Frequently asked questions.

This interested me two fold, firstly I was interested to see what the FAQ were and it’s also a good resource for solutions to these common problems.

If you want to read all the FAQ’s then go to the web site here

The document has these main headings with lots of more detailed problems below

On This Page

Work with records and features

Work with Outlook

Mobile Express

Work with Data Management

Work with Reporting

Work with Workflow

General Administration

E-mail and E-mail Router Administration

Performance

Customization

Additional Resources

 

I have to admit I found the FAQ very interesting and useful, it often has quick answers with links to more in depth documents, here is an example

How do I install and configure Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online E-mail Router?

For information about installing and configuring Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online E-mail Router for use with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, see Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online E-mail Router Installing Guide for use with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

 

Is there a guide available for Administrators?

Yes. The Administrator’s Guide describes the initial tasks that must be done while setting up Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and also the customizations that can be made any time after you set up Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. For more information, see Administering Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

 

 

 

Is there a lack of Dynamics Consultants

I read this article today on the revamped dynamics world website, which is a lot greener but some of the pictures don’t seem to load is my first thoughts.

They had an article with the title of Lack of dynamic consultants

There has been a lack of Dynamics Consultants and Developers for some time. Microsoft in the UK has attempted to make small steps to combat the issue with little success.

Today, basic development isn’t the issue. Huge teams outside of the EU can complete implementations quicker and cheaper than UK and other Northern European based companies. This is largely due to excellent, cost effective training programmes, which are often run by large resellers. The aim of these facilities is to train new staff, often just managing to break even, not to make a profit. Something I thing the European market could learn from.

Consequently, face to face Consultants are in high demand across Europe and the US, which inevitably drives up rates. Partners spend millions of pounds on implementations and upgrades and need the work completed properly. They are feeling squeezed between lack of affordable resources and the need to have the work completed to the standards they require. A complaint that has been put to Microsoft.

 

The article isn’t really focused on the number of CRM consultants in a company basis but more a global problem.  I was thinking about the number of CRM consultants and if Microsoft’s sales figures are to be believed (and I have no reason to think otherwise) then there has been a great deal more CRM work done over the last year and there will be in the future as well.

You should also take into account the CRM cloud offerings might not need much consultancy or development work because I guess a lot of these will be standard deployments without much customization.

Looking towards the future I think there will be more Microsoft CRM work in the future as Microsoft gains more market share from it’s rivals, I also think the customers which took the standard CRM offerings in the cloud will start to push CRM more and once they are used to CRM they will start to extend it.

I suppose in the short term this will push up prices for CRM work whilst the industry increases the number of CRM specialists