CRM 2011 – Update Rollup 3 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is available

Well I only just applied rollup 2 for CRM 2011 and now a new release is here.  I should check to see if my windows update feature for CRM 2011 is working.  Although does it work straight away or does it wait a couple of weeks by default just in case there is a howler in the rollup.  I think I may have made that bit up but I will have a look on the server tomorrow.

I certainly like the idea of windows style update because it takes a while to download all the separate parts to a rollup pack

you can get the new rollup here

below are some of the more interesting fixes, to read the full list go here

  • You import a solution that contains a plug-in that has empty methods. You publish the customizations. When the plug-in is triggered in this situation, you receive the following error message:
    Unexpected Error
    An error has occurred.

    .

  • The search results for system views in the Dynamics CRM 2011 client for Outlook are not compliant with the search results in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM web client.
  • Assume that you enable the http compression setting on the Dynamics CRM server. In this situation, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Outlook client does not receive responses for SDK calls as compressed. This problem occurs because the Outlook client does not send an “EnableDecrompression” http header with the request.
  • The Dynamics CRM 2011 client for Outlook initiates background send requests to the CRM server. This behavior can cause high server load and decreased performance because these requests are not throttled. This fix throttles these background send requests.
  • If an organization starts many asynchronous operations, the Asynchronous Service allocates many resources to process those requests from the organization. In this situation, other organizations will have an increasing backlog of asynchronous operations. This fix introduces a new deployment setting, called AsyncSelectMaxItems, in the DeploymentProperties table. This setting limits the number of items that can be processed by a single organization at one time. By default, the value is not set. It can be set manually if you experience this issue.
  • Metadata cache access for one organization is blocked if another organization is loading metadata.
    • When you add a URL that contains a query string parameter to a sitemap area or to a subarea in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, the URL is rendered incorrectly.
    • Some Swedish language translations are incorrect.
    • Assume that you have a contact who has the Business Phone filed populated. When you add a new phone call activity by using the ribbon from the Activities area, the Phone Number field is not populated in the phone call activity.

CRM 2011 – Discovery and organization service are held in settings

I can’t remember where I read this but it’s darn useful and I used it just this week when I need to put in the discovery service into the CRM/NAV Connector.  For those of you who have never used the CRM/NAV connector, be warned it’s a tricky beast to use.

 

Anyway if you want to find the discovery or organization service for your CRM 2011 deployment and this works for online or on premise then all you need to do is go to

SETTINGS

Customization

Developer Resources

 

You will then be shown a page with all your service endpoints on.

you might not need it now but sometime in the future you will remember this blog post and be able to find the Discovery service when you need to.

CRM 2011 – Things to consider when building a Microsoft CRM 2011 VM

I created a virtual machine for CRM 2011 with the idea of making it self sufficient so I could put it onto a laptop and take it offline and use it to demo to customers.

I added the sql server and IIS server for the CRM web application but I was still using the company active directory.  I was discussing this with a friend and he was saying that it wasn’t going to work because as soon as I took this offline on the laptop, it would try and check the active directory, which it won’t be able to find and then I will have problems.

I have been mulling this over and basically thinking I would use the CRM 2011 virtual machine created by Microsoft and then today I read this great article with instructions to build a Microsoft CRM 2011 Virtual VM, it is a small succinct instructions

Install the Platform:

  • Create a new Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit VM (VirtualBox is good for this), enable a shared folder, grant at least 3GB RAM
  • Complete the Windows 2008 installation and initial configuration
  • Turn off “Internet Explorer Enhanced Security” (via Server Manager)
  • Assign a static IP address to the server
  • Add the Domain Services and DNS server roles
  • Promote the server to be a domain controller (dcpromo)
  • Install SQL Server 2008 R2 (including Full Text Search and SSRS, set SQL Agent to auto start)
  • Test SSRS (http://servername/reportmanager)
  • Create an Organizational Unit in the AD to house  the CRM AD Groups

Install CRM:

  • Install CRM Server
  • Test CRM (http://servername:portnumber)
  • Add sample data
  • Install CRM Reporting Extensions (SSRS Data  Connector)
  • Test CRM Reports
  • Install Email Router
  • Install the latest CRM Rollup Packs
  • Install Microsoft Office
  • Add a second (bridged) adaptor to the VM to add internet access
  • Configure Outlook to send/receive via Gmail pop3 and smtp
  • Configure the Email Router to send/receive via Gmail pop3 and smtp
  • Configure a user to use the router, test email send and receive
  • Install the CRM Outlook Client and associated Rollup Pack
  • Test the CRM Outlook Client
  • Optionally install Visual Studio, CRM SDK, 3rd party tools like the View Replicator, etc

CRM 2011 – Study Guide for 2011 Presales Assessment – Customer Relationship Management

since I blogged about passing the 2011 Presales Assessment, I have had a few emails and comments asking about where people can find information regarding this exam.

The reason quite a few people are interested in the exam is because Microsoft have started to insist a certain number of people pass the certification to have silver or gold partner status.

Microsoft are also a bit cheeky because the best sources of information are class led lessons which you have to pay, so not only are people wanting to learn how to sell Microsoft products but Microsoft want people to pay them to learn how to do so, Clever but cheeky.

All of the source material is on partner source but the test might not be

The test can be found here

https://training.partner.microsoft.com/learning/app/management/LMS_ActDetails.aspx?UserMode=0&ActivityId=733031

you can take this test as many times as you like.  It’s 50 questions long and it probably has 100 different questions (at a guess).  One tip I used was to screen shot a correct answer (it shows the correct answer straight away) and then you can check the answer on the next test run.

You won’t be able to guess all the answers, you will have to watch, read some of the study material for the exam.

here is the preperation guide

On Demand Presentation: Microsoft Dynamics Presales Exam Preparation Web Seminar | Downloads PDF – 2.50 MB

2011 Sales Assessments:

Competency

Assessment

English 
Published in February 2011


ERP Standard Sales Preparation Guide
Assessment
 
Sales Specialist Preparation Guide
Assessment
 
Presales Preparation Guide
Assessment
CRM Standard Sales Preparation Guide
Assessment
 
Sales Specialist Preparation Guide
Assessment
 
Presales Preparation Guide
Assessment

 

 

This page is fantastic, probably the most useful link on this blog page.  You can see below it basically shows you all the links to the free online videos.  My personal recommendations is you will definitely need to know about sure step and how it’s used in presales, the video 65 minutes long but very interesting and a good introduction to Sure Step 2010 for those who need it.

Good luck and keep practising that test.

Presales Courses

Course Name

Format/Duration

Deployment Type

Fee/Free

Assessment Preparatory Course*

Aware Level
How to sell Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

ILT (8 hrs)

On-premise, Online

Fee

Yes

How to Upgrade Existing Customers to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 (available in April)

On-demand
(1 hr)

On-premise, Online

Free

No

Selling the Business Value of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

On-demand
(1 hr)

On-premise, Online

Free

No

Application: What’s New in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

On-demand (5 hrs)

On-premise, Online

Free

No

Proficient Level
Click-through demos for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 On-demand
(variable)
Overview Free No
Compete to Win: Microsoft Dynamics CRM against Salesforce.com

On-demand
(1 hr)

On-premise, Online

Free

Yes

Managing Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2011 Trials from “Click to Close”

On-demand
(1 hr)

Online

Free

No

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2011: Pricing and Licensing

On-demand
(0.5 hrs)

Online

Free

No

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011: On-premise Pricing and Licensing

EL (0.5)

On-premise

Free

No

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Data Management New Features

On-demand
(1 hr)

On-premise, Online

Free

No

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 E-mail New Features

On-demand
(1 hr)

On-premise, Online

Free

No

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Mobile New Features

On-demand
(1 hr)

On-premise, Online

Free

No

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Outlook Client New Features

On-demand
(1 hr)

On-premise, Online

Free

No

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Reporting New Features On-demand
(1 hr)
On-premise, Online Free No
Partner Sales Opportunity with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

i hr

Online

Free

No

Make sure you train people in CRM to get the most out of it

There have been a few interesting blog posts on Mike Ames recently and today he has posted another interesting post about why CRM implementations fail.

I particularly like point 1 show below

1.  You train people how to use the system but not how to make use of the system.  They understand how to add and access data but cannot easily graft this onto their real-life business development activities.  In short they have a system but lack any credible BD processes to use it with so they can’t see the point of keeping it up to date and so they stop using it.

 

Training the users on a new system is a vital part of delivering a new CRM solution, especially when you are delivering a system which to get the biggest benefits from it will need the users to pro actively use the CRM system.  Not only does it mean you have to train the users to use CRM from a technical point of view but you also have to get them to understand not only what they are doing but why they are doing it.

If they focus on what goal they are trying to achieve then they can then start to think our they could do it more efficiently using the new CRM system.  This is also true with CRM upgrades, often you can see people not using the new functionality because they are doing what they did using the last system.  Forgetting they did it that way because perhaps the old system had a limitation which meant that was the best way but when you get a new system or upgrade then there might be an opportunity to achieve you goals quicker and easier.

CRM 2011 – Video – Top 10 User Productivity Tips

I saw a link to this video on twitter and thought this was a really useful video from Zero2Ten.  This is particularly relevent for CRM 2011 because Microsoft have added a number of new features to speed up the process of using CRM but using them isn’t that obvious and some of them are hiding (like the favourites functionality).

 

The system administrator has set policies to prevent this installation

I was trying to install an msi file today on a windows server 2008 and it kept throwing up the error message

the system administrator has set policies to prevent this installation

now this was very frustrating, particularly because I was an Administrator on the server (in the Administrator group).

Now this is what I call a windows 7 type problem, where you have to run things “as administrator”.  The problem I had in this case was when I right clicked on the msi file it wasn’t giving me this option because windows was being clever and asking me if I want to install, repair or uninstall.

I finally got around this problem by opening up a command prompt by right clicking and using administrator privildges (even though I’m in the Administrator group!!!) and then ran the msi file (just call it) and then it ran as an Administrator and worked.

This has been a very long frustrating day.  After applying the rollup pack 2 to my CRM install, it asked me to restart the machine. I did this only to find there were 90, YES 90! Windows updates to apply.  It took about 3 hours.

Then I was trying to find a licence for the NAV/CRM connector which is only available in SHOUT.  If I may use a bad pun, I had never heard of SHOUT or I never heard the SHOUT, HO HO.  After raising this question I found out that SHOUT is part of Microsoft Partner Source but only for NAV partners.  To add to my frustrations I wasn’t yet added to the company so I had plead with someone else to log me into partner source.  The fun doesn’t stop there, once you are in SHOUT it’s a crazy world almost impossible to navigate your way around

CRM 2011 – Attaching a file to an account and other entities without using SharePoint

I was reading the CRM book Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Step by Step today because I need to talk to a customer about using CRM out of the box and this book is pretty useful at doing this.

In fact I was quite surprised that CRM 2011 doesn’t have a user manual which I could go through.  I would say CRM is easy to understand in terms of layout because it uses the standard Microsoft layout but I think the CRM product is quite complex to make it difficult for new users to understand how it all works together and leverage the CRM product.

I found this interesting paragraph about attaching documents to an account.  I always assumed the user would setup Sharepoint 2010 or SharePoint 2007 with CRM and link the documents that way but there is in built functionality to attach documents to accounts.

If you go to an account in CRM 2011

go to the Add Tab

You will then see there is a paperclip (no not that evil helpful paper clip) which allows you to attach a file to the account.

if you click the paperclip and attach a file, this then uploads the file and creates a note (in the notes section) and has a link to your file.  I assume it uploads you file to the database.

It’s interesting to be reminded about this functionality because I had totally forgotten about it.  It’s not as useful as linking a SharePoint Site but is a built in alternative for companies who don’t to use SharePoint or who aren’t going to be uploaded lots of documents.  This functionality is also there for many other CRM entities (contacts, orders, quotes etc etc)

CRM 2011 – PASSED – 2011 Presales Assessment – Customer Relationship Management

there are a couple of Sales Accreditations which you can take and pass on the microsoft partner site.

One is for pre sales and one is for sales.

You can take the tests as many times as you like, this is good but also highly frustrating.

The exam is 50 questions long and you need 75 percent to pass.  This means that it takes a long time to do and if you muck it up early you have to wade through the exam, fail it and then start again.

I took the exam all of last week but after the first day I knew I couldn’t bluff my way through it, so I had to go away and watch about 10 hours of free videos and training material until I knew enough about Presales to pass the exam

I found the exam quite useful in the end and I will go on to pass the sales one as well.  Although my next aim is to read all about using the bog standard CRM 2011 regarding Sales process, Marketing (marketing lists etc) and setting up products so I can give demos to people who want to use CRM out of the box.

I am studying for the Sure Step 2010 certification because I have been interesting in leaning about this for a while and my new company I work for Metaphorix Limited use Sure Step 2010.  This should help me to learn Sure Step because I will be using it in work as learning the theory about it.

CRM 2011 – FAQ CRM 2011 Server Setup Commonly Asked Questions

I have been installing CRM 2011 Server this week and whilst I have been reading the excellent documentation and googling around I came across this blog page which was pretty interesting.

 

 

Q: Are the CRM 2011 Report Extensions (commonly referred to as the “report connector”) an optional component?

A: All installations now require the CRM 2011 Report Extensions to be installed and configured on the SQL Reporting Server.  If it is not installed, certain features will not work properly: reporting will not function, creating new organizations, and organization imports will be blocked until the extensions are installed and configured.

 

Q: Do I need to install the CRM 2011 Reporting Extensions prior to installing CRM?

A: No, these should be installed after you install the CRM 2011 Server components.

 

Q: When installing CRM server roles on different servers (ex: install front-end and deployment components on server1 and back-end components on server2) I am not prompted to install the reporting extensions, why is this?

A: When the CRM server roles are installed separately (without first installing a CRM full-server) you’ll notice that no organizations are created by default.  Once the servers are all setup and configured, the first step to setup CRM is to launch deployment manager and create an organization.  It is at that time you will be required to input a reporting server that has the CRM 2011 Reporting Extensions installed.

 

Q: On CRM 4.0, as long as the report extensions were not installed, a Reporting Server (or scaled out reporting server farm) could host reports for multiple CRM installations/deployments.  How has this changed in CRM 2011?

A: In CRM 2011 the Reporting Extensions are now required, which means each Reporting server (or scaled out reporting server farm) with the report extensions installed may only host reports for a single CRM 2011 Deployment.  NOTE: The Reporting Server (or scaled out reporting server farm) can host reports for multiple tenants (organizations) in the deployment.

 

Q: If I were to run all CRM servers services under different service accounts how many service accounts do I need and what CRM groups should each service account belong to?

A: There are numerous configurations you could use to accomplish this, but if you were to separate everything here is a table explaining what group membership is required– I’ve also included SSRS and SQL server:

Service PrivUser

Group

SqlAccess

Group

PrivRept

Group

Rept

Group

Perf. Log 

Users*

CRM User?
Deployment Services SvcAcct

þ

þ

NO

Application Service (CRMAppPool)

þ

þ

þ

NO

Async service SvcAcct

þ

þ

þ

NO

Sandbox services SvcAcct

NO

þ

NO

SQL Server SvcAcct

SQL Reporting Services SvcAcct

þ

þ

NO

Email router account**

þ

NO

Installing User***

þ

þ

User accounts in CRM

NO

þ

þ

* The performance log user group is a local group on each server and not a domain group

** Email router will run as local system

*** The Installing user should be a separate service account, but it should not be used to run any services. 

IMPORTANT: If any of the service accounts are created as users in CRM, you may encounter various problems, some of which are potential security issues.

 

Q: I am concerned when it comes to security and want to be sure I limit my attack surface whenever possible.  What Windows Server Roles and Features are required for each CRM Server role?

A: Below is a table broken down by the 8 different server roles CRM installs.

  Component Web

App

Org

WS

Disc

WS

Help

Server

Depl

Tools

Depl

WS

Async

Svc

Sandbox

Svc

  IIS Web Server Role

þ

þ

þ

þ

þ

  .NET HTTP  Activation

þ

þ

þ

  File Server Indexing Services

þ

  Windows PowerShell

þ

NOTE: The IIS Web Server will also install the following role services:

·Web-Static-Content

·Web-Default-Doc

·Web-Http-Errors

·Web-Http-Redirect

·Web-Dir-Browsing

·Web-Asp-Net

·Web-Windows-Auth

·Web-Stat-Compression

·Web-Dyn-Compression

·Web-Mgmt-Console

·Web-Metabase

 

Q: If I want to split up my roles between a CRM Front-End Server and a CRM Back-End Server, but I don’t want to have a third server just for the purpose of hosting the deployment tools.  Is there a best practice or preferred placement given the two choices?  

A: The deployment tools can live on either server.  As you see in the chart above, the IIS Windows Web Server Role is required for both the Front-End Server services as well as the Deployment tools.  If you have a goal of minimizing your attack surface and want to limit your installations of IIS, the best location for the Deployment Tools role would be on the Front-End Server as all web services would be hosted on your Front-End Server and the Back-End Server would be hosting non-IIS based components.

 

Q: How does the CRM Front-End Server Roles contact the CRM Sandbox and Async Services and do I need to set anything up or allow for any firewall exceptions?

A: The CRM Async service is not called directly by any of the other services.  The async service operates out of theAsyncOperations queue and will process records as they’re place into the queue.  However, the Sandbox service operates differently.  When work is handed off to the Sandbox service it is done so over a TCP channel (port 808 by default). In the case of a synchronous plugin, the web application server will contact the sandbox service; in the case of an asynchronous plugin, the async service will contact the sandbox service.  Also, note: if you are: A)Running the sandbox service on a dedicated server (not installing the full server role) and B) running the sandbox service as a service account identity, and not as network service, a dedicated SPN is required in active directory. The SPN would be homed under the service account running the sandbox service and would look like this:MSCRMSandboxService/<SandboxServerName>.  For example: if my sandbox server was named “CRMSandboxSrv01” and my sandbox service ran under CRM_Sandbox_SvcAcct my SPN would look like:MSCRMSandboxService/CrmSandboxSrv01 and the SPN would live under the CRM_Sandbox_SvcAcct user object in Active Directory.

 

Q: If I want to manage my CRM deployment via PowerShell are there any specific recommendations or “gotcha’s”?

A: Currently, if you wish to manage your CRM deployment via PowerShell, the Deployment Web Services must be running as a service account identity and not as Network Service. If you run the deployment web services as Network Service, certain functions of the CRM PowerShell add-in will return a security error.