CRM 2013 – Understanding Solutions and how they work

Today’s  video is about Solutions this is useful for Developers and people who are studying for the CRM Customizations and Configuration exam.  Solutions are one of the fundamental parts of CRM customization and CRM Development, they  provide a way to manage and package your changes in CRM and importantly a way to move customizations between CRM instances.

If you want to watch the Hosk CRM Dev video on Solutions click the link below

Otherwise keep reading

Exam criteria

 Create and Customize Solutions (10-15 percent)

  • Plan for customization.

    • This topic may include: differentiate between configuration, customization, extending, and development; design appropriate customizations

  • Manage solutions.

    • This topic may include: understand business requirements; understand the benefits of Solutions; create Solutions; export managed and unmanaged Solutions; import Solutions; specify a Publisher; work with multiple Solutions; describe Solution components; describe component dependencies

  • Manage customizations.

    • This topic may include: describe customization concepts for entities, fields, forms, views, and charts; publish customizations


Some of the information below has been taken from the excellent Customization and Configuration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, although I have tried to remove any direct quotes.  I would recommend you read the Microsoft Official Curriculum on Solutions.


Plan for customization is odd because it would seem rather difficult to create questions for, it is very important because one of the important skills of a good CRM developer is choosing the right tool for the right moment and you need knowledge of configuration, Customization and extending

Config – teams, security roles, business units

Customization – standard GUI changes, forms, entities, views, workflows, business rules

extending – javascript, .NET, plugins, workflows etc.

To be honest I’m not entirely sure what they are getting


What is a solution

Solutions in Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a method to let you group and manage your custom components for a particular set of functionality or release but remember solutions are optional, you don’t need to have them and you can if you wish just edit the default solution.


Default Solution

You don’t have to have a solution file you can edit the DEFAULT solution by going to

SETTINGS → Customizations → Customize the system


1.  You could only export these changes as unmanaged which would overwrite the other systems with no way of removing them

2.  It would be hard to tell what changes you had made

3.  it would take longer and longer to deploy them, manage and update them.

Solution best practice is use it to split up business requirements probably either in Sprints/releases or in business requirements.

When an Organisation is created, by default a solution called Default Solution will be created which will include all the components in the system.  Customizing the default components without a solution is customizing the default solution.   The default solution will also be customizated if you make changes in a new solution because all changes will be made to the custom solution (unless you have imported a managed solution)

It’s possible to export the Default Solution and import this solution into another CRM Instance but you cannot export Default solution from  a CRM On Premise to a CRM On line or vice versa.

Why Use solution, how do people use solutions

A solution is a way to package a group of customization’s.  There is no limit to the number of solutions and you can package them up and deliver a whole set of changes in one solution.

Solutions provide ways to organize the deployment and development of customization’s.  You can provide releases or new functionality.

How do you group the changes, this is personal preference

you can group the changes in terms of functionality e.g. reports, project management solution, easy navigation changes

Or you can group the changes in terms of a release or sprint

you can create solutions for different types of changes, e.g. workflows, entities, plugins


Publishers and Prefixes

Before you can create a solution you must create a publisher.

When you create a certain customizations like entities or fields, CRM will automatically prefix the change with the prefix value held in the publisher specified in your solution.  If you are making the change in the default solution, you will be using the default publisher which has the prefix of new

The prefix will then be added before the schema name for the entity or field e.g.



This means if you have two different customizers changing the system with different publishers then they will create components with different prefixes.

If you export your Solution as a Managed Solution, the publisher is especially important because after the solution is imported in the target system only solutions with the same publisher will be able to update those components.  So either you can update the components with the same publisher with an unmanaged solution or you can delete the solutions.

Work with Multiple Solutions

Important concept

Solutions are containers, on the original (DEV) system they do not stop anyone changing anything

Solutions are containers to manage and show the changes on on the original system.  What these means is if  you had a solution, and you changed the Account entity in your solution.  These changes would show in the Default solution, your new solution and any other solutions which had the account entity in.M

Your new Solution is a container for a set of components that work together to provide the functionality for which you are asked. To modify the components, you can create new components in your Solution, or add existing components from the system to your Solution.

Even when you are working in your own Solution, any components you create or modify are changed in the Default Solution, because your Solution only contains references to these components, not copies of the components. This means that if you delete the Solution that you are customizing this removes the “wrapper” around the components – the components remain in the system.

This means two customizers can modify components, these changes will automatically be changed in the default solution.  In programming terms this is because solutions only contain references to the components not copies.   Solutions can be seen as wrappers.

IF YOU DELETE AN UNMANAGED SOLUTION THE CHANGES WILL STILL BE THERE.  To remove those changes you have to edit those components

Managed and unmanaged solutions

When you export a solution, you can choose to export the solution as a managed or unmanaged type.  I usually remember this by the fact managed solutions are read only when imported into the target system.  What I mean by this is you cannot edit or change any of components.

When you import a unmanaged solution all the changes are really changing the default solution, all your changes are copied to the default solution.  Then if you delete the unmanaged solution later the changes will remain.

Importing unmanaged solutions will overwrite any changes you had previously made and this cannot be undone and I wouldn’t recommend import unmanaged solutions unless it is from an unmanaged solution from people you work with (and even then think twice)


Managed solutions

Managed solutions on the other hand can be edited and only removed by uninstalling/removing the solution, all the components and all the data.  It’s all gone permanently, even if you then remimported the managed solution all the data would be gone


Solution versions – Minor changes

one of those questions which once again personal opinion

small changes to a current set of functionality or solution then you can modify the solution and increment the version number.

if it is new functionality then you have to decide whether to add it into an existing solution with version number increment or create a new solution


Removing Components from your Solution

Removing a component from a solution will remove it from your solution but it is not deleted and will still exist in the Default Solution.  You remove a component, you select the component whilst inside your solution and then press the Remove button.  This will remove the component reference from your solution but not delete/remove it from the default solution.

Don’t get Remove mixed up with Delete.  Pressing the Delete button will delete the component.  Important System entities cannot be deleted from the system (Case, Account etc), custom components can be deleted.

Dependent Components

When you try and delete a component that has a dependency, it will pop up a dependent component dialog that informs you there is a dependency and stops you deleting the component

if you try to delete a component which has dependencies then you will need to delete the components which depend on the component you are trying to delete.  You may have to remove multiple dependencies.

Required Components

You can see the required components for a component by selecting the component and clicking show dependencies.   This will show dependent components and required components.

Required components will not prevent you deleting the component.  They are often things like Webresources with JavaScript, plugin, a view.  You don’t need these things in your solutions every time but you will need these components to have been imported into the target system at some point.

If you are missing a required component you will get the Missing Required Components Dialog When Adding Components to a Solution.  This won’t stop you exporting the solution.

What Can be Added to a Solution?

The following is a list of solution components that you can view within a solution: taken from this blog

  1. Application Ribbon
  2. Article Template
  3. Business Rule
  4. Chart
  5. Connection Role
  6. Contract Template
  7. Dashboard
  8. Email Template
  9. Entity
  10. Entity Relationship
  11. Field
  12. Field Security Profile
  13. Form
  14. Mail Merge Template
  15. Message
  16. Option Set
  17. Plug-in Assembly
  18. Process
  19. Report
  20. Sdk Message Processing Step
  21. Security Role
  22. Service Endpoint
  23. Site Map
  24. Web Resource


What cannot be added

  • Business Units
  • Teams
  • Queues
  • Goals
  • Subjects
  • Product Catalog

The items above must be either created manually or imported.  If you want to create manual data and use the same guids between systems then you will need to export and import the data so you can specify the guids used.


How solutions are applied: taken from this great blog post, although I think I have seen the picture on the CRM SDK somehwere but I can’t remember where

All solutions are evaluated as layers to determine what your CRM application will actually do. The following diagram shows how managed and unmanaged solutions are evaluated and how changes in them will appear in your organization.



The majority of components work in the usual way

You make the change (the change is not visible or saved, so if you closed the browser the change is lost)

You save the change (not visible to the users yet)

you then publish the change to make it visible to all user


When you import a managed solution it will publish the changes automatically but if you import an unmanaged solution then you will need to publish those changes.

Some components do not need publishing and some do

These components need publishing

  • Application Ribbon
  • Entity
  • Entity Relationship
  • Field
  • Form
  • Message
  • Option Set
  • Site Map
  • Web Resource

One final point regarding the publishing customizations, users may experience some problems, slowdown so it’s best practise not to publish customizations during working hours and to publish the customizations at time when the system is not busy

Export and Import Solutions

To move the customizations between systems you can export your solution from one CRM instance and import it into another CRM system.  The solution is exported as a zip file.

Inside the zip file there will be a few XML files




depending on what customizations you have in your solution there could also be javascript js files and plugin dll’s, image files etc.

It’s good policy to keep backups of your exported customizations in case you need to roll back your customizations.

Don’t forget there are more videos on the youtube channel Hosk Dev CRM or if you are just interested in Videos for the MB2-703 Certification – CRM 2013 Customization and Configuration exam there is a playlist you will find useful



Hosk’s Top CRM articles of the week 28th March 2014

Welcome to my choice of the best articles this week

Article of the week

if you are going to read one article this week, make it this one

xRM Test Framework for Dynamics CRM 2013 is now available 

As a CRM Developer I found this article very interesting

My non developer article would be Leon Tribe’s CRM MVP answers (and yes I can vote for my own blog posts)

CRM MVP Question and Answer – Leon Tribe

although I did also find the new exchange sync pretty interesting

Dynamics CRM 2013 Configuring Exchange Syncronization 


CRM 2013 articles


Check out what fields you are no longer using in CRM 2013
Spring Cleaning for Your Dynamics CRM System

Lots of people having troubles installing rollup 2 for CRM 2013, read the article below

Dynamics CRM 2013 Update Rollup 2 may fail to install on Windows 2012 with custom number formats

You can encypt fields in CRM 2013 and they can’t be audited, find out more

Data Encryption in CRM 2013

how to deal with unwanted Activity types that are cluttering up your CRM 2013

What to Do with Unwanted Activity Types in Dynamics CRM

Some study information provided by the Hosk

CRM 2013 – MB2-703 – CRM 2013 Customization and Configuration Study information

A new paid for tool which can schedule reports in CRM 2013 online

New Release: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Report Scheduler add-on v5.0 for CRM Online and On-Premise

A look at the new functionality in CRM 2013 and what’s new for Developers

CRM 2013 – What’s new in CRM 2013 for Developers


Leon Tribes shows you how to get Power View into CRM 2013 without photoshop

Getting Power View into Dynamics CRM

Some useful tips if you are migrating information in CRM

Dynamics CRM Data Migration Tip Using the Import Sequence Number Field

a podcast on Business Process flows with CRM MVP Carsten Groth

PODCAST – Business Process Flows in CRM 2013 with Casten Groth

why do we fail

CRM 2013 – What’s new in CRM 2013 for Developers

When CRM 2013 was first released the first question that came into my mind is what’s new for CRM developers and like most questions the data is initially difficult to find because I’m never quite sure where to look.

In this instance Microsoft have written a very good article on the subject which can be found the CRM 2013 SDK

It has the full list there but I will focus on some of the highlights


Entity images

certain entities can have one entity image.  This feature can be turned on for an entity but can not be turned off again.  You cannot have more than one entity image.  For more information, see Entity Images.

Access teams

Access team is a dynamic Team that is used to share records.  It works by having a subgrid on the record and any users added in can then see the record.

There is a good white paper on access teams

Access Teams with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

Business Process Flows

This is a bit of a mixed bag in my eyes.  It’s seems like a good idea, creating stages which are cross entity for a business process.  At the moment the only place I can imagine this working is on the sales process, I can’t recall any customer project where they would want a business process but this could be just because I haven’t really used CRM 2013 in a customer project yet.

Real Time Workflows

Hazaar, workflows that can run instantly, well done Microsoft some great functionality, the only question I have is what took you so long.

but you should consider that Real Time Workflows are not quite as efficient as Plugins but don’t take my word for it read this great article by CRM MVP Scott Durow

Custom actions

This is probably one of the most powerful new features added into CRM 2013, it basically allows you to create custom messages to trigger code (javascript/plugins).  This is one of the functions I haven’t yet looked into because it seems a bit tricky to start with and this is probably the reason it is one of the least documented new features in CRM 2013.

Data encryption

There is now field level data encryption which means encrypted fields can’t be audited and have other considerations regarding searches etc.  For more detailed Field-level data encryption.


There is vastly improved mobile, I’m afraid I haven’t really looked into it at the moment

Quick start for developers

New documentation has been added that provides an easier and faster learning experience for developers or non-developers new to Microsoft Dynamics CRM technologies. For more information see Getting started with managed code application development.

Solution version compatibility changes

Starting with this release, solutions exported from a newer version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM cannot be installed into older versions. This includes major/minor version differences. For more information see Version compatibility.

What I think this is saying is you can import CRM 2011 solutions into CRM 2013

but you can’t import CRM 2013 solutions in CRM 2011 (why would you want to do that)

Autosave and no duplicate detection

I have put these together because I think one has a knock on affect to the other.  Auto saving has meant that the duplicate detection can no longer function when saving records (because they are saving all the time without all the previous duplicate detection criteria).

Lync/Skype Phone number fields

You can have Phone fields in CRM which when clicked will open Lync or Skype

 Quick Create Form

it’s not part of the SDK but you it’s certainly something developers can use.

Business Rules

You can now hide/show and modify fields without having to write JavaScript



there are a bunch of new JavaScript functionality added.

One of the main new JavaScript functions is now the ability to have field level notifications and instead of using JavaScript alerts you now have notifications  which pop a message at the top of the screen.

This is useful because Microsoft don’t like you using alerts because they don’t work very well in the mobile application but now with notifications you can still show a message to the user and the same code will work with standard CRM and Mobile.


• Xrm.Page.context.client.getClient() – Returns client type i.e. outlook, web or mobile.

• Xrm.Page.context.client.getClientState() – Returns client state i.e. online or offline.
• – This is one interesting as it refreshes the data on the form without even reloading the page. This also enables developers to pass a callback method.
• – Save the form
• – Returns true is form is valid for save else false
• – Sets the form dirty for force save.
• – Returns the value of primary attribute
• Xrm.Page.ui.setFormNotification(message,level,uniqueId) – Sets the notification on top of the form.
• Xrm.Page.ui.clearFormNotification() – Clears the form notification
• Xrm.Page.ui.refreshRibbon() – Refreshes the ribbon. This method does not work on CRM for tablets
• Xrm.Page.getControl(“field_name”).setNotification(“Notification”) – Sets the notification for a specific field right next to the field label. This can often be used as a custom tool tip.
• Xrm.Page.getControl(“new_name”).clearNotification() – Clears the notification
• Xrm.Page.getAttribute(“new_precision”).setPrecision(2) – Override field precision
• Xrm.Page.getControl(“createdon”).setShowTime(true) – Toggle show time at form
• Xrm.Page.getControl(“field_name”).addCustomFilter(fetchFilter, entityType) – Allows developer to add custom filter to a lookup view.
• Xrm.Page.getControl(“field_name”).addPreSearch(handler) – adds pre trigger filter to the lookup
• Xrm.Page.getControl(“ownerid”).removePreSearch(handler) – removes the trigger
• Xrm.Utility.openWebResourceDialog(webResourceName, webResourceData, width, height) – opens a sepecified webresource as a web dialog window.


CRM 2013 – MB2-703 – CRM 2013 Customization and Configuration Study information

I will be covering the information in the exam but whilst I am making some study information, you will also need to do some studying yourself and below I will go through what material I would advise you to use.  If you are not sure if you want to take the exam read this and then come back ready to study.
Looking at the exam criteria you may think that the MB2-703 – CRM 2013 Customization and Configuration exam will be easy because most of the topics and functionality you use on a regular basis

  • Create and Customize Solutions (10-15 percent)
  • Customize Entities and Entity Relationships (10-15 percent)
  • Customize Fields (10-15 percent)
  • Manage Forms (10-15 percent)
  • Manage Views (10-15 percent)
  • Create and Customize Charts and Dashboards (10-15 percent)
  • Manage Security (10-15 percent)
  • Manage Business Processes and Rules (10-15 percent)

HA, don’t be fooled the exam is still hard, you need to get 70 percent that isn’t many you can get wrong   You will need to know the topics in exact detail, this means you will need to revise and be able to answer precise questions.  Roughly knowing the answer won’t be good enough because in most questions there will be two possible answers which could be right   What I am basically saying is you will have to study and revise so the knowledge is

Exam Criteria

Make sure you know what is going to appear on the certification, look at this document regularly and make sure you have revised and tried out all the functionality

CRM 2013 Trial

The best way to learn about features and functionaity in the exam is get stuck in and try it.   I have even made a video to walk you through getting a CRM 2013 setup.


Customization and Configuration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

If I were to use only one source material to study for the exam, then the MOC above would be it, it goes through all the functionality that will appear in the exam.  It has examples and tasks, not to mention practice questions.  I think you have to work for a Microsoft partner

MB2-866 study notes from by Buddy Guido took the exam and he has given some hints and tips to me and everyone, he also has a link to the study notes from

The study notes are very useful, 46 pages of good notes about the CRM 2011 Customization and Configuration exam.

The “Overview” and “Skill Measured” sections give you a good summary of the exam, and clarify the targets. Because this exam is the natural evolution of the CRM 2011 version and several concepts are still the same, I studied again the MB2-866 study notes from (the site is currently offline, so I made a doc from the google cache and shared here:

Notes From Dynamics CRM Chat

This blog has a great page on what you need to know to pass the exam and then some very detailed and free notes helping you study for the certification.

Microsoft Exam MB2-703 – CRM 2013 Customisation

CRM SDK 2013 – Customizing CRM – Entities, forms, dashboards, views

Solutions – FROM CRM SDK–UnManaged

CRM SDK Solutions

The Exam will focus on new features in CRM

Access Teams White Paper

Access Teams with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

Good blog from powerobjects

Business Process Flow

Describes business process flows in CRM 2013 and how to use them in your custom solutions

Business Process Flows White Paper

youtube video

Business Rules

Quick Create forms


Hosk CRM 2011 – Exam Cram Notes Finally I have some study notes I made for the CRM 2011 Configuration and Customization exam, these notes are not detailed but for the final revision stage of the exam, they are basically exam cram notes My exam notes will show you the detailed knowledge you will need for the exam because any of the information below could appear in the exam.

  •          a maximum of 2 columns can be used to sort a view
  •          The CRM Administrator can see everything
  •          Audit logs management is done by a system job
  •          decimal precision is set on each currency attribute AND in system settings
  •          Connection roles, security roles, optionsets, Web Resources, templates, field security profiles are all included in Solutions
  •          editing CRM website files is unsupported
  •          Auditing is enabled in System settings and then for each individual entity
  •          business units can have separate security roles, even with the same name!
  •          When assigned a security role to a user, the choice is filtered by business unit and the security roles in that business unit
  •          Disabling a business unit (and child business units) will mean all the users in that business unit won’t be able to login to CRM.
  •          Teams have security roles (this can affect which form is used)
  •          moving business units is done by changing the business units parent
  •          Managed solutions cannot be exported
  •          unManaged solutions can be exported
  •          Managed solutions can be deleted, this will delete the solution and all the entities and data
  •          Managed solutions can’t be changed or altered, except by the publisher/owner
  •          There are privileges needed to import a solution and publish it.
  •          Managed solutions use managed properties
  •          Managed solutions automatically publish on import, unmanaged solutions have to be published
  •          when you delete an un-managed solution you are only deleted the solution file, all the changes stay.
  •          To add 3d effects or modify charts you need to export the chart, change the XML and then import it.
  •          Optionsets can be used by many entities
  •          Many to Many relationships can be either Manual or Native
  •          Native many to many (N:N)  is done automatically by CRM (it creates the intersect entity but hides it)
  •          Manual Many to Many relationships are done manually an entity to sit between the two entities and have a 1 to many relationship with them both.
  •          Custom fields can be used for field level security
  •          built in fields cannot be used for field level security
  •          Each form has a fallback form
  •          A Teams  security role can influence what form is used
  •          Queue functionality cannot be unticked once it has been ticked
  •          Relationships – Cascade active – assigns active entities
  •          Relationships – Cascade all – assigns all entities
  •          Primary keys, created by, creation on, modified on cannot be audited
  •          Find columns are set in the Quick Find view for entities
  •          Business required fields don’t have to have a value if they are not included on a form
  •          importing data does not go through the same validation (e.g. business required) because validation is done only on the forms.
  •          an entity can only have one 1:M (one to many) parental relationship
  •          Display option must be filled in for Many to Many relationships
  •          WEB RESOURCE – Silverlight  XAP
  •          WEB RESOURCE – Web page HTML
  •          WEB RESOURCE – Script (JSCRIPT)
  •          WEB RESOURCE – Data (XML)
  •          WEB RESOURCE – Style Sheet (XSL)
  •          WEB RESOURCE – graphics – JPG, PNG, GIF
  •          Mapping fields must be the same type
  •          mapping optionset values must be the same
  •          APPEND – the entity you want to append
  •          APPEND TO –  The entity have things appended to it
  •          fields used in reports do not create a dependency and can be deleted

CRM MVP Question and Answer – Leon Tribe

I met a CRM buddy this week Parvez Ghumra and one of the first questions he asked me was who was the next CRM MVP to be featured on the blog, so it’s good see people are enjoying the Q&A with CRM MVP’s

This week we are off to Australia to the Lemonade stand to get the answers from Leon Tribe, someone who has been described as “The poster child for the code illiterate”.   Leon is one of our under cover CRM spies who also knows the software that shall not be named – SALES FORCE.  Indeed Sales Force is a recurring topic on his blogs and he does like to keep a close eye on Sales Force financial figures.

Like a true Australian you can find photo’s of Leon with a handlebar moustache


So it’s a big thanks to Leon for answering my questions and reminder to all CRM MVP’s who haven’t answered the questions yet, please contact me or look in your inbox, I and my readers of the blog really enjoy reading the answers from the CRM MVP’s and I have personally found it very interesting how all the answers have been very different.

Leon is an influential person, in fact he has been voted 55th most influential person in the Microsoft Dynamics universe in 2013 – and as they will be doing the 2014 at some point don’t forget to vote for Leon.  In 2012 he was at number 45.

Dynamics world has an interesting biography of Leon and here it is

Dynamics CRM consultant and business thought leader based in Sydney, Australia. Leon regularly applies his skills to improve businesses through applying a strategic focus, implementing transparent processes and using technology to bring everything together. Initially working as a trainer/lecturer, Leon transitioned into technology and started working with CRM systems in the late 1990s. Consulting at Interact Commerce (now part of Sage) on the ACT! and Saleslogix products, Leon moved to Deloittes in 2001 to hone his consulting skills. Leon moved on to work with numerous customers across multiple industries and was part of the first group of consultants in Australia trained on the beta edition of Microsoft CRM 1.0 (now Dynamics CRM). Seeing the future of the product, Leon transitioned to Dynamics CRM and has worked almost exclusively with the product ever since. A prolific business writer, Leon has been writing on consulting and the CRM industry for almost ten years. These days Leon writes and contributes to industry books, writes his humorous syndicated blog, “Leon’s CRM Musings”(, regularly tweets.


Lets have a look at the highlights from his Rockstar 365 profile

leon tribe



Here are Leon’s answers


1. Name, current job title and social media links please

Leon Tribe
Principal Consultant, Oakton
Twitter: @leontribe

2. What does an average day at work look like

Get lunch ready for my children
Get ready for work
Ride to work, across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, grabbing a bagel en route
After that anything goes. I might be having one on one meetings with my team, conducting workshops with a client, thinking of a new way of solving an old problem or something else entirely.
After work, ride home, hang out with the little ones, read a few emails/write a blog then off to bed

3. What different roles/Job titles have you had whilst using CRM

Principal Consultant
NSW CRM Practice Manager
Senior System Architect
CRM Practice Lead
CRM Consultant
Business Manager
Senior Developer
Professional Services Consultant


4. What job did you did before you starting using CRM

Installed EFTPOS terminals, designed web sites, taught maths and electronics


5. What was the first version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM you worked with and how long have you been using Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft CRM 1.0 beta. Eleven years. Before that I worked with SalesLogix for two years.


6. How do you stay up to date with the CRM

Writing my blog forces me to learn the new features of the system. Otherwise I get involved in the preview programs and read tweets.


7. How do you find time to contribute to the CRM community whilst doing your job

It’s hard and is generally after hours. Some people watch television, I read emails and write blogs. I rarely go to bed before midnight and often do online presentations late into the night.


8. What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a successful career in Microsoft Dynamics CRM?

Get on the forums. You will learn the product, the workarounds and, when you start contributing, making a name for yourself. Always remember you are there to provide a service to your clients so be friendly and stay humble. Never be afraid to say ‘No’ to a client if they are setting themselves up for disaster. They pay you for your expertise, not your compliance.


9. What where your first impressions of CRM 2013 and what do you think now.

Microsoft CRM 1.0 was like ACT! but ten times the price. It has come a long way and is now one of the best CRM systems on the market. I am proud of the product I work with and what it can do for my clients.


10. What one feature would you add to CRM 2013

Calculated fields.


11. Most annoying feature of CRM 2013

Being forced to have a default text field for every custom entity.


12. You favourite 2 CRM blogs (I have filled the first one in for you)

1. Hosks Dynamic CRM blog (I genuinely used this one to get information for my most recent blog post)
2. Leon’s CRM Musings (My blog, I regret the title but I wouldn’t write it if I didn’t love it)
13. What year will Microsoft Dynamics CRM have more customers than Sales force

Salesforce is a recurring topic in my blogs and I often run the numbers on this. Although Salesforce do not release subscriber numbers any more, inferring them via their revenue suggests a constant subscriber ratio (Salesforce: Dynamics CRM) of 2:1 which means Dynamics CRM will never catch up unless something changes. “Dynamics CRM” recently became a more popular search term than “” for the first time, according to Google Trends, so the tide is turning.
The good news is, while Microsoft is profitable, Salesforce is not and when Salesforce run out of money and funding, this will be when the war is won.
14. Are you doing more CRM projects with CRM online? Do you think it will all be online in the future

I still do more On Premise than online which may be a function of the size of client or on geographical location. Online projects are increasing though. I do not think it will ever be exclusively online but it will become more popular.


15. What is the best tool/solution you have used recently

Tanguy Touzard’s xRM Toolkit. I used it to create icons, create documentation and edit the SiteMap. Any consultant who has not used it is wasting project time.


16. What CRM certifications do you have, do you try and keep up to date with CRM certifications

My last certifications were for v4. My boss is very keen for me to get up to speed so this will happen in the next six months. While getting certifications are good, knowledge sources such as the forums provide a wealth of knowledge and this is where I go when I have a CRM problem to solve.
17. How important is it to have good business analytical skills working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

For a functional consultant, essential. I have an MBA and it has proven invaluable in understanding the concerns of the various areas of a business. If you do not understad what the client is trying to achieve, you may be able to give a client what they ask for, but not what they need.


18. How useful is it to have programming knowledge to become a good Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional?

I used to program Unix and Linux boxes in FORTRAN and C when I studied physics at university and, later, I programmed in Delphi when working with SalesLogix. However, I do not, in any way consider myself a .Net programmer. Many other CRM MVPs also do not code. This being said, a good knowledge of the coding foundations is very important when designing a solution for a client. I address this in my latest blog post ( )


19. What knowledge/experience do you have with software/systems which integrate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM e.g. (sharepoint, SQL Server, Scribe, Etc)

I used to work with Scribe back in the SalesLogix days and was a Crystal Reports writer for a few years but that’s about it, really.


20. How often do you travel as a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional?

At the moment, I am working on a project with the Australian government which has me travelling to Australia’s capital, Canberra a lot (I am based in Sydney). This has me travelling roughly 2-3 days every fortnight.


21. Can you see yourself not using CRM in your career in the future

No. I have pretty much made a career out of CRM consulting and it would be a very expensive exercise in salary sacrifice to throw that experience away.


22. What is favourite part of being a CRM MVP

Mixing it up with the other CRM MVPs. By their nature they are friendly and generous and I am yet to meet one I did not like.


23. What are your hobbies outside of CRM

At the moment, bike riding, star gazing, Arduino sketching, researching the family tree, spending time with my family and on rare occasion, sleeping.


24. What was the last book you read and what was the last film you watched

Having two children limits reading time but I am in the middle of reading “Shada” by Gareth Roberts. It is a novelisation of a Doctor Who television script by Douglas Adams. For me that is so many layers of good.

The last film I saw was The Hobbit Part 2.


25. Has CRM ever got you in trouble with your partner/family.

Writing a blog three times a month can be seen as excessive sometimes but she understands it is part of who I am these days.


26. Have you friends ever told you to stop talking/tweeting/blogging about CRM? What does your partner/family member(s) think of CRM

Never but I do not often talk about CRM to friends (unless they need one). My wife is in marketing and I am finding our worlds are coming closer and closer together as time goes on so she understands CRM very well and we often talk about its place as part of a marketing strategy.


27. Tell me something interesting/unusual about yourself

I do not have a computing degree. I studied physics at university and took an IT job when my PhD scholarship ran out before I had written a thesis. I once sang solo, on stage, in the Sydney Opera House and I rode 90km (56 miles) last year for charity.


28. Who is the first CRM MVP you remember reading/seeing

Guy Riddle. He was running the Sydney User Group and I thought I would go along.


29. Tips for someone who wants to become a CRM MVP

Microsoft value measurable community activity which means their forums are a good place to make a splash (although these days it is highly competitive). Being outside of the USA also helps for forums because it means you may see a question and have a chance to answer it while the board leaders are sleeping.

Having a blog and providing interesting, fresh content is also good and is, again, very visible to Microsoft.

However you make your mark, the other thing you need to do is make sure people know about your activity. Reach out to existing MVPs, reach out to local Microsoft representatives and become known in those circles. If you have an awesome tool for CRM, give the MVPs easy access to it so they can use it and blog about it. Being known for being passionate about the product is just as important as the passion itself.


Quickfire questions (choose one option and no explanation)

Steve Jobs or Bill Gates
Bill Gates

Javascript or .NET

Internet Explorer/Chrome/Firefox/Safari

Wine/Beer/Soft Drink

Certifications or Use CRM

twerking or tweeting

books or ebooks

save or autosave

OnLine or On Premise
On Premise

Windows 7/Windows 8/Linux/Mac/Other
Windows 8

work from home or work from office

Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus
Toys R Us



Zero Inbox/Overflowing Inbox

Zero inbox

Early Bird/Night Owl

Night owl

Do Today/Do Tomorrow

Do Today

CRM Developer/CRM Consultant

CRM Consultant

Hot Weather/Cold Weather

Cold weather

Half Full/Half Empty
Poorly designed


here are the previous CRM Q&A

Tanguy Touzard Questions


finally don’t forget to check out my CRM Developer YouTube channel

Hosk’s CRM Dev Youtube Channel

CRM 2013 – Why you should take and pass the Configuration and Customization Certification

I am going to talk about the CRM 2013 certification MB2-703 or otherwise known as Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Customization and Configuration.  One reason I am talking about the CRM 2013 configuration and customization certification is I have recently started a YouTube channel Hosk’s CRM Dev and although CRM Developers will be required to do a lot of coding they will also need to do a lot of customization’s using the standard GUI tools and functionality in CRM.

I myself am going to pass the certification and I am interested in learning the new CRM 2013 functionality so I thought I would create some YouTube video’s on the exam criteria and would like you all to join me on the journey of passing the CRM 2013 Configuration and Customization exam.

There are probably a bunch of people reading this blog going I would like to pass that certification but I’m too busy, I will get round to it at some point later in the year.


stop procrastinating and do it, give yourself a two month deadline and study and pass that certification and what’s more I’m going to help you do it, The Hosk will be cheering you on.

If you are still not on board let me tell you why you are going to do it (if you haven’t already), you have a choice you can see and hear me

or you can read why you should

1.  Money

People who have certifications get paid more.

“43 percent of survey respondents report salary increases as a result of Microsoft Certification.”

– Redmond magazine’s 2006 survey of compensation for Microsoft IT professionals

A certification is something you can take into your next pay review to help persuade your bosses to give you more cash.  The way I see it if you have a certification and your colleagues don’t, if over the year you have both done a good job then that certification is going to be something extra you have, not only do you have a certification but you also have all the knowledge to go with it.

2.  Learn the new features in CRM 2013

The certifications always have sections on the new features, so this is a great way to learn the new CRM 2013 features and get certified at the same time.  In fact it will give you focus and motivate you to get the learning done.  The other benefit will be you will brush up on some of the other parts of system you might not use.

3.  Broad range of knowledge

I have taken the CRM 4 and CRM 2011 Configuration and Customization certifications and I found them very useful in learning parts of the CRM that I wasn’t currently using in the projects I was working on.  I learnt about Goals, Dashboards, reporting, security, solutions before I used them at work.  In the CRM 2013 exam I will have to learn about Business Process Flows, Business Rules, Access teams, quick create forms.  What I am trying to say is I will learn about the functionality before I have to use it in my job, so if it comes up I will already have an idea of what it does, how it works.  A lot of being a good CRM Developer is knowing the correct tool to use at the correct time.

4.  (some) People respect certifications

if you have 2 or 3 CRM certification then people in the workplace will start to see you as  knowledgeable in CRM, their perception will change and this is particularly useful if you are starting out in your CRM career.  Certifications don’t make you a better CRM Developer or Consultant but it does mean that you have a good knowledge of CRM because you have to do a fair bit of studying to get the certification.

5.  Companies like Certifications

Companies like certifications because they need certified employees so they can get the Microsoft Gold or Silver partner status.  Companies also like certified employees because it sounds great to tell perspective clients about are certified developer/consultant.  If you have a certification you are more valuable to your company and they will often reward you for the time and effort it took to obtain the certification.

6.  Success feels good

It feels good to pass a certification, it may only be a piece of paper and something to put on LinkedIn/Rockstar 365 cv but you have set out to pass a certification and by golly you did it.  Once you get that certification no one can take it away

7.  You are committed to becoming a great CRM developer/Consultant

Life hacker has a nice paragraph in this article Will certification help me get a better job

Ultimately, getting one or two certifications will prove you’re capable of learning and retaining knowledge (or at least passing a test) but several under your belt shows that you’re committed to a career path, well versed in it, and knowledgeable. As those certifications grow to require experience and dedication to earn, they’re exponentially more valuable and prove that you’re familiar with industry best practices, have worked in the field, and have retained your knowledge (especially if it’s a cert that has to be renewed or kept up to date). So even if you don’t think the low-level ones are useful, don’t shy away from them—at best they’re a slight differentiator, but at worst they’re a stepping stone to greater things

8.  You know most of it already

Here is the headline skills measured, come on, you know at least half of that stuff already, you are half way there

  • Create and Customize Solutions (10-15 percent)
  • Customize Entities and Entity Relationships (10-15 percent)
  • Customize Fields (10-15 percent)
  • Manage Forms (10-15 percent)
  • Manage Views (10-15 percent)
  • Create and Customize Charts and Dashboards (10-15 percent)
  • Manage Security (10-15 percent)
  • Manage Business Processes and Rules (10-15 percent)

click here to read the skills needed in more details.

So after reading all that and knowing I am going to create some Video’s and information to help you (AND ME) study for the certification, what excuse can you (I will accept you already having passed the certification) have

I have written about the benefits of certifications before if you still aren’t quite persuaded.

CRM 2013 – Setting up Visual Studio with the Developer Toolkit for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

In this blog I will go through setting up the Developer Toolkit for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

For those of you who haven’t used the CRM Developer Toolkit you don’t know what you are missing, it’s awesome and with it Microsoft made developing plugins and workflows a lot easier for CRM 2011 and CRM 2013.  The main benefits of the CRM developer toolkit is it makes it easy to create strongly typed classes and to create and deploy plugins.  Microsoft has a good page going through the benefits – but below are the highlights I think are good.

  • Easily generate strongly typed proxy classes without having to run CrmSvcUtil.e
  • Generate plug-in code so you can immediately begin to write code for business logic.
  • Edit and register plug-ins without using the Plug-in registration tool.
  • Create new web resources or extract existing web resources, add them to your solution, edit them, and deploy changes all within Visual Studio.

A YouTube video walkthrough

First step

Download SDK

You should have visual studio already installed and working


Now install the CRM DEV toolkit, be sure to check for the prerequisites like Windows Identity Foundation

Installed, Create a new project, details in the link below will explains the choices in more detail

I will choose New Visual Studio Solution Template because this will allow you to create plugins, workflows and CRM webresouces etc.  It will also ask you about Silverlight resources just press cancel if you do not want to create any silverlight projects.

setup CRM dev toolkit 1

if you have problems and have windows 8 the link below may help

When the project is created it will pop up the Connect to CRM server dialog.  This is where you put the connection details to CRM in, in my case I am connecting to a CRM 2013 trial.

To work out the CRM Discovery service name, you can go to Settings –> Customizations –> Developer Resources and it will contain the details of the Discovery service for the CRM instance you want to connect to.

setup CRM dev toolkit 3

Remove the https:// and the part /XRMServices/2011/Discovery.svc and then what is left should look something like the value below

setup CRM dev toolkit 2

I have chosen the default solution at the moment but you can change this at any time by going to Tools –> Connect to Dynamics CRM Server and here you can edit the CRM connection details

You are now ready to start creating plugins for CRM 2013, which I will go through at a later date



Hosk’s Top CRM articles of the week 21st March 2014

Hello and welcome to my selection of the best CRM articles this week

Article of the week

if you are going to read one article this week, make it this one from  Jukka Niiranen, who shows us how much knowledge is knocking around the head of a CRM MVP.  This article explains how CRM tracks your data and the highlight is the excellent matrix.

Synchronization vs. Tracking: Understanding Activity Management Options in Dynamics CRM

CRM 2013 articles

Design and Scalability Considerations when Using Access Teams in Dynamics CRM 2013
This blog post goes through Access Teams which is a new feature in CRM 2013, which allows dynamic sharing of records

New Microsoft Dynamics CRM Pricing Coming Spring 2014
Jukka had a busy week this week and tells you what functionality is coming into CRM 2013 and when, watch the swim lanes

CRM MVP Question and Answer – Tanguy Touzard
Tanguy the toolguy is the latest CRM MVP to answer questions fired at him by the Hosk

CRM 2013 Tool – Easy Navigate lets you design your own metro like start page
The Hosk (which is me) runs through the interesting new solution/tool for CRM 2013 which makes navigating around CRM 2013 easier and anything that does that gets a thumbs up from me.

CRM 2011 to 2013 (Orion) Top 10 Upgrade Tips and Considerations (part 2)
5 more tips and things to look out for when migrating from CRM 2011 to CRM 2013

How to find Open Opportunities with NO Activities (without having to use FetchXML)
Interesting post, showing you how to find things with tricky no data, in this case opportunities with no activities.  It’s difficult to find things without things

CRM 2013 Auto-Save cannot completely be deactivated
You can turn off Auto Save but Auto Save won’t let you turn it off, here is how to catch the sneaky autosave triggering when you leave a record

Introducing Sandbox Instances in CRM Online
How do you know you are on a sandbox CRM Online instance, because it has an orange head of course.  There is a joke in there somewhere

Field Level Notifications

Let the fields notify the users they are being silly and putting in daft values, yeah you tell them fields.

A Guide to Online Resources and where to find them

An interesting PDF document showing you where lots of different Microsoft documents are, which is good because they are never in a group and never where you think.

Motivate yourself with hip hop preacher

CRM 2013 Tool – Easy Navigate lets you design your own metro like start page

I saw a tweet from CRM MVP Jukka Niiranen @jukkan mentioning there was a new tool on codeplex which allows you design your own start page.

This sounds interesting particularly as I still find getting around CRM 2013 a little bit on the slow side but this could be because I have been conditioned to go to use the left hand menu which is no more.

There is already a tool called quick navigate which does almost exactly the same thing except it doesn’t let you edit what you show on the start screen.

I have done a quick video looking at the tool and going through the process of installing and uninstalling

Here is what Easy Navigate looks like

It’s easy to install and use.

There is a little trick to uninstalling it, you have to uninstall it inside the easy navigate solution first before you delete the solution.  I was momentarily dumbstruck when it wasn’t letting me delete the solution.

It makes navigating CRM a lot quicker when you first open CRM, particularly if you want to go to Solutions or customizations because I can get there in one click rather than the two or more in the default navigation method.

If you are not a CRM Admin (which automatically gets all new security roles ) then you need to assign EasyNavigate security role to any users who want to use it.  I haven’t got any other users in CRM 2013 trial so I’m not sure how it works with regards to security privileges of the user and if they can view only the entities they are allowed but it wouldn’t really matter because if they clicked on it they couldn’t see anything so why would they

Here is my new default start, got rid of marketing and service and moved case to sales.

The only down side I can see is it isn’t easy to add the tiles back once you have got rid of them.

Here is the link to the codeplex project page so you can download it yourself

CRM MVP Question and Answer – Tanguy Touzard

It’s Wednesday which means it’s time for another CRM MVP Q&A blog post, last week it was Andrii from the Ukraine and today we are hoping over to France and an MVP whose toolkit is bursting with CRM tools which he has mostly crafted himself.

Tanguy has written so many fantastic CRM tools that he decided to put them all into one tool called – XrmToolBox which is available on codeplex.

The XRMToolBox currently has a splash screen and if you want to remove this then please donate to Tanguy and you can find more details on his latest blog post XrmToolBox : Donate and get rid of the sponsor screen

I would like to thank Tanguy for answering my questions and all the CRM MVP’s who have answered the questions.  Any CRM MVP’s who haven’t yet answered the questions, please jump on board.

I am a fan of Rockstar 365 profiles, it’s a fun and quick way to quickly summarize the important details of a person, you can look at Tanguy’s profile here – .  The pictures below are the highlights of Tanguy’s profile

Tanguy highlights 1




1.  Name, current job title and social media links please
CRM Technical consultant
Social :
Twitter url :
Blog :
Website :

2.  What does an average day at work look like
Essentially deployment audits and project work. My lunch break is when I contribute to the CRM community

3.  What different roles/Job titles have you had whilst using CRM
I guess I had each and every possible role : technical, functionnal, trainer, etc.

4.  What job did you did before you starting using CRM
Nothing, I started to work on Dynamics CRM during an internship at Microsoft France

5.  What was the first version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM you worked with and how long have you been using Microsoft Dynamics CRM
I started with CRM 1.2 in October 2003

6.  How do you stay up to date with the CRM
I read a lot of blogs and articles about Dynamics CRM and do some proof of concept/training when I have free time

7.  How do you find time to contribute to the CRM community whilst doing your job
Again, lunch break ! 30 minutes to eat, 1 hour for the community

8.  What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a successful career in Microsoft Dynamics CRM?
As a technical guy, my answer might be weird but Dynamics CRM is not just about customization and development. It’s first about understanding your customer business rules and needs. If you understand that, being able to understand and master the technical parts is easy. If you understand what your customer needs, you win.

9.  What where your first impressions of CRM 2013 and what do you think now.
First impression : wow ! Really nice new UI, but not so many new features as expected.
Now : New UI seems to be sometime a disadvantage to win projects since it misses enough contrast. And I can leave with existing features, it makes my job as a technical guy more interesting than just customizing the platform.

10.  What one feature would you add to CRM 2013
Polymorphinc relationships ! It’s kind of MVP’s private joke during summits but being able to define a lookup to target multiple entities types will help a lot in many projects.

11.  Most annoying feature of CRM 2013
UI style. Microsoft, give us ability to add colors in a supported way

12. You favourite 2 CRM blogs (I have filled the first one in for you)

I dont’t have favorite blogs. I use feedly to aggregate more than 80 blogs related to Microsoft Dynamics CRM and so, I don’t focus specificaly on one (or three) blogs. And yes, your blog is part of the 80 

13.  What year will Microsoft Dynamics CRM have more customers than Sales force
Can’t tell. Or if I could, I certainly would be able to predict Euromillions result (kind of european lottery, for people who don’t know it) and I will be rich.

14.  Are you doing more CRM projects with CRM online?  Do you think it will all be online in the future
Most of project I do are with OnPremise. Most of leads are talking about CRM Online.

15.  What is the best tool/solution you have used recently
Should I say the XrmToolBox ? Well, apart of my tools, Ribbon Workbench just rocks !

16.  What CRM certifications do you have, do you try and keep up to date with CRM certifications
I have all CRM 4.0 certicifications, only one in CRM 2011 (customization) and plan to get all CRM 2013.

17.  How important is it to have good business analytical skills working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
A lot ! If you don’t have these skills, don’t do projects with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

18.  How useful is it to have programming knowledge to become a good Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional?
A lot (again) ! Even if Microsoft Dynamics CRM is more and more capable to be extended with just customization, there will always be specific needs that require custom code.

19.  What knowledge/experience do you have with software/systems which integrate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM e.g. (sharepoint, SQL Server, Scribe, Etc)
I am capable to install/configure quite all softwares around Dynamics CRM (Windows Server, AD, IIS, SQL, RS, SharePoint) but I’m not a specialist. As I am curious, I enjoy understanding how they work and what I can do with them.

20.  How often do you travel as a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional?

21.  Can you see yourself not using CRM in your career in the future
For the moment, no. But I’m sure somedays I will surely have to work with different softwares.

22.  What is favourite part of being a CRM MVP
Having access to the product team, be able to meet other MVP and I’m honest, there are a lot of cool advantages that come with the award (MSDN subscription, MVP Summit, free softwares for MVP’s)

23.  What are your hobbies outside of CRM
Cinema and reading. Spending time with my 4 month old baby boy

24.   What was the last book you read and what was the last film you watched
I’m currently reading Game of throne, which is excellent !
Last movie was « The Island »

25.  Has CRM ever got you in trouble with your partner/family.

26.  Have you friends ever told you to stop talking/tweeting/blogging about CRM? What does your partner/family member(s) think of CRM

27.  Tell me something interesting/unusual about yourself
Don’t know… I have my black belt in Judo

28.  Who is the first CRM MVP you remember reading/seeing
I think it was Ronal Lemmen

29.  Tips for someone who wants to become a CRM MVP
You shouldn’t want to become a MVP and work hard for it. It is because you work hard for the community that you will eventually be awarded as a MVP.

Quickfire questions (choose one option and no explanation)

Steve Jobs or Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Javascript or .NET


Internet Explorer/Chrome/Firefox/Safari


Wine/Beer/Soft Drink


Certifications or Use CRM


twerking or tweeting


books or ebooks


save or autosave


OnLine or On Premise


Windows 7/Windows 8/Linux/Mac/Other

Windows 8

work from home or work from office


Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus




Zero Inbox/Overflowing Inbox


Early Bird/Night Owl

Early Bird

Do Today/Do Tomorrow

Do Today

CRM Developer/CRM Consultant


Hot Weather/Cold Weather

Hot Weather

Half Full/Half Empty

Half Full


Previous CRM MVP  Q&A


here are the previous CRM Q&A


finally don’t forget to check out my CRM Developer YouTube channel

Hosk’s CRM Dev Youtube Channel