CRM MVP Question and Answer – Carsten Groth

This week we are hop from Finland to Germany to celebrate Bayern Munich being thrashed in the Champions League (that’s proper football american readers, where the ball is round and not egg shaped) and the Hosk questions Carsten Groth

If you want to know what Carsten Groth looks like here is a picture

oh a man of mystery hey, lets try again.  ahh there he is, I would recognize that eye anywhere.

I looked at the MVP biography, it’s fairly standard stuff

Currently I am a Technical Product Manager at FLS and Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Microsoft Dynamics CRM since 2012. I am responsible for the CRM Partner Program and developing the roadmap for our portfolio around ISV Add-Ons. Prior to FLS, I worked for different CRM Silver and Gold partners as Consultant/Developer. Since the beginning of CRM 4.0 I blog as well as joining different communities, like xRMVirtual.So I am part of the Microsoft Dynamics Developer Family for over 14 years now – designing and building solutions on top of the xRM Framework.  Specialized:Developer, Technical Design, Pre-Sales Consulting

but of interest it has his recent activity and we can see Carsten has been doing quite a bit of speaking, MVP’s love speaking, they often do this in front of crowds of eager CRM users but if you monitor a CRM MVP in the wild you will often find them talking about CRM to themselves

Recent activities
Date Activity Type
4/28/2014 Big year 8 releases and 8 questions to MVPs Articles
3/23/2014 MVP talks about BPF in CRM 2013 Speaking (User group)
3/22/2014 Curah! Microsoft CRM Customer Care Blog Site Posts
3/4/2014 Convergence Atlanta Conference (booth presenter)
2/11/2014 Ask the MVP Experts Speaking (Conference)
2/10/2014 BPF Do´s and Don´ts Speaking (Conference)
2/3/2014 BPFHelper Library for CRM 2013 Code Project/Tools

below is the Rockstar 365 highlights

Carsten mvp 1

Carsten mvp 2

If you want to read previous CRM MVP Q&A by clicking the link on the header – HOSK’S CRM MVP Q&A

Thanks for Carsten for answering Hosk’s questions and if you do come into virtual contact with Donna Edwards, Scott Durow or Jamie Miley please feel free to remind them they haven’t answered the questions yet and we want to know how they would answer

QUESTIONS

 

Name, current job title and social media links please

Carsten Groth, Technical Product Manager at FLS GmbH, Germany
http://carstengroth.wordpress.com
@Carsten_mscrm
http://www.linkedin.com/in/carstengroth
http://rockstar365.com/carstengroth

 

 

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

Starting as a Consultant I worked for different Silver and Gold Microsoft Dynamics CRM Implementation Partners in northern Germany specialized in multiple industries. I was engaged in Enterprise Deployment projects, before finally I switch sides and went over as a Technical Product Manager at FLS GmbH an ISV specialized on Field Service- and Workforce Management.

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

I was actually starting using CRM in version 1.0 which probably most of the users didn´t ever see. I´ve been working with CRM since then. So I´m a long time fellow…

How do you stay up to date with the CRM

I do have a single dashboard actually build inside my own Microsoft Dynamics CRM system which helps me aggregating multiple informations and keep up to date with all the news and ongoings inside CRM systems. The other part is basically a mixture between joining different events and participating in a great community in which we share our knowledge.

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

This, of course is the most challenging, right? But I’m not gonna share my secret I manage this…

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

Actually, starting a career with MSDynCRM is pretty easy. First of all keep an eye on the different MS Academic Alliance proposals you have. This could be your first moment dealing with MSDynCRM. It then depends on the different roles you might want to start your career in, but it is for sure best practice if you´re following a goal. Think of “Where do I want to find me in 5 years?” – Don´t think this won´t change. In fact – you might find up yourself in a total different role in 10 or more years you never thought about.

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

I do think it was something around… Sorry I don´t remember, cause I do work for a long time with CRM2013 right now. But I can share a personal story as we´re still dealing with multiple 2011 organizations as ISV solution. And if you ever return to that UI you will notice how much better the new UI and form extensions are – promise.

What one feature would you add to CRM 2013

I already added this one – a much more flexible and precisely scheduling engine. So check out our ISV solution FLS VISITOUR.

Most annoying feature of CRM 2013

There isn´t one I´m aware of

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

1. Hosks Dynamic CRM blog
2. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Tips & Tricks (carstengroth.wordpress.com)

Even though I´m writing in native german language – you can actually take translation engine of your choice to translate it and I promise content will make sense and bring value to you…
What year will Microsoft Dynamics CRM have more customers than Sales force

Sorry but I´m going for quality not quantity. So actually having customers loving their CRM system is more important than dealing with a couple of seats that might be sold, but actually those are not using their CRM.

Are you doing more CRM projects with CRM online? Do you think it will all be online in the future

Because of working together with multiple Implementation Partners across EMEA I would bet that the amount of online organizations compared to OnPrem might have switched. If you do think from developer perspective being online is not that bad, cause you do not have to deal with different technology issues you might run into. Unless there´s a way to make it available “offline” as well.

What is the best tool/solution you have used recently

There´re multiple “best” tools I´m using as an ISV/MVP – so I cannot highlight one only. But if you´re up for tools, visit codeplex.com and you´ll find multiple tools MVPs are sharing with the community and we love to get feedback from you to improve…

What CRM certifications do you have, do you try and keep up to date with CRM certifications
I do have all CRM possible pre-sales/consultant 2011 certifications and will take the personal challenge to take all 2013 certifications as well. 3/4 are actually done the moment I´m answering this.

How important is it to have good business analytical skills working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

That depends on the job role you´re working in. I won´t say it is not important, but there´re a bunch of situations where you do not need BA skills.

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

Again, this depends on the job role you´re seeking for. I do know a lot of customizers who actually don´t have programming skills, but do a really good job just by customizing the system with OOB features.

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

I do know a lot of Integration software solutions around MSDynCRM. So where should I start?

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

Not gonna sharing this…

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

…mmh… I don´t think so.

What is favourite part of being a CRM MVP

Getting in touch with a great community – YOU and sharing knowledge, pains, opinions – to improve, grow and making things easier

Who is the first CRM MVP you remember reading/seeing

Jürgen Beck

Tips for someone who wants to become a CRM MVP

Think of becoming an MVP is an honor. It is not something as collecting titles just as collecting “friends” inside your favourite social community. Start sharing knowledge and someone will recognize and honor this. Always “give first” to get something back.
Quickfire questions (choose one option and no explanation)

Steve Jobs or 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

work from home or work from office

Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus

Vinyl/CD’s/MP3’s/Subscribe

Zero Inbox/Overflowing Inbox

Early Bird/Night Owl

Do Today/Do Tomorrow

CRM Developer/CRM Consultant

Hot Weather/Cold Weather

Half Full/Half Empty

 

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CRM 2013 – MB2-703 – Business Units and Security Roles Study Information

15 percent of the exam is based around security so you need to know it and know it good.

In this blog I will cover one part of the security concepts

This topic may include: describe Business Units; describe Microsoft Dynamics CRM security features; describe privileges and access levels

I have found 3 blog posts which I often find my way to when searching for CRM Security.  So I would recommend you go through those because they will give you a good idea how security roles work in CRM 2013, links to them can be found in the blog post below.

To learn about security and business units the best way is to get into your CRM trial and try adding business units and security roles.

First have a good look

second get in there and add some new business units and security roles

thirdly get renaming and deleting them

I will run through this in the video but I recommend you do it yourself, this will help cement the knowledge into your brain and provide more paths to the information (which means you will be able to recall it easier in the exam, yippee).  The blog post and the video work together, the video shows you security roles and business units in CRM and the blog post is a succinct summary of it.

 

I am only going to skip through what I think are the vital points, I expect you to read the three blog posts below, watch my video explanation and have a play in your CRM trial

I will first start with this great table from the power objects blog, this is a good introduction to security

http://www.powerobjects.com/blog/2014/02/14/microsoft-dynamics-crm-2013-business-units-and-data-silos/

 

To help understand how this works, consider the following definitions of the Dynamics CRM security components:

Component Description
Business Unit A scoping mechanism that defines a grouping of users for security modeling purposes; business units are hierarchical in nature. Business Units are a framework upon which a security model is built.
Security Role A collection of privileges (that are given a name) that reflect common user roles of your organization and/or business units; security roles are assigned to users or owner teams. See below for more details on Security Roles.
Privilege (access rights) The definition of a specific type of data access or action that can be granted as a right; privileges are granted through a security role and are cumulative. The following Privileges that can be assigned:

  1. Create
  2. Read
  3. Write
  4. Delete
  5. Append
  6. Append To
  7. Assign
  8. Share
Access Level While the Privilege defines the type of data access, the Access Level defines exactly to which records the privileges apply. You can assign the Access Levels of:

  1. None
  2. User
  3. Business Unit
  4. Parent: Child Business Unit
  5. Organization

For example, if you assign Read privileges to a Security Role at the Access Level of “Business Unit”, users with that Security Role will only have the privileges to see records owned by a user within their Business Unit.

Business Units

As you can see the security in CRM is created from a few pieces of functionality working together.  You have business units and security roles, within these you have privileges and access levels.

Access level controls what the user can see(read)/edit

Privilege controls what you can do to the entity

 

It all starts with business units and the Parent Business unit which is also known as the Root business unit, you can think of this as the mother of all business units.

The Root business unit is a default business unit which has the same name as the organisation.

You cannot delete the Root business unit, you cannot disable it

You cannot create a business unit above the Root business unit, e.g. you cannot give it a parent.

 

Business Units = Tree Structure

Business units are used to create a hierarchy and this is in a tree structure.  The Root business unit will be at the top.

Here are two examples of some very simple Business unit structures.  The common way people use business units is geographical or departmental, although you can split up your organisation and business units anyway that suits you.

Here is a geographical structure

business units 2

 

Here is departmental

business units 1

 

You can see from the pictures above that the business units have create a hierarchy and the root business unit is at the top.

 

What can you do to Business Units

Classic certification questions usually revolve around what you can and can’t do in CRM.  Examples of things they will test

You cannot delete or disable the root business unit

you can rename, disable non root business units (e.g. all the other business units)

 

Disabling Business Units

You need to know what happens when you disable a business unit, what happens to all the users who have that business unit as their default business unit?

When you disable a business unit, it also disables all the child business units below it (and thus all the users who those business units as their default business unit).

none of the data is affected by disabling business units, its only the users who cannot then log in but it is important to take into account all the child business units will also be disabled.

The users are not disabled but cannot login into CRM whilst the business unit is disabled.  As soon as the business unit is enabled they will be able to log into CRM again.

Deleting Business Units

It’s possible to delete business units (not the root business unit) but you have to clear them up ready to be removed.

Firstly you have to disable the business unit and you can only do this when

you have removed any the child business unit, now you can either disable and delete them or you can re-parent them.  To re-parent a business unit you can select a new parent business unit.

If you re-parent a business unit this will have the effect of removing all the security roles from the users, this is because security roles are inherited and can be different in each business unit.  This will mean all the users in the business unit you are re-parenting will now have no security roles and won’t be able to log into CRM.  This is explained by an excellent comment by CRM MVP Adam Vero (also a CRM Master)

if you want to delete the business unit then you will need to change all the users/teams that are assigned to that business unit.  You also need to disable the business unit before you delete it.

You cannot delete the default business unit team but it won’t stop you deleting the business unit because this will be deleting automatically when you delete the business unit.

Like all things in CRM, Microsoft recommend you disable business units rather than delete them, the reason being disable business units just like disabled records can be re-enabled but once something is deleted it’s gone forever.

 

Security Roles

Security roles are a vital part of the security in CRM because if a user doesn’t have a security role he cannot access the system, so every user must have at least one security role.

Security roles are linked with the user business unit to calculate what records the user can access.

Users receive their permissions to work on records or use features based on the combination of Security Roles they are assigned and the Business Units to which the users belong.

Security roles can also be assigned to teams and if the team a user is a member of has higher security privileges then this will override their individual security roles.  The user will also use the highest security levels it is assigned, whether that’s from a security roles assigned to the team or individual security role

Users can be assigned multiple security roles, this means it’s possible to create security roles just for single purposes.

 

Default security roles

There are 15 default security roles in CRM, this provide a good basis to start creating your security roles.  The default security roles are all created in the root business unit.

You need to understand how security roles work with business unit, they can be a bit cheeky.  A security role stays in the business unit it is created in and they copy down to any child business units.

The above line is import because if you create a security role in the root business unit then the security role will be copied to all the child business units below it.

So you should be careful about creating security roles not in the root business unit because this means you will have a security role that doesn’t exist in any parent business units and in particular the default business unit.  Another consideration is only security roles which exist in the root business unit can be added to a solution file.

What I am saying is don’t create security roles not in the root business unit because you cannot export these out and it may cause a bit of headache if you need the parent business units to use the same security role.

User can be assigned any security role which exist in their business unit.

 

Modify, Don’t create security roles

When you set up a new security role there are hundreds of settings you need to setup, there are 8 privileges for each entity.  The quickest and easiest way to do this is to copy an existing role and modify it.

Microsoft recommend you don’t delete the default security roles so you can have them as a reference but once you have a few security roles I personally don’t think it matters but remember the MB2-703 certification is written by Microsoft and they want the answers they are expecting.

 

System Administrator Role is all powerful

All security roles are the same except the System Administrator role which is a super role.

The System Administrator role automatically has access to all records and entities, including all custom entities.  It has the default access level of organisation for all privileges.

One user must have the System Administrator role, this is by default given to the user who installed CRM.  Multiple users can be assigned the System Administrator role and you can remove the role from users but you cannot remove the role if that user is the only user who has the System Administrator role.

The System Administrator role also is given the System Admin field level security role, which as I’m sure you can guess gives them access to all field level security.

It’s possible to copy the System Administrator role and it will create a security role but the security role will not automatically have access to any new custom entities added and it basically won’t have the special powers of the System Administrator role.

 

Security roles Privileges and access levels

At this point I am going to refer you to the excellent blog on security roles written by CRM MVP Richard Knudson, this blog post has 40 comments, which shows you how many people have read it.

I would also say that this part of the CRM security can be tricky to understand but with regards to the exam does not have as many gotcha’s.

http://www.dynamicscrmtrickbag.com/2011/07/20/dynamics-crm-2011-security-roles/

This blog post about understanding access levels and roles is also very useful

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/understanding-access-levels-and-roles-in-microsoft.html

There are some privileges which do not have organisation levels these are always show under miscellaneous privileges and these are either true or false.  These are things like

Go Offline

Export to Excel

Publish articles

 

This is a good place to leave security with more to come

I published the video before the blog article and very kindly Adam Vero (CRM MVP and an expert on CRM as he wrote some of the MOC’s on the subject) left me a couple of excellent comments where I got slightly mixed up in the video.

 

When you disable a Business Unit, it disables the BUs below it, that is correct. But it does NOT disable the users in the BU or any of the children. They are prevented from logging on while they are in a disabled BU, but when you re-enable the BU they can. (If it disabled them all then when you re-enabled the BU it would have no way to know which users to re-enable if some were already disabled manually previously).
Reply
 ·

good point, I think you have basically said what I was thinking and meant to say.  I guess it can seem like the users are disabled because they can’t login but you are right because they aren’t disabled but stopped from being able to login.

Great Comment thanks CRM Master.

Notice that when you change the parent business unit of a BU, this is not just changing the position in the hierarchy and therefore changing the impact of the access levels that people have to records in that BU. It will also REMOVE all inherited Security Roles (and rebuild them) – it does not move the roles with it. So at the moment you move it, the users in that BU have no roles other than any that exist directly in that BU (which often is zero, if everything is always created in the root or imported via Solutions). In most cases this means those users just stopped being able to log on, and you’d better remember who had which roles originally. Users may be able to log on if they are a member of a team that has a suitable role, and they have logged on at least once before, but this is an edge case – expect problems with logons when you move a BU.

so changing the parent business unit of a BU can remove all the security roles from the users in that business unit.  I guess this makes sense because it (as you say) has to rebuild the security roles because you are potentially removing all the inherited roles it had.

This is a good point to consider for the CRM exam.  I will include this in my Security role exam cram notes and maybe make a test question on it.

Thanks again Adam, excellent comment.

 

 

 

CRM 2011 – Dialog Date and Time Response type error

I was creating a dialog today and came up  against a very odd and annoying error.  I talk about it in this Hosk CRM Dev video or you can read the blog below.

I was trying to get an response of type Data and Time.  I thought I would be clever and default the time to the current time by using the Process –> Execution time.

Below you can see the values I have used

Dialog enddate error 1

but then when I tried to run the dialog and got this error

Dialog enddate error 2

and below you can see the error which was being thrown


</pre>
Unhandled Exception: System.ServiceModel.FaultException`1[[Microsoft.Xrm.Sdk.OrganizationServiceFault, Microsoft.Xrm.Sdk, Version=5.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35]]: Expected parameter of type System.DateTimeDetail:
<OrganizationServiceFault xmlns:i="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/xrm/2011/Contracts">
<ErrorCode>-2147220989</ErrorCode>
<ErrorDetails xmlns:d2p1="http://schemas.datacontract.org/2004/07/System.Collections.Generic" />
<Message>Expected parameter of type System.DateTime</Message>
<Timestamp>2014-04-25T20:45:49.868266Z</Timestamp>
<InnerFault>
<ErrorCode>-2147220970</ErrorCode>
<ErrorDetails xmlns:d3p1="http://schemas.datacontract.org/2004/07/System.Collections.Generic" />
<Message>Unhandled Exception: Microsoft.Crm.CrmArgumentException: Expected parameter of type System.DateTime
at Microsoft.Crm.Workflow.Services.ExpressionServiceBase.EnsureParameterType(Object parameter, Type type)
at Microsoft.Crm.Workflow.Services.ExpressionServiceBase.EvaluateExpression(ExpressionOperator expressionOperator, Object[] parameters, Type targetType)
at Microsoft.Crm.Workflow.Activities.EvaluateExpression.Execute(CodeActivityContext context)
at System.Activities.CodeActivity.InternalExecute(ActivityInstance instance, ActivityExecutor executor, BookmarkManager bookmarkManager)
at System.Activities.Runtime.ActivityExecutor.ExecuteActivityWorkItem.ExecuteBody(ActivityExecutor executor, BookmarkManager bookmarkManager, Location resultLocation)
Inner Exception: System.ArgumentException: Expected parameter of type System.DateTime

</Message>
<Timestamp>2014-04-25T20:45:49.868266Z</Timestamp>
<InnerFault i:nil="true" />
<TraceText i:nil="true" />
</InnerFault>
<TraceText i:nil="true" />
</OrganizationServiceFault>

I couldn’t understand why it was throwing an error.  Logically it didn’t seem to make sense and the error message.

So I thought perhaps if I added one minute to the time this would then work and hey presto it did as you can see below
Dialog enddate error 3

 

So the moral of this story is, if something doesn’t work add a minute to it and who knows why that works

 

Hosk’s Top CRM 2013 articles of the week 25th April 2014

First I like to start on a high note with a celebrity thumbs up for surviving another week everyone, give you selves a pat on the back and put your thumb proudly in the air.

Everyone should be more like Chuck, he doesn’t just put one thumb up, he is a two thumbs up man

 

Article of the Week

It’s not one article this week but four, an amazing Super hero Fiddler 2 tutorial from CRM MVP Scott Durow

 

Articles

Maybe because it has been a four day week and people are getting back into the swing of work slowly after a bit of an Easter break but there wasn’t a great deal of great articles (that I saw) this week.   I would rather this weekly round up only include articles I think are good, so it means the list is a bit small this week

 

The blog below tells you what CRM versions are supported with IE11

Microsoft Dynamics CRM supportability with Internet Explorer 11

 

A great list of blogs from Robert P

My Dynamics CRM Blog List

 

The default setting for workflows is not to record successful workflows, this is a bit of gotcha because CRM 2011 users will think the workflows have run.  The article tells you how to change the setting to turn this back on

Where Did My Dynamics CRM 2013 Workflow Go?

 

The Hosk has made a static page of all the CRM 2013 Tools he has found and with a description and links to the reviews I have done, very useful

CRM 2013 Tools page

 

A list of links and resources

10 Resources to Help Dynamics CRM Administrators Succeed

 

A review of Tanguy’s new tool in the XRMToolbox

CRM 2013 tool – Plugin and Workflow Synchronous events execution order editor

 

The CRM MVP in the hot seat is Finland’s finest – Jukka Niiranen.  Jukka Chan, Jukka Chan

CRM MVP Question and Answer – Jukka Niiranen

 

 

I have read lots of articles about the new CRM 2013 cal list but it doesn’t hurt to look at another one because you need to know this

Microsoft Dynamics CRM – Feature list breakdown by Professional, Basic and Essential CAL

 

A great blog showing you how to fire a workflow when you change stage of a business process flow.  It’s good that there are more articles and blog posts about Business Flow process.

Executing a Workflow Upon Change of Business Process Flow Stage in Dynamics CRM

 

blog post about automating addresses in CRM 2013

Contact Management II: Addresses in Dynamics CRM

 

Another video for those Study for their CRM 2013 – MB2-703 – Customization and configuration certification and we are on to the top of business units and Security Profiles.  Come and join me studying for the MB2-703 certification

CRM 2013 — MB2 703 — Business Units and Security Roles 

 

A look at the beefed up Metadata browser which you can find in the CRM 2013 SDK

CRM 2013 – The Upgraded Metadata Browser

 

A great step by step guide to installing CRM 2013

 Step by Step: Installing Dynamics CRM 2013 on Windows Server 2012

 

A video discussing the classic and usually only once made error of adding the CRMAppPool user to CRM.

CRM 2013 errors – Dont add CRMAppPool User as Dynamics CRM User

 

If you fancy hearing me and sometimes seeing (when the face recognition software wasn’t focusing on the cupboard!!!) watch the Video below

 

CRM 2013 tool – Plugin and Workflow Synchronous events execution order editor

When Tanguy the CRM Tool guy creates a new tool, it’s time to down load the new XRMToolBox and see what new toys he has created for us to play with.  You can read about it on his latest blog post .

I like the way someone mentions they would like to do something and POW the next moment Tanguy has created a tool to do just that, he lives to give.

In this blog post I am letting people know Tanguy has a new tool out and giving it a test drive so you can see what it does, so you can see if you want to use it.  I have also done a video review which you can see here

Hosk CRM Dev review CRM 2013 tool – Plugin and Workflow Synchronous events execution order editor

This tool is really only of interest to developers, although it does have some use as informational tool to other users but it’s primary use is to allow the CRM developer to see and easily change the order of synchronous plugins and workflows.  The real bonus is it show the order of worflows next to Plugins, so you can see the whole picture of what is happening on the trigger of a CRM message/event for a particular entity.

This new Tool is interesting and useful for projects where you have a lot of plugins, particularly entities with lots of plugins being triggered on the same message.

To use it you fire up the XRMToolbox

add a connection.  If you are using a CRM 2013 trial select Use Office 365 because I found that when I tried to using the Use CRM Online I couldn’t connect

Tool - Plugin execution count 1

 

Once you have your connection done, you will then a see a list of all the great tools.  Today we are going to click on Synchronous events execution order editor.  Clicking this will open a new tab with the tool details. This is useful because it means you can open multiple tools at once

 

 

Tool - Plugin execution count 2

You then need to press the load events button, this will load the SDK Messages and then you can see what plugins are running the rank.

You can edit the rank (which is the order the plugins will run) and then press the apply update(s) button to save this.

Tool - Plugin execution count 3

Not only is the tool useful for changing the rank but it’s also an easy and quick way to view what plugins you have running.  When you look at your current system you will notice there are a lot of activity feed plugins running.

Good work Tanguy, keep up the good work.

 

CRM MVP Question and Answer – Jukka Niiranen

This weeks MVP is from the cold climate of Finland and the when ever I hear his first name of Jukka, I think of the Chaka Khan.  Here join me in singing it in your head

Chaka Khan – I Feel For You – Wow this has been watched nearly 5 million times!

That’s it, now the ear worm is firmly placed into your head

Jukka Khan, Jukka Khan.

Here is a picture of him, so if you are ever in Finland look out for him.

Here are his Rockstar highlights, clearly not many people take CRM 2011 exams in Finland! Jukka has been a CRM MVP since 2013 which I was suprised at because I thought he had been an MVP longer than that, which just shows you have to be on top of CRM game for quite a while before bestow the MVP honour upon you.

Jukka rockstar

Jukka has uploaded himself to the internet, like Voldermort he has split his soul into several parts making it almost impossible to delete him.

http://www.niiranen.info/

Not everyone puts in much on the CRM MVP profile but Jukka’s is very good.

Biography
Jukka is the Lead CRM Consultant at CodeBakers, Finland. He started working with Dynamics CRM in 2005, initially on the customer’s side as a project manager for a CRM 3.0 implementation. After managing a development team for global CRM system roll-outs in EMEA & APAC regions and learning the ins & outs of the Dynamics CRM platform while solving real life problem scenarios, Jukka joined a Microsoft partner organization to assume a senior CRM consulting role. With over 10 years of experience on working with customer data management, loyalty programs, direct marketing, campaign management and other CRM processes, Jukka has developed skills for viewing the related information systems through the eyes of the end user and is focused on delivering Dynamics CRM based solutions with high usability to ensure user adoption.
I guess most people will know Jukka from his excellent and detailed blog posts on his blog Surviving CRM
The blog post below I thought were particularly good

 

Thanks for Jukka for answering my questions and after the recent MVP awards I noticed some new people were awarded MVP status, so I quickly pounced and asked them whilst they were still new and eager and have managed to snaffle a few more CRM MVP’s to be questioned by the Hosk.

If you want to read previous CRM MVP Q&A by clicking the link on the header – HOSK’S CRM MVP Q&A

QUESTIONS

Name, current job title and social media links please
Jukka Niiranen, CRM Consultant at Digital Illustrated – www.digitalillustrated.com

Twitter

@jukkan

blogging on Surviving CRM

http://niiranen.eu/crm/

sharing Dynamics CRM news on Google+

http://bit.ly/crmgplus .

What does an average day at work look like
Looking at my work hour stats from last year, around ⅓ of my time was spent on presales related tasks. The rest is mostly around customer projects, either in delivering new system implementations, upgrades, integrations and new feature development. I do meet with customers quite often, but I try to reserve regular slots for focusing on designing solutions to more complex problems and putting together materials that help in communicating these to both the customers as well as our internal team members.

What different roles/Job titles have you had whilst using CRM
My first experience with Microsoft’s CRM was in the role of an ICT Specialist in charge of managing a CRM 3.0 implementation on the customer’s side. Next I moved to a larger user organization that had an internal CRM development team, where I worked as Internal CRM Consultant, Lead CRM Consultant and finally as Manager, CRM Team.

A few years ago I switched over to the partner side as Solution Manager, then Senior CRM Consultant and currently my business card says Lead CRM Consultant. I’m not sure how descriptive these job titles are of the actual roles and daily tasks, but let’s just say that I’ve had the pleasure of working in positions with a good mixture of responsibility plus freedom to influence my own focus areas in the field of CRM.

What job did you did before you starting using CRM
Contrary to what many of my colleagues and customers usually think, I don’t have any technical degree but rather I came from the business side to the world of CRM. I was working with customer loyalty programs and direct marketing campaigns, i.e. using the CRM systems as an end user before moving into designing and implementing the systems.

What was the first version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM you worked with and how long have you been using Microsoft Dynamics CRM
My journey with Microsoft’s CRM solution began when they released the first version in Finnish language, which was MS CRM 3.0 in late 2005.

How do you stay up to date with the CRM
The online world is full of great information sources for anyone who wants to keep up with the latest turns in CRM, whether it be Dynamics CRM product specific or related technologies and business trends. Over the years I’ve collected around 200 RSS feeds for Dynamics CRM that I regularly read via Feedly. For the breaking news of what’s happening right now I usually get the information via Twitter and the #MSDYNCRM hashtag.

How do you find time to contribute to the CRM community whilst doing your job
I see the community contributions as a way to improve my capabilities for doing my day job. There’s no better way to learn any topic than writing it down and instructing it to others. During the course of my daily activities I usually come across a number of things I’d like to research in more depth and this is the fuel that I use to power my blog posts. It gives me a good excuse to spend more time on any given problem that I’d normally have as a part of a routine assignment in the role of a consultant. As a result of it, I gain far more insight on the topic than I would have if I’d just deliver a point solution to a single customer.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a successful career in Microsoft Dynamics CRM?
CRM today is quite a different ball game than it was 10 years ago, even though we’re fundamentally still working on the same core challenges of managing customer relationships and all the information that revolves around it. While it’s a bit of a cliché to say, both the technology and the behavior of customers and system users is changing at an ever increasing pace and it’s unlikely to slow down anytime soon. In order to be successful in your career that touches Dynamics CRM in some ways, you’ll need to learn how to embrace that change.

Instead of longing for tried & tested patterns with familiar applications and tools, develop the skills and learn the habits that will allow you to survive in this world of uncertainty that doesn’t have any single right answer to a specific problem. Don’t just “do CRM”, rather try and challenge your own perceptions of what CRM actually is by keeping your eyes and ears open to what others are doing with the same technologies.

What where your first impressions of CRM 2013 and what do you think now.
When the new UI was revealed back in Spring 2013, it really did bring together many of the features previewed earlier in the CRM Online only Polaris release in a consistent and fresh way. Later when the new process management capabilities like Business Rules and Real-time Workflows were introduced this also brought a highly welcome extension to the platform capabilities.

Looking back to the release of CRM 2013 now, it truly feels like a whole new chapter for the product, even if many of the underlying platform components and API’s from CRM 2011 are compatible with the new version. CRM 2013 offers a toolkit for functional consultants like myself to design solutions that are so much more advanced than what was possible just a few years ago, which is why I think the product has a bright future to look forward to.

What one feature would you add to CRM 2013
I work with several devices during the day and always prefer solutions that can be accessed directly from a browser. I’d love to see Dynamics CRM bring the tracking capability of activities available to also environments that don’t run the PC Outlook client, since server side synchronization doesn’t cover all the use cases needed.

Most annoying feature of CRM 2013
I can’t really pinpoint a single feature that would be causing me the most frustration personally. It’s of course not a perfect product for all scenarios and there is plenty of configuration work needed to make the platform behave as a solution that meets the user expectations of specific customer organizations, but that’s just the everyday work that a consultant like myself needs to do.

I guess what I’d most want to see in the product is a more granular level of control being offered to the system customizers for polishing the details in the user experience, since some of the new CRM 2013 features are now more locked down than the previous platform components.

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

1. Hosks Dynamic CRM blog
2. Leon’s CRM Musings

There’s such a wealth of great blogs focusing on the Dynamics CRM features or development side of things that I can’t pick out favorites. Leon’s blog, on the other hand, has consistently delivered interesting insights into a different side of the CRM consulting business that doesn’t get nearly as much coverage in the Dynamics blogosphere. So, if anyone’s thinking of starting their own CRM blog (and why shouldn’t you?), I recommend taking a look at how Leon has managed to turn his own perspectives into a highly enjoyable blog to follow.

What year will Microsoft Dynamics CRM have more customers than Sales force
I won’t give any predictions on if or when Dynamics CRM would possibly pass Salesforce. I think that the most important milestone has already been reached, because effectively there are only 2 solutions out there that most customers view as the potential CRM systems they could adopt and one of them is Dynamics CRM.

Rather than focusing on the rivalry between the two horses, I think the most interesting question to think about would be “who’s gonna be the next challenger?” I doubt we’ve seen the end of innovation when it comes to software that can help companies manage their relationships with existing and potential customers.

Are you doing more CRM projects with CRM online? Do you think it will all be online in the future
If there was no “power of choice” available for Dynamics CRM then it could of course be 100% cloud deployments. However, there are scenarios where an on-premises solution or a domestically hosted server do make a lot of sense from the customer’s perspective, so I wouldn’t say there is going to be a complete end to on-premises deployments within the next few years. Having said that, the cloud certainly is the new default, which means that nowadays you need a good reason for not going with CRM Online, whereas just a while ago it would have been the opposite.

What is the best tool/solution you have used recently
Rather than a single tool, it’s a box of awesome time saving tools that no CRM consultant should be without: XrmToolbox by Tanguy Touzard. I’m sure most CRM folks will have heard of it, but I urge you to also keep up with all the great new additions that Tanguy keeps on releasing into the Toolbox by following his Dynamics CRM Tools blog.

What CRM certifications do you have, do you try and keep up to date with CRM certifications
I previously had the CRM 2011 certifications for Applications and Customization & Configuration. Now that the new version was released, Microsoft Finland was gracious enough to arrange a training bootcamp for current CRM partners to get certified on CRM 2013, so I managed to pass the same exams for the latest version, too (cheers to @fonsell at @MicrosoftOy for making this happen!). I also have a certificate on the SureStep implementation methodology.

Even though certification exams tend to be largely about learning the details in the training materials by heart, I do think they serve as a useful metric for validating a person’s knowledge about the standard application functionality and high level processes. The real skills that a CRM consultant needs will be acquired in the field via real life customer scenarios, but it’s important to have the a thorough understanding of the product you’re working with to be able to recommend the right kind of solutions to the business problems that customers will have.

How important is it to have good business analytical skills working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
This depends a lot on your role in the project, of course. I’d say when you’re working with implementing a system like Dynamics CRM the emphasis on business analysis skills should be quite high. While the product contains a large share of the platform functionality that will be needed for meeting common customer requirements, there aren’t many readymade processes to address the business needs of specific verticals. This is the expertise that someone in the project needs to bring onto the table.

I would further like to stress that it’s not just the industry knowledge that makes a difference between success and failure in a Dynamics CRM implementation project. The general understanding of what information processing challenges users are typically likely to encounter when working with CRM data in the day-to-day tasks of their business roles and how these could/should be solved in a Dynamics CRM based system will be a key ingredient to delivering successful CRM implementations.

How useful is it to have programming knowledge to become a good Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional?
If you’ve got a programming background, you can surely get up to speed with extending Dynamics CRM via custom code solutions quite quickly. However, as I mentioned earlier, I see the no-code side of the product’s capabilities growing at such a remarkable rate that a person with zero programming knowledge can solve a large share of the business problems by just learning how the Dynamics CRM platform works.

Me, I have zero experience on writing code and I’ve managed to do quite alright with leveraging the platform when building solutions. It is naturally beneficial to be able to speak the same language as the developers in your team, but I wouldn’t consider programming knowledge to be a requirement.

What knowledge/experience do you have with software/systems which integrate with Microsoft Dynamics CRM e.g. (sharepoint, SQL Server, Scribe, Etc)
I’ve been more of a power users when it comes to other productivity tools from MS (SharePoint, Excel, etc.) rather than an expert consultant on the topic. I do work with SQL, Scribe and many other applications as a part of the tasks I have within a CRM project, but usually there’s a person more qualified than me who assumes the ownership of configuring these systems. I enjoy learning to use new tools as much as any geek, but I do it mainly to gain an understanding of how they can be used to solve current or future business problems I’ll come across, rather than necessarily being the admin or key user of the systems.

How often do you travel as a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional?
Currently I’m working for a company where all the customers are domestic, with most of them also located in the Helsinki capital region where I live, so there’s fairly little need for overnight travelling.

Can you see yourself not using CRM in your career in the future
At times I do ask myself the question “what comes after CRM?” Not because I would be actively trying to distance myself from CRM (technology or process wise), but mainly to ensure that I don’t lose perspective on the big picture of where CRM fits and what it’s connected to, what else is there around it in the great big world of business technology.

I started my CRM journey over ten years ago and at that time I didn’t really have a clue on where I was going to be by this time, nor how the field of CRM would look like. Whatever I’ll be doing in the next 10 years is equally difficult to predict, so I’m just trying to keep my eyes open on new innovations and opportunities around me, to be prepared for the environment that I’ll find myself in the year 2024, and to keep my mind open to a neverending learning experience.

What is favourite part of being a CRM MVP
It has to be the ability to learn from the collective pool of wisdom that is the current CRM MVP community. Not just all the information they possess but also the perspective that it gives you when reflecting on your own personal work with the problems and opportunities that the other MVP’s encounter and share with you.

What are your hobbies outside of CRM
I’ve always been a music freak that looks to fill up any quiet moments in the day with audio waves that provide stimulation for my brain. In the 90’s I hoarded up a large collection of CD’s from various genres of electronic dance music, but in the past few years I’ve had to let go of these physical artifacts and consume my daily dose of beats via streaming services. As for physical exercise, I always prefer to do it in the outdoors, which means cycling trips during the summer or longer walks in the winter time, with my headphones firmly attached to the ears, of course.

What was the last book you read and what was the last film you watched
The book I’m currently finishing is “Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day” by Todd Henry. The last movie I went out to see in the theaters was “Gravity”.

Has CRM ever got you in trouble with your partner/family.
My partner is very supportive of the work that I do around CRM and I’m very grateful to her about giving me so much space for my own hobby projects around it.

Have you friends ever told you to stop talking/tweeting/blogging about CRM? What does your partner/family member(s) think of CRM
I try my best not to expose my friends or family to the CRM related content that I produce, since it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting for them as it is to me. Sure, occasionally I get requests on not being so “connected” all the time, which is when I have to remind myself of the fact that there are people also outside of the social networks, as strange as it might seem…

Tell me something interesting/unusual about yourself
My backup plan for making a living in case my business studies wouldn’t have landed me a job was to become a truck driver. During my military service in the Finnish Defence Forces I acquired a license for driving 60 ton trucks, but apart from one summer job and occasionally moving a few busses around for a friend, I’ve never had to practice that profession. Up until this date, I’ve actually never even owned a car myself.

Who is the first CRM MVP you remember reading/seeing
It’s difficult to know the exact right answer for this, but I would say Ronald Lemmen must have been one of the earliest CRM MVP’s whose blog posts I regularly came across when searching for answers to questions regarding CRM 3.0.

Tips for someone who wants to become a CRM MVP
Here are five principles that I would give as advice for any Dynamics CRM professional aspiring to be an MVP:

Be active on several different sites/networks/forums. No matter if you’ve got the best CRM blog in the world, having a presence that is limited to a single channel isn’t going to be beneficial for the MVP Award evaluation process.

Be consistent. No one has enough time to be active on all possible channels where Dynamics CRM is discussed, so it’s important to focus your efforts on those where you feel you can regularly contribute content.

Amplify the work of others. Often times you can bring value to the community by simply sharing the best content that you have come across while reading blogs. Become the “filter” that other community members trust for curating the feed of relevant CRM news.

Remember to interact, not just share. The Dynamics CRM community is a relatively small group of professionals spread around the globe, therefore a bit of personal touch in communication can make a big difference.

Measure your impact. Keep track of the community related activities you perform, analyze the stats and feedback, then adjust your actions accordingly. Quantifying the value of your own community contributions isn’t easy, but remember that this is the criteria Microsoft will need to apply when evaluating all the MVP nominations.
Quickfire questions (choose one option and no explanation)

Steve Jobs or Bill Gates
Steve Jobs

Javascript or .NET
Javascript

Internet Explorer/Chrome/Firefox/Safari
Chrome

Wine/Beer/Soft Drink
Beer

Certifications or Use CRM
Use CRM

twerking or tweeting
For the love of god, tweeting!

books or ebooks
eBooks

save or autosave
Whichever the app has been designed for

OnLine or On Premise
Online

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

work from home or work from office
Both

Miley Cyrus or Billy Ray Cyrus
Achy Breaky Heart!

Vinyl/CD’s/MP3’s/Subscribe
Subscribe

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 (which we Finns like to call “Summer”)

Half Full/Half Empty
Half Empty, it’s time for a refill!

 

back blogging after a week’s rest from the internet

I was off on holiday last week, enjoying the Easter break with a lovely holiday in Skegness in a  cottage with no internet!  Readers of the blog might not have been aware I was off because I had scheduled a few blogs to be published in my absence

It’s funny having no internet, you don’t really miss anything but in some ways you feel a bit odd because you have the habit of checking things like emails and twitter and writing blogs etc.

I would definitely recommend having a week off the internet, it allows you to step back, get out of your routine.  This allows you to refocus and do what you think is important.

If you were also on holiday last week then I would definitely recommend the two question and answers blogs I had set scheduled to publish in my absence, which I have just reread and enjoyed a lot.

CRM MVP Question and Answer – Gustaf Westerlund

How do you become a Rockstar? – Paul Slade Co-Founder of Rockstar 365 tells us

I also read a forum question last night where a user was a bit confused/frustrating with CRM 2013 bugs and where to report them

https://community.dynamics.com/crm/f/117/p/117805/269433.aspx?WT.mc_id=ForumPost#269433

I will summarise the post but he said he was frustrated that when he raised any bugs in Microsoft Connect they informed him he should raise bugs by going through Microsoft Support.  The downside to this is raising bugs through Microsoft support is a slow process because they are busy and you have to present them with evidence it’s a general bug and the problem isn’t due to some customization which has been added.

This is true because at the moment Microsoft Connect can only be used to raise enhancements.  I believe the reason for this is there are quite a few CRM 2013 bugs at the moment because there was a big change to the CRM UI.

I have heard the advice that as a best practice it’s best to keep one rollup behind the current rollup, this is just in case Microsoft add in a bug into the rollup.  In some ways CRM 2013 is a little bit similar, there are a few teething issues which Microsoft are working on and fixing.  If you look in the bugs fixed in the first two CRM 2013 rollups there are a lot.

 

The way forward is to

  • Log bugs with Microsoft, they will fix them and the whole community will benefit
  • Look at the rollups and see what issues are fixed in those and see if they resolve any problems you are having.  This is particularly important if you haven’t applied any rollups to your CRM 2013 instance yet.  I would advise some caution about applying a rollup as soon as it’s released, there are a lot of fixes going into rollups and potential new bugs might sneak in (they get fixed quickly but you may have a few days/week of problems)
  • look on the internet for work arounds, if you are experiencing a problem, someone else probably has and has created a solution to it, whilst they wait for Microsoft to fix it.
  • Don’t forget to log enhancements in Microsoft Connect, it’s a slow process but if you have a good idea then it can get a lot of support and added to CRM