2012 in review thanks to wordpress stats

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 380,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 7 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.


How to highlight code in hosted wordpress blogs

This has been something that has been annoying me for quite a while, how do I show c# and javascript code in the blog in a decent way.

The other important factor to note here is I am using a hosted blog, so all the solutions with plugins are no good to me.

Well I finally figured it out thanks to this stackoverflow page here

you put this in your code but make sure you put it in the Visual view and not the HTML. I’m not sure how to type this so I have typed the square bracket rather than putting them in (because then it puts in code)


[sourcecode language='javascript']

here is an example

function customerid_onchange(){
 // Get value of the selected customer account
 var lookupItem = Xrm.Page.getAttribute("parentcustomerid").getValue();

Friday Fun – The Amazing adventures of Uncle Ben and the Egg!

I was inspired by reading one of my fellow CRM bloggers Jamie Miley, last week he put a non technical blog post on his blog (I know outrageous, what the hell do we pay him for!!).  On his blog he had a picture of his lovely daughter and a picture of a massive spider.

I thought he was right we should have a bit more Friday fun in the CRM world.  I am an Uncle and one of my jobs is to tell them stories about the amazing adventures I have had.  You can read more about it here, where you can see pictures and you can download the mp3 here


or you can listen to it on youtube

How to quickly lock your computer

This is a really quick blog post but when someone at work told me this shortcut, I thought yeah baby this is going to save me loads of time even if it is just 20 seconds a day.

The quick way to lock your computer is

Windows Logo key and L

go on try it now

This prompted me to have a quick google and see what else this windows key did, the Windows logo and D to show the desktop is pretty good.  This is the page I got the information below from.

Press To
Windows logo key Display or hide the Start menu
Windows logo key+L Lock the computer
Windows logo key+BREAK Display the System Properties dialog box
Windows logo key+D Show the desktop
Windows logo key+M Minimize all windows
Windows logo key+SHIFT+M Restore minimized windows
Windows logo key+E Open My Computer
Windows logo key+F Search for a file or folder
CTRL+Windows logo key+F Search for computers
Windows logo key+F1 Display Windows Help
Windows logo key+R Open the Run dialog box
Windows logo key+U Open Utility Manager
Application key Display the Shortcut menu for the selected item

1000 page views on Wednesday

I have finally passed the 1000 page views in a day mark on Wednesday.  I had been in the 900 mark quite a few times but couldn’t quite get passed the 1000 mark.  I would have probably passed this landmark a few weeks ago because WordPress don’t count syndicated page views, so anyone reading the blog through an RSS reader (like Netvibes) doesn’t appear on the stats, although if you click on page in the stats window you can see how many syndicated views you have.  I generally get about 40ish syndicated views so I a guess I have 40 subscribers.

It feels quite rewarding to see my blog is being used and hopefully helping lots of people in the CRM community to find the information they need, solutions to problems and useful bits of code.

I should really thank the rest of the CRM community and bloggers because at least half of my content is pushing people towards excellent articles and blog posts I have read.

I think the CRM community is in healthy shape because there are lots of great blogs and CRM projects and tools being added to codeplex all the time.

it’s interesting to see my blog is sometimes linked from the Microsoft Forums helping people resolve their issues.

On a personal note it has been an excellent learning tool for myself writing this blog, I have learnt about a lot of aspects about CRM 2011, which I wouldn’t have done if I solely wrote about CRM 2011 experience I have gained from work.

The blog overall has 33000 page views which is pretty good going and will hopefully one day help me become a CRM MVP.  Which you have to be nominated for but which you can nominate yourself but I have a way to go before I worry about that.

Thanks for everyone who has read the blog over the last 6 months or so.


CRM – The Way it Really Is – Guest Blog Post

I am lucky to feature a guest CRM blog post today from Mike Ames who is a Business Development coaching expert.  To find out more information about Business Developmenting Coaching go and have a look at this site .  I would definitely recommend signing up to the free Bracer email which you can find a subscription link on the right of the flair website.

I am currently reading Mike’s ebook  – ‘Business Development for Busy People‘ and you can download a  free chapter  before it’s released in May.

He also has  a good blog – The Mike Ames Business Development Blog and now after all that why don’t you read the article he has written below.

CRM – The Way It Really Is

Look at it this way:  CRM should be less of a computer system that you are forced to use and more of a vital mix of processes and software that you cannot manage without if you want to be a highly effective business developer.

I know it all sounds a bit cliched but with over 20 years of business development experience, most of which has been focused on new client acquisition, I can tell you it happens to be true.  Well, if that is the case why do so many CRM implementations fail?  Let’s start with Mikey’s Magic Three:

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

2.  You choose the wrong system.  Surely one CRM system is pretty much the same as another aren’t they?  No they’re not and here are the key issues:

a)  You cannot change the system yourself, so you have to go back to the vendor to do it.  They charge £400 an hour so you don’t bother even though there is a real business need to make the changes.  After a time your system no longer supports the needs of its users so they find alternative ways to meet those needs usually involving Outlook or spreadsheets.

b)  It does not interface with your existing equipment.  If it doesn’t talk to Outlook or whatever enterprise software you use, forget it.  Even if it does can you access it from your phone, Blackberry or other PDA because if you can’t the data will not be updated or used enough and people will find other ways to do what they need to do.

c)  It doesn’t actually do everything you want it to do mostly because you did not write a detailed requirements document to base your gap analysis on when you assessed the CRM systems you looked at.  You took the one that was cheapest/dearest/flashiest/sold by the most attractive sales person.  Preparation prevents pi$$ poor performance and so do create a requirement document.

3.  The data take-on project is way too ambitious so never gets completed.  People imagine that the system can’t go live until all relevant data is collected from Outlook, spreadsheets, old systems, marketing databases, the accounts package and people’s diaries and loaded onto the new system.  I spent 10 years in IT and here’s the thing:  this is an impossible dream and should absolutely, under no circumstances, be considered.

There are undoubtedly other reasons why CRM installations fail to deliver the results they are capable of but I am going to focus on dealing with these three.

So if you wanted to implement a CRM System that turned into a powerful business development tool leading to more revenue being brought into the firm what should you do?  I would suggest the following simple steps be included in your implementation plan.  There will be other steps but these are specifically intended to deal with the three major causes of failure listed above.

1.  Draw up a requirement definition document.  This will list out all the features, capabilities and outputs the new system will need to meet your business needs.  It should embrace all the key stakeholders such as the IT department, finance, marketing, business development and the users allowing each party to include their thoughts.  Warning:  don’t let it turn into a wish list (or worse a “wouldn’t it be great” list) and don’t design anything by committee.  When it is complete get each of the stakeholders to sign it off.

2.  Train your users.  How can you do this before you get the system I hear you snort.  This is the crucial step because what you are doing is training people in the steps necessary to deliver new clients and a sustainable revenue stream.  Actively encourage people to use Outlook, or similar, to become a pseudo-CRM system where they can record their thin and fat CRM data (see my blogpost for more on this) and build a proper pipeline  This serves two purposes:  firstly it proves what a great tool CRM is to save time and achieve more results with far less effort and secondly it should create a hunger for a better system when it is delivered.

3.  Establishing a steering committee.  Make it delivery focused and not just a talking shop or blame platform.  The idea is to identify, install and use a powerful business development tool so this committee will need strong leadership to keep it on course.  Include the key stakeholders and invite specialists as required.

4.  Seek out your new system.  This is too complicated for me to cover in its entirety but these points are worth noting.  Produce a suitability sheet from your requirements definition document to allow the software vendors to indicate which of your requirements their system meets.  Make sure they all fill yours in and don’t use their own format.  Comparing responses is much easier if they are all in the same format.  Ask your suppliers to suggest the strengths and weaknesses of their competitor’s products.  They tend to be lighter on the strengths but much more detailed on the weaknesses, often telling you crucial things that you would not have ordinarily found out yourself.  Do a detailed gap analysis for each package using a weighting system if necessary.  Take the one that wins.

5.  Install and train.  Once the system has been successfully configured (which may include some customisation but only that which is allowed through the system – avoid bespoke work in the core system) and installed you can start and conduct the Interface training; that is showing people how to use the system.  This is usually the only training given but it is much less effective without stage 2.

6.  Load up key operational data.  Extracting data from accounts systems is usually very easy, as is loading marketing lists.  My advice is to create a flat file which can be cleansed (removed duplicates) and then imported onto the CRM database.  Get it clean before you load it.  As for the rest of the data either hire a couple of temps and get them to load it by hand or you can get the owners of the data themselves to do it.  If you have followed step 2 above they will by now understand the importance of the data and be quite keen to get it into the new system as quickly as possible.  When the data has been fully loaded run more duplicate detection routines based on telephone numbers, email addresses and names to identify and resolve any other possible duplicates.

7.  Go live.  You may decide to stagger implementation by department or by selecting those that were most keen during stage 2 above, or of course, you may just go big-bang.  There are pros and cons with all options and you must decide what is best for you.  I favour the second option.

CRM systems are a crucial aspect of any business development capability. Without them people will be disorganised, wasteful and generally ineffective.  Those CRM solutions that are installed properly can expect to enable their users to deliver more sales in less time – a worthy and noble objective and one that you are quite capable of achieving.

Paternity Leave can Encourage Good Practices

I wrote my first blog entry for the Crimson company blog this week, you can go here to read it

I will be interested to see the content from other work colleagues

Paternity leave promotes good practice

One person at work is on the verge of paternity leave; the baby is now eight days overdue and doesn’t seem to be in any rush to enter the world, obviously this isn’t the good practices I refer to in the title.

Whilst Almost Dad is getting things prepared he emailed a few people asking us to configure outlook so a number of people can monitor the Support Desk emails/issues whilst he is away.  This highlighted to me a good practice Companies should get into; don’t rely on just one person.

I always view it as a danger when there is only one person working on a project and because that person is the only person working on it, he doesn’t bother to document things because he knows it all off by heart.  This system works fine until that person is off ill, goes on holiday and then someone else has to step into the breach and work out how to do anything.

I never like to store information in people; I also like to have it written down on the intranet.  Crimson creates an intranet site/area for each customer project we have and then we store useful information here.  This is vital when you have different people working on smaller parts of a project and need to learn about the project, the customer contacts, the server locations etc.

It’s also important you encourage everyone to keep this information up to date because keeping good up to date records is a habit and if people start to get out of it you only usually notice it when it is a problem and you can’t figure out how to do something or where a vital part of a project is kept.

I have thanked myself on a number of occasions when I have found I have documented a procedure which I had forgotten how to do.  Documentation is particularly important in support projects which might not have any activity for a while and then suddenly someone will have to investigate a problem.  I view project documentation as a knowledge/brain dump for myself and other people who will be working on the project in the future.

It can also save different people solving the same problem/issue, once someone has a solution then other people can follow the documentation solution which can save hours and sometimes days of diagnosis.

In the example I used at the start of this blog post, we already had a few people monitoring the support Desk inbox (me being one of them) but the email acted as a good reminder for people and sent out instructions for more people to keep an eye on the Support Desk inbox.  It got me thinking information and projects shouldn’t just be reliant on knowledge which is held only in one persons head, get them to document it.




PDF font fuzzy/blurry on laptop

I had been reading pdf’s on my laptop at home and found the text seemed fuzzy when compared to reading the same pdf files at work.

I had searched the internet for “pdf fuzzy text”, “blurred pdf text”

but I couldn’t find anything which was useful.  So I resolved to sort out the problem myself but looking in the preferences and changing values and see what happened.

Finally I changed to values which seemed to make a difference.

I changed the Smooth text to “For Laptops/LCD Screens”

I also changed ticked the use smooth zooming.

Finally my text was not fuzzy/blurred any more.