CRMUG UK Social Evening March 19th

CRMUG LogoThe next UK CRM User Group meeting is on March 20th in Reading. Because so many attendees travel down the night before, it makes sense for us to get together for a social evening of networking, chit-chat and generally getting to know one another a bit better..

March 19th from 18:30 onwards, Pitcher and Piano, Reading

This will take place at the same venue as last May, the Pitcher and Piano, 18 Friar Street, Reading, RG1 1DB which is in central Reading within easy walking distance from railway station, TVP shuttle routes and plenty of hotels.

Join us from 18:30 onwards for a few drinks and maybe a bite to eat (especially for those of you staying overnight in Reading). Try to get there before 8pm to take advantage of various 2 for 1 offers on cocktails and selected bottled beers, or glasses of house wine and pints of beer or cider for £2.50.

Add to calendar  Click to add the social event to your Outlook calendar

Sponsorship opportunity

If any partners who are attending the CRMUG meeting with their customer(s) would like to fund a light buffet to keep people from starving, or a few drinks to get the evening started that would be greatly appreciated. We would make sure people knew who to thank the next day! If you are interested, please get in touch with me directly CRMUG@meteorit.co.uk.

CRM User Group meeting and social event in March 2014

CRMUG LogoThe next UK CRM User Group is in Reading in less than two months, on Thursday 20th March. We’re also getting together for a social evening on Wednesday March 19th.

CRMUG UK Social Evening Wednesday March 19th

We are getting together for an informal social and networking gathering on the evening before the main event . This will probably take place at the Pitcher and Piano, 18 Friar Street, Reading, RG1 1DB which is in central Reading within easy walking distance from railway station, TVP shuttle routes and plenty of hotels. Join us from 18:30 onwards for a few drinks, maybe a bite to eat (especially for those of you staying overnight in Reading), some networking, chit-chat and generally getting to know one another a bit better.

Try to get there before 8pm to take advantage of various 2 for 1 offers on cocktails and selected bottled beers, or glasses of house wine and pints of beer or cider for £2.50.

CRMUG UK Q1 Meeting Thursday 20th March 2014, Microsoft HQ

Join 100 or more fellow CRM users for the next UK CRM User Group Meeting at the Microsoft headquarters at Thames Valley Park in Reading. Coffee and Reception start at 8:30 am. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience what the CRMUG has to offer you and other Dynamics CRM users!

Registration is still open but places are filling up fast! Click here to register for this event for FREE

Add to calendar Click to add the CRMUG UK March 2014 meeting to your Outlook calendar

Agenda

Based on feedback from previous events, we have made a few changes Most notably we will have two tracks for the middle part of the day, so you can choose the session that is of most interest and relevance. We will also officially finish at 3pm, slightly earlier than before, and then have an optional session to meet (some of) the speakers afterwards and ask questions (rather than the expert panel we used to have before the close).

09:15 Introduction & CRMUG News
09:30 The X(RM) Factor – 5 tools and add-ons you might like to know more about
10:35 Track 1: Customer Showcase: CEGA Air Ambulance
Track 2: Round Table – Share your tips or ask questions of your fellow CRM System Admins
11:20 Coffee and networking
11:40 Track 1: Managing Email with CRM – Top tips from MVP Feridun Kadir
Track 2: Microsoft Dynamics Marketing and Social Listening – Cassandra Whobrey, Microsoft
12:40 Lunch
13:25 Customer Showcase: NCFE – Going Mobile
14:25 Microsoft Roadmap with Marco Amoedo
14:55 Close
15:00 Break
15:05 Meet the Speakers (optional Q&A session for those who want to stick around a little longer)
15:35 End

 

Location

This meeting will be at Microsoft’s UK HQ in Reading.

Microsoft Campus
Thames Valley Park
Reading
RG6 1WG

Who should attend? All Dynamics CRM users are welcome. We also encourage you to invite your colleagues and other users – email to colleagues, tweet about it, mention it in your LinkedIn groups and other sites..

Partners are welcome to attend provided they are accompanied by a customer. Partners please bear in mind that the objective of regional events such as this is to exchange knowledge and Dynamics CRM experience. Partner personnel should possess deep CRM expertise and refrain from sales activities.

Hope to see you there!

CRM User Group meetings for 2014

We have decided on the dates for the next two CRMUG UK meetings, so you can get these in your diaries now and save the dates. There will be more news and details nearer the time, but for now we wanted to get these announced so you can have the best chance to make sure you can attend.

Thursday March 20th 2014 in Reading

This meeting will have a focus on “XRM” – using CRM for things outside the usual scope of sales, marketing and service, or using integrations to other systems, mobile platforms and so on.

Add to calendar Add the CRMUG UK March 2014 meeting to your calendar in Outlook (other systems might work too).

I will probably organise some kind of social event the night before, which will not be an official part of the CRMUG meeting, but a great opportunity to relax, socialise and network in an informal setting.

Agenda

Agenda is yet to be confirmed, but will be a 9:00 registration and coffee for a 9:30 start.

After a mid-morning coffee break we plan to have two parallel speaker sessions for people to choose the topic of most interest to them. We are also hoping to have a separate room for “round table” discussions for you to share your knowledge and experiences.

After lunch we will have a further general session before “The Cass and Marco Show™” – also known as the Microsoft CRM Roadmap presentation. Given the planned release time frame for “Orion” this session alone is probably enough reason to travel all the way to London for this CRMUG meeting.

We will round the day off with an Experts Panel to try and answer any questions which have occurred to you during the earlier sessions, before closing at approximately 4pm.

Location

This meeting will be at Microsoft’s UK HQ in Reading.

Microsoft Campus
Thames Valley Park
Reading
RG6 1WG

We realise some people would prefer us to hold the meetings in London but there are no rooms available on dates that we could fit in with, so we’ll alternate venues for the moment. We are grateful that Microsoft are able to provide us with a venue and lunch so that we can keep the meetings free to attend, but we have to work around their availability.

Thursday July 17th in London

This meeting will have a focus on the Service area of CRM, whether for Customer Service, Public Sector Services or any other ways you can use CRM to manage how you deliver the things your organisation does. There should be some news on improvements to a number of aspects of CRM for Service as well, so the regular update from Microsoft should have lots of positive things.

This meeting will also be a 9:00 registration and coffee for a 9:30 start.

Add to calendar Add the CRMUG UK July 2014 meeting to your calendar in Outlook (other systems might work too).

Location

Microsoft UK
Cardinal Place
80-100 Victoria Street
London
SW1E 5JL

That’s a 2 minute walk from Victoria tube station, serviced by the Victoria, Circle and District Lines.

Registration

Registration is not yet open for these events; I’ll be sure to post again when it is. Please do register so we have a good idea in advance how many are coming and to make sure we can prepare for any special dietary needs (we can probably cover most requirements, but only if we know in advance).

Security Roles and Teams in CRM 2011 – An Inconvenient Half-Truth

Over the course of the last two years or so reading everything I can about Dynamics CRM 2011, as well as teaching many classes of people how to get the most out of their CRM systems, one thing which comes up again and again is how to best structure Business Units, Users and Security Roles, and sometimes Teams as well to get the exact model you want to match your business requirements for who has access to which records and when.

Users inherit Security Roles from Teams – right?

One concept I have seen repeated many times is that “Users inherit security roles from all the Teams they are in”. And generally this seems to be a reasonable way to describe how it works, but occasionally odd behaviours seem to show up which make this appear to be less than 100% accurate.

I also had a gut feeling for a while that this was not the best way to describe the way this works. I prefer to say that “when a User is in a Team, they can act as if they are the Team, with the rights that the Team has through its Security Roles, but only while considering records in the same Business Unit as that Team”.

More on this later, and the one part of the model that this description does not do justice to.

Overall this means Security Roles use a kind of “impersonation” when Teams are involved and that the rights the User has are not only ‘borrowed’ very temporarily from the Team but they are relative to where the Team is – so access levels / depths such as “Business Unit” or “Parent / Child Business Unit” operate from the Business Unit where the Team is.

So how does this really work?

If you really want to read how security roles work in terms of determining access to a whole bunch of records (to display the results of a view) or a single record, then you need to read the white paper Scalable Security Modelling with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.

42 pages later you will probably know exactly how the queries are built to actually enforce the security model, but that may not have made it much clearer from a practical, day-to-day design point of view. To be fair, the point of that white paper is to explain the underlying architecture and query methods properly so you can figure out the performance impact of different security approaches, rather than demonstrating how this informs your design from an end-result “who can see what” point of view. One thing that is never mentioned is any idea of inheritance or merging of privileges from Teams to Users. Every kind of access request is checked against User and Team permissions separately (exactly what is checked depends on things like whether the User has Global access level privileges to that entity at all, and whether the record is owned by the User or any of their Teams. These can help shortcut the otherwise brute force querying that would be necessary, especially to return all records in a view).

“You can’t handle the TRUTH!”

By now, I bet some of you are ready to shout at the screen – “we know Users don’t actually inherit the roles and keep them for themselves, but it works just as if they did, so it’s just a kind of shorthand and we all understand what we really mean, so don’t be pedantic”.

Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men - I Want the TRUTH!I always argue that I am not pedantic, I just like things to be exactly correct – “I want the TRUTH!”

In this case, it is CRM which is pedantic, and does not always behave as expected if you believe that a User can act as if they have all the Roles that their Teams have, all of the time. If you are betting your security model on it working this way then either you will end up with Users who can’t do their job, or possibly a gaping hole in your security. Neither sounds good to me.

Read my “4 Rules” of how CRM Security Roles really work – can you “handle the truth”? »

CRMUG Summit – Early Bird Discount runs out in 10 days

CRMUG_Summit2013_webtampaCRMUG Summit is only four months away now, so it’s time to get yourself a place before the early bird discount period runs out on June 31st.

If you are not already a Premium Member, join today to save $200 then get a further $200 off by registering before the end of June.

If you have fewer than 10 users, these saving pay for Premium membership on their own, if you have 10-99 users and send two attendees, you will save more than the membership costs you! If you miss the June cut-off date, prices go up, but is then steady until September 15th.

What is there to do at Summit?

The Summit schedule from Tuesday October 22nd to Thursday 24th, and will be jam packed with loads of great sessions led by people from other organisations just like yours, using CRM to run their businesses, manage their processes and measure their outcomes.

There will of course be plenty of discussion and content around the new “Orion” release (whether it has actually taken place by then, if on schedule, or if not then the air will be even more buzzing in anticipation!), both from Microsoft themselves and from your colleagues and industry experts.

If you are not sure if there will be something for you, read “Why should I attend CRMUG Summit 2013?

In addition, why not use this as an opportunity to top up your skills at one of the CRMUG Academy training sessions on Monday 21st October (additional fees apply).

Have you signed up yet? Let me know in the comments below

Save the Date CRMUG UK Meeting 28th November

Registration is not open yet, but as advance warning, the next CRM User Group meeting for the UK is planned for:

28th November 2013 at Microsoft’s London Victoria Offices.

Add to calendar  Click to add the next CRMUG meeting to your Outlook calendar

Agenda

Agenda is yet to be confirmed, but loosely speaking will be a 9:15 registration and coffee for a 9:45 start.

After a mid-morning coffee break we plan to have two parallel speaker sessions for people to choose the topic of most interest to them. At least one of these will be followed by a related “round table” discussion of Q&A and audience participation.

After lunch we will all get back together for a further general session before “The Marco and Cass Show™” – also known as the Microsoft CRM Roadmap presentation. Given the planned release time frame for “Orion” this session alone is probably enough reason to travel all the way to London for this CRMUG meeting.

We will round the day off with an Experts Panel to try and answer any questions which have occurred to you during the earlier sessions, before closing at approximately 4pm.

Where is that again?

Microsoft UK
Cardinal Place
80-100 Victoria Street
London
SW1E 5JL

That’s a 2 minute walk from Victoria tube station, serviced by the Victoria, Circle and District Lines.

Of course I will post once the official page for registrations goes live.

What do you want from CRMUG?

Following our recent CRMUG UK committee meeting, I took on the role of “Vice Chair for Programme” so I need to figure out what things our members want to get out of our events, what sessions will be of most interest, general applicability and so on.

What do you want to “share and learn” at the CRM User Group? Are there any topics you particularly want to hear about?

Do you have a great customer story to tell, with some inspiration or ideas for others to take away and use to get more out of their CRM system? Could you / would you speak for 30 – 45 minutes about your CRM deployment project and what you got out of it?

If you have something to share, or want to find out about a particular aspect of using Dynamics CRM, please let me know in the comments so I can start to assimilate ideas to put together another great event, for users, by users!

CRM User Group meeting and social event in May

CRMUG LogoThe UK CRM User Group is meeting up in Reading in just over two week’s time. We’re getting together for a social evening on Wednesday May 15th, followed on 16th May by the main event with a packed agenda full of shared experiences and tips from your fellow Dynamics CRM users across a range of different industries and roles.

CRMUG UK Social Evening Wednesday May 15th

We are getting together for an informal social and networking event on the evening before the main event . This will take place at the Pitcher and Piano, 18 Friar Street, Reading, RG1 1DB which is in central Reading within easy walking distance from railway station, TVP shuttle routes and plenty of hotels. Join us from 18:30 onwards for a few drinks, maybe a bite to eat (especially for those of you staying overnight in Reading), some networking, chit-chat and generally getting to know one another a bit better.

So far based on comments on the original blog post, twitter responses and emails we should have at least a couple of dozen people there, and of course there may be lots more who have not said anything yet. Get there early on if you want some free nibbles, and definitely try to get there before 8pm to take advantage of various 2 for 1 offers on cocktails and selected bottled beers, or glasses of house wine and pints of beer or cider for £2.50.

Add to calendar  Click to add the social event to your Outlook calendar

CRMUG UK Q2 Meeting Thursday 16th May 2013, Microsoft HQ

Join 140 or more fellow CRM users for the next UK CRM User Group Meeting at the Microsoft headquarters at Thames Valley Park in Reading. Coffee and Reception start at 9:30 am. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience what the CRMUG has to offer you and other Dynamics CRM users!

Registration is still open but places are filling up fast! Click here to register for this event for FREE

Add to calendar  Click to add the CRMUG meeting to your Outlook calendar

Agenda

  • Registration & Coffee
  • Welcome & Introduction
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Roadmap & Demonstration
  • Member Showcase: Capita
  • Coffee Break
  • Best Practice Session: Reporting / Workflow – Scott Durow
  • Member Showcase: NCFE and User Adoption
  • Networking Lunch
  • Discussion Topic: – 20 Top CRM Tips to make the most of CRM – Adam Vero, MCT
  • Q & A Session
  • Close at approximately 4:00 pm

Who should attend? All Dynamics CRM users are welcome. We also encourage you to invite your colleagues and other users – email to colleagues, tweet about it, mention it in your LinkedIn groups and other sites..

Partners are welcome to attend provided they are accompanied by a customer. Partners please bear in mind that the objective of regional events such as this is to exchange knowledge and Dynamics CRM experience. Partner personnel should possess deep CRM expertise and refrain from sales activities.

Hope to see you there!

CRMguru is born – a new chapter and a chance for review

How did I get here?

When I started this blog I wanted to share information on a whole range of technology topics under the banner of “getting IT right” – helping people to figure out the best ways to use information technology to get things done. As a self-confessed geek who loves to dig into the detail of things, I also wrote about various neat tools (see, only a geek could call tools “neat”!) and techniques to wrestle software into doing what people really wanted out of it. I tried to get to the “why” as well as the “how” as I firmly believe (to paraphrase) that with great [IT] skill comes great responsibility [to follow best practices].

I made a conscious decision early on not to join those who seem to only produce “echoes in the blogosphere”. Writing a post of less than 20 words, saying “Someone else just wrote a great post over here <link>” is not what blogs are for, in my not so humble opinion; that’s what twitter is great for (up to a point). Worse still, “quoting” the whole of an article written by someone else is not so far different from blatantly stealing content with no attribution so I wanted to stay clear of that too, with the occasional exception of quoting parts of articles written expressly to be widely publicised such as press releases and hotfix release information.

If you don’t have something to add to the conversation to at least give it some context and explain why the linked post/article/information is important, why bother joining in?

I also did not see much point in writing “how to” articles for things which were well documented in books, online sources or simply accepted as common knowledge (sometimes of course it can be hard to judge what is really known by everyone).

So did it work? What do people read most?

Many of my most popular articles are things which are not well documented elsewhere, such as these top three of the most-read posts of the last six and a half years:

How to add national holidays in Outlook 2010 – the basic feature to add holidays for your country is well understood, but this article dug a bit deeper on topics such as removing holidays added by mistake (especially duplicates) and adding custom holiday dates to your outlook.hol file to share with others. The related post Outlook 2010 has incorrect holidays for UK and many other countries has had far fewer total readers, but this makes sense since the issue mainly affected English-speaking countries outside North America, and much of “continental” Europe. Both posts still see big peaks around Christmas / New Year and just before Easter – I guess people in 23 countries look at their calendars and realise Easter Monday is clearly in the wrong place and want to find out how to get it moved to the right date.

Using DSMod to update Active Directory – this was my very first post  and a perfect example of the sort of thing I wanted to write when I set out on my blogging ‘journey’, and I am really pleased that it is still enduringly popular now, and the second most read of all time (which I know is to some extent is self-proving, as it had the most time to be read). This was a real geeks’ article about how to use some simple command line tools to update user information stored in Active Directory. Is it still relevant? Possibly even more so since that directory information is even more ‘visible’ now as it surfaces in Outlook through “contact cards” (the summary of a correspondent’s information you see when you hover over their email address or name on the to / from line of an email) and is of course copied to Dynamics CRM user records too. I have some notes on my “blog ideas” list for an article about which AD fields are copied to CRM, and therefore what DSMod commands would be helpful to get those fields populated with correct information.

Excel 2007 calculation bug displays apparently wrong numbers – still getting loads of hits despite being about a bug which was fixed a long time ago, in a six-year-old version of a product. Judging by recent comments on this post and in forums more generally, some people seem to think that every time their numbers don’t add up as expected (due to rounding of displayed numbers in many cases), it must be the multi-million dollar, multi-million user software that is not able to figure out high school maths, although no-one else seems to have noticed.

Moving towards Dynamics CRM

Over time, I have become slowly more focussed on Dynamics CRM rather than being a total IT generalist. I still retain an interest in Office, particularly Outlook and Excel, and often use knowledge gained in my days as a system administrator to deal with network infrastructure questions relating to on-premise CRM deployments. As my work balance has changed, so has the content of my blog, so in the last year some of the most-read posts include an article outlining options for training and certification in MS Dynamics CRM 2011, how to Configure CRM 2011 and ADFS 2.0 on a single server on port 443 and When and How to use Child Workflows in Dynamics CRM.

I thought the time had come to change the name of the site to reflect the sort of information being posted here lately, so people have a better expectation of what they will find here, rather than it looking like another company blog. The new colour scheme and logo seemed appropriate to support this change of theme and direction.

Why CRM “guru”?

There are various definitions of the term”guru” which I hope to aspire towards in the posts that I write here.

The common themes are that a guru should be a teacher, one who imparts wisdom and knowledge to others, in some cases a leader as well. One possible etymology is that a guru “dispels the darkness of ignorance”. Through the articles in this blog I certainly hope to share the experiences I have gained as a Dynamics CRM consultant and trainer to shed some light on features which are not necessarily well understood or clearly documented and showcase some best practices of using the software to get the most out of it, from a technical or operational and business perspective.

I certainly do not use the term “guru” to claim that I am the greatest expert on the subject (that is for others to judge), merely to explain that I intend to use my knowledge to help others avoid common pitfalls and use features in ways they had not thought of, just as I have learned so much from those who have done things before me – too many to mention individually but some of whom are linked through the “blogroll” at the bottom of the screen.

I hope to be able to enlighten you for another few years yet.

Adam

Outlook does not show new CRM 2011 Custom Entity icons

This is a further follow up post to my recent article on How to add icons to custom entities in CRM 2011.

I have occasionally found that updated custom entity icons did not appear in the Outlook client as expected. This may or may not have been fixed in more recent rollups; I have not noticed it for a while but then I have not customised many of my own live CRM instance icons for a while either (I don’t tend to connect my Outlook client to customer’s systems when working on them and that’s where I am more likely to create new entities).

The cause and the fix are relatively simple – for obvious performance reasons, the icons are cached locally so you just need to clear them out.
Read on to find out how to clear the icon cache »

Changing custom entity icons already published in CRM 2011

This is a follow-up from my previous article about how to add your own new icons for custom entities in CRM 2011.

Once you have published your web resources and linked to them from your custom entity maybe you want to change your mind and use a different icon instead. Some people use the same “placeholder” for all their custom entities (such as a plain brightly coloured square) to remind them to fix them later, in other cases maybe you think of a better metaphor for the icon, or users simply don’t take to it during testing. Note that you can’t change the icons for a built-in system entity at all.

Whatever the reason for wanting to change your icons, you have two options:
Read on to find out swap your custom icons for new ones»

Creating icons for Custom Entities for CRM 2011

As described in my article about how to add your own new icons for custom entities in CRM, for each custom entity you will need two icons at 16 and 32 pixels square. These should be png, gif or jpg files, and I would strongly recommend png for preference, gif as second choice (as they at least support transparency) and jpg as last resort (areas of uniform colour often end up no longer being uniform but “noisy”).

Buy or find free icons online

There are various libraries of general-purpose icons you can buy such as the V-Collection from Icon Experience (they also do a more “modern” posterised style M-Collection which complements them well for different scenarios). I have also found others which you can download and use for free individually or as a collection. These often come with a requirement to cite the source if used commercially, which is easy enough to do by including some text and a URL in the description field of the web resource. The free collection of icons at FatCows has some good quality icons and useful ideas (downloadable individually or as a big zip file) amongst lots which seem far too “fun” for a serious application like CRM.

Another good source of icons is the CRM 2011 SDK which contains all the icons used in the application in the folders \resources\images\formentity and \resources\images\imagestrips n particular. Very often you can repurpose an icon from an entity you are not using, with a bit of lateral thinking. Modifying and reusing for commercial projects is probably not strictly allowed since these icons are Microsoft’s.

Draw your own or customise from a close starting point

Occasionally I get creative enough to draw simple icons from scratch, or at least to modify other icons to suit my needs more closely (if the original allows for derivative works, of course). Sometimes you find a great icon at 32 pixels and need to do a resize down to 16 (or vice versa) and then hand-retouch it to get the best effect – a resize alone is almost never a good finish.
Read on to find out more about resizing and editing icons for CRM »

How to add icons to custom entities in CRM 2011

I discovered a couple of weeks ago that one of the things Microsoft did get right in the recent Polaris release was to finally fix the dialogue box for adding your own icons to custom entities in CRM. This prompted me to finally get round to writing a proper article about how to do this.

Why use custom entities which need new icons?

As you develop your CRM system there will very likely come a point where you decide to create your own custom entities (record types) to store business data which is specific to your needs. You might also choose to create a custom entity to store data which you need to control access to, separately from other records. A new entity allows you to control through security roles which users can do what with these records independently of their security privileges relating to other entities.

In fact this kind of customisation is very often a fundamental part of the original design plans for many new CRM systems. This extensibility and versatility of systems such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM is arguably the whole point of a so-called xRM platform rather than a locked-down application which only works in the way the original developer thought up.

In order to make your system as easy as possible to use, it is very helpful to use your own custom icons for these entities so that users learn to recognise them rather than having to read loads of text labels. I have seen CRM systems with several custom entities all just left with the original sad little picture of a gear wheel (or a notebook and gear wheel for custom activities). In CRM 4.0 this may have been because the people who had the rights to customise the system did not have direct access to the server to publish their own icons, in CRM 2011 On-Premise or Online the only reason is not having the know-how to do so.

Read on to find out how to add new icons for your custom entities in a few simple steps »

CRM User Group Social Evening May 15th in Reading

There’s so much buzz about “social CRM” I felt it was about time we made the CRM User Group more social too. So, the evening before the next CRM UG UK meeting (which is in 9 weeks time on 16th May at TVP) we’ll be getting together for a less formal gathering, a few drinks, maybe a bite to eat (especially for those of you staying overnight in Reading), some networking, chit-chat and generally getting to know one another a bit better.

Where: Pitcher and Piano, 18 Friar Street, Reading, RG1 1DB

When: Wednesday 15th May, 18:30 onwards - get there early on if you want some free nibbles, and definitely try to get there before 8pm to take advantage of various 2 for 1 offers on cocktails and selected bottled beers, or glasses of house wine and pints of beer or cider for £2.50

Who: Anyone with an interest in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, users, administrators, techies, experts, trainers, partners – especially those attending the CRM UG Meeting, but of course also people who can’t actually make the main event for some reason.

How many will be there?

Great question! I need to give the venue a reasonable idea of numbers before the night so they can make sure to accommodate us comfortably. Please add a comment below if you think you will be there, or tweet me directly if you prefer (@AdamVero). Help us to get the word out to as many folk as possible by emailing your colleagues, tweeting about it (click for ready-to-tweet message), mentioning it to your LinkedIn groups and so on. Use hashtag #CRMUGUKSocial if you want to join the conversation.

Choosing a browser for CRM 2011

Anyone using CRM 2011 on-premises or Online can upgrade to Update Rollup 12 and get all the cross-browser goodness we waited for so long to get. Any new CRM Online organisation you start will have this already “baked in”. That means you can start using:

  • Firefox on Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8
  • Chrome on  Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8
  • Safari on Mac OSX 10.7 / 10.8
  • IE 8, 9 or 10

But! This comes at a small price – the deprecation of IE7. IE7 is no longer a supported browser for CRM 2011 going forward with the minor exception of IE7 on XP for CRM On-Premises only, and even that will be taken away at the Orion release (by which time support for XP will be at an end so I guess MS feel it is OK to start ignoring this not-insubstantial userbase at that point).

Why upgrade if I am happy with IE7?

Internet Explorer 8 is four years old today. If IE7 is what you are using four years after it was superceded, it’s time to upgrade and get a much smoother experience since the JavaScript engine in IE has improved dramatically over the last few versions, to compete well alongside Chrome which had fast JavaScript performance as one of the key reasons to switch when it first came out (better partitioning of security between sites / tabs in separate threads was another, and still is, but if your primary use of IE would be for CRM only, using another browser alongside for your ‘net surfing, then this is not a big deal really).

IPad seems to be missing from the list

iPad support at the moment is only for CRM Online, only for the “COLA” entities (Contact, Opportunity, Lead, Account), intended for using iPad for a sales lead to deal platform only at the stage. Other entities are rendered in the read-only forms, or you can use Mobile Express (as always) for editing.

Control supported browser list

You can also decide which browser environments you want your users to use, and warn them if they try to connect to CRM with something else – see this MSDN article on how to Control which browsers your organisation supports for details.

Countdown to CRMUG UK Meeting in Reading on 16th May 2013

It’s now just 10 weeks to go until the next UK CRM User Group meeting. We have another great agenda full of shared experiences and tips from your fellow Dynamics CRM users across a range of different sectors.

Thursday 16th May 2013, Microsoft TVP, Reading

Join us for the next UK CRM User Group Meeting at the Microsoft headquarters in Reading. Coffee and Reception start at 9:30 am. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience what the CRMUG has to offer you and other Dynamics CRM users!
Registration is now open! Click here to register for this event for FREE

Agenda

    • Registration & Coffee
    • Welcome & Introduction
    • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Roadmap & Demonstration
    • Member Showcase: Capita
    • Coffee Break
    • Best Practice Session:  Reporting/Workflow
    • Member Showcase:  NCFE
    • Networking Lunch
    • Discussion Topic:  Dynamics CRM – 20 Top Tips from an MCT
    • Q & A Session
    • Close at approximately 4:00 pm
    Who should attend?

All Dynamics CRM users are welcome. We also encourage you to invite your colleagues and other users – email to colleagues, tweet about it, mention it in your LinkedIn groups and other sites..

Partners are welcome to attend provided they are accompanied by a customer. Partners please bear in mind that the objective of regional events such as this is to exchange knowledge and Dynamics CRM experience. Partner personnel should possess deep CRM expertise and refrain from sales activities.

Hope to see you there!

Social Evening

We are talking about getting together for an informal social and networking event on the evening of 15th May before the main event . This would be at a venue in central Reading within walking distance from railway station, TVP shuttle routes and plenty of hotels. Plans are coming together so we should be able to announce more details soon. Whatever we do it will definitely be free to come and join in, and we’ll be trying to get a deal wherever we go to try and keep your food and drinks bills as low as possible.

I’ll post an update once we get a plan together. <edit – see this post about the CRM User Group Social Evening May 15th in Reading />

CRM User Group Event Rome January 2013

Special Early Bird Pricing for the CRMUG Event in Rome 2013 ends on December 15th, so complete registration now for a great 20% discount.

The CRMUG Event in Rome on January 31st to February 1st is a great opportunity for Dynamics CRM users from loads of different countries to come together and share experiences and ideas that they can take back and use to get even more out of their own CRM projects.

There will be plenty of opportunity to mingle with your peers and discuss how you are getting value out of your system, share tips, suggestions, good practices and maybe recommendations for third party add-ons which have filled a gap you could not have built in-house.

The main sessions will be split into tracks to suit end users / business managers, system customisers and administrators, and developers. Formats will vary between sessions to use the most appropriate way to cover different topics, from workshops to round-tables to deep-dive presentations.

All for only €199 + VAT before December 15th, €249 thereafter.

Bonus – FREE CRMUG Premium Membership for 6 months

As an added bonus, your registration for the CRMUG Event also includes a free 6-month Premium CRMUG membership!
Not only will you get to take part in this great learning and networking event, but you’ll also have access to CRMUG’s full range of benefits, including webinars, CRMUG Collaborate (our online community), special interest groups, CRMUG Academy training courses, Global Branch meetings, and more!

What are you waiting for? Find out more and register now:

rome2013.crmug.com

When and How to use Child Workflows in Dynamics CRM

Girl on Dads shoulders_smallWhen is the right time to have your first child?

A difficult question with a whole range of possible answers, I’m sure you will agree, and there are other websites and forums much better placed to answer it. So instead I’ll answer something slightly easier and with more definitive answers which often comes up when I am delivering training for CRM customisers and super-users who build their own workflows:

When should I have my first child workflow?

There are simple answers to this and some more esoteric and more complex answers to this. Generally I would say there are six main use cases for child workflows, which I will discuss in this post in approximate order of obviousness (most to least).

1: “Let me get on with my job”

A very simple scenario for CRM 2011 – you want the user to work through a Dialog process and provide some details or make some decisions, at the end of which they should get on with other things while a workflow runs to do some other steps which can run on their own with no further intervention (such as creating related records, updating links or sending an automated email).

You don’t make your users stay in the dialog a second longer than necessary once their useful participation is over (“leave, puny human!”), and this also means you can call a child workflow which involves waiting for a while before doing something (like sending a reminder) – you can’t do a wait step in a dialog.

2: Wash, rinse, repeat

Shampoo BottleOften in a workflow you have several points at which you want to do one or more identical steps. Maybe you have to set up several conditions which set various fields to different values, then inside some of the conditions you do a step such as creating an activity which is essentially the same but takes lots of fiddling to get right? It can be pretty tedious to do all of this. And you can’t move or copy the tricky step if you later need to change the flow of the logic.

For example you might run a workflow against a service Case which checks the customer type and service level, or maybe the related product or contract line, sets fields on the case such as the expected completion date and assigns it to an appropriate user or team. For important customers you want to send an email to the account manager to let them know the Case has been logged and including details of who is dealing with it, and for high priority Cases you want to create a Task to get things moving, with a due date related to the SLA type and time the Case was logged.

The actual steps of creating the activities are not especially complex but to do all those dynamic fields and get them right several times over takes a while. And then takes even longer when your user acceptance testing asks you to change some of the detail – several times over.

Build the activities in a child workflow (or possibly two separate ones). Then each time you want to do the same step, call the child workflow (running against the same Case record). Now you only have to build it once and only have one place to make changes.

A nearly identical use case would be when you have several similar workflows which are triggered by different things such as record creation, fields being updated or status changes. In each of the workflows you can call the same child to do some of the work. Read 4 more scenarios where child workflows will help you out »

Changes to Microsoft Certification Exam interface

A short post to highlight some changes made to upcoming Microsoft exams. Many of my readers will have taken several Microsoft Exams on the Prometric platform in recent years and may have been frustrated by some of the more clunky elements of the exam interface.

You will be pleased to hear that some of these things are being improved immediately in various exams just being released, and it looks like the intention is to push these changes through across the board to other current exam titles too. Read about how the exam interface and question types have changed»

CRM 2011 Update rollup 7 and Read-optimised Forms

The latest hotfixes and updates to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 are now available as update rollup 7. Knowledgebase article is here:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2600643

and downloads for all the software components are here:
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=29221 

Read-Optimised Forms

The KB article above refers to a feature update in UR7 to provide “Read Optimized Forms”, which sounds very much like one of the minor features which was announced for the Q2 2012 service update, or release R8. This got a little bit buried in all the excitement about multi-browser and mobile capabilities, but essentially means you can deliver a faster experience to your users by providing them with a rapid-loading, reduced functionality, read-only form for entities which are often read and rarely updated. The Release Preview Guide published in February said this:

RAPID VIEW FORMS
In many organizations there are groups of users who typically use a CRM system to look up key information about their contacts, accounts, opportunities and cases but have no immediate need to modify that information.

For example, many contact center employees or managers primarily use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to review business information before deciding whether any action is required. For these users the optimal experience is to load this information very quickly so they can immediately assess a situation and determine the correct course of action.

In order to provide this type of user experience, we’re introducing rapid view forms. The rapid view form is a read-only form that can be configured like any other form in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to display any record in the system.

When viewing information in these forms, users can switch to an editing experience with the click of a button. Administrators of Microsoft Dynamics CRM will have the option to set all forms to load in rapid view mode; if appropriate for business needs. Individual users will have the personal option to choose the form mode they prefer (Rapid View or Standard Edit).

At the moment (just after midnight UTC 22nd March) the links in the UR7 article which should point to more information about this new feature seem to redirect only to a generic page in the Resource Center and an MSDN SDK article about editing forms. From the latter article there is a link to another subsection “Design Considerations for Read-Only forms” which provides more details.

Read more of this post

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