CRMUG UK User Group – TWO Meetings in Reading and Edinburgh

CRMUG LogoThe next UK CRM User Group is in Reading on Thursday 13th November, and we will be focussing on using Dynamics CRM for sales and marketing.

Even more exciting is our inaugural meeting for Scotland and the North of England!

We are meeting again on 20th November at Microsoft’s Edinburgh offices. We will have some new speakers, and some of our best sessions from previous meetings will get an “encore” at this event. We hope to see lots of new members who cannot usually attend due to the distances involved.

Both meetings are free to attend for all CRMUG members, thanks to Microsoft’s kind and continued support of the events, providing venues and refreshments for us. You can sign up for a Basic membership of CRMUG at no cost.

Agendas are yet to be finalised, but basic details are below and I will update this post periodically and use twitter to point this out when I do. Registration for the events is open, but due to an upgrade the CRMUG main website will be down from 17th September while all the old content is migrated to a new platform. Rather than links that lead nowhere, I’ll add registration links on here once the site is operational again.

CRMUG UK Social Evening Wednesday November 12th

We are getting together for our usual informal social and networking gathering 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.Thanks to Andrew Bibby for getting things booked!

If anyone would like to sponsor the social by funding some light snacks at the start of the evening, please get in touch with me – we will ensure you get the recognition you deserve on Thursday!

CRMUG UK Q4 Meeting Thursday 13th November 2014, Reading

Join up to 100 fellow CRM users for the next UK CRM User Group Meeting at Microsoft Customer Centre at Cardinal Place, London (Victoria). Coffee and Reception start at 9:00 am. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience what the CRMUG has to offer you and other Dynamics CRM users!

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

Agenda

We will have multiple tracks for the middle part of the day, so you can choose the session that is of most interest and relevance. We will have a wide range of topics for everyone from business managers and project owners through administrators and functional consultants to the most technical system customisers and developers.

09:30 Welcome & CRMUG News
09:45 What’s New in CRM 2015 
Following today’s press release from Microsoft about CRM 2015 coming in Q4 (previously known as the “Vega” or Fall 2014 release) I expect we are all excited to hear all about what is new in this latest version of our favourite software, as well as related Social Listening and Marketing products, and what the future roadmap looks like.
Microsoft UK, speaker TBC
11:00 Coffee and Networking
11:15

TBC

2 or 3 tracks including a session from one of our CRMUG Premium Partners.
one technical session, one more business oriented, and possibly a roundtable discussion

12:15 5 minutes to swap rooms
12:20 
2 Tracks

TBC

Probably two tracks of technical and business oriented content

13:20 Lunch and Networking
14:00

TBC

15:00 Ask the Experts
A chance for more Q&A with today’s speakers and MVPs
16:00 Close

Location

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

Microsoft Campus
Thames Valley Park
Reading
RG6 1WG

CRMUG UK Scotland and North of England Meeting

Agenda for this meeting is not yet finalised. I will update this when we have news. As the venue is smaller than Reading and we anticipate a smaller audience, it is likely to be a single-track event with a mixture of technical and non-technical content to suit all members.

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

Depending on discussions to be had on the day (and perhaps on how things go on Thursday 18th September!) we may make this a separate chapter in its own right, or continue to operate as a single UK chapter with regional meetings. Come along and let us know what you think!

Location

This meeting will be at Microsoft’s Offices in Edinburgh.

Microsoft
Waverley Gate
2-4 Waterloo Place
Edinburgh
EH1 3EG

Who should attend CRMUG?

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!

CRMUG UK Social Evening July 16th

The next CRMUG UK Meeting will be at Microsoft’s Customer Centre in Cardinal Place in London on July 17th. We have ten sessions across three tracks for a day packed with content for everyone involved in Dynamics CRM from project owners, business managers, administrators and consultants through to customisers and developers.

Full details of the agenda and session outlines are in my previous article CRM User Group CRMUG UK meeting in July 2014 which also includes links to the registration page.

As we have done before, we will be having a social evening the night before the main event, very kindly organised by Andrew Bibby on our behalf this time.

Jugged Hare, Victoria, July 16th 7pm onwards

The Jugged Hare is a Fullers’ pub at 172 Vauxhall Bridge Rd, Victoria, Greater London SW1V 1DX (map).

Join us from about 7pm in the upstairs gallery area for a few drinks and some food if you want to (served until 10pm so OK for later arrivals).

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

There are loads of options for accommodation in the local area, all only a short walk to get to Cardinal Place for the actual CRMUG meeting in the morning. Or you could easily commute there and back via Victoria or Pimlico tube stations.

Workflow OR conditions in CRM 2013 SP1

Everyone is writing about all the big changes in Dynamics CRM 2013 Service Pack 1 (aka Spring ‘14 Release for CRM Online, previously codenamed “Leo”). There are tons of great features around Service management, new tools for developers, improved tablet support and so on.

If you want to find out all about the new service management functionality, how to enable and take advantage of the SLAs, entitlements, Case routing and related features, sign up for our in-person classroom training course What’s new in Dynamics CRM 2013 Spring ’14. In one day of accelerated training you will learn all about configuring new service features, as well as high-level coverage of other items such as tablet support, server-side synchronisation, status transition controls, and more!

At the CRMUG UK Meeting in July we are also focussing on “Service” and will have plenty of time to hear from Microsoft about the new release, as well as a session from Wael Hamze of Barclays for developers, including some of the new things in the SDK.

In all the kerfuffle there has not been much mention of a little feature that I have been waiting on for a long time, that will make a small but important difference to the development of Workflows. You can now create conditions and group clauses using OR and AND conditions. Read how to use OR conditions in Dynamics CRM 2013 Workflows with SP1 »

Why Use Access Teams in Dynamics CRM 2013

It seems to be “Access Teams Week”.

Larry Lentz wrote an article CRM 2013 Access Teams in a Nutshell which is a great introduction to what Access Teams are and what they do. Ben Hosking wrote a post in his series about preparing for the CRM Customization exam MB2-703: Access Teams and Access Team Templates how to use them and key facts.

Both of these are really good primers on the mechanics of using Access Teams but I think they miss addressing one really big question – why would you want to use Access Teams in the first place?

I think there are several reasons to use Access Team Templates, some in terms of usability, others from a more technical or performance perspective, and some cases for using manually-created Access Teams.

Read 4 key reasons to consider using Access Teams in Dynamics CRM 2013 »

CRM Masters Spring Special Offer

CRM Masters logo small

 

We have a limited time special offer discount on our Dynamics CRM training at CRM Masters.

Book on one of our June or July courses now and get £45 off

Register for any of our scheduled Dynamics CRM training courses before the end of May for the special early bird price of only £350 per person per course.

You can book as many people on as many courses as you want, and get the discount for each person.

In order to give you the best possible training, seats on our custom CRM training courses are strictly limited, so hurry to book your place while they are still available.

This offer applies to four of our courses: Update Your Skills to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Managing Business Processes with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Visualizing Microsoft Dynamics CRM Data and What’s New in the Leo Release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

CRM User Group CRMUG UK meeting in July 2014

CRMUG LogoThe next UK CRM User Group is in London in less than two months, on Thursday 17th July, and we will be focussing on using Dynamics CRM for managing services.

These might be traditional customer support services, fulfilment or project services, local government services to residents and businesses, or internal process management. The meeting is free to attend for all CRMUG members – and you can sign up for a Basic membership at no cost.

CRMUG UK Q2 Meeting Thursday 17th July 2014, London

Join 100 or more fellow CRM users for the next UK CRM User Group Meeting at Microsoft Customer Centre at Cardinal Place, London (Victoria). Coffee and Reception start at 9:00 am. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience what the CRMUG has to offer you and other Dynamics CRM users!

Registration is now open for this event. Click here to register for this event for FREE

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

Agenda

We will have multiple tracks for the middle part of the day, so you can choose the session that is of most interest and relevance. We will have a wide range of topics for everyone from business managers and project owners through administrators and functional consultants to the most technical system customisers and developers.

This agenda is subject to change (edit: updated 24th June with latest information), and we do expect to add one or two additional optional sessions to those described below. Also note our CRMUG UK Social Evening on July 16th.

09:30 Welcome & CRMUG News
09:45 What’s New in CRM 2013 Spring’14 release
(aka Service Pack 1, formerly "Leo").
Microsoft UK
11:00 Coffee and Networking
11:15
3 Tracks

Supporting a Changing Business
Skills Development Scotland is Scotland’s national skills body, combining careers, skills, training and funding services. SDS has over 800 CRM users across 50 sites providing services to in excess of 185,000 customers per annum.
SDS has undergone significant changes to its service offering in the last 2 years. This session will describe how a small internal team has supported the changes to the CRM system to support this.
Martin O’Neill, Skills Development Scotland

One-Click Dynamics CRM Deployments
Find out how you can automate the build and deployment processes for your CRM solutions. The session will demonstrate how the latest tools from the CRM SDK, TFS 2013, Visual Studio Release Management & xRM CI Framework can work together to implement end to end one-click deployments of your enterprise Dynamics CRM Solutions across all your environments. This will allow you to deliver CRM more frequently in a consistent and reliable way.
Wael Hamze, CRM Centre of Excellence, Barclays Investment Bank

Round Table – Using CRM for Public Sector services
Local and regional Government, Councils, Social Housing, healthcare, QUANGOs, and many other organisations use CRM in a similar way to provide services to a huge audience of citizens, residents, or businesses. These might be free at the point of use, so the sales module might be entirely ignored, but the service area is likely to be highly customised to suit this type of work. Often there are significant considerations about record security and segmenting access according to type, particularly around data considered "sensitive" under DPA such as physical or mental health, or criminal offences.
Please join your peers to share you experiences of using CRM to meet these challenges and manage public services in a cost effective manner.
Chair TBC

12:15 5 minutes to swap rooms
12:20
3 Tracks

Data Visualisation – Art or Science?
Best practices for designing charts to help people understand their business data effortlessly.
This will cover the "what should I do?" and "why?" rather than the technical ins-and-outs of how to achieve this with a specific piece of software. The main focus will be on Dynamics CRM charts and dashboards, but the approaches are just as valid using Excel, PowerPivot, SSRS or big analytics products.
Adam Vero, CRM Masters

CRM & BPM – Better Together!

Dynamics CRM 2013 is fuelling interest in the potential to deliver new and innovative customer services from CRM.  But without resorting to complex and costly XRM based coding projects, the scope is often limited. Business Process Management (BPM) tools such as PNMsoft Sequence, organisations can realise the full potential of CRM. 
When South West Water migrated to Dynamics CRM, a requirement to deliver critical Service Management functionality in short time was achieved through a BPM approach.
In this session, you will see how to quickly and easily create powerful workflow-driven CRM functionality with zero coding; connect your CRM activities with your existing ERP, SharePoint and other platforms and easily adapt, change and deploy CRM processes in line with changing business needs.
James Luxford, CTO PNMsoft (CRMUG Partner Member)

Round Table – Charity Management using Dynamics CRM
Many charities use CRM for similar things, such as tracking private and corporate donations; organising events, volunteers and regional groups of supporters; and managing services to the community. Are you also using CRM to manage your digital marketing, using built in functionality or third party solutions? If you are using or considering Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage a charity, come and share your experiences with your peers.
Chaired by Seemant Rajvanshi, Macmillan Cancer Support

13:20 Lunch and Networking
14:00
2 tracks

Stop, Collaborate and Listen!
How to get support from your peers through various online channels
Joel Abbott, XRM Consultant

Demystifying CTI for the common good.
Have you thought about Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) but saw it as black magic? Do the words VOIP, PSDN, IVR, PBX, CLI mean anything?
What about Preview dialling, predictive dialling, power dialling, screen popping…  and now Microsoft has added USD!
This session aims to demystify the area of integrating CRM with telephony. CTI is not just for call centres and can improve any telephone-based customer interactions, so CTI can be a key factor in improving customer service in any organisation.
Rowland Dexter, QGate

15:00 Ask the Experts
A chance for more Q&A with today’s speakers and MVPs
16:00 Close

Location

This meeting will be at Microsoft’s Customer Centre in London

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.

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!

Save the Date – November Meeting

Planning ahead, our next meeting will be on Thursday November 13th, at Microsoft’s UK HQ in Thames Valley Park, Reading.

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

We hope to have some more great content to share, including some possible encore sessions from CRMUG Summit 2014 which takes place in St Louis, Missouri. Members get $200 discount per person on their Summit passes, and staggered Early Bird rates also apply – for the best prices, register before the end of June.

Training for Dynamics CRM from CRM Masters

CRM Masters logo small

I’m excited to announce that I’ve partnered with Feridun Kadir to set up a new Dynamics CRM training business, CRM Masters Ltd.

We have a schedule of training courses that will give you the practical knowledge that you need to implement, customize and maintain CRM 2011 and 2013.

Our courses are designed to give you highly-focused instructor-led training to cover topics you won’t find on other courses.

Please review our list of Dynamics CRM courses and if there is an area that you feel you would like training in that you don’t see please let us know.

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

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.

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