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 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.

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!

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

Over the course of the last two years or so reading everything I can about Dynamics CRM, 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 more of this post

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 »