Thursday, April 20, 2017

Some dashboards are more equal than other

Typically you are not allowed to remove components from the system layer in Dynamics 365/CRM
Is this dashboard more pig than horse?
but for some reason this does not apply to dashboards in some earlier versions of Dynamics CRM. It seems this bug has recently been fixed but if you have a version of CRM where this was possible or have been upgraded from this version, you might be missing it. I just tried this in the Online version
8.2.0.798 and in this version it is not possible to delete dashboards but I have managed to in earlier versions.

My friend Jerry Weinstock has blogged about this as well.

One particular dashboard that the system is in dire need of for its mobile features is the "Sales Dashboard" as this is the default dashboard for the mobile and tablet clients. This cannot be changed although the default dashboard can be changed within the mobile client by the user after it has been started. See MSDN for more info in this.

In case you do manage to delete it or it has been deleted, Power Objects blog have described how to restore dashboards from instance with this dashboard in it. In short, create an unmanaged solution in that other instance containing the "Sales Dashboard" and then export and import the solution into the instance missing it.

Before closing the window showing the results, open the log of the import and get the guid of the dashboard and then use the url of another dashboard to insert the GUID into the url to get to the "Sales Dashboard" and change it's name and/or the label of the the tab to what it typically is in case it doesn't show up directly.

In case you do not have one, here is a link to an unmanaged solution file (version 8.0) containing just the sales dashboard. SalesDashboard_1_0_0_0_target_CRM_8.0.zip


Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Update on BPF gotcha

Wrote an article a few days ago on the BPF new architecture and effects that it might have.

I spoke with Roger Gilchrist, a Principal Program Manager with the Product team during the eXtreme365 conference and he mentioned that using the "Process Stage" fields are actually not supported if you read the SDK very closely. This document is a very long document and it is not very clear in the UI and there is no other very obvious way of solving triggering on stage changes than the triggering on Process Stage changes, with which he did agree.

The important lesson from that, I think is that not everything you see in the UI is actually supported for use.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Monday, March 06, 2017

Strange error when deleting managed Solution

Seems like that Dynamics 365/CRM doesn't catch all dependencies for managed solutions. This is how you can find and remove one of the tricky ones I got when uninstalling a managed solution which was:

Unhandled Exception: System.ServiceModel.FaultException`1[[Microsoft.Xrm.Sdk.OrganizationServiceFault, Microsoft.Xrm.Sdk, Version=8.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35]]: During Solution Uninstall of Solution Id [solution-guid], cannot find any instances of the component with Component Id c97cd9d7-a0fa-4ed5-b360-3c2ad998a620 and Component Type 2.Detail: 
<OrganizationServiceFault xmlns:i="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/xrm/2011/Contracts">
  <ErrorCode>-2147220970</ErrorCode>
  <ErrorDetails xmlns:d2p1="http://schemas.datacontract.org/2004/07/System.Collections.Generic" />
  <Message>During Solution Uninstall of Solution Id [solution-guid], cannot find any instances of the component with Component Id c97cd9d7-a0fa-4ed5-b360-3c2ad998a620 and Component Type 2.</Message>
  <Timestamp>2017-03-06T13:06:54.6280227Z</Timestamp>
  <ExceptionSource i:nil="true" />
  <InnerFault i:nil="true" />
  <OriginalException i:nil="true" />
  <TraceText i:nil="true" />
</OrganizationServiceFault>

After some thinking I figured that this was probably a reference to an attribute (Component type = 2) with the Guid = c97cd9d7-a0fa-4ed5-b360-3c2ad998a620 so I opened another attribute and then cut-n-pasted the url. And it seemed that you didn't have to worry about the entity guid:


https://<onlineorgname>.<globalcrmcenter>.dynamics.com/tools/systemcustomization/attributes/manageAttribute.aspx?appSolutionId=%7bFD140AAF-4DF4-11DD-BD17-0019B9312238%7d&attributeId=%7bc97cd9d7-a0fa-4ed5-b360-3c2ad998a620%7d&entityId=%7b70816501-edb9-4740-a16c-6a5efbc05d84%7d

Change <onlineorgname> to your org, and <globalcrmcenter> to the crm-subdomain you are using, which for EMEA is crm4.



You will then see the field editor, and can then show the dependencies of the field and remove all of them manually to make sure they are not bothering the Solution uninstall. After that "publish all" and retry removing the solution.


Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Dynamics 365 new BPF architecture gotcha

The new Dynamics 365 release of CRM or as I like to call it 8.2, as that makes it a bit simpler. Dynamics 365 is a bit ambigious, it can mean AX and NAV as well and at the same time I want to discuss the platform and not just an app... so it becomes trick. I hope Microsoft figures some decent naming for the xRM part of the platform so we all have something to call it. (hint... xRM is a decent word)

Well, one of the cool new features of the 8.2 release is the revamp of the Business Process Flows (BPF) which now have gotten a couple of different facelifts, of which some are:

  • A new editor which looks identical to the Business rules editor. However, the Workflow editor is still very old-style... I wonder if this might be next. :)
  • BPF:s final stage can now be closed/or you actually close the entire BPF. This was not the case previously where the last stage simply sat there.
  • If you have multiple BPF:s and you switch between them, D365 will remember where you are in each of the BPF:s. This was not the case in earlier versions when it always restarted when you changed.

In order to handle the last point, the underlying architecture of the BPFs have been changed. Previously when you had an entity that was BPF enabled by a lookup called "Process stage" and when this changed you knew that the record had changed stage in the workflow.

Alas, in comes 8.2 on its white horse, and "Process stage" lookup falls dead to the ground like knight before a modern day tank. In other words, it simply isn't triggered.

The new BPF architecture is based on the principle that a new shadow entity is created for each BPF that you create. And yes, they are removed when you remove your BPF.

So, when is this typically a problem? The most common uses for triggering on stage changes in BPF is using a Workflow to trigger on changes in an Opportunity to set the probability. This is then later used in calculated fields like Weighted Estimated Revenue (not a standard field) and similar fields.

The effect upgrading to 8.2, which is just a minor upgrade from an upgrade perspective, is hence that these customizations that you might have done to set the probability, stop working and the opportunities get the wrong, 0 or no probability making any calculation based on this number incorrect.

So, how are you supposed to fix this? There is a new WF triggering mechanism built in to the BPF designer. You simply create a workflow that can be manually triggered, and drag a workflow compontent into the appropriate step in the BPF designer.

Do note that you can choose if you want it to trigger when the stage is started or completed.
BPF Editor with a workflow added with the Stage Entry trigger selected as highlighted

And this is how the workflows needs to look
This is the workflow that was selected in the BPF Editor above. Note the highlighted checkbox. This needs to be checked in order for the workflow to show up in the BPF editor lookup


A final comment. Even though the BPFs can now be completed, that does not mean that the final stage's Stage Exit is triggered. As far as I have understood it, it is still in this phase even though the BPF in it self is considered closed. I would call semantics on that. I hope Microsoft fixes that bug or enhances that lack of feature if they rather call it that.

Was this original workflow supported? Was it ignorant of your partner, you might ask, to create a workflow that triggered as described in the old manner and this has now stopped working and you
are faced with additional costs for fixing this? Shouln't they have known? Well, frankly no, your partner, if they followed what I described above, did make what are called "supported customizations" which according to the documentation from Microsoft is supposed to be upgradable. At least one major version, often 2 or 3 major versions This time it was not even a minor, from 8.1 to 8.2. Hence it is a regrettable situation but if you want to complain somewhere, I do suggest you complain to Microsoft.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and Principal Consultant at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Monday, February 06, 2017

Finding URL to dependencies on installed managed solutions

Uninstalling a managed solution? (ie Deleting it) Getting a bad error message saying you can´t? (Cannot Delete Component) And you don't know how to find what the dependencies are for the solution? So did I. And perhaps you, as I, did not notice the small link in the dialog which says "Details" that takes you directly to the "Dependencies" page.

Click this to go see the dependencies for the solution,
or follow the instructions below to manually generate an URL 
So, if you did miss that, or for some other reason want to know how to get to the dependency page of a solution, read on.

I found this blog article: https://www.interactivewebs.com/blog/index.php/crm-2015/crm-2015-2013-find-dependencies-for-managed-solution/

which described how to find the dependencies in a nice way in a CRM 2013/2015 on-prem environment where you have access to the database. But I was using Dynamics 365 (8.2) so that was no option.

The one part you cannot do in an online instance, in that article is to open the SQL database, in case you tried. So the trick was to find some other way to find the guid of the managed solution and it is of course quite simple, just right click it and select "Email a link" and your favorite email editor will open with the guid shown and you just have to know which part to cut, see the picture below:

Cut the guid between the %7b abd %7d which are the { and the }

Then just follow the instructions from the blog above and insert the guid into the url provided:

https://YOUR CRM URL/tools/dependency/dependencyviewdialog.aspx?objectid=GUID&objecttype=7100&operationtype=dependenciesforuninstall

Replacing "YOUR CRM URL" with the url to your D365 and GUID with the guid above.

That got me to this page, which after some de-privatization looks like a document from the Swedish tax authorities:

Thanks again to InteractiveWebs for the original article.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Emailing Queues internally - OrgDBOrg to the rescue

Using queues is in D365/CRM for managing functional email addresses is the the only way to go as
far as I know, unless you want to set it up as a full user, which I don't really see the point of.

I recently ran into an interesting issue with a customer pertaining to queues and that is when you want to be able to forward mails internally to users that are registered in D365/CRM. What happens is that with the standard setting you will get two emails. Hence, you might think that going into System settings and the email tab and unchecking the "Track emails sent between CRM users as two activities". However, this will have the unpleasant effect of disabling internal emails to queues, or in other words, if an internal user sends an email to a queue, to a system with this setting unchecked, D365/CRM will simply ignore the mail and not pull it into the D365/CRM.
By RRZE - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

So, do we have to choose between duplicate emails for internal users and being able to send emails from internal users or not getting duplicates and no emails from internal users? Well, no, there is a very special set of settings to the rescue, OrgDBOrg, which are described here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/2691237/orgdborgsettings-tool-for-microsoft-dynamics-crm

There is a setting here called: DoNotIgnoreInternalEmailToQueues which by default is set to False. So, if you uncheck the "Track email sent between to activities" and then set this to True, the system will not ignore your internal emails.

A small word of caution, OrgDBOrg settings are fringe (but still supported) settings which hence are probable not as tested as normal settings in D365. I would hence recommend that you only use OrgDBOrg setting in the case you need very specifically them.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Dev L300 Training in Stockholm!

George Doubinski is coming to Stockholm and he is going to be holding a very rare level 300 (= advanced) Dynamics 365 developer training.

George is an MVP and a good friend of mine and one of the bright beacons in the D365 community, co-founder of both http://crmtipoftheday.com/ and http://crm.audio/ . He is an excellent developer who told me that he is always striving to learning something new. Last he said his goal was to learn a new programming language every year. And to top that off, he is a great presentor and teacher as he is a lot of fun to listen to and almost none can match his skills when it comes to coding in Dynamics 365.

We at CRM-Konsulterna were very happy when we were able to convince him to come to Sweden and Stockholm and teach us some of what he knows! He lives in Australia so this doesn't happen often.

Read more about it here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dynamics-365crm-developer-master-class-in-stockholm-with-george-doubinski-tickets-31443903562

Hope to see you there!

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Warnings mean something - don't just click them away


Warnings like the one you see above, I often see in my customers systems when rudely looking over their shoulders. And what do they do? Call support and tell them that there is some weird error about email coming up and that there must be some error in the CRM-Exchange inter-server email synchronization mechanism? No. They don't. They ignore it. Totally. Every time. They typically get a bit annoyed every time and think the system is a bit crappy but they ignore it. And we as their CRM-partner might never know that there is anything wrong unless we have very deep monitoring of their system (has anyone built this? Would be a great tool! Tanguy to the rescue perhaps?)

Well, as you guessed I don't agree that you should just click away these error messages or actually any error messages. They usually mean something. In the case above, there is something wrong with the synchronization of emails, why emails that have be written and sent in CRM have not been delivered. Once fixed, these WILL be sent, which might be a bit problematic. Once, maybe 6 or 7 years ago, we had a customer who had had problems with synchronization of emails and hadn't told us. We got to know during our summer vacation (don't you always), and when we fixed it, the CRM system sent out loads of old emails to their customers. Which was not really appreciated. Well, we all do misstakes, but not all learn from them. So, do check which emails have Status Reason"Pending Send" as you can see in the picture below.


Having emails with this status for more than 24 hours is also what causes the alert at the top of this post. So, before fixing Server Side Sync, the Email Router or installing Outlook clients, do check this list to make sure that there are not a lot of old emails that will be sent to your customers and contacts. Advanced Find is very useful if you want to find them all, and not use the built in view that I am showing above.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Monday, December 12, 2016

Beware of Legacy forms and how to fix broken case forms after upgrade

Been working with the upgrade of a customer from CRM 2013 to CRM 2016 on-prem and we ran into this weird error. The case form didn't want to work after upgrade if we didn't turn of the turbo forms. For those of you who are not aware of this, in 2015 Spring wave, there was a revision of how forms were loaded, called the turbo forms. After this version there is a setting in the first tab of System Setting where you can turn on "Legacy form rendering" if you want to go back to the old rendering method.

However, we noticed some other strange errors, for instance bool fields with Yes/No values with No as default, were shown as "False" when the form was in create state. Once the form had been saved this error went away.

Another error we saw was that if you tried to save emails, (not send them), you got an error message. The email got saved anyway, but you got a nasty message.

However, if we switched back to turbo forms, both this email error and the bool-error disapeared. Hence, it seems the legacy form controls are not nearly as well quality tested as the turbo form versions so I would strongly suggest that you do not use them unless you have no other option, and then try to move away from them as soon as possible.

So, trying to stick to my paradigm for troubleshooting; "Find where the error is first, then what the error is" - I wanted to go back to the case entity and find out why the turbo forms didn't work.

Rickard and I, who were troubleshooting this together, enabled the dev-mode in IE (pressing F12, if you don't know it) and opened a case. The odd thing was that the point where it broke was in one of Microsoft's functions. I have been unable to recreate the error now so I cannot show it. And after some nitty gritty debugging in IE, we found that the script seemed to be missing "productid" and "primarycontactid" or in laymans terms, Product and Contact.

So, I added them to the case form, and magic! It worked.

But the story doesn't end there. As I thought that this might be a good blog article and I wanted to recreate the error to have as a screendump, I removed the fields again... and mark my surprise when the form still worked... twilightzone.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Getting started with AppDesigner

During the CRM UG Summit I was approached in the Medic booth by two nice guys from Microsoft  who asked me if they could show me and get my opinion on a new feature of Dynamics 365. It was the AppDesigner. There had been so much hype around a lot of the other stuff (editable grids, editable grids, editable grids) that I hadn't noticed this and when they showed it and I had time to think about it I recognized that it is really a cool and useful feature that I think can do a lot of good in the system.

One of the things I try to evangelize about is to slim the system down, not "dumb it down" but make it slim, and efficient to what you are trying to do. Hence not include a lot of unnecessary stuff. The AppDesigner is excellent for this, it creates subsets of Dynamics 365 (not operations/financials) into what are called apps. With their own sitemaps, view sets, form sets, business process flow sets, chart sets.

I made another film about this, on how to enable and get going with it. Why not watch it?


Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Video - How to enable editable grids

So, time to try something new. I recorded a small screencast with SnagIt to show how easy it is to enable the awsome new feature Editable grids in Dynamics 365. So, please have a look and let me know what you think!


And yes, I know I keep saying CRM, and Dynamics CRM. I have been working with this product for more than 11 years now. It's going to take some time for this old dog to sit.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Dynamics 365 is up!

It is here!

I just spun up a trial of Dynamics 365! So do it yourself and go check out all the awsome cool functionality everyone has been talking about!

For now, this is news enough!


Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Monday, October 24, 2016

Extending Max amount of components on dashboards only for onprem

Some of you might have found some sites like this https://msdynamicscrmblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/how-to-change-the-dashboardsettings-of-maximum-controls-limit-in-dynamics-crm20112013/
one:
I, Soupeurfaive, via Wikimedia Commons

or even the original MSDN or Technet sites regarding how to be able to change the maximum amount of components on a dashboard from the maximum of 6 to for instance 8 using PowerShell.

On the MSDN and Technet pages there are some default CRM version text in the header and footer but make no misstake, you can only do this change in a CRM onprem environment where you are the deployment admin.

As the change is deployment wide and you need to have deployment administrator access rights, you are also extremely unlikely (unless you have a dedicated Online environment) to get that set.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Dynamics 365 and the hopes for the Common Data Model

As many of you probably have heard Dynamics CRM will as of Nov 1 2016 be part of Dynamics 365 in a commendable push from Microsoft to bring the Dynamics products closer together. This is partly a branding thing as the products themselves, as Dynamics CRM, will still be the same product from a technical perspective, at least in the Enterprise Edition, (little is known of the Business Edition) and partly a technical concept as they are introducing something called the Common Data Model which is canonical data model (unified data model) to which all "Apps" are integrated to automatically. This is what I wanted to discuss some.

This all sounds great, and I will admit that I havn't had time to fiddle with it yet, but I have had the pleasure of working with quite a few integration projects between CRM and ERP. And that is not easy, even if you do have a ready made point-to-point integration. So I would just like to make a few points that I hope you do consider before switching it on and hoping it will solve all your issues.

1. Addresses in ERP and CRM are typically not the same. In ERP the addresses that are needed can typically be invoicing address and delivery address, while in CRM the most important addresses are visiting address and postal address. If you naivly presume these to be the same the effects can be dramatic and sometime even catastrophic. I friend of mine, Peter Björkmarker, told me a story of a company integrated just like this, and as CRM was set as the customer data master, it overwrote all invoice addresses in the ERP system with visiting addresses. Next month, all invoices which were sent out were automatically, without anyone noticing sent out to the wrong address, hence nobody paid them. The company got into an accute cashflow problem and almost filed for bankcrupcy. So this is no joke.

2. Ready built integration are usually on a technical level, but you expect it to work on a business level. Integration technology is usually about moving data, but just having the data in the other system doesn't always DO anything. An example is if you have a boolean field on the customer in the ERP where the financial people can block the customer from further business if they havn't payed their invoices. So you integrate this field to CRM and can now see it on the account form. But without any additional logic in CRM it will still be possible to create opportunities, quotes and orders. Maybe not what you would like.

3. Data structures are different. My colleague Rickard Norström, whose blog you can find in the list to the right, was part of a CRM project which integrated to Dyn AX. One of their issues was the AX address data structure. An address record in AX can be used by both an account and a contact, And I think even several accounts. When this address is changed, of course this is seen in all affected places. As this is very different from the customeraddress built in logic in CRM they had to create their own new address entity to solve this. Other typical areas where there are large differences are in the logic of setting prices on opps/quotes/order. As you can expect, a system like AX with MPC and many other deep links into costs can of course use that as a base for pricing, something that is very hard for CRM. It also has more complex or just different ways of handling pricelists. I was working with an iScala integration and iScala for instance can have a current price in a pricelist and a comming price with a specified date on which the new price will be enforced. However, no event in the system will trigger at that time. Customer specific pricelists are also something that occur, not advisable but existing especially for larger customer accounts.

4. Centralized integration architecture. The Common Data Model sounds great but it only handles two of the components in the Business system infrastructure. If you for instance are a Telco the amount of business systems will be a lot more, billing systems, provisioning system, logistic systems, product configurators, etc. Banks are also complex worlds. Many of these have tried to consolidate their integrations to integration hub technologies like WebSphere or BizTalk and if done properly they will of course have their company defined canonical data model. It would be interesting to see the story of how the Common Data Model works together with this. It probably can by shuffeling data using Logic Apps to and from the CDM, but in essence you will have two hubs to orcestrate. Another option is of course to use the CDM as the central hub for all information, as long as that is extendable and doable. So, from this perspective, the main issue is probably, if we have 8 systems connected to our existing integration hub, is it plausible to use the CDM or do we manually integrate anyway directly to each application?

To conclude, I think the CDM will be a good tool but I will keep my expectation to a reasonable level and I recommend you do this too. Do not think it will make your highly customized CRM and AX automatically integrate all data and make it work from a business perspective, that would simply be too increadible. If they manage that, I will buy the entire team building CDM a beer (or similar).

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Monday, September 12, 2016

xRMVirtual Presentation

By Charlotte S H Jensen - Flickr: Maskiner på Brede Værk, CC BY-SA 2.0,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20868496
Ever thought about the fact that there nowdays are so many ways that you can create logic in CRM?
Or did you start with callouts in CRM 3 and then learnt plugins in CRM 4 and have stuck with those, I mean, why change?

If you are interested in discussing this and listening on my views, join me on September the 27:th at 9:00 PST/18:00 CET when I will be presenting on xRMVirtual on this topic.

Hope to see you there!

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Monday, June 13, 2016

Microsoft + LinkedIn == True

Todays biggest news in the Microsoft sphere is of course that Microsoft is to aquire LinkedIn for the
astronomical sum of $26.2 billion. This is hopefully great news for us in the Dynamics CRM world as LinkedIn have during the last couple of years been very protective of their data by not opening up, even with payed subscriptions, their API:s for integrations.

Imagine how cool CRM married with LinkedIn data looped through Azure ML would be when trying to find out how to get a good entry point on a opportunity. And that's just the beginning. Let's see what Microsoft does with this. They have a few dollors of synergy to win back.

http://news.microsoft.com/2016/06/13/microsoft-to-acquire-linkedin/#sm.000005b8xzynywdhe10mp9ndvkv8e


Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Sunday, June 12, 2016

New colleague blogging!

Sofia Sparr
I love when the community grows. I was recently at eXtreme CRM in Warsaw and talked a lot to
people about trying to share to the community and of course this is also something I advocate a lot to the people I work closest with.

My close colleague Rickard Norström has a popular blog on which he shares some of his insights from his work and now another colleague has chosen to join the merry gang of bloggers at CRM-Konsulterna, something that I of course have to tell the world about.

Her name is Sofia Sparr and she is a technical application consultant who also does project management. She focuses on marketing areas in our company, but will of course work with CRM in general as well. Due to this fact, she is certified in ClickDimensions, and will share some of her insights in that product and how it works in real life with you. Make sure you head over to her blog and check it out! Sofia's Blog

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Which browsers are actually supported?

I sometimes get people complaining to me that CRM doesn't work in Firefox. What i usually ask them when I hear this if they are running Mac, which of course is the reason why it isn't working. 

The simple fact is that Firefox isn't supported for Mac. The only supported browser for Mac OS X is Safari. And Safari isn't supported for PC.
Below is a simple matrix showing the support matrix for the browsers (for CRM 2016).


Windows 7
Windows 8/8.1
Windows 10
Mac OS X
IPad
Google Nexus 10 Tablet
IE 10






IE 11






Edge






Firefox






Chrome






Safari






Green = Supported, Red = Not supported, Grey = Not applicable

However, do note that there is a difference between "not working" and "not supported". The latter just means that you can't open a support case with Microsoft and complain that CRM looks weird in some of the non supported combinations described above.

So why is this? Are Microsoft just lazy? No, Just like everyone else, they have a limited amount of time, money and resources. So, they can't test all possible combinations unless the price of Dynamics CRM were to go through the roof, and I think we all agree that we prefer it not to.

Do refer to the official documentation from Microsoft on what is supported for more detailed information.


Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Tips when migrating using Excel

The Excel import functionality in Dynamics CRM is quite good. Version 7.1 (2015 Spring Wave) introduced some new features, like finally being able to work with xlsx-files which helps out a lot.

Generally we recommend using ETL-tools like our favorite KingswaySoft in SSIS, and sometimes the only way to migrate really complex data is to write your own code, but it usually isn't necessary (if you disagree, please leave a comment below!).

However, both ETL and especially code, takes some training to get going with and some of our customers and others I have spoke to have expressed a will to handle migration themselves which makes the Excel import the best candidate to work with as most people have experience with Excel.

First of all, my recommendation is to complete the customizations in the target system. That way, when you download the Import templates, you will get all the fields that are shown on the "standard" (fallback) form.


Excel Account Import Template (Swedish) from CRM 2016
As of CRM 2015 Spring wave (7.1) the Excel import template will be formatted as a excel table, which makes it easier to work with, I think.

During the work with migration of data, you can correct data in one of three places.
1. In the source system.
2. In the Excel files while transfering it.
3. In the target system/after migration

Typically the time when the live migration needs to be done, is as short as possible. As everyone needs to stop working in the old system, migration needs to be done, and then everyone can work in the new system. Hence it is typically done during evenings, nights or weekends, depending on which type of business you are in.

Due to this, you need to make sure that when you are doing the real live migration, you need to make sure that it will be as controlled and as smooth as possible. This requires you to first set up the migration and then test it properly. Dry runs are therefore a must unless you are CRM Rambo.

If you plan steps in the migration in the above described stage (2) - during the transfer, you will need to re-do these every time you do a dry run and when you do the live migration. If possible to change the data in the source system instead, for instance remove duplicates, you reduce risk and speed up the migration process.

Generally it is a really good idea to try to clean up you data before migrating it. Many are the CRM system owners who have understood quite a lot about how their users actually use the system, when the are to migrate the data and really start digging their head into it.

Some of the common problems when migrating with Excel are:
  • Complicated to handle GUIDs - ETL tools often have ways to migrate the GUID from a source system, very useful if moving from CRM Onprem to CRM Online.
  • Cannot handle updates/upserts easily. Can however upload several files at once instead. For instance, contacts have Parent accounts, and Accounts have Primary Contacts. Just make a zip with both xlsx-files and upload. CRM will figure out that they are interdependant.
  • Duplicates. Duplicates. Duplicates. So you switched off the duplicate detection for accounts and thought you'd be fine? Well, not so much, lookup fields to account, for instance, by default, will use the primary field, which is "name" and if you have several accounts with the same name, the import function will not know which to select and you will get an error. Typical fields where this is a problem are:
    • Contact - Parent Customer / Company (pointing to account)
    • Opportunity - Potential Customer / Account (pointing to account)
    • Opportunity - Contact
    • Account - Primary Contact
    • Account - Originating Lead
    • Contact - Originating Lead
    • Opportunity - Originating Lead
  • Only active? Are you only going to import active records? Will that work? Do active records have relationships to inactive records? For instance, you might have an active account that has an inactive primary contact. Or active accounts with inactive parent accounts. If only moving the active accounts and active contacts, the import will fail as the target system will not find the primary contact.
  • Activities. The activity parties, in other words the "to", "cc", "bcc", "required", "optional" etc. fields on activities are handled by a rather complex mapping entity called activity party. There is some support for migrating this with Excel but it is not very easy, so if you do have a lot of activities to migrate, I would strongly recommend using an ETL tool with support for activities.
  • If you add a column to the CRM 2016 Excel Template, despite having the Display name in CRM, it will not be automatically mapped like the other columns as there is underlying data to handle it. It is no big issue as the import mechanism usually interprets this correctly anyway. Do note that the Display name mapping is case sensitive and CRM does allow for duplicates in fields having the same Display name, but that doesn't make importing easier.
Some tricks that I use
  • Generate an import template for the entity at hand, let's say account from the target system, then remove all the columns you don't want to import. Remove the entire column. Save this. Verify the template by filling in one or two rows by hand and importing. Make sure that the lookups match data in the system.
  • Export data from the source system in the same order to match the import template, if possible, into Excel. Then, verify that all columns are identical (ie. picklist are the same etc.) and then copy-as-values from the source excel sheet to the target excel sheet without the header columns.
  • Verify that the data in the target excel sheet is correct, that for instance there are cities in the city column, not street names.
  • Then import the data into CRM. The first couple of times you will get errors. If you don't you are very very lucky. Migrating data is complicated, as data is seldom clean and well ordered. So, when it is done, go to the imports section in CRM and go through the errors and try to understand what it is trying to say. Typically a specific lookup cannot be found or it has multiple values. My suggestion is to fix it in the source data (1 in the list above) and not try to do it in the Excel sheet (2). Also plan for making several test runs of migration. Write down the steps you need to do when doing it live, so you have your plan set.
  • When importing data with lookups to data where there are lot's of duplicates in the primary field, do note that you can change the mapping of the lookup field so that it mapps not on the primary field but on some other field instead. For instance, if there are several accounts with the same name but all accounts have different account numbers, you can use account number to indicate parent customer on a contact instead and then change the mapping when importing.
  • Make sure that if you do change data in Excel and use formulas, copy and paste-as-values back to the cells/columns as the import does not support formulas. (not sure if the new CRM 2015 Spring Wave/2016 does, havn't tested, but I wouldn't provoke it.)
  • All picklist values need to exist. Using the import templates is a good tool here as they include the possible values. But you can paste incorrect data into the cells anyway and then import it where you will get errors on the rows with the incorrect data.
  • Decide what is a good enough result before. Is 99% good enough? That would mean that if you have 100 000 accounts, 1000 accounts are not imported... so maybe that is not good enough. Remember Pareto's law, that the last 20% take 80% of the work. So fixing the last 1% can be a real pain, why it is sometimes easier just do fix it manually after import.
  • Zip files with inter-dependencies. Like account-contact.
  • You can increase the max file upload size. but the max size for a file after uncompression is still 20 MB, if I am not mistaken. This means that you need to think about how you upload your data if you have large amounts of data. ETL tools might be a better option here as well.
  • After getting errors and getting an import of let's say 50%, instead of trying fix the last 50% and importing those, I recommend deleting all and going back from the start. As you need to plan for doing many trial runs before doing a live migration, this is the only way to make sure that you get the source data better and better.
If you have done your own imports and migrations with Excel, I am sure you have some tips of your own, please share them below! I do moderate all comments to avoid spam.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se

Monday, December 21, 2015

Follow up to 10 Tips on success when implementing/designing CRM

The previous article on 10 tips for success when designing solutions when implementing CRM Solutions was very well received by many of you! It is always heart warming and encouraging to know that the work put into the blog is appreciated.

Last week we did an CRM UG Encore on this subject, so if you want to see this presentation on the net you can do so by viewing the recording here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/2176751919296428290

Marcus Erlandsson at CRMRocks (https://www.facebook.com/crmrocks) also had a nice chat with me on the subject and I must say that the discussion we had really gave it something extra. If you like the subject, listen to all of it, and do miss the other nice stuff Marcus has done.

http://crmrocks.com/?p=329

I'm in the middle of trying to move some AD:s, not my cup of coffe, but someone gotta do it, and it's too close to x-mas to get help. Wish me luck... not sure I will be able to blog before christmas so Merry Christmas everyone!

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, Founder and CTO at CRM-konsulterna AB
www.crmkonsulterna.se