Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Server side Sync Trouble shooting

I have been working with a Proof-of-concept for the lates couple of Days and have been setting up the server side sync for a CRM on-premise system. First of all I would just like to share that it is a really nice new feature, I really like the fact that we now can have an option to not have to use the email router. With the new spring release, it will also be available for CRM Online, but only CRM-Online to Exchange Online (O365) not hybrid Environments (ex. CRM Online to Exchange on-premise or vice versa).

However, I did run into some issues as none of the emails that I sent to the email account connected to the queue showed up in the queue.

The Server Sync is handled by the MSCRMAsyncService and if you switch on logging in CRM (which can be done using adding the registry key "TraceEnabled" and setting it to 1 or using Power Shell)  you will get the logging of the server sync in the async tracing loggs. It turned out that I had a missmatch in email addresses which CRM apparently didn't like and you can only have one email address for a queue, but it was easily fixed once I knew the problem. I just wonder how I would troubleshoot this if I got this in CRM Online... hopefully MSFT will be adding additional logging to the server sync functionality.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Recording of data modeling session

Today, well soon yesterday, I held the presentation for www.XrmVirtual.com on Data modeling in Dynamics
CRM. It is a bit hard to know if people liked it but some of the comments were very positive so I think it was appreciated.

If you were unable to attend, you can find the recording here: http://t.co/69AMqzQPUW and if you have/had any questions regarding this, please feel free to use the comments below to ask these. Do note that I moderate all comments to avoid getting spam, why it may take some time until your comment is published.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Saturday, March 08, 2014

XrmVirtual Presentation on Tuesday

On Tuesday I am doing my first presentation for www.xrmvirtual.com. The presentation will be on data modeling in Dynamics CRM and I will be discussing general aspects of this and also specific Dynamics CRM aspects that are important to consider when modeling data.

Areas that I will be discussing are Concept exploration and definition and how these relate to entity maps. Some of the peculiar aspects of Dynamics CRM that you need to take into consideration when modeling data. I have one hour and I am sure I will fill it to the brim. If not, make sure to prepare any questions. I will post a link to the recording of the presentation when it is done here and any questions on the subject can of course be discussed here as well.

It is scheduled to be held on Tuesday the 11:th of march at 12:00 EST / 17:00 CET. A recording will be made available later if you are unable to join live.

To join, please use this LiveMeeting link: https://www.livemeeting.com/cc/usergroups/join?id=PPQ8P9&role=attend

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Monday, February 10, 2014

Deployment types

The Power of Choice has for a long time been a slogan for the deployment options for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and I agree, I Think that all the different options for suppling a Customer with Microsoft Dynamics CRM are a great unique advantage that this CRM system compared to other CRM system which typically can only be gotten in one of the flavors. In this post I will try to discuss the different options, what I Think are the pros and cons of the each version. Do note that I will be discussion more than 3, as the SPLA option can be twisted into several subsets.

I will admit before even writing further, that the list below will be incomplete as there are so many different perspectives that can be taken when analysing this.

CRM Online
Microsoft CRM Online is now probably the most common platform for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It is in essence Microsoft Dynamics CRM hosted by Microsoft provisioned using the Office 365 billing portal (yes, there are still some old Microsoft Id/LiveID/CTP orgs left, but not for long). Microsoft have promised a release cadance of new features of at least once every 6 months.

- Very Quick startup
- 30 day trial that can be converted to full
- No need of any server hardware
- No up-front costs (CAPEX)
- High reliability
- Very common platform - ease of use for 3:rd party Products
- Free service support, within limits
- Multiinstance (1 free if more than 25 users)
- Can be connected to Federated AD
- Competitive pricing, especially for small to medium organizations

- Limited space (approx 100 GB) if not special arrangements.
- Cannot decide where data will be located
- Limited configuration options - ex. collation settings
- No SQL access
- Delivery organization is distant from Customer
- Forced updates, can be postponed up to max 90 Days
- Difficult to integrate to due to difficulty of getting  reliable outgoing IP
- Not available in all geographies of the World
- Complicated/impossible to set up local development Environments with identical features

SPLA Shared Environment (Partner Hosted)
SPLA Shared Environment is very similar to CRM Online with the difference that the hosting is not done by Microsoft but by Another Microsoft partner. The Customer buys Dynamics CRM as a service directly from the partner. However, there is sometimes a third party involved as well, the CRM Reseller, which is the Microsoft partner that was responsible for making the sales. It is based on the on-premise why it will not have all the latest features as the on-premise release cadence is about once per year.

- Quick startup. Provisioning depending on partner. Not as fast as CRM Online.
- Delivery closer to Customer
- No limitations on database size
- Updates often not "bleeding edge" to ensure stability
- Easier to integrate with than CRM Online due to known delivery parameters
- Full configurations options.
- Usually no up-front costs. (No CAPEX)
- Easy to scale users on a month-to-month basis
- A Service Access License (SAL), gives user acccess to any number of instances. How this is faced to Customer is up to SPLA partner.
- Backup/Restore features can be used in database with manual help of SPLA partner

- Forced updates with less postponing functionality than CRM Online
- SQL Access often not possible
- New features will not be available as quickly as for CRM Online
- Complex relationship can cause problems
- CRM reseller will very seldom be getting the recognition for sold seats for SPLA due to a very ineffective process from Microsoft

SPLA Dedicated Environemnt with VPN
The most common way of SPLA Dynamics CRM delivery is for many organizations to share one large deployment. However, an alternative to a normal on-premise may also be a dedicated SPLA Dynamics CRM Server with a VPN link to the Customers site to connect to their AD. This way the Customer can have a "behind the firewall" CRM while still getting the advantage of an OPEX solution, i.e. not having to pay for servers, maintainence, full license fees etc. It is otherwise very similar to an on-premise solution as a dedicated server has to be installed for the Customer and only the infrastructure level of resource sharing, not CRM deployment level will be applicable.

- More OPEX based set-up than standard on-premise but with almost similar flexibility of on-premise.
- Easy to scale users on a month-to-month basis
- Can utilize the full Resources of a large service providers back-end systems, with virtual server redundancy etc. which might not be available at the Customers site.
- SQL Access
- No limit on data
- A Service Access License (SAL), gives user acccess to any number of instances
- Backup/Restore features can be used in database

- Cannot be used in all businesses due to policies of data storage etc.
- Might not be available at all CRM Hosting partners
- Due to SPLA licensing agreement, the Customer's personell cannot have administrator access to the SPLA licensed servers.
- Complex relationsship can cause problems
- CRM reseller will very seldom be getting the recognition for sold seats for SPLA due to a very ineffective process from Microsoft
- Longer startup. Installation, configuration etc.

SPLA In-sourcing
SPLA In-sourcing is when the SPLA outsourcer prepares an entire server or servers and puts these inside the Customer site and hosts the service from there. This might seem a bit odd but is fully doable, but must be seen as just this, a service provider from the inside, not a Customer server with an alternative license agreement. The Customer is not allowed to have any adminstrator access on this server.

- OPEX based license delivery
- Easy to scale users on a month-to-month basis
- SQL Access
- No limit on data
- A Service Access License (SAL), gives user acccess to any number of instances
- Can have full access to customers back-end systems
- Backup/Restore features can be used in database

- Can be hard to manage for CRM-reseller/SPLA-Admin due to accessability issues
- CRM reseller need tight relationsship with SPLA-partner to deliver
- Complex relationship can cause problems
- CRM reseller will very seldom be getting the recognition for sold seats for SPLA due to a very ineffective process from Microsoft
- Longer startup. Installation, configuration etc.

The On-premise CRM licensing/deployment type is the most common for larger organizations. It means that the Customer buys their own license from the CRM reseller or directly from Microsoft using their existing purchasing channels in which case the CRM reseller will get a kick-back.
The CRM-Server will be installed in the companie's server environment.

- Different licensing options available, from boxed licenses, volume licensing with both leasing and subscription licensing to let the Customer choose CAPEX or OPEX focus as they see fit.
- Each Client Access License (CAL) can be used for all instances and servers.
- Full SQL Access
- Backup/Restore features can be used in database
- Can have full access to companies back-end systems

- Each server will need a separate server license, which can result in substantial costs when creating load balanced Environments, scaled out environements and then replicating this setup in Q/A and test deployments.
- Licensing not as dynamic as SPLA in changing number of users. Usually volume licensing checking user Count every year. Better fit for large organization.
- Longer startup. Installation, configuration etc.
- Will not be automatically pushed to next version like Online, risk of being "left behind" - there are still CRM 4.0 On-premise systems around where companies have not gotten around to upgrading. No partner to push either.

A final note
Do note that these are some of my personal reflections on the pros and cons of each of these deployment options and I am sure that you can come up with a couple of more and if you do, please share those in the comments below. I do get quite a lot of spam so I have moderation switched on, but if your comment is legit, I will allow it. I might also have gotten something wrong, and if I did, please let me know as soon as possible, so that I can get that fixed!

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Sunday, February 09, 2014

First Techie After Work in 2014

It's time again for Techie After Work! So if you are a Dyn CRM Techie and Work or live Close to Stockholm, make sure to head over to Scandic Anglais on Feb 27:th at 5 pm where we'll have a couple of beers and discuss CRM mobility, apps and custom built UI:s. As usual Alan Varcoe (Cinteros), Peter Björkmarker (Intuni) and myself will be hosting the event together with Microsoft.

It will also be a great time to meet the new CRM Partner Technology Strategist Elin Ståhl, so make sure you book  it in you calendar, the previous events have been very popular and it is a great way to get to know your techie peers.

And remember, if you are not a techie, you are not welcome. :)

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Monday, November 25, 2013

Our website down - vulnerabilities of online services

As some of you might have noticed, my Company website is at the time of Writing this currently down. Well, it isn't actually down, you just cannot reach it, as Microsoft moved it to Another server and the DNS's don't match any longer. We are working to get it rectified as soon as possible.

This does, however, show an inherent weakness in the online delivery model, as the service provider might choose to move the service and if you are not 100% in sync with how that is delivered and to be integrated with, you risk a stop in the services.

This was also evident, a few week ago when a client of mine who uses CRM Online with an integration to an on-premise integration had a sudden stop in the entire integration between the two systems. After some intense troubleshooting, we found that the source of the error was a timeshift of 9 minutes between the on-premise and online services rendering the SSL links invalid, why all Connections broke. After correcting the timeshift, it all started working.

Keep this in mind when working with online services.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bugs and suggestions

What might be unknown to many CRM people is that Microsoft has a tool for managing bugs and suggestions called Connect. This can be found on connect.microsoft.com. So if you have any suggestions on how you think CRM should be enhanced, don't keep it to your self, add it to connect, and tell your friends, blog about it. After you have added a suggestion, other people can vote on an item and the more votes and item gets, the more attention Microsoft will give it.

I added two suggestions today, so feel free to go in and vote!

First, I think it would be a good idea to be able to supportedly change the logo in the left hand corner. This is done by companies today in an unsupported way which of course is bad, so it would be better to do enable a supported way to do it. Not that it is something I generally encourage, but many companies find this important.

I also think that the logic when using multiple forms of the latest form being used, to be the defaulted the next time a record of the entity is opened often is not what is required, why a default form for each role per entity would be very good.

Connect is also the Tools which is used for bugs during the TAP and beta programs if you are part of these.

I am currently in Bellevue close to Seattle on the MVP Summit, meeting the other MVP:s and the CRM Product team which is great! Joel Lindstrom and I held a presentation to the Product team today and they are a great crowd who are really interested in listening to our opinions. We are lucky to have them and they are really working hard to give us an excellent Product so giving them good input on things we feel the Product can be enhanced, is really a just doing our part of the development. It is easy to complain about something not being as you would like it to, but try to be constructive and formulate that into a suggestion instead and register it on connect and you may get it. Do keep in mind that they have a lot of things to try to triage and it might take some time, but if they don't know, you might never get it.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Friday, November 15, 2013

CRM User Group in Sweden

When users of CRM from different companies and organizations meet and talk about their CRM systems, it is often very interesting to hear the conversations and they usually end up getting lots of new ideas about what they can do with their CRM system. Their partner might also have suggested some of these Changes but the partner is not perceived to be fully objective from the users perspective why they are often more open to listen to other CRM users.

This is why User Groups are such a good idea. They bring great value to the companies that have invested in CRM, by creating a forum where they can discuss common issues with other users or just get a better understanding of how other users have chosen to implement CRM.

For partners this is also a great idea, to get their customers, the users of their CRM systems to engage in the User Groups will increase their interest in CRM as they will see what else can be done with the system.

As there is a global CRM User Group called CRMUG (www.crmug.com) and all MVP:s are granted a free membership and I also noted that there was no local chapter here in Sweden, I contacted them and a friend of mine, Fredrik Neiderud at TeraCom Group who used to be a CRM Consultant but now has changed sides represents the user side. We decided to start the Swedish chapter of CRMUG and have now also got the support of Microsoft representative Fredrik Wolbe. As I am only part of CRMUG as an MVP, and CRMUG is supposed to be by users for users, Fredrik will be the chairman of the chapter.

We have also booked the first meeting to be on December the 11:th 3 pm at Microsoft in Akalla outside Stockholm. If you would like to join us please sign up as a member on www.crmug.com and then register your attendance on this page: http://www.crmug.com/events/crmugsweden121113?date=2013-12. Do note that the time on the site is in East coast time and not CET why it might be a bit off. I will be having a presentation on CRM 2013 and there will be a round table on upgrading to CRM 2013. We will of course also talk about the future of CRM UG in Sweden.

There are several different membership options, if you are a CRM user, there is a free basic membership that is required for attending the meeting.

I hope we can all help in creating a vibrant user community in Sweden that will boost our Dynamics CRM usage!

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mobile Client App (MoCA) on non-english CRM 2013

The Mobile Client App (MoCA) that Microsoft have made as part of the CRM 2013 release is really nice but it is still an early version so to get it up and running on a non-English CRM here is what you need to do. As I Work in Swedish, this is based on my experiences in Swedish and you might have different experiences in other languages.

Install MoCA
First of all, the Store in Windows 8 is by default set to only showing Apps in your local language, as the MoCA hasn't been released in Swedish, in my case, I have to change this.

To do this, open the Marketplace from the Tiles-screens, and swipe from the right or put your mouse on the Lower right hand corner. Select settings (or what ever it is called in your language).

You should now see a screen that looks something like this, but in you language:
Store settings - make sure the one about finding apps in your language is set to "No"
There should be two selectors, one with the caption saying something like
  1. Make finding apps in your language easier
  2. Make it easier to find apps which aid disabilities
Make sure that the first one is set to "No".

After this, click on the back-Arrow in the top left-hand corner.

You should now be back in the Store. Just type the following text (without citation marks):
"Microsoft Dynamics CRM" and press enter.

You should now see a list of Apps and the first one should be the right one, or otherwise it should be in the list any way. It looks like this:

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile Client App (MoCA)
Now, all you have to do is install the app.
Add English Language
What I noted was the that MoCA client will not work if you try to connect it to a Swedish version of CRM Online unless you first enable English in it. Hence this is what we have to do.
If you are running an On-premise, you will have to install the English MUI-pack/language pack and you will also have to configure your CRM to be Internet Facing (IFD) which I will not go into in this article but is described in the implementation guide in great depth.
Before continuing with configuring the MoCA, go back to your CRM and enable English. This is done by going to Settings->Administration->Languages. Select English and then press "Use".
A spinner will show and it will take some time until the language has been provisioned for the organization.
Adding English to the CRM Organization
Configure MoCA
When English has been added, the MoCA can be configured. It will be in English but it will at least work. Let's hope Microsoft will probably release MoCA in other languages soon.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Saturday, October 26, 2013

New features of CRM 2013 Online and now in Swedish!

Just provisioned a CRM Online with Swedish settings and if you had not noticed it before, you will now be getting the new and beautiful CRM 2013 and in Swedish. With the previous releases we had to wait for a month or two, but not this time.

Main dashboard of CRM 2013 - I guess asking for demo data in Swedish would be stretching it

For those of you who have not had the time to look that much into CRM 2013, there are some main areas that you should notice.

1. New navigation. The navigation has moved from the left hand side to the top, and folds out. I Think this is great as it removes a lot of the clutter on the screen an frees a lot of real estate. From a more subjective perspective it also makes the application be perceived as simpler to use which will increase user adoption.

The new navigation on Dynamics CRM 2013 - expands from the top
2. Flat browsing. Almost all pop-up windows have been removed. This is a huge change, and some might be scared now and wonder how am I going to be able to compare to accounts, not to worry, just press the right button and select "Open in new Window" and it will open in a separate window, but in general everything will happen in the same window. This is also a huge plus when using the system on a tablet.

Flat browsing in CRM 2013 - Ex. when adding a phone call in an account, this is done in a small inline window.
3. Auto save. Previously, in CRM 2011 and earlier versions, users were required to save each form explicitly, the data inputted was not "sticky". This has now changed and the data inputted will now remain as inputted without any need for pressing save buttons from the users. I think this is a great feature as it makes the use of the application faster and easier, however, for users coming from CRM 2011, you do have to be a bit aware as the system does behave a bit different in this perspective. For example, if you open an account, check which values exist in a picklist/dropdown and just happen to pick one and then move to some other part of the system, you selection has been saved. This was not the case in earlier versions.

4. Processes driven UI. This is really a great feature of CRM. It allows you to see where in a processes you are. This can be any process which can span across several different entities. There are two processes included from the beginning, one for Lead-Opportunity and one for Case. The processes are of course customizable and can be put into solutions (solution aware).

Processed driven UI as seen in the Lead entity. When qualified, the process will continue in the opportunity entity.

There are of course heaps of other new features around, including a mobile client MoCA, that is now included in the CRM license, but I think these features are among the most outstanding additions to the system. We did already see a preview of some of these in Polaris, but they were very limited at that time. And as Always, this is a brand new version of an extremely dynamic product, if Microsoft have missed getting a corner right, report it on Microsoft connect, ask your friends to vote for it and have faith that it will be rectified, after all, Rome was not built in a day, and I do love Dynamics CRM a whole lot more than Rome!

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Friday, September 13, 2013

Interview with Markus Erlandsson

Yesterday I was interviewed by Markus Erlandsson who has just started up a new blog called CRM Rocks which is an audio-blog, which is quite uncommon in the Dynamics CRM Community.

He asked me if I would consent to do an interview, I thought it was an interesting new take and I am also a big fan of anybody trying to bring value to the Dynamics Community. It doesn't have to be bleeding edge or include 5000 lines of C# code to be good, there is good use for blogs and other content of a lighter level as well.

Markus' initiative with his new audio blog brings a personal side to the CRM Community and I hope he gets to interview some of the other interesting personalities around so if he asks you, please try to make time, it's for the good of the Community!

I would also like to wish Markus the best of luck with his new blog. Give it your best, and be persistant!

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Friday, September 06, 2013

Single most important thing when implementing CRM?

Many people often ask me, "what is the most important thing to think about when implementing CRM?"

Some might think that getting the right features in place or having the coolest colours is the most important thing or maybe to have it integrated with the ERP system. This is not my belief, I think it is all about making a system that your users love to use. This might sound a bit strange coming from a Tech junkie like myself but there is really sound logic behind it.

Many other systems, like ERP-system (Dynamics AX, SAP etc.) require their users to use them. If they don't they cannot do their job. However, when working with CRM systems, this is usually not the case. There are usually other ways of recording customer information for your own purposes, like in Excel, Word, OneNote or in an old fashioned notebook with a pen.

The number of companies that have tried to force users to use the CRM system by pain or gain methods have almost always failed. If you tell your salespeople that if they don't enter their won opportunities into the CRM system, they won't get any bonuses, usually results in a system that has a huge rise in opporunties with really short start-to-end time and no lost opportunities. If you then try to figure out the ratio the the Company has between sent quotes and won quotes, you will get very strange numbers. The data in the CRM system will be very hard to use or unusable as it only represents a small portion of the real world data.

However, if you make the CRM system so good, that all the users, really see their own performance increase by using the system, not decrease their performance, they will want to use the CRM system for their own purposes, and let's face it, people in general are a bit egocentric and salespeople are even more so.

As many people really like using Excel for their own productivity, keeping track of things, I like to put it to the point, the CRM system, has to make each user more productive than Excel, that is what we are combating. If we do not succeed, they will just go back to using Excel again, and the entire investment is lost.

And if you hadn't thought about it, this has been the driving thought behind Microsoft Dynamics CRM since version 1.2 which has now been crystalized into making the users love CRM.

So, let's spread the passion! CRM 2013 is soon here and it will blow your mind! (not to talk about the competition's :))

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Monday, July 01, 2013

MVP Renewal

First of July might mean different things to different people. For MVP:s the first Award you get, sets you the phase (beginning of a quarter). As I got mine on the first of July 2012, my nerves we on high today.

When I received my first MVP Award, it arrived in my inbox at about 11 am CET. Hence I naturally was looking very keenly in my inbox at that time, and the following hours.

For those of you not very familiar with the process, if you are awarded, you are sent a letter, however, if you are not renewed, you will be sent nothing. No "you-will-not-be-an-MVP-any-more-email" or similar. You will just not get anything. On top of this, the MVP Award emails are notorious for getting stuck in spam filters, so you had better keep checking there too.

Hence, I was checking my inbox, and my spam-inbox, every 5 minutes, or every 3 minutes, or maybe it was every minute to see if I got any email. But nothing, I got some leads, some new customers, someone wanted to come worked at my Company, someone wanted to send me huge amounts of Money, who cared, no MVP letter.

The time reached 3 pm CET. They say that you can sometimes see the nerves on the outside of someones skin, well, that wasn't the case anymore, my nerves had crept out like Trichinella worms, made a nest in a nearby tree, fallen down, been eaten by a hungry panda and then shot by a crazy Russian on killing Spree. Close enough.

At about 4 CET, I managed to rewire my brain (like T2 in Terminator) and remembered that I could check the MVP website. Which I did and my surprise was palatable, this is what I saw:

Now most of you might have noticed the really stretched image of me or the fact that I look almost bold (which I am on the front part of my head). But what I noticed was the small "2" just below the Picture where it says "Awards since 2012". Hurray! I had been renewed! But why hadn't I received the email? Which was answered about 5 seconds later when the email arrived.

So if you are looking for a more exciting July 1:st, I would suggest contributing to the CRM Community and sending me an email describing why I should nominate you for an MVP, then you might very well have just as exiting July 1:sts as I, with Pandas, crazy Russians and Everything!

I am also very happy that Jukka Niiranen got awarded the MVP Award as I got the honor to nominate him. It is a a great honor for me to be able to nominate someone that gets awarded the MVP Award as that is a great confirmation of my judgement which is very gratifying. Jukka has been a great contributor to the Community and very well deserves the Award. The NDA that you are required to sign as an MVP due to the fact that you get to see a lot of classified information, put us under a lot of restriction on what kind of news we are allowed to blog about. Jukka has been very good at drawing out the bleeding edge info from hazy photos from Convergence, eXtremeCRM and similar and I hope he will be able to continue this without too much hindrance from the very strict NDA.

Do read his blog about his MVP Award if you have not done so already!

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Monday, June 24, 2013

Snowden, Prism and if there is anything new under the sun

If you have been reading my blogs previously you might have noticed that I several times (More on the insecurity of dataExternal posting on if your cloud system is safe from the law) have written about the fact that I think that many companies are viewing clouding a bit too lightly, especially from the legal perspective that many countries governments perceive themselves of having the rights to your data if the data either resides in that country, travels through that country or is owned by a company in that country.

From this perspective, I must conclude that the Snowden case is not very surprising. It mearly confirms what I expected to be true all the time and I would say that anybody being surprised is rather showing exceptional naivety towards our governments.

Hence I would just again remind you, that if you have sensitive data, beware of all the threats to the data. There are hackers, lawyers, FBI agents, and XYZ-agents and you have to assess the interest of all potential parties to you data. Then understand and handle the risk in a controlled manner.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hiding Email Script Warnings

As some of you might be have noticed, when working with emails there are some rather nasty warnings about scripts in the emails. These take up quite a lot of realestate on the screen and many users would just like to hide them. But it is not so simple as there is no simple configuration to remove it.

This is what it looks like in a Swedish version of CRM:

A customer of ours at CRM-Konsulterna had this problem and we solved this for them. However, the solution is not kosher in the meaning that it is unsupported. It is also not very large so we thought we'd share it with the Community to the annoying problem go away until Microsoft fixes it, which they hopefuly will have done in Orion.

If you would like it, just head over to our website and download it: http://www.crmkonsulterna.se/Pages/EmailScriptWarningConcealer.aspx

What does it do? It is a small JavaScript that is executed in the onload of email which checks to see if the yellow Component exists and if so hides it. The problem is that the yellow box is not documented and hence might not work in the future, why we are very careful to check that it exists before

And is there no way of solving this in a supported way? Well, we did try to filter the email data with a plugin to take out all the parts that might cause the problems, but that was just to hard and too many emails were just unreadable.

Last but not least, I would like to give huge kudos to my colleague Konrad who put a great deal of effort into trying to solve this and coming up with this solution. If you havn't alread checked out his blog, do so, you'll find it here: http://konradviltersten.wordpress.com/

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Retook an exam today #1

About a year ago I took the CRM 2011 application exam (MB2-868) and passed it, but somehow it never got registered properly and I did not save the score report so I could not prove this, so today I retook it.

It is a very interesting certification. One of the hardest things is to Think about which update rollup (UR) it is written towards. I have Heard that many people have said that all certifications (for CRM anyway) should be written based on the RTM (Release to Market) version (=UR 0) but that also seems a bit strange as there have been some significant Changes made in UR6 (like multi series charts) and especially in UR12.

The sad thing is that there is no clear indication in the certification which version it is based on, so you do not know. I also do not know which questions I did not answer correctly, I only know that I got 90% correct which is rather funny considering I have held all the four application courses and also written my own MB2-868 Certification prep course of which more than 60% of all the attendees passed.

My recommendations to you are the following:
- Study explicitly for the application exam. Just working in the application is not enough.
- Try to learn the language used, find key Word like "all", "should", "never". There are practice exam questions in the course material.
- Base the answers on RTM. I know how irrational this might be for you as you are not used to seeing CRM this way, but focus on passing the exam.
- Don't be discouraged if you fail the first time. Most people fail the first time, especially the CRM 2011 Application exam as that is quite weird.
- Try to work a bit with all the parts of CRM. Try to use also the parts that often are never or seldom used like service contracts, facility management, complex service scheduling, Product catalog. Most people are quite used to the account, Contact, opportunity, lead, case part of CRM but there are surprisingly few questions about that. You will get a better understanding of what the parts are and how they are connected.

My recommendations to Microsoft:
- Make it clear which version the exam is for. RTM or URx. Just to be clear.
- Remove questions from the exam that are incorrect due to new features. It is extremely confusing.
- If someone leaves comments that are constructive after an exam, as I have done, also leaving my email address, I have not felt that there has been any response to that at all. If you have the ability to leave comments, do make sure that these are responded to, otherwise the function should be switched off.
- Peripherial features are a bit important, but the main processes are essential and these should be more prominent in the exam.

For all of those Writing the exam, I wish you the best of luck!

Today I also noticed that on Rockstar 365, I got the badge "#1 in the World". That was a great honor!

If you work with CRM, register and I bet you'll beat me soon. Game on!

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Organization Language field when provisioning CRM Online

In one of my recent postings I discussed the implicit settings that were set when choosing country, in a recent update, one of these implicit settings was converted to an explicit setting, namely the Organization Language.
The new field when provisioning CRM Orgs in CRM Online - Organization language
An interesting thing about this field is that it cannot be selected to any language, but only to specific language. In Sweden, only to Swedish and English. In Switzerland, English, French, German or Italian. I think this is a good move forward but I don't see any reason to why they are limiting the available languages. If a Chinese company wants to have chinese for an org in Sweden, why should that be a problem?

An interesting note is also that there seems to be a language hickup, "Organization Language" has not been properly translated to Swedish...

I have also not checked if the collation is connected to the language or the country, but I would expect it to be connected to the language. If anyone reading this has any input, please feel free to leave a comment.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

CRM Test Drive... and BCM

There have been some large and small stuff changing in the last few days in the way that new customers are being handled when the want to register for a trial.

If you go to the global site, http://www.microsoft.com/crm you will notice that there is a new "Get Started" orange rectangle on the right hand side. In this box, there is no "Start 30-day trial" but instead "TestDrive CRM". This is rather interesting. If you choose this, the next screen will start asking you some questions, on what role you have, what size you company is, and where you work.

If you in this selection, choose 1-10, you will, and this might very well be changed, be show a page that welcomes you to download Business Contact Manager for Outlook. End of story. The logic being that no companies in the size of 1-10 could possibly be interested in Dynamics CRM. I find this a bit strange as I know for a fact that this is not true as I have many customers that have less than 10 users and still are very happy with their system.

The other interesting thing in the questions, is the role selector. The available roles are the following:
- Sale Representative
- Sales Manager
- Customer Care Representative
- Customer Care Manager

I find this list rather short, for instance lacking in roles such as CEO, CFO and CIO/IT-Manger or IT-Adminstrator.

But this is also only the first version so we might very well see updates to this very soon.

It seems a bit hard to find the original form for regisitering a trial org from the american site, but from the Swedish Microsoft CRM site it still works and this link should work: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=252780

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Implicit selections when choosing country in CRM Online

My last posting was regarding some important aspects of the email address that is entered when setting up a new CRM Online organization, you can read it here. In this posting I will be discussing some of the issues regarding the country field.

When registering for a new CRM Online Organization, you are shown a form and the top most field is a drop down allowing you to select which country you want. This might seem innocent enough, but do note the small text saying that this cannot be changed later and let me describe what you are actually setting in you future CRM and you might think a bit harder about this. The Picture below shows you the form in Swedish.

Swedish form for setting up a 30 day trial for CRM Online - the Country/Region field highlighted
So what does this selection actually imply?
1. Which data center will be used (as indicated)
2. Which base language will be used
3. Which collation/sort order will be used
4. Which services can be used (as indicated)
5. Which tax regulations that are to be applied. (as indicated)

Let me describe each of these if further detail.

Data center
There are several data centers for Dynamics CRM around the World. Two in EMEA, two in North America, and two in South East Asia. If you select a country in EMEA, your organization will be hosted in one of the two data centers in EMEA. Exactly how this allocation is done is for me unclear and I do not think that Microsoft want to reveal this. What I have heard is that there is one data center in on the US east coast and one the the west coast and that there is no easy way to control which of these you will be getting, less than just setting up a couple of different trials until you happen to get one in the datacenter that you would like. I have also heard rumours that there might be some logic in Place that moves orgs from one data center to another to optimize usage. But I have not had any confirmation, denials or comments from Microsoft on this, so I do not think it is true until it is confirmed. I do know that orgs might temporarily be move between the data centers within a region for maintenance reasons or due to fail-overs. Ex. Choosing Swedish will make the org be hosted in EMEA, choosing USA will make the org be hosted in North America.

Which base language will be used, is based on the country selected. For most countries this is simple as there is one dominant main language. If Sweden is chosen, Swedish is the base language. However, there are some other countries where this is a bit more complex, for Switzerland, it will simply be English, and I have not check other countries like Belgium.

Collation/Sort order
Related to the language is also the sort order or in more technical terms, collation. This is important as in many countries with special characters, the sort order is different than in normal English (iso-latin). For instance, in Swedish we have the characters "ÅÄÖ" at the end of the alphabet, these are not just accented A and O but fully qualified characters. The problem is that in the collation iso-latin, these are sorted as A and O (with accents) so a separate collation is used called Finnish-Swedish. There are lots of different collations for many different languages. When choosing the country "Sweden" the collation "Finnish-Swedish AS-CI" is also selected (AS-IS stands for Accent Sensitive, Case Insensitive).

In some countries there are some additional services available to CRM that are not available in other countries. For instance, there are or have been some portal available for CRM Online available in North America that have not been made available in the rest of the World.

Tax and legal
Tax regulations are as many of you know, who have been around, very different between countries. Hence Microsoft need to know how billing is to be handled. There might also be other legal aspects of cloud systems. Some countries might require the cloud system supplier to inform the government of all the customers they have, hence the country selector might be very important from this aspect.

As you can see this one drop down has some quite wide implications. We have to be careful in this case. If a Swedish Company which has US-English as corporate language and hence want this as base language, but all users are based in Sweden and the sort order must be able to handle Swedish names correctly, how is this to be handled? Today, it can't the solution would probably be to choose the Country "Great Britain", but that would not give the right collation/sort order still. In that case, only partner hosted on on-premise solutions can currently handle this or this CRM Online organization has to be provisioned manually behind the doors by Microsoft Technicians some how. Let's hope that Microsoft will soon add a function that will allow for advanced settings for the country selector, allowing for manual selection of each of these five parameters. Until then I hope this posting will guide you a bit and help you make and informed decision on which country to choose.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Considerations of email address in registering CRM Online

When setting up CRM Online, especially when doing it on an already existing Office 365 Environment, there are some things that you need to know that might not be that evident, so I thought I might elaborate a bit on it.

First of all, the email address that is entered when setting up the Office 365 organization or the Trial organisation for CRM Online is very important as emails regarding the CRM service (and other services provisioned through the Office 365 portal) will be notified via this email address.
Swedish version of the Trial registration - Email field marked. It says "We will be sending important information to this email address"

Other users set up as administrators will also be receiving notifications on the email addresses set up as Alternate email address under Settings.

So is this a problem? If you are just using CRM Online, and the alternate email address you input is you main work email, no, this is probably not a problem. There are however other scenarios where this might be a problem;
- The Company is using Office 365 as their main work email address and the alternate email addresses are gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail addresses that are seldom checked. For some reason, the CRM service is not payed properly and warnings about the fact that it is to be shut down are sent out to these seldom check email address. Then the CRM system is deactivated for all users and nobody understand why until the users flagged as administrators in O365 (usually very few) finally check their alternate email inboxes and find the warning. Until this is fixed, several Days or weeks may pass with the system down severely damaging user acceptance and profits.
- The original admins setting up the system are no longer with the Company and their alternate email addresses were not directed to "impersonal" email addresses but to their own. When the billing is missed, the effects are similar to the case above.

So, my general recommendations in this case is to make sure that the alternate email addresses used are set with great care and to impersonal email aliases that will remain independent of people leaving the Company. They are to be aliases that are monitored at least once every second day. If using Office 365, the general recommendation is to not use Office 365 email boxes to monitor itself, but perhaps looping it to a Group alias outside which also include addresses within the O365 might be an idea as long as there are people outside the O365 in the alias as well.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB