SQL query provides CRM 2011 Security Role privilege options in Excel

Have you ever been in a situation where you need an Excel based method of presenting to a client what out of the box Security Roles and permissions are available within Dynamics CRM?  Luckily, this can be accomplished with a SQL query and some pivot table magic. Continue reading “SQL query provides CRM 2011 Security Role privilege options in Excel”

Extending CRM 2011: The Two Towers (actually there are quite a few more…) of Application Event Programming

In my previous post, I discussed the preparation for taking the Extending Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 certification exam.  More specifically, how I leveraged the Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) to prepare for the information covered in Chapter 5: Plug-ins.  In this post, I will review my preparation for Chapter 6: Application Event Programming.

Continue reading “Extending CRM 2011: The Two Towers (actually there are quite a few more…) of Application Event Programming”

Extending CRM 2011: Fellowship of the Plugin

Our story continues with our diminutive hero exploring the world of Plugins and their place in extending CRM 2011.  As mentioned in my previous post, I am not a developer…but am pursuing the Extending CRM 2011 (MB2-786) certification to improve my abilities to consult, write design documents and in general be a greater asset to my team.  In this post, I will discuss my review of concepts related to CRM Plugin development, the tools that I used and my thoughts on the topic. Continue reading “Extending CRM 2011: Fellowship of the Plugin”

Planning and Executing an Effective CRM Solution Review

When a client facing review of the CRM solution is scheduled, there are a number of best practices which greatly improve the chances of giving the customer that “WOW” moment.  There are a number of practices that I have employed which resulted in great success in achieving client satisfaction during implementations. Continue reading “Planning and Executing an Effective CRM Solution Review”

Windows 8 RTM and Visual Studio 2012 now available on MSDN

MSDN subscribers can now download Windows 8 Enterprise RTM.  Also, subscribers can also download Visual Studio 2012 Express for Windows 8 to begin developing “Modern” or “Windows 8 Style UI” apps.  Continue reading “Windows 8 RTM and Visual Studio 2012 now available on MSDN”

The “Process Whisperer”…you should buy his book.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 has a very robust workflow capability, known as Processes within the system. There is a wealth of capability waiting to be harnessed, like that of an unbroken Thoroughbred. Horses and their owners have Monty Roberts, known as the “Horse Whisperer”. Well, believe it or not, Dynamics CRM has had our own “Process Whisperer” this whole time within the CRM MVP ranks…Richard Knudson.  Now you can get his vast knowledge of processes in a great reference title. I have mentioned Richard Knudson in past blog posts, namely “Using Dialogs to Create an Application for Services“, his knowledge on Processes and Dialogs within CRM 2011 is second to none. His multi-part series on Dialogs on the Dynamics CRM Trick Bag is fantastic. However, “Building Business with CRM” is one of those books that every CRM consultant or business user should not be without.

Buy Richard’s book at http://www.crmbizbook.com for your own reference, to help your practice or for your customer who is about to take over the day-to-day ownership and maintenance of their internal business processes enabled through Dynamics CRM.

Visit Richard’s blog at http://www.dynamicscrmtrickbag.com for a ton of great Dynamics CRM information, including this blog post on his “Top X Fave Business Process Tips & Tricks”. Included on this post are the following video recordings:

Part 1: Introduction; Bulk Edits v. Update Workflows; Limitations of BPs; working with closed records and read-only fields; different versions of long-running processes

Part 2: Advanced Find, dashboards, Sales Pipeline report and the Sales Pipeline funnel chart

Part 3: Working with Hyperlinks and Record URLs

Part 4: Business Process Security: who can run on-demand processes, who can create them, who triggers automatic workflows

Part 5: Dialog Process Tips

Special Thanks to Richard for helping me out personally in expanding my knowledge on Dialogs and Processes within CRM 2011!

Experiences with DemoBuilder for CRM 2011

Microsoft recently launched their DemoBuilder tool for Partners to create compelling demo environments that leverage not only Dynamics CRM 2011, but also integrate Office 365, Lync Online, SharePoint Online and Windows Azure services. Since the launch, I have used this tool a couple of times to create pretty powerful demos with relative ease.

Getting DemoBuilder Setup

To get setup with DemoBuilder, follow these simple steps:

  • Create a 30 day CRM Online Trial
  • Go to http://demobuilder.cloudapp.net/ and sign in with your Windows Live ID
  • Click the Run Demobuilder link in the Metro tile on the screen and follow the prompts to install the tool locally
  • Enter the information as requested within the screens of the DemoBuilder tool wizard.
    (It will take about an hour for the process to complete, so be patient…)

Figure 1: DemoBuilder – DemoHub Main Screen

For a great Introduction to DemoBuilder, check out Gareth Tucker’s Microsoft CRM Blog.

For this blog post, I wanted to go a little deeper with a few features of the DemoBuilder that I found particularly beneficial.

Demo Ager

An issue that plagues every consultant prior to a pre-sales or client demonstration is the problem of stale data within your CRM instance. I have had many experiences where I am creating new records to have more timely information within CRM to demonstrate a process to a client so that it has a more timely presentation. As you know, dependent on the scope of your demo, this could be a very time-consuming process. Microsoft has addressed this within DemoBuilder in two ways. First, DemoBuilder populates the entire system with relevant data across all system entities, including charts and dashboards. Second, a tool called Demo Ager is also included. This provides a very simple method of changing the “age” of some of your data, like Opportunities, within a Silverlight dashboard. As shown in the picture below, Demo Ager is accessed from the dashboard menu and has one simple control…a date selection control and a start button to execute the process. The tool also displays the “date last aged” of your demo environment. Once you select your new date for system data to be aged, the various entities will have a progress indicator displayed. When the green bar is shown, the process is complete.

Figure 2: DemoBuilder – Demo Data Ager

Ribbon Editor

There are several fantastic ribbon editors available via Codeplex, such as the CRM 2011 Visual Ribbon Editor , Ribbon Editor for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and the Pragma Toolkit: Ribbon, SiteMap Editor as well as the Ribbon Workbench from UserVoice. Check out my blog post that reviews the CRM 2011 Visual Ribbon Editor and its benefit as a learning tool here. Microsoft now provides a built-in ribbon editor within the DemoBuilder tool set. This tool has an easy to use interface with no configuration needed or discovery of what entities are available within the environment. Like the Demo Data Ager, the Ribbon Editor is accessible from the Dashboards navigation. I found this editor simple to use and one of the easiest to add functionality such as JavaScript to a ribbon button of all that I have used before. The DemoBuilder Ribbon Editor allows easy creation of ribbon buttons, tabs and groups with custom actions such as JavaScript, workflow or web resources. This is a great addition to a presales demo build toolkit.

Figure 3: DemoBuilder – Ribbon Editor

Social Activity

DemoBuilder provides an eye-catching integration to the Twitter feed of the Account within the CRM System. It passes search criteria to Twitter using the Account name and provides a real-time twitter feed of all tweets that are from the Account itself (@ADXStudio for example) or that reference the account within a tweet. Clicking on the link CRM Twitter Monitor takes you directly to Twitter with the search criteria passed. This is great functionality to demonstrate how CRM can provide immediate feedback to stakeholders within Marketing, Sales or Senior Management. The DemoBuilder only provides this functionality for demonstration at the Account level within CRM.

InsideView

Announced at Convergence 2012, InsideView integration delivers relevant business and social insights directly into Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Do things like monitor business events or discover relationships that get you introductions. This functionality is limited from the full features of the subscription version, but the integration within DemoBuilder provides insight to the immediate benefits that the depth of knowledge CRM can now provide to Account Management. This information was previously only available via channels outside of CRM and would require custom integration. The free InsideView CRM integration is available for any Dynamics CRM customer and can be installed using their deployable solution. If you want more information on this functionality, check out InsideView’s website or the Dynamics CRM Marketplace.

Figure 4: DemoBuilder – Social Activity and InsideView Integration

Customer Portal

Also included within DemoBuilder is the Microsoft xRM Customer Portal Accelerator. Installed and configured automatically with the Azure instance provided with DemoBuilder, it is the fastest method to show potential customers the power of portals when combined with Dynamics CRM without the concern for setting up a website or any other setup related concerns. If their needs are greater than what the standard Customer Portal Accelerator provides, I recommend checking out ADXStudio‘s portal offering…a very flexible and powerful solution applicable to many vertical industries.

In Summary…

DemoBuilder for Dynamics CRM 2011 is not only a great tool to energize your pre-sales demonstration capabilities, but provides quite an insight to the prospective customer on the extensibility of the Dynamics CRM platform. The features that have been presented, in combination with Office 365, SharePoint and Azure provide an incredible tool within your pre-sales demonstration toolbox to help win deals and understand your prospective customer’s pain points and objectives!