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Power BI Dynamics CRM Online Connector

In February, Microsoft released a new version of the Power BI Designer Preview. If you haven’t heard of Power BI, it’s a business intelligence platform that helps make sense of your data through robust querying and reporting features. If implemented correctly—xRM (www.xrm.com) can help with implementation—your team can make effective decisions more quickly than ever before. The idea is to host these reports on a SharePoint site where members of your team can interact with the data.

The Power BI Designer Preview is a client that you can download for free and try yourself. This is the tool that allows you to connect to your database, query the relevant data, and design the reports. Up until now, connecting to a CRM Online database was a little tricky. With the latest update, it’s easier than ever.

From the open Power BI Designer Preview client, click the New Source button in the ribbon.

Power BI Dynamics CRM Online Connector

The Get Data window opens. Select Other > Dynamics CRM Online, and then click Connect.

Power BI Dynamics CRM Online Connector

You are then prompted to provide the URL for the Dynamics CRM OData service.

Power BI Dynamics CRM Online Connector

Where can you find that URL? It’s actually not difficult, and you do not need administrative privileges in CRM Online to find it. In CRM Online, navigate to Settings > Customization > Customizations and click Developer Resources. You are taken to a page that has your organization information. At the bottom is the Organization Data Service section. In it is a link, which is your OData service. You can copy the link, or click it, which opens a new tab. The URL in the address bar of the new tab is your OData link as well. Copy and paste it into the Power BI Designer and then click OK.

The Power BI Designer will then connect to your database and detect the tables of data in it. You can then select the tables you wish to work with, define your queries, and build your report.

Power BI Dynamics CRM Online Connector

If you would like to learn more tips, tricks, and tutorials such as this one, please check out our xRM blog and our Success Portal. If you would like to receive training from our team of experts, please inquire about our QuickStart Training.

CRM Online 2015 Update 1 Videos

Microsoft recently released some new YouTube videos on its Microsoft Dynamics channel in anticipation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1. Unfortunately, the videos aren’t collected in a playlist specific only to Update 1 differences. Don’t worry! xRM (www.xrm.com) has organized a subset for you below. Note: Update 1 will be made available only for CRM Online 2015 first and will be made available for on-premises deployments later.

CRM Online 2015 Update 1 Videos

New navigation for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online – Hooray! Navigation is easy again in Update 1. (Readers who used to use version 2011 know what that means.)

Theming with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 – Have you ever wanted to change the colors of CRM Online or add your own company logo? Now you can.

Overview of Mobile Application for Smart Phones for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 – Access records on the go.

Extend Dynamics CRM to your Smart Phone with CRM Online 2015 Update 1 – Customize what you can do with CRM Online on your mobile device.

Microsoft Social Engagement replaces Microsoft Social Listening

As a Microsoft Partner, xRM (www.xrm.com) received a prerelease copy of an email Microsoft will soon send to existing Microsoft Social Listening (MSL) customers announcing upcoming changes as part of the Spring Wave 2015.

Here are a few important snippets:

“Social Engagement will replace your existing Microsoft Social Listening solution”

“General availability of Social Engagement 2015 Update 1 is scheduled in early April”

“check out the Getready page to learn more”

It also goes on to list some of the improvements in Microsoft Social Engagement over Microsoft Social Listening (condensed below). Look for the email soon for the rest of the details.

  • User Interface (UI): Completely redesigned UI for a simplified user experience
  • Social Analytics: new visualizations, such as phrase clouds, top fans, top critics, and top hashtags
  • Social Center: Contains user-specific, configurable and shareable streams in vertical columns displaying social posts as they come in. Supported actions include:

    • Internal actions: Assigning a post to a user and also applying a status label
    • External actions: Responding natively from within each stream
  • Social Profiles: You can now add authenticated Twitter and Facebook accounts

  • · Search Topic Set-up: define rules by the following criteria: keyword, Facebook page, and Twitter handle

There’s nothing in the email or online that mentions a change in price, so it looks like MSL customers will just automatically be delivered a better product in April, including the anticipated Twitter and Facebook integrations. Nice!

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Update Rollup 2 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Service Pack 1 (SP1)

xRM (www.xrm.com) hosts many versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to meet its customers’ various needs, including Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 with Service Pack 1 (SP1). We will soon be applying Update Rollup 2 to those instances.

Update Rollup 2 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Service Pack 1 (SP1) was originally announced in a pre-release article in November, 2014. It’s finally available in February 2015, and it was worth the wait. It fixes many issues; the Microsoft knowledge base article lists 153 (see link below).

If you have CRM Online, and have not opted in to upgrade to the 2015 version, you will effectively remain in the 2013 (SP1) version and should automatically get the equivalent code to Update Rollup 2 when Microsoft deploys it to the CRM Online servers. Note that CRM Online has its own code update stream with updates that are similar to, but not necessarily exactly matching the ones described in the knowledge base articles for on-premises and partner-hosted servers. Microsoft typically does not announce its CRM Online updates unless there’s a major version change, such as 2015.

Links

If you like CRM tips, tricks, and tutorials, please check out our xRM blog and our Success Portal. If you would like to receive training from our team of experts, please inquire about our QuickStart Training.

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How to Format Field Labels

The Form Editor in Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers a plethora of configuration options to administrators. One of the easier configurations to achieve is creating a custom field. A common question clients of ours at xRM (www.xrm.com) ask us is, “How do I get the whole label to display?” Take a look at this screenshot Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 to see an example:

How to Format Field Labels

The custom field’s label, “Total Number of Members,” is cut off. Not only is it not aesthetically pleasing, but it can lead to confusion when filling out the form. Luckily, there are three solutions for this problem.

Solution One: Reword the Labels

An important part of good interface configuration is choosing label text that is short, sensible, and easy for users to read. For example, “Total Number of Members” could be, “Members,” or “Member Total.” However, sometimes the label simply cannot be reduced. In those situations, Solution Two or Solution Three can help.

Solution Two: Adjust Field Label Position

The first solution is to format the field labels so that they appear above the fields. This is done from the Form Editor. To get there, click the More Commands button (it looks like an ellipsis) in the command bar, and then select Form. Please note that you’ll need a Security Role of System Customizer or equivalent privileges to see that in the menu.

How to Format Field Labels

When the Form Editor opens, double-click the section of the form containing the field whose label was cut off. The entire section should be highlighted in a blue line when you double-click it.

How to Format Field Labels

The Selection Properties window opens. Click the Formatting tab and scroll to the bottom. In the Field Label Position section, select Top. Then click the OK button to accept the changes and close the window.

How to Format Field Labels

Back at the Form Editor, click the Save button. Then click the Publish button. The Form Editor can be closed once publishing is complete. Before the changes can take effect, the browser must be refreshed.

Once the window refreshes, notice that the field label appears in its entirety:

How to Format Field Labels

Solution Three: Field Label Width

This solution gives more space for the label to appear and keeps it on the same line as the field. Open the Form Editor once again by clicking the More Commands button and selecting Form.

How to Format Field Labels

When the Form Editor opens, double-click the section of the form containing the field whose label was cut off. The entire section should be highlighted in a blue line when you double-click it.

How to Format Field Labels

This time, when the Section Properties window opens, stay in the Display tab. In the Field Label Width section, increase the pixels to widen the allotted space for the field labels in this section. This might take some trial and error to get it to the ideal width for the form in question. To preview the changes without publishing them, click the Preview button in the ribbon and select Create Form.

How to Format Field Labels

After the pixels are set, save and publish the changes. Once the Form Editor is closed, refresh the browser to see the changes.

How to Format Field Labels

This particular example required 150 pixels to make all of the field labels fully visible. This number will vary depending on the number of characters in the longest field label and the width of the column in question.

All solutions covered in this post are perfectly valid options for making field labels fully visible, though one is preferable over the other in certain situations. Solution Two is better if the goal is to make better use of horizontal space. Placing the labels above the fields does not eat into the fixed width in pixels for the columns on the form. However, this solution will extend the vertical space occupied by the section, thus requiring users to scroll vertically slightly more. Solution Three conversely is ideal for conserving vertical space. However, extending the field labels in width eats into the space allowed for the data in the fields. This can lead to the data itself being visually cut off rather than the label. If the tab on the form containing the modified section is one or two columns in width, this may not be an issue. But in three to four column tabs, horizontal space becomes more limited. In summary, there is no perfect solution. It depends on the form and the interface experience you as an admin are trying to create for your users.

If you would like to learn more tips, tricks, and tutorials such as this one, please check out our xRM blog and our Success Portal. If you would like to receive training from our team of experts, please inquire about our QuickStart Training.

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 and Google Chrome 39 Compatibility

Microsoft introduced cross-browser support for Microsoft Dynamics CRM way back with Update Rollup 12 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, including support for Google Chrome. However, we at xRM (www.xrm.com) and others have discovered compatibility issues with Google Chrome that persist in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015.

Presently, Dynamics CRM 2015 is supported on the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer
  • Google Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Safari

For more details about other supported browsers and operating systems, please see Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 System Requirements.

When Google Chrome reached version 37 back in September 2014, many CRM users reported issues such as an inability to export data to Excel, system settings not being saved, the Form Editor not accepting changes, and errors when modifying Status Reason fields.

The root cause of these issues is that Google deprecated the showModalDialog API in Chrome. Basically, showModalDialog allows applications to show a dialog of HTML content while simultaneously freezing all other content. By default, showModalDialog is turned off in Chrome. However, Google has added a “temporary Enterprise Policy setting to re-enable showModalDialog. In May 2015 this setting will be removed and showModalDialog will be completely removed from Chromium,” per the Chromium Blog. (Chromium is the open source browser upon which Google Chrome and some other browsers are built.)

The following explanation is found on http://www.chromium.org/administrators/policy-list-3#EnableDeprecatedWebPlatformFeatures:

EnableDeprecatedWebPlatformFeatures

Enable deprecated web platform features for a limited time

Data type:

List of strings

Windows registry location:

Software\Policies\Chromium\EnableDeprecatedWebPlatformFeatures

Mac/Linux preference name:

EnableDeprecatedWebPlatformFeatures

Supported on:

  • Chromium (Linux, Mac, Windows) since version 37
  • Chromium OS (Chromium OS) since version 37
  • Chromium (Android) since version 37

Supported features:

Dynamic Policy Refresh: Yes, Per Profile: Yes

Description:

Specify a list of deprecated web platform features to re-enable temporarily. This policy gives administrators the ability to re-enable deprecated web platform features for a limited time. Features are identified by a string tag and the features corresponding to the tags included in the list specified by this policy will get re-enabled. If this policy is left not set, or the list is empty or does not match one of the supported string tags, all deprecated web platform features will remain disabled. While the policy itself is supported on the above platforms, the feature it is enabling may be available on fewer platforms. Not all deprecated Web Platform features can be re-enabled. Only the ones explicitly listed below can be for a limited period of time, which is different per feature. The general format of the string tag will be [DeprecatedFeatureName]_EffectiveUntil[yyyymmdd]. As reference, you can find the intent behind the Web Platform feature changes at http://bit.ly/blinkintents.

  • “ShowModalDialog_EffectiveUntil20150430″ = Enable ShowModalDialog API through 2015.04.30

Example value:

Windows:

Software\Policies\Chromium\EnableDeprecatedWebPlatformFeatures\1 = “ShowModalDialog_EffectiveUntil20150430″

Linux:

["ShowModalDialog_EffectiveUntil20150430"]

Mac:

<array>

<string>ShowModalDialog_EffectiveUntil20150430</string>

</array>

Microsoft Support provides its own instructions on how to resolve the issue:

  1. Download ADM Policy Templates for Windows
  2. Extract the downloaded files, then navigate to Start | Run: gpedit.msc
  3. Navigate to Local Computer Policy | Computer Configuration | Administrative Templates
  4. Right-click Administrative Templates and select Add/Remove Templates
  5. Add the downloaded chrome.adm templates of Windows via the dialog for the specific language
  6. Once the template is added, a Google Chrome folder will appear under ‘Classic Administrative Templates’
  7. Select EnableDeprecatedWebPlatformFeatures setting in the right column. Right-click the setting and select Edit
  8. Edit the EnableDeprecatedWebPlatformFeatures as shown below:
    1. Paste in the following string value: ShowModalDialog_EffectiveUntil20150430
    2. Click OK on the Show Contents dialog
    3. Click Apply and OK on the Enabled Deprecated Webplatform Features dialog
  9. Restart the Google Chrome browser and type chrome://policy in the address bar
    1. You should observe that this deprecated feature is now enabled.

It is important to emphasize that this temporary solution will only be available until May 2015. At that time, showModalDialog will be completely removed from Chromium (and therefore from Google Chrome which is based on Chromium). Presently, it is not clear how Microsoft Dynamics CRM will function when running in Chrome after that happens.

Another issue is that Google Chrome does not allow the rollback to an older version of the browser.

To avoid these issues altogether, users can sign into Microsoft Dynamics CRM in either Internet Explorer or Firefox. On a side note, Firefox does keep a public archive or their builds available. If Firefox ever releases a version that is not compatible with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you will be able to roll back to the previous version that does work.

Technically, Microsoft Dynamics CRM supports browser compatibility for Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, and even Chrome (assuming you make the registry changes). But it’s unclear at this time how that will change in May 2015, if it even does change. Be sure to plan ahead and stay tuned.

Meanwhile, xRM recommends that customers avoid Google Chrome 39 with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015.

If you would like to learn more tips, tricks, and tutorials such as this one, please check out our xRM blog and our Success Portal. If you would like to receive training from our team of experts, please inquire about our QuickStart Training.

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Troubleshooting Data Import Errors

Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides some useful tools for importing your data, such as templates, the Import Data Wizard, and data maps. These features are designed to make the import process as pain free as possible. However, we at xRM (www.xrm.com) know that complications and errors can still arise, and it can be frustrating if you aren’t able to locate the source of the problem. In this post, let’s examine two of these common errors, how we find them, and how we resolve them.

First, let’s take a look at the data that we want to import. It’s in a .csv file we created in Excel:

Troubleshooting Data Import Errors

This is a simple list of Contact records we want to bring into our CRM database. It has just five attributes: First Name, Last Name, Title, Business, and Business Phone. Let’s proceed with the import and see what happens. One way of doing this data is by navigating to Settings > Data Management, and then clicking Imports. Next, click the Import Data button in the command bar and proceed through the Import Data Wizard that appears.

Troubleshooting Data Import Errors

Now, it is time to map the fields. As you can see above, I’ve mapped the “Business” column to the Company Name field of the related Account record. Let’s finish the import and then examine the results.

Troubleshooting Data Import Errors

Why did we have five errors and zero successes? Rather than trying to import the same document again as is and running into the same problem, let’s first locate the issue. To do this, we can open the record of the import itself. In this example, we can click “Client List.csv.” When the record window opens, click the Failures label in the Related pane on the left of the form.

Troubleshooting Data Import Errors

In the Import Log, we can see a description of why each record was unsuccessfully imported. The first four records could not be brought in because a lookup reference could not be resolved. This is a common mistake new users to Dynamics CRM encounter when bringing in new contact records: trying to import new records from two different entities in a single file.

The Excel document shown above represents both Accounts and Contacts. The “Business” column references the Account records. If those records do not already exist when bringing in the related Contact records, the lookup reference error occurs. To avoid this error, we can copy and paste the Business column into another Excel file, along with any other data relevant to the Account records. We then import the Accounts before we import the Contacts. This time, the lookup reference error won’t trigger because there will be existing Account records with which the Contacts can be related.

What about the duplicate error for the last record? In the ImportLog Associated View there is a column called “Original Row Number.” This helps us locate the exact record in the spreadsheet that is causing the error. In this example, it’s row 6, “Becky Miller.” Let’s say we know for a fact that Becky does not already exist in our database. So how could a duplicate have been detected? To find the answer, let’s navigate to Settings > Data Management > Duplicate Detection Rules.

In a nutshell, a Duplicate Detection Rule in Dynamics CRM helps maintain the integrity of our data. When records are imported or created, the system will use any published rule to verify that the incoming record does not already exist. An example of such a rule is “Contacts with the same first and last name.” By default, Dynamics CRM comes with nine published Duplicate Detection Rules. Any of them can be deactivated and new ones can be created. Let’s take a look at the published rules for Contact records.

Troubleshooting Data Import Errors

We know Becky does not have the same first and last name as anyone in our system. We also know that we’re not importing email addresses in this import, so that rule couldn’t have triggered the error. So that leaves “Contacts with the same business phone number” as the only rule preventing the successful import of Becky’s record. This is actually a common misstep in imports. What happens is users attempt to import a group of contact records that work for the same company. Oftentimes, the business phone number will be the same for all of the contacts because it is the company phone number, not a direct line. This triggers the Duplicate Detection Rule and prevents all but one of the Contact records from being created. Becky already has a coworker in the system with the same business phone listing. Therefore, the system sees this as a duplicate record.

To prevent this from happening, we can simply select the rule, and then click the Unpublish button. We’ll then be able to import Becky’s record successfully. We can even Publish the rule again once the import is complete.

The lookup reference and duplicate detection errors are common in data imports, but they certainly aren’t the only problems that can occur. Be sure to check the record of import in CRM, especially the listed failures to locate the source of the problem and hopefully find a solution with as little headache as possible.

If you would like to learn more tips, tricks, and tutorials such as this one, please check out our xRM blog and our Success Portal. If you would like to receive training from our team of experts, please inquire about our QuickStart Training.

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Changes Coming to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015

If you are a current Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online subscriber, you have undoubtedly noticed the Update scheduled message appearing immediately under the navigation bar when you log into Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. While the update is optional, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 is a worthwhile upgrade that adds several welcome features, including global search, improved Products, and more powerful Business Process Flows.

Changes Coming to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015

However, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 also removes support for old versions of Internet Explorer, several client SDK APIs, and a few other deprecated features. You should make sure that any customizations you have deployed to your CRM organization don’t depend on these features before you complete the update. You will also want to make sure that compatible web browser versions are in place before you update. You can reschedule your update to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 to give your organization time to update any custom applications and upgrade any user workstations.

Changes in browser support for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015

One obvious change is that Microsoft is removing support for Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 9 from Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015. You will need to make sure that all user workstations have IE 10, IE 11, or the most recent version of Mozilla Firefox before you update to CRM Online 2015. Please note that even though Google Chrome is listed as a compatible browser, we still do not recommend it due to compatibility issues.

API Changes in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015

Microsoft has also removed support for several JavaScript APIs, and if you use any of these APIs in your code, your code will likely break once you update to CRM Online 2015. The deprecated APIs are as follows:

  • · context.getServerURL (Microsoft recommends using getClientURL instead.)
  • · context.isOutlookClient (Microsoft recommends using client.getClient instead.)
  • · context.isOutlookOnline (Microsoft recommends using client.get instead.)

Other Deprecated Features in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015

  • · Support for the Kit type of Product has been removed.
  • · Microsoft Dynamics CRM Email Router support for Exchange 2007 has been removed.
  • · Support for the 2007 SDK SOAP Endpoint has been removed.

You can learn more about the changes coming to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 by visiting the Get ready for the next release page.

Are Your Ready for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015

If you are unsure if your custom code is ready for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, xRM can help. Our expert CRM consultants can examine your custom code and determine what steps need to be taken to ensure your code’s readiness for CRM 2015. Schedule your complimentary Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Code Readiness Analysis today.

Changes Coming to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015

How to Update to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015

If you are a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online subscriber, you may have noticed a curious new message appearing when you logged into your CRM organization recently: “Update scheduled Your update to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 is now scheduled for x/xx/xxxx. Please approve or reschedule.”

How to Update to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015

This message indicates that Microsoft has tentatively scheduled a window during which your CRM Online organization will be updated to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015. The Update scheduled message began appearing shortly after the announcement that Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 had been released to the public. Not only does the message let you know that your update to CRM Online 2015 has been scheduled, but it also gives you the option to reschedule your update by clicking the Manage Updates button.

How to Update to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015

Clicking the manage updates button will take you to the Manage your Dynamics CRM updates page in the CRM Online Administration Center. This page displays a great deal of information about your CRM organization, including the current version you are running, the date and time of your scheduled update to CRM 2015, and the status of your update.

There are three important points that you should know about this update. First, it must be approved before your CRM instance will be upgraded to CRM Online 2015. Unlike several previous updates, the CRM Online 2015 update is optional, and you are not forced to upgrade at this time. However, you will not gain access to the new features unless you approve the update. Second, Microsoft has removed support for Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 9 from Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015. Additionally, Microsoft has removed support for several JavaScript APIs. If you have custom code deployed in your CRM Online instance, you will want to verify that your code is compatible before you update. Third, you can reschedule your update to give your organization time to upgrade user workstations and update your custom code.

How to Reschedule Your Update to CRM Online 2015

In the screenshot below, you can see that our update is currently scheduled for 5/13/15, but we’d actually like to receive the update much sooner than that. Fortunately, we can click Reschedule update on the right of the screen choose another date for our scheduled update.

How to Update to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015

Clicking Reschedule update takes us to the Schedule your update page on which we have the option of choosing both our Preferred date and time and an Alternate date and time, which is a backup window during which the update will be performed in case the update is not completed successfully the first time.

How to Update to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015

Update windows for existing CRM Online subscribers begin in January 2015. At the time of writing, the earliest available date is January 7, 2015. Once you have chosen a date for your update to CRM 2015, you will notice that the earliest available slot for your Alternate date and time will be at least 14 days after your Preferred date and time.

How to Update to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015

The final steps in the update scheduling process are to verify that your scheduled update windows are to your liking and then to approve the update. Please note that your CRM organization may not be available during the scheduled update window.

Missing Update Scheduled Message

If you do not see the update scheduled message when you log into Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, you can still manage your update by visiting the Office 365 admin center. From the Office 365 admin center, click the arrow next to ADMIN in the navigation pane on the left side of the screen, and click CRM, which will take you to the CRM Online Administration Center.

Disabling the Update Scheduled Message

The Update Scheduled Message is controlled by a cookie that is stored in your browser. One easy way to disable the message is to click the Manage Updates button. Once you do so, the message should disappear.

Conclusion

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 boasts a number of extraordinary new features and enhancements that make the update a no-brainer. These enhancements include global search, visual hierarchies, enhancements to the mobile client, branching Business Process Flows, improvements to the Product entity, calculated fields and rollup fields, and more. While the update is optional, you will not receive any of the new features and enhancements released as part of CRM 2015 until the update is completed. Just make sure that your custom code, if you have any, is ready for the update and that none of your user work stations are still running IE 8 or IE 9.

Finally, if you are looking for cost-effective training so that your organization can make better use of all the features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, including the new features of CRM Online 2015, check out the Enhanced Training Package from xRM. The Enhanced Training Package features a cost-effective combination of live online training and on-demand training delivered by the Learning Management System hosted by xRM.

How to Update to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015

10 Steps to CRM Implementation Success

Introduction:

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) deployments can be complicated endeavors. Large companies can afford to make big investments in strategic analysis, customization, and training, but smaller companies typically don’t have the budget for these endeavors. Instead, they try to deploy a CRM application on their own with limited guidance. But, with even a small investment of time and money, any company can boost its ROI and achieve a successful deployment.

10 Steps to CRM Implementation Success

Successful CRM Deployment Steps

1. Ensure that you have the support of senior management and IT. Without their support, your deployment will never get off the ground. The rest of the company will typically fall in line once leadership has declared its intention to adopt a new CRM solution.

2. Gather requirements. Make a list of business requirements that your CRM system needs to meet and prioritize them. This effort will help you determine which requirements are absolutely necessary and which fall into the wouldn’t-it-be-nice category. Ideally, a CRM consultant will help you gather requirements as part of a Strategic Analysis (SA) effort, but if SA is out of the question due to budgetary concerns, you can complete this process internally.

3. Identify and document all existing processes. All companies rely on a set of processes that help move business forward. Part of initial deployment process will consist of asking yourself a series of questions:

o How do we collect leads?

o How are deals guided through the sales process?

o How do we maintain relationships with existing customers?

o How do we identify our most important clients?

o How are customer service inquiries handled?

o How are contacts stored and shared?

The answers to these questions and others will help you gain an understanding of your current business processes, and allow you to begin to imagine how a CRM solution can improve and automate portions of these business processes.

4. Conduct a Gap Analysis. Even in completely stock form, a CRM application is a tremendously powerful tool. It is important however, to identify any gaps that exist between a completely stock CRM organization and the requirements that you gathered as part of step 2.

Unless you have a CRM expert on staff, you will likely need the assistance of an expert CRM consultant to perform this analysis for you. While such an effort is usually part of an SA, more affordable options are available, such as the QuickStart Blueprint service from xRM.

5. Draft a configuration plan. Once you have identified any fit gaps, it’s time to create a configuration plan that details any custom entities (record types), fields, workflows, dashboards, reports, and code that need to be created in order to deploy a CRM system that precisely meets your unique business needs.

6. Configure the system. It sounds cliché, but every business is unique. Every industry has its own terminology and requirements, and every company has unique processes honed over time. No CRM application can address the needs of every conceivable organization out-of-the-box. Some configuration and customization will likely be required to address the fit gaps. One of the reasons that we like Microsoft Dynamics CRM so much is that is an extremely flexible platform that can be configured in a myriad of ways without the need for custom coding.

7. Collect and migrate data. Depending upon your current processes and the tools you use to store your data, data migration can be the most challenging and expensive part of the entire deployment. The cost of your data migration effort can be affected by a number of factors, including the size, complexity, and format of your existing backend database, as well as any configuration that must be done to CRM to support the data migration. Depending on the size and complexity of your database, you may be able to simply use spreadsheets to import data into your new database, or you may be looking a more extensive data migration effort. A CRM consultant with experience in data migration can help you understand the challenges and costs involved in migrating your existing data to your new system.

8. Test. The next step in the deployment process is to test the system before it enters into production. It is absolutely critical to budget the time and resources to test thoroughly before you go live to avoid the heartbreak of a production system that doesn’t function the way you expect it to. Once testing is complete and any issues rectified, you can throw the “go-live” switch confidently.

9. Train. You can threaten your end users with all kinds of heinous tortures, but they will be reluctant to adopt a new CRM system unless are comfortable using it. Give them the information they need to succeed. Take the time to show them how the new CRM system makes their jobs easier and consider providing them with both video and print resources that they can refer to as needed while they adjust to the new system.

10. Evaluate. The final step in a successful CRM deployment is to evaluate the system’s effectiveness. Evaluation is a critical and ongoing process that should continue for as long as you are using the system. At set intervals, you will want to ask yourself, “Is my CRM system still meeting my needs?” and “Am I getting the ROI that I expected from my CRM system?” If the “no” is the answer to either of these questions, you will want to investigate the reasons behind the shortfall.

About xRM

At xRM, we live to help organizations deploy CRM solutions that precisely meet their business requirements. We have worked with Microsoft Dynamics CRM since its inception. In that time, we have assisted companies in every industry deploy innovative solutions that increase sales, improve customer service, and boost efficiency. Read about some of our customers’ success stories here.

Our Professional Services run the gamut from Strategic Analysis to Data Migration, Customization to Training, and more.

Every xRM customer gains access to the Success Portal, a free online video training library dedicated to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

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