What Microsoft Dynamics 365 Can Do for Your Business

If you haven’t yet tried Microsoft Dynamics 365, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s go over the basics. This cloud-based platform builds and expands upon the features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 while allowing you to access and upload data anytime, anywhere. It focuses on and unites the things that matter most to your business: people, data, and processes.

Big or small, non- or for-profit, Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers something for every organization Subscriptions are flexible and allow you to purchase the specific apps and access levels that make the most sense for you. If you don’t need the functionality of an app, you don’t have to pay for it. If 90 percent of team members don’t need administrative privileges, the price reflects it, with user licenses available for as little as $8 per month.

Combining customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools, Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides everything from customer-facing portals and  automated email marketing campaigns targeted at specific markets to coordinating across departments and scheduling the appropriate resources based on skill, location, and availability.

Dynamics 365 can aid your customer engagement, employee empowerment, operations optimization, and product transformation efforts, and take your business to the next level.

Check out xRM.com to download a free 30-day trial of Microsoft Dynamics 365, access hundreds of free instructional videos, and learn about our training and implementation packages.

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How to Customize the Theme in Microsoft Dynamics 365

In Dynamics 365, the theme determines the colors within the platform, the icon in the upper left corner of the screen, and the tooltip that appears when you hover over this icon. In addition, the theme is easy to customize.

Click the down arrow to the right of the current app name along the top of the screen, then click the Settings tile. You may have to use the arrows to scroll over, depending on the number of apps you have.

Click Customizations within the Customization column.

On the page that appears, click Themes.

You’ll see CRM Default Theme in the All Themes view. The easiest way to create a custom theme is to click the check mark to the left of this theme name to select, then click Clone.

Copy of CRM Default Theme will be the name of the cloned theme; click the check mark to the left of this theme name to select, then click Edit.

When the theme opens up, enter desired text to name the new theme, and desired text for the logo tooltip; remember that the tooltip text is what appears when you hover over the logo in the upper left corner of Dynamics 365.

Next, enter the desired hex (HTML) value in the Navigation Bar Color field. This will change the color of the bar along the top of the screen. You can change any or all of the other colors shown on this page as well, in the same way.

Next, you can add a custom logo by clicking the magnifying glass for the Logo field, then selecting a logo from the dropdown list, clicking Look Up More Records, or clicking New.

If you click New, next you’ll need to enter text in the Name field; note that spaces are not recognized since you’re adding a web resource, so use underscores in place of spaces in the name.

Enter text in the Display Name field (spaces are permitted here), and the Description field, if desired.

Click within the Type field, and choose the appropriate file type from the dropdown list. Make sure that your logo file is one of the listed types.

Next, click Browse, and select the logo file from its location on your computer. Click Open.

Click Save, then click Publish All Customizations.

Close the popup window.

Now, after you add a new web resource, you’ll need to click the magnifying glass for the Logo field again, then click Look Up More Records.

In the window that appears, scroll or search to find the resource, then click the check mark to the left of the resource name to select it. The word “new” is added at the beginning of your web resource name, so keep that in mind when searching. Select the resource you just created, then click Add.

When you’re finished customizing, simply click Publish Theme. This will apply the theme to your instance of Dynamics 365 immediately.

At any time, I can change the theme back to the default theme, simply by returning to the Themes, page, clicking the check mark to select it, and clicking Publish Theme.

That’s it! You’ve customized your theme in Microsoft Dynamics 365!

 

For more videos, blog posts, and information on Microsoft Dynamics 365, visit xrm.com!

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How to Set Up Global Search in Microsoft Dynamics 365

Global Search is a feature of Microsoft Dynamics 365 that should not be overlooked. It allows you to query multiple entities simultaneously with the magnifying glass icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

While out-of-the-box, Global Search is set up with default settings, customizing the entities and fields it searches to meet your business needs is simple. Let’s detail both parts: selecting entities and selecting fields.

Selecting the Entities for Global Search

Within Dynamics 365, click the down arrow to the right of the current app name, choose the Settings tile, then click Administration within the System column.

On the Administration page, click System Settings. In the window that appears, within the General tab, scroll down to the Set up Search section. Click Select to select the entities for categorized search.

The Selected Entities column shows the entities that Global Search currently pulls results from. As you can see, currently it’s only querying 8 different entities. This is how it will be set up out-of-the-box, but you can actually include up to 10 entities. Be careful, as you can select more than 10 entities in this window, but when you save, you’ll receive an error if there are more than 10 selected. You can do a couple different things in this window.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Select an entity by clicking it in the Available Entities section, then clicking Add.
  • Remove a selected entity by clicking it in the Selected Entities section, then clicking Remove.
  • Change the order results are displayed in by clicking a selected entity, then clicking Move Up or Move Down.

Click OK when all desired entities are selected.

Click OK again to close the System Settings window.

Selecting the Fields for Global Search

 

After setting up the entities to search, you need to update the Quick Find view for the entities you included in Global Search so that the desired fields are being searched within each of the entities.

Click the down arrow to the right of the current app name again, choose the Settings tile, then click Customizations within the Customization column.

Click Customize the System. In the window that appears, click to expand the Entities section, then click the name of one of the entities you selected for Global Search to expand. Within the desired entity, click Views. In the list that appears, find the Quick Find view, click the check mark to the left of the view name, then choose Edit from the More Actions dropdown menu.

In the window that appears, you’ll see a table that shows the columns of information that will display in the Quick Find view for that entity. To the right of the table, you’ll see Add View Columns and Add Find Columns.

Click Add Find columns and check the boxes to select the fields to search on for Global Search. For example, if I add Address 1: City, and Address 1: State, then I can type a city or state into Global Search and return a list of the accounts located there. Click OK when finished.

You’ll notice that the columns shown in the table will not change. This is you’re simply adding fields to search on, not fields to show in the view. If you want to change the Quick Find view, use Add View Columns, then use the arrows to rearrange them.

When you’re finished, click Save & Close.

globalsearch8

Now, in order to activate these changes, you must click Publish All Customizations.

That’s it! You’ve selected custom entities and fields to use for Global Search.

For more videos, blog posts, and information on Microsoft Dynamics 365, visit xrm.com!

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Social Engagement on Microsoft Dynamics 365

Because the name has changed, and the product has evolved, there is some confusion about the details around what is now known as “Social Engagement” and Microsoft Dynamics 365. This article aims to clear up any confusion and to also explain what can be done with this component in the context of Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Background and Setup


Social Engagement (formerly known as Social Listening) provides the ability for users to track and analyze social communications across public networks about specific topics. There is a broad range of social “channels” that can be monitored, such as blogs and social apps. Within these channels are the obvious sources, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, to name a few. This is accomplished with “Social Profiles”, each of which is a little different to set up, depending on the policies of the social provider. For instance, for Facebook, there are “access tokens” that need to be set up and renewed periodically. For other sources, the setup is a bit simpler. Each profile is created as needed in order to establish a source of information.

Once the sources are identified and configured, data acquisition begins. Because Social Engagement has a limit of 10,000 posts collected per month, there sometimes needs to be adjustment made to the topics to narrow or broaden the search. For this reason, it should be understood that Social Engagement is something that needs to be monitored itself. After some data has begun to be collected, the application provides for a rich set of analysis tools. Figure 1 below shows a typical dashboard:

Figure 1 – Typical Dashboard for Microsoft Social Engagement

Integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365

Social Engagement comes with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise Plan 1, as well as the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise Sales and Service apps. However, it is essentially a standalone product that is configured in a separate “tile” in the Office 365 admin portal as shown below.

Note that in the Office 365 Admin center, Dynamics 365 and Social Engagement are managed separately, as each has their own “Admin Center.” However, they can be configured to integrate with each other.  What this specifically means is that data that is automatically captured in Social Engagement can be moved into Microsoft Dynamics 365, both automatically and manually. 

The integration starting point is found in the management section of Social Engagement. In Settings  Connections you will find the ability to connect to both Microsoft Dynamics 365 and even Microsoft Azure Event Hubs, which is used to process massive amounts of data.

Once you have connected your Social Engagement to your instance of Microsoft Dynamics 365, you have the ability to bring that data into your CRM system.

 

An example of how this integration can work is shown in the figure below, which is a part of Social Engagement called the “Social Center.”  In this instance, I have selected a post in Social Engagement that could be a lead in CRM.  To bring up this window clicked the link as shown and I can now create the lead from the post itself.  Once I click Create a lead with show up in Dynamics 365 for me to interact with in my defined sales process in Dynamics 365.

 

This is a demonstration of the ability to create a lead from a social post without leaving Social Engagement.
As you can see, by clicking on the small link icon (circled here) it’s also possible to create Cases (service requests) from posts in the same way. It’s also possible to automate this. For instance, it’s possible to configure the integration in a way where certain posts are added automatically as social activities in Dynamics 365, and then create a workflow in Dynamics 365 to convert certain types of social activities to Cases or Leads.  More information as to precisely how to achieve this is found here.

New Features

A few new features have recently introduced as explained below.

Selling Assistant

With this new feature your team can get personalized recommendations to share on their social networks and enable them to increase their social presence, and ultimately generate more leads. As with all parts of Social Engagement, this requires some configuration – particularly “Get Insights” where users will configure groups of topics that will generate insightful recommendations. This is configured in the new “Social Selling” tile in the Social Engagement app.  Once it is configured, the Social Selling Assistant will provide recommendations, such as the one shown below, where it is suggesting that I Share a post.

Social Insights, Relationship Insights and Customer Insights

This is where it might get a little confusing, because “Social Insights” is a borrowed part of what used to be called Inside View and is now called simply Insights.  Same for Relationship Insight sand Customer Insights.  Previously, Inside View provided information streamed into Microsoft Dynamics CRM about a given Company or topic.  This ability has now been applied to Social Engagement and the Selling Assistant, where there is now an “Assistant” section of the activity pane.  The Relationship Assistant will present a “card” which appears as a sort of reminder as shown below, which is reminding me front and center on the first dashboard I see when I log in about an important task. The same is true for the Selling Assistant. For Customer Insights, an Azure subscription is required and additional configuration as well. Shown below are some “cards” presented in Microsoft Dynamics 365 from the Relationship Insight assistant.

The same card appears under the Assistant section in my Activity Pane:

Summary

Social Engagement as a standalone product provides a one-stop shop for the collection and intelligent analysis of selected parts of the massive social universe that is available to us.  It is a way to focus and present to you and your staff what you may consider the most important part of the “noise” – the part that matters to your business.
Beyond the use of the standalone product, it becomes especially powerful when the data collected from Social Engagement makes its way into the platform you use for sales and service, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise for Sales and/or Service.
The product continues to evolve, especially with the merging of Insights and Social Engagement, and with the release of various “Assistants” to feed actionable information to the Dynamics 365 user. Properly configured, these improvements can have a real impact on the productivity of your teams.
The fact that Microsoft now offers this as an integral part of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise at no additional cost provides a compelling reason to take the time to configure this powerful solution and integration. If you have questions beyond what they article provides, or if you need help in configuring this solution,  please feel free to reach out to us for more information.

 

 

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Getting Started with Dynamics 365 PowerApps

Today, the business world relies heavily on mobile technology. We don’t just work from cubicles, offices and desktop computers; we work from subways and taxis, coffee shops, and basically anywhere that we are. We have the luxury of being able to tackle nearly any work-related task from our phones.

It’s not unheard of, however, that some business tasks still have to be done on computers. Mobile apps for business tasks have lagged behind. Those apps that do exist have not always been as comprehensive or accessible as desktop solutions.

Microsoft saw this issue and presented a remedy: Microsoft PowerApps, which is part of Microsoft Dynamics 365.

But what is PowerApps? Essentially, it’s a simple way for the average person to create the apps they, specifically, need, while leveraging the rich and diverse data sets that are provided with the Dynamics 365 Business and Enterprise Editions.

Developers and other employees alike can quickly create the apps they need with data they already have, be it on-premises or cloud-based.

PowerApps will appear within the app menu of Office 365. Upon logging in for the first time, users will be met with a couple things. In addition to a popup window explaining, in the simplest of terms, what PowerApps can do, there will be several short videos and images showing the user how to go about getting started. In the bottom left corner of the screen, there is a New app button. Click this button, then choose one of the two options that appear: PowerApps Studio for Windows or PowerApps Studio for web. If you aren’t running Windows 8 or 10, you’ll want to choose the web version.

If you’ve chosen PowerApps for Windows, click Get when the page appears, then click Launch once PowerApps has downloaded. If you’ve chosen the web version, you can skip that step.

Within the New tab, choose to either start with your data, or start with a blank canvas or template. For this example, we’ll start with existing data. Click Phone layout for the desired data connection.

Choose the desired dataset from the list that appears

Choose the desired table, then click Connect

The page that appears will allow you to design the app; you’ll choose what order you want data to appear, whether or not to include images, and more. After designing the app, you can share it with any desired individuals.

Don’t think you’re stuck because you don’t have an app that does what you need; PowerApps makes it not only possible, but easy, to create the apps you need in just a few minutes.

Please feel free to reach out to us if you need help with PowerApps or have additional questions.

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Microsoft Dynamics 365 Release

Today (11/1/2016) marks the first Microsoft Dynamics 365 release – specifically, the initial release of Dynamics 365 Business Edition in the US and Canada (initially consisting of Dynamics 365 for Financials), and the release of Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition worldwide. In 2017, not only will additional Dynamics 365 apps come out (for Sales and Marketing for the Business edition), but Dynamics 365 for Financials will be released in an additional four countries. This bold set of applications together are being billed as nothing less than a “Digital Transformation” of businesses of all sizes.

In short, Dynamics 365 helps you automate and streamline your business processes as comprehensively as you like. It is the only cloud-based solution that tackles your customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) needs in one place, along with Office 365, using a “Common Data Model” (CDM). Whether you need tools for sales, customer service, operations, financials, field service, project service automation, or marketing, Dynamics 365 has an app. Today’s release provides the first day of general availability for most of those solutions. The value proposition here is that businesses of all sizes can choose just what they need and pay for those tools to get started, and then grow into a wider set of functions as required.

For small business, today is the first day that Dynamics 365 Business is available, which, at the moment, consists of the “Financials” app.  The Business edition is intended for small businesses with between 10 and 250 employees (although there is no minimum seat count), and allows for simplified accounting and business management. Dynamics 365 for Financials was previously in preview in the US and Canada as Microsoft Project Madeira, and in terms of functionality, it is based on Microsoft Dynamics NAV. It provides contact management and financials for small business with features such as Quotes, Orders, Invoices as well as accounting functions.

NOTE: since Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will no longer be available, and Microsoft recognizes that this will leave a gap for small businesses until the Sales app becomes available, they have agreed to offer the Dynamics 365 Sales, Enterprise edition (this is the “Sales” app that most closely resembles the CRM Sales Module as we now know it) at a reduced-priced for a limited time. Specifically, this app contains the Sales Module entities, such as Leads, Opportunity, Contacts, Accounts, etc. as well as some of the Marketing Module entities, such as campaigns and quick campaigns. The price is $40/user, there is no minimum seat count, but there is a 15 seat maximum. This offer will be available from December 1, 2016 until June 30th, 2017, or until the Dynamics 365 for Sales, Business Edition is released – whichever comes first. Finally, a company who purchases this app now will be eligible to also purchase the $5/user/mo “Team Member” subscription, which provides what amounts to read-only data across the Common Data Model (for now, Leads, Opps, Contacts, Accounts, and other entities available in the Sales app.)

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition is intended for larger organizations (over 250 employees), and is, essentially, a combination of Dynamics AX and CRM, using a CDM. It will eventually make use of Adobe Marketing Cloud suite, the result of a recent partnership with Adobe. The use of the Adobe Marketing Cloud suite differs from the Business edition, which will use Dynamics 365 for Marketing starting in 2017. What is now known as “Microsoft Dynamics Marketing” will no longer be available.

Since change can be stressful, Microsoft has lessened the burden by providing an Assisted Setup & Tasks section on the homepage of Dynamics 365, as well as the offer described above. There is a Getting Started tour to give you an introduction to the application, and then there are access points to create a trial company, import existing company data (vendors, customers, etc.), and set up sales tax, email, and more.

Keep an eye out for instructional posts and videos from xRM to get you started using Dynamics 365,and please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions.

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Microsoft Dynamics 365: The What, When and Why

Beginning November 1, 2016, Microsoft Dynamics 365 will not only be available for purchase, but will replace Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online as we now know it. As announced on October 11 at the CRMUG Summit, the initial Dynamics 365 apps will be available on this date in 135 markets and 40 languages. Additional apps will be released at a later date. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online SKU will be removed from the catalog.

This announcement follows Microsoft’s early July 2016 announcement of plans for Dynamics 365. At that time, Microsoft let it be known that Dynamics 365 would be an evolution of the current CRM and ERP cloud solutions. It would be “one- cloud” service with apps to manage specific business functions. The idea would be to natively imbed Power BI and Cortana Intelligence, and deeply integrate Dynamics 365 and Office 365. The common data model was also introduced at this time, to simplify data management and integration across apps and processes. In short, it sounded like Dynamics CRM, Dynamics AX, and Project Madeira would be repackaged and restructured into Dynamics 365.

Now we have a bit more information. This past Tuesday, Microsoft announced that Dynamics 365 will be a single, cloud-based service that enables companies to address CRM and ERP needs with a variety of powerful apps and ancillary tools to manage nearly every aspect of business. Whether your requirements include sales automation, operations, customer service, or just about anything else, there will be apps for you. The solution will be available in two editions (Business and Enterprise) to suit companies of different sizes (under and over 250 employees).

Two Versions, Two Plans

Business (10-250 employees) Enterprise (250+ employees)
  • Financials (Formerly Madeira)
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • PowerApps
  • Operations (Plan 2 Only – Formerly AX7)
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Customer Service
  • Field Service
  • Project Service Automation
  • PowerApps

 

It is our understanding that the Business Edition will be partially available on November 1, 2016, in the form of the Financials app (formerly known as “Madeira”), plus the optional PowerApps platform. The sales and marketing apps are due out in the spring of 2017.  We believe that these will be similar to the existing modules of the same name in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The Dynamics Enterprise 365 version will be entirely available on November 1, 2016.

Devilish Details

The Enterprise edition will be broken into two “Plans” – Plan 1, which consists of all apps shown above EXCEPT “Operations”, and Plan 2, which consists of Plan 1 plus Operations. Plan 1 (this is the closest thing to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online
as we know it today) will be available with NO minimum user count, which is a departure from the five seat minimum that exists today.  Plan 2, with Operations, will have a 20-seat user minimum.  This makes sense, since a company interested in the Operations app, which was known as AX7, is generally an Enterprise level company. Plan 2 will be considerably higher priced, as well.  From a pricing perspective, Dynamics 365 offers large companies a compelling value proposition, since there is very generously structured pricing model around user license volume and tiers.  Please look for another post soon that details pricing for these products.

A Flexible, Enterprise Platform

The value proposition of Dynamics 365 is that it can grow as you grow, running on an app-based subscription, where you pay for the desired app(s), with each user having a license primarily around job function. This differs from other, more traditional app-based subscriptions that require additional, separate licenses per user per app. This is especially true of the new “Team Access” license, which is priced so low as to attract just about every user in the organization.  Not only does this make it easier for users, but also cheaper. For as little as $5 per month, with tiered pricing based on volume, light-usage customers will have at least read-only access to the entire Dynamics 365 platform.

As announced originally in July, Dynamics 365 will natively imbed Power BI and Cortana Intelligence, and will combine the powers of Office 365, Azure and Dynamics into a powerful tool for delivering solutions. It’s designed to use targeted intelligence, advanced analytics, and machine learning to enrich the user experience and improve the sales process. Running on a new common data model, it will be possible to extend Dynamics 365 capabilities to additional industry- and function-specific tasks using AppSource apps.

The idea is that it will fill the gaps left by others, like Salesforce, and provide a stronger and more comprehensive all-in-one solution, and at an extremely competitive price in the Enterprise space. One of the major ways that it will do this is through PowerApps. Not only does PowerApps make it easy to create new entities and fields, and import and export data into programs you regularly use, like Excel, but it also makes it easy to create your own apps, based on your business need, without needing development knowledge. PowerApps is built for what has recently been dubbed as a legion of “Citizen Developers” that need to whip out departmental-level, clever little applets that draw on the common data model and use as source the various components of the Dynamics 365 and Office 365 stacks.

Considerations for Existing Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customers

For Dynamics CRM Online, specifically, this means that the product SKU and the ability to purchase it as we know it now will be replaced on November 1st with various choices listed above. Our present understanding is that current Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers will be able to choose to either continue using Dynamics CRM Online for the duration of their subscription commitment , or immediately transition to Dynamics 365. The current functionality will still exist in some form within these new Dynamics 365 apps – specifically in the Enterprise choice, which will contain the entire CRM product as it is now configured, but with the additional modules of Field Service and Project Service Automation.

Microsoft has not yet announced whether or not marketing features within Dynamics CRM Online will be replaced by the Adobe Marketing Cloud, but earlier this month, officials announced that Adobe Marketing Cloud would be the preferred solution for Dynamics 365 – at least for the Enterprise edition. In any case, the Marketing app listed above refers to the “lightweight” marketing module in CRM Online now, not Microsoft Dynamics Marketing – our understanding that this product will not move forward.

There is a lot to be said for this bold direction that Microsoft has taken, and there is no question as to the level of commitment shown by this innovative company.  We at xRM applaud the passion that the highest levels of Microsoft has shown in the Dynamics stack. We also understand that this will shake up the space a bit, and in the beginning there may be some complexity to sort out and resistance to change. We encourage the stakeholders on all sides to embrace this platform and make the most out of it.

 

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the Private Cloud

We applaud what has to be described as a major level of commitment on the part of Microsoft to use the accumulated 30 or so years of clout to embrace, inform, and lead the multitude that is their customer base to the concept of “Cloud Computing.”  Between Azure and Office365 it would seem that they have just about all the bases covered.

Well, almost. For those of us who are on the front lines every day, providing solutions for organization of all sizes, we run into compelling reasons for alternative architectures.  I’m referring to the concept of “Private Cloud,” and being a Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner, the context of this discussion will be that product.

Deployment Models and the Power of Choice

But we should back up a couple of steps here and explain some things. With all of the press and discussion these days about the success of the Office365 family, which includes Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, we notice that we don’t hear about the “Power of Choice” much anymore, when it comes to deployment of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and when it comes to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online vs. Microsoft Dynamics On-Premise.  The intention of this next section is to explain fully the various choices of deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online – this is the cloud-based version, hosted by Microsoft, and if you didn’t dig a little, you might walk away thinking this is the ONLY version out there.  But it’s not.  This version, incidentally, is a perfectly fine, and perhaps even the best choice for a certain set of needs:

  • Data stored in a secure cloud hosted by Microsoft.
  • The latest and greatest in terms of updates and new functionality.
  • No requirements for complex home-grown solutions built on top of CRM, or tricky integrations with other systems.
  • A company that needs 5 or more CRM users. (Five users at $65/month, at the time of this writing, is the minimum monthly investment, unless you have Office365 E3+, then it’s $50/user.)

It’s no wonder why this (relatively speaking) “turn-key solution” is wildly popular with most of the companies who require little in terms of complexity and who have just the right number of users.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM On-Premises – this means that your company will purchase the licenses to run Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server, plus the Client Access Licenses required for each user. This is a one-time fee, and you can optionally purchase Software Assurance to ensure that you would get the inevitable updates and new versions as they are released from Microsoft. You would also need to supply the hardware to run the CRM Server software, one way or another, though a lease option, or through outright purchase. You would also need to install the software, and also install software ancillary and supporting software if you don’t already have it, such as SQL Server, Windows Server, etc.

Needless to say, this could potentially be a daunting task, and it can be expensive (you must get official pricing from a “Large Account Reseller”, but roughly figure about $7,500 or more for the server license plus about $1,500 or more for each client (CRM User) license, plus somewhat less expensive licenses for SQL Server, etc.  And finally the hardware to make it run.  Figure about $15,000 in hardware costs for a relatively small company that has to buy all hardware. So as you can see this only really makes sense if at least most of the following is true about your company:

  • You like to “own” software – that is, you are adverse to “leasing” or paying indefinitely on a per-user basis.
  • Your company has the budget.
  • Your company either has the knowledge or doesn’t mind hiring the knowledge to install and configure the initial deployment.
  • You are committed to the software, such that you will receive the full ROI over time.
  • You have special needs, such as the ability to directly access the SQL database.
  • You need to deploy code that is not “sandboxed.” (This is because Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online only supports plugins that run in “Sandbox” mode, which prevents certain types of programmatic calls to the API.)

Trust us, there are many, many On-Premises instances of Microsoft Dynamics CRM out there – it’s just that because of the barriers to entry, we tend to see this for larger organizations. This is especially true because of the unique method of deployment shown below.

The Sweet Spot – Private Cloud, Dedicated Hosting

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Private Cloud Hosting – this is a rather interesting deployment model in that it allows for all of the benefits of the On-Premise model, such as:

  • Direct SQL Access and control over the CRM SQL Database
  • Full administrative management (RDP Access) of the Windows CRM application server
  • Complete control over the ability to run code in Sandbox mode or not.

The reason for this is that at a technical level, this is an On-Premises deployment.

And yet – and here is the very interesting part – there are none of the On-Premise costs for server software or hardware! In fact, this licensing model, if provided by a certain type of Microsoft Partner, can in some cases match the $65/user/month that CRM Online provides.

How is this possible?  Because of a relatively little-known Microsoft type of Partnership called “Service Provider Licensing Agreement.”  This allows companies like ours to offer monthly licensing on on-premise deployments of software like Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SQL Server, etc.

The level of this type of service depends largely on the attitude of the service provider.  In our case, we take a very customized and service-oriented approach.  Every one of our Private Cloud customers are special, and we treat them that way. Thus, we are able to assist companies with just a few users who have interesting needs, as well as large enterprise companies that would rather farm out the server and application management because they have enough going on already. And of course, the large number of companies that lie between those extremes. Wherever you go next, please take the time to investigate thoroughly plans like the ones we offer, so you have a full picture of what is available.

The key to determining whether you are one of those companies that requires this level of service is to ask yourself some of the questions represented by those bullet points above, and then educate yourself as to what is available by reading articles like this one, and visiting sites like ours.

 

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How to get started with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 with nonprofit pricing

Nonprofits Can Win Big with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

If price is the only thing holding you back from using Dynamics CRM 2016, then this article is for you.

The nonprofit pricing for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 makes it a very easy choice.

  • Standard CRM 2016 price: $65/user/month
  • Nonprofit CRM 2016 price: $15/user/month

That’s right – you save $50 per user, per month!  And you aren’t getting some pared down version of CRM Online.  You get the same feature-rich version that everyone else does.

How do I get started?

The first step in the process is setting up a trial – and why not?  This results in even more savings – 30 free days of Dynamics CRM Online for up to 25 users.  You get full functionality of the software and all your data is saved as you go.  Microsoft uses this trial period to confirm your nonprofit status for their records.

There are a few steps to signing up for the trial, but I promise they are worth it. You’ll need to have an Office 365 account. Each Office 365 tenant is classified by its domain, which will resemble yourdomain.onmicrosoft.com.  This is chosen when you first create your Office 365 account (which is completed when you create your CRM Online trial).  This leaves two scenarios:

Scenario 1: You have an existing Office 365 tenant that you would like to add Dynamics CRM to.  Be sure to login rather than creating a new account.  In the image below you can see there is a small ‘sign in’ option at the top.  This will save you time creating the account, allow you to use the same credentials to login to CRM, and have everything organized in a single Office 365 portal.  You will have all your cloud products, billing information, email – all housed in one easy place.

How to get started with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 with nonprofit pricing

Quick Note: Dynamics CRM is not compatible with the O365 portal provided by GoDaddy and is also not compatible with the ‘small business’ O365 plans (which have mostly been phased out.)  If you are still on a small business plan, you can upgrade your O365 portal using the Switch Plans Wizard (see more about that here: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Switch-to-a-different-Office-365-for-business-plan-73318661-8f33-478b-bcc7-fb8d69dbb22a?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US).  You will pay the same price and, in some cases, get additional functionality.  If you’re using GoDaddy for Office 365 and would like to retain all of your information in the same Office 365 tenant, then you will need to migrate over to Office 365 with Microsoft.

Scenario 2: You don’t yet have an Office 365 account.  You will use the following link to start your trial: https://portal.office.com/partner/partnersignup.aspx?type=Trial&id=49c018b8-d949-4541-9edc-d280250efc17&msppid=565380.  The process is simple and you will just need to enter your information when following the trial creation steps.

How to get started with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 with nonprofit pricing

If you have any problems creating your trial, just give us a call.

Finishing Up

Once you complete the process it will take about 30 minutes for your CRM instance to provision.  You will receive a few confirmation emails from Microsoft and at this point you can get started with your full Dynamics CRM access.

Confirming Non-Profit Status

Now that you have your trial setup you just need to reach out to Microsoft to have them approve your nonprofit status.  Reach out to their billing support either by phone or via a chat here https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/contactus?forceorigin=esmc, and go to ‘Accounts and Billing’.  Be ready with your company name, CRM Online trial domain, contact name, address, phone number and email.

Transitioning from the Trial to Paid Subscription

During your trial Microsoft will reach out via email with confirmation to turn your trial into a paid subscription.  At this point just follow the instructions to activate and you’re all set.  The full power of Dynamics CRM at a great rate just for nonprofits!

Other articles you might like:

Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial http://blog.xrm.com/index.php/2013/01/getting-the-most-out-of-your-crm-online-trial-getting-started/

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Discounts for Charities http://blog.xrm.com/index.php/2014/01/microsoft-dynamics-crm-online-discounts-for-charities/

3 Simple Tips to Tailor Microsoft Dynamics CRM to your Business http://blog.xrm.com/index.php/2016/03/3-simple-tips-to-tailor-microsoft-dynamics-crm-to-your-business/

 

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Can’t Get Interactive Service Hub to Work in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016?

You aren’t alone. But we have a solution for you.

Interactive Service Hub is new feature introduced in CRM 2016. However there’s currently a bug that causes the app to get stuck on loading and become unusable.  If you click on ‘Experience it now’ you will be taken to a non-working URL. Very frustrating!

Interactive Service Hub Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

What’s Wrong?

The issue is that the app does not handle properly SSL offloading which is a common configuration used on many platforms. The workaround provided by Microsoft was to disable SSL Offloading, but this breaks connectivity with CRM Outlook client and causes other issues in ADFS so this isn’t a desirable solution.

Isn’t Microsoft Fixing It?

Microsoft has acknowledged that this is a bug, and they are working on a solution.  However, the fix from Microsoft may take some time. In the meantime, we at xRM have created a solution that adds the link to the service hub in a ribbon button available in all entities.

Interactive Service Hub Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

Our solution has been tested and works for the following system scenarios:

Office 2013
Windows 10
CRM 2016

Mobile:
Android 5.1

Office 2016
Windows 8.1
CRM 2016

Contact us today to get this fix.

Want to read more about the Interactive Service Hub feature? Here are some handy links.

And check out our Success Portal, a library of over 400 free educational Dynamics CRM videos.

Other Helpful Articles

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