Reminder – CRM Online offers expire June 30, 2011

Microsoft has two great incentive programs that will run out at the end of June 2011—next week.

First, all new CRM Online organizations enjoy a discounted subscription rate of $34 per user per month (23% discount from $44) for the first 12 months.

Second, new CRM Online organizations licensing at least 15 seats receive a $200 rebate for each license! You can use the funds to offset licensing costs, purchase consulting services from xRM.com, or fund other projects. There’s a maximum of 250 rebates and a two-year commitment. Read the Cloud CRM for Less terms and conditions for the official details.

Combining both offers brings the effective cost down to $30.67 per user per month for two years. To put it another way, if you activate by June 30, 2011, you save $4,800 on every 15 seats.

Contact sales@xRM.com to activate your Dynamics CRM Online subscription right away.

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Edit Multiple Records, Part 1: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

You may not know you can do this, but Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 allows you to edit multiple records at the same time. There are two methods. This blog entry, Part 1, gives a walkthrough outlining the steps using the Edit functionality. Next week’s blog entry, Part 2, will describe a more advanced method.

Note: This task requires no extra permissions beyond those found in all default security roles. It is available in all deployments of Dynamics CRM 2011 including CRM Online 2011.

Of the two methods, the Edit functionality is the easier one. This technique is ideal if you need to make a universal change to a number of records found in a single view. For this example, we will edit the Country/Region field in three sample records in the All Leads view.

1. Navigate to a view containing the records you wish to edit. In this example, navigate to Workplace > Sales > Leads and choose the All Leads view. (See below). Check the boxes next to the specific records that require editing. Click Edit.

2. Once the Edit Multiple Records window appears (see below), edit only the fields you wish to update. Fields left blank will leave the corresponding field within the records untouched. Any information you assign to a given field will be applied to all records you checked in the previous step. In this example, we are changing the Country/Region field to “U.S.” Click Save. The window will close and all changes will be applied.

3. Notice that all three records now list the Country/Region as “U.S.” (see below). Since we left all remaining fields blank in the Edit Multiple Records window, all other fields have been left unchanged.

Read next week’s entry on blog.xrm.com to learn an advanced method of editing multiple records at once.

The Edit function in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 saves users the hassle of having to edit records one at a time. This is just one example of the many features in Dynamics CRM 2011 designed to make the end user’s life easier. If you wish to increase your fluency in CRM Online 2011, check out xRM.com’s formal CRM Online training. Follow this link if you are interested in getting started right away with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. For other deployment options, such as partner-hosted and on-premise, follow our xRM call to action.

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Practice Makes Perfect—Sample Data in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Have you recently upgraded or subscribed to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011? Perhaps you are still growing accustomed to the solution. Maybe you need to demonstrate a feature to a colleague or a customer.

You may find sample data to be an effective teaching or practicing tool, as it can help you to familiarize yourself with the product, learn the functionality of various features, and test Microsoft Dynamics CRM configurations and customizations, without affecting real production data.

This blog entry shows how you can install or uninstall the default sample data provided by Microsoft as well as how to create your own sample data. This applies to all deployment models of Dynamics CRM 2011, including on premises, partner hosted and CRM Online 2011.

Standard sample data is installed by default on all deployments of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2011. It is not installed by default on partner-hosted or on-premises deployments, but the default sample data set is available for System Administrators to install if desired. The default sample data set contains multiple records for each of the following entities.

  • Account
  • Article
  • Campaign
  • Case
  • Contact
  • Goal
  • Lead
  • Opportunity
  • Phone Call
  • Subject
  • Task

Below are three walkthroughs that will show you:

  • How to Install and Uninstall Standard Sample Data
  • How to Create and Import Your Own Custom Sample Data
  • How to Delete Custom Sample Data

How to Install and Uninstall Standard Sample Data

Note: This task requires the System Administrator security role or equivalent permissions.

1. Navigate to Settings > System > Data Management and click Sample Data (see below). Ask a Microsoft partner such as xRM.com for help if you do not see the Sample Data icon in your on-premises or partner-hosted deployment.

Once you click Sample Data, you will see one of the following two screenshots depending on whether or not you currently have Microsoft’s default sample data set installed on your system. This is one way of verifying the presence or absence of sample data.

2. If you do not already have sample data, click Install Sample Data (see below). The standard sample data will be installed automatically.

3. If sample data is installed on your system and you wish to remove it, click Remove Sample Data (see below). Note: There is no confirmation step beyond this screen; once you click the button, the sample data is removed automatically.

How to Create and Import Your Own Custom Sample Data

Note: Almost anyone can import data, but you will need a System Administrator role to delete it later (in the next walkthrough).

Note: The default sample records all have “(sample)” in their names, making them easy to distinguish from real production records. It would probably be a good idea to keep that convention when generating your own sample data, or use something similar, such as “(test)”.

You can always create a sample record in Dynamics CRM by navigating to any entity view and clicking New. That’s easy enough, but there is a better method for handling larger numbers of records.

This walkthrough shows how to create multiple sample records in Excel and import them en masse into Dynamics CRM via an import file. It’s a better method for several reasons. It’s fast and easy to build multiple records in Excel by copying and pasting cells or incrementally changing their values. You can save the import file once from Excel instead of saving each record manually in Dynamics CRM. Dynamics CRM keeps track of records that are imported together, making it easier to clean up after your experiments later by deleting all the records of a particular import with a single action. The import files you save can be reused to import and then delete sample records over and over to train multiple new users.

Dynamics CRM makes creating sample data easy by automatically generating templates for its entities, including custom entities. A template is an XML Document suitable for opening in Excel describing the internal data structure of a Dynamics CRM entity. Each entity (typically) has a different structure, so each entity will have its own template. For the purposes of this walk-through, we will be creating sample records using a template for the Appointment entity. (Note: This Dynamics CRM entity template is an XML Document having a file extension of “xml” and should not be confused with an Excel “template”, which would have an “xltx” file extension.)

1. Download the template for the desired entity. Navigate to Settings > System > Data Management and click Templates for Data Import. (See below)

2. Select the entity in the dropdown menu, in this case, Appointment (see below). Click Download.

3. In the File Download dialog box, click Save (see below), and choose a location for your template. The file type will be XML Document.

Note: If you are using Microsoft Excel 2010, do not click Open (see above). This will likely result in an error message saying, “This file is corrupt and cannot be opened.” This can be caused by a variety of reasons. To avoid this, you must first save the file, and then open it from Excel. If it still does not open, try one of the following steps:

  • Add the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online URL to your browser’s trusted site security zone.
  • Unblock the security in the downloaded Excel file. To do this:
    • Right-click the downloaded file and click Properties
    • On the General tab, for Security, click Unblock
  • In Microsoft Excel 2010, enable Protected View for files originating from the Internet
    • Open Microsoft Excel 2010
    • Click the File tab, and then click Options
    • Click Trust Center, and the click Trust Center Settings
    • Click Protected View, and then select Enable Protected View for files originating from the Internet option

4. Once you have opened the XML Document in Excel, you can start adding records by typing in the desired information. The rows are records and the columns are fields. There are certain fields in Dynamics CRM 2011 that must contain data in order for a record to be saved. In Excel, you can identify which fields require data for a successful import by locating the columns with headings in a bold font. For example, when creating an Appointment in Dynamics CRM, Subject is a required field. A new Appointment cannot be made without data in this field. Therefore, in Excel, the Subject column heading appears in bold text. (Note: Required and optional fields are not to be confused with the columns that say “Required” and “Optional” below. These two columns are individual fields in the Appointments entity, which do not require data since their text is not in bold.) After you have created your sample data, save the XML Document and close the file.

5. Import your new sample data into Dynamics CRM 2011. Navigate to Workplace > My Work > Imports and click Import Data in the ribbon (see below).

6. Click Browse… and select the XML Document you saved earlier (see below). Click Next.

7. Choose if you want Dynamics CRM 2011 to allow duplicate records in CRM (see below). Next, choose which CRM user you want the owner to be. Click Submit.

8. To verify that your sample data was imported successfully, navigate to Workplace > My Work > Imports (see below). If the import was successful, you will also find the individual records in their proper location. For this walkthrough, our new custom data will be found in Appointments.

How to Delete Custom Sample Data

Note: This task requires the System Administrator security role or equivalent permissions.

1. In order to delete the custom sample data you have created from the CRM database, repeat step 8 above. Select the sample data you wish to delete (in this example, “Appointment.xml”), then, under the ribbon, click the down arrow under Delete and click All Records Imported to This Entity During This Import (see below). (You will not see that option without the proper permissions.)

Working with sample data can help users hone their skills in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. In some cases however, a business’ needs extend beyond practicing with sample data. xRM.com can help your company improve its Dynamics CRM fluency through formal CRM Online training with a CRM Online implementation and integration. If you are interested in a Dynamics CRM solution, follow our xRM call to action.

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Connections in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, a new feature called Connections adds a layer to records organization, allowing users to connect records in an intuitive manner. Connections gives users insight into their company’s records in Dynamics CRM 2011 at a glance. A user can open any record and quickly identify relationships or a hierarchy by looking at that record’s Connections with other records. Arming users with rapid insight into their company’s records propels them to work more efficiently and effectively.

Here’s a little history: In Dynamics CRM 4.0, a feature known as Relationships allowed users to link Account, Contact, and Opportunity records. Relationships were handy but were limited to records of these three entities. In Dynamics CRM 2011, this theme is extended to all entities, including user-added custom entities, and is made both more powerful and easier to use. Rather than retool how Relationships work in Dynamics CRM 2011, Microsoft added a new feature called Connections to implement the improvement. To smooth the upgrade process, Relationships created in Dynamics CRM 4.0 are not lost and are still supported in Dynamics CRM 2011, however, no new Relationships can be added in Dynamics CRM 2011. Everyone will be able to add new Connections instead.

Another new, related feature is called Connection Roles. Connection Roles can be added whenever a Connection is created in Dynamics CRM 2011. A Connection Role describes the part one record plays in relation to another within that Connection. For example, a user could connect a Contact with an Account and at the same time indicate that the Account is the employer of the Contact by giving it an “Employer” Connection Role. Dynamics CRM 2011 comes with a built-in list of Connection Roles to choose, including Employer, Influencer, Decision Maker, Stakeholder, etc. System Administrators can create new Connection Role types as needed to augment the built-in list. Some Connection Roles are matched in pairs and are called Matched Connection Roles. This automates some of the work. For example, if a user connects a Contact and an Account and gives the Account a Connection Role of “Employer”, the Contact is automatically given a Connection Role of “Employee” because “Employer” and “Employee” are Matched Connection Roles. You’ll see this again in action in the example outlined below.

Creating a Connection is a simple process. From any open record, in this example the Contact record “Darren Parker (sample)”, click Connect from the Collaborate section of the Ribbon. (See below.)

microsoft dynamics crm 2011 connections

The Connection form will appear with the current record indicated at the top. (See below.) Choose the other record under Connect To by clicking the magnifying glass next to the Name field to look up the other record. Give the other record a Connection Role by clicking the magnifying glass next to the As this role field and choosing a Connection Role. In this example, the other record, “Variety Store (sample),” is an Account connected to Darren’s record with a Connection Role of Employer, indicating that Variety Store is Darren’s employer. Because Employer and Employee are Matched Connection Roles, Dynamics CRM 2011 can also immediately set Darren’s role as Employee, as seen in the bottom of the form.

Tip: To avoid getting turned around, think of the top Connection Role as describing how the current record “sees” the other record. You can also mentally replace the text “As this role” with “is my”, so that the above reads “Variety Store is my Employer”.

Tip: When connecting an open record to yourself (to your own User record) there is a shortcut so you don’t have to look yourself up. Instead of clicking Connect (as in the first screen shot above), click the small arrow beneath Connect and then click To Me. Your user record will be preloaded in the Connection form when it opens.

Tip: You can alternatively set the bottom Connection Role instead of the top one. This is handy for setting a non-matched Connection Role when you are in the “wrong” record, such as when setting yourself as Account Manager when you are in your User record instead of the chosen Account record.

xRM.com provides integrated business solutions incorporating Microsoft Dynamics CRM and other technologies in the Microsoft application and server stack. We offer CRM training to end users and system customizers on making the most of new features such as Connections and Connection Roles in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 2

Microsoft has released Update Rollup 2 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. This update rollup includes hot fixes and performance enhancements for the following components, packaged together for easy deployment:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Server
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Microsoft Office Outlook
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 E-mail Router
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Report Authoring Extension
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Language Pack
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Reporting Extensions

Supported Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Prerequisites

  • This update must be installed on a computer that is running Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.
  • This update requires Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0.

The links below will take you to the necessary information about Update Rollup 2:

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Mobile Express Improves in CRM Online 2011

Mobile Express is a streamlined interface for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online that is optimized for small screen navigation. It allows users to access CRM Online (or any other deployment model of Dynamics CRM) via any web-enabled mobile device. In Dynamics CRM 4.0, users could choose which entities appeared when they used Mobile Express. In CRM Online 2011, Mobile Express takes configuration one step further, allowing users to choose which individual attributes appear within each entity.

You will need a System Administrator, System Customizer, or equivalent security role to configure Mobile Express, and you must perform the configuration while accessing Dynamics CRM through a browser or Outlook rather than through Mobile Express itself. Here is a step-by-step walkthrough of how to enable Accounts for Mobile Express.

In Dynamics CRM 2011, navigate to Settings > Customization > Customizations > Customize the System (see below).

This is the step where you choose which entity you wish to configure. As stated above, we will be configuring the Account entity, but you are free to customize any system or custom entity of your choice under the Entities tab. After clicking Customize the System, click on the Account entity. (See below.) Then scroll down to the checkbox for Mobile Express and make sure it is checked.

Now click Forms, which is underneath the Account entity in the left panel. (See below.) When the list of existing forms for the Account entity opens in the right panel, double click Mobile to open the Mobile Express form.

Use the Add or Add All buttons (see below) to move attributes from the Available Attributes list to the Selected Attributes list and make them visible in Mobile Express. Use the Remove and Remove All buttons to move them back and hide them. You can also rearrange the attribute display order in Mobile Express using the Move Up and Move Down buttons. The Read Only button lets you display an attribute without letting the Mobile Express user change its value. When you’re done, click the save and close icon (it looks like a disk with an x over it).

Finalize your changes by selecting the Publish All Changes button back on the Forms page. (See below or above.)

Once you have configured the entities and attributes in Mobile Express to your liking, you can check your changes on your mobile device. Simply type in the URL you normally use to access your CRM Online account through a web browser, then place “/m” at the end of the URL. Here is a generic example, “https://yournamehere.crm.dynamics.com/m”. (You can even try appending /m to the URL in a regular browser to get a look at the Mobile Express view without using a mobile device.)

xRM.com provides integrated business solutions incorporating Microsoft Dynamics CRM and other technologies in the Microsoft application and server stack. We offer CRM Online training to end users and system customizers to ensure that your business fully utilizes its CRM solution along with new features such as Mobile Express entity configuration. If you are interested in a CRM Online implementation and integration, please visit our call to action.

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