The Resource Center: An oasis of knowledge

Generally, we use this blog as a place to share knowledge that’s related to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. Whether it’s a quick tip, a fully guided walkthrough, or a notice about an expiring promotion, we’re always trying to show you something new. Today, we’re departing from the norm. Instead of showing you how to do something, we’ll show you something even better. We’ll show you how to find the information yourself.

Much of what we share is already available, documented by Microsoft, in a centralized location. You’re probably asking, “So where is it?” That’s a great question!

It’s in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Resource Center.

If you’re thirsty to learn more about CRM Online, The Resource Center (pictured below) is a veritable watering hole of knowledge. Finding the information you need is simplified by the compartmentalization of topics. The aptly named Getting Started section is aimed at virgin users of CRM Online. Clicking the Getting started resources for business users link takes you to a selection of guides.

 The Resource Center An oasis of knowledge

These guides (see below) are similar to Microsoft Dynamics CRM training sessions, as they walk you through specific features of CRM Online. There’s even a guide that covers the installation of the “Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Microsoft Office Outlook” add-in. These guides are great, and you especially shouldn’t overlook the two “Quick Start” guides. They give a broad sweep of CRM Online that’s perfect for beginners.

 The Resource Center An oasis of knowledge

Let’s return to the Resource Center (see below) and explore one of the other sections. If you like learning from your peers, you’re going to love the Community section. There are three key components to the Community section: the Forums, the CRM Team blog, and CRM on Facebook.

 The Resource Center An oasis of knowledge

The community forums (pictured below) exist as a virtual place where you and your peers can freely discuss the inner workings of CRM Online. We regularly find users brainstorming together in the forums to help solve each other’s problems, all at no cost to the user!

 The Resource Center An oasis of knowledge

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Team Blog (pictured below) is regularly updated with insider tips and helpful knowledge. You’ll find several similarities between the CRM Team Blog and our xRM.com Microsoft Dynamics CRM Blog. The CRM for Facebook page (not pictured) is a fanpage operated by Microsoft that mostly echoes the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Blog.

 The Resource Center An oasis of knowledge

Returning to the Resource Center once again, let’s divert our attention to the Support section (which can be seen in the first screen shot far above).

Here you’ll find several help and support options. One of our favorites is the Microsoft Knowledge Base (pictured below as Microsoft Support), a searchable compendium of support articles by Microsoft, in one convenient location.

 The Resource Center An oasis of knowledge

Last, but not least, the Resource Center also contains CRM Online videos created by Microsoft (bottom-left in the first screen shot).

If you enjoy the videos listed in the Resource Center, we recommend that you also visit our xRM.com Success Portal for CRM Online, which contains a wide range of tutorial videos created by xRM.com.

There’s a lot to learn at the Resource Center, and it’s all, literally, right at your fingertips. It’s worth visiting and revisiting.

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Are you qualified to receive free Microsoft subsidies?

The Big Easy Offer is back! The Big Easy Offer is a promotion that provides qualified customers with subsidy checks.

You’re probably asking, “Who are these qualified customers, and what are subsidy checks?” Customers who purchase eligible Microsoft software licenses between March 5, 2012 and June 30, 2012 are qualified. Subsidy checks are written by Microsoft, payable to a Microsoft Reseller or Partner of your choice to subsidize your purchase of additional products or services through that partner. That helps flesh out the implementation process and lowers your total costs. For example, if you purchase eligible Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online licenses, you may want to use your subsidy to purchase professional Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online training from xRM.com.

Here’s a full list of the eligible products that quality for the offer, including Microsoft Windows Server, Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and more. You can even calculate your savings ahead of time. Big Easy 8 cannot be combined with Microsoft Cash Rebate, Partner Subsidy, or discounted SKU promotions. However, it is compatible with most Open License and Open Value programs.

Once you have completed an eligible transaction, you have 30 days to register it at the Microsoft Incentives Big Easy 8 website. Registering additional transactions increases your total subsidy.

Within eight weeks of each registration, Microsoft calculates your subsidy and sends you a subsidy check. You then have 90 days to spend it on products or services from your partner.

The following Microsoft web pages are available regarding the Big Easy 8 Offer:

Big Easy 8 Offer Terms & Conditions

Big Easy 8 Frequently Asked Questions

Big Easy 8 Home Page

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Taking a trip to the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace

The Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace might be a foreign concept to you if you are new to Microsoft Dynamics CRM or CRM Online 2011. Never fear—we’ll take a moment to give you some background info and then explain how you can begin to explore the Marketplace to see if there’s anything right for you inside.

To start with the basics, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is completely customizable and extensible. Its basic building blocks can be modified, and extra features can be added to it. Customizations can range from simple to complex. Simple customizations can probably be completed in house by someone without extensive training, but complex customizations can require professional development experience.

Finished customizations can be bundled up in “solutions”, making them reusable and distributable. That allows third-party developers to create packages of customizations ready for resale, and that’s where the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace comes in.

The Marketplace is used to search for solutions from a large directory that contains tens of thousands of IT providers and professionals and their applications and services. You can easily search the Marketplace for a solution for CRM Online 2011, and then find an IT professional to install it for you in your CRM environment.

Are you worried about getting lost in this vast digital Marketplace? The market is logically divided, just like its real-world counterpart, into categories related to particular industries or particular products. All products and professionals are rated by a public reviewing system broken down by price, deployment time, needs met, compatibility, and performance. Many of the products also have viewable demos, allowing you to test them before buying. Do you only want to see listings that have been Microsoft Dynamics Certified? The Marketplace makes this easy. Some products can be delivered instantaneously via digital download.

Visit the future by taking a digital stroll to the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace today. You can also access the Marketplace directly from within CRM Online 2011 by navigating to Settings, Customization, and then Dynamics Marketplace.

xRM.com is a Software plus Services Consultant in addition to a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2011 reseller. Are you looking for an IT professional to install a solution that you purchased from the Marketplace or assist on Business Process and Workflow Consulting? We have Prepaid CRM Online Consulting Time available at a discount.

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Merge Records to Save Data before Deleting Duplicate Records

Did you know you can Merge records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM and CRM Online? This is handy for eliminating duplicate records while retaining their data.

Duplicate records can arise in your database when different users create new records independently. Duplicate records aren’t necessarily identical. For example, two Contact records might have the same first and last name, but one record might contain a phone number not found in the other. Instead of arbitrarily deleting one of the duplicate records and potentially losing any non-overlapping data, you can use the Merge function. This tool consolidates the data from two records of the same type into one record. It works for records of the type Account, Contact, or Lead. We’ll demonstrate the process below.

This task can be performed with privileges found in all default Security Roles in CRM Online.

The first step is to locate the records you wish to merge. In this example, we’ll use two sample Contact records with the same name.

Navigate to Workplace > Customers > Contacts (see below), and select the records you wish to merge by checking their boxes. Then click Merge in the ribbon.

 Merge Records to Save Data before Deleting Duplicate Records

The Merge Records dialog opens (see below). Select the Master Record. The master record is the one that will retain the field values selected from both records. The (unselected) subordinate record is the one that will be deactivated. When you select the master record, all its fields are automatically selected. Now select any fields from the subordinate record (not the master record) you want to retain instead. Notice that the master record in this example does not have any address data, so we have chosen those fields from the subordinate record instead. Once you have identified all of the data you wish to keep, click OK to merge the records.

 Merge Records to Save Data before Deleting Duplicate Records

After the records are merged, a message appears (see below). Just to clarify, the subordinate record is only deactivated, not deleted. Click OK.

 Merge Records to Save Data before Deleting Duplicate Records

Let’s see what happened to the subordinate record. Open it (see below) and you’ll see a highlighted notification including a link to the master record. At the bottom, you can also see that the record Status is set to Inactive.

 Merge Records to Save Data before Deleting Duplicate Records

The Merge functionality is a useful tool that helps keep your CRM Online database organized and prevents important data from being lost. If you would like to learn about additional functions, you might be interested in our xRM.com CRM Online training. If you are an xRM.com customer, we invite you to join the Success Portal by xRM.com, which provides free tutorial videos on CRM Online and other applications. For more information, we invite you to contact xRM.com.

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Getting Personal: CRM Online 2011 and Dashboards

The easily created and customizable Dashboards in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2011 are quickly becoming one of the most useful and talked about features. These dynamic overviews can prove to be critical for managers or department heads, but any user can create a Dashboard.

Microsoft has added some useful Dashboard customization tools. You can rearrange your personal Dashboard on the fly using the new Dashboard layout wizard. We’ll get you started with your first personal Dashboard now!

Navigate to Workplace > My Work > Dashboards. It’s likely that you’ll see the default “Microsoft Dynamics CRM Overview” Dashboard (see below). It contains three Charts and a View, but we’re about to change that. With the Dashboards tab selected, click New.

 Getting Personal CRM Online 2011 and Dashboards

A wizard launches (see below) to guide you through your configuring of the Dashboard. It has six different layouts available, giving users a fair amount of styles to choose from without being overly complicated. In this example, we are going to select the 3-Column Multi-Focused Dashboard. Once you have selected the template, clicking Create will open a full-sized empty template for customizing.

 Getting Personal CRM Online 2011 and Dashboards

You will now see an empty template load with five blank sections. (See below.) Each blank section can have its own Chart, List, Web Resource, or Iframe (where another web page can be inserted). We’d like to see some sales data reflected in our dashboard, so we’re going to create a Sales Pipeline Chart. Select the top left section by clicking inside of its rectangular area, and then click on the  Chart button (alternatively, you can click directly on the miniature chart button inside of the section).

 Getting Personal CRM Online 2011 and Dashboards

A small wizard launches to aid you with the configuration. (See below.) You completely customize the Record Type to display, the View that determines which records are included, and the Chart you want to display it all in. As we mentioned, we are going to create a simple Sales Pipeline Chart that will display the status of your current open sales Opportunities. Keep in mind that any changes made to Views in CRM Online will dynamically update Charts, meaning that anytime you update the criteria of a View, it also updates the criteria of any Chart that uses it. Change the Record Type to “Opportunity”, the View to “My Open Opportunities”, and the Chart to “Sales Pipeline”. Click OK.

 Getting Personal CRM Online 2011 and Dashboards

After you complete the wizard, the Chart appears in the section you selected earlier. If you don’t see your Charts being auto-populated with any data right away, don’t worry. While you are editing your dashboard, real data is not used. After we have finished making our changes, we will look at the dashboard and make sure it is functioning as expected.

After adding a few Charts, your dashboard will begin to take shape like the one below. Give it a Name, and click Save and Close to finalize your dashboard changes.

 Getting Personal CRM Online 2011 and Dashboards

Navigate back to Dashboards, and open the drop-down menu (see below) by clicking the name of the currently selected dashboard (by default, “Microsoft Dynamics CRM Overview”). Click on the name of the dashboard you just saved to load it.

 Getting Personal CRM Online 2011 and Dashboards

Congratulations. Your new dashboard will load with real-time data! (See below.)

 Getting Personal CRM Online 2011 and Dashboards

Although we didn’t include detailed instructions on how, users can also add Lists and Web Resources to their Dashboards using simple wizards. Creating a personal Dashboard does not require any special Security Roles in CRM Online, and each user can have as many personal Dashboards as they want. When users are able to configure how their home pages and Dashboards look, they are more easily able to access and overview critical data.

xRM.com is a Services and Application Hosting Provider that has consistently been a recognized Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner for over a decade. Do you have a question about Microsoft CRM Online or are you interested in how to contact us at xRM.com? Visit our xRM FAQ.

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