Are you getting the most out of your Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployment?

CRM deployments are considerable investments. Even cloud CRM services that do not require a lot of equipment and personnel to deploy are considerable investments in the long term. Even a small deployment of ten Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online seats costs $5,280 annually, a significant investment for a small company. Fortunately, CRM is an excellent investment. The average return on investment of Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployments is 243%, and many companies see even more outrageous ROIs (for example 2266% for this company). However, to achieve a high ROI, you have to use CRM well.

Most of us are not getting the most out of our Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployments. It is not our fault. There are hundreds of features and functions, and it is tough to be an expert at every one. Most of us learn the minimum of what we need to function in our defined roles. If we learn to use all of the functionality at our disposal in CRM, however, we’ll be in a much better position to realize the maximum potential ROI of our deployment.

How do we get more out of our CRM deployments? The answer to that question is undoubtedly training, and there are many excellent training resources available at a variety of price points. System Administrators, new users, veteran users moving into new roles, and CRM trainers can all benefit from professional Microsoft Dynamics CRM education.

Training Resources:

  1. Microsoft Learning – Microsoft offers hundreds of training courses for all their products as part of the company’s training and certification program. Microsoft offers courses both online and in person in cities across the world, including 15 courses dedicated to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. Courses range from $795 for a one-day course to $3295 for a five-day course. For those individuals who want to obtain Microsoft Certification in CRM and whose companies can foot the bill for the courses, the Microsoft Learning classes might be the best fit.
  2. Third-Party Microsoft Dynamics CRM Training – Dozens of companies offer training programs designed to improve proficiency in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Many Microsoft Partners offer training programs that are highly customizable to your specific needs. Ask your CRM provider about its training programs or find a Microsoft Partner with a Gold certification in CRM. One of the best aspects of third-party training is that you can get the training customized to your exact needs. Do you need lessons on specific aspects of CRM, such as creating Process Templates, System Jobs, integrating other applications, migrating legacy data, or learning how to become a more effective CRM trainer for your organization? A customized training program from a Microsoft Partner might be exactly what you are looking for.
  3. The Success Portal – The Success Portal is an educational resource from xRM that offers more than 150 Microsoft Dynamics CRM training videos. The short, topical videos are organized into six classes that cover setup, use, configuration, customization, integration, and mobility. The Success Portal is a good option for organizations that need to bring sales or service personnel up to speed quickly in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The Success Portal is free, and its structure allows its users to study as many or as few topics as they wish.

Large business with more resources might choose formal Microsoft Learning, while a smaller business might hire a third-party specialist to train a small number of trainers who can pass the knowledge on to the rest of their teams. Other companies may make use of the free Success Portal for Microsoft Dynamics CRM to bring new employees up to speed quickly. Regardless of which form you choose, training can help you dramatically boost the productivity of your sales and service staffs as well as increase the value of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to your organization.

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Quick tip: CRM Online Administrator password reset

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Administrators can reset the passwords of other Users. You may find this useful if a user is experiencing difficulties resetting their password. In addition to our traditional quick tip walkthrough, there’s a video walkthrough at the end of this post.

Please note: You’ll need a Security Role of System Administrator, Global Administrator, User Management Administrator or Password Administrator to reset passwords of other CRM Online Users. Password Administrators can only reset the passwords of Users and other Password Administrators. User Management Administrators cannot reset the passwords of Billing, Global, and Service Administrators. System Administrators and Global Administrators can reset the passwords of all Users and Administrators.

Navigate to the Admin Home Page and click Users (see below).

 Quick tip: CRM Online Administrator password reset

The window refreshes to the Users page (see below). Check the box next to the User whose password you want to reset (you can reset the passwords of multiple Users by checking multiple boxes), and then click Reset password.

 Quick tip: CRM Online Administrator password reset

The window refreshes and the Reset user passwords page opens (see below). You may send the results of this password reset to as many as five e-mail addresses (separated by semicolons). Click Reset password.

 Quick tip: CRM Online Administrator password reset

Results are displayed with a review of the Temporary passwords that have been assigned (see below). Click Finish to close the window.

 Quick tip: CRM Online Administrator password reset

That wraps up our traditional quick tip walkthrough. See below for the video walkthrough.

The full video is available at the Success Portal for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. The Success Portal is full of tutorial videos and quizzes to help you learn all of the functions of Microsoft CRM Online.

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Quick tip: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you find yourself with a question about your Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployment, one of the first places you should look is the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). If your question starts with “How do I”, or “What is”, it’s almost definitely been answered in the FAQ. The FAQ is a great resource and is helpful to both novice and trained users of Dynamics CRM.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Frequently Asked Questions
Microsoft Dynamics CRM On-Premise Frequently Asked Questions

Each question on this list has an answer (see below), and in some cases the answer includes a link to a help article with a step-by-step resolution.

 Quick tip: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you are looking to get even more out of your Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployment, consider Microsoft CRM Training or joining the Success Portal for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.  The Success Portal is full of tutorial videos and quizzes to help you learn the more advanced functions of Dynamics CRM.

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Quick tip: Determine the version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a mature product, and has been through a lengthy development cycle. As such, it has multiple versions available, and depending on whether you’re using on-premise Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, or partner-hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you could be using nearly any of the recent versions.

It’s common for users to access CRM using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Microsoft Office Outlook plug-in, which also has multiple versions available. It’s critical that you match the proper plugin version to the current version of CRM that you are using. If you mismatch these versions, you may face errors or bugs.

Now that you understand why versions are important, we’ll show you how to check which version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM you’re using.

From Microsoft Dynamics CRM, open the File menu, expand the Help sub-menu, and click About Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

 Quick tip: Determine the version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM

The About Microsoft Dynamics CRM window opens (see below). You can find the version or “build number” of Dynamics CRM in the red rectangle.

 Quick tip: Determine the version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Now that you’ve determined the version of Dynamics CRM that you are using, you can cross-reference it to this table of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and v4.0 Service Updates and Update Rollups. Match the build number that’s listed in your organization’s “About Microsoft Dynamics CRM” window to the build number column in that table, and you’ll be able to determine which specific version of the Dynamics CRM for Outlook client you need to install. Microsoft regularly updates this list as new versions are released.

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Unraveling the Entity: Part 1

In our last post, “What is an Entity”, we talked about Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and the incredible flexibility that its Entity-based model provides. Today, we’re going to take a look at the different Entity types in CRM Online and then we’ll take some initial steps towards unraveling Entities. Once you understand how they operate, you’ll be able to adapt them to your exact business needs. If you are unfamiliar with Entities, Records, Attributes, or Values, we recommend reading our prior post before you begin unraveling.

There’s no shortage of Entities in CRM Online. As a matter of fact, CRM Online is made up of over 250 Entities. It’s important to note that there are four different Entity Types in CRM Online: System, Business, Custom, and Activity.

If CRM Online is a house, System Entities are that house’s foundation. They comprise the most basic functions of CRM Online, and they cannot be customized. Because System Entities cannot be customized, we won’t be discussing them much further in this series.

Activity Entities store information on activities such as e-mails, phone calls, follow-ups, etc. Activity Entities are a special type of System Entity, although the rules on customization differ slightly here. Already existing Activity Entities cannot be customized, although you can create new custom Activity Entities.

Most Entities in CRM Online are Business Entities. They are standard components of CRM Online, and they are customizable. Most users find utility in several of the Business Entities included, such as Contacts, Accounts, and Reports without any need for customization. If you do need to customize a Business Entity, any of its Attributes can be completely changed to match your needs. You might even add additional Attributes to an Entity to supplement its already existing Attributes.

Custom Entities look and act just like Business Entities except that they are unique Entities that you create by customizing CRM Online. Custom Entity creation is straightforward. You can create one yourself from scratch, you can copy another Entity as a starting point and then make changes, or you can import a pre-designed Custom Entity created by a Microsoft CRM Online developer.

Now that you’ve been given the primer on the different Entity types, let’s start unraveling! CRM Online customizations take place in one location, the Solution window. Let’s open the Solution window.

In CRM Online (see below), navigate to Settings > Customization > Customizations and click Customize the System.

 Unraveling the Entity: Part 1

The Solution: Default Solution window opens (see below). This is where 99% of the magic happens in CRM Online customizations! There’s quite a bit going on in this window, so let’s stay focused. Click Entities.

 Unraveling the Entity: Part 1

The window refreshes with a view of Entities that are customizable (see below). Since we haven’t created any new entities, and we know that Business Entities are the only Entities included in CRM Online that are customizable, we know that this view is exclusively showing us Business Entities.

 Unraveling the Entity: Part 1

At this point, you should feel free to open some of the Entities in the view by double-clicking them. If you’re already a CRM Online user, you’re probably familiar with most of the Entities in this list, although you’ve probably never seen them from this perspective.

Here’s a tip for the less technically savvy; This is where things start to get complicated. If you need help customizing Entities you can get free CRM training through the Success Portal for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Next week we start customizing! We’ll repurpose the existing Product Entity into something a car dealership might find useful. Until then, stay tuned.

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