Let’s Socialize

Lets SocializeBack in November 2011, Activity Feeds became an important addition to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and CRM Online via a service update. Modeled after the Facebook wall, Twitter feed, and LinkedIn updates, Activity Feeds provide users with an event-driven view of changes and collaborations in your Dynamics CRM organization. However, Activity Feeds are not social CRM, meaning they have nothing to do with social media. With Update Rollup 12 though, that’s about to change.

Microsoft is now integrating the enterprise social network Yammer into Dynamics CRM 2011 and CRM Online. In fact, this latest update is merely the first phase of integrating Yammer as a social layer. As of January 2013, users will be able to post messages from Dynamics CRM to Yammer and vice versa. These messages can relate to records, events, and documents.

The idea is to make collaboration not only easier, but much more effective. As you follow a lead that you are responsible for or are interested in, you can use Yammer to collaborate with colleagues inside your organization or with customers, partners, and stakeholders. These social conversations can take place directly within Dynamics CRM, through the Yammer web and desktop applications, as well as apps running on Microsoft (Windows Phone), Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) mobile devices.

Lets SocializeMicrosoft is further extending this social media experience with the introduction of embedded Skype support. This provides users with additional flexibility in embedded communications on top of the currently supported Microsoft Lync integration. Users will be able to initiate calls to phones and other Skype accounts directly from an open Dynamics CRM form. Before you can take advantage of this capability, you will need to install Skype onto your PC.

With the exponential growth of social media, this integration of Yammer and Skype with Dynamics CRM will no doubt be a powerful tool. We look forward to providing you with relevant tutorials soon here at this blog, as well as at the Success Portal.

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Consulting On a Budget

A lot of small business owners and managers realize that a CRM solution could make their marketing, sales, and service efforts more efficient and make a major impact on their bottom lines. They frequently put the Internet to work and find the information that they need to pick a CRM product that meets their requirements. Once they make a purchase decision, they often find themselves in a difficult position, however. They have a CRM solution with a vast feature set but lack the experience and knowledge to successfully implement the solution and train their employees to use it well. To make matters worse, they also tend to have tight budgets with little wiggle-room for implementation and training.

To help illustrate this scenario, we’ll pretend that we are running a small real estate business. Our business is growing, and our current system of using Excel and Outlook to manage our customer relationships just isn’t working anymore. We decide that it is time to invest in a CRM application. We want a product that feels like it was designed with small businesses in mind but that isn’t handicapped by a limited feature set. After extensive online research, we decide on CRM Online, the cloud version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, because of its feature set, flexibility, and price.

We successfully get our account set up and provision our users. Because we aren’t Microsoft CRM experts, we have some questions regarding configuration and training. We have a powerful CRM solution, but don’t have a good idea of how to use it to transform our business. We’re a small business with a limited budget. We don’t have any developers or administrators on staff with Microsoft Dynamics CRM experience. Hiring CRM consultants to help us seems logical, but it is also potentially impractical given our budgetary restrictions. What options do we have left?

At xRM, we are sympathetic to the needs of small businesses, which is why we offer a variety of Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployment packages that provide the guidance you need at a low fixed price. The deployment packages offer various amounts of education, training, customization, and consulting time. We also offer prepaid consulting time at a discounted rate. This way, you can buy budget-friendly blocks of consulting time. Whether you need training, configuration, or customization, prepaid consulting time can be a welcome solution for small businesses that need a little bit of help from expert Microsoft Dynamics CRM consultants.

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Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial – Security Roles

In the first entry in this series, “Getting the Most Out of You CRM Online Trial – Getting Started,” we took the first step towards maximizing the effectiveness of our CRM Online Trial. Now that we are starting to familiarize ourselves with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online by practicing some tasks we’ve learned from the Success Portal, we are ready to take the next step in our evaluation.

As the primary evaluator of our CRM Online trial, we probably want to see how our employees will interact with CRM. The trial does allow up to 25 licenses to be assigned, and we can start adding real users and inviting our employees to experience the trial. Ideally, real people in our organization would take the time to evaluate CRM Online using the modules and functions that are essential to their tasks. But, what if they are too busy to take the time to evaluate a trial? We can always put ourselves in their shoes and explore CRM Online as a typical sales, marketing, or service user.  

A simple way of doing this would be to create some “dummy” users. By creating a dummy user and signing in as that user, we can examine CRM Online from the perspective of another security role. For example, if I were to sign up for a trial, I might add three users and name them “xRM Sales”, “xRM Marketing”, and “xRM Service”. We can then assign them the default security roles of Salesperson, Marketing Professional, and Customer Service Representative, respectively.

What if we need to make some changes to the organization when we’re signed in as xRM Sales? We’d have to sign out and then sign back in as the administrator. Once we finished making our changes, we’d have to sign out, and then once again sign back in as xRM Sales to see how the changes affected the dummy user. That seems like a lot of unnecessary work.

Never fear, we have created three separate security roles that copy the basic rules of each of these default security roles, except they have all of the administrator privileges. This way, we can explore the functionality of the Marketing Professional security role, yet be able to make administrative changes to the organization as needed. We’ve shared them on the xRM.com Blog SkyDrive for your usage. The file containing the security roles is called TrialSecurityRoles_1.0.zip.

To import the security roles after you’ve downloaded and saved the file, in CRM Online, navigate to the Settings > Customization > Solutions. Click Import in the toolbar and then select the file.

 Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial Security Roles

Once the solution is imported and we publish the customizations, we can assign these security roles to our dummy users. We can disable the dummy users once we are done evaluating CRM Online.

Hopefully, this will further assist you in getting the most out of your CRM Online trial.

In our next post, we will discuss sample data, how we can augment it, and how we can remove it to make way for our company’s real data.

Good luck and check back soon!

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 12

Update Rollup 12 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is now available. It can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center as of January 10, 2013 or updated through Microsoft Update as of January 22, 2012. This update is available for all languages supported by Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and resolves a number of updates and hotfixes. It also introduces additional browser compatibility for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. The list of devices, operating systems, and specific browser versions is detailed in the table below.

Platform Internet Explorer Firefox Chrome Safari
Windows XP Version 8 Version 16+ Version 22+ Not Supported
Windows Vista Version 8 and 9 Version 16+ Version 22+ Not Supported
Windows 7 Version 9 and 10 Version 16+ Version 22+ Not Supported
Windows 8 Version 10 Version 16+ Version 22+ Not Supported
Apple OS X 10.7 (Lion) Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported Version 6+
Apple OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported Version 6+
Apple iOS (iPad) Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable Supported

 

Additionally, the update includes new indexes for the following entities in the Quick Find Search Optimization feature.

Entities:

  • Business Unit
  • Cases
  • Competitors
  • Connection Opportunities
  • Connection Role
  • Contact (the Phone Number fields)
  • KB Article
  • Lead
  • Product
  • Sales Literature

Supported operating systems: Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Prerequisites: You must have Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 6 (build 5.0.9690.1992) or a later version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 installed to apply this update rollup.

Important Notes:  Update Rollup 12 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 has no hotfixes or updates that you must enable or configure manually. You can uninstall Update Rollup 12 from a server that is running Microsoft Dynamics CRM. However, back up your databases before you uninstall Update Rollup 12. You cannot import a database that was created by using Update Rollup 6 or a later version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 into a deployment of Update Rollup 5 or an earlier version of CRM 2011.

Links:

Microsoft Support: Update Rollup 12 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is available

Microsoft Download Center: Update Rollup 12 for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

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Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial – Getting Started

By signing up for a free 30-day trial of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, you are taking your first step towards improving your business’ marketing effectiveness, boosting your sales productivity, and enriching your customer service interactions. But how do you effectively measure and evaluate this application’s contribution to your business in just 30 days? We’re going to help you do just that with this series of posts. 

When we sign in to our CRM Online trial for the first time as our organization’s administrator, we might be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data available to us. We’ll see dashboards containing various charts, a sales pipeline representing seemingly arbitrary dollar amounts, activities that mean nothing to us, and a button that says, “Get CRM for Outlook”. 

Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial – Getting Started

Where in the world do we begin? Before we start clicking away and drilling down into functions that don’t make sense to us yet, let’s plant our feet firmly on the ground by understanding something important: this is a default deployment of CRM Online. It is a newly unwrapped, right-out-of-the-box tool that doesn’t resemble the refined instrument it will become when it is firing on all cylinders for our business.

For example, take a look at the Sales Pipeline. It looks like a functioning pipeline with several color-coded segments that represent the various stages of the sales process. However, it’s a result of the sample data set, and until we make some customizations to our organization, only sample data will display a neat, succinct pipeline funnel chart like this one. That doesn’t mean we cannot build a sales process, we should just understand that we need to mold CRM Online to our business’ needs. And my goodness, CRM Online certainly is moldable.     

Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial – Getting Started

Now that we understand our starting point, we want to learn some basic functions in CRM Online. To do that, we should stop by the Success Portal by xRM.com. It contains a number of resources, like introductory videos, how-to tutorials, and instructional webinars, all of which will help us make the most of our CRM Online deployment. Check out this Introduction to the Success Portal to learn more.

The first stop in the Success Portal is “Getting Started”. This section contains a number of videos that will help us establish a foundation of basic CRM Online knowledge from which to build. We can use the sample data that comes with our trial by default to practice some of these tasks:

  • Adding Users
  • Assigning Security Roles
  • Creating a Team
  • Importing Data
  • Inviting Users
  • Outlook Client Installation
  • Setting Personal Options

Once we start to get an idea of how CRM Online works on a basic level, we want to know how our employees will use this tool. In the next post of this series, we will add a few dummy Users to our organization, assign them each a Security Role that I’ve created, and then sign in as these Users to help us see CRM Online through the lens of our employees.  

Good luck and check back soon!

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