Measuring Repeat Business in CRM Online

As CRM Online consultants at xRM (www.xrm.com), we listen to the needs of our clients and then make their vision a reality. This goes beyond implementing requests verbatim. It is important to take in the requirements, understand the driving factors behind them, and deliver a solution that meets the objectives beyond the explicit request of the client.

Recently a client expressed a need to differentiate revenue between first-time and repeat customers. Technically, a simple option set would accomplish this. The requested label of the field was “Client Type,” and the options were simply “New” and “Existing.” However, this solution would lead to less-than-reliable data as it would require user input to set the value. The client was concerned that in adopting a new CRM platform, users would often forget or not have time to verify whether the opportunity was new or repeat business. Fortunately, we settled on a simple way to systematically track repeat business by using a custom rollup field and a workflow.

For those of you uninitiated, a rollup field calculates an aggregate value computed over the child records related to a parent record. In this example, we use a rollup field to count the number of won opportunities related to an account. The process is quite simple.

From the entity in question, Account in this scenario, create a new field. (See below.) In the Type section, select “Whole Number” as the Data Type and “Rollup” as the Field Type. Next, click the Edit button.

Note that once you click the Edit button, CRM Online creates the field and the Data Type field can no longer be modified.

Measuring Repeat Business in CRM Online

The Rollup Field window opens. (See below.) In the RELATED ENTITY section, we choose the entity on which we want to perform the calculation, “Opportunities (Account)” in this example, which means any Opportunity records related to the Account record that has the rollup field. Next, we can optionally specify any filters. In this situation, we define an existing customer as any Account with one or more won opportunities. Therefore, we filter the Opportunities with “If Status equals ‘Won’”. Lastly, we set the aggregation, which will count the number of Opportunities that pass the filter, and then we click Save and Close.

Measuring Repeat Business in CRM Online

It’s important to understand that rollup fields operate on an asynchronous process, and the roll-up is performed every hour. A rollup calculation can be manually triggered by clicking the refresh icon in the actual rollup field on the form.

For testing purposes, it can be good to place the newly created field on the form somewhere to verify that it is calculating correctly. However, the field does not need to be present on any form for the Workflow that we will design shortly to function properly.

Before we can create the workflow, we need the “Client Type” field to exist. The customer in this example wanted the field to reside on the Opportunity entity. This is a simple option set where the values are “New” and “Existing”.

Once the necessary fields are in place, we can design the Workflow. This workflow is triggered whenever a new Opportunity record is created.

The first step is a Check Condition that checks if the Parent Account of the Opportunity has a Won Opportunities value greater than zero.

Measuring Repeat Business in CRM Online

If the Won Opportunities is greater than zero, then the workflow updates the Client Type to “Existing”. Otherwise, the Client Type is set to “New”.

Measuring Repeat Business in CRM Online

This workflow takes the human error component out of properly categorizing repeat business per these specifications. There is not only one way to design this workflow. The requirements of the scenario should dictate how the workflow should be written. What defines a repeat customer? Is there more than one way to establish a customer in CRM Online than with a won Opportunity? What other kinds of automation can be implemented from this logic? These are all important questions that need to be answered. As expert CRM Online consultants, xRM can help you achieve the optimal solutions.

You can learn more tips, tricks, and tutorials for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, please check out our xRM blog and our Success Portal. If you would like to receive training from our team of experts, please inquire about our QuickStart Training.

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Editing Multiple Records in CRM Online with Excel Online

Editing multiple records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM at once hasn’t always been the easiest of tasks. It’s a common request of our developers at xRM (www.xrm.com) to find ways to update existing data without third-party solutions. Bulk editing has always been supported, but every included record had to take the same new value. If you wanted to make non-uniform changes, this required exporting records to an Excel spreadsheet that was capable of being reimported back into the system using a template. Previously, the template was often finicky, making the process frustrating at times. Fortunately, CRM Online Update 1 introduced a welcome new feature: Open in Excel Online.

This feature is often billed as a means of performing ad-hoc analysis—take a look at this Microsoft Dynamics CRM Help & Training page—rather than an editable grid. Clients of ours at xRM oftentimes don’t even notice the feature, let alone know it can be used an import tool. However, Open in Excel Online can be a tremendous timesaver. The key is to know how to use it. Please note that this task requires an Office 365 license.

Let’s use an example of updating Account records in CRM Online. We have a set of Accounts that have the state in their address entered inconsistently or incorrectly. This can lead to inaccurate reporting and unreliable search results, among other issues.

Editing Multiple Records in CRM Online with Excel Online

If we want to update these we can click the Export to Excel button in the command bar, and then click Open in Excel Online. However, if we want to make other modifications to the data we need to make sure that all of the fields that need to be modified are represented as column headings in the view. For example, if we want to edit the cities and change ownership of these accounts we need to add Address 1: City and Owner as columns before exporting to Excel Online. This can be easily done by using the Advanced Find feature, found in the upper, right-hand corner of the browser.

Editing Multiple Records in CRM Online with Excel Online

In the Advanced Find window, we click Edit Columns in the ribbon. In the Edit Columns window that opens, we click Add Columns, select the fields we want to update, and then click the OK button. We should see a preview of the columns you have selected and click OK once again. Back at the Advanced Find window, we must be sure to save our changes before closing the window.

We should now be back at our view with the newly added columns. If they aren’t visible, we can always refresh the web browser and the changes should take effect. We are now ready to click Export to Excel, and then select Open in Excel Online. The browser will refresh, and the CRM records will be rendered as rows in an Excel spreadsheet. We can now update the data inline as if we were updating any normal Excel data, by clicking a cell and typing. We can even use Find and Replace, Copy and Paste, or other Excel editing functions as needed. As we update records, we want to be sure that we are following the data type of the respective fields. For example, we don’t want to enter “Fifty Dollars” into a field that tracks currency. The correct entry in that example would be “$50.00”.

Editing Multiple Records in CRM Online with Excel Online

As you can see in the image above, we’ve updated our records and even assigned some accounts a new owner. For the reassignment to be successful, it’s important for the name in the Owner column to match the exact spelling as the name of the User record in CRM Online. I know that Liz’s name is spelled correctly, but if I enter “Elizabeth Smith,” the reassignment will not be successful. The same goes for any lookup reference when using Excel Online to update records.

The data is ready, so we can click the Save Changes to CRM button. We should see a notification like the image below:

Editing Multiple Records in CRM Online with Excel Online

We can click the Close button and return to the CRM Online interface. The changes will not happen immediately. They are brought in as an import, so it will take a minute or two depending on the size of the update.

Editing Multiple Records in CRM Online with Excel Online

After we give it a moment, and then refresh the View, we see that the data was successfully updated.

You can learn more tips, tricks, and tutorials for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, please check out our xRM blog and our Success Portal. If you would like to receive training from our team of experts, please inquire about our QuickStart Training.

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More CRM Online 2015 Update 1 Videos

Microsoft regularly posts videos pertaining to its Dynamics solutions on the Microsoft Dynamics YouTube channel. Back in March, xRM (www.xrm.com) published a post that bundled some CRM Online Update 1 videos from Microsoft on YouTube since there was no such playlist on the channel. Since then, Microsoft has released 11 new videos that cover Update 1 specifically. Once again, we’ve bundled them together for your convenience. Enjoy!

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 – Customizations New Features – Four key topics are covered: UI changes (including theming), the new DateTime attribute behaviors, calculated  and rollup field enhancements, and new query operators.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 – Application New Features – You don’t need to be a developer to greatly configure CRM Online. In this video, learn about process action from a workflow, honoring required steps at the platform level, new features for business process flows, and a new capability that allows business rules to clear field values.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 – CRM Office Integrations New Features – CRM Online integration with Excel has seen some significant improvements. This video highlights points of pain in the integration between Excel and prior versions of CRM Online, it discusses new improvements, and explains how CRM data is translated into Excel.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 – Folder Based Email Tracking New Features – Folder based email tracking opens the door to a number tracking possibilities. The primary goals of this video are to teach you the following: how folder-level tracking works, how to use the feature to track emails quickly, and requirements as well as best practices.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 CRM for Phones New Features – This video focuses on changes made to the CRM for Phones app as part of the CRM Online Update 1 release.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 – SharePoint Integration New Features – Server-based SharePoint integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM was introduced for CRM Online 2013. This feature has now been expanded to on-premises deployments as well. Learn about the benefits of server-based SharePoint integration, plan on how best to move away from the list component (how SharePoint previously integrated with Microsoft Dynamics CRM), and learn what is required to successfully set up a hybrid integration.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 – Yammer Integration New Features – Microsoft is introducing some Yammer integration enhancements with this update.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 – CRM Online Administration New Features – As an administrator, learn how to schedule your CRM Online update and how to prepare for it.

Installation and Configuration for Microsoft Dynamics Marketing Connector for Microsoft Dynamics CRM – This lesson is not exclusive to CRM Online Update 1 deployments, but it is an important lesson with Microsoft Dynamics Marketing becoming an ever more important solution in the Dynamics family. This comprehensive video covers the process of installing and configuring the Microsoft Dynamics Marketing Connector for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 – CRM SDK New Features – This one is for you developers out there. You can review enhancements made to the CRM Online API.

CRM Online Update 1 is now available only for CRM Online 2015. It will be made available for on-premises deployments later.

You can learn more tips, tricks, and tutorials for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, please check out our xRM blog and our Success Portal. If you would like to receive training from our team of experts, please inquire about our QuickStart Training.

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Creating Multi-entity Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Data is more abundant than ever today, but what good is all that data if you have no means of sorting through the influx? One of the goals of xRM (www.xrm.com) when helping clients deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM is to ensure that they can easily understand their data by displaying it in ways that make sense.

Business Intelligence (BI) applications are purposed to help people make sense of data. A number of BI applications are available. Microsoft now has its own offering—Microsoft Power BI—which integrates directly with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. One of the benefits of Power BI is the ability to easily create visuals with data from multiple tables. For a brief background on this concept, watch the video, Creating Relationships in Power BI Designer.

However, did you know that we can do something similar to that in Microsoft Dynamics CRM without a BI application? It’s not even necessary to export to Microsoft Excel. We can accomplish it by combining data from related entities on a single view.

To illustrate this, let’s find the total estimated revenue of all open Opportunities, organized by City. The initial obstacle is that the City field is not found by default on the Opportunity entity in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The City field resides on the related customer entity, Account in this example. The estimated revenue is found on the Opportunity. So the data we need exists in two different entities, Accounts and Opportunities.

Let’s open Advanced Find. The button can be found next to the global search feature in the navigation bar of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015.

Advanced Find requires us to choose an entity to search for. Should we start at the Account or Opportunity entity?

To answer that question, we need to think about how the entities relate to one another. Each Opportunity record is a child of a parent customer record, an Account in this example. Opportunities can be related to only one Account (N:1) whereas Accounts can have multiple Opportunities related to them (1:N). Advanced Find will only let us grab data from related entities when it is possible to resolve a single record, which can only be done from the perspective of a child record. A child record can only have one parent. Therefore, we need to begin building this view from the Opportunity entity.

It should be noted that starting from the child record (Opportunity in this example) is not an absolute certainty. A rollup field could be designed and placed on the Account record that calculates all estimated revenue. For the purposes of this example however, we’re assuming this is an unmodified Account entity.

Let’s design the view now in Advanced Find, starting from the Opportunity entity. We can begin from something like the default Open Opportunities view. From here, we need to click the Edit Columns button in the ribbon, thus opening the Edit Columns dialog.

Creating Multi-entity Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

We can then click the Add Columns button which opens the aptly named Add Columns window. Notice the Record Type drop-down (pictured below). By default, it’s set to the starting entity, Opportunity in this example. This means we can include attributes of the Opportunity entity as column headings, Est. Revenue being an example. However, we can also change the record type to a related entity and add attributes from related entities as column headings. This simple, yet often overlooked, feature is how we bring data from multiple entities into a single view.

Creating Multi-entity Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

When we change the Record Type to “Potential Customer (Account)” (see below), the available attributes change to those of the Account entity. We can now check the Address 1: City checkbox to add it to the view. Note that if we were to export the view to a tool such as Excel to plot locations on a map, it might be a good idea to include Address 1: State/Province. That way, Excel would know if we’re referring to Springfield, MA or Springfield, IL.

Creating Multi-entity Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

We can then move the columns as we see fit using the arrow icons back at the Edit Columns window. When we’re done, we can click the OK button to close the window and return to Advanced Find. Typically, it’s a good idea to click the Results button to make sure the view is to your liking. If it is, we can click the Advanced Find tab in the ribbon, click Save As, and name the view.

We now have a view that contains data from multiple entities. We can design a chart based on that view that shows us Est. Revenue by City, something we couldn’t do before we designed this view.

Creating Multi-entity Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

If we wanted to export the data to Excel to take advantage of say the Power Map feature, we can do so in a single export.

Creating Multi-entity Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

For many clients we at xRM work with, the primary goal of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployment is to improve their decision making. Knowing how to extract and display useful data from the database is crucial in achieving this. There are add-ons and third-party applications that can help in this regard. Microsoft Power BI is an example of such an external tool. However, it’s important to have a grasp on the features available to us directly in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Something as simple as the Advanced Find tool can be extremely powerful in surfacing data vital in making key decisions.

If you would like to learn more tips, tricks, and tutorials such as this one, please check out our xRM blog and our Success Portal. If you would like to receive training from our team of experts, please inquire about our QuickStart Training.

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Power BI Dynamics CRM Online Connector

In February, Microsoft released a new version of the Power BI Designer Preview. If you haven’t heard of Power BI, it’s a business intelligence platform that helps make sense of your data through robust querying and reporting features. If implemented correctly—xRM (www.xrm.com) can help with implementation—your team can make effective decisions more quickly than ever before. The idea is to host these reports on a SharePoint site where members of your team can interact with the data.

The Power BI Designer Preview is a client that you can download for free and try yourself. This is the tool that allows you to connect to your database, query the relevant data, and design the reports. Up until now, connecting to a CRM Online database was a little tricky. With the latest update, it’s easier than ever.

From the open Power BI Designer Preview client, click the New Source button in the ribbon.

Power BI Dynamics CRM Online Connector

The Get Data window opens. Select Other > Dynamics CRM Online, and then click Connect.

Power BI Dynamics CRM Online Connector

You are then prompted to provide the URL for the Dynamics CRM OData service.

Power BI Dynamics CRM Online Connector

Where can you find that URL? It’s actually not difficult, and you do not need administrative privileges in CRM Online to find it. In CRM Online, navigate to Settings > Customization > Customizations and click Developer Resources. You are taken to a page that has your organization information. At the bottom is the Organization Data Service section. In it is a link, which is your OData service. You can copy the link, or click it, which opens a new tab. The URL in the address bar of the new tab is your OData link as well. Copy and paste it into the Power BI Designer and then click OK.

The Power BI Designer will then connect to your database and detect the tables of data in it. You can then select the tables you wish to work with, define your queries, and build your report.

Power BI Dynamics CRM Online Connector

If you would like to learn more tips, tricks, and tutorials such as this one, please check out our xRM blog and our Success Portal. If you would like to receive training from our team of experts, please inquire about our QuickStart Training.

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CRM Online 2015 Update 1 Videos

Microsoft recently released some new YouTube videos on its Microsoft Dynamics channel in anticipation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1. Unfortunately, the videos aren’t collected in a playlist specific only to Update 1 differences. Don’t worry! xRM (www.xrm.com) has organized a subset for you below. Note: Update 1 will be made available only for CRM Online 2015 first and will be made available for on-premises deployments later.

CRM Online 2015 Update 1 Videos

New navigation for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online – Hooray! Navigation is easy again in Update 1. (Readers who used to use version 2011 know what that means.)

Theming with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 – Have you ever wanted to change the colors of CRM Online or add your own company logo? Now you can.

Overview of Mobile Application for Smart Phones for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 – Access records on the go.

Extend Dynamics CRM to your Smart Phone with CRM Online 2015 Update 1 – Customize what you can do with CRM Online on your mobile device.

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How to Format Field Labels

The Form Editor in Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers a plethora of configuration options to administrators. One of the easier configurations to achieve is creating a custom field. A common question clients of ours at xRM (www.xrm.com) ask us is, “How do I get the whole label to display?” Take a look at this screenshot Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 to see an example:

How to Format Field Labels

The custom field’s label, “Total Number of Members,” is cut off. Not only is it not aesthetically pleasing, but it can lead to confusion when filling out the form. Luckily, there are three solutions for this problem.

Solution One: Reword the Labels

An important part of good interface configuration is choosing label text that is short, sensible, and easy for users to read. For example, “Total Number of Members” could be, “Members,” or “Member Total.” However, sometimes the label simply cannot be reduced. In those situations, Solution Two or Solution Three can help.

Solution Two: Adjust Field Label Position

The first solution is to format the field labels so that they appear above the fields. This is done from the Form Editor. To get there, click the More Commands button (it looks like an ellipsis) in the command bar, and then select Form. Please note that you’ll need a Security Role of System Customizer or equivalent privileges to see that in the menu.

How to Format Field Labels

When the Form Editor opens, double-click the section of the form containing the field whose label was cut off. The entire section should be highlighted in a blue line when you double-click it.

How to Format Field Labels

The Selection Properties window opens. Click the Formatting tab and scroll to the bottom. In the Field Label Position section, select Top. Then click the OK button to accept the changes and close the window.

How to Format Field Labels

Back at the Form Editor, click the Save button. Then click the Publish button. The Form Editor can be closed once publishing is complete. Before the changes can take effect, the browser must be refreshed.

Once the window refreshes, notice that the field label appears in its entirety:

How to Format Field Labels

Solution Three: Field Label Width

This solution gives more space for the label to appear and keeps it on the same line as the field. Open the Form Editor once again by clicking the More Commands button and selecting Form.

How to Format Field Labels

When the Form Editor opens, double-click the section of the form containing the field whose label was cut off. The entire section should be highlighted in a blue line when you double-click it.

How to Format Field Labels

This time, when the Section Properties window opens, stay in the Display tab. In the Field Label Width section, increase the pixels to widen the allotted space for the field labels in this section. This might take some trial and error to get it to the ideal width for the form in question. To preview the changes without publishing them, click the Preview button in the ribbon and select Create Form.

How to Format Field Labels

After the pixels are set, save and publish the changes. Once the Form Editor is closed, refresh the browser to see the changes.

How to Format Field Labels

This particular example required 150 pixels to make all of the field labels fully visible. This number will vary depending on the number of characters in the longest field label and the width of the column in question.

All solutions covered in this post are perfectly valid options for making field labels fully visible, though one is preferable over the other in certain situations. Solution Two is better if the goal is to make better use of horizontal space. Placing the labels above the fields does not eat into the fixed width in pixels for the columns on the form. However, this solution will extend the vertical space occupied by the section, thus requiring users to scroll vertically slightly more. Solution Three conversely is ideal for conserving vertical space. However, extending the field labels in width eats into the space allowed for the data in the fields. This can lead to the data itself being visually cut off rather than the label. If the tab on the form containing the modified section is one or two columns in width, this may not be an issue. But in three to four column tabs, horizontal space becomes more limited. In summary, there is no perfect solution. It depends on the form and the interface experience you as an admin are trying to create for your users.

If you would like to learn more tips, tricks, and tutorials such as this one, please check out our xRM blog and our Success Portal. If you would like to receive training from our team of experts, please inquire about our QuickStart Training.

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