Mainstream Support for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Expires, Moves to Extended Support

As of April 9, 2013, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 moved from mainstream support to extended support. The CRM 4.0 software will be on extended support until April 10, 2018. It is not required to upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, however Dynamics CRM 4.0 users should understand how the support changes will affect their CRM deployment moving forward. If you are a customer using Microsoft CRM 4.0 On-Premise, you will no longer receive the following support items:

–          Warranty claims

–          Design changes and feature requests

–          No-charge incident support

–          Non-security hotfix support (except for customers who purchase an Extended Hotfix Agreement by July, 8, 2013)

Microsoft supports its software releases in phases. When Microsoft releases a new version of one of its applications, it continues to support the previous version as a mainstream release. Mainstream means that Microsoft will treat the release like their current production release and special conditions still apply. These special conditions include hotfixes for bugs, cumulative updates or service packs at longer intervals, and offering per-incident paid and prepaid technical support cases. After a couple years, Microsoft ends the special conditions and transitions the software into a phase called “extended support,” which typically lasts for five more years.

The table below, extracted from the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ, highlights the differences between mainstream support, extended support, and online self-help support for software products.

Support provided Mainstream Support phase Extended Support phase
Paid support (per-incident, per hour, and others) X X
Security update support X X
Non-security hotfix support X Requires extended hotfix agreement, purchased within 90 days of mainstream support ending.
No-charge incident support X  
Warranty claims X  
Design changes and feature requests X  
Product-specific information that is available by using the online Microsoft Knowledge Base X X
Product-specific information that is available by using the Support site at Microsoft Help and Support to find answers to technical questions X X

Source: Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ, http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifepolicy 

Note A hotfix is a modification to the commercially available Microsoft product software code to address specific critical problems.

 

Non-security hotfix support requires an Extended Hotfix Agreement purchased within 90 days of mainstream support ending. There are two methods available to sign up for the Extended Hotfix Agreement. The first option is an add-on program for existing Premier Support Customers. These customers can purchase the extended hotfix support for an annual program fee plus an additional fee for each nonsecurity hotfix provided in a contract year.  The second option is available on select products. You can enroll in Software Assurance or Business Ready Enhancement Plan at any time and only pay a fee for each nonsecurity hotfix needed.

According to Microsoft Services, you should consider purchasing an Extended Hotfix Agreement in the following situations:

–          When changes are made to products in the Extended Support phase.

–          When migration to a supported product cannot be completed by the end of the Mainstream Support phase.

–          If you have a history of requesting new nonsecurity hotfixes in any phase of the Support Lifecycle.

To discuss upgrade options from CRM 4.0 to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 contact xRM, a certified Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner. Visit our website at www.xrm.com or call us at (800) 836-5147.

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Update Rollup 13

On Tuesday, March 26, 2013, Microsoft released Update Rollup 13 for on-premises and partner-hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 customers. Unlike Update Rollup 12, this update does not include any major new functionality.

The update includes hotfixes for a number of issues that the Microsoft Engineering Team or CRM 2011 customers have uncovered. You can read the full list of fixes on the Update Rollup 13 KB article.

This update also includes support for Windows Server 2012 and Active Directory Federation Services 2.1. However, the Self-Healing Setup that is required to install the update for CRM 2011 on Windows Server 2012 won’t be available until mid-April 2013.

As a cumulative update, Update Rollup 13 incorporates the changes that Microsoft introduced with Update Rollup 12, including cross-browser support and new entity indexes, as well as updates to the SDK, metadata, and activity feeds.

Update Rollup 13 is available for download on the Microsoft Download Center.

Note: To install this update, you must already be using Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 6 or a later version.

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Quick tip: Sub-Grid Formatting

Here’s a quick formatting tip for adding sub-grids to a form. A common obstacle I’ve encountered personally, and others have as well, is an inability to insert multiple, adjacent sub-grids, as seen in the picture below.

 Quick tip: Sub-Grid Formatting

Let’s work with this specific example of inserting four adjacent sub-grids, but the same rules apply when inserting two or three. Say I am in the form editor, and I insert the multiple sub-grids but can’t place them next to one another (see picture below).

 Quick tip: Sub-Grid Formatting

The sub-grids are above and below one another, and there is a lot of empty space on the right side. The form editor won’t let me drag the sub-grids to where I want to place them in this empty space. This is happening because I am trying to insert four sub-grids into a two-column section. What I need to do is insert a new, four-column section into the form by clicking the Insert tab in the ribbon, and then clicking Four Columns.

 Quick tip: Sub-Grid Formatting

I can now insert sub-grids into this section and align them next to one another. So if I want four in a row, I insert four, one-column sub-grids.

Another formatting tip that will help you to fill empty white space on your forms is checking the “Automatically expand to use available space” option.  This can be accessed by double-clicking the relevant sub-grid to open the List or Chart Properties window. The checkbox is located at the bottom of the Formatting tab in the Row Layout section.

 Quick tip: Sub-Grid Formatting

While we’re here, notice that in the Row Layout section we can set the number of rows that the sub-grid will occupy. As you can see, the Number of Rows field is currently set to four. So if we accept these settings, our sub-grid will occupy one column and display four records.

Remember, you can always preview your formatting changes before publishing them by clicking Preview in the Home tab of the ribbon, and then selecting Create Form. If you are new to customizing forms, you can learn more at our Success Portal where we have Microsoft CRM video tutorials that will aid you in learning the basics of form customization. After all, practice makes perfect!

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Handy System Settings for a System Administrator

Let’s step into the shoes of our humble system administrator, Butch Burnquist once again. This time he’s making some changes to the System Settings in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, including some that improve the user experience for other people.

You will need to have a Security Role of System Administrator or System Customizer, or equivalent privileges in CRM Online to follow along and modify the System Settings.

Butch navigates to Settings > System > Administration (see below) and clicks System Settings.

 Handy System Settings for a System Administrator

The General tab of the System Settings dialog opens (see below). Butch keeps the Show Get Started Panes on all lists for all users option set to “Yes”.

 Handy System Settings for a System Administrator

The Get Started pane is a collection of links to tutorials, wizards, and articles. It appears above each View (see below in the rectangle), and it changes contextually, meaning that its contents always relate to the current View. Users can disable the Get Started pane in their Personal Options if they feel they don’t need it. Even when the Get Started pane is enabled, it can still be minimized to save screen space and maximized whenever it’s needed (by clicking the up or down arrow circled below).

 Handy System Settings for a System Administrator

Butch clicks the Auditing tab to open it (see below). Auditing is a feature in CRM Online that tracks who makes changes to records and when. At the request of his CEO, Butch enables Auditing for all Entity areas.

 Handy System Settings for a System Administrator

Butch clicks the Outlook tab to open it (see below). Butch gives his users full control over the various scheduling options in Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook, and he has decreased the default minimum time between synchronizations from 15 minutes to 5 minutes. Butch also changes the default selection of whether the Outlook client is advertised to users in the Message bar from “Yes” to “No”. Butch already suggested that his users download the Outlook client, so he disables the notification to recover some screen space and remove an annoyance for users who choose not to download the Outlook client.

 Handy System Settings for a System Administrator

The Outlook advertisement in the message bar (pictured in an example below) is intended to inform users that there is a Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook client available.

 Handy System Settings for a System Administrator

The minor changes that Butch makes to the System Settings add up to form a better experience for his CRM Online users. While Butch tends to rely on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online training to educate his new users, he also knows they benefit from the changes he makes, even if they don’t realize it.

Butch also recently stumbled on some helpful videos at the Success Portal for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online that he plans to share with his users. These videos are intended for users of all experience levels and they explain several basic processes in CRM Online. Butch has even found the system-administration videos useful, being a system administrator himself.

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Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Online Trial – Converting Your Trial Account to Paid Subscription

This is the final entry in a series intended to help you effectively evaluate your free 30-day trial of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. The four previous entries are

If you have already registered for a free 30-day trial of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and have been following this series, then congratulations! You’re one step closer to improving your business’ efficiency and effectiveness in a plethora of ways.

If while evaluating your trial, you decided that CRM Online is right for you, then it is time to turn your trial account into a paid subscription. One of the great aspects of this doing this is that the transition between the two is seamless. All of the work that’s gone into importing your company data into your trial to see how it works is not wasted. You can carry the data from your trial organization to your paid subscription. You do not have to, but it’s great that you have the flexibility to do so.

One item of importance that I’ve tried to stress throughout this series is this: CRM Online is a framework. Sure, it is great as a stand-alone product right out of the box, but it can molded to be much more. It can be customized and modified into a tool designed strictly for your business.

I’ve tried to help you grasp this to some extent through various exercises and walkthroughs. But you might benefit from some assistance from a group of professionals who really are artisans when it comes to CRM Online.

One solution that might be right up your alley is our Quickstart Deployment Packages. With our assistance, we can help you squeeze every last drop of productivity from CRM Online. We offer four different packages so that you can choose a package that best suits your business.

In this series we mentioned the Success Portal, and how it is a powerful reference tool that you can use to improve your CRM Online proficiency. If you found the Portal useful, then you may be interested in our prepaid consulting time. It can be purchased with one of the Quickstart Deployment Packages, or separately. Either way, you dictate how your hours are utilized, from configuration and customization assistance, to one-on-one assistance over the phone.

If you wish to inquire about purchasing a CRM Online Quickstart Deployment Package, prepaid consulting time, or simply want to talk to us to see how we can help your business please contact us.

Toll Free Phone:                 (800) 836-5147
Sales:    sales@xrm.com

Thanks for trying out CRM Online. Be sure to check back in here for more great tips and information.

Cheers!

-xRM.com

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Developer Alert: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 SDK v5.0.13 released

Microsoft has updated the Software Development Kit (SDK) for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 to version 5.0.13. This update addresses Polaris and UR 12 and is now available for download from MSDN downloads as well as from the MSDN library.

The updated SDK makes Yammer Integration, extended browser support, enhanced Activity Feeds, and the updated user experience available to developers, report writers, and system customizers. The new version of the SDK also supports Microsoft Visual Studio 2012.

For more information about the new update, please refer to the SDK v5.0.13 announcement as well as “What’s New for Developers,” which includes a very detailed description of all of the changes Microsoft has made to the SDK in v5.0.13.

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New User Interface, Still a Classic

One of the many great things about the Polaris update to CRM Online is the amount of information provided to users in a single window. This allows you to view data in one central location. Of course, if you prefer the classic view that’s perfectly fine as well. Simply click the ellipsis at the top of the window and select Switch to Classic.

 New User Interface, Still a Classic

This brings you to an interface that resembles that of pre-Update Rollup 12. You have access to the ribbon and all of its options, as well as the navigation pane on the left.

 New User Interface Still a Classic

This is great for users who wish to stick with what they’re familiar with. Also, classic mode gives users access to the navigation pane, which doesn’t seem to be available in the Polaris interface. So if you want to view this lead’s connections, you need to switch to classic mode. Oh wait…

 New User Interface Still a Classic

Clearly we did not notice the left side of the window in Polaris where it says “Navigation”. Let’s see what happens when we click it.

 New User Interface Still a Classic

It’s the navigation pane! Without leaving the Polaris interface, or opening another window for that matter, I have access to the same information that I did in classic mode. This navigation bar will also reflect customizations made in the form editor.

Check back soon for more tips about Polaris and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

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Hey Microsoft. Where Is My Toolbox?

The recent Polaris update (Update Rollup 12) made a number of changes to the user interface of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and CRM Online. As part of the new Polaris interface, the sitemap and navigation pane have been cleaned and simplified. However, humans are notoriously change-adverse, and as humans, we may find it difficult to adjust to some of these UI changes.

 Hey Microsoft. Where Is My Toolbox?

You may notice upon signing in for the first time that the Tools group in the Workplace area (which contains sub-areas like Calendar, Imports, Duplicate Detection, and Service Calendar) does not appear by default. However, you can add it very easily by navigating to File > Options.

When the Set Personal Options window opens, select the Workplace tab, and then check the Tools box. This enables the Tools group in the Workplace area, as seen in the Preview pane. Click the OK button to close window.

 Hey Microsoft. Where Is My Toolbox?

Back at the Workplace module, you may notice that some of the existing groups, like Sales and Service, have been simplified. Basically, some of the sub-areas that were present before Update Rollup 12 no longer appear by default. This has cleaned up the groups significantly. You can still access those sub-areas though by navigating to the respective modules, as seen in the images below.

  Hey Microsoft. Where Is My Toolbox?

You may have also noticed the various sub-areas in the Sales and Service modules. Before, these appeared in a single group, which resulted in a long list of items. It was messy and unorganized. They have now been organized into various groups making it easier to find pertinent items.

For more Dynamics CRM help and tips, check back soon and refer to our Success Portal.

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Internet Lead Capture ends today

Microsoft announced a while ago that it planned to discontinue Internet Lead Capture (ILC) Friday, February 15, 2013. That date has arrived.

ILC provided a way to collect data submitted by potential customers on the web and save the data in new records in CRM Online, but it had some limits. ILC was only available for CRM Online (no other deployment models of Microsoft Dynamics CRM); it only worked with a limited set of entities (such as Leads); and, it only worked with web pages created by ILC for ILC.

xRM Web Gateway is a great alternative to ILC. It’s inexpensive, and it’s created by xRM.com, a leading Microsoft partner experienced in extending the functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. xRM.com first created xRM Web Gateway during the time of Microsoft CRM 3.0, before CRM Online or ILC even existed, and has updated it several times as Microsoft Dynamics CRM has evolved.

The newest version of xRM Web Gateway, xWebGateway2011, works with all deployments of CRM Online, all deployments of partner-hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and all Internet Facing Deployments (IFD) of on-premises Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It also works with any entity, even custom entities, and it works with any existing web page, as long as the web page has an html form that lets visitors enter data.

You can read more about the benefits and features of xRM Web Gateway here.

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Getting your sales team interested in CRM Online 2011

At this point in its lifecycle, there’s no doubting that Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is a powerful and flexible product, or that it’s here to stay. When you combine the feature set of the application with its low cost and familiar interface, subscribing becomes a no-brainer for most businesses. Most newcomers to Microsoft Dynamics CRM have seen it in action before, usually in some kind of technical demonstration by a sales representative. When they do make the leap, they’re usually eager to begin taking advantage of the tools they were shown, but how can they do that?

It’s quite simple actually; if you store your sales and customer data inside of its database, then CRM Online 2011 will automatically analyze the data and you’ll be able to use all of the advanced features included in the application.

That being said, have you ever tried to convince a salesperson to ditch their current methodology and adopt a new process? If you have, you’ll know it can be like talking to a tree—there’s simply no interest. Despite how simple and pain-free it is to enter data into Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and the online version, CRM Online, some people still need to see a personal benefit before they begin dedicating any of their time to entering data into the application.

If you do find yourself running into this issue with your team, here are some tips you can use to get them interested in adopting Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Reporting Capabilities

First off, you should aim to demonstrate the reporting capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Most people, even CRM users, are ignorant of the flexibility and power of reports the reports in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Reports are generated on-demand or on an automated and customizable schedule. Because these reports can be generated on-demand, you can quickly create a report for a user who has never used them before but who has still been tracking their data in CRM. We’ve found that a large portion of salespersons were manually constructing these reports already in some sort of legacy system, or even with pen and paper! As soon as you show them a system that automates the process, they jump for joy.

Sales Pipeline report

Speaking of reports, make sure you demonstrate the Sales Pipeline report to your users. This specially crafted report is designed to give you a top-down overview into your entire sales process. We recommend pulling your whole team together for this demonstration, as it can be a great motivator for them to see their combined efforts displayed in the Sales Pipeline. Reports such as the Sales Pipeline require that accurate data is entered by all your users, or the pipeline itself won’t be accurate. You can also use an advanced report in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to demonstrate the figures of a salesperson whose sales have increased since adopting Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This should both keep your current users interested in the application and spark an interest in some users who may have been ignoring it before.

Workflows

Salespeople around the world know that building rapport and trust with a potential customer can be one of the most difficult pieces of the sales puzzle. One of the easiest ways to build rapport is simply by being reliable. If you track your upcoming appointments and various deadlines in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, it will automatically remind you as the date approaches. Do you want to send all of your customers an e-mail on their birthday, but have too many birthdays to remember? That’s no problem; you can create a workflow that would automatically e-mail a contact on their birthday, using an e-mail template that fills in their key information with a few kind words. This same process can be applied in a myriad of different situations, such as a holiday greeting or a three-month, post-purchase follow-up.

Social Activity Feeds

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is packed full of features. We still regularly discover different things about the application after nearly a year of using it. As if that isn’t enough, Microsoft regularly adds new features to the application through major service updates. One feature that was recently added and seems to be sparking a fair bit of interest among salespeople is social activity feeds. These feeds allow users to garner a quick overview on the moves their customers and other users have been making out in the field.

Leaders should lead

One of the easiest ways you can draw attention to the power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is by having your team leaders use and learn the application. It’s simple: If users see their leaders using and benefiting from Microsoft Dynamics CRM, they are more likely to be interested in the product as well, if only to see how they can take advantage of it too.

CRM Success Portal

Despite taking all of the actions we just recommended, some of your team members may still hesitate. For them, the system can seem too complex to learn, and they don’t want to read a manual either. That’s why we at xRM developed the Success Portal for Microsoft Dynamics CRM users, a web site full of helpful tutorial videos aimed at combating this exact issue. It’s a true treasure trove of help. We also extend the invitation to all of our partner-hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers.

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