You’ve got a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online trial. Now, what should you do with it?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Trial

Free Microsoft Dynamics CRM TrialMicrosoft offers free 30-day trials of Dynamics CRM Online. The trial offers a potentially good avenue for evaluating CRM Online for your business’ needs. I say potentially, because many trial subscribers do not use the trial effectively. Dynamics CRM is a powerful and complex piece of software that is frequently intimidating. New users often create new trials, sign in once and then never use them again. However, the potential of a trial to help decision makers evaluate software is undeniable as long as the decision makers use the trial effectively.

Sign up for a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online trial here.

Unless you have worked with Dynamics CRM in the past or have considerable experience with CRM applications in general, you will most likely have a difficult time determining if it will be a good fit for your business. Larger companies can hire CRM consultants to gather requirements, analyze the solutions gaps, and create strategies to bridge the gaps, as well as deploy, configure, and customize the solution. Small businesses generally have to rely on one CRM champion to perform all of those steps.

To evaluate Dynamics CRM in a trial environment, you have to use the software as you will use it once you purchase it. A good first step is to conduct your own requirements gathering.

  1. Is my current CRM system meeting my needs?
  2. Is Microsoft Dynamics CRM a better fit for my organization?
  3. Do I have data that needs to be migrated?
  4. Do I have email marketing, CPQ (configure, price, quote), or other legacy systems that need to be integrated with CRM?
  5. How many user licenses will I need?

A little guidance can go a long way towards helping you determine if Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a good fit for your organization. The “Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM” webinar hosted by Microsoft Partner xRM is an excellent place to start. The one-hour-long webinar provides an opportunity to learn the basics of what Dynamics CRM can do. The webinar begins with an overview of the basic functions, design, and layout of CRM and concludes with a question-and-answer session that gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about Dynamics CRM.

Register for the Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM webinar.

 Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM webinar

xRM also offers another educational resource that can be  boon to new CRM users: the Success Portal. The Success Portal is a library of more than 200 Dynamics CRM training videos that are arranged in six different courses that cover setup, configuration, use, customization, etc. Success Portal accounts are free for companies that name xRM.com as their partner of record.

Register for the Success Portal.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM training videos

The webinar and Success Portal will prepare you to make an informed decision about the suitability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to meet your business requirements. If you decide during the course of your trial to purchase CRM Online, xRM also offers a more advanced training program called Quick Start CRM Training. The flexible four-hour-long training program is designed to increase the comfort level of new system administrators or users, helping them get up and running quickly.

Click here to learn more about how Quick Start CRM Training can help your organization.

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What is an Entity in Microsoft Dynamics CRM?

To understand CRM, it helps to have a firm grasp on the basics, and one of the key building blocks of Microsoft Dynamics® CRM is the entity. In the simplest terms possible, an entity is a table that holds a certain type of data, with the attributes (more on those later) functioning as the columns of the table and determining which information goes into the records of that entity type.

Entities Overview – Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Entities form a vital piece of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM framework. Essentially, entities are used to model and manage business data. Some common entities that most Dynamics CRM users are familiar with are Account, Case, Campaign, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity. These entities deal with many of the most common sales, service, and marketing data with which a CRM user frequently engages.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Entity Overview Video

There are three main types of entities: system, business, and custom. In Dynamics CRM, system entities handle internal processes such as workflows. It is important to note that system entities cannot be deleted or customized. Business entities are the default entities within Dynamics CRM which include Case, Account, and Opportunity. One of the most important elements in Microsoft Dynamics CRM is customizability. Custom entities provide organizations with a way to meet their needs head-on. One example of this is that you can create a vendor entity if you are a retail business and then dictate how it relates to different entities within your organization. Since each entity supports a variety of actions, streamlining communications processes amongst your organization is now an attainable goal.

Entity Attributes – Microsoft Dynamics CRM

For each entity in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, there is a set of attributes that corresponds to the fields in the entity form and defines the type of data contained by the records created from that entity. To help illustrate this idea, the picture below shows an Opportunity record. Each of the fields visible on the Opportunity record that you are looking at is defined by an attribute. Among the several dozen attributes of the Opportunity record are Est. Close Date (estimatedclosedate) and Status (statuscode). You can read a full list of the attributes for Opportunity records here. The attributes of each entity determine which fields appear on the entity’s form and therefore which data the records that use that entity contain.

 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Opportunity Record

Entities Ownership – Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Ownership is a key factor in how entities work. In Microsoft Dynamics CRM, most entities have an owner, which is determined by the ownership type. There are four ownership types in CRM: organization, business, user, and none. Organization-owned entities can be accessed by an entire organization. These records cannot be assigned to an individual owner (or shared). Business-owned entities belong to a Business Unit, while user-owned entities are owned by one specific CRM user and typically contain customer-related data. Accounts, Contacts, and Cases are examples of user-owned entities. A few entities in Dynamics CRM have no ownership type. They are not owned by another entity (user, business unit, or organization) within CRM.

 The following table lists the complete ownership types:

Ownership Type Description
Organization Owned Organization-owned entities typically contain data involving something that belongs to or that can be viewed by the whole organization. Organization-owned entities cannot be assigned or shared. For example, products are owned by the organization.
Business Owned Business-owned entities belong to a business unit.
User Owned User-owned entities are associated with a user. User-owned entities typically contain data that relates to customers, such as accounts or contacts. Security can be defined according the business unit for the user.
None The entity is not owned by another entity. For example, the uom (unit-of-measure) and workflowlog (workflow log) entities are not owned by another entity.

 Source: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg309396.aspx

 There are many more tutorials within the Success Portal that touch on entities within Dynamics CRM. With just some basic customization, Microsoft Dynamics CRM handles data of just about any type. This concept is known as “xrm” or “anything” relationship management. xRM.com is here to help you succeed in your CRM deployment. Once you have a greater understanding of entities, you will be able to tailor the entities to better serve your business needs and enrich your Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployment.

Success Portal CTA banner

For more information on how to gain access to xRM’s Success Portal or about Microsoft Dynamics CRM, visit our website at www.xrm.com. xRM specializes in CRM and private cloud services. To inquire about the company’s services, email sales@xrm.com or call 1-800-836-5147.


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The Two Reasons CRM Trials Fail

As CRM consultants, we provide our clients with a lot of trials at xRM.com. Adopting new CRM applications entails risk. Understandably, many of our potential clients are reticent to invest in applications that they have not yet tried. CRM applications are complex, and evaluating their suitability during a limited trial is a daunting task.

From a user’s perspective, the main purpose of a trial is to help the user evaluate an application’s effectiveness as a tool for his or her business. The unfortunate truth is that the vast majority of trials fail to deliver on that purpose. Most users are no closer to making a decision about the software’s effectiveness as a business tool at the end of the trial period as they were at the beginning. The two biggest causes of this failure are lack of knowledge and lack of time.

Most users who request a trial to evaluate an application do not really have the knowledge necessary to accurately judge the effectiveness of the program. They know their business and industry, but they usually do not know much about the software that they are test driving. The new software seems less intuitive and more difficult to use than their old software, even if they were unhappy with their old software because it was difficult to use!

The second cause of failure is a lack of time. The people who are charged with judging the suitability of a particular application frequently just do not have enough time in their schedules to evaluate it. They have good intentions, but the software generally just sits there, barely used, for the seven, fourteen, or thirty days that make up most trial periods. Not surprisingly, the trial ends and they do not have the knowledge they need to make a decision. Most people in this scenario end up delaying the final decision until some magical point in the future when they will have both the time and the knowledge to make an informed judgment. These frustrated trial evaluators generally end up continuing to use the old applications that were failing to meet their needs in the first place.

At xRM, we deal extensively with Microsoft Dynamics® CRM. Industry experts frequently laud Dynamics CRM for being easy-to-use due to its familiar ribbon interface, Microsoft Outlook® integration, and role-based privileges. However, Dynamics CRM is still an incredibly powerful and frankly complex piece of software that is difficult to evaluate in the few short weeks of a trial without having a strong background with the program.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Trial Resources from xRM

In order to make Microsoft Dynamics CRM trials more effective for our clients, we created two educational resources. We designed these resources to arm our potential clients with the knowledge that they need to determine if Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online can help their businesses grow and prosper. With the right information, users can evaluate the ability of CRM Online to meet their needs more quickly and accurately.

Our Microsoft Dynamics CRM webinars are one-hour long and cover the basics of Dynamics CRM, as well as provide an opportunity to ask questions about the product.

The Success Portal is a self-help library of concise training videos that covers hundreds of topics related to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The Success Portal provides an opportunity to learn as little or as much as you want to about CRM at your own pace.

Both of these resources are free for companies that name xRM.com as their Partner of Record (opens as a Doc), a process which takes only one minute and costs nothing.

xRM is a Microsoft partner that specializes in CRM and private cloud services. To inquire about the company’s services, email sales@xrm.com or call 1-800-836-5147.

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Could you use free CRM Online training?

We’ve all had some kind of experience in the work environment with “new” and “improved” software. Usually it starts with one of those 8-hour long company meetings where you and all your coworkers are sitting in one big conference room with a “trained representative” from the company. The trained representative attempts to transfer all of his knowledge and expertise to you in one day, and then you never see him again.

There has to be a better way.

As a company that provides hosting and development for a large client base, the traditional classroom-training model just does not work for us. We simply have too many customers to train, even if they all wanted to pay us! So how did we solve this problem? We developed a model of training that doesn’t require a physical classroom. We call our virtual Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online classroom the “Success Portal by xRM.com.”

When you visit the xRM.com Success Portal, you’ll follow a literal “road to knowledge” (see below).

 Could you use free CRM Online training

All you have to do now is click a topic that interests you, and you are presented with a list of guided walkthrough videos related to that topic. This is where the real knowledge is! Each video is narrated by one of our expert instructors and walks you through a specific topic, such as “Adding a Contract Line” (see below).

 Could you use free CRM Online training

We didn’t completely ditch the classroom approach, the videos are organized as “classes” and they guide you up a smooth academic slope towards CRM proficiency. After watching a video on the Success Portal, you’ll receive an e-mail that summarizes the content of the video, and it serves as a handy reference in the future. We also offer an extensive and growing number of quizzes that test what you have learned. You can take them or not; the quizzes are optional.

 Could you use free CRM Online training

Users of all types, from rookies to seasoned veterans, find immediate benefit in training for Microsoft CRM. Investing even a short amount of time into professional CRM Online education can make a world of difference. You’ll learn more than the best practices of simple tasks, you’ll also learn how to use features such as Reporting, Mail Merge, Duplicate Detection, and Workflows.

As “proud parents” of the Success Portal, we could talk about it for hours on end. We’ll save you the bore, but keep this in mind: CRM Online education doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be costly. You and your fellow coworkers can learn free at your own pace using the Success Portal, and you can always return for a quick visit to refresh on important topics!

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Training Videos on YouTube

Recently, xRM.com made a few of its Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online training videos available on YouTube. The videos are full-length examples of the CRM Online tutorials that the company offers in the Success Portal by xRM.com, which is a free Microsoft CRM Online training resource for companies that have declared xRM.com their Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner of Record. At the heart of the Success Portal are more than 100 Microsoft CRM Online tutorial videos. You can watch four of these Microsoft CRM training videos below or read more about the Microsoft CRM Online training resources available in the Success Portal.

Sample CRM Online Training Videos from the Success Portal

Introduction to the Success Portal by xRM.com provides an overview of the Success Portal, describes the resources contained within, and explains how the any business can use the Success Portal as a powerful Microsoft Dynamics CRM training tool.

CRM Online Sales Module Introduction explains the organization and features of the Sales module in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, as well as Leads, Opportunities, Contacts, Accounts, and other important entities that make CRM Online a powerful sales tool.

CRM Online Service Module Introduction examines the feature set of the most capable, powerful, and complex of the standard modules in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. The video focuses on the heart of the Service module—the Case—as well as the Activities, Contracts, and Knowledge Base Articles that help resolve Cases in CRM Online.

CRM Online Marketing Module Introduction walks the viewer through the layout of the Marketing module in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and explains all of the important entities, such as Lead, that make CRM Online a very good tool for coordinating marketing efforts.

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Introducing the Success Portal by xRM.com

Regular readers of our blog have heard us discuss the virtues of CRM 2011 and CRM Online before and have come to see our blog as a valuable source of information about Microsoft Dynamics CRM products.

Now, we would like to introduce you to the Success Portal by xRM.com for CRM Online users, our ongoing mission to provide an unparalleled level of free service to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online subscribers. If you have signed up for a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online trial or are looking for ways to get more out of your existing CRM Online deployment, the Success Portal can be an invaluable Microsoft CRM training resource.

Currently, we offer more than 100 tutorials devoted to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and we’re adding more CRM Online training videos to the Success Portal every week. We’ve organized the tutorial into classes that encourage you to watch multiple videos related to a topic. Our five Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online courses cover the following topics: “Getting Started,” “Using CRM,” “Configuring CRM,” “Customizing CRM,” and “Beyond CRM – xRM.” For those who need training for CWR Mobile CRM, we have a sixth course (“Mobility”) just for you as well. Once you’ve watched a video, you will receive a follow-up email that summarizes and reinforces the content of the Microsoft CRM training tutorial that you have just watched.

After watching a video, you have the option to take one of the dozens of quizzes that we provide in the Success Portal. Each quiz tests the material presented in one of the videos and gives you a chance to measure what you have learned. Once you have submitted your answers, the Success Portal grades your quiz and provides explanations so that you can learn even from your incorrect answers. Once you have attained a passing score on a quiz, you receive certification of your passing score via email. As you proceed through the Success Portal, you can also track your personal quiz history.

If you are already Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online subscriber, the Success Portal costs you nothing. Simply declare xRM.com as your Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner of Record (POR) and join the Success Portal. If you aren’t yet a CRM Online customer, admission to the Success Portal costs only a CRM Online subscription. xRM.com is one of the leading Microsoft Dynamics CRM resellers in the world, and subscribing to CRM Online through xRM.com automatically makes your organization eligible to join the Success Portal.

Please visit xRM.com for more information or visit our YouTube channel to watch sample-length versions of our Microsoft CRM training videos.

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