3 Simple Tips to Tailor Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Your Business

Deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online can be intimidating, especially for smaller teams. The platform has seemingly endless configuration possibilities, so knowing where to start may be difficult. At xRM, there are a set of common configurations we frequently apply to new deployments. A common theme in these configurations is familiarity. Changing CRM Online to match your business’s terminology and style can go a long way to easing new users into the system.

Here are three simple configurations you can make to tailor CRM Online to your business:

Simple CRM Tip 1. Customize Your System Views

What are views? Views are like reports, or an Excel table. “Active Accounts in California” is a view. Every record type, or entity, in Microsoft Dynamics CRM comes with a number of default system views—about 10 or so on average.

System views are available to all users, while personal views are created by individual users and can be shared with coworkers. The stock views that come with Dynamics CRM are good at showing you how views can be used, but typically aren’t very useful in your day-to-day operations. For example, “Opportunities Opened in the Last Six Months” is an out-of-the-box system view that rarely gets used.

Clean Them Up

As a Dynamics CRM admin user, you can clean your workspace by deactivating the system views that don’t use. This view cleanup goes a long way in simplifying the interface, making it easier on your new employees.

Modify Them

To modify system views, navigate to Settings > Customization > Customize the System. When the solution window opens, navigate to the entity you would like to change in the left pane. Let’s use Opportunity in this example. Under the selected entity, click Views.

In the View dropdown at the top of the window, choose Active Public Views. We’re about to deactivate views we do not have use for, but system-defined views have functions beyond just segmenting our data. So for starters, it is highly recommended to just deactivate the public views.

3 Simple Tips to Tailor Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Your Business

Once you’ve narrowed the list down to just the active public views, you can select one view one at a time, and then click deactivate to start clearing the noise. Note that you cannot delete out-of-the-box views from the system entirely, but this process will remove them from users’ dropdown list.

Once you are done with this, go ahead and publish your customizations for them to take effect.

Simple CRM Tip 2. Change the Entity Names

Language can be a barrier when adopting new platforms. One of the hardest things for new users to overcome is getting used to labels and wording that doesn’t match their established company or team terminology. As an administrator, you can change the names of the entities without compromising the functionality or structure of the CRM platform. And it’s super easy to do.

For this example, let’s change the name of the Account entity to “Company”. To do this, navigate to Settings > Customizations > Customize the System. In the solution window that opens, navigate to Account under the Entities dropdown. You can then change the Display Name and Plural Name to your liking, “Company” and “Companies” respectfully in this case.

3 Simple Tips to Tailor Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Your Business

Be sure to save and then publish your customizations for them to take effect.

Note that changing the display name will change the entity label in the navigation, but the names of the underlying views, forms, and fields will not change automatically. They will need to be changed individually.

3 Simple Tips to Tailor Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Your Business

Simple CRM Tip 3. Change the Theme

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online now allows organizations to customize the look and feel of their CRM platform. Navigate to Settings > Customizations > Themes. Here you can choose to modify the existing theme, or create one from scratch by clicking the New button.

3 Simple Tips to Tailor Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Your Business

Quick tip—rather than create a theme from scratch, open the out-of-the-box default theme, and then click the Clone button. This will make a copy of the theme which you can then modify yourself.

3 Simple Tips to Tailor Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Your Business

3 Simple Tips to Tailor Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Your Business

Once you have designed your theme to your liking, you preview it, and publish it.

These three customizations are relatively simple and quick to implement, but can go a long way in making your users that much more comfortable with the system.

Check out our xRM blog for more tips like this and our Success Portal, a library of over 400 free educational Dynamics CRM videos.

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Powerful Reporting with Excel Templates

Great news for you analysts and visualization gurus out there! With the recent release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2016, it has never been easier to deep dive into your data thanks to the new Document Generation feature. As expert Microsoft Dynamics CRM consultants, we at xRM can’t wait to help our clients leverage Document Generation to unearth valuable KPI’s in a robust reporting tool like Microsoft Excel.

Excel, Only Better!

Document Generation enhances the Excel Online integration that was introduced with CRM Online 2015 Update 1. Basically, it allows users to upload a templated version of an Excel report to CRM Online. Users can then open the template which is populated with up-to-date data, giving users deep insights into their business at the click of a button. Let’s see how it works.

1.   Preparing the Template

The first thing you need to do is set up a baseline view in CRM Online. In this example, I’ve created a view made up of sample data from an email campaign that captured metrics such as opens, clicks, and unsubscribes. I then click the Excel Templates button in the command bar, and then click Create Excel Template.

Powerful Reporting with Excel Templates

2.   The Create template from CRM data window opens. Notice that CRM Online gives us the option to filter by entities and to choose a previously saved view. Since I’m already at the view I want to use, I’ll leave the defaults selected and then click Download file.

Powerful Reporting with Excel Templates

An Excel file is then downloaded locally to my machine, containing the columns and data from the view. I can then design a report using Excel tools.

Good for Newbies and Experts Alike

If you are already an Excel wizard, try applying some of your favorite analytical tools to the data. If you’re new to this, I recommend some analyses that are difficult or impossible using the out-of-the-box reporting tools of CRM Online such as totaling sums and averages, conditional formatting, sparklines, and PivotTables. Don’t forget, you can create multiple sheets in your Excel template.

3.   Upload the Template

One you’ve prepared your report, save it locally. Back in CRM Online, navigate to the Create template from CRM data window. This time however, click the Upload button. Drag the Excel file into the upload box that appears. A confirmation window then appears and you’re good to go.

4.   Run the “Report”

Navigate back to the entity where you want to run the report. This time around, you’ll see your uploaded template which you can then open right in Excel Online, or you can download a copy of the latest data.

Powerful Reporting with Excel Templates

Here’s an example of a report I designed and can access right from the browser. In the first sheet I broke down the data with conditional formatting, something that cannot be done in CRM Online natively.

Powerful Reporting with Excel Templates

On a separate sheet, I have set up a simple pivot table and chart that breaks down the average number of clicks, opens, and bounces per campaign.

Powerful Reporting with Excel Templates

Create for One, or Create for All

These templates can be set up for personal use, or administrators can create templates for all users to consume.

You can let your imagination run wild with the reporting possibilities when a powerful database like Microsoft Dynamics CRM has such seamless integration with an analytical tool like Excel.

Want More Dynamics CRM Tips, Tricks and Tutorials?

Check out our xRM blog and our Success Portal, a library of over 400 free educational Dynamics CRM videos.

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Quick Admin Tip: Share Charts and Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

 

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Quick Admin Tip: Share Charts and Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online can be intimidating to new users. It is such a powerful platform with a plethora of features that getting newcomers to adopt it can sometimes be an uphill battle.

Collaboration is a key ally for battling this resistance. Getting every single user to a high level of proficiency with the system immediately is unrealistic. However, getting a smaller number of users to a higher skill level, let’s call them “power users”, can be extremely beneficial.

Power Users Rule

In the early phases of training, we at xRM to emphasize simple shortcuts and features that will make a user’s life a little easier. Power users can make use of these shortcuts and lesser-known features, share them with their coworkers, all without ever needing administrative credentials. This helps those end users who may be reluctant to adopt CRM Online to see how much time they can save and can even get them excited about working with the system.

One of the features we love is the Share charm that can be found in a couple of different places. We’ll look at how to use the Share feature in a sales pipeline first.

Making Sense of the Noise

Oftentimes a complete list of your CRM data can be overwhelming. How do we know which opportunities to target without opening each one?

Quick Admin Tip: Share Charts and Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

That’s precisely why CRM Online has features such as views and charts—they help to cut through the noise. But we don’t need to rely on all of our end users to know how to create their own views and charts right off the bat. A power user can create and share them with the necessary team members.

Step 1

We’ll start by creating a new view using Advanced Find. It should be noted that a system administrator could create a system view that is available to all users that have access to the given entity, opportunities in this example. However, sharing personal views can be done by anyone. Advanced Find can be found by clicking the button to the right of the global search feature in the top-right corner of the browser.

Quick Admin Tip: Share Charts and Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Step 2

Once the Advanced Find window opens, we specify the criteria for our view. We want something that helps users prioritize top opportunities that are expected to close in the near future. Below is an example of a view that filters opportunities down to open records with an estimated close date in the next three weeks, with an estimated revenue equal to or greater than $10,000. Now, it’s time to share this view with a team member. We can click on the Saved Views button in the ribbon of the Advanced Find window.

Quick Admin Tip: Share Charts and Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Step 3

We should then see a list of all of our shared views. We can select the one we’d like to share, and then click the Share button in the ribbon.

Quick Admin Tip: Share Charts and Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Step 4

The Share saved view button opens. Just click on Add User/Team and search for users or teams to share this view with, and then specify the permissions we want to grant them. In this example we are sharing our view with Jane Doe, and we’re giving her permissions to open and share this view with other users. We can share this view with multiple users or teams at once if we so choose.

Quick Admin Tip: Share Charts and Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Step 5

Once the Share button is clicked, the user will find the view listed in their personal views. Just click the dropdown arrow on your View and scroll to the bottom section of “My Views”.

Quick Admin Tip: Share Charts and Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Share Charts Too

Sharing charts works very similarly. Notice below that I’ve already created a personal chart called, “Est. Revenue by Est. Close Date”. It’s broken down by opportunity rating. It can be accessed by clicking on the chart bar on the far right side of the browser window. We can click the More Commands button, which looks like an ellipsis (three dots), and then click the Share button.

Quick Admin Tip: Share Charts and Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

We are then given the same ability to choose which users and teams we’d like to share this chart with, and which permissions we’d like to give them.

Quick Admin Tip: Share Charts and Views in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Views and Charts Help You Zero in on What Matters

Once we’ve shared these tools, users can easily cut through the noise of the data and zero in on the opportunities that they should prioritize. This is how we help users see the value of CRM Online, and drive user adoption.

If you would like to learn more tips, tricks, and tutorials for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, please check out our xRM blog and our Success Portal, a library of over 400 educational Dynamics CRM videos.

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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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