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.

Read More

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Gets Social Analytics Boost with Netbreeze Acquisition

Microsoft recently announced the acquisition of Netbreeze, a Swiss social media analytics and monitoring solutions provider, which specializes in social consumer relationship management. Microsoft plans to integrate Netbreeze’s strength in multi-lingual, social monitoring analysis with Dynamics CRM. Microsoft executives acknowledge that the organization has become more active in seeking out new technology, but that the primary focus remains on the functionality and not the customer base of the acquired company.

Now, more than ever, consumer behavior is shifting because social media provides consumers with a powerful voice that they are not afraid to use. It is vital for businesses to track what is being said about them online and react quickly in order to establish customer loyalty. With Netbreeze’s data mining and text analysis capabilities, Microsoft Dynamics CRM gains an essential tool for an in-depth analysis of customer preferences.

Bob Stutz, corporate vice president of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, explained some of the capabilities of Netbreeze in his blog post about the deal:

“Netbreeze technology is unique in the way it combines modern methods from Natural Language Processing (NLP), data mining and semantic text analysis to support 28 different writing systems including German, English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Japanese, Traditional Chinese or Mandarin.  Additionally, they offer their customers the ability to monitor a wide array of social channels including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, as well as 6,000 online news websites, 18 million blogs and 500,000 message boards.”

These new social analysis capabilities will be an integral part of Microsoft’s social strategy. The acquisition will complement the recent purchase of MarketingPilot, the powerful integrated marketing management solution that provides insight into campaign expenditure and marketing budgets, helping better forecast for future marketing campaigns.

Microsoft officials announced the acquisition of Netbreeze on the opening day of the company’s annual Convergence conference in New Orleans, which according to Seth Patton, senior director of marketing for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, is the largest Convergence to date.

Microsoft has not set a date for when this functionality will become part of Dynamics CRM.

Read More

The Microsoft Big Easy Offer Has Returned for a Limited Time

If you need additional Microsoft server or end-user application licenses, there is no better time to buy than during the Big Easy Offer 10. For the next few weeks (until May 31, 2013), Microsoft is offering rebates on the vast majority of server and application licenses for small to mid-sized business (SMBs). A portion of all eligible purchases will be returned to you in the form of subsidy checks that you can redeem at an authorized Microsoft Partner.

The Microsoft Big Easy Offer 10 applies only to on-premises licenses. It does not apply to Microsoft Online Services such as CRM Online or SharePoint Online. For those of you who have moved into the Cloud, Microsoft offers a similar program, the Cloud Easy Offer, with similar terms.

You can use your Big Easy Offer rebate checks to hire a Microsoft Partner to setup and configure new hardware, educate system admins, or train new users. You can also redeem the subsidy checks to purchase innovative tools, such as xSign DocuSign Integration for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, that make Microsoft technologies even more powerful.

The Big Easy Offer applies to the purchase of one to five new server licenses, or five to 200 user licenses. You will want to read the full terms and conditions of the Big Easy offer here.

The product you choose and the number of licenses you purchase determines your subsidy amount. You can use the Big Easy subsidy calculator to estimate your savings.

Click here to take advantage of the Big Easy Offer 10 with xRM.

Read More

DocuSign and xRM Take the Stage at Convergence 2013

Come for the excitement of Bourbon Street; Stay to hear how DocuSign is making businesses around the world more efficient and how partners like xRM are building innovative solutions using the DocuSign API.

Convergence, Microsoft’s annual conference for the Dynamics Community, is heading to New Orleans March 18-21. Each year, Convergence provides partners and customers in the Dynamics Community a chance to interact, discuss new trends, and explore innovative solutions introduced by Microsoft Partners.

DocuSign: Electronic Signatures and Online Digital SignaturesAs a Convergence sponsor, DocuSign is hosting its own breakout session on Thursday, March 21, 2013, called Still Signing Contracts on Paper, Are You NUTS? How DocuSign eSignature Transforms Sales. The session will highlight the business benefits of going paperless for signing all contracts and other important documents.

In addition to promoting its signature service, DocuSign will highlight the work of its partners who have used the DocuSign API to create new solutions.

“The combination of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and DocuSign enables sales teams to close deals, improve productivity, and accelerate revenue,” said Matt Malden, chief product officer, DocuSign. “Companies are able to immediately capitalize on opportunities by DocuSigning straight from Microsoft Dynamics CRM.”

During the session, xRM chief information officer Owen Scott will take the stage to discuss how xRM implemented DocuSign as its eSignature solution and how that decision helped make the entire organization more efficient.

xSign DocuSign Integration for Microsoft Dynamics CRMScott will also highlight the new integration solution that xRM, a DocuSign partner, created using the DocuSign API. The solution, called xSign™, integrates DocuSign®, Microsoft Dynamics® CRM, and Microsoft SharePoint® into a cohesive document storage, delivery, and tracking system.

“The DocuSign API made it possible for us to create just the system we needed to solve our business need,” Scott said.

Using the API, xRM developers built xSign, a tool that integrates DocuSign functionality directly into Microsoft Dynamics CRM. xSign allows users to retrieve existing documents from SharePoint, populate fields with data from CRM, and configure and send the documents using DocuSign Envelopes. xSign also sends the DocuSign tracking information to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

“We use xSign internally, and it has transformed our business,” explained Scott. “Our old system of faxing contracts for signature seems so quaint in comparison, like we were using Morse code.”

xSign is compatible with on-premises and partner-hosted Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 deployments.

Read more about xSign.

To catch all the latest news about DocuSign and the company’s session at Convergence 2013, follow them on Twitter @DocuSign.

Read More

The Simplicity of Polaris

As a CRM Online customer, or even a person who might be interested in CRM Online, you have to appreciate the current thinking from Microsoft – that their CRM solution is a bit … complex.  In fact, it’s not just Microsoft that believes this, but it’s something we hear a lot as we work with our own customers, and those who we help to decide whether CRM Online is for them.  As powerful as it is to transform business operations and sales , we still get plenty of folks who walk away because it’s just too complicated to simplify things.

Good news!  There is a new release for CRM Online  code-named “Polaris” , in which several important changes were made. Perhaps the most significant, global change is support for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox web browsers.  We have tested CRM Online 2011 on Chrome, and we find it to work well. 

Another significant change has been the simplification of the Sales Process within CRM.  As you may know, the Lead entity is designed to be where you store relatively low-value information which may or may not “Convert” or “Qualify” to become more valuable and richer information, such as Contacts (People), Accounts (Companies) and Opportunities (Revenue).  Well , if you are a user you also know that the Qualify process, while it is somewhat of a time-saver, forces you to open a separate window for the Contact, the Account, and the Opportunity.  And in some cases, the information you are trying to find overlapping on all three forms!  This is the kind of complexity that cause some people to move away from this product, and we are happy to say that the new “Polaris” interface is vastly less complex.  With Polaris, when opening up a Lead, there is just one screen to look at as you move through the stages of Contact, Account, and Opportunity.  All of the records are still created, but in the background, and you can continue to work on the sales process without opening a bunch more windows. 

Same with Activities – instead of CLICK! – Activities –CLICK! – New – CLICK! – Phone Call and fill out information – now it’s right on the form itself, as an embedded element.  Ahhhh .. simplicity.

Please have a look at the video below to see it in action…

Read More

xRM Teams with Akvelon to Provide Hosted Global Search

xRM has teamed up with Akvelon to provide the company’s Global Search application to Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers that have partner-hosted deployments. Global Search was previously available only to CRM Online customers and as an on-premises application. There are currently two hosted versions of Global Search available from xRM: Global Search Standard and Global Search Plus.

Global Search Standard enables you to conduct a single search query and get results from all entities in your CRM database. Global Search Standard costs $5 per user, per month.

Global Search Plus allows you to make a single search query that nets results not only from all entities in your database, but also from email attachments and documents uploaded to CRM. Global Search Plus costs $6 per user, per month.

Benefits of Global Search

Akvelon Global Search improves the productivity of your Microsoft Dynamics CRM users by giving them near instant access to all information within your CRM system. It virtually eliminates the frustrating problem of missing or misplaced data within your CRM database.

Features of Akvelon Global Search

  • Works in Outlook or IE
  • Searches inside tracked emails and attachments uploaded to CRM
  • Searches all records with a single query from any page in CRM
  • Search by Lookup fields
  • Displays results in a single view, categorized by record type

Click here to learn more about hosted Akvelon Global Search.

Read More

Sales, Marketing, Service: What Else Can CRM Online Do?

If you have signed in to your Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online account already, you have likely noticed that it contains modules that correspond to the three main functions of CRM: sales, marketing, and service. Each of the three main modules can help you transform your operations in one area, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales, marketing, and service efforts.

The Success Portal by xRM can help you learn how to use the Sales, Marketing, and Service modules to maximum effect.

Once you familiarize yourself with the basic functions of CRM Online, the question then is “What else can CRM Online do?”

The answer is “a lot!” Many companies have made use of the xRM concept built into Microsoft Dynamics CRM to create powerful add-ons. Products such as our xRM Web Gateway and xRM Constant Contact Integration make CRM Online even more powerful by adding features or improving the functions of CRM Online.

You can find dozens of such solutions in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Marketplace. The applications of the marketplace are organized by business need, industry focus, and compatibility, and they are rated by Microsoft Dynamics CRM users. Many of the applications available for download in the marketplace offer free trials, and a few of the applications are available for no cost at all.

Read More

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!

Read More

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.

Read More