Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 “Polaris” release and its potential impact on current deployments

As part of its continual evolution of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft will soon release its December 2012 Service Update, codenamed Polaris. (Following the Polaris release, there will be three more star or star constellation themed releases: Orion, Leo and Vega.)

The Polaris release contains a range of new capabilities, including new sales and customer service user interface options, cross browser support, new integration points for Yammer, Skype, and Bing Maps, Microsoft Office 2013 compatibility, and a bulk data API. More information on this release, including an official Release Preview Guide from Microsoft, can be found on the Microsoft CRM site http://crm.dynamics.com/en-us/polaris.

This release will be rolled out from mid/end December and through January, and while most of the changes in this Service Update will be for customers using Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Online, those using the on-premise release will also be able to take advantage of cross-browser support. What does this mean? To quote from the documentation: “Microsoft is expanding the range of browsers supported to include versions of Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome on Windows PCs. Firefox and Apple Safari will be supported on Macintosh desktop computers. There will also be Safari support on Apple iPad tablets for sales users. This sales experience on iPad adds flexibility for the mobile salesperson.”

This potentially has an impact on any current deployments of Dynamics CRM 2011 that contain any JavaScript or HTML programming (for example, any. web resources that have been created to hide/show fields etc.). Organisations that are potentially impacted by this update need to work with their service providers or themselves to ensure that any JavaScript that has been deployed will comply with the cross-browser update.

The process to review the code is as follows and the time it will take will depend obviously on the complexity and functionality of the JavaScript that has been deployed:

1. Download and install the ‘Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Custom Code Validation Tool’ solution from Microsoft at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=30151 . This tool is free to download.
2. Import your CRM solution into the your UAT/DEV environment.
3. The solution will run and provide a colour-coded review of the code in the solution, identifying code items that will fail and might fail following the release of the December 2012 update.
4. For any areas where the code may break, a developer will be required to update the code and fix the issue; this may be as a result of an upgrade where the JavaScript has not been fully converted (using old V4 supported code) or where there are specific commands that only Internet Explorer can interpret.
5. Once the changes have been applied, the updated solution needs to be tested and rolled out.

As a guide, we would expect for most customers this process will take from 4-8 hours to complete; for larger, more complex implementations this process may take longer.

The following blog post by Microsoft details this process in far more detail: http://community.dynamics.com/product/crm/crmtechnical/b/crmteamblog/archive/2012/06/21/microsoft-dynamics-crm-2011-custom-code-validation-tool-released.aspx . If you would like to know more, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Intergen (http://intergen.co.nz/Contact-Us/enquiry-form ).

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Polaris Release Dates

Great post by Chris Cognetta (CRM MVP) on the release dates of Polaris https://community.dynamics.com/product/crm/crmtechnical/b/cognettacloud/archive/2012/12/13/crm-2011-ur12-polaris-release-update.aspx .

Key dates to be aware of are:

  • New Trail sign ups in North America will commence from 14th jan 2013
  • New Trail sign ups in EMEA and APAC will commence from 16th jan 2013
  • Existing Online Customers will commence on 1st Jan 2013 rolling out to the data centre scale groups, expected completion 31st jan 2013
  • On premise UR12 available on the 10th Jan 2013
  • Yammer and IPAD experience update from Feb 2013 through to the 28th Feb 2013

Creating Dashboards to assist Training and Complex Processes

I was recently trying to explain what I thought was a simple process for marketing to create events and registration forms using ClickDimensions, but as I was explaining it to the marketing team, I realised for an inexperienced CRM user there were a few steps involved. For me, the process was straight forward and easy, but for an inexperienced user or someone new to CRM, the thought of copying campaign templates, cloning web content and navigating around the system to the different views was daunting.

So I thought how could I simplify this process and remove the clicks to navigate to the different areas of the system required. What I came up with was using a HTML web resource and a dashboard.

Which looked something like this:

Dashboard

So how did I create this? It was simple as follows:

  1. Open up your customisations solution and create a new Web Resource
  2. Select a web resource type of HTML and save
  3. Select Edit Text
  4. Add links and text to the web resource that describes your process. (tip to get a url of a specific record, open the record and select F11 to show the URL)
  5. Add images to support the process ( added a visio diagram to the resource), upload the image as another web resource or link off to your intranet. Alternatively link off to a document on your intranet.
  6. Save and Preview
  7. Publish the Web Resource
  8. Now Create a Dashboard and add your web resource to it, and any other lists or charts that support the process
  9. Save and share or publish the dashboard to the required users. I created a dashboard out of the solution so that I could share it to specific users who owned the process.

I hope this helps and makes you think outside of the box when considering training and improving the user experience.

Migrating from Dynamics CRM Online to On premise, the process

So you are using Dynamics CRM online and for whatever reason you now wish to move to an On Premise instance, you can with Dynamics CRM.

To do this you will need to follow the following summarised steps:

  1. You will first need to request a copy of your Online SQL database so that you can restore to your local SQL environment. To do this you will need to contact Live Customer Service by calling 1-877-CRM-CHOICE (1-877-276-2464).
  2. The backup of your Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online SQL Server database must be restored by using a server running the same (or a newer) version of Microsoft SQL Server as is running in Microsoft’s data centers.  Microsoft will provide you the information required at time of request.
  3. Restore the database to your local environment as per normal database restore processes.
  4. Install your CRM on premise installation and ensure the latest hot fixes have been applied, the list of required hotfixes will be provided by Microsoft Online services team.
  5. Import the SQL database as a new organisation via the CRM Deployment manager. Right click on the organisations and select import organisation to kick the process off and then follow the steps in the wizard
  6. Once the import is successful, you are all done and can now start using dynamics CRM as a on premise implementation.

For more information see the following article http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=18039

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