Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Release Preview Guide in the public domain!

Its exciting times again as we are again looking forward to the next instalment of Dynamics CRM named Dynamics CRM 2015 due to be released in the Fall 2014, for non US customers this is the 4th quarter of the calendar year. As with previous releases I would expect this to be the later part of the quarter.

So first of all here is the link to the preview guide: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Release Preview Guide and the link to the press release

So what can we expect in the next release, lots in short, but in summary:

  • Dynamics Marketing
    • Multi-channel marketing
    • Email editor – with drag and drop features
    • Campaign Management Console enabling A/B testing, cross channel operations and others
    • Integrated Social Listening with embedded social insights for CRM
    • Sales Collaboration via a marketing calendar
    • B2B Marketing with enhanced rules and webinar integration
    • Marketing Resource Management with new calendars
    • Internal Process Automation via approval workflows
    • Geographical Expansion
  • Sales
    • Improvements to the sales processes enabling branching of the process based on business rules applied in real time
    • Product Families enabling bundling of products, product lifecycles, product attributes that can be inherited and identifying cross sell and up sell products and territory price plans
    • Sales Hierarchies for accounts, products and users that enable traversing a tree hierarchy. The hierarchy can include roll up fields
  • CRM for Tablets
    • Role tailored dashbaords
    • Hierarchy views
    • Offline draft mode
  • Customer Service
    • Further Case Management enhancements including pause and resume SLAs,  and tracking time of case on hold or waiting on customer,
  • Microsoft Social Listening
    • Further Source analysis
    • Location filters
    • More availability options
  • Platform enhancements
    • Global search similar to the existing mobile client search
    • Search added to navigation bar
    • Advanced find button added to the navigation bar
    • Synchronise additional types of information with Outlook
    • Enhanced Business rules
      • They now execute everywhere including server side
      • Richer business logic with If and Else If statements
      • Pre filling information when a record is created
    • Business process flows can now be accessed via the client API
    • Calculated fields (yeah) are now supported
    • Roll-up fields are now supported
    • Field Level Security is now supported for out of the box fields
  • A new updated compatibility list can be found here



Excel Surveys powered by OneDrive – very cool

Did you know you could create surveys using Excel Online? If not you are like me until I recently clicked a link and was amazed!

They look like this:

Example survey

Do you like it, I did.

So how do you create one?

Its really simple, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your OneDrive account
  2. Select Create and Select Excel SurveyExcel survey 1
  3. Now follow the simple instructions to create the survey
  4. Adding fields is really easy Excel Survey 2
  5. See my example here!5277&authkey=!ADGnRwlwFB-gg5o
  6. Once you have completed the survey you view the results in excel! Create some nice charts and even import into your CRM!
  7. Survey Results


So let your imaginations fly, birthday party invites, work events, internal work events, anything really. Plus what is really cool is that you could load the data into your CRM via the simple import feature and create campaign responses against your event.

CRM in the social age


How does customer relationship management work in a world of a connected and transparent market of conversations?

Social media, tablets, and the plethora of smart mobile phones have changed the way people are connected to one another and has opened the door to peer to peer conversations. Today people are more informed and connected and often the important decisions are influenced by social conversations. In this connected world, how do you as an organisation ensure that you stay connected, listen to what people think about your product and services and inevitably become part of the conversation through marketing, sales and customer service?

In the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Spring Release Microsoft launched Microsoft Social Listening, an enabler for you as an organisation to listen to conversations and reply in line, to stay connected with what your customers are talking about.

Microsoft Social Listening can help you track what people are talking about to better enable you to:

  1. Prepare for sales meetings
  2. Identify new leads and opportunities
  3. Track campaigns on the social web, understand the sentiment of your brand
  4. Identify and connect with influencers and detractors
  5. Act on potential issues that your customers or prospects report via social media
  6. Listen to what your competitors are talking about and help you join the relevant conversations

So what does it look like, how easy is it to use?

Well for starters if you utilise Office 365 and CRM online and have more than 10 Online Professional licences then you are entitled to it for free! Otherwise you can purchase the subscription via the Office 365 admin centre just like any other product.

It has been designed to look and feel like Dynamics CRM and has been designed to be simple and intuitive so everyone who needs access can access with minimal user training. The screenshot to the side is of the homepage for Social listening and as you can see looks like Dynamics CRM 2013.

To set-up search terms to be monitored it is as simple as 1-2-3.

1. You give your search a name and assign to one of the predefined categories i.e. Competitors, Campaigns, Accounts, Products etc

2. You define the search terms in terms of core keywords, inclusions that must be in the post to be included and exclusions to be excluded from the search results.

3. Finally you test the search criteria to get a sense for the average monthly posts to be consumed and activate the search and you are all done.

Through the Microsoft Social Listening user interface you can drill into the results of the search, as standard MSL monitors YouTube, Twitter, Facebook Pages and non-private posts and over 70 million blogs. You can interact with the data and review trends, buzz, sentiment, authors and the reach of the authors. You can define alerts if certain keywords are mentioned or if the trend spikes. It becomes your early warning system and enables you to react quickly and efficiently to social interactions.

If you are using Dynamics CRM Online then you can also embed Social Listening into Dashboards and records.

This is particularly useful for tracking campaigns, competitors and providing your sales and service teams a view of what people are taking about.

So how could you get engaged, what scenarios should you focus on?

It has been recently said that to get people to believe in your message then they need to see it 3 to 5 times through different medians be conversation, website, blogs, social channels, press or newsletters for example. Business reputation is built on brand, loyalty, personal conversations and excellent products or services, every sales and marketing professional knows this and social provides a way to scale these conversations to a wider audience. I have listed below my top 3 scenarios for using Social Listening and empowering the business to engage:

1. Empower Marketing – listen to the buzz that is being generated as a result of a campaign and use this insight to generate and cultivate new leads for the sales team. Listening is a low touch activity, but when you listen to the key messages then you can drive high touch conversations with peers in the buying stage of the ‘buyer’s journey’.

2. Empower the Sales team with insights – Enable via dashboards and pre-defined searches keyword searches that identify potential customers actively looking for product recommendations to solve a business problem.

3. Monitor your competition – Listen to what customers are saying about your brand can open the door to offering relevant solutions, but listening to what people are saying about your competitors can showcase weak spots in their offering. Think of it as an opportunity to help, and have the appropriate salesperson send the customer something useful.

Next steps

Social listening like anything is easy to get going with but you need to have a strategy, a reason for doing it and once you have this defined then you can quickly enable via Microsoft Social Listening. Some key questions that you ask yourself to help you build a strategy are:

1. What is the reason for measuring social conversations?

2. What are you trying to achieve and how it is aligned with your customer experience and other initiatives?

3. How will social add value beyond just the bottom line?

4. What metrics will you use to confirm if what you are doing is working?

If you can answer these questions then you are on a good path to success. Intergen can help you with this journey and has tools and techniques to help you map out your social strategy and how this will affect your customer experience and journeys with your brand.

CRM 2013 Vertical Templates released

Great new templates for CRM2013 released, see this great post by Scott Kostojohn, Madrona Solutions Group for details.

CRM 2013 – Quick View Cards

A great new feature of CRM 2013 is the quick view feature.

Quick Views – The ability to display a read only view of a associated record within an existing form.

What this means is that I am looking at the Account screen and I can quick view the details of the primary contact or even the details of the primary account.

So how do I create a quick view?

Its simple in CRM 2013, you simply navigate to the entity form area and create a new quick view form. You can then add fields, subgrids and sections to the view. See image below:


Once you ave created the form you save it and publish it. You can create many quick view forms for any entity.

To display the quick view on the form

Again so simple, open up an existing form, select the area you want to add the quick view form and click the insert quick view see below:


Then you select the lookup on the form for which you want to display the quick view form of and you are done:


Once you have added it, you save and publish the form and your quick view card will be displayed. If no record exists in the lookup associated to the quick view then the quick view will not be displayed.

See screen shot below of Parent Account quick view.


Possible uses:

Display details of a contact or product associated to a Case on the case form.

Display product details on a quote product

Display competitor details on an opportunity

As you can see many uses of this very cool feature!

ClickDimensions – Free marker language demystified

See my guest post on the ClickDimensions blog My Post at ClickDimensions.

Hopefully it meets my objective of making this seemingly complex language simple!

Rockstar 365 rank yourself across your peers

Its interesting when you start listing all the projects you have worked on, the people you know and see how you compare.

Great work check out my profile at:

My Rockstar Profile

How can I import Marketing List Members into Dynamics CRM?

Problem: I utilise an external Data Warehouse to identify marketing list members for a mail out, how can I load these into CRM to utilise the campaign functionality?

Initially when posed with this question, I thought development as you can not use the standard import tool to do this, but when stood back and looked at Marketing Lists, I realised there was a simple solution. The solution hinges around the fact that Manage Members utilises advanced find to perform a search to identify members, so we just need to be able to have something to search on, without needing to update the existing record.

In fact their are 2 options, as follows:

  1. Create a new entity named “External List”
  2. Create a relationship (lookup) to Contact, Account and Lead if you are creating marketing lists for all 3 types.
  3. Create a second relationship to Marketing list entity as a n:1
  4. Save and publish
  5. Now from the external source export your list, that must contain a unique attribute for each record that matches what is stored in CRM
  6. Create a marketing list in CRM or copy the name of an existing one for which you want to import members into
  7. Add to the export you did in step 5 a new “Name” and “Marketing List Name”column
  8. In the name column enter a unique name for the external list records that the import will create. In the marketing list column enter the name of the marketing list created in step 6.
  9. Import this file into CRM into the new entity “External List”, mapping the new relationships created in step 1 and 2 to the appropriate column in the csv file. I.e. Map the unique attribute for the CRM record to the Account, Contact or Lead for which it refers to.
  10. Now open the marketing list created in step 6 and use Manage members to perform a search on all Contacts, Accounts or leads (depending on what you are referencing) where an External List record is associated to them that is related to the Marketing list you created in step 6.
  11. Add the found members to the List.
  12. You have now imported members to a marketing list, you can now always view which members were added via the external list process and which additional members were added via standard CRM processes
  13. As a time saver, save the data import as a new template for future use

The second option is similar to above but you instead of creating a new entity you use Connections and import a new connection linked to the marketing list and use this to perform an advanced find on. The only downside of this approach is that can muddy the water if you use connections for other purposes.

I hope this solves a common dilemma.

How do I clean up my Outlook contact list and ensure the right contacts are tracked into CRM?

Recently I was presented with a request that went along the lines of:

“I am using CRM via the browser but I want to start using the Outlook client as I believe not all of my outlook contacts are in CRM, what is the best way to get my outlook contacts synced into CRM?”

Now this may sound simple, just install the outlook add in, sync and then track the required contacts into CRM, but if you do this you could end up with a bunch of duplicate contacts in Outlook, your phone and then Outlook owning the contact records that you track into CRM, which is a big issue as I explain below.

  • When Outlook owns a contact via tracking it directly into CRM, it means that your outlook filters are dismissed for this contact. But what does this mean? Well its quite a major.
  • Imagine the scenario, the contact you tracked is reassigned to another person, in normal circumstances this might mean you no longer see this contact record, but because you tracked it, the contact remains tracked in Outlook.
  • Then say you decide to untrack this contact or delete the contact in your outlook, because you do not deal with that contact anymore, but then 6 months down the line the contact is reassigned back to you, the contact will not be synced to your outlook via the outlook filters as your actions in Outlook has overridden that of the filters as you told CRM you never want to see this contact in Outlook, by untracking it!

So basically if you track in Outlook you will overide the outlook CRM filters for this contact going forward and if you untrack the contact you will never be able to re sync this contact to the contact in CRM without first creating a duplicate contact in CRM merging them and syncing them back.

So what is best practice you ask?

Quite simple let CRM control what contacts based on your outlook filters should be synced to your Outlook and never track a contact via the track in crm buttons in Outlook! This way you will always see the right contacts from CRM and never get into a mess, where some are syncing and others are not. Now that statement may be contrary to what your CRM partner has told you but believe me it is the best approach.

From a training perspective, it simple means that when I am in Outlook and I want to create a contact that ultimately belongs in CRM, I should create it in CRM via the Outlook interface interacting with CRM, and then let the sync process bring the details back down to my Outlook and phone.

So now back to my problem statement, I have an employee who wants to get in sync there Outlook contacts and their CRM contacts by installing the CRM add in for Outlook.

Things to consider:

  • Phone contacts and are they syncing to Outlook
  • Other tools that may be syncing to Outlook
  • Personal vs business contacts

So maybe now you can see my dilemma this is not a simple process! So I have listed the steps below to what I believe makes the process as seamless as possible and ensures minimal duplicates of contacts across Outlook, phone and CRM.

  1. In outlook move all the contacts that you want in CRM to a new Contact folder called Business Contacts.
  2. Export that folder to an excel worksheet (file open, Import, export to file, choose excel, select new contact folder, export)
  3. Open the worksheet and remove all the additional Outlook columns to just leave the ones required to be imported or the ones that have content in
  4. Save the file as a csv file
  5. Import into crm with duplication detection on, mapping the columns to the appropriate contact columns via the Ribbon Import button
  6. Check the status of the import and hopefully minimal duplicates created, depending on your de-dupe rules
  7. Tidy up duplicates by merging in CRM
  8. Delete the contacts folder that contains the business contacts that you have just imported into CRM in Outlook (you have a backup in the csv file) to delete the contacts on your phone, as otherwise your phone may sync back duplicate contact records back into outlook
  9. Check phone has removed the contacts
  10. If phone has not manually delete contacts on the phone and sync
  11. Install Dynamics CRM Outlook add on
  12. Sync down owned contacts based on your outlook filters
  13. Phone and Outlook now have one list of contacts, with business contacts from Outllook and CRM synced appropriately to your devices

Now if ownership of records change the contacts will be removed from your outlook (if your outlook rules are based on ownership) and if you regain ownership of the record the contact will be re-synced back to your outlook.

Hopefully this will simplify your CRM rollup and on-going maintenance of users.

Updated office 365 Dynamics CRM Experience

With the latest rollup applied to Dynamics CRM Online, a whole of new capability has been added to the office 365 management of CRM instances. These improvements are some of the highlights of the Update Rollup 12 release for Online customers. Here is a list of some of those improvements and what they mean to you:

  • Multiple Instances under one Office 365 account – Buy one CRM licence access multiple instances, controled by group security (previously you would of had to have multiple Office 365 accounts), now you can have UAT and Prod in one instance with one username and password.
  • Single sign on across multiple instances – One user can log into multiple instances with the same username and password.
  • Share storage – You can now share the storage across the multiple instances i.e. majority goes to Prod, a little goes to UAT and DEV, any purchased storage can be shared as well
  • Group Security – Easy control of who can access which instance of CRM

So lots of new features and this is coupled with the potential power of Office 365 enabling online exhange, SharePoint and team collaboration.