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

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

Dynamics CRM 2011 Polaris what is inlcuded?

So what is this Polaris release and what is included?

The first thing to note is that Polaris is only for Online except for x browser support that will be available for On Premise through the Rollup 12 release. So what is in Polaris?

The image above depicts the functionality included in Polaris. I will now touch upon some of the key ones in a little more detail, hopefully in plain English!

  • Flow User Experience – this is a whole new UX development approach for CRM to remove the number of screen pops that occur during a standard process. In the case of Polaris, Lead and Opportunity and Case management processes will be included. It is important to note that this feature will be turned off for existing online customers, but can be opted into and for new online customer post the release this will be on by default but can be turned off. Flow UX will not be configurable for any other entity other than the Lead, Opportunity and Case in the first release. In the Q2 2013 we would expect that this will be more configurable for custom entities. This is a big step forward on UX development and cements the user experience expected on mobile devices
  • Browser Flexibility – This will enable CRM to be run on a number of browsers including Safari on the IPAD.

  • Yammer Integration – Tighter integration between CRM and Yammer beyond the current embed functionality. This will enable features such as Like, Follow, visible from within CRM or Yammer and the ability to do global search from yammer to CRM. Yammer will become the future Activity Feeds.  Aligned to this was the recent announcement of pricing plan changes that can be found here https://www.yammer.com/about/pricing/ making it very affordable to organisations to adopt.
  • Skype integration – As per my previous blog this is a great new feature and will change the way we communicate with our customers from within CRM.
  • Bing Maps – The updated new UX will include native integration to Bing Maps for Contacts and Accounts for free.
  • Pre Defined sales and Service processes – So what is this? Well rather than you telling your partner your processes, your partner will be able to present a best of breed sales process as a starting point from which you can edit and tweak. This will save time in deployment and provide a greater starting point than just rich functionality to configure.
  • Enhanced Complex Deal Management – Microsoft Dynamics CRM will provide additional capabilities to track and manage stakeholders, competitors and pursuit teams for leads, opportunities, contacts and accounts via the new UX capability.

So hopefully that was useful and explained a few of the new features expected in December. For more information please see the preview guide from Microsoft http://crmpublish.blob.core.windows.net/docs/Release_Preview_Guide_December_2012_FINAL.pdf

So why should you care about Skype and Dynamics CRM Integration?

So recent announcements have indicated that Skype and Dynamics CRM will be integrated out of the box in the Polaris December 2012 release http://crm.dynamics.com/en-us/polaris.

So what does this really mean and why should we care?

So lets think about Skype for a moment:

  • it has over 40 million users
  • in over 177 countries
  • you can access on pretty much any device
  • you can use a mobile or a landline
  • you can have a dedicated number and voicemail

I could keep on going with regards the features and facts but the key thing to note is it is essentially a Communications company that enables calls via VOIP or via PSTN network out of the box. But what about Lync you say, this is great for internal access but for external calling a few but not many enable.

So with Skype you can now make external calls straight from CRM, without the need for phone integration! Plus don’t forget the status, you will now have access to view whether your internal or external contact is online, busy, offline etc giving you greater access and visibility of the people you are interacting with.

So in a nutshell what does this mean?

  • From Dynamics CRM I will be able make calls to my contacts straight from CRM via VOIP or PSTN
  • I will be able to see the status of my contacts from Skype
  • I will be able to access the Skype network of contacts and people
  • I will be able to screen pop the contact details when I make a CRM call
  • I will be able to initiate video calls straight from CRM
  • I will be able to use Skype messaging to post a comment to a contact
  • I will be able to engage better with my Customers

So this is not just a cool feature, its going to change the way you engage with Customers, Communicate with Customers and view Customers.

My Top Tips for CRM 2011 – focus on user productivity

This is a productivity blog on ways to reduce clicks in CRM 2011 through some tips and tricks. I have split them between the Outlook Client and the Browser Client:

1. No more advanced find – use the Outlook client select a record say Accounts and then click the View ribbon. From here select the add columns button and scroll to the bottom of the list to the user defined fields and select. Now you can add CRM fields to your view and from there apply simple or more complex filters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Multiple column sort by holding down the shift key and selecting the columns you want to sort on

3. Pinning views in Outlook reduces the need to keep on reopening your standard views, great for managers or users who work across territories

4.Calendar Preview – how many of you use preview on the calendar? Well by using the preview on the calendar enables you to select an appointment and quickly navigate to the tracked CRM record, saving clicks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Conditional formatting in Outlook, use the outlook feature on CRM records and highlight records that need action. To save the formatting for next time start from a system view, apply the formatting and then save as a new view, the conditional formatting will now stick.

6. You may know about quick access to previous records in the browser but do you know you can do it in Outlook as well? Right click on an Outlook CRM folder and then select Recent records, a very cool productivity tip.

 

 

 

 

 

7. Track records by selecting Set Regarding only, if you are not setting the regarding to something then what is the purpose of tracking it?

8. Viewing a dashboard in its own window with no navigation. In the browser select recently viewed on the browser item and then right click the dashboard name and select open in new window. Now you have a standalone dash baord view

9. In the browser you navigate to a view open the first record and then use the up and down arrows to navigate between the records or select the dropdown to arrow and click the record you want to view.

10. Quickly populate date fields by just typing the day and month and tabbing out of the field, the year will default.

11. Use charts to sum or count records in views rather than exporting to Excel.

I hope those made your day and you learnt a cool new tip to help reduce clicks and increase productivity.

Dynamics CRM 2011 Online provisions through Microsoft Online Services

From today Dynamics CRM 2011 online will be provisioned via Microsoft Online services as like Office 365. What does this mean to you, some highlights:

  • You can now provision a CRM trial and Office 365 envrionment from the same administration screens
  • You can sync your active directory with Microsoft Online so you can have true single sign on with your AD login, no need for Live ids
  • You can manage user access to CRM via the Microsoft Online Services admin pages
  • Standard billing across your Online services

So from the log on pages at crm.dynamics.com you will now have 2 options, one to log into your online account via live id and for newly provisioned CRM orgs via the Microsoft Online Portal.

Extracts from the CRM Q2 2012 Release Notes

The following article are extracts from the CRM 2011 Q2 2012 Release notes:

CRM ANYWHERE

Today’s businesses use a wide variety of technology platforms and form factors across many different locations. Microsoft is deeply committed to a rich application experience for users wherever they are. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Q2 2012 service update provides the flexibility to consume Microsoft Dynamics CRM through the most popular web browsers running on both PC and Apple Macintosh computers. It also delivers a range of rich device-specific applications for popular mobile devices that keeps the user informed and productive when they are out of the office. This update showcases our interoperability with non-Microsoft platforms and alignment with industry standards to promote choice. Flexibility of device and browser, coupled with the productivity features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, enables individuals to access the right information at the right time on the right device.

 MICROSOFT DYNAMICS CRM MOBILE

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Q2 21012 service update brings a new cloud based mobile CRM service called Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile to customers of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. As part of this new mobile solution, Microsoft will provide a full range of rich native CRM applications (apps) for the most popular smartphones and tablets. These new applications allow a sales, service or marketing professional to access Microsoft Dynamics CRM both Online and On-premises. These apps allow organizations and individuals to be productive with their device of choice thereby enabling them to manage customer relationships anywhere.

It is common for sales, service and marketing professionals to use a variety of devices e.g. a sales person might have both a phone and a tablet device from which they need to access their CRM data and processes. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile, each licensed mobile user can access Microsoft Dynamics CRM from up to three different mobile devices. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile will also offer an offline mode on most devices* so that Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be accessed even when there is lack of Internet connectivity.

Native apps for devices supported by this offering include:

Device

Operating System

Windows Phone

7.5+

Apple iPhone 3GS+

iOS 5+

Google Android

2.2+

RIM Blackberry

6.x and 7.x

Apple iPad/iPad2

iOS 5+

 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile offers the user the full breadth of Microsoft Dynamics CRM functionality, including the dashboard capabilities, on the mobile device of their choice. There is no need to load multiple apps onto their device; Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile provides a single consistent application experience

 BROWSER FLEXIBILITY

In addition to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Q2 2012 service update provides the ability for end users to access the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Web Client across all modern Internet browsers on various platforms. This includes browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari running on PC, Apple Macintosh or iPad. The list of devices and specific browser versions that will be supported is as follows:

  

 

 

 

RAPID VIEW FORMS

In many organizations there are groups of users who typically use a CRM system to look up key information about their contacts, accounts, opportunities and cases but have no immediate need to modify that information. For example, many contact centre employees or managers primarily use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to review business information before deciding whether any action is required. For these users the optimal experience is to load this information very quickly so they can immediately assess a situation and determine the correct course of action. In order to provide this type of user experience, we’re introducing rapid view forms.

The rapid view form is a read-only form that can be configured like any other form in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to display any record in the system.

When viewing information in these forms, users can switch to an editing experience with the click of a button. Administrators of Microsoft Dynamics CRM will have the option to set all forms to load in rapid view mode if appropriate for business needs. Individual users will have the personal option to choose the form mode they prefer (Rapid View or Standard Edit).

 ENHANCED SOCIAL

Organizations are constantly seeking new ways to facilitate simple and effective communication and collaboration between their employees. Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook provide a very simple micro-blogging user experience to post observations and information as well as ask questions and find expertize. More and more users are demanding these types of social experiences in business applications such as CRM. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM November 2011 Service Update delivered these capabilities through Activity Feeds which introduced micro-blogging and social collaboration capabilities within Microsoft Dynamics CRM. With the upcoming Q2 2012 service update, Activity Feeds will be further enhanced to provide additional functionality and simplified access to relevant feeds.

 We are adding the ability to “Like” and “Unlike” posts in Activity Feeds similar to the concept in Facebook. Activity Feeds will also offer improved filtering capabilities. A user can view a timeline wall of all posts that mention them (the @me filter). Users can also filter posts relating to types of records they follow. For example, a user can create a filter to only show posts related to the Accounts that they follow. Finally, filters can be based on data views configured within Microsoft Dynamics CRM. For example, ‘My Direct Reports’ view will show all posts related to anyone who reports to me regardless of whether I follow those team members or not. These new filtering capabilities provide a user with even greater flexibility over the information they want to see on their wall.

 MICROSOFT SQL SERVER 2012 AND BI

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 introduces a new Reporting Services Add-in for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 called Power View, previously code-named Project Crescent. Power View is a next-generation BI tool for interactive data exploration, visualization, and presentation. It provides intuitive ad-hoc reporting for business users such as data analysts, business decision makers and information workers. In short, Power View provides better business insights and collaboration for casual and experienced users alike. Power View allows a user to configure reports that connect to Microsoft Excel’s PowerPivot or SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS). Power View is so much more than just breath-taking end user analytics visualizations and tools, it redefines the data analysis process for business and technical users alike.

 With the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Q2 2012 service update, we’re releasing a set of Microsoft Excel workbooks with pre-defined PowerPivot models and Power View Report templates. These templates will be available in the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace as a Microsoft Dynamics Labs solution.

 CUSTOM WORKFLOW ACTIVITIES IN CRM ONLINE

With the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Q2 service update, developers can build custom .NET Workflow activity assemblies for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. These custom assemblies can be developed and deployed as part of a Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution package. Once a custom workflow activity has been deployed, it can then be utilized within the workflow engine for business process management. These new capabilities ensure parity in the developer experience between Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and on-premises. It also empowers organizations to bring external data, custom actions and integrations into their standard CRM

Microsoft CRM 2011 and SharePoint 2010 Integration – What happens to Special Characters in CRM record names?

When you utilise the OOB integration between CRM 2011 and SharePoint 2010 you need to be aware of how special characters will be handled in SharePoint as they are not supported in the folder name.

SharePoint doesn’t support the following characters in folder names so when a record in CRM contains an invalid character it is converted to a dash “-“. Invalid characters in SharePoint  ~ ” # % & * : < > ? / \ { | }

Example:

 

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 6

See link: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2600640 for the latest rollup 6 for Microsoft CRM 2011.

Note: Update Rollup 6 cannot be uninstalled. Specific database updates are applied during Update Rollup 6 installation that will not let you uninstall Update Rollup 6. You should back up your databases and application servers before you install this update.

Note: Update Rollup 6 establishes a new servicing baseline. This will enable uninstalls of some future CRM 2011 Update Rollups, but this also means that Update Rollup 6 will be a prerequisite for installation of post-Update Rollup 6 Update Rollups.