What’s new in the CRM 2016 Spring Release

Dynamics CRM 2016 Online SP1 has been released and again its another big release for Dynamics with a lot of new capabilities being added. The focus has been heavily on expanding the service and mobile capabilities of Dynamics CRM

In this blog I will summarise some of the changes and values that they bring you as a business:

Mobile:

  • The big news here is that it has gone Offline, you can now define the rules for offline access via the new administration settings area in Dynamics. Some caveats to be aware of, its only available to organisations that have 5 or more professional licenses or 1 enterprise license, the licenses do need to be assigned to users for mobile offline to be engaged, it is not available for trial or sandbox environment, and any changes to a user security privileges will not take effect for offline until after the next synchronization.
  • Data for the offline users is stored in a separate SQL Azure Database and for offline access stored on the device in a local database. It is important if you are going to use CRM Mobile Offline that you utilize tools like Intune to manage the devices connecting for security of local data. iOS and Android mobile applications can now be managed in Intune MAM without enrolling the device.
  • For more information on setting up Mobile offline see Offline User Guide
  • Other mobile enhancements include the ability for service reps to manage Knowledge base articles
  • For sales professionals to manage quotes, orders and invoices via mobile
  • Improved start up performance after admin changes
  • Ability to set-up mobile device conditional access – You configure conditions for CRM access at the Azure Active Directory group level. For example, you might want to set up conditions that require multi-factor authentication for mobile users accessing CRM when they’re not at work—or maybe you want to require it at all times. You can also set up conditions that require the user’s mobile device to be compliant with your policies before the user can access CRM.

Productivity:

As with every release a high degree of focus is placed on productivity as with this release. The following improvements have been made:

  • Collaboration with Office Groups – Office groups can now be reconnected to other records in CRM.
    • Notification of deleted groups within CRM to allow you to reconnect to another group
    • Project team members are automatically added to a group
  • Email signatures – you can now define signatures for users and queues for web client emails
  • Inline Help – Learning path is a new guided user experience tailored to roles in the organisation. The first release will see the content pre canned for some of the new features, we hope in future releases this will be opened up for configuration so that we can create personalized content for a releases

Service

Service has seen some major enhancements with the release of Project and Field Services as core components of Dynamics CRM Online. These new features are licensed as an add on to a Basic license so are not included in the base license.

  • Project Services – manage project based sales, includes:
    • Estimate, quote, and contract work
    • Plan and assign resources
    • Enable team collaboration
    • Capture time, expense, and progress data for real-time insights and accurate invoicing
    • Project based contracts
    • Project planning
    • Resource management
    • Time and expenses
    • Project billing
    • Watch the video at Project services YouTube video
  • Manage your Field service workflows
    • Field service, the recent FieldOne acquisition has now been fully embedded and enhanced for Dynamics CRM.
    • Field service is an end-to-end solution that delivers advanced scheduling, inventory tracking, and asset management for service depots and highly mobile, in-field specialists who need to fulfill work orders and provide preventive maintenance across multiple sites under complex service agreements.
  • Create SLAs for any entity
    • With this release you can now easily create SLAs for a select few system entities and all custom entities. For example you could create an SLA for a Lead first response in, conversion SLA. Lots of possibilities for SLA configuration.
    • The following system entities are included:
      • All activity entities (such as Email, Task, and Appointment) except recurring appointments
      • Account
      • Contact
      • Invoice
      • Opportunity
      • Quote
      • Lead
      • Order
    • For more information on SLA configuration see My post on SLA set-up and SLA Help guide
  • Interactive service hub enhancements
    • Apply service level agreements (SLAs) for Case and custom entities. This functionality is the same whether you use the web client or the interactive service hub.
    • Track progress of SLA KPIs with the timer control.
    • Remove redundancies between similar cases by merging them into a single case.
    • Access forms and dashboards easily using keyboard navigation

Analytics Features

  • New Service Content Pack includes several key indicators such as cases created, cases resolved, satisfaction percentage, top agent leaders, and most used and viewed KB articles.
  • Improved Sales Manager Content Pack includes OData (Open Data Protocol) version 4.0 support.
  • The ability to embed Power BI tiles directly into CRM user dashboards. This allows you to launch an interactive report from Power BI tiles directly from a CRM user dashboard, without having to switch to the Power BI service.

Portals

Self service portals will be released slightly after the general release of Dynamics CRM Online and will include a set of preconfigured portals that can be deployed utilizing the Adxstudio recent acquisition capability. The following portals will be made available and will utilize Azure services:

  • Custom portal. The custom portal is a basic portal that contains flows and pages common to all portals. It includes basic support content as well as custom applications to meet the specific support needs of different organizations, including login/authentication features and contact pages.
  • Customer Self-Service portal. Lets customers access self-service knowledge and support resources, increasing customer satisfaction, reducing call center volumes, and ultimately allowing service agents to focus their efforts on issues of greatest impact.
  • Employee Self-Service portal. Creates an efficient and well-informed workforce by streamlining common tasks and empowering every employee with a definitive source of knowledge. Employee self-service is now available worldwide using CRM and portal capabilities, and is available in all CRM Online markets.
  • Community portal. Enables peer-to-peer interactions between experts in the community, subject matter experts within an organization, and internal and external users. Communities organically grow the catalog of available knowledge from knowledge base articles, forums, and blogs. Participants can provide feedback through rating and comments features. Contributors can also receive alerts on content revisions and workflow updates.
  • Partner portal. Create an environment for interacting with your partners and collaborating on sales opportunities to provide products and services based on your customers’ needs.

Unified Service Desk Enhancements

A number of improvements were made to the Unified service desk these include:

  • Interactive service hub integration. The interactive service hub can now be integrated with Unified Service Desk so users can open and control interactive service hub pages inside Unified Service Desk.
  • Windows Update. Unified Service Desk also supports Windows Update now. Windows Update is an easy and free way to help keep Microsoft applications (like the Unified Service Desk client) safer and running smoothly. Just turn it on, and you’ll get the latest security and other important updates from Microsoft automatically, or you can choose to apply updates manually.
  • Demo packages. New demo packages include samples for new Unified Service Desk environments, upgrading existing Unified Service Desk environments, interactive service hub integration, and Dynamics CRM 2013 or later web client.
  • Telemetry. You can now help improve Unified Service Desk by sending usage data to Microsoft anonymously.

Company News

  • The Company news and timeline solution lets users see the latest and most important news from Bing news on their mobile devices. News articles are organized by time (Today, This Week, Last Week) and contain the headline, date/time, and source of the news article. Important events are detected and categorized, including management changes, earnings releases, new offerings, cost cutting, growth, legal issues, acquisitions, and partnerships.You can use a new custom control to add and configure a news feed for the mobile apps.

Hybrid server-side sync (CRM on premises to Exchange Online)

  • You can use server-side synchronization to automatically synchronize email, tasks, appointments, and contacts between CRM and Microsoft Exchange. Now you can do a reverse-hybrid scenario by connecting CRM on-premises with Exchange Online. This means you can now use server-side synchronization for all four connection scenarios:
  • Serversidesync CRM 2016SP1

CRM APP for Outlook available for CRM On Premise

  • The CRM APP introduced in the CRM Online 2016 release is now available for CRM ON Premise. The following table defines the versions and functions available:
    Read email Compose email
    Outlook on the web (OWA) on all major desktop browsers Yes Yes
    Outlook 2013 Yes No
    Outlook 2016 Yes Yes
    Outlook for Mac Yes No

 

Customer Field

  • The customer field is a special field you find on some custom entities that let you select an account or contact record as the customer. In the new release you will be add a new field as a type of Customer to your system entities.
  • This feature will be available slightly after the general release of CRM

Filter your activities in the activity pane in CRM 2016

The activity pane is a great area in CRM to see all the activity regarding an account and if used well can create a great story of interactions. But there is often a lot of noise with system activities being displayed or activities that you are not interested in.

In CRM 2016, you can filter the activity pane by clicking on the filter icon, see screenshot below. You can then select the activities you are interested in.

actvity pane filter

May be in the future will also be able to do it by date, but not just yet.

CRM + OneNote = Productivity

In the latest release of Dynamics CRM Online, a large focus has been on increasing productivity, by deeper integration with the Office 365 products. One of these investments has been with OneNote. OneNote is a great tool for capturing all sorts of notes, from meeting notes, to actions, to pictures and the list goes on via any device. So image the ability to take ad-hoc notes and seamlessly link them to the appropriate CRM record be an Account or Opportunity or Case, no more hidden notes in emails, description fields, appointments it’s all discoverable.

So why Integrate to OneNote?

OneNote is a well-established tool that enables people to take notes, to collaborate to capture ad hoc conversations, to embed voice and photos of whiteboards, while being fully accessible on any device from Phones, to Tablets, to Desktops, to iPads and Android based devices.

If we look at traditional CRM systems, when it came to note taking or capturing the outcome of a meeting we were left with wondering what to do with the notes, do we attach them as a note, do we summarise using a text box field, do we implement a web resource to invoke a rich text editor in CRM, often though these notes were never updated in CRM, leaving a hole in the interaction, probably the most important interaction.

To demonstrate the value of this productivity enhancement, let’s take a simple example, I am a sales person going to meet a client regarding a new opportunity to deliver some services and implement a new product. I know I will be asking plenty of questions, taking notes and I am sure the whiteboard will be used to draw some pictures. So how does this play out with CRM and OneNote.

I open the CRM App on my tablet. I bring up my opportunity and review the customer details.  Onenote 1
I click on the OneNote link and start taking my notes in OneNote.

I can draw pretty pictures, write some notes, and do what I need to do.

Onenote 2 - Copy Onenote 3
I complete the appointment record against the opportunity  Onenote 4
My pre sales team can immediately review the notes of the meeting.  onenote 5

 

So as you can see a seamless experience for me and my team. Writing notes in a tool meant to write notes in. The benefits being:

  • Based on security access, everyone who needs to see my notes can, in the context of the record
  • I can work on any device anywhere, seamlessly
  • OneNotes are stored in SharePoint so no storage impact on my CRM Online
  • I can take photos, draw pictures, record videos, take typed notes, I am not restricted by a field or size of a field
  • I can collaborate real time with other users in the OneNote
  • Users do not need access to CRM to contribute to the OneNote
  • I can utilise other tools that are integrated with OneNote i.e. IFTTT.com provide many simple tools to really start empowering users usage of OneNote

 

How do we set this up, what do I need to know?

Ok, so you get the point CRM + OneNote = Productivity, so how do I enable it what are the must haves. It is simple really if you meet the following criteria you can enable this integration:

  • You have Dynamics CRM Online, with the latest Update 1 applied
    • If you a new customer, then when you create a trial instance of CRM you will be on this latest update
    • If you an existing customer then you can schedule your instance to be updated via the O365 admin centre
  • You have SharePoint connected to your CRM instance, be Online or On Premise
    • OneNote files are stored in SharePoint using the documents area

 

If you meet this simple criteria you can get going. So to start using OneNote integration, follow these simple steps:

STEP 1 Decide which entities you want to enable OneNote integration for i.e. Accounts, opportunities, Cases etc
STEP 2 Open “Customise the System” and for each entity make sure the Document Management and OneNote Integration flags are checked. Publish the changes.

onenote step2

STEP 3 If you have already enabled SharePoint integration skip this step. Otherwise you need to enable SharePoint Integration via Settings -> Document Management

onenote step 3

STEP 4 Finally you now need to select the entities in which you want to enable OneNote integration for. So navigate to Settings -> Document Management and select OneNote Integration:

onenote step 4

Now select the entities and click Finish. You have now configured OneNote Integration.

onenote step 4a

STEP 5 Once you have enabled OneNote, to create your first connected OneNote section, open up the record and ensure a document library has been created, then in the social panel click on the new OneNote tab and an OneNote file named Untitled will be created. Open this up and start creating your notes.

onenote step 5

 

Finally how are they stored and linked?

 

The OneNote files are stored in SharePoint within the document library for the record. Each record where you initiate an OneNote, a new Notebook will be created. In the social panel, sections of the OneNote notebook are displayed individually.

onenote step finally

 

In Summary

Bringing the power of OneNote together with the structure of Dynamics CRM, enables individuals to work within the tools that are best suited to the job, while being connected to the context of the CRM record. OneNote enables collaboration, sharing of information and enables users to work smarter reducing the duplication of data entry and the complexity of sharing insights amongst the team.

 

 

ClickDimensions – adding a preview of the email that was sent in the Email sent record

So my problem I open up my contact to view the emails that have been sent via ClickDimensions, when I open the email I see the subject of the email that was sent but not the content. To get to the content I have to click the link to the email send record. This can be frustrating to users who what to get a quick view of the email content.

This started me thinking, if we can view a preview in the email send record then maybe we can construct the correct URL and display that in an iFrame in any related record. After a bit of playing and an email with Matt Wittemann from ClickDimensions I had a nice solution.

I thought I would share this and if I am honest as I am not a developer I would probably convert a couple of my steps into plugins rather than using workflows! Anyway this is how I achieved the solution.

First of all if we take a look at the URL in the preview of an Email send record, it looks something like this:

https://mscrmapp.clickdimensions.com/editor/previewversion?accountKey=xxxxx&typename=cdi_emailsend&orgname=xxxxx&id=A7167B49-B950-E511-8105-FC15B428FA14&disabled=true

Now the only thing that changes by email send is the email send GUID. So if I know the GUID of an email send record then I can display the email in any iFrame, simple!

Remember now that I am not a developer so my tools available to me are workflows, fields and web resources! This is how I did it:

  1. I utilised the GetRecordID workflow function provided by ClickDimensions in the blog (http://blog.clickdimensions.com/2013/02/link-a-survey-response-to-a-case.html)
  2. I created a new field on the Email Send record to hold the GUID of the record
  3. I created a workflow on the Email Send record that on create uses the GetRecordId action and populates the returned value in the new field (This could be a plugin instead of a workflow)
  4. Save and publish the workflow
  5. In the Sent Email entity
    1. Create a new field to hold the URL of the preview
    2. Create a new iFrame that will display the preview
    3. Create a simple Web resource to take the value of the URL field and update the iFrame URL as below:
    4. function Emailsend()
      {
      var emailsendurl = Xrm.Page.getAttribute(“new_emailsendurl”).getValue();
      Xrm.Page.ui.controls.get(“IFRAME_emailsend”).setSrc(emailsendurl);
      }
  6. What I did then was to use another workflow on the Sent Email to generate the URL into the Sent Email URL field, using the standard preview URL as above and populating the GUID from the related Email Send. This could equally of been done in a plugin on the create of an Sent email record.
  7. When I publish all of the components I now have the preview of the email that was sent displayed in my Sent Email record.

Dynamics CRM 2016 Release Preview Information

Dynamics CRM 2016 in the name of the next release for Dynamics CRM expected this Fall (December / January), and what a release it looks like it will be.

I have listed some resources that share some of the new features and content:

Microsoft Blog by Bob Stutz

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 – Delivering the Next Generation of Intelligent Customer Engagement

YouTube Video on the new features

Youtube2016

Preview Guide

CRMPreviewGuide2016

Changing the Entity Tile Colour

Did you ever wish you could change the colour of one of the entity tiles like account from the Case from purple to say yellow?

Well in Dynamics CRM Online Spring 2015 Update 1 you now can and its really easy if you know your hex colours 🙂

So my scenario I want to change the Case Purple tile to Yellow, this is what it looks like out of the box:

Changingthe entity colour in the site map 0

To change it to yellow, follow these simple steps:

  1. Open up Settings->Customise the system
  2. Open up the entity you want to change in this scenario Case
  3. Now you will need to use a hex converter like http://www.colorhexa.com to identify the colour you want
  4. When you have the hex code simply update the field in the entity form labelled Colour, as below
  5. Changingthe entity colour in the site map 2
  6. Now save and publish the entity
  7. Refresh you CRM browser and now navigate to Case, you will see it has changed to the colour specified
  8. Changingthe entity colour in the site map 3

Happy colour changing!