Dynamics CRM 2015 available for download, all links included

It is here CRM2015 has been released. Details below:

For CRM Online, provision a new trial and you are up and running with CRM 2015. If you are an existing customer you will be able to schedule your upgrade to occur via the CRM admin centre in the Office 365 Portal. To access, just log in to Office 365 and then select Admin -> CRM. See this video for more information https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7f3KTlFaQ64&list=PLRvH_Jgj96NlxvDPfoNw28caAHn0zU6dJ&index=13

For On Premise customers, you can download the new server components from here:

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.

Keeping CRM Simple

When implementing CRM there are some simple principles to follow. The list below highlights some of these:

  • Focus on core CRM first I.e. management of Accounts,  Contacts, Opportunities and Activities
  • Agree as an organisation, business department what is the definition that works for the organisation
  • Once defined, agree the processes that surround these entities, when should I enter a contact, an account or opportunity
  • Don`t create an activity when an opportunity should be used I.e. send an activity to someone to follow up a meeting to discuss a problem, instead create an opportunity with the topic and description pupulated and then assign this. Its crucial to have consistent processes.
  • Plan to train regularly and reasert the key principles of why the organisation is using CRM
  • Give value back to the end users, why should they enter the data, give them a reason to

The list could go on and on but these are some of the key ones I think you should follow.