Remove the project data silo from your business with project services for Dynamics CRM Online

What do your customers remember you by? Your last delivery.

Building long lasting trusting relationships around a solid reputation of delivery is paramount into today’s services economy. With many providers delivering similar services your customer experience needs to be distinct and consistent across every client interaction. As an organisation the level of transparency and collaboration both internally and externally has escalated to the point people expect it, they expect to be involved, they expect to collaborate, they expect to be online, they expect to be able to do it anywhere, and they expect it to be simple. Delivering projects is all about the relationships and team collaboration so why should it not be embedded into a Customer Relationship Management solution?

Process maturity as published by SPI Research for Microsoft on 2016 Professional Services Maturity talks about moving organisations from Project Heroic and Functional Excellence to Portfolio and Collaborative Excellence, the move away from individual project heroes leads to significant performance improvements and increase in average EBITDA compared to organisations that are less mature. To be able to progress on the maturity lifecycle you require systems that are embedded into the process, systems that remove silos of data, that enable greater collaboration amongst teams both internal and external

The focus of Project Services

Project Services for Dynamics CRM focusses are removing the project data silos by embedding deep project services capabilities into Dynamics CRM. This focus of Project Services is on three core operational excellence factors:

  • Deepen customer and employee engagement – focus on building credibility through collaborative project planning, estimation and expectations setting. Provide confidence in project success through proven processes and a responsive engagement model. Then deliver predictable on-time and on budget projects with process automation and transparency. 2015 Miller Heiman Global Sales Best Practices study states that 94% of world class organisations collaborate across all departments to close large deals, as opposed to only 43% across all organisations.
  • Empower Professionals – at the end of the day it is the quality of your professionals that deliver excellent customer engagement and customer experiences. The focus here is ensuring consistency and process excellence to drive up the maturity lifecycle. Through a single system view, you can facilitate transparency with comprehensive views of skills and their relationship to project requirements, ensuring the right resource with the right skills is assigned to work. Inevitably, driving more realistic attainment of on-time and on-budget projects. You can enhance productivity through providing collaboration tools via Office 365 groups, project team sites and tools like visual studio online. By empowering the employee to find projects to maintain skills, to collaborate amongst the team increases loyalty through visible interaction, recognition and skills development.
  • Optimise Growth – 2016 SPI Professional Services Maturity Benchmark states organisations using an integrated project-based solution with CRM are 44% more profitable than those using neither. Coordinating a firm wide approach to prioritizing client and pursuit management using team collaboration in consistent ways helps to deliver successful projects. Monitoring and managing overall status and having that visible to the professionals is critical in ensuring that real time visibility of project status. The more people are aware then the more they care and focus on delivering successful project outcomes. Using the built in metrics in Project Services and PowerBI reporting tools facilitates timely decision making enabling the business to adapt and change accordingly before it is too late.

Introducing Project Services for Dynamics CRM

Project Service is an end-to-end solution that extends Microsoft Dynamics CRM to provide a single system of customer engagement for project sales, resourcing, delivery and billing.

Microsoft_Dynamics_CRM_Online_Project_Service_cycle

Through Office 365 integration collaboration becomes second nature and automated, notes can be shared using OneNote, documents worked on by multiple people seamlessly and shared with the team both internally and externally.

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If you’d like to know more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM project service and how we can help your organisation to deliver project excellence and move along the project lifecycle, we’d love to talk to you. Find out more and download a datasheet here.

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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.

 

 

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

Online vs On Premise the top level differences

The table below outlines some of the head line differences between CRM Online and CRM On Premise, hopes its useful.

Capability CRM Online CRM On Premise
Exchange Synchronisation CRM for Outlook, Email Router, or Server Synchronisation (if using Exchange Online/O365). CRM for Outlook, Email Router, or Server Synchronisation (if using Exchange on premise)
SharePoint Integration Server Side with SharePoint Online (if using O365). Client-side integration
Social Listening Included based on number subscriptions purchased (10+) and availability in region. Additional cost
Workflows/dialogs 200 Unlimited
Custom Entities 300 Unlimited
SSRS Reporting Fetch XML or T-SQL from a locally replicated reporting server. Import DLLs, Fetch XML or T-SQL
Power BI Reporting Yes No
PowerView Reporting Yes Yes
Upgrade/Update Process Office 365 admin approves the upgrade before it is installed, update rollups applied automatically. Upgrades and update rollups installed by your administrator.
Direct Server Access No Yes
Phone App Yes Yes if environment externally facing via ADFS.
Tablet App Yes Yes if environment externally facing via ADFS.
Storage Limited to the amount of CRM Online storage available when your organisation is created, additional storage can be purchased when required. Storage Utilisation is calculated based on Data Size and Index Size and is shared across all instances. By default an organisation is given 5gb of storage, additional 2.5gb of storage is granted in increments for every additional 20 professional licenced users up to a maximum of 50gb. Limited to the amount of storage available on your server.
Update Release Cycle Two releases per year. Spring release functionality exclusive to CRM Online, so new functionality available online first. Fall release released to both CRM Online and On Premises, includes the functionality released in the Spring release.
Migrating Deployments CRM Online customers can migrate to CRM On Premise at any time. SQL database can be provided to client at scheduled time that can be imported to an On Premise deployment using the “restore” process in compatible versions of SQL Server. CRM On Premise customers can migrate to CRM Online and customization for entities can be imported; however, the MSCRM database cannot be moved to Online data centre, so a data migration exercise would be required.
Sandbox environments CRM Online provides non production environments as part of your subscription that can be used for Dev/Test/UAT. The number of organizations received depends on the number of users. A free sandbox environment is provided for organisations with 25 or more professional licenses. Non production environments can be installed, depending on local server availability.

Enabling Web Resources on the New Polaris Updated Forms

Just a quick blog to remind people that if they want a web resource to fire on the new Updated forms in Polaris then you must remember to tick the following box on the web resource config form “Show this Web Resource in Read Optimized Form”. Miss leading I know!

UpdatedFormsWR

Dynamics CRM Online User interface for IPAD released

So the wait is over and you can now access Dynamics CRM 2011 online on an iPad in a supported manner, but wait their is a caveat! You have to have accepted the Polaris updates as the iPad expereince only supports the new look and feel of the Updated Polaris forms. What does this mean?

Well you have to have accepted the product update via the new administration screen and updated the new forms for Polaris with your set of fields and have deployed the new form to a set of users either by default or by defined security roles. The caveat is that the new Updated forms have a few limitations which if managed are probably ok for an on the road iPad experience, summarised below:

  1. No javascript on any event
  2. No ribbon extensions
  3. Can display web resources
  4. Certain form areas are locked i.e. social pane, contacts and bing maps
  5. Navigation area read  only

So what does the new iPad experience look like and what can I do with it:

Ipad UI 1

Ipad UI 2

So what you need to know specifically about this user interface is:

  • As it is based on Polaris it is designed to load quicker, notice no ribbons
  • The main home page displays the workplace only with the option to switch to Mobile Express to access more record types
  • I can work with Dashboards but not create dashboards
  • It only supports the new UI for displaying record, classic form is not supported. If you have disabled the new UI (i.e. through security role), then the Mobile Express form is displayed instead.
  • If you select any lookup that is not to the Account, Contact, lead or Opportunity then Mobile Express is displayed
  • Works on latest version of Safari
  • No offline capability you need a network access

In summary, a great advancement for mobililty access and supports the mobile sales team with access to core user friendly CRM data.

 

Great post on how you can change your CRM online instance URL!

Stephanus' Blog

This was not possible before the recent Polaris release, but now you can change the instance name of your CRM Online environment!

The trick is to know where to look.

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