Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Onsite at Microsoft for the Dynamics Partner Advisory Council

Sonoma Partners was recently invited to participate in the Microsoft Partner Advisory Council (PAC), and consequently I am in Redmond this week to attend the event. If you're not familiar with the PAC, here's some background on the program:

To gather and disseminate Partner feedback on strategic Microsoft products, field engagement, programs and services through meetings and ongoing dialogue between select Partners and Microsoft executives, thus driving core integration between Microsoft, our Partners and the product groups in an effort to form more cohesive, strategic relationships to deliver on One Microsoft. The PAC Program consists of approximately 24 individual PACs and over 500 members. The PAC Program meets twice annually to network and exchange information.

There are lots of different PACs such as Mobility, BI, Security and so on. Our company is participating in the Microsoft Dynamics Value Added Reseller (VAR) PAC.

The event doesn't start until tomorrow, so I was able to schedule a few meetings today. I was very lucky to participate in a "hallway meeting" with some of the developers from the Microsoft CRM product team. Since my role at Sonoma Partners is primarily sales, I tried to share some of my experiences selling Microsoft CRM and highlight the key areas where we compete with other CRM products. I also gave a quick update on where we're at in the book writing process.

Lastly, I had a quick meeting at the Microsoft Bellevue office at Lincoln Square. The building reception is on the 15th floor, and it has one of the most impressive views I've ever seen for a reception area! You can see the mountains in the distance, in addition to downtown Seattle. It's really quite impressive (even though this picture doesn't do it justice).


Quick book update

So we've obviously gone dark on our blog with NO posts over the past three weeks. I apologize, but it's just been too darn busy at work to write as often as I'd like! A lot of my blog time is gone because Jim and I have really started to buckle down to spend time writing the update of our "Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0" book for Microsoft CRM 4.0. With that in mind, I thought I'd share a quick update on where we're at in the process...

Based on the verbal feedback we have received over the past few years and through the comments on our blog, we decided to revise some of the chapters from our 3.0 book when we write the 4.0 book. I also did some quick straw polling on the public Microsoft CRM newsgroup to see which topics come up most frequently. If you're curious, here are the results that we found:

Search Phrase # of Results
Exchange 6,240
Report/Reports 6,020 / 6,370
Quote 2,300
Document/documents 2,620
Word 1,880
Queue/Queues 1,800 / 760
Team/Teams 1,810 / 548
Template 1,540
Excel 1,530
Security Roles 1,290
Mobile 1,070
Duplicate 1,020
Mail Merge 1,010
Attachment/attachments 695 / 732
Schedule 669
Token 498
Service Activity 350
Email Tracking 307
Sales literature 200
Signature 138
Relationship Roles 134
Contract Template 110
Article Templates 66
Announcements 67
Subject tree 59

To me, it makes sense that the search phrases with the most posts/results are either 1: confusing and require more explanation or 2: very popular topics that lots of people are interested in. Either way it isn't scientific, but it's data we don't want to ignore. Looking back at our CRM 3.0 book we might have wasted some pages by covering some pretty obvious topics such as announcements and contract templates! Meanwhile, we didn't spend a lot of time talking about quotes, documents and Word...but as the table shows above those are some popular topics in the newsgroup.

In addition, the good folks at Microsoft added about 10,000+ great new features to Microsoft CRM 4.0 and of course we have to cover information about Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM. In order to make room for this new stuff, unfortunately we need to make some cuts to the material in the 3.0 book. Therefore, we're forced to make some very difficult decisions about which topics we should cover.

Based on all of this information, we ultimately decided to whack Chapter 11 entirely ("Integration with External Applications") and we're also scrapping almost all of Chapter 2 ("Setting Up Your System"). As of 9:51pm tonight (remember that things change fast!), here's our revised part and chapter structure:

  • Overview and Setup
    • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Overview (30 pages)
    • Setup and Common Tasks (45 pages)
    • Managing Security and Information Access (30 pages)
  • Configuration and Customization
    • Entity Customization - Concepts & Attributes (50 pages)
    • Entity Customization - Forms and Views (60 pages)
    • Entity Customization: Relationships, Custom Entities and Site Map (60 pages)
    • Reporting and Analysis (50 pages)
    • Microsoft CRM Workflow (60 pages)
  • Extending Microsoft CRM
    • Microsoft CRM Server SDK and Examples (60 pages)
    • Microsoft CRM Client Side SDK and Examples (60 pages)
    • Programming with Microsoft CRM Workflow (40 pages)

Add it all up and we'll come in around 550 pages total again, which is the ABSOLUTE maximum that our editor will let us publish. Unfortunately, there are some areas of the application that we won't be able to cover because it simply won't fit into our page count limit.

If you have any last minute suggestions or requests about the book, please speak now or forever hold your peace.