We Heard You Like Apps: So Here's A Hot One For Windows 8

Posted by Sonoma Partners on October 24, 2012 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011,   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online  |  commentsComments (6)

 

Every so often Microsoft releases a new installment of their venerable Windows operating system. Their newest is called Windows 8, and it is a radical departure from previous iterations. 

This is the first version of Windows that has been optimized for a touch experience and includes an app store. We know most business users are (and likely will remain) on Windows devices, so why not make them an app that improves productivity?

We did, and we call it EZ Opp.

It is without question the fastest and easiest way to view and update your sales opportunities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Simply touch the data and move it to change values. 

Best of all? It's FREE, and available now in the Windows 8 Store. Grab a copy and let us know how you like it!

 

EDIT: This app is US-only for now, but if there's sufficient international demand we may open it up a bit. 

Takeaways From The 2012 CRMUG Summit In Seattle

Posted by Sonoma Partners on October 23, 2012 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM  |  commentsComments (0)

Today's guest blogger is Jacob Cynamon-Murphy, a Technical Specialist at Sonoma Partners

At the CRM UG Summit last week in Seattle, I led a training session for the CRMUG Academy, entitled CRM Administration for the Part-Time Administrator. In this session, our goal was to get new admins up-to-speed on key techniques and tools to make their lives easier and get common tasks done efficiently and accurately. Over the course of the session, we discussed several resources that I wanted to be sure to share with everyone in the community, whether or not you made it to the session. If you have any tools or resources that you recommend, I encourage you to add them in the comments below.

  • Site Map
    • Tanguy's Site Map Editor - my site map editor of choice. It's fast and easy, with no server-side components.
    • Microsoft Dynamics CRM SiteMap Editor - another viable option. This one is a managed solution, so you can edit your sitemap from within the configuration page of the solution in CRM, without needing a client application.
  • CRM Ribbons
    • CRM 2011 Visual Ribbon Editor - I love that this app shows me a visual preview of the ribbon... as I edit it. With auto-complete for web resources, like icons and JavaScript files, I find this an indispensible tool in my CRM customizing arsenal.
    • Microsoft Ribbon User Experience Guidelines - this is a bit of a heady document, but has some good nuggets if you will be actively enhancing your native CRM ribbon.
  • Views
  • Workflows
    • CRM Manipulation Library - Carlton Colter wrote a library of workflow activities that you can deploy to your CRM environment. This package requires some familiarity with the CRM SDK Plugin Registration Tool. If there is sufficient interest, I can build this as a managed solution for you - just let me know.
  • Activity Feeds
  • Mobile Access
    • CWR Mobility Trial - if you're looking for something more robust than the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile Express, I recommend checking out CWR Mobile. It's great starting point if you need to enable a few users with a mobile, online/offline capability. If you have any questions about CWR Mobility, let me know - I'm a certified CWR Mobility Specialist ;-)
  • Troubleshooting
    • Fiddler - hands down, the best web traffic tool I have used. It's easy to get started and powerful as you familiarize yourself with its features.
    • CRM 2011 Diagnostics Tool - Another great tool from Tanguy Toussard. He's updated the CRM 4.0 diagnostics tool and enhanced it with some new capabilities.
    • CRM Trace Log Viewer - it was built for CRM 4.0, but the trace logs have the same format, so it works just as well when things go wrong in CRM 2011. The download button is in the top-left of the page; if you find the product useful, consider donating a few bucks to StunnWare.
  • Performance Tuning

Announcing Sonoma Partners Universal Settings Utility

Posted by Blake Scarlavai on October 19, 2012 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM  |  commentsComments (2)

I am pleased to announce the new Universal Settings utility.  This utility allows CRM administrators to easily and quickly update configurable settings in the Deployment Table and also on the Organization entity for one or multiple organizations at the same time.  The utility works with both CRM 2011 and CRM Online (Deployment Table is not available with CRM Online).  The best part is that Universal Settings is a free download from our website.  Head here to start downloading it now!

Once the utility is installed you can open it by going to the Start menu and then Sonoma Partners LLC and clicking on Universal Settings. NOTE: If you are not a local administrator, hold the shift key, right-click on the Universal Settings icon and select “Run as administrator.” You will be greeted with the following Log In screen where you can select which connection type (CRM 2011 or CRM Online) as well as enter the CRM Server URL and credentials. Leaving the credentials blank will login as the current user.

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Click Connect and you will see the available Deployment Settings below if you have access.  If you don’t have access to the Deployment Settings then you will only see the available Organizations.

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Update any Deployment Settings and click Save or select an Organization as shown below to update any Organization settings.

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Multiple Organizations can be selected which will set all values to null in the UI and only propagate changed settings across the selected Organizations when saved.

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The majority of these settings are only updateable through the CRM API, therefore this utility will become very handy especially for deployments with multiple organizations.  We hope you enjoy this utility as much as we do and we would love to hear your feedback!

It's All About The Experience

Posted by Sonoma Partners on October 2, 2012 in   |  Microsoft Dynamics CRM  |  commentsComments (0)

From time to time enterprise technology projects fail – and it is rarely ever the technology’s fault. The key to project success has always been mastering the elements of people, process, and technology. Since those first 2 are the elements that most frequently cause failure, let’s examine why.

It’s all about the experience. If end users of an application aren’t consulted early and often about what they need to make their lives easier, the end result will be someone else’s “WAG” (I’ll let you figure out the acronym). That’s simply not a winning strategy.

Enter what we call the focus on the end user. Check out this short video as we explain how this approach makes all the difference in the world:

 

This focus on the end user makes tremendous mobile applications that are easy to use and improve productivity, but the same concepts apply to CRM deployments. The beauty of Microsoft Dynamics CRM isn’t that it does a lot out of the box, but that it can be customized for specific user scenarios.

For instance, a call center rep has to do very different things in CRM than a field sales rep – so why make them use the same interface? By interacting directly with end users and understanding their jobs, CRM can be customized to really smooth out the process of interacting with customer data.

The end user’s experience is greatly improved, efficiency goes up and so does productivity. So the next time you’re looking at a technology initiative at your company, remember: it’s all about the experience. 


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