Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Dynamics CRM and Chrome v38 Lookup Issue Fixed!

You may have heard about an issue with Lookups not working correctly with a recent version of Chrome (v38).  Microsoft documented the issue here in a KB article earlier this month.

Last week we noticed that in a new CRM Online trial org with a version of (6.1.1.1621) (DB 6.1.1.1610), the Chrome v38 Lookup issue was resolved so it seems that Microsoft was working on a patch.  Today though we have noticed that with the latest version of Chrome (v38.0.2125.111) the Lookup issue is fixed across the board in CRM Online, CRM 2013 On-prem and CRM 2011 On-prem. 

So if you or your users were stuck on v38 of Chrome then be sure to go to Settings –> About and make sure you’re updated to the latest version to fix the Lookup issues.

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To check your CRM Online version, click the Gear icon at the top right and then click About.

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Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Dreamforce ‘14 - The Sonoma Summary

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This month 20 members of the Sonoma Partners’ team traveled to San Francisco to watch the latest production from Salesforce.com unfold. Benioff invited quite the cast for this year’s event- Hillary Clinton, will.i.am, Tony Prophet, and Al Gore all joined the masses (135,000 people!) for four days of innovation, fun, and giving back. Now that the curtain has fallen on Dreamforce 2014, here’s the Sonoma summary:

Analytics

It wouldn’t be a proper Dreamforce without a new product announcement. This year, Salesforce unveiled Wave, the new Salesforce Analytics Cloud, designed to provide “analytics for everyone, anywhere”. As a lead-in, Benioff commented on the current state of data and its impact on today’s business world.

“90% of the world’s data was created in the past two years. There’s going to be 10 times more mobile data by 2020, 19 times more unstructured data, and 50 times more product data by 2020.” - Marc Benioff

According to Salesforce.com, Wave is the first cloud analytics platform designed for every business user, instead of just analysts. With Wave, Salesforce reimagined analytics, garnering inspiration from advancements in consumer apps and video games to reassess the entire analytics process.

Partnerships

You didn’t have to look hard to find the presence of partnerships at this year’s conference. On day 1, Benioff invited Microsoft’s new Corporate Vice President of Windows Marketing, Tony Prophet, to join him for a fireside chat to talk about what it means to be a good leader and the future of Microsoft. Yes, that’s correct, the future of Microsoft. At Dreamforce. THE Salesforce event of the year.

“Customers demand openness.” - Tony Prophet

Prophet said it best when explaining the importance of partnerships in big tech today. We’ve reached the point where we need to tackle the differences within our industry and attract world-class partners that can help us achieve our goals. Platform companies survive on ecosystems and our competitiveness as organizations depends on the strength of our partnerships.

The Cloud

Benioff and Prophet spent a significant portion of their chat discussing the Cloud, in particular where cloud computing is headed. Prophet mentioned an array of Microsoft products - Bing, Skype, Xbox Live, Outlook.com - describing them as customer-focused cloud based services. And why is the Cloud so compelling? It’s global, it’s platform agnostic, and it’s an incredible value proposition for customers. Prophet went on to explain that the Microsoft partnership with Salesforce.com was a a priority as we move towards a mobile first, cloud first world.

Dreamforce 2014

Mobility

You couldn’t cut a corner at the Moscone Center without hearing the word mobility.
Mobility popped up in most of the week’s keynotes and musician-turned-entrepreneur will.i.am joined the conversation, introducing the world to the Puls, a wearable that claims to do everything a phone can, and more.

  • Run at least a dozen apps? Check. 
  • Make calls without being tethered to a smartphone? Check.

“This is not a watch. It’s a new type of communication on your wrist.” - will.i.am

Mobility was the primary focus of the Consumer Goods Food Service with Kellogg’s and Coca-Cola Refreshments break-out session. Adam LeDonne, Director of Sales Strategy for the Kellogg Company, presented their organization’s new mobile CRM application and explained how the app, in just a few months, had transformed the way their sales team conducted business. Mobility allows them to sell from anywhere and their mobile app is so intuitive, their sales team doesn’t even realize they are using CRM as they swipe and tap their way to increased productivity. Since deployment, the app has seen a 300% increase in user engagement over their previous system. We’d call that a success story.

And when it comes to products, mobility wouldn’t let analytics steal the show so with a crack came Salesforce1 Lightning, an upgrade to the Salesforce1 platform that honors the user-experience trend. The enhancement focuses on increasing developer productivity, promoting code reuse, and aims to make building responsive applications a cinch. If you want to learn more about Salesforce1 Lightning check out the developers section of Salesforce.com.

Relationships

“You can’t build a relationship if you aren’t talking.” - Hillary Rodham Clinton

But the core theme of the largest software conference on the planet? Relationships are everything. Because as much as it is about the technology, it isn’t about the technology. What’s important is how we use this technology, this data, and this accessibility to create exceptional experiences for our clients, no matter what service we’re providing. The updates and advancements and product announcements, regardless of how exciting they may be, are only as powerful as the use case they support. It isn’t about the products, it’s about the people buying the products.

Have a question about something you saw at Dreamforce 2014? Ready to start a conversation about a Salesforce.com solution for your business? Contact us and we can help you turn a Salesforce.com CRM dream into a reality. 

 

Topics: Salesforce

CRM 2013 Navigation: Easily Find the Tile You Are Looking For

One of the biggest pain points in CRM 2013 for an organization with a lot of custom entities, is the navigation.  The user can only see a few navigation tiles per Site Map area depending on their resolution.  This requires the user to scroll horizontally to find the desired tile.  Being able to use the mouse wheel to easily scroll through the list of tiles is definitely nice but sometimes, with a lot of tiles, it is easy to miss the one you are looking for. 

Thankfully we are here to help ease your pain!  Follow the steps below in any browser for a quick, easy, and native way to find the tile you are looking for.

First, click on the main area that your desired tile is in, such as “Sales”.

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Then hit CTRL + F to use the browser’s search function.

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Then type in the display name of the tile you are looking for such as “quick campaigns”.

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And there you have it!  The browser finds the text of the tile and takes you right there so you can easily click on it and navigate to that Site Map area.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

It's Not The Technology: How to Successfully Deploy CRM for User Adoption

We've witnessed a lot of CRM deployments and with each one comes the inevitable conversation: how do we make sure our people use this?

In most cases, the conversation moves toward end user adoption for CRM; what is it and how can it be measured?  End user adoption is conceptual in nature, and there are more definitions or ways of quantifying it in our industry than we care to discuss. What we can tell you is that approaching end user adoption for CRM from a linear perspective will set you up for failure.

Investing in CRM software is a philosophical choice that you make to ensure that your company has the tools it needs to compete in the marketplace. This is the sole factor that drives adoption. What end user adoption is really about is using technology to get your company to a place where it will compete successfully over time.

End user adoption is so much more than individuals sitting down and navigating a new CRM system or application. It isn’t about learning how to run a report or updating a dashboard. It isn’t about how many calls your sales team has completed in a week or the physical reports your managers look at on a regular basis.

It’s a commitment by your entire organization to drive success around a deeper understanding of who your customer is and what they want.

To successfully deploy CRM you need to align end user adoption with your business objectives.

This isn’t a one-time assessment. You must revisit the goals for your CRM installation and continuously measure yourself against what’s established.

  • How do you really use CRM internally?

  • Why do people within your organization want to use CRM?

  • How does your CRM support your larger business objectives?

These are the types of higher-level questions you need to be asking as you begin your CRM project. Because entering data, even if it’s 100% accurate, doesn’t ensure success. If the tool is easy and intuitive to use but doesn’t drive any real objectives - what’s the point?

Your CRM needs to propel your business to be better. In order for this aspiration to become a reality, you must be committed to updating and enhancing your CRM on a regular basis, in addition to using your CRM as an invaluable internal tool.

  • Build your CRM to be used as an onboarding tool for new hires

  • Provide ongoing training through videos and lunch and learns to your user base forever

  • Assess the core capabilities of the application every 3-6 months to accommodate changes

How you perceive CRM, what it means to you and how you use it will never match up perfectly with someone else’s perception or use. Basing the success of your installation off of benchmarks or completed check boxes won’t give you the tool you are looking for.

It’s a mistake we see over and over again. A successful CRM deployment goes far beyond specific, vertical pieces of adoption and measurements like frequency of log-ins. When you think about end user adoption for CRM, it actually has very little to do with the nuts and bolts, although these certainly help you along the way. But repeat after me: end user adoption isn’t about the technology. 

So how can you avoid a robotic and prescribed CRM project, where end user adoption doesn’t look promising? Ask questions before you sign your CRM contract and connect with a CRM vendor that operates as a partner. Look for individuals that understand CRM on a macro-level, who are committed to providing you with a service, not just delivering you a tool.



Topics: CRM Best Practices

Tools from Dreamforce ’14 – VF Fiddle

Dreamforce is huge, being the Salesforce conference to attend and drink from the punch bowl. No matter your position within your organization or how you use the platform, Dreamforce has something for you. Being a developer, I mostly stuck to the developer zone for the 3 ½ days I attended and while there were certainly a lot of big announcements (see Analytics Cloud and Lightning, among others) there were a number of small, but equally important or useful announcement as well. Today, I wanted to share just one of them that will make developer’s lives everywhere easier: VFFiddle.

What is it?

Built by Nathan Lipke of Salesforce.com, VFFiddle (short for VisualForce Fiddle) takes heavy inspiration from JSFiddle. Often times during development, we run in to problems that we are not sure how to tackle, and sometimes it is just easier (and faster) to ask another human being for help. JSFiddle provides for Javascript developers a way to share snippets of Javascript code that can then be executed and modified by all to help collaboratively debug and/or troubleshoot. In the same vein, when a Visualforce developer runs in to problems we would like to be able to collaborate with the wider world to give and receive help. This is where VFFiddle comes in. By pasting in the bare minimum needed to explain your problem or concept to others, we can increase collaboration and our problem solving capabilities dramatically, while simultaneously documenting known solutions (thanks to our great web crawlers) and training newer developers in less time by making more sample code available.

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Hold on - there’s a catch

Seem too good to be true? Well, maybe. While viewing the code only takes a link to the correct page, actually executing the Visualforce and Apex parts of code requires a Salesforce org to import and compile the code against.

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To do so, you log in to an org that you control and import the code. This has some pretty serious security and IP ramifications, so please do not import code you do not understand. More importantly, it’s good practice to never import code in to production orgs (you actually shouldn’t be able to do this anyway, but it’s still not recommended that you try). If you really do need to import code and run it to understand it, sign up for a free developer edition org and import the code there.

In case you forget, VFFiddle also helpfully reminds you of this:

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Wrap Up

Despite the potential security concerns, VFFiddle will prove to be an invaluable tool for many developers. If you like this tool, be sure to give Nathan Lipke a shout out (@evilN8).

Comments? Questions? Don’t know your Visualforce from your Apex from your Javascript? Contact us and we can help.

Topics: Salesforce

Dynamics CRM 2015: Tablet Client (MoCA) Enhancements

Microsoft recently announced new features coming out with their next version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 (previously code named Vega).  Check out the Dynamics CRM 2015 Release Preview Guide to see what features are coming with 2015.

Next up for our review is reviewing the changes being made to the Mobile Client Application (MoCA).  The first version of MoCA filled a much needed gap to have a native tablet application, but with the improvements below, it’s clear Microsoft see’s mobile as the direction they want to continue to head as they make investments in improving the product.

The following improvements were made with CRM 2015:

Offline Drafts:

  • Users will now have the ability to create and update records while offline.
  • The create/edit mobile experience will use the Quick Create Form defined for the entity
  • A Draft button will appear in the sitemap while offline, taking the user to the Draft Page (+ icon that appears on lists will do the same)
  • The Draft Page will display a count of draft records on the Site Map
  • Users can discard or update drafts while offline
  • Drafts are deleted when the user signs out of MoCA for security reasons (warning displayed first)
  • No lookups / party list support while offline:  However, there’s a workaround to populate lookups while offline by starting at the parent entity and creating a child record from the parent (e.g., creating an Opportunity from a Contact defaults the Contact lookup for the new Opportunity)

You can see from the screenshots below that I have the ability to create records offline (in this instance a Lead), and see a count of how many draft records (creates/updates) that have yet to be uploaded to the CRM server.

If I click on the Draft Records link from the Site Map, I’ll see a list of all the records that have changes that have yet to be uploaded and if I wanted to, I can make further changes to them from this list.

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It’s important to note that with the Offline Drafts, users can only modify records that they created offline.  Users will still be unable to go to a record that they had previously viewed while online, and modify that record while offline.

Also, when the user goes online, they will have to save the Draft records manually (they’ll no longer appear on the draft page).  This isn’t an automatic action that’s taken when a user reconnects online

Mobile Analytics:

Microsoft now allows you to have any and as many dashboards on your tablet (system or personal).  Previously you were able to just have the one “Sales Dashboard” on the Tablet Client, but now Microsoft allows administrators to configure multiple. 

A new “Enable For Tablets” checkbox has been added to dashboards to allow it to show up in MoCA (this field is solution aware and can be toggled via the SDK).

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There’s a new “Dashboards” Site Map entry that you’ll notice when clicking around the Tablet Client.  Also, the default dashboard users see when initially logging onto the tablet client (prior to personalizing their experience) is defined and configurable by the Site Map XML.

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When on a Dashboard, users can:

  • Set as Home:  when users click the Home icon, this dashboard will show
  • Pin to Win 8 Start
  • Pin to Home:  you can pin Dashboards to your Home Dashboard similar to how you pin records – this means you could have a Home Dashboard be one dashboard, and have other dashboards pinned on it for easy access.
  • Select Dashboard to select a different Dashboard

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With all these changes, there are few other notes that users should be aware of regarding the Tablet Client:

  • There are no storage limitations (the same limitations will apply to MoCA that apply to the device)
  • All improvements in 2015 / Vega will work on Win 8, Android, and iPad devices (except the “Pin to Start” will be Win 8 devices only)
  • Plugins are still not supported on the device, but when data hits the server they’ll run (no offline plugins)
Topics: Enterprise Mobility Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

News from Dreamforce ’14 – Salesforce announces Salesforce1 Lightning

This year at Dreamforce 2014 Salesforce announced several new product offerings and general platform enhancements, among them Salesforce1 Lightning. Lightning is a developer oriented enhancement focused on changing how developers write applications on the platform targeting multiple devices. This enhancement focuses on using modern technologies and development practices to increase developer productivity and promote code reuse.

The current state of application development on the platform

If you need to write custom applications on the platform developers will use a proprietary markup language called Visualforce as well as a proprietary server side language called Apex. Visualforce contains pre-built components that speed up development time, saving you from having to reinvent the wheel writing and testing common functionality. Using these components in conjunction with each other and a bit of additional code, custom pages and applications can be built and deployed in a fraction of the time it would take to write in the traditional software development process.

Visualforce first appeared in the Summer ’08 release, and was a large step forward in terms of reducing time to market for most customers. It used a then standard practice of maintaining all of the information and bookkeeping needed to make the page work (collectively referred to as state) in an encrypted blob that gets sent from the server to the page and back again with each request.

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This helps the pages maintain statefulness and remember what the user has already entered and clicked on while using the page. The languages for building this type of application also have a special syntax for binding data to the page and determining what should happen when a button or link is clicked. This process works great on desktop and laptop computers which typically have the processing power and speedy internet connections required to transfer the blobs back and forth without the end using noticing the extra work.

Mobile devices, however, typically suffer from reduced performance due to slower processors and (most importantly) slower internet connections, both of which cause the page load and action times to take longer, giving the impression of a poorly performing site.

The current state of application development on the web

Look away from Salesforce and you’ll see web development elsewhere in the technology world continuing to advance. Modern applications are built using HTML 5 and Javascript for front end processing, and send only the minimal amount of information to the server needed to perform the action requested by the user. The result? Snappy websites on mobile devices regardless of poor or slow connections and a reduction in server load time, which drives down the operating costs of running a website.

The main drawback of this approach to development is that it has the potential to make development more complex by requiring the developer to master more languages and technology stacks. This approach also increases the amount of work that needs to be done during development time to hook up the logic that should be performed on a button or link click.

Web meets Salesforce

Salesforce1 Lightning aims to bridge the gap between Visualforce and modern web practices by providing a way to write reusable components (a la Visualforce) using modern web techniques.

The components use Javascript to handle user actions on the client side, giving users the performance boosts of modern web technologies, but are self-contained and readily reusable, giving companies and developers the same benefits as Visualforce. This marriage of modern web technologies with reusability benefits everyone involved and is once again a step from Salesforce aimed at maintaining their user’s experience while simultaneously reducing developer time.

Caveats, Clauses and Limitations

As with any new technology release, there are some important things to consider when deciding if it fits your particular needs.

  • Lightning is currently in beta status. While it’s relatively stable and usable, things may change that could break your code and there may be bugs that haven’t yet been found or fixed. If you are risk averse, this may not be the technology library for you.
  • Lightning is not enabled in your organizations by default. You will need to enable it to be able to use it, but in doing so you also will break canvas. If you use canvas applications in your organization, wait for the production release of Lightning as this will hopefully be fixed by then.
  • Lightning component requires that your organization has a namespace registered. For the current time, this restricts Lightning to only working in Developer Edition orgs if you want to create custom components (which you should).

Wrap Up

Lightning provides great opportunities for developers and companies alike to reduce time to market and bugs, while improving performance on mobile devices and networks. However, with the current limitations and incompatibilities, the technology isn’t for everyone.

Have questions or concerns? Not sure if you should consider Lightning? Contacts us and we can help.

Topics: Salesforce

News from Dreamforce ‘14 – Salesforce announces Analytics Cloud

This year at Dreamforce 2014 Salesforce announced multiple new product offerings including a new Business Intelligence and Analytics suite named Salesforce Analytics Cloud. What does it do? The Salesforce Analytics Cloud provides users with improved ways to slice and dice their data in relation to their unique needs and questions.

  • The new offering is built into native Salesforce; accessing the data is as easy as buying the licenses required to enable it
  • Salesforce Analytics Cloud is built on top of the Salesforce platform; no need to set up extra logins or other infrastructure to begin using the product
  • The primary focus? Mobility. The product is designed to be accessed from mobile devices
  • The Salesforce Analytics Cloud can be used to answer ad-hoc questions in a timely fashion
  • Want to see for yourself? Salesforce has posted a mobile demo showcasing its capabilities.

Why we think this is important

Business Intelligence and Analytics are hard.

A relatively common request we get from clients during a project is to help build out reports that can be used to drive business making decisions and processes.

These kinds of reports are great tools.  They can be finely tuned to answer particular internal questions and polished to make presentable at client or board meetings. However, they require time and expertise to create, and they don’t adapt to changing data models or ways of looking at the data, sometimes leaving users with only partially answered questions or trying to make decisions based of anecdotal evidence. Lastly, these reports generally don’t perform well on mobile devices, increasingly the place where they are needed most.

The Salesforce Analytics Cloud aims to fill these gaps by giving the user access to reporting functionality on their mobile devices. Now users can answer their own questions by creating and running reports as needed without having to access a desktop computer.

Try before you buy

Along with the announcement of Analytics Cloud, Salesforce has made a sandbox available for users to try out (iOS only).

Confused? Have questions? Not sure if Analytics Cloud is something you should be looking at? Want to learn more? Contact­­ us, and we can walk you through the latest offering from Salesforce.com.­

Topics: Salesforce

Dynamics CRM 2015 Hierarchical Security

Microsoft recently announced new features coming out with their next version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 (previously code named Vega).  Check out the Dynamics CRM 2015 Release Preview Guide to see what features are coming with 2015. 

Next up for our review are the changes being made to the security model.  Note that the functionality below are simply additions to the security model.  The previous security of business units, access teams, ownership teams, security roles, etc. will remain in place.

Field Level Security Improvements:

First off we’ll briefly discuss some changes being made for Field Level Security (FLS).  FLS will now be available to work off of System Fields.  Previously this only was available for Custom Fields

FLS also has extended for additional attribute types such as address fields (out of the box only) and email address fields (custom or out of the box fields).

Now lets review the the new major change to security that’s coming in CRM 2015, the Hierarchical Security Modeling.

Hierarchical Security Modeling

With CRM 2015, Microsoft introduces a new version of security they label Hierarchical Security Modeling.  With this security modeling, granular record level access can be granted for an organization without having to create and manage business units.

With the introduction of hierarchical security modeling, Microsoft has moved the Security functionality to its own area of CRM.  You can now get to everything security related by going to Settings –> Security (previously this was in the Administration section).

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You’ll notice a new Hierarchy Security link on this page as well as a Positions link.  If you click on it you’ll notice the following options:

  • Enable Hierarchy Modeling:  Let’s you turn this on or off globally in your organization
  • Select Hierarchy Modeling:  You can set this to either Manager or Position (more on these options below)
  • Hierarchy Depth:  This indicates how many levels up the hierarchy chain does the read permissions get granted to.  More on this below especially regarding performance.
  • Selected Entities:  This is where you’d select entities that you want the to EXCLUDE in the hierarchy security model.

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Manager Hierarchy uses the existing Manager field on the System User record.  However, with this hierarchical model, you’re required to be in the same Business Unit hierarchy for it to apply successfully.  This is why the Position Hierarchy Model was built which we’ll describe below.  A good Use Case for the manager model is if a manager needs to take actions upon records their reports have access (for example the report goes on vacation)

Position Hierarchy on the other hand allows you to go across business units.  CRM Administrators can and add users to any given position to be included in that position.  A good Use Case for the position model is organizations that have a “Sales Team” and “Sales Management” team that span across business units yet these positions should have access to subordinate records.

As stated earlier, Position Hierarchy can be configured where an Administrator can define Positions, define the Parent Positions, and also add users to Positions so that the Position Hierarchy security method is executed to your specific business needs.

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It is strongly recommended that Hierarchical Security be used with the other security tools (e.g., security roles, teams, business units, etc.).  The Hierarchical Security model does grant additional permissions based on users, managers, and positions:

  • Read Access:  Propagates up the chain to a specific configurable level (as shown above in the Settings screenshot
  • Write, Update, Append, Append To: This is granted just to the direct parent of the user/positions

There are also some performance considerations to keep in mind when enabling hierarchy security:

  • Use with other security methods (e.g., security roles, business units, teams, etc.) for more complex scenarios
  • Target 4 levels of hierarchy (1 manager with 3 reports, and 100-200 potential users underneath)
  • Performance is tied to the # of users (not the depth) in the parent’s chain:
    • 1 manager with 4 reports and 1 level in the chain, is the same as
    • 1 manager with 1 report and 5 levels in the chain

With all the security methods provided out of the box by Dynamics CRM now with 2015, I can see some organizations with very complex security requirements being easily achievable using native security methods.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online