Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

Announcing CRM DevTools for CRM 2015 and Update 1!

Last January we released a brand new tool called CRM DevTools for CRM 2013 and 2011 UR12+.  Today we’re happy to announce a new update that supports CRM 2015 and CRM 2015 Update 1.  If you missed the original release, head here for usage information or here for the latest release.

Along with CRM 2015 and Update 1 support, we added a few more handy features.

Note:  Most of these new features will open a new window so be sure enable pop-ups

Form Tab – Record Properties

The Record Properties button on the Form tab brings back the old Properties page from CRM 2011 that still exists but isn’t surfaced anywhere in the UI.  The page displays the permissions on the record and the Created By, Created On, Last Modified By, and Last Modified On.

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Form Tab – Performance Center

The Performance Center button on the Form tab displays the native Performance Center on top of the record form.  The Performance Center is used to debug any performance issues with a record form to see where it can be optimized.

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Debug Tab

The new Debug tab replaces the old DB & Server tab.  The information from the old tab is now within the Environment Info button.  The Debug tab has 5 buttons to provide easy access to native debug pages within your CRM environment.

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Debug Tab – Diagnostics Page

The Diagnostics Page button opens the native Diagnostics page for your environment.  This page helps debug any network issues and admins can use it to run a latency and bandwidth test.

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Debug Tab – Environment Info

The Environment Info button opens the native Debug Information page for the CRM environment.  It contains version information for the CRM server and database, along with other settings. 

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Debug Tab – Default Solution

The Default Solution button is pretty straight-forward and will open up the default solution for the organization.
 

Debug Tab – CRM For Tablets

The CRM For Tablets button will open up the CRM For Tablets app within your browser.  This is very handy to help debug any JavaScript issues with the app.  The native browser developer tools can be used to see any JavaScript errors that might occur within the app.  It can also be used to just see how the app will look with your organization.

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We hope you enjoy the latest release of CRM DevTools as much as we do!  Hit us up in the comments with any feedback or suggestions for future releases.

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

Come Clean With Your CRM Data

Two common concerns for professional services firms (accounting, management and IT consulting, AEC, and legal) surrounding CRM deployments are how to initially pull clean contacts into a CRM system and how to then keep them clean once they are there. 

This is a unique challenge professional services firms face because it's very common for firms to have duplicate contacts across multiple divisions within the same CRM system. Let's look at an accounting firm whose services includes audit, human capital, tax, and business advisory services. It's routine for a member of each of these teams to have a duplicate instance of the same contact with similar or varying information attached to the contact record. In other words, it's nearly impossible to start a project with "good" data. 

Before:

Before

Because these duplicates exist, it makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for the firm as a whole to put out consistent messaging and effectively cross-sell services to existing clients. This is especially troublesome for marketing teams who are working to prevent marketing communication going to the same contact multiple times. It doesn’t look great if four members of your team from four different divisions are reaching out to the same contact at the same time trying to sell different things. As obvious as this may seem, we see it happen all the time.

It's time for professional services firms to come clean with their CRM data to strengthen long-term relationships with their existing clients and ensure data accuracy within their CRM in the future.

We have identified the following four steps to assist professional services firms with contact migration and management: prepare, analyze, migrate, and manage.

1. Prepare

Where is your data coming from? This is where you identify the data sources where your records exist which could include Outlook, an incumbent CRM system, ERP, spreadsheets, or another homegrown data system. This is also where you divide business vs. personal information and flag contacts that should be included or excluded in CRM.

We have the ability to choose which fields from CRM will sync to the primary record and which fields will remain private. This means if you have the home phone number of Paul Brown but your colleague doesn't, that field will be hidden and remain for your eyes only.

At the end of the prepare step you will have a targeted list of uncleansed contacts that are ready to be cleansed.

2. Analyze

Time to come clean. In this step of the project your data gets cleansed based on analysis and business rules. 

Important aspects of the analyze phase of the project include:

  • Identifying who owns a contact
  • Identifying who can view a contact
  • Defining rules of engagement
  • Discussing private data needs

Normalization, data enrichment, and data security are all taken into consideration as we work towards creating a comprehensive list of cleansed contacts that are ready to be imported into CRM.

3. Migrate

Now it's time to move. We begin by segregating existing contact records in Outlook and then executing business logic on the contact data set. Then we migrate data from the staging area to CRM. We will work with you to determine the best method for migration, whether it be SSIS vs. 3rd party tool. Your output will be the same: cleansed contacts in both CRM and Outlook.

4. Manage

Once you've gone through the process of normalizing your data and importing a clean batch into CRM you want to keep it that way. It's difficult to keep data clean on an ongoing basis and if you don't, user adoption will suffer. Enter the role of data stewardship.

Designating a member of your team as the CRM data steward (this does not need to be a full-time role) and giving them the tools they need to keep the data clean will ensure that your CRM remains pristine. Regularly scheduled data cleansing activities and a commitment of a data steward resource will ensure that you have clean data going forward.

After:

Afterr

This methodology we have developed ensures that your contact data is comprehensive, clean, and continues to stay that way so your organization’s CRM remains accurate (and useful) moving forward. Properly migrating and managing your CRM contacts will allow your marketing team to access marketable data that can be used to increase customer intimacy.

Do you work at an accounting, consulting, AEC, or legal firm and feel that your CRM system could benefit from data cleansing? Contact us today to learn more about contact migration and contact management for professional services firms.

The Negative Effects of a Disjointed CRM System
Topics: CRM Best Practices CRM for Professional Services

Refreshed Dynamics CRM Phone App Available

A few months back, Microsoft announced the new and improved version of their Phone Client would be available with the Spring 2015 release.  However, with releasing any app to the various app stores, they’re not released immediately.

However, recently the app did show up in the Apple app store and we were able to get our hands on it to take a look and compare it to the previous version.  The previous version is still available in the app store, and has been rebranded “Dynamics CRM for phones express.”  A couple years ago we blogged about it’s release and the functionality it provided back then.  I linked to that post so you could compare and contrast the look and feel of the previous express version, to the new and improved version.

The new version, branded “Dynamics CRM for phones”, is now available in the Apple store, Windows store, and Android store.  You can tell the difference in the apps based on the icon and name.

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Microsoft is moving to a “configure once, deploy everywhere model.”  What does that mean?  That means the life of a configurator is going to be that much better.  More specifically, the form customizations you make in the CRM web client, will now not only be what you see on the CRM Tablet client (as they have been since it’s release), but will also be what you see on the new CRM Phone client.  Therefore instead of having to update the main forms AND the mobile express forms, you’ll just need to update the main form for any changes you make to be applied across the board.

Now to the details.  What does the new Phone Client look like?  Well if you’ve used the Tablet Client before, it’ll look very similar to that.

When you initially log in (requiring only your IFD URL to your organization, user id and password), you’ll see your home page.  This home page is the Sales Dashboard.  However, in the Web Client, you can create additional dashboards that can be selected when you’re on the home page on the Phone Client, and you can also make that dashboard your default dashboard.

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As you can see, from here you’re able to view records that you’ve pinned to your home page.  You can also resize tiles that are on your home page and this makes it super convenient for records with contact information like the Patrick Sands sample contact record above.  You can easily email and call this contact now directly from your home page without having to click into his record.

You can also see at the top of the page the global menu bar which has the following commands from left to right:

  • Back – takes you to previous pages
  • Home – takes you to your home page
  • Search – initiates a multi-entity search
  • Site Map – displays the entities you can navigate to

Also on all pages at the bottom right is an ellipses.  Clicking on this presents more options for the area you’re working in, as well as allows you to create a new record from anywhere you’re at within the application.

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When you navigate to an entity from the site map, you can create a new record of that entity type by clicking the plus button at the top of the page.

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When on a record, you can view the data about the record and related data very easily.  The Phone Client now uses the same exact forms that the Tablet Client and Web Client use (configure once, deploy everywhere).  If you’re going in to talk to a customer, you can navigate to their account and view any open cases or opportunities immediately from the Phone Client.  You can click into an Opportunity to then see the process based form, and where you’re at within the sales process.

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The phone app also allows you to easily create emails and make phone calls by clicking on email address and phone number fields.  The email fields will automatically open your native email client, and the phone fields will automatically initiate your phone client.  The good thing is after you hang up the call, you’re returned to CRM with a new phone form initiated so you can just punch in the details and click save.

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The integration between the Phone Client and the native mobile phone doesn’t end there.  Any address field on the application is clickable, and when doing so, you’ll open up the native map application.

The Phone Client also has a disconnected mode just like the Tablet Client.  While the offline mode is better that previous versions, this is still lacking in that it’s not showing you all records that you have access to, but instead, recently accessed records.  You can create new records while offline (called offline drafts), but unfortunately you cannot modify records while offline unless it was one that you just created while offline.  You can view your offline draft records by navigating to them via the Site Map (you’ll see a new “Draft Records” entry with a count of drafts).  Then when you’re back online, you can go into this list of drafts, and re-save them for them to save to the CRM database.  Not ideal, but is much better than nothing, and I’m really looking forward to what Microsoft has in store for vNext.

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It’s great to see Microsoft continue this “mobile first’ mode and add more products to it’s repertoire.  Enhancing the Mobile Express app and making a true mobile phone app now rounds out their suite of products (web, tablet, phone) to all be first class.  Next steps are to add more features to these apps so that functionality that’s available on the web, is also available on these apps (e.g., custom web resources).  I’m also looking forward to seeing how they further improve on their offline story, and hopeful they provide a true offline solution where users can work with existing records while offline, and not only new records they create while offline.

However, as you can see, the application is pretty robust as it stands.  And the best part is the cost:  FREE!  Go ahead and download your copy now and start playing around.

Topics: Enterprise Mobility Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

You Too Can Snoop… But Not In A Creepy Way

Today’s guest blogger is Stephen Habegger, a Senior Developer at Sonoma Partners.

Awhile back, we showcased an application called CRM Snoop on our website. Snoop is a tool that allows developers to listen to Dynamics CRM plugin messages and peer into the darkest depths of an IPluginExecutionContext object. It’s a tool that can be extremely useful for plugin debugging and development and was only available for use internally at Sonoma Partners… until now.

We’ve recently revamped the application completely, moving away from its former incarnation as a WPF application and creating a new managed solution that can be installed in both on-premise and online Dynamics CRM 2015 environments. And now we’re making the solution publicly available here.

What’s In the Solution?

The Snoop solution will create two new entities in your Dynamics CRM organization, Snoop Session and Snoop Session Results. A Snoop Session represents a configuration for snooping on plugin messages (i.e. what entities and what messages you want to listen to). When you start recording a set of messages, a plugin is registered on those messages, and they are saved as Snoop Session Results records.

How Do I Use It?

After installing the CRMSnoop managed solution, navigate to Settings > Solutions. Click the new Snoop Sessions button in the command bar.

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A new window will launch with a list of Snoop Session records. Open one or create a new one. When the form has loaded, select the entities and messages you wish to record. Optionally, select Include Available Images to register Pre and Post Entity Images where applicable. You can also select Only Record My Actions to ensure actions performed by other users don’t show up in your results. Then, just click Start Recording.

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After you begin recording, the Results section of the Snoop Session form will display an animated timeline of messages as they happen. You can click on the message icons in the timeline or in the table below to display the detailed properties of the IPluginExecutionContext passed to the plugin message. When you are finished recording, click the Pause Recording button.

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You can also navigate to the list of related Snoop Session Results in the header of the Snoop Session form. The form for an individual Snoop Session Results record also displays the results for that particular message.

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It is important to note that the recording process relies on the Snoop Session record status. That means recording does not end automatically when the Snoop Session form is closed. The recording must be stopped by clicking the Pause Recording button. The recording may be resumed at any time with the same or altered configuration. In some scenarios it may make sense to let a recording continue over a period of time. However, we do not recommend this in a production environment as there may be a performance impact.

What Is It Good For?

Snoop is an excellent tool for developing and debugging plugins in a variety of scenarios. It allows the developer to see the input a plugin may receive without profiling or attaching a debugger. Use it to check out what fields are changing during an Update operation. Keep a link handy to a specific Snoop Session Results record for when you don’t remember what’s in that pesky Opportunity Won message. Record in a User Acceptance Testing environment to collect a log and figure out what those crazy users are doing to break your plugin.

Will you find another use for Snoop? Let us know what your favorite features are and how you use it.

Enjoy!

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