Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

When Lightning Comes to Town

Today's blog post was written by Troy Oliveira, Principal Developer at Sonoma Partners.

One question that we get asked quite often from our customers is “should we make the move to Lightning?” Inevitably, the answer to this question leads in various directions, from compatibility of existing customizations and installed packages to how do I sell it to my users.

The question of compatibility can be explored through the help of the Lightning Readiness Check, but that’s a different post for a different day.

I'd like to focus on the “how do I sell it” question, because at the heart of every good Salesforce implementation is a drive for adoption.

Classic, the Salesforce security blanket

For many users, the Salesforce Classic interface is comfortable, safe. While there are things that almost everyone would like to change about it, users understand it, they know it, and it keeps them warm during cold winter nights.

For the most part, all Classic pages look the same. You have the object details at the top and related lists at the bottom. Everything you need, all within scrolling distance.


Out of the box Account Layout



Out of the box Contact Layout

Out of the box Opportunity Layout

Why completely upend a user’s world by making them learn a new user interface? Because there is a better way to view this data.

I see a couple main problems with Classic:

  • Every page layout looks the same. Sure there are different colors across the top, but it is way too easy to confuse which object you are looking at, especially if you are flipping between several open tabs in your browser.
  • If you want to view details of related records, you must jam the fields into the list view or click into the record itself. We all know that fewer clicks leads to a better experience.

Lightning, a more elegant interface of a more civilized age

While having the same basic page layout for every object might be more consistent, it can also lead to confusion. This sameness also assumes that the same content/context is the most important part of every object record. Let’s look at the out of the box pages in Lighting.


Out of the box Account Page

Out of the box Contact Page

Out of the box Opportunity Page

Now, I know that the first thing that you’re going to say is “the Account and Contact pages almost identical!” and you’d be right. However, look at the Opportunity. You see, the Opportunity has the sales path across the top of the page, and some related data along the side panel for quick viewing. Lightning allows for users to have pages that make sense in the context of the object that they’re working with.

If you build it…

The Lightning App Builder interface is one of the pieces that makes Lightning so powerful. Building pages in Lightning takes customization to a whole new level. In Classic, you were limited to what order the fields appear on the page and what related lists show up, and add VisualForce. That’s it. In Lighting, you still have those options, but you also can break the page up into columns, organize data in tabs, and drag-and-drop standard and custom components that will enhance and streamline the user experience.


For example, I’m going to drag the “Related Record” component onto my Opportunity page and configure it to display details from the Opportunity’s Account record.



Once I’ve dropped it in place, the App Builder interface shows the component with actual record information. This way I can determine if I added what I wanted to add. I’ll save and activate my updates.

Now, if I reload my Opportunity, I can see the related Account information in the right column. I don’t have to click into the Account to see the data.


Unfortunately, I have some redundant data. The summary at the top of the page has the Account name, but I also have it shown on the right. I know that the summary is controlled by the Opportunity Compact Layout, so I’ll change the fields in the compact layout to remove the redundancy and bring more key information “above the fold.”


You can see that I have created a holistic view of my Opportunity. I have my key details summarized at the top of the page, I can see an Activity timeline in the middle and have Account and Contact details to the right. If I need to dig deeper into the Opportunity details, I can click the Details tab.

An administrator can create customized versions of the record page and assign them to users by profile, by record type and by application. That’s right, Lightning takes the page assignment one step further than Classic. I can have a completely different view of the Account for my Sales App than what I see when I look at it in my Service App.

The streamlining benefits don’t stop there. In Lighting, every lookup link tells a story. Unlike in Classic where a user would have to click into a record to see related details, simply hovering over a link to a related record in Lighting provides contextual data.


Convinced Yet?

If you’re on the fence and are looking for a way to show users that their lives can be made easier, I hope that this post has proved to be helpful.

However, I know that not everyone is going to go running into the open arms of the Lighting Experience. There are valid reasons why you may not be ready to take the leap, either waiting for feature parity or needing to update your customizations to be compliant.

We are more than happy to help you figure out if Lighting is the right move. Contact Us for more information on how we can make the transition painless when Lightning comes to town.

Topics: Salesforce

Bulkify Bulk Edit

Today's blog post was written by Mike Dearing, Development Principal at Sonoma Partners.

Microsoft Dynamics’ bulk edit functionality is a convenient way to mass update multiple records of the same entity at the same time.

While some additional avenues exist for doing bulk edits, such as native excel imports, or excel online and editable grids for Dynamics 365 Online customers, the bulk edit dialog still provides efficient means for quickly mass updating one or two fields across a filtered set of records. There are a couple of limitations, however, that clients tend to ask about:

How do I blank out values?

There unfortunately isn’t a ‘clear’ keyword like you may be familiar with via workflow functionality. Since every field from the most recently visited main form for the entity currently being edited is available for updating, only those fields which have had values supplied are actually updated once you apply your edit. There are a few workarounds here though:

  1. Create a workflow/plugin that executes when the field you want to clear has had a specific value populated within it. For instance, if you have a text field that you want to clear through a bulk edit, perhaps entering the phrase <Clear> triggers logic that leverages the workflow <Clear> action, a plugin to blank out the value. This approach is pretty limited to specific field types, such as single line of text or multi-line of text fields. For example, if you want to clear out Lead’s Description field when a value of <Clear> is entered, you would configure your workflow as follows:

    1. When description changes

      Bulk 1

    2. Then clear Description

      Bulk 2

    3. If Description's text is <Clear>

      Bulk 3

      If you enter <Clear> into the Description field and press 'Change,' you'll see that each of the selected reords have had their Description value cleared.

  2. Create a ‘Clear X’ field and a workflow/plugin to support it. This could be one additional bitfield per field that you’d like to clear, or an option set that lists out field names that correspond to a list of fields that you want to enable for clearing. Similar to the first approach, you’ll create a workflow/plugin that executes here to do the heavy lifting for you, but this time it will be based on the value within your ‘Clear X’ field. You should also remove the selected value within the ‘Clear X’ field, so that it remains stateless. Once you have this field on the form, it will appear on the bulk edit dialog as well, and users can select it as they’d select any other field within the dialog. You’ll want to hide this field on the main entity form since it doesn’t serve much purpose within a normal edit form, but make sure that it still is available from the bulk edit form. I discuss how to do this later in the ‘How do I control which fields are available for bulk edit?’ part of this post. For example, if you want to clear out Lead’s Description field or Lead’s Industry field, you would do the following:

    1. Create a new ‘Clear Value’ option set.

    2. Add 2 options, one called ‘Description’ and one called ‘Industry’

      Bulk 4

    3. Place ‘Clear Value’ on the lead form

    4. Create your workflow to clear ‘Description’ if Clear Value is set to Description, or to clear ‘Industry’ if Clear Value is set to Industry. Also revert Clear Value back to blank.

      Bulk 5
      Bulk 6
      Bulk 7
      Bulk 8
      Bulk 9

      If you select ‘Description’ for Clear Value and press ‘Change’, you’ll see that each of the selected records have had their Description value cleared. Similarly, if you select ‘Industry’ for Clear Value and press ‘Change’, you’ll see that each of the selected records have had their Industry value cleared.

  3. Create an on demand workflow per field that needs to be cleared. Using the <Clear> action mentioned above, this can be accomplished without much effort. This detracts from the seamless experience of managing all mass edits through the bulk edit dialog, and also doesn’t scale well if there are many fields that you want to enable for bulk clear functionality.

The second option above is the most elegant and flexible if you have the time to implement it. For the first or second option, I prefer plugins over workflows due to the efficiencies of doing these clears in the pre operation pipeline, meaning the changes are written to the database as a part of the same update initiated by the bulk edit, whereas workflows execute post operation, kicking off a second update once the bulk edit’s update has completed. I’ve also considered leveraging dialogs, but their single record execution prevents this from being a viable approach for bulk edits.

How do I control which fields are available for bulk editing?

Rather than there being a ‘bulk edit’ form type, Dynamics leverages the main form type. In the case of multiple main forms, the most recent form that the user has visited will be the basis of their bulk edit form. Even though you can’t edit subgrids and certain other fields, those will still appear on the bulk edit dialog, as well as fields that you conditionally hide via business rules or JavaScript, since neither business rules nor JavaScript execute on bulk edit forms. The suggested approach here is as follows:

  1. To set a field’s visibility such that it doesn’t appear on the bulk edit dialog, hide fields via the main form’s customizations. These fields presumably need to be displayed on the main form still, so define a business rule ‘show’ action per field that should be displayed, or JavaScript to similarly show these fields on load of the main form.

    For example, if you’d like to hide the Website field from Lead’s bulk edit, but still want it to appear on the main form, you would define a business rule as follows:

    Bulk 10

    You would also need to set this field as not visible through the form’s customizations.

    Bulk 11

  2. To set a field’s visibility such that it only appears on the bulk edit dialog, you’ll want to do the opposite of above. Show fields via the main form’s customizations, then define a business rule ‘hide’ action per field that should be hidden, or JavaScript to similarly hide these fields on load of the main form.

    For example, if you’d like to show the field that we created above named ‘Clear Value’ on the bulk edit form, but don’t want it to appear on the main form, you would define a business rule as follows:

    Bulk 12

Since business rules and JavaScript don’t execute on bulk edit forms, the visibility option that you specify for that field through the main form’s customizations will be the visibility of that field on the bulk edit dialog.

With minimal effort, you’ve now enhanced your bulk edit dialogs to be more powerful and more user-friendly. Happy editing!

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365: Miscellaneous Security Permissions

Today's blog post was written by Jen Ford, Principal QA at Sonoma Partners.

There are so many permissions to consider when you are setting up access for your users. Should I remove delete privileges from Contacts? Should a user be able to view all Cases or should some roles have no access? Should I restrict Account permissions to only see those that the user owns? In addition to making these decisions for entity-specific permissions, there are a slew of Miscellaneous Privileges on each tab of the Security Role that we can set for additional access to special privileges that aren’t a blanket permission on whether or not a user has read, write, or delete privileges to a specific entity. Some of them are very straightforward: Publish Reports or Publish Duplicate Detection Rules. But some of them are more nuanced, or their function doesn’t easily match the name of the permission. What is the difference between the Browse Availability and the Search Availability permissions? What are these, anyway? Let’s take a look at the Miscellaneous permissions on each tab of the Security Role:

Core Records Tab

  • Add Report Services Reports
    • Ability to publish reports.
  • Bulk Delete
    • Ability to delete data in bulk (under Settings > Data Management).
  • Delete Audit Partitions
    • Ability to delete Audit Partitions from Settings > Auditing > Audit Log Management.
  • Manage Data Encryption key – Activate
    • In order to support server-side sync and Yammer integration capabilities, Dynamics 365 needs to store passwords for email services and Yammer authentication tokens. Dynamics 365 uses standard Microsoft SQL Server cell level encryption for a set of default entity attributes that contain sensitive information, such as user names and email passwords. Under Settings > Data Management > Data Encryption (ability to set this value initially).
  • Manage Data Encryption key – Change
    • In order to support server-side sync and Yammer integration capabilities, Dynamics 365 needs to store passwords for email services and Yammer authentication tokens. Dynamics 365 uses standard Microsoft SQL Server cell level encryption for a set of default entity attributes that contain sensitive information, such as user names and email passwords. Under Settings > Data Management > Data Encryption (the "Change" button).
  • Manage Data Encryption key – Read
    • In order to support server-side sync and Yammer integration capabilities, Dynamics 365 needs to store passwords for email services and Yammer authentication tokens. Dynamics 365 uses standard Microsoft SQL Server cell level encryption for a set of default entity attributes that contain sensitive information, such as user names and email passwords. Under Settings > Data Management > Data Encryption (ability to read the Data Encryption Key and view the encrypted data).
  • Manage User Synchronization Filters
    • Manage Offline and Outlook sync filters.
  • Promote User to Microsoft Dynamics CRM User Administrator Role
    • For Online only. Allows you to elevate the privileges of a specific user to System Administrator with the "Promote to Admin" button in the ribbon.
  • Publish Duplicate Detection Rules
    • Ability to publish duplicate detection rules.
  • Publish Email Templates
    • Ability to make Email Templates available to the organization. Under Settings > Templates > Email Templates, there is an option on the Actions menu on the Email Template form for "Make Template Available to Organization."
  • Publish Mail Merge Templates to Organization
    • Ability to make Mail Merge Templates available to the organization. Under Settings > Templates > Mail Merge Templates, there is an option on the More Actions menu for "Make Available to Organization."
  • Publish Reports
    • Ability to set "Viewable By" = "Organization" on the Report Administration tab.
  • Run SharePoint Integration Wizard
    • Allows the user to run the "Enable Server-based Authentication" wizard in Dynamics 365.
  • Turn on Tracing
    • User is able to generate trace files for the organization.
  • View Audit History
    • Ability to view Audit History records off of a related record.
  • View Audit Partitions
    • Able to view the Audit Partitions (under Settings > Auditing > Audit Log Management).
  • View Audit Summary
    • Ability to view Audit History via Settings > Auditing > Audit Summary View.

Marketing Tab

  • Configure Internet Marketing module
    • Internet Lead Capture for CRM 2011. No longer available.
  • Use internet marketing module
    • Internet Lead Capture for CRM 2011. No longer available.
  • Create Quick Campaign
    • Ability to create a Quick Campaign.

Sales Tab

  • Override Invoice Pricing
    • Allows the user to select a Write-In Product, or select 'Override Pricing' on the Invoice Product.
  • Override Opportunity Pricing
    • Allows the user to select a Write In Product, or select 'Override Pricing' on the Opportunity Product.
  • Override Order Pricing
    • Allows the user to select a Write In Product, or select 'Override Pricing' on the Order Product.
  • Override Quote Order Invoice Delete
    • Allows the user to delete an inactive Quote, Order, or Invoice.
  • Override Quote Pricing
    • Allows the user to select a Write In Product, or select 'Override Pricing' on the Quote Product.

Service Tab

  • Approve Knowledge Articles
    • Ability to click "Approve" on a Knowledge Article. If this permission is not granted, the user will not see this button.
  • Publish Articles
    • Ability to publish an Article. This is the old Article entity, not the newer Knowledge Article entity.
  • Publish Knowledge Articles
    • Ability to click "Publish" on a Knowledge Article. If this permission is not granted, the user will not see this button.

Business Management Tab - Privacy Related Privileges

  • Document Generation
    • Allows the user to download a template from CRM (Templates > Document Templates).
  • Dynamics 365 for mobile
    • Allows access to the Dynamics 365 app on a mobile device.
  • Dynamics 365 for phones express
    • Allows access to the Dynamics 365 for phones express app on a mobile phone.
  • Export to Excel
    • Ability to export data from Views and Advanced Find to excel. If this permission is not granted, the user will not see this button.
  • Go Offline in Outlook
    • Allow users to sync offline while they are using Dynamics for Outlook. If this permission is not granted, the user will not see an option to 'Go Offline' in the Outlook client.
  • Mail Merge
    • Able to perform a Mail Merge in the Outlook client. The Web Mail Merge permission is required to perform a Mail Merge in the web client.
  • Print
    • Able to create a printer-friendly display of a grid, by selecting Print Preview in the personal Settings Menu.
  • Sync to Outlook
    • Allow users to sync Contacts and Activities to Outlook.
  • Use Dynamics 365 App for Outlook
    • Allows access to the Dynamics 365 app for Outlook.

Business Management Tab - Miscellaneous Privileges

  • Act on Behalf of Another User
    • Needed to publish workflows. Also can be used for impersonation.
  • Approve Email Addresses for Users or Queues
    • Able to click on 'Approve Email' and 'Reject Email' from the User record or the Queue record.
  • Assign manager for a user
    • Able to set the Manager field on a User record.
  • Assign position for a user
    • Able to set or change a Position for a User, using Hierarchy Modeling.
  • Assign Territory to User
    • Able to set the Territory field on a User record.
  • Bulk Edit
    • Ability to select multiple records at the same time, and click Edit.
  • Change Hierarchy Security Settings
    • Able to change from Position to Manager Hierarchy, Enable Hierarchy Modeling, and set the Entities to include in Hierarchy Modeling.
  • Dynamics 365 Address Book
    • Able to search on Dynamics 365 Contacts in the To, From, and Bcc fields of an Email opened through the Dynamics 365 App for Outlook.
  • Enable or Disable Business Unit
    • Able to select Enable/Disable on a Business Unit (under Settings > Security).
  • Enable or Disable User
    • Able to select Enable/Disable on a User (under Settings > Security).
  • Language Settings
    • Able to provision other Languages (under Settings > Administration).
  • Merge
    • Ability to merge records. If this permission is not granted, the user will not see this button.
  • Override Created on or Created by for Records during Data Import
    • Allows user to set Created On & Created By during import, instead of setting these to the import time and import User, respectively.
  • Perform in sync rollups on goals
    • Permits the user to roll up goal data on demand, instead of waiting for the next scheduled update period, by using the 'Recalculate' button on the Goal record.
  • Read License info
    • Able to access information about the CRM License via the API.
  • Reparent Business unit
    • Able to change the Parent Business field on a Business Unit record.
  • Reparent team
    • Able to change the Business Unit on a Team record (Under Settings > Security).
  • Reparent user
    • Able to change the Business Unit on a User record (Under Settings > Security).
  • Send Email as Another User
    • Able to change "From" on an Email to be a different User.
  • Send Invitation
    • Able to click 'Send Invitation' to a User record when using CRM Online (pre-integration with O365). Doesn't apply to On Premise.
  • Update Business Closures
    • Create / Update Business Closure records (under Settings > Business Management).
  • Web Mail Merge
    • Able to perform a Mail Merge in the web client. If this is not set, and the Mail Merge permission is set, the user will only be able to perform a Mail Merge in the Outlook client. The user can initiate the Mail Merge request from Advanced Find results.

Service Management Tab

  • Browse Availability
    • Able to view the Service Calendar (in the Service area).
  • Control Decrement Terms
    • Able to determine if a Case should not decrement from the Entitlement Terms. User will receive a permissions error when selecting "Do Not Decrement Entitlement Terms" on a Case if they do not have this permission.
  • Create own calendar
    • Able to set up a New Weekly Schedule, a Work Schedule for One Day, or Time Off in the logged in User's Calendar (open a User record, and look for Calendar in the related entities. When the Calendar displays, these options are under the Setup menu).
  • Delete own calendar
    • Able to delete a New Weekly Schedule, a Work Schedule for One Day, or Time Off in the logged in User's Calendar (open a User record, and look for Calendar in the related entities. When the Calendar displays, this is displayed as an X).
  • Read own calendar
    • Able to view the logged in User's Calendar (open a User record, and look for Calendar in the related entities).
  • Search Availability
    • Permits the user to search for available times when scheduling a Service activity.
  • Update Holiday Schedules
    • Able to create/update Holiday Schedule (under Settings > Service Management).
  • Write own calendar
    • Able to update the Weekly Schedule, Work Schedule for One Day, or Time Off in the logged in User's Calendar (open a User record, and look for Calendar in the related entities. When the Calendar displays, these options are under the Setup menu).

Customization Tab

  • Activate Business Process Flows
    • Able to click 'Activate' when setting up a business process flow (in customizations, under Processes).
  • Activate Business Rules
    • Able to click 'Activate' when setting up Business Rules (in the entity customizations).
  • Activate Real-time Processes
    • Able to click 'Activate' when setting up a workflow, dialog, or action (in customizations, under Processes).
  • Configure Yammer
    • Able to configure Yammer to work with Dynamics CRM.
  • Execute Workflow Job
    • Able to run a workflow over a record/set of records.
  • Export Customizations
    • Ability to export a solution.
  • Import Customizations
    • Able to import customizations and solutions into the environment.
  • ISV Extensions
    • Not currently in use.
  • Learning Path Authoring
    • Ability to create Learning Path training: contextual training that can include videos and walkthroughs.
  • Modify Customization constraints
    • Not currently in use.
  • Publish Customizations
    • Ability to publish customization updates.
  • Retrieve Multiple Social Insights
    • Used in conjunction with Microsoft Social Listening.

Any questions? Let us know.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics 365

The 10 Dashboards Every Project Manager Should Use

Today's blog post was written by Brian Kasic, Principal Consultant at Sonoma Partners.

In many types of business environments, using dashboards is a common theme for daily management. But have you ever used it to manage your team or group? I like thinking, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure!” As I became a program manager and supervisor of a large team, I really started taking this concept to heart and have used it ever since. However, it’s harder than it seems to pull off managing via dashboards successfully. Today’s blog is about the key elements I use on a daily basis to manage a multi-million-dollar project with a 75-person project team disbursed in multiple time zones across the world.

The ideal scenario is looking at dashboards targeted for each individual.

They show the most important items to accomplish for that day, tell you what to expect in the future, easily demonstrates progress for what’s been accomplished, and can also be run to create an instant status report. 

CRM systems are ideal to enable you to manage in this fashion. They are easily adjustable, intuitive, and simple to export data for deeper xls analysis. You can also create the underlying dashboard data and enable your dashboard to be drilled into for cases when you want to see a specific team or individuals progress. They can be secured to target various groups of executive management or be available to the entire team.

Here are my top 10 dashboards organized from the viewpoint of a program manager. They can be used for different members of team, such as the individuals in the nitty gritty details all the way to executive management have varying interest in each one of the themes. Each person plays a part in supporting the details that make them usable. The dashboards only work well if you have a process to consistently and accurately supply them with data and give feedback on what they are telling you. If not, you are out of luck. So before you start dashing around spinning up dashboards, please make sure your underlying data is consistent and clean. Also ask yourself, “Once I have this dashboard, how am I going to use it?” You should be able to take action on every dashboard you use. If not, question its value.

In the list below are key dashboard themes and the underlying ways they are used.

DASHBOARD TYPE #1: Resources

USE: Shows future staffing needs and if the team size should be increased or reduced.

ACTION: Moves resources from various areas of the project to maximize utilization.

DASHBOARD TYPE #2: Workload / Capacity

USE: Measures time estimates vs. time available.

ACTION: Adds more capacity to teams that need the assistance.

DASHBOARD TYPE #3:  Detailed Progress

USE: Shows past due tasks and ownership.

ACTION: Assists team members who have questions and identify problem areas within the project.

DASHBOARD TYPE #4: Project Blockers

USE: Assists in running the daily stand-up meeting to highlight items hindering progress.

ACTION: Identifies next steps to clear the impediments.

DASHBOARD TYPE #5: Communication / Status Reporting

USE: Generates a weekly status report with items accomplished for the past week and planned for the future week.

ACTION: Engages the team if areas are behind schedule or milestones were accomplished.

DASHBOARD TYPE #6: Escalations

USE: Highlights problem areas for upper management.

ACTION: Shifts priorities to address the items requiring management attention.

DASHBOARD TYPE #7: Daily Meetings

USE: Runs daily meetings with real-time data.

ACTION: Makes edits on the spot. Eliminates the need to take detailed meeting notes if all the data exists in the dashboards and is real-time within the system.

DASHBOARD TYPE #8: Variance Analysis

USE: Explains why variations happened.

ACTION: Takes action on variances that seem unusual.

DASHBOARD TYPE #9: Risk / Mitigation

USE: Shows risks.

ACTION: Documents plan to mitigate or reduce the risk area.

DASHBOARD TYPE #10: Roadmap / Project Plan

USE: Visualizes for the project team what is upcoming and gets visibility to the schedule.

ACTION: Updates the plan if circumstances change.

Hopefully in seeing my top 10 dashboards you can more effectively manage your projects and teams. If you ever have questions on this or other CRM management challenges, drop us a line!

Is your CRM

Topics: CRM Best Practices

Import and Export Better than Art Vandelay

Today's blog post was written by Nick Costanzo (Principal Consultant) and Nathan Williams (Consultant) at Sonoma Partners.

If you've ever had to use the native import tool for Dynamics 365, you've more than likely had the experience of running into import errors of some sort. These errors are not always easy to resolve, and if you're importing large volumes of data, sorting through the errors can be very time consuming. Here at Sonoma Partners, we've had situations where client import files have 50k+ records and have resulted in thousands of errors on the initial import into a test environment. Dynamics 365 offers the ability to export the errored rows, but it doesn’t include the error codes. The export only includes the rows with the data you had already included in your import, which is not very helpful. Furthermore, you cannot access the error logs through Advanced Find.

Our team set out to find a better way to tackle this situation using Power BI.

Through our efforts, we came up with the following approach to better analyze these errors and resolve them more quickly. After all, we don’t want you to start yelling, “George is getting angry!” while dealing with import errors.

Here’s the approach we took:

1. First connect to CRM by choosing Get Data > OData Feed:

Nick c 1

2. Then choose the Import Logs and Import Files entities.

3. Next pull in the Web Service Error Codes published on MSDN, by choosing Get Data > Web:

Nick c 2

a. Note: Power BI will recognize the table of error codes on this page, but you will need to massage the data to get the Error IDs and text into their own columns:

Nick c 3

4. Now you can create your data model with relationships between these 3 tables:

Nick c 4

5. With your relationships in place, you can now create a report with visualizations to categorize your errors:

Nick c 5

  1. Create a slicer for the Import Date.
  2. Create a slicer for the File Name, in the event you have multiple files to import.
  3. Create a slicer for the Target Entity.
  4. Create a bar chart to count the errors per Field and Error Name.
  5. Create a bar chart to group the error by the field Value (i.e.  GUID from the source system).
  6. Create a table to display the record(s) based on which slicers have been selected.

6. The report now allows you to easily focus on which errors need to be fixed. In this case, we can see that 2 records were responsible for 1468 and 305 errors where the lookup could not be found. By fixing these 2 values, we’re much closer to a clean data set and can move on to the next ones.

7. Once you have resolved all errors in your source files, you can now reimport with a much higher level of confidence that the job will be successful.

If you wanted to take this a step further, you could set this up to analyze your data before importing to make sure it's clean. You would need to setup your lookup tables as data sources, and update the data model with those as well.  If you’d like help with these feel free to contact us, and our Power BI team would be glad to help!  Either way, you can certainly do more importing and exporting than Art Vandelay ever did!

Download our infographic on D365 for manufacturing

Topics: Analytics Microsoft Dynamics 365

Data Migration Testing 101

Today's blog post was written by Sid Thakkar, Senior QA at Sonoma Partners.

The concept of the data migration is very simple; testing is conducted to compare the source data to the migrated data. In other words, we try to discover any discrepancies that take place when moving the data from one database system to another. As simple as it might sound, the testing effort involved in data migration project is enormous, and it often ends up taking a lot of time.

A well-defined testing strategy is essential for delivering a successful data migration.

One of the important aspects of a successful data migration test can be archived using an “Automated” approach of testing. It also saves significant time, minimizes the typical iterative testing approach, and gives us the ability to test 100% of the migrated data. Different phases of data migration testing include:

  1. Data Migration Design Review
  2. Pre-Data Migration Testing
  3. Post-Data Migration Testing

Data Migration Design Review

It is important for a Quality Analyst to understand the design review of the migration specification during the early stage of the migration implementation/configuration. The QA should go through the detail analysis of Data Mapping requirement document prior to the start of any sort of testing. Ideally, we would want to note if any of the columns or fields match the below criteria.

  1. Change in data type from source to target (e.g. data in source may be represented as a character but in target table the same is represented as an integer)
  2. Modifying the existing data (e.g.  requirement of migrating “status = in progress” in source system to be migrated as “Status = lost” or “telephone = 1234567890” to be migrated as “telephone = 123-456-7890”)
  3. Document all Option Set values, lookups, and user mappings

Pre-Data Migration Testing

Before we jump into any kind of data testing, one should test source and target system connection from the migration platform.

Pre-Data migration testing can also be called Definition testing. Definition testing is something that doesn’t take place during the data migration testing. During definition testing, we should check the Data type and length of all fields in Source Database table to target. For example, Address_line1 field in source is of data type Varchar and has length of 50 whereas Address_line1 field in target is listed as Varchar(30). This basically means that there can be a potential issue with the data that has a length more than 30 in source table.

For each entity, run a similar SQL query to the one listed below for both source and target table in order to confirm that the definition of fields between both tables are correct.

Sid 1

Post-Data Migration Testing

Post-data migration testing is by far the most important phase of the migration testing. In a situation where we do not have enough time assigned for testing, we can directly jump into this phase of testing. The testing is divided in two parts:

  1. Record Counts
  2. Data Mapping
    1. Unmapped Record Counts
    2. Unmapped Record Values

This could be really easy to test once you understand the data structure of the migration process. In order to successfully automate some of the testing, you will need to find out database names, table names, primary Keys for the entity you are testing. For example, let’s assume that you are testing account migration, and the source table name is “Source_Accounts,” the target table name is “Target_Accounts,” and the primary key for both the table is “Account_ID.”

Record Counts

I prefer using Microsoft Excel to automate some of the testing. But you can write programs to do the same. As you can see in the image, I have listed source and target table names, columns and primary key in “sheet1” of an excel file.

Sid 2
Image 1

You can create a new excel sheet and write this command to auto generate record count queries (see image below).

="select "&Sheet1!B5&" = count ("&Sheet1!B5&") From "&Sheet1!$A$5&" where "&Sheet1!B5 &" is not null"

Sid 3
Image 2

select Address1_AddressId = count (Address1_AddressId)
From Project_Database.[dbo].[Source_Accounts]
where Address1_AddressId is not null

Next step is to run these queries in SQL window, and then store the result. Once you repeat the same process for target table, you should be able to compare record counts for all fields between the source and target tables.

Data Mapping

Once we have done the row count testing, we can go one step further to verify if the content matches as well. During this phase of the testing, we basically will cover all the testing we have done so far (which is one of the reasons why we jump directly to the data mapping testing in time-crunch situations).

Unmapped Record Counts

Let’s use the image1, create a new tab in the same excel file, and write below listed command to auto generate data mapping queries. It’s easier and safer to first find out the record counts that did not match and then dive into finding those records. Counting unmapped records is the first step towards this process.

="select count(*) From "&Sheet1!$A$5&" t1 join "&Sheet1!$D$5&" t2 on t1."&Sheet1!C$5&"= t2."&Sheet1!$F$5&" where t1."&Sheet1!B5& " <>  t2."&Sheet1!E5& " and t2."&Sheet1!E5& " is not null"

Sid 4

Sid 5

Unmapped Record Values

If the above query for unmapped record count returns zero for all fields, then the possibility of a successful migration is greater. But it isn’t really wise to leave the testing efforts just yet. I highly recommend that regardless of the result of above queries, one should go a step further and run below query to find out exact value mapping between source and target table.

Let’s use the image1 again and create a new tab in the same excel file to auto-generate the query for unmapped record values.

="select t1."&Sheet1!B5&" , t2."&Sheet1!E5&" From "&Sheet1!$A$5&" t1 join "&Sheet1!$D$5&" t2 on t1."&Sheet1!C$5&"= t2."&Sheet1!$F$5&" where t1."&Sheet1!B5& " <> t2."&Sheet1!E5& " and t2."&Sheet1!E5& " is not null"

Sid 6
Sid 7


In the next blog, I will be discussing how a QA can be involved in writing SSIS packages to be more self-dependent during any sort of data migration projects.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics 365

Customer Success Story: Building A Stronger Foundation with Salesforce

Before deploying Salesforce, Feralloy lacked a centralized method for tracking and managing existing client relationships. As one of the country’s largest high volume steel processing plants, Feralloy needed a customer relationship management system that could measure up in equal strength to the materials they manufacture.


Who is Feralloy?

Feralloy Corporation consists of an extensive network of plants throughout the United States and Mexico. They bring over 60 years of experience to the table as they deliver high quality processed flat rolled steel.

Supporting Customization

Before CRM, Feralloy managed business operations through a myriad of Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and verbal and email communication. This system created many problems for their organization, one of which was maintaining data after an employee departure. When a member of their sales team left, so would their customers’ information. Furthermore, without a formal process for managing customers, sales processes differed between business units, making communication and collaboration very challenging. Overall, the sales organization lacked the tools needed to adequately manage existing client relationships and nurture prospective business.

Building Systematic Inventory Management

Sonoma Partners helped Feralloy get up and running with a custom Salesforce deployment and an integration between CRM and their ERP System, STAR (AS 400). The integration allows Feralloy to more accurately document their inventory and assist customers in finding what they need when they need it. By more effectively overseeing their assets, Feralloy drives profitability for not only themselves but also their clients.

Facilitating Employee Management

With improved visibility into team performance, CRM allows Feralloy to more productively manage their employees. Knowledge management tools and streamlined onboarding process helped employees work strategically in their new environment, no matter what their experience in the industry. 

Going Mobile

Feralloy’s outside sale team can be on the road up to four days a week, working multi-state territories. By leveraging Salesforce1’s native capabilities, Feralloy’s sales teams can view account and territory management in the field. Since investing in a mobile strategy they’ve seen an improvement in the accuracy of their data due to their team having a more efficient way to enter it on-the-go.

Interested in a custom CRM system to call your own? Let us know.

Is your CRM

Topics: CRM for Manufacturing Salesforce

Tips on Submitting a Dynamics 365 App to Microsoft AppSource

Microsoft's updated business app store, AppSource, has launched and as we mentioned before has been steadily gaining  momentum. We’ve submitted a few apps to the store for the Dynamics 365 CRM product, and I to share some tips to get through the evolving process more efficiently.

Note: Developing an app for AppSource is outside the scope of this article. Instead, I will focus on the submission process once you have a managed solution developed and ready to submit.


Process Overview

The app submission process encompasses more than just your Dynamics 365 managed solution file. Microsoft AppSource expects you to have your marketing, support, and image files ready for submission in addition to your solution. Because of this, please consider the following tips:

  • Start your marketing efforts in parallel to your solution packaging efforts, this includes the creation of marketing data sheets, product images, and application icons.
  • Application Icons
    • Icon & image sizing should match exactly the sizes the submission process requests.
    • Try to create all of the app icons requested.
    • Your solution package requires a 32x32.png logo file. Don't forget to get this completed, otherwise, you can't complete the solution process.
  • You will need an Azure subscription to store your solution package for the submission process to retrieve and test it. Use this handy tool for this process.
    • Note: Microsoft hosts your final solution file for AppSource. This is a temporary location for the submission process to evaluate your solution prior to publishing.
  • You will need to have a license, privacy statement, and supporting marketing data sheet documentation.
  • Don't select CSV for your lead source. This will create daily Excel files and they end up being difficult to manage. Since you have an Azure subscription for the file storage, you can use Azure table or select your cloud-based CRM system.
  • The AppSource review team will send you a document to complete the end-to-end testing steps. This will happen during the process, so be prepared to see it and send to them when requested.

Solution Packaging

You need to take your managed solution file and 'package' it using the solution packaging tool. Follow the article steps for more detail, but the part that might confuse a Visual Studio novice (like me) was the part to update your references. Here are the minimum steps you need to get a packaged file ready to zip.

  1. Assuming you have installed the package from the link above, Create a new CRM project
  2. Click References, right-click and select Manage NuGet Packages
  3. Click Updates and select all and update (this will update your references with the latest files from NuGet)
  4. Copy your managed solution to PkgFolder
  5. Update ImportConfig.xml with package name (and any other settings necessary)
  6. Build and note the location of your debug output file

AppSource Packaging

Microsoft provides you with detailed instructions for this process. This is a lengthy document, so here are the steps I take when preparing an app for the store submission.

First, the sample template zip file originally sent to me was incorrect. It fails to include the required ImportConfig.xml in the PkgFolder. And, while not a mistake, you don't need the privacy.htm file included. Here are the steps I take AFTER I have the solution package built from Visual Studio.

  1. Need to have a 32x32 logo file! Be sure to get that ahead of time and the size must be 32x32.
  2. Create a folder called Package.
  3. Copy the dll and PkgFolder files from your debug build.
  4. Inside the PkgFolder, delete the /en folder. The only two files necessary are the managed solution zip. and the ImportConfig.xml file.
    BE SURE THE ImportConfig.xml file is properly updated with your values.

    image2017-2-16 16-12-43
  5. IMPORTANT: Add a the content_types xml file! Grab this file from the template folder (or a previous submission).
    image2017-2-15 14-58-28
  6. Zip this and call it Be careful when you zip you don't get the parent folder. The inside of the zip should match the screenshot of step 5 exactly.
  7. Create another folder (I usually name it AppSource_<AppName>).
  8. In this folder, copy your file you just created.
  9. Add the content types xml again, a license file, input.xml file, and the logo. All of these files are required.
  10. Be sure to update the input.xml file with your specific settings.

    image2017-2-15 15-0-33

    image2017-2-15 15-0-57
  11. Zip up the contents of this folder. The zip file will need to be placed on Azure and then a url created from to Azure storage which will be entered into the AppSource submission request.

Wrap Up

The process of loading your app to the AppStore may appear intimidating at first. However, Microsoft and your service partner can assist you throughout the process and Microsoft is continuing to improve the entire submission process experience. While these tips don't cover every step required, hopefully they provide a jumpstart to some of the more common missteps we see.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics 365

Luxury in the Cloud: Preferred Hotels & Resorts℠ Moves to CRM Online

Preferred Hotels & Resorts markets over 650 distinctive hotels, resorts, residences, and unique hotel groups across 85 countries. They work with independent hotels to help them market both to individual travelers as well as organizations looking for locations to host large events and conferences.


Preferred Hotels & Resorts used Microsoft Dynamics 4.0 On-Premise for many years. Michelle Woodley, Executive Vice President, Distribution & Revenue Management at Preferred, and team worked with Sonoma Partners to upgrade the long-outdated system. With an upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics 2016 Online, Preferred Hotels improved the user experience and interface of their system, took advantage of native functionality in place of overly complex customizations, and incorporated mobile functionality.

It was our pleasure to sit down with Michelle for a Q&A session on the progress of the project as Preferred Hotels & Resorts continues to roll out their new CRM solution to their users.

What motivated you to upgrade from Dynamics 4.0 On-Premise to CRM 2016 Online?

Michelle: Dynamics 4.0 On-Premise was simply not cutting it for us. It was very outdated, and we hadn’t touched it since its implementation in 2010. We recently upgraded many of our other systems, the biggest of which was the move to Office 365. Upgrading our CRM system to the cloud fit nicely within that plan.

Why is CRM important to your sales process?

We use CRM on our sales side to target multiple audiences. Hotel Development – selling to hotels – is one of our main sources of business. The second is Group Sales, who targets meeting planners to help them book hotels for their events. The third target includes the transient sales people for corporate and leisure, who work with accounts to bring further business to the hotels. These three different groups are fairly separate in who they’re targeting and in their day-to-day operations; however, to have all three in the same platform is incredibly important from a reporting standpoint and for integrations into other systems, such as billing and commission structures.

“Without a doubt, there is no better tool than CRM for our sales organization to use to do their work effectively. CRM is integral to our operations.”

From an organizational perspective, we use CRM as a tool to protect ourselves. When someone leaves our organization, we know that their data stays with us in our system. Additionally, workflows in CRM help our sales team track projects throughout their lifecycle and informs management on the progress of these opportunities. Within each account, we can track related opportunities to give management and sales a complete picture of each customer in every step of the process.

What steps have you taken to ensure successful user adoption as you continue to rollout the new system?

We’ve found that a big part of ensuring successful user adoption is in paying attention to who is and isn’t adopting. We have some more senior sales people who are stuck in the way things used to be done, and we’re making sure we provide the training and resources they need to feel confident in using the new platform. From the beginning, it was crucial that we got our executive team fully onboard with the upgrade. This continues to be helpful as we rollout our new solution.

That being said, our biggest teaser to encourage our sales team to adopt the new system was mobility. They love having the ability to utilize CRM easily from their mobile device. We encourage them to look forward to future integrations as we continue to get off the ground and into the cloud.

“Mobile was our teaser to encourage people to adopt the new CRM system. People were very excited to have on-the-go access to the system and their account data.”

What is the biggest value-add of CRM to your business?

By far, the biggest value-add of CRM for us is the 360-degree view of the customer. We are a global company with over 250 employees around the world and offices in 20+ countries. No matter which office you’re in or where in the world you are, you can have complete visibility of a customer through CRM. I’ve had it happen to me when someone calls and asks me about an account. I can quickly go into the system and identify what role they play at the hotel, which events they’re going to, which marketing campaigns they’re on, etc. It’s a huge value-add and allows us to work more effectively together as a cohesive organization and better serve our customers.

What is it like working with Sonoma Partners?

We had a great team. I felt Sonoma Partners really understood our business and our needs. I always had the impression that they were on the same wavelength as us, knowing our pace and who to go to with questions. It was a fantastic partnership, and we look forward to continuing to work with them post-implementation.

Our many thanks to Michelle and Preferred Hotels & Resorts for sharing how the upgrade went and their progress thus far. We look forward to reporting back once they finish rolling out their new system!

Are you considering an upgrade to the cloud? Please contact us

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Topics: CRM Best Practices