So we've obviously gone dark on our blog with NO posts over the past three weeks. I apologize, but it's just been too darn busy at work to write as often as I'd like! A lot of my blog time is gone because Jim and I have really started to buckle down to spend time writing the update of our "Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0" book for Microsoft CRM 4.0. With that in mind, I thought I'd share a quick update on where we're at in the process...
Based on the verbal feedback we have received over the past few years and through the comments on our blog, we decided to revise some of the chapters from our 3.0 book when we write the 4.0 book. I also did some quick straw polling on the public Microsoft CRM newsgroup to see which topics come up most frequently. If you're curious, here are the results that we found:
|Search Phrase||# of Results|
|Report/Reports||6,020 / 6,370|
|Queue/Queues||1,800 / 760|
|Team/Teams||1,810 / 548|
|Attachment/attachments||695 / 732|
To me, it makes sense that the search phrases with the most posts/results are either 1: confusing and require more explanation or 2: very popular topics that lots of people are interested in. Either way it isn't scientific, but it's data we don't want to ignore. Looking back at our CRM 3.0 book we might have wasted some pages by covering some pretty obvious topics such as announcements and contract templates! Meanwhile, we didn't spend a lot of time talking about quotes, documents and Word...but as the table shows above those are some popular topics in the newsgroup.
In addition, the good folks at Microsoft added about 10,000+ great new features to Microsoft CRM 4.0 and of course we have to cover information about Microsoft Dynamics Live CRM. In order to make room for this new stuff, unfortunately we need to make some cuts to the material in the 3.0 book. Therefore, we're forced to make some very difficult decisions about which topics we should cover.
Based on all of this information, we ultimately decided to whack Chapter 11 entirely ("Integration with External Applications") and we're also scrapping almost all of Chapter 2 ("Setting Up Your System"). As of 9:51pm tonight (remember that things change fast!), here's our revised part and chapter structure:
- Overview and Setup
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Overview (30 pages)
- Setup and Common Tasks (45 pages)
- Managing Security and Information Access (30 pages)
- Configuration and Customization
- Entity Customization - Concepts & Attributes (50 pages)
- Entity Customization - Forms and Views (60 pages)
- Entity Customization: Relationships, Custom Entities and Site Map (60 pages)
- Reporting and Analysis (50 pages)
- Microsoft CRM Workflow (60 pages)
- Extending Microsoft CRM
- Microsoft CRM Server SDK and Examples (60 pages)
- Microsoft CRM Client Side SDK and Examples (60 pages)
- Programming with Microsoft CRM Workflow (40 pages)
Add it all up and we'll come in around 550 pages total again, which is the ABSOLUTE maximum that our editor will let us publish. Unfortunately, there are some areas of the application that we won't be able to cover because it simply won't fit into our page count limit.
If you have any last minute suggestions or requests about the book, please speak now or forever hold your peace.
We received a great email last week, and I wanted to share it:
"Mike – I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know that out of every CRM book out there, yours is by far the best. I’ve recommended it countless times to numerous clients. Are you planning on revising it for CRM 4.0?"
First, thank you so much for the compliments about the book! And yes, Jim and I are updating the Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 book for Titan. We probably should have started the writing process sooner, but unfortunately we are just now getting into the process of updating the table of contents and deciding what material to include. When we finished the CRM 3.0 book back in early 2006, it required lots of long nights, weekend work, grumpy wives and screaming kids to get it done on time. I vowed that next time I would start writing earlier to avoid all that non-sense but...I am afraid I'll be in the same boat again this November trying to get this sucker out the door on schedule!
In regards to the updated book contents, we have some tough decisions to make over the next few weeks. Titan will have tons of great new functionality but we're not allowed to make the book any longer (due to page count limits). Consequently, we will have to trim some of the existing material in order to cover the new Titan features. At this point, we're pretty confident we will drop all of the old Chapter #11 titled "Integrating with Additional Applications (custom Web site and SharePoint)" and then increase the lengths of the other chapters. We're also considering dropping some of the material we covered in Chapter #2 titled "Setting Up Your System" in order to make room for new features.
Since we're still finalizing the outline, we're open to suggestions on what people who would like to see. Please vote with blog comments and let us know what you're thinking. For example, we're curious to get feedback on the following topics:
- We didn't have any room to cover Marketing or Service Scheduling in the 3.0 book, and we're planning on cuttings these modules out of Titan book too. Any strong objections?
- How much time should we spend on multi-lingual and multi-currency? My gut is that it these features are very important to some customers, but not at all important to most companies in the USA. With that in mind, we're wondering how valuable it would be to cover these topics in exhaustive detail.
- Are there any specific code examples you want to see included? We're trying to decide if we should update the 3.0 examples (the easiest option of course) or if people want to see new examples (more effort but more benefit for our readers). If you want to see new code samples, please give us specific examples of what you want.
- How much time (or pages) should we invest to review Microsoft CRM Live specific functionality and its related issues?
- Is there any need and/or desire for more business level discussion about how to plan and setup the system?
Thanks in advance for all your help.
Just got some more exciting news from our Microsoft Press Editor:
Thought you would like to know – given the recent announcement of the China deal for CRM – that we have sold rights to your book for publication in China, also in Japan.
This means that they will be creating localized versions of the Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 book in both Chinese and Japanese languages! Now users in those countries can learn about Microsoft CRM in their native language, which of course should help them learn more quickly. I'm not sure about timing, but I'm guessing this won't be available in those countries until the end of 2006.
I spoke with our Microsoft Press editor yesterday, and it turns out they’ve already sold over 6,000 copies of the Microsoft CRM book worldwide in just a few months! Granted, these numbers are small compared to other Microsoft Press books on topics such as Windows XP and Microsoft Office. However, the book sales numbers are double their initial projections, so we’re excited. In fact, he said that they have to do another print run of the book to keep with the higher than expected demand.
Of course, we attribute most of the sales success to a unbelievably great Microsoft CRM 3.0 product and its related community since both are growing so rapidly.
Who knows, if Microsoft CRM keeps growing at the same pace maybe we can eventually overtake Harry Potter for the number of books sold. What's that? Harry Potter has sold more than 300 million books? Oh well, maybe not. But then again, that Microsoft CRM Titan release is looking pretty good...
Very glad to report that we received our Amazon.com order today, and we finally saw the Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 book for the first time. It's much larger than I expected, but that just means it chock full of great information about Microsoft CRM. In addition, it includes two CD's so that you can install a 90-day trial of Microsoft CRM (Small Business Edition or Professional).
Remember if you're going to Convergence this weekend, make sure you attend the "We All Win with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0" session to receive your own free copy of the book!
Just checked Amazon.com, looks like they are shipping Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 within 24 hours (i.e. it's in stock)!
I just looked at my calendar and realized that the Microsoft Convergence conference is next week! I am getting pumped up to learn about new products and ISV solutions at the show. In addition, I always love the great networking and ad-hoc meetings that take place. I attended the my first Convergence conference last year in San Diego and I had a great time.
If you're attending Convergence, here's another reason to get excited...you can get a free copy of our Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 book if you attend the "We All Win with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0" session on Sunday March 26th! Microsoft CRM General Managers Brad Wilson and David Thacher will be presenting, so in addition to a free book you'll get to hear two great speakers as well.
Make sure you get to this session early! Conference organizers had to turn people away from the Microsoft CRM sessions at the Partner conference last July due to excessive demand. So many people wanted to hear about Microsoft CRM that it created a potential fire hazard...and that was 5 months BEFORE the new version was released. Based on the success of the great new Microsoft CRM 3.0 release and the book giveaway, I would expect more standing room only crowds.
I just spoke with the book distributor, they said the book is scheduled for release to retailers on March 15th...that's next Wednesday!
March 15th is almost one month ahead of the release date of April 12th that Amazon.com lists. Nice.
**3/17 UPDATE** Thanks to everyone who called us or emailed us asking about the book release date, but we don't have any more information about when the book will be available at retailers. We don't even have a copy of the book for ourselves! We expect to see it for the first time with everyone else at the Convergence conference next week.
Good news for all you procrastinators out there...I just noticed that Amazon.com dropped the price of the Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 book from $32.99 to $31.49.
In addition, I checked our web logs and almost 500 people have downloaded the free sample chapter (Chapter 8 Workflow) that we posted last week...but we have not heard any feedback yet. If you downloaded the sample chapter (and read it!), we'd love to hear from you! Please post a comment to the blog and let us know what you think.
3/12/06 UPDATE: Looks like Amazon.com bumped the price back up to $32.99. That's weird how they changed the price for just a few days.
Last month, we announced we were going to release a free sample chapter from our Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 book and we asked people to vote on which chapter they want to see. Well we just received the FINAL electronic copies of the book from Microsoft Press so we're ready to declare a winner! Here are the voting results:
|Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Overview||0|
|Setting Up Your System||1||1|
|Managing Security and Information Access||3||3|
|Entity Customization: Concepts and Attributes||0|
|Entity Customization: Forms and Views||1||1|
|Entity Customization: Relationships, Custom Entities and Site Map||10||3||13|
|Reporting and Analysis||3||5||8|
|Integrating with Additional Applications (custom Web site and SharePoint)||9||8||17|
Based on these votes, we're declaring Chapter 8 - Workflow the winner! Chapter 11 Integrating with Additional Applications received the same number of votes but Chapter 8 had the most first place votes. You can download the free sample chapter 8 off our website immediately. Please post and let us know what you think...