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Security in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 – How to Handle Exceptions, Part 3

Posted by Sarah Jelinek on Apr 18, 2014 3:00:00 PM

In part one and part two of this series we looked at using Sharing and Teams in CRM to help handle the records that have security exceptions in CRM. In our final part, we will explore the use of Access Teams, a new feature in CRM 2013.

One difficulty with using teams or sharing the records with users or teams is that there is no easy or direct way to see the individuals who have access. You would need to look at Sharing on the record to see those given access. You would also need to view the Team record to see its members, and the person sharing the record would need to decide what permissions to assign the user or team. 

This is where Access Teams will help you easily give users access to the record and see who had been provided access on the form. An administrator would also predetermine the security permissions, so there is less configuration for the user adding individuals to the Access Team for a record.

Setting up Access Teams in Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a process that needs to be completed by someone that can customize entities and forms in CRM. Some of the steps listed presume that the user configuring Access Teams is familiar with these practices and therefore this article will not go in depth in the customization basics.

To use access teams, we will need to complete the following:

  1. Enable the entity or record type to allow the use of Access Teams.

  2. Create an Access Team Template for that entity.

  3. Add a sub-grid to the form of the entity and configure it for use with Access Teams

  4. Add users to the Access Team

First you need to enable the entity or record type for use with Access Teams. This is done within the Entity Definition. The following diagram displays the setting:

1   Enable Access Teams on the Entity resized 600 
There are some limitations to using Access Teams. For CRM Online and On-Premise, the default number of entities that you can enable for auto-created access teams is five. For On-Premise environments, this can be increased via PowerShell.

The next process to complete is to create an Access Team Template. This is used to define the permissions members of the Access Team will have to the record where they are added. With CRM Online and On-Premise there is a limit of two Access Team templates per entity. This also can be increased via PowerShell for On-Premise deployments. Therefore, you could create one template for read access and another template for write access to the record. The following diagram is an example of an Access Team Template:

2   Team Template resized 600

After creating the templates you will need to add a sub-grid to the form of the entity. This is where you will add the members to the Access Team. The diagram below is an example of how to configure the sub-grid:

3   Access Team Subgrid resized 600

Once you have saved and published the changes, you can now open a record for the entity and add users to the Access Team. Adding a user to an Access Team is essentially the same as sharing the record with them. Therefore, the person adding members to this team must have the Share privilege for this record. Here are some other advantages to using Access Teams:

  • The user who adds a new member to the Access Team needs to have the same privileges as the rights you designated in the template. The user cannot grant more privileges than he/she currently has.

  • The users that are added to the team must also have at least User level access to the same privileges that the Access Team template has.

For example, a template may grant a user assign privileges in addition to other privileges. User A needs to have assign privileges to the entity. Therefore, User A cannot add User B to the Access Team in hopes User B will then assign the record to User A. If User A does not have assign privileges, they will not be able to add users to the Access Team using that template.

These rules prevent a user from adding himself/herself to an Access Team to give them more permissions to a record than he/she already has. The following diagram shows the Access Team sub-grid on the Account form.

4   Access Team Subgrid on Account resized 600

Access Teams is a great way to quickly give users access to records that fall outside of the normal scope of records accessible based on his/her security role. While there is a little more configuration involved, it is a secure option that provides your administrators piece of mind when configuring security. Our CRM experts can help you will planning and implementing your Security in CRM. Contact us today.

Contact NetWork Center, Inc. 

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Security

Security in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 – How to Handle Exceptions, Part 2

Posted by Sarah Jelinek on Apr 4, 2014 4:45:00 PM

In part one of our series on handling Security Exceptions in CRM, we discussed using Sharing to grant users access to records that do not fall under the scope of access granted by their security roles. In part two, we will look at how to create a team in CRM, assign it to a security role, and finally assign a record to a team.

Teams

First, we will need to create the team. To create a team in CRM, do the following:

  1. Navigate to Settings – Administration – Teams

  2. The default view is Local Business Teams. This will display all the teams that exist in your business unit. To view all the teams in your organization, click on the view name and choose All Teams

  3. Click New to create a new team

    1   New Team resized 600

  4. Provide appropriate values for the fields

    • Team Name (required) – use this field to identify the purpose and/or membership of the team. For example, “Department Managers”, “High Priority Support Team” or “Enterprise Sales”

    • Business Unit (required) – select the business unit for which this team will be a member. If you are assigning a security role to the team, select the Business Unit that has the security role you wish to assign. The members of the team do not need to belong to this business unit

    • Administrator – this is the person that is primarily responsible for the team

    • Team Type – you have two options, Owner or Access Team. We will discuss Access Team in another post. For this example, select Owner

    • Description – enter a summary describing the intended purpose of this team

  5. Click Save to create the team record in CRM

  6. Once the record has been saved, you can add team members using the sub-grid on the form.

    2   Add Team Members resized 600

You can add users from other business units to this team. If your security structure is designed where users can only view records for their business unit, you can add them to a team from the business unit that contains the records you need to access.

For example, User A is a member of the West Region business unit. This user needs to have access to some accounts in the East Region business unit. User A’s current security role only allows business unit access to accounts. This means that User A can only access accounts that are part of the West Region. By adding User A to a team from the East Region, they will have access to accounts that the team does.

Teams can own records in CRM. This was a feature that was introduced in CRM 2011. In order for a team to own a record, it does need to have a Security Role assigned. To assign a Security Role to a team:

  1. With the team record open, click More Commands

  2. Click Manage Roles from the list that appears

    3   Manage Roles resized 600

  3. On the Manage Team Roles dialog, select one or more security roles that you wish to be assigned to the team.

    4   Manage Team Roles resized 600

  4. Click OK

Now that you have a team with a security role assigned and members added to the team, you can now assign records to that team. To assign a record to the team, do the following:

  1. Open the record that you want to assign to the new team

  2. Click Assign on the command bar

    5   Assign the Record resized 600

  3. On the Assign dialog, select Assign to another user or team radio button

    6   Assign Dialog resized 600

  4. Click on the Lookup and search for and select the appropriate team

  5. Click OK

Once the record has been assigned to a team, all the members of that team essentially own the record and will have access to it. They will now be able to see it in lists of records. The actions or privileges they have to the record will depend upon the security role assigned to their team.

Our CRM experts can help you will planning and implementing your Security in CRM. Look for our next article where we feature using Access Teams in CRM as another option for handling Security Exceptions in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Contact NetWork Center, Inc. 

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Security

Security in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 – How to Handle Exceptions

Posted by Sarah Jelinek on Mar 27, 2014 3:00:00 PM

If you have had the opportunity to work with the planning and implementation of security in CRM, you are aware that you can have a very simple to extremely complex security model. Security in CRM is always evolving. There are those records that are the exceptions to the security model. 

It can be a situation where we need to lock down who has privileges to records. There are also those records that require more users than normal to need access to them. Another exception is where there is no consistency to the people that need access to a record.

This article is the first is a series of three articles that will explore what options are available to handle those records that are exceptions to the rule. With CRM 2013 you can use the following:

  1. Share the record with users or teams

  2. Create a team, assign a security role to the team, and assign the record to the team

  3. Use Access Teams to grant users access to the record based on a template


Sharing

This feature is part of the basic CRM functionality and has been available in all versions. You can simply open a single record and click the command for sharing on the toolbar, ribbon or under More Commands (depending on which version of CRM you are using). You can add users or teams or both and the privileges (actions) they can perform on the record.

Here is the process for sharing a record in CRM 2013:

  1. Open the record you wish to share with other users

  2. Click the ellipsis ... (More Commands)

  3. Click Share1   More Commands & Share resized 600

  4. On the Share dialog, you will be able to see a list of any users or teams to whom this record has already been shared (if any)2  Share Dialog resized 600

  5. Under Common Tasks on the left, click Add User/Team

  6. On the Look Up Records dialog, a list of users will appear by default. If you wish to select a team instead, click on the Look For drop down and select Team

  7. Select a record by clicking the checkbox to the left of the record name. Click Select to add the current record to the list of Selected Records

  8. Once you have added all the users or teams, click Add on the Look Up Records dialog

  9. The User(s) and/or Team(s) will now appear in the Share dialog. For each user or team in the list, you will then be able to select the privileges they will be granted to this record

  10. Begin by selecting the user or team for whom you want to grant privileges

  11. Click the checkbox under the Privilege column to grant them the respective privilege3   User Share Privileges resized 600

  12. When you have given all the appropriate privileges, click Share. The users and/or teams will now have access to this record

Sharing in CRM gives you the ability to allow users to view those records to which they normally would not have access based on their security role. For those concerned about Security in CRM, Sharing can appear to be a significant risk. Here are some points to review when you are considering using Sharing in CRM:

  • In order for one user to share a record with another user, the user performing the share needs to have access to that record. 

  • The user that is performing the share also needs to have the Share privilege and appropriate access level in the Security Role(s) assigned to him/her.

  • The user or team that the record is being shared with must have a Security Role assigned to him/her that gives them access to the record. For example, I cannot share an Opportunity record with a user or team that does not have access to Opportunity records with their currently assigned Security Roles. They would need to have at least User access to Opportunities.

Our CRM experts at NetWork Center, Inc. can help you with planning and implementing your Security in CRM. Look for our next article where we feature using Teams in CRM as another option for handling Security Exceptions in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.


Contact NetWork Center, Inc.

Topics: NetWork Center Inc., Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Network Security

Exploring Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 New Business Rules Feature

Posted by Derik Bormann on Dec 27, 2013 2:00:00 PM

Business RulesBusiness Rules are a new feature in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 that can be configured to apply client-side logic to data. Business Rules can be used instead of using processes or custom code that runs on the server, such as workflows or plugins. They apply to data that users enter or modify in a form. You can configure Business Rules to be used on all forms for an entity or only on one form. There are many different entities that non-developers can configure Business Rules for, however they will not fully replace the need for client side scripting. 

Business Rule Scope:
Like Forms and Views, Business Rules are created for an Entity. Once a rule is created for an entity, you have the ability to change which forms a specific rule can be added to. This can be done through the Scope Control (in the upper-right corner) in the Business Rule editor. You can set the scope for the rule to All Forms or select any one of the main or mobile forms. (If you set the scope of a Business Rule to one form, you must create copies of the rule if you want to apply the rule to other forms, or you can change the scope to All Forms if that is appropriate for your requirements.)

Conditions:
Each Business Rule can have conditions defined for the specific fields that will cause the rule to be triggered. The conditions evaluated will determine whether the actions that are configured in the rule should be performed. You can add multiple conditions that are based on the same fields or different fields. It is important to note that all the conditions must evaluate to “true” for the actions to be applied.

Business Rules
Actions:
Once you have defined the conditions for a rule, actions can then be defined to determine what will happen when a condition(s) is/are evaluated to true. There are several different actions that can be selected from the Business Rule editor. 

  • Show Error Message: Set an error message on a field if the data in the field is not valid.

  • Set Field Value: You must select the field and type. The three types are:

    • Field: Sets the value of the selected field to the same value as another field that you select, which must be of the same data type. Both fields must be on the form.

    • Value: Sets the value of the selected field to a fixed value that you define. The type of value depends on the data type of the selected field, for example a date, text, currency or optional set value.

    • Formula:  Applies to numeric and date fields only, and is configured in the same manner as a condition.

  • Set Business Required: Changes the requirement level for the field. The options are Not Business Required and Business Required. There is no option to set this to Business Recommended.

  • Set Visibility: Changes whether the field is displayed in the form. The options are Show Field and Hide Field. You cannot use Business Rules to show or hide sections or tabs. (You can use JavaScript functions to change the visibility of a whole tab or section.)

  • Lock or Unlock Field: Use this type to change whether the field is enabled in the form. The options are Lock (read-only) and Unlock


Dynamics CRM 2013

Activating Business Rules:
After you initially create a Business Rule, it has a Status of Draft and does not affect any users who are working on the system. Once you are ready to activate a Business Rule, you will need to save any changes to conditions and actions, and then click Activate on the command bar. The Business Rule now has a Status of Activated. You cannot modify or delete a Business Rule while it is activated. You must click the deactivate button on the command bar to return the Business Rule to a draft status first. You must Save the Business Rule at least one time before you can activate it.

Business Rules are a great way to take some of the customization burden off of your development staff. They can be very easily created and implemented. However, you need to remember that they do have limitations. You will need to experiment with them to determine if your needs can be met through Business Rules or if additional client side scripting is needed.

If you have any questions about the Dynamics CRM 2013 new Business Rules feature, please contact NetWork Center, Inc.

Contact NetWork Center, Inc. 

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Mobile App

Posted by Derik Bormann on Nov 11, 2013 5:31:00 PM

CRM mobile app dashboardAs the official release of CRM 2013 recently rolled out, I thought it would be a good time to explore one of the most anticipated features of the new version, the new Mobile client. With this product launch, there are mobile apps available for iOS and Windows devices (both are available now in their respective app stores.) An android version is also slated for release down the road.

For this article, I will be using the Windows App. However, the iSO app will function much in the same way. It will incorporate the gestures that are commonly used on Windows mobile devices. This will be a little bit of a switch for those users, but it does not take very long to get acclimated to the Windows way.

As CRM ships out of the box, most of the common entities we are familiar with will already be mobile enabled (Account, Contact, Case, Opportunity, etc.). If there are other entities, or custom entities that you would like to make available on the mobile client you will need to enable the mobile option for them.

To enable mobility for an entity you will need to go to Settings – Customization – Customize the System. Once the solution is displayed, expand the Entities option, and select the Entity you want. Under the Outlook & Mobile section, you will see two options that enable mobility for that entity, CRM for Phones and CRM for Tablets. (The tablet option also provides the ability to make the data read only if you want.) Once you have enabled Mobility, Publish your changes and those entities will now be available on the mobile client.

Mobile CRM Navigation

Once you have downloaded and installed the app, you will need to point it to the URL for the organization you want to work with. After it authenticates you, it will take you to the main dashboard for the app. The dashboard will display basic information on items that involve you such as your Activities, Open Opportunities, Leads, Accounts, etc.

Each section displays a small subset of the records in that list. You can either touch the record you want to work with, or click the heading for that list, and it will take you to the list where you will have access to all records in that view. If you swipe your finger from the bottom of the screen, an actions menu appears which gives you the ability to create new records for any entity that is mobile enabled.

In the upper left hand corner of the app, you will also find a Navigation control that will allow you to navigate to other areas of the application. When you touch the icon, a menu appears that lists all the specific entities you can access. Once you select an entity (ex. Accounts), the default view for that entity will display. The list will display all the records for the view that you have access to in the system. You can simply touch the record you want to work with, and it will open.

The record view uses a similar layout to the main dashboard. You can scroll right and left to view additional information on the record such as Business Process info, Activities, Notes, and other related records. If the record has any business process attached to it, the process will display in the upper right hand part of the screen. The current stage will be highlighted and noted with a flag icon on it. Touching any of the stages in the process will show you all of the steps involved in that specific stage. Any steps that are completed will be noted with a check mark, and any steps still waiting to be completed will have an arrow next to them.

CRM mobile app record sample

A Relationships section will also be the first section displayed on the form. This provides you access to any related items (Activities, Opportunities, Contacts, etc.) attached to the record. If you are, for example, working with an Account record, the Primary contacts' card is noted here, so you can touch it to open up the record if needed.

One neat thing about the Relationships section is the Email & Phone Call buttons that display next to the Primary Contact record. Touching either of those items, will open Outlook or Skype to create an e-mail or phone call record. It will also create the activity in CRM and attaches the activity to the record in which you are working.

Another feature I really like with the mobile client is the swipe feature on specific records. If you swipe from the bottom, you will get an actions menu specific to that record. If you find yourself going into a specific record often, the actions menu gives you the ability to pin the record to your start menu or to the main dashboard. This option can save you a ton of time as you work through the record.

The actions menu will give you the ability to add related records, switch the business process, as well as several other actions. When you choose to add a new record, it will open a quick form where you can capture the critical information about the record. Once saved, you also have the ability to touch the edit button to open up the actual detailed record view and capture any additional information you need.

Overall I really like what I see with the mobile app. I found it very easy to use and the learning curve to be very small. If you ever used the mobile express option in CRM 2011, you are really going to appreciate and love the new mobile app. If you would like to hear more on this or any other feature related to the Launch of CRM 2013, please contact one of our account executives.

Contact NetWork Center, Inc.

Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Driving Business Processes Using Dialogs in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Posted by Derik Bormann on Oct 11, 2013 4:59:00 PM

Microsoft Dynamics CRMBefore we start, I know that dialogs are not a new feature, as they were released with 2011. However, as I go around the country teaching classes and assisting with Microsoft Dynamics CRM projects, I am shocked to see how many organizations are not taking advantage of the Dynamics CRM deployments. It seems as though many organizations have a lack of understanding on what they are, how they work, and what they can be used for in the application. This month I want to provide some insight into dialogs, especially because I see them as something that will really compliment the new Business Process Functionality coming with CRM 2013.

First, let’s talk about what dialogs in CRM are and how they are useful. Basically, a dialog is a wizard that you can create to assist users step-by-step through a business process. For example, if your company sets up a new account in CRM and some critical information is missing, the person responsible for capturing that data can launch a dialog that will list the specific fields that data is missing from. There is no need to open the actual record and to try to locate the missing information. Dialogs can also be handy in the call center. You can use them as scripts to guide reps though conversations with customers, and the dialog can trigger other dialogs based on the client’s answers, requests, or objections. 

Dialog and Workflow Differences

There are a few differences that you should be aware of when working with dialogs. The biggest difference is that unlike workflows, which can be tied to specific events in CRM, dialogs have to be manually initiated by a user on the record you want to work with. This is commonly done by using the run dialog button on the ribbon. It could also be done by adding a custom button to the ribbon to provide one-click access or, in some cases, tying them to the system user entity to assist in record creation. Below is a table that outlines some of the key differences between workflows and dialogs in CRM. 

Workflows (WF)

Dialogs

Background Process:  Interacts with CRM entities directly.

Interactive Wizard: Entity interaction is based on user driven processes.

Executes under the security context of owner of the Workflow.

Executes under the security context of the user who initiates the Dialog Process.

Can be either Auto-started or user started.

Can only be initiated by user.

Supports triggers: (Create, Delete, Update, Etc.)

No support for triggers.

Can initiate child workflow processes. Child Dialogs cannot be launched via a workflow.

Can initiate both child workflows and child Dialogs.

Microsoft Dynamics CRMDialog Basics

Before you design a dialog, let’s talk about some of the basics. Dialogs are processes that are designed the same way as workflows. (Navigate to Settings – Processes) The Dialog editor is basically the same as the Workflow editor, but includes additional features specific to dialogs. One of the additional features in the Add Steps dropdown is the Page step. Page is where you create the screens that will act as the interaction points to guide the user through the dialog. On the page design screen, you add prompt and responses to query the user and capture their responses. Pages can have one question or multiple questions based on your needs, but each page requires at least one prompt and response. The responses captured can be stored in the instance of the dialog to update entity information or even passed to other dialogs that need the information.  

Another feature unique to dialogs is Query CRM Data. Query CRM data works very similar to Advanced Find. Let’s say you have just gotten a new lead that lives in North Dakota, and you want to assign a rep to the lead that works in that region. You can use the query CRM data to populate a drop down box that only includes CRM users located in North Dakota.   

Dialogs also can include Input Arguments or Variables. These help to capture information within the dialog that can be used as it proceeds. For example, a call center might have a dialog that drives the direction of a support call based on a client’s answers to questions. When a new call dialog is initiated, the rep may capture basic information about them (name, address, contract number, etc.) and then ask them a question to determine the nature of the call. Based on how the client answers the questions, a different dialog is launched that contains specifics for that path. This process can continue until the call is resolved. As each of the different dialogs is launched, input arguments in the new dialog can store values from the previous dialog. That way they can be used in the current one to evaluate items or update data. This concept of child dialogs are a great tool because they provide the ability to centralize dialog logic, and can break up complex dialogs to make them easier to manage. Another nice feature of child dialogs is the ability to link them back to themselves to allow various inputs of information.   

Other Dialog Considerations

While dialogs can go a long way in assisting your organization’s business process, you do want to take some time to carefully plan out how they will be used. They are very useful, but so are the regular forms in CRM. Don’t overdo it. Remember that dialogs should act as a compliment to the forms that you already have in the system. You also want to consider the users that will be executing the dialogs. Since dialogs run as the user initiates them, their security role in CRM needs to allow them the privileges to do the actions the dialog is attempting. Insufficient permissions will cause an error message informing the user that they cannot accomplish that task. Make sure you test dialogs sufficiently before you publish them to an organization.

Dialogs are a great tool to enhance the user experience and assist in capturing data in CRM. If you would like more information on how to use them, please contact a NetWork Center, Inc. Account Executive. We have a variety of training options available to assist you in creating, deploying, and managing Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

 Contact NetWork Center, Inc.

­

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Managed Services, Filtering

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013: New Process Flow - Walk Through

Posted by Derik Bormann on Sep 6, 2013 5:00:00 PM

The new Business Process flow was one of the more exciting features of the Polaris release for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This feature will also be included in the upcoming release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013. These new processes are different from the workflows and dialogs which we are currently using in CRM 2011. Both workflows and dialogs will still be included in CRM 2013.

What makes Business Processes different is that they can span multiple entities. Think about a traditional sales process. You will generally follow a path similar to this: Lead – Opportunity – Quote – Order – and so on. You are able to do this in CRM 2011, however, as you advance from one entity type to another, a new window is opened and the tasks and other items associated with the previous entity are not easily accessible. 

CRM Process Bar
With CRM 2013, a process is displayed across the top of the entity that you are currently working with. It shows all of the stages that are included with that process. Each stage will display all of the steps that are associated with that stage. As you complete the steps and advance through the different stages, the new entity associated with that stage is displayed inline on the current screen. This makes going back and looking at previous stages much more accessible because you can use the process bar to move to any of the previous stages inline on the form.

Within the process bar, you can also enter each piece of required information for that stage directly into the designated area. Once you have completed all of the steps in that stage, you can advance to the next stage by selecting one of the actions on the command bar. For example, if you wanted to close an opportunity, you can select either CLOSE AS WON or CLOSE AS LOST. A small drop-down screen appears for you toClose Opportunity enter the needed information. Once you have entered this information, you automatically advance to the next stage in the process. Stages that have been completed will still show in the process bar, and will have a lock icon next to them to show that it is completed. You can look at that stage at any time by clicking on it.

In addition, if you have customization privileges, you can edit the steps and stages associated with a Business Process by clicking the three dots at the end of the command bar, and choosing Edit <Process Name> Process. When you open the Process Control Customization Tool, you see all the stages and steps that are defined for the entire process. You also have the ability to view and edit them by each entity associated with the process. You can add or remove steps and stages as needed, and your Business Process will be updated once you save your changes.

Process Control CustomizationBusiness Processes will be available for most entities (including custom entities) in CRM 2013, and you can have multiple Processes defined for each of the entities based on your specific
needs. As CRM 2013 approaches they will be including additional functionality to this feature
that will allow users the ability to change the process associated with a record to a different process if needed, along with some other functionality.



Please contact NetWork Center, Inc. if you are interested in learning more about the CRM 2013 changes.

Contact NetWork Center, Inc. 

Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Dynamics CRM 2013 is on the Horizon!

Posted by Derik Bormann on Aug 2, 2013 6:12:00 PM

CRM keyThe newest release of Dynamics CRM (officially named Dynamics CRM 2013) is fast approaching and is slated for release in Q3/Q4 2013. CRM 2013 represents a major shift for the Dynamics CRM platform. It is shifting to a more process centric application. This shift will provide a unified experience across all platforms, including mobile. I wanted to take a few moments and provide a quick overview on some of the key changes that are coming.

Updated User Experience

The biggest change you will see with 2013 is that the user experience has been updated. In December, Microsoft rolled out the Polaris update to its online customers. This provided us with a small preview of what can be expected in CRM 2013. Navigating the application will be much easier and organizations will be able to take full advantage of the new business processes designer. The Command bar at the top of the application allows users to quickly navigate across multiple entities while staying in-line on the current record. 

CRM 2013 Features Overview

ACRM 2013 Screen Shots mentioned above, the biggest change with CRM 2013 is the move from an action driven application to process driven. This change will allow organizations to build their business practices directly into the application and have users easily navigate these processes from a central screen. CRM 2013 has many additional features that will support this functionality. 

Some of these features include:

  • Defining multiple processes per entity for greater customization (including custom entities).
  • Switching to different business processes on a record as it evolves.
  • Assigning business processes based on user roles.
  • Stage categories can link process stages across multiple business processes.
  • Business processes can span multiple entities.
  • Business processes available on mobile clients.
  • Process progress can be tracked.
  • Process definitions can be exported/imported across deployments.
  • The UI has changed to better support this process-centric experience.
  • Users can create new records or navigate to other entities directly from a business process.

Additional Items to Note

While the business process changes and the new UI are the two biggest changes you will see with CRM 2013, that is just the top level. There have been major changes to almost every area of the application. 

mobile CRM 2013Below I have listed just a few of the major changes to look for:

  • Auto Save: The Auto-Save introduced in Polaris has been enhanced in CRM 2013. 
  • Mobile Support: Expanded Mobile Access including: Windows, IOS, and Android.
  • Server Side Sync: Direct server-to-server syncing of e-mails, tasks, appointments, and contacts. 

As the rollout gets closer in the coming months, I will highlight specific options in greater detail. If you have any questions (upgrade paths and so on) please contact us to discuss this further.

Contact NetWork Center, Inc. 

Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Microsoft Dynamics CRM, technology training

New Tools for Developers in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

Posted by Derik Bormann on May 10, 2013 3:10:00 PM

MS CRM 2011Back in February and March, I wrote about many of the new front end changes that were included in the December 2012 update release for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online called Polaris. These changes were geared to end users and reflected changes to how the application is presented to users.

In this blog post, I want to talk about some behind the scenes changes that are geared towards developers who are extending the out-of-the-box Microsoft Dynamics CRM functionality. The first is a new method that you can use if you are trying to execute bulk jobs against CRM. The way CRM is currently designed, it can be somewhat chatty. If you are trying to execute a bulk operation to insert multiple records into a CRM database, the requests are executed individually which results in a lot of round trips.

The CRM SDK now includes the ExecuteMultipleRequest method. It accepts an input collection of message requests, executes each of the message requests in the order they appear in the collection, and optionally returns a collection of responses containing each message’s response or the error that occurred. The result of this request is more records being created in a shorter amount of time.  In one test I ran, it took about 45 seconds to import 250 records to a CRM online instance using the old methods. By using the ExecuteMultipleRequest I was able to import 250 records to an online instance in about 7 seconds. This was a huge performance increase when compared to the old method.

CRM word cloudAnother new feature is RetrieveMetadataChangesRequest. It contains a query parameter that accepts an EntityQueryExpression instance that you can use to specify specific criteria for the data to return in addition to which properties you want. The EntityQueryExpression.criteria property accepts a MetadataFilterExpression that contains a collection of MetadataConditionExpression objects that allow for defining conditions for filtering entity properties based on their value.

Prior to this release, developers were able to create custom workflow activities that could be used as an action in CRM 2011. Because you were not able to register these workflow activities to the “Sandbox” they did not work with CRM online. With the new update release you can now register these activities to the sandbox and are able to use them with CRM online. The CRM Developer Toolkit Add-In now offers support for Visual Studio 2012. By using the Toolkit, developers have access to Project templates for common CRM project types, reusable code for plug-ins, and contain a CRM explorer for viewing CRM solution components from within Visual Studio.

If you are interested in learning more about how these new features can help you in extending your Dynamics CRM deployment, please contact us for additional information.

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Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft Dynamics CRM New Skype and Bing Maps Features

Posted by Derik Bormann on Feb 13, 2013 11:30:00 PM

dynamics crm skypeIn my last post, I covered the new Sales Process that was included in the December 2012 product release for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. In Introduction to Skype Integrationaddition to this change, Microsoft has added several new features that integrate with other technologies to make your Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution more dynamic and easier to work with. In this post I want to focus on two brand new integration features available: Skype Integration and Bing Map Support

With the Microsoft Dynamics CRM new Skype integration, users are now able to make phone calls from within the CRM Skype Click to Call plugin. When you have this plugin installed, it will recognize phone numbers and display them as hyperlinks in the read-only forms. You can click a number to make a call through Skype.

How Skype Integration works


When you click a phone number in a record, CRM will launch Skype and connect to the phone number automatically. It will also open the Add Phone Call area to allow you to note the details of the phone call.

Skype installs a browser add-on called Skype Click to Call (C2C). It detects and formats the valid phone number strings found in websites with the direct call functionality. It will also insert a Skype icon next to the phone number.

Country/region code prefixing

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and skypeIn order to make calls from CRM, the numbers must be stored in a valid number format: <country/region code><area code><number>.  When entering data in CRM, users may not specify the number in the correct format. To correct this, you can enable country/region code prefixing, and CRM will prefix the code to the number that you are trying to call. This prefixing can be done at two levels, organization-level and user-level.

To enable country/region code prefixing at the organization level

1. In the Navigation Pane, click Settings.

2. Under System, click Administration, and then click System Settings.

3. On the General tab, in the Set the default country/region code section, select the Enable country/region code prefixing check box, and then in the Country/Region Code Prefix, specify the country/region code, such as +1.

4. Click OK.

To enable country/region code prefixing at a user level

1. On the File tab, click Options.

2. On the General tab, in the Set the default country/region code section, select the Enable country/region code prefixing check box, and then in the Country/Region Code Prefix, specify the country/region code, such as +1.

3. Click OK.

Introduction to Bing Maps Support

microsoft dynamics crm bing mapsBing Maps are now integrated into the account, contact, and lead forms. They appear in the lower left corner of these forms when enough street address information has been added to match a map record. Familiar Bing Maps functionality, like pushpins, informational popups, zooming, and scrolling, is available. To see a larger view of the address on the Bing website, get directions, and take advantage of other features, click the map image.

To see an updated Bing Maps view:

  1. Enter address information on an account, contact, or lead form.
  2. Save the form.

Both of these new features will improve you users experience while working with the application. NetWork Center, Inc. has two Microsoft Dynamics CRM trainers on staff that can help you to make the most of these new changes to the application. If you have any questions or would like further information please feel free to contact us.

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Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft Dynamics CRM New Sales Process User Interface

Posted by Derik Bormann on Jan 31, 2013 9:00:00 AM

Dynamics CRM Customer Relationship ManagementAs I mentioned in a previous post, Microsoft recently released a major update to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 in December. There were several major changes to the application including Multi Browser Support, Skype Integration, and Bing Map Support. Over my next several posts, I will introduce you to many of these new features. In this post I want to cover what I consider to be the biggest change to the interface.   

As part of this release, Microsoft has included a new way to work through the sales process. In past versions the sales process was a more of a background process that happened behind the scenes through workflows. With this release, the user interface will now guide users through the process of identifying leads and all other steps to marking a deal as won.

Users enter information right in the forms. There are no popup windows to launch. As users enter more information, the system will respond by guiding them to the next logical stage in the sequence (if needed, you can customize the sequence to suit your business needs).

The new forms will show you all tasks in a logical sequence. The pages are organized to make things easier to find. The text, layout, and controls now have a new look on every form, aiming to make things easier to read.

What else has changed?

  • Process control: When you create a new lead or opportunity, you’ll see a process flow across the top of the page. The process flow organizes tasks under stages labeled Qualify, Develop, Propose, and Close. As you click these stages, you’ll see key tasks with data fields organized beneath them.
  • Inline editing. Forms will now behave slightly different than in the past. To edit a piece of data, just click it (or tap it on a touch-enabled device).
  • Auto-save. As you edit information on a form, it saves your changes automatically after a certain period of time. If you close the form or click a button in the command bar, your changes will be saved automatically.
  • Duplicate detection. Duplicate detection is handled less invasively.
  • Editable process. Anyone with permissions to do so can change the sales process to display different stages, steps, and fields. You can do this at any time, and it can be done without software development resources.

Customer Relationship ManagementWith the current release, you have the option to install Product Updates that offer significant improvements to the user experience in the sales and customer service processes. Even though you’ll get some features in this release automatically, the sales and service process forms come only through Product Updates.

While the new user interface designs are more intuitive, easier to navigate, and more efficient to use than previous designs, they are very different from what you are accustomed to. With that in mind, I would recommend familiarizing yourself with them before putting it into your live environment.  It might be a good idea to sign up for a trial and assess whether the changes will work for your organization. Once you are familiar and satisfied with the new process forms you can install the product updates and enable them in your organization. Below are the steps for doing this in your Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployment.

  1. Install the product updates in your own production organization.
  2. You may need to migrate any customizations you have made to the new forms.
  3. Enable new Forms
    1. Click Settings, click Administration, and then click Product Updates.
    2. Click Enable the New Forms.
    3. Click Yes.

After you have installed the updates, you should consider training the people who will use the system on how the changes will affect their work. We have two trainers on staff that are very familiar with the new changes and can assist you as needed. If you have any questions or would like some guidance please don’t hesitate to contact us.

In my next post I will introduce you to the new Skype and Bing Maps Microsoft Dynamics CRM Integration.

Contact NetWork Center, Inc.

Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Microsoft Dynamics CRM, technology training

It’s time to take another look at Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Posted by Derik Bormann on Nov 13, 2012 10:00:00 AM

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the annual eXtremeCRM 2012 conference in Las Vegas in October of this year.  One of the most exciting parts of the conference was a session I attended by Craig Dewar (Director of Product Management for Microsoft Dynamics CRM).  It focused on the next two major feature updates to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  The first release (Polaris) is scheduled for release in December.  The second release is currently scheduled for Q2 in 2013 (Orion). 

The Polaris update will have 2 separate releases, one for CRM Online customers and another for CRM On-Premise customers.  There is still some question on what specific features will be available for On-Premise customers, but either way, the features included in this new version are very exciting and will help to broaden the reach of the CRM software. 

Let’s take a look at some of the features that are coming to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Cross Browse Compatibility: The biggest feature of this update will be ability to use most of the available browsers on the Market such as Opera, FireFox, Chrome, and Safari.  If there has been one big complaint with the CRM program it has been the fact that it only works with Internet Explorer.  This will no longer be the case and this feature will be included in both the Online and On-Premise updates.

CRM Browser Flexibility
CRM Skype Integration

Social Updates and Integrations

  • Polaris will provide several updates to the CRM Activity Feeds implementation. 
  • Integration with Yammer for all social updates. 
  • New integration with Skype and Lync as part of Polaris.
    • Users can either Skype or Lync to make phone calls via Click-To-Dial
    • Video integration for CRM Contacts and Leads

Bulk-Data API: The Bulk-Data API will allow developers to send multiple CRUD (Create, Retrieve, Update, Delete) operations in a single Bulk-Data API Call. This undoubtedly will speed up integrations with CRM Online. 

Federal: Microsoft will now be able to have Microsoft Dynamics CRM online host FISMA compliant instances of CRM 2011 in the Office 365 Cloud. 

Custom Workflow Activities:  Custom workflow activities will now be able to be deployed and embedded in the cloud which is currently only available in On-Premise deployments.

** Note** The Following features may not be included in the December 2012 update, but are slated to be deliver by Q2 of 2013.

Process Centric UI:  The new interface will make it much easier and quicker to navigate and perform tasks in the application.  In the demo I saw, this feature was awesome.

Windows 8 App: Microsoft will be releasing a Windows 8 Microsoft Dynamics CRM app.  The app will include alerts, action needs, activity feed roll-up, mobile charts, and the new process centric UI.

Dynamics CRM Windows 8 App

CRM mobilityMobile: Microsoft will be developing apps that will allow users to attach pictures from devices to CRM, track locations, and obtain signatures from mobile devices for CRM items.

Other items that will be included in updates will include:

  • Additional and improved integration features with SharePoint
  • Microsoft Office 2013 support

As someone who has been working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM for many years now, I am truly excited to see the direction the program is heading.  If you have not looked into CRM, or have considered it in the past but found it did not fit your needs, I encourage you to take another look at Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Please feel free to contact us, we would love to have the opportunity to assist you.

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Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Microsoft Dynamics CRM

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