If you’re working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM then I bet you’ve had a busy spring so far! At least I have, due to the great buzz around the CRM ecosystem and an ever growing demand for customer solutions that leverage the latest & greatest Microsoft Dynamics product versions. Here’s a quick update on things I’ve been working on recently in the Dynamics CRM community.
Our Book: CRM Field Guide v2
Yay, I’m a published author (again)! Long before I was awarded the CRM MVP title, this group of Dynamics CRM top experts put their smart heads together and came up with a must-have book on practical dos & don’ts of deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 in real life scenarios: The CRM Field Guide. Now, after the big platform revolution that took place with CRM 2013, there is a much needed version 2 of the CRM Field Guide available that covers all updated, changed and expanded features of the product. A joint effort from 20+ CRM MVP’s has produced 29 chapters of brilliant content, with my humble contribution on the CRM user experience design aspects being one of them. Great job, guys, and especially Julie for making this V2 book happen!
“Hmm, I’m in CRM Online and we’ve already upgraded to the CRM 2015 release. Is there anything in this book for me?” You bet! I’d say 98% of the book’s ~1000 pages will be perfectly applicable for your environment, even though additional features have been introduced in the v7.0 update released at the end of last year. Just have a look at the book’s chapter descriptions to get a glimpse of what type of insights you can expect to gain from this book – and then click to purchase your copy for only $49.99!
Our Podcast: Ikkunastudio Episode 4
Even though the market for Finnish language content aimed at Microsoft professionals is a tiny fraction of the audience that all the text produced in English has, that doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be also some quality tech talk out there on the Internet that is catered in this quirky lil’ language of ours. One of the latest entrants into this space is the Ikkunastudio podcast series that focuses on covering the Microsoft scene in Finland. I was honored to be invited into the fourth episode titled “XRM to rule them all“.
So, who’s behind this Ikkunastudio thing anyway? The show is hosted by two distinguished gentlemen: Jouni is the Regional Director for Microsoft developer community in Finland and Sakari runs a company focused on Microsoft Azure based solution development. The three of us took over the Digital Illustrated HQ on one fine morning and explored a world that many of the MS developers and IT pros may not be so familiar with – Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In addition to explaining what business scenarios CRM is typically used for and how the latest announcements from Convergence 2015 are shaping up the platform’s future in Microsoft’s product portfolio, we also had an interesting discussion on the XRM side of things – where the platform is coming from, what you can do with it today and where it might be heading towards. Jos suomen kieli sujuu, niin kuuntelehan siis miksi Dynamics CRM:ään kannattaa perehtyä pintaa syvemmältä!
My Webcast: Smarter Sales Process in CRM 2015
In addition to this glamorous MVP lifestyle consisting of writing books and appearing on radio shows, I also need to spend a fair amount of time designing and configuring real life Dynamics CRM solutions for customer organizations out there. As you listen to the functional requirements coming from customers who want to make Dynamics CRM better serve their own sales processes, you gradually notice that many of these scenarios are dealing with CRM customization work that isn’t exactly unique to the organization in question. At the same time the Dynamics CRM platform has evolved to offer us an extensive toolkit for configuring solutions that can solve these business problems without needing any custom code development.
When I look at some of the customization work I’ve been doing lately with CRM 2013 and 2015, using features like real-time workflows, business rules, rollup fields, quick view forms and BPF, it has become apparent that the crucial skill is not in just knowing the way a single Dynamics CRM feature works but rather how you can combine them in a creative way to come up with an end product that solves the customer’s business problem. The growing complexity of these no-code solutions means that it’s by no means a trivial task to figure out how they actually work and how they could be applied to different real world business processes that Dynamics CRM customers are looking to manage with the help of modern business software. So, instead of just writing individual blog posts I’ve decided to cover this topic in a one hour webcast: A Non-Developer’s Guide to Smarter Sales Processes in Dynamics CRM 2015.
In this webcast hosted by MSDynamicsWorld.com I’ll be introducing a few scenarios that I believe are common needs for Dynamics CRM customers and show you how the graphical customization tools offered by the CRM platform’s latest versions can be put into use in building solutions for them. For example, would you want to bring back the ability to not always create a new sales opportunity from every qualified lead record? Or how about being able to use Dynamics CRM for tracking not just the current sales pipeline value but also storing historical data about how the pipeline has developed over time? Join me on May 6th to see a few tricks on how a system customizer could tackle such requirements and make the Dynamics CRM application support the sales process management work even better than the product does with out-of-the-box configuration.