9Apr

UConn Basketball’s Responsibility

Tonight I found something pretty discouraging that I felt somewhat compelled to share and comment on.  Granted this has nothing to do with CRM, per say, but it applies to projects and life in general.

UConn basketball's dirty secret

UConn basketball’s dirty secret

I came across an article titled “UConn basketball’s dirty secret”.  The attention grabbing headline coupled with UConn’s recent national championship, immediately lead me to dive right in.  Unfortunately, I found the author purposely misleading the facts surrounding UConn basketball’s academic situation.   The numbers are factual, just manipulated for viewership.

To summarize, UConn’s graduation success rate (GSR) is an abysmal 8%.

Granted this is extremely low, but in reality has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the current team or head coach.  The 8% represents the players (and coaches/administration) from the 2006-2007 men’s basketball team.

In reality, UConn’s academics are drastically improving…

Showcasing Shabazz Napier, the tournament’s MVP, is comical only because he’s on pace to graduate this semester with a degree in Sociology.  In fact his main reason to come back to school for his senior year was to keep a promise he made to his mother about graduating.

 

UConn basketball’s head coach, Kevin Ollie, became the head coach in 2012.  Last year, Ollie’s first season as head coach, UConn was ineligible to play in the NCAA tournament due to academic issues stemming from the 2009 academic year.

As far as the program goes:

“The academic improvement that our men’s basketball program has made over the past three years in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate has been well documented,” athletic director Warde Manuel said in a prepared statement. “Our team has earned three outstanding scores in a row, including a perfect 1,000 for the 2012-13 academic year, which will be officially announced by the NCAA this summer.”

 

Granted, I understand we’re talking about gaining viewership versus covering a topic without bias.  I’m probably asking for too much.  Glamorizing rear-view facing metrics clearly grabs attention, but in turn misrepresents the current trajectory of the program.

 

Criticizing is easy, but accepting responsibility isn’t

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” –Denis Waitley

Not to over analyze, but in life you can always look at the negative of things.  If someone is determined, you could argue that they are stubborn.  If someone is mellow, you could argue they lack passion.  I’m arguing this article was all about viewership, when in reality the author may not have been the one to select the photos which infer these players have anything to do with these numbers.

UConn has clearly accepted their responsibility and there is plenty of data to support this.  Let’s embrace their bracket busting victories and offer continued encouragement to these student athletes that can’t even afford to eat.

31Mar

What CRM is Missing Most

Face it, CRM is missing some key functionality.  Think about it for a second, what is in Word, Excel and every other product that matters?  If you went to Convergence, you may have heard some rumors and I found, from a very solid source, that it’s all true!

With UR3 coming later this month, Microsoft is introducing…

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30Mar

Sending Unresolved Emails

Today we’re looking at sending unresolved emails in CRM.  Have you ever wanted to email someone who is not in CRM?  Sometimes it can be frustrating to have to create a contact or lead record for a person just so you can email marketing material.  Additionally, you may want to avoid cluttering up your CRM system with a “fringe” listing of contacts.  By allowing “unresolved” email addresses to be sent, you can do just that.

In addition to configuring CRM, I’ll demonstrate how to send an email from C# (using the CRM 4.0/2011/2013 SDK).

Configuration required for sending unresolved emails in CRM

To start, let’s look at the system settings we’ll need to change.  Begin by selecting Settings > Administration > System Settings.  This will bring up a prompt, select the “Email” tab and select “Yes” for the “Allow messages with unresolved e-mail recipients to be sent” option.

To send emails to recipients not in CRM, select the "Yes" option.

To send emails to recipients not in CRM, select the “Yes” option.

 

Sending unresolved emails in CRM from C#

Here is an example using late binding:

An early bound example of sending emails, can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh210217.aspx

You can also mix and match unresolved addresses or in this next example add the primary address of a specific user:

 

Hopefully these options spark some ideas or resolve a frustration you’re currently facing.

 

12Mar

CRM 2013 Gamification


CRM 2013 Gamification

Today we’re talking about CRM 2013 Gamification.  Before we start, I want you to know that I cringe at the word “gamification”.  Don’t get me wrong, I actually like, believe, and implement gamification; however, gamification has a bad connotation because of how people have hyped and improperly implemented it.  There are fantastic examples of very successful gamification, my favorite being stack overflow.  But for every good example, there are probably dozens of implementations that ended with loyalty backlash and frustrating results.  The good news, is that today I’m going to share with you the secrets of good CRM 2013 Gamification for the low, low price of…

 

An example of what not to include with Gamification in CRM 2013

Imagine staring at this all day…

Congratulations, you’re a Winner!

Sorry, the first thing to know about gamification is: avoid cheesy things!  No one wants blinking or moving graphics.  No one.  Instead of focusing on the negatives though, I want to talk about the things you need in order to get productivity gains coupled with user engagement.

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19Feb

Customer Excellence Awards – Convergence 2014

Customer Effective Congratulates CSX Transportation on one of their Customer Excellence Awards

Customer Effective Congratulates CSX Transportation on one of their Customer Excellence Awards

Microsoft’s 2014 Customer Excellence Awards for CRM Dynamics were recently made public and Customer Effective racked up numerous awards in their efforts to help various organizations on their CRM journey.  I have been lucky to be a member on a majority of these projects with Customer Effective in one way or another.  A lot of great people have contributed to these projects and it’s exciting to see the recognition growing to more and more Customer Effective projects.

For those unfamiliar with Microsoft’s Customer Excellence Awards, here’s a quick overview:

The Customer Excellence Awards recognize, honor, and celebrate customer organizations that are achieving outstanding success with their Microsoft solutions. In each award category, award winners are chosen on their ability to provide amazing experiences for their customers through the use of their Microsoft Dynamics solution.

Some of these awards cover projects that have spanned years.   The teams behind each of these projects are composed of knowledgeable, creative individuals.  Moving well beyond fields on a form, these projects leverage Microsoft CRM’s ability to adapt completely around the business and user’s needs.  Each of these projects are a journey and I’m grateful to be working with awesome people, users, and organizations.

http://www.microsoft.com/dynamics/convergence/atlanta14/Customer-Excellence.aspx

17Feb

CRM 2013 – Copying a Process

Within CRM 2013, processes are incredible.  Since they are great time savers for users, I typically get a lot of positive feedback regarding them.

One feature missing from CRM 2013 is the ability to copy an existing process; however, there is a nice work-around we’ll explore today.  If you are like me and create some fairly in-depth processes, then copying a process should hopefully save you some time.  Let’s walk through how to copy a process:

Copying a Process Step-by-Step

  • First, open the Process you want to duplicate:
    Copying a Process: Opening the Process to Duplicate

    Notice the “Activate As” field

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14Feb

CRM DevTools Extension by Sonoma Partners

Blake Scarlavai over at Sonoma Partners built a very cool Chrome add-in called CRM DevTools.  This applies to CRM 2011 UR12+ and CRM 2013 and allows you to quickly find the record’s GUID without having to remember Xrm.Page.data.entity.getId() or typing any of this into the console directly.  The tool also allows you to execute fetch and see the results.  This is a great time saver and something everyone should have in their toolbox.

Here’s an excerpt:

CRM DevTools

CRM DevTools is an extension to Google Chrome which can be found here in the Chrome web store.  This extension provides a variety of tools to help optimize customizing and troubleshooting within Dynamics CRM.

Form Information

CRM DevTools - Form Information

  • Displays the current form’s back-end information
    • Entity Name
    • Entity Id
    • Entity Type Code
    • Form Type
    • Is Dirty
  • Ability to show the current form’s attribute’s schema names
  • Ability to refresh the current form

Current User Information

CRM DevTools - User Information

  • Domain Name
  • User Id
  • Business Unit Id

There is a lot more to what this add-in can provide.  Here’s the original post.  I think this is a great idea and I’m excited to see if more and more functionality is added to this down the road.

11Feb

CRM 2013 – Start Users on a Dashboard vs Personal Wall

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 offers by default a “What’s New” landing page known as the Personal Wall.  The “what’s new” page is a great place to start and is part of the social add-ins Microsoft introduced with CRM 2011.

Personal Wall

Checking out the social aspects of the Personal Wall

 

Although the Personal Wall is great, I often like to start users on a custom dashboard:

Here's an example of dashboard that launches to various entities and summarizes data specific to the user.  A different approach to the Personal Wall.

Here’s an example of dashboard that launches to various entities and summarizes data specific to the user

A dashboard customized around the users day-to-day needs allows for users to quickly see and get to pertinent information.  In my case, my team mainly focuses on the companies, projects and tasks assigned to us individually.

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8Feb

Processes within CRM 2013

One question I always try to ask users is, “does anything feel redundant?”  If you ask a few people this question, you’ll sometimes find sticking points you never even thought of.  What’s great about this question is that CRM 2013 seems to always have a solution to the user’s frustration.  One solution I go back to again and again is the “Process” dialog.

Let’s look at a real-life example…

The Dreaded Weekly Work Plan

A client I’m working with has to build out a plan each week of the projects they are going to work on.  Each user typically has one or more projects taking place each week and each project typically last several months.  Additionally, at the start of each month users are typically expected to have five weeks of work planned out.

To management, this was important to understand who was freeing up as well as anticipated cash-flow of billable projects.  To the users, this was one of two TPS reports they had to deal with.  Both were frustrated since users were slow to get these entered and management always felt the numbers were unreliable.

In this case, the users were asked only minimal information:

A basic CRM form with minimal input fields.

A basic CRM form with minimal input fields.

 

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