It has been long; I posted something on this blog. Nevertheless, I promise to write more often going forward.
Today, I would like to write about one of the oldest topics and a fundamental feature of Dynamics CRM - “Owner” Field. Almost all the entities with in Microsoft Dynamics CRM have an owner field mentioned.
I said almost all because the “organization” type entities are global and not specific to a particular individual user, so they do not have Owner field mentioned. The Organization entities are more like master data whereas “user” entities hold transaction data. But, not necessarily always. I will explain the difference in my next blog.
Coming back to the “Owner” field on user entities, it exists automatically when any new entity is created. Most of the out of box entities like Account, Contact, Email, Phone call, Task have “owner” field. This is a mandatory field. The key functionality of this field is it granting security permissions to a user for a particular record based on who the owner is. For example, it is possible to allow a user to have access or additional permissions on records that they own. It also grants access to records that are owned by other users in their business unit and sub business units. Therefore, it is not similar to “Assign to” functionality you might have come across in other CRM applications.
To summarize the Owner field address three major behavior of the record/entity/form in Dynamics CRM:
1. Access to the record (based on user value mentioned in the owner field)
2. Transfer of ownership of the record by changing the owner value a.k.a Assign
3. Access to the related records (using cascading functionality of the entity)
1. Manually – Using the ‘Assign’ icon in the ribbon bar of any entity or changing the user value in the owner field.
2. Automatically using workflow – It is possible to set up an automatic or manual workflow rule that can reassign a record or list of records based on certain criteria. For example, an account can be assigned to a user based on the territory match.
When re-assigning a record it is possible to automatically have the system share the record with the previous owner.
Ownership Cascading - related entities
When a record is assigned to a new user certain related records can automatically be assigned. This automatic assignment occurs based on the relationship type between the entity type of the record being assigned and the related entities.
There are three main relationship types that we are concerned with:
1. Parental – In a parental relationship between two entities, any action taken on a record of the parent entity is also taken on any child entity. For example, If the relationship between an account and its associated contacts was parental, when the account was reassigned from User A to User B, all of the associated contacts, irrelevant of who their owner is, would also be reassigned to User B.
2. Configurable Cascading - Any action taken on a parent entity record can also be applied to any child entity. You can define the behavior for each type of action. For example, you can set it up so that if you share a record in the parent entity, any related records for the child entity are automatically shared. But if you delete a parent entity record, any related child entity records are not automatically deleted.
3. Referential - In a referential relationship between two entities, you can navigate to any related records, but actions taken on one will not affect the other. If the relationship between an account its associated contacts was referential, when the account was reassigned from User A to User B, the associated contacts would not be affected and would retain their current owner.
There is one key factor you may need to consider is, though the labels will be translated into user language the data will not be translated because of data base limitations. So I recommend all the users irrespective of the language pack they use to enter data as per the organization data entry guidelines. This will help in better colloboration and analysis.
Also note that any custom labels may not be naturally translated after installing or configuring the language pack. This required little more effort by exporting the WSDL and editing and importing back.
Recently I came across a scenario where a user required CRM information to show up in dual languages while talking to his customers. I have mapped the scenario in to CRM. Please wait for my next blog posting.
Unlike Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 the latest version Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 comes with an installed version of mobile access.
Options available in the market
There are many options available to access CRM data on mobile phone.
CRM 2011 out of the box comes with Mobile Express component with no extra cost. It is easy to configure as well. Any browser supporting HTML 4.0 can be used to access CRM. But this is a thin client and requires good bandwidth to access.
Supported devices, listed by operating system
All Windows Phones using Internet explorer
Blackberry phones (storm, curve) using blackberry or opera browsers
Apple iphone 3, 4 and ipad that uses Safari browsers
All Nokia mobiles (Nokia N series and E series using Nokia browsers or opera)
Other versions of Windows Mobile like HTC
HTC mobiles (HTC HD2, Palm Treo etc that use IE and opera)
2. There are many solutions in the market which can provide robust thick client interface. The best of the lot are:
TenDigits (http://www.tendigits.com/ )
CWR (http://www.cwrmobility.com/ )
Mobile access component is deployed along with CRM 2011 application server deployment. No additional steps required.
Only prerequisite is the CRM deployment has to be an IFD deployment if it is an on premise version. If it is an on demand version there are no additional deployment steps required.
Configuring mobile express
Mobile access is a default feature in Microsoft CRM 2011 but requires little configuration before you can access deserved CRM data from your mobile device.
To configure mobile client navigate to settings, customization, customize the system.
Click on components, entities
Click on the entity you would like to show on user's mobile device. Navigate to the "outlook and mobile" section and check "mobile express" box if not checked already. By default Account, contact, lead, opportunity and case entities are auto selected for mobile access
Navigate to from tab on your left hand side bar and find mobile form type. Click to open.
Select the required fields that need to be shown on your mobile devices. I recommend using not more than 20 fields for faster rendering of the pages. Although there is no such limitation exists.
Once you are done, publish the changes. Test the browser by adding "/m" as a suffix to the CRM url. http://crm.<>.com/m
Preview of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 mobile interface.
Recently Microsoft lab has launched a free downloadable CRM on-demand add-on application called “Microsoft Partner Business Systems (PBS)”. Partner Business Systems is for managing your professional service opportunities and projects. The solution is built around the process for selling Microsoft business products but can be configured further to suit your custom service offerings. But just out of the box this solution gives Microsoft Partners a competitive advantage by giving them the information they need to measure, manage, and improve their business. If you are one who does not sell any of Microsoft products and want to customize it further to suit your business, even then it is a great tool to work on further. It demonstrates the following
1. Managing sales pipeline
2. Managing sales stages with exit criteria
3. Project forecasting
4. Multiple projects under an opportunity
5. Project templates and documents management
6. Project deliverables management
7. Project task management based on templates (project methodology)
8. Auto proposal generation
9. Much more.
Why wait try it today and realize the benefit, it is free but powerful application.
It has two versions the basic is free of cost consists only sales management and the complete version is charged @ 25 dollar per month per user. It has features as below.
• Sales Management
• Contract Management
• Project Management
• Resource Management
• Cash Flow Management
The free basic version can be downloaded from below:
Traditionally a CRM solution has been used for simple front end operations to manage customer details, tracking sales, service and marketing activities and capturing interactions.
CRM in general used in a typical organization for following.
• Customer account management
• Customer contact relationship management
• Prospect management
• Activity management
• Sales pipeline management
• Campaign management
• Target market list management
• Lead management
• Competition tracking
• Complaint management
• Case management
Lesser popular – the below are less popular features which are possible using CRM but are not used by many. The reason could be because of the perception that CRM is not capable or some other robust system is already in place. But not realizing that maintaining these robust systems sometimes could be a very costly. Let us see what extra things a CRM application can offer.
Historically, organizations built structure around the products and services they create and sell. The focus was on:
• Achieving economies of scale through mass production
• Product innovation
• Mass marketing and product branding
This was more to do with understanding general customer behavior and targeting relevant market segments.
Over the period, the customer buying patterns changed, the buying power raised and so the customer needs. Organizations started investing more in understanding the customer behavior by using many methods like surveys. Though it was effective initially over time it proved inaccurate. The customer buying behaviors started changing rapidly because of influence from media, competitors and internet. It was getting increasing difficult for organization to analyze customer’s buying patterns.
Finally to conclude, when an organization understands customer experience at every touch point, interaction and social update, it gains important information about its customers’ needs. That will help is making a better customer connect by improving their value and giving the organization a selling opportunity. This has lead to a new concept and market for CRM.
The goal of Customer relationship management (CRM) is to provide a complete view of the customer experience with the organization. Also CRM is an important business strategy that differentiates an organization from its competition.
• by improving customer experience
• building customer value (aligning product to customer needs)
• Gives an opportunity to “up-sell” and “cross-sell” existing customers
CRM vendors successfully sold the concept without much resistance as it sounded pragmatic to many buyers. Time passed by several organizations found little benefit out of the investment made on a CRM tool. Some were quick to realize that the strategy and process excellence is more important than implementing a CRM tool. Tool is just an enabler to ensure organization succeeds with their CRM strategy. It is proven that the companies investing on process excellence have benefited more from a CRM tool than the companies that invested heavily on an expensive CRM product and implementation service.
Even today many companies are struggling with their CRM investments without focusing on the underlying principle. Time to rethink CRM strategy and getting it right!
It is a must to notify users when trying to enter a duplicate into the system based on preconfigured rules like name match, phone number match or/and email id match. But if you have many users updating data at various stages into the system it is difficult to monitor and control these duplicates as an administrator. If you are the one responsible for ensuring clean data in CRM with fewer duplicates then you may find it extremely difficult to manage the same.
This new feature in CRM 2011 can be a great help to your cause.
CRM 2011 comes with an out of box feature called duplicate detection job, which is a wizard driven duplicate detection notification configuration. First step you can identify entity and add data filters using advance find. In the second step you can mention the frequency of the notification.
You may want to add other’s email id if you need to notify them. This is an additional feature in CRM 2011 and I think you will like it as much as I do.
Do you have requirement for different form displays for different users across organization. The requirement could be because of security controls, data display controls, fields order, location, department user belongs to or role the user plays in the organization or his or her usage habits. It could be a case where in a different language users say like Japanese tend to enter address information as State, City and street 1,2,3.
The good news is that now this is possible with CRM 2011 personalized form feature. Each security role in CRM can have personalized forms defined for a set of users. In case a user has more than one form view he or she can toggle between different display form views.