Browsing articles in "Blog"

Dynamics CRM: Considerations when customising address fields

The perceived issue on customising address fields and how to store addresses in computer systems always fascinated me. Not because of any apparent complexity one might believe that exists when handling addresses, but mostly because of people’s undeserved anxiety around the subject. And in Dynamics CRM it is no different.

The issue tends to surround the myth that countries and regions with different subdivisions would require complex requirements for address handling. I came across a couple of clients who believe that they require such a complex solution that their Dynamics CRM deployments almost came onto a halt because of such hurdle. I the end, the solution relies not on complex customisation, but on standards compliance, a little bit of compromising, but most importantly: common sense.

Please note that while this post relates to address fields in Dynamics CRM perspective, the data management considerations presented here should be taken into account regardless of the applications. Read more >>

Dynamics CRM 2011: Diving into the sales pipeline – Part 3

In my previous post of this series we discussed how to apply our previously defined sales pipeline through the customisation of the Opportunity entity form. We went through the design of the Opportunity form, which included the addition of fields built-in fields which aren’t part of the default form, and we added some scripts for the calculation of our probability matrix.

Important Update: This article series has been written before the release of Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 12 (also known as Polaris). You might continue to read the articles in this series, but it is strongly recommended that you read this addendum before performing any customisations suggested in the series.

In this final post we will go through the creation of some workflows that will be part of our sales pipeline process.


Dynamics CRM 2011: Diving into the sales pipeline – Part 2

In my previous post of this series, we discussed some fundamental concepts of the sales pipeline and how Dynamics CRM handles the sales process. While considering the requirements of ACME (a fictitious company), we defined the stages of their sales pipeline, and started to outline the functional specification of the opportunity entity, including the elaboration of an opportunity probability matrix.

In this post we will discuss how to apply what have been defined so far by covering the customisation of the Opportunity entity form, including some scripting.


Steve Jobs: 1955-2011

I started using Windows 3.0 at the age of 12 and even though I worked with a lot of different systems, from Linux and OS/2 to BSD (and a few times, Apple OSes), I have pretty much solidified my profession career with Microsoft products.

I saw Jobs solely as a difficult man who mistreated his employees, and I never understood his value to the market. That is, until I did my Masters Degree and I was introduced to the concept of industry paradigms.

Regardless of any feeling of rivalry one can feel on “Apple Vs Windows” subject, Steve Jobs was undeniably a visionary and a paradigm pioneer who challenged concepts and developed new markets and trends. Before the iPod, the digital music players were all but a joke, and the iPad succeeded to launch the tablet industry where others previously failed.

The world will be less innovative without him. My sympathies to Apple Inc, his family and friends.

There is no such thing as “grey mail”

I just read today at the Windows Team Blog that Hotmail declares war on graymail. However, I assert that there is not such thing as “gray mail”.

It doesn’t matter if it is an email offering me dodgy Rolex replicas or dubious pharmaceuticals, or if it is a newsletter from a major and respectable institution. Any speculative email I receive that I haven’t explicitly subscribed to, is to be considered SPAM. Enough said.

Office colour scheme: How to make your data look pretty

When creating charts, I often find myself having to meddle with colours. This is particularly the case when I am creating complex charts for Dynamics CRM, or some KPI in Excel to be included in a SharePoint dashboard. If you want your dashboards, reports and charts to look appealing, you must know how to work with colours.

However the right colour combination goes beyond simple aesthetics; it helps convey the correct message. Colour can be used to identify the natural order of values, indicate figures that required immediate attention, and help differentiate neighbouring elements.

To find the correct colour combination can be a tedious choir. Particularly when you just want to get it over with. My trick is to use the default Microsoft Office colour theme as a reference. In order to make this task easier, I created a reference chart with listing the colours along with both RBG (red/blue/green) and hexadecimal values.


Dynamics CRM: Creating a radar chart

From all of the new features in Dynamics CRM 2011, the one that got me thrilled the most is charts. Dynamics CRM comes with a selection of charts for opportunities, leads, accounts and so on. It also allows users to create five different chart types straight from the Dynamics CRM interface: Column, Bar, Line, Pie and Funnel.

However, there is more to charts than it meets the eye. The charts functionality in Dynamics CRM leverages the ASP.NET chart controls, which means that we have at our disposal over 20 different chart types we could use. I decided to put the theory into practice and I created my very first radar chart for Dynamics CRM: Deals Won vs. Deals Lost by Territory. Read more >>

Dynamics CRM: The importance of the Lead entity

One issue I often come across with Dynamics CRM customisations is clients being puzzled about the Leads entity. I do have a share of clients that genuinely have no need for the Lead entity, but you’ll be surprised how many people turn a blind eye to Leads based purely on misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions. Then when we get to explain the real use of the Lead entity they would often go “oh, wait. We do want that!” So I decided to write this post about why I find Leads to be of such importance in Dynamics CRM. Read more >>

Windows 8 and Metro: Let’s not get carried away

When I was about 8 years old, I saw in an art gallery a painting that got stuck in my memory forever. The canvas had an textured, icy grey background colour. Besides that it had only two thin lines of paint crossing each other forming an “X”. One of those lines was painted in a soothing lilac tone, starting half-way to the bottom left of the canvas and going on a tangent towards the top-right corner. The other line was a striking tone of pink, which started with a gentle stroke, increasing in contrast as it went on a tangent towards the top-left corner.

Then I checked the price of that piece of work. The next thing I remember was my mother reprehending me for cursing out loud in a public place. This story came to my mind today as I was installing Windows 8, and reflects what I think of the whole hype around the Metro interface. Read more >>

Dynamics CRM 2011: Diving into the sales pipeline – Part 1

No matter how orthodox and customisation-free you want your Dynamics CRM implementation to be, there is always one aspect of Dynamics CRM that must be customised: The Sales Pipeline. Such customisation is required if you want the default sales pipeline to work properly, as well the sales pipeline report.

The issue at hand is, how can we set-up a functional sales pipeline with charts and reports, yet keeping Dynamics CRM as close as possible to its out-of-the-box functionality? Which fields should we use and how should we design our workflows?

Because there’s so much to discuss here, I’m going to break this up into multiple parts. And in this first part of the series, I’d like to address the fundamental concepts of the sales pipeline and introduce some key points on how to conduct a requirement assessment.