Follow Us: facebook twitter linkedin

Geoff Ables's Articles

5 Keys to Protecting Customer Data in CRM

Concerned about how to protect your customers and the data in your CRM system?  So are many business executives.  But you may find some surprises in the 5 keys to protecting one of your most valuable assets.

Orion / Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013: Success ... Accelerated

CRM 2013 Orion - Windows 8 AppMicrosoft has made a plethora of announcements about the upcoming release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 here at their Worldwide Partner Conference #WPC2013. This release will be available both Online and On-Premise and is expected to available in late 3rd Quarter or early 4th Quarter. This is a ground-breaking release bringing a new UI and functionality that is not available from any other major CRM system.  It will have a profound impact on the productivity of your sales, customer service and marketing teams. Let’s dig in a little deeper…

CRM Adoption Tips: Keep Your Lists Short and Manageable

CRM is Too Complex “Paralysis by analysis” means having so much data that it becomes difficult to take any action. And it is an issue that organizations frequently run into with getting users to adopt a customer relationship management solution. Users see long lists of activities, leads, opportunities, cases and accounts - and they don’t know where to begin to manage their day in the CRM system. The results can be devastating to the bottom line and often include: failing to work the best leads, opportunities slipping through the cracks, key customers being ignored and follow-up commitments aren't met. Ultimately, it may lead your team to abandon CRM and go back to more familiar ways to manage relationships.

Does Your CRM Need Some CPR?

imageCustomer relationship management (CRM) projects are particularly difficult to successfully deliver. In fact, research into CRM project failures over the last 10 years has consistently found a failure rate between 30% and 70%. A quick scan of the proposals that we have delivered to new clients for CRM projects over the past 12 months shows that fully 59% of new clients who approach us are dealing with a need to administer CPR on their CRM implementation. This is true across all CRM products (we have seen failed CRM projects across virtually every CRM solution on the market). In this article I’ll take a look at one of the most frequent causes of failure that we have encountered and will offer some guidance for avoiding this (or for recovering if you’re already there). I will also be doing a deeper dive into this topic during our CPR for CRM Webcast

Tracking and Approving Sales Commissions in SharePoint

As a company that provides customer relationship management (CRM) services, we’re big advocates of using your CRM system to track and approve sales commissions.  But sometimes it can be impractical to do this.  This is particularly true in complex organizations, small organizations or fast-growing organizations where you need the flexibility to quickly adapt your commission model to a changing situation in the marketplace.  Long-term, everyone should aim to handle commissions in their CRM system, but what do these organizations do in the short-term?

The good news is that SharePoint is an excellent tool for giving you all of the flexibility you need, while still having an efficient process for setting, tracking and distributing commissions.  Here’s how it can work for you.

Update the Default Associated View on a CRM 2011 Form

SNAGHTML164e6e7bOur Project Managers use Microsoft CRM to manage and track all of our projects – including the project plans, financials, time tracking and expenses.  When combined with SharePoint, our Agile Project Management solution has become a great way to carefully track all the details of our projects and communicate with our clients.  During a recent update to this solution, our Project Managers asked us if we could use a different view for the Time Tracking entity than the associated view.

After doing a bit of research we found that this is possible to some extent, but it is not well documented.  So here are some options for changing the associated view on a specific Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 form.

Cloud Computing and the Public Sector

Several days ago I wrote a post in response to the successful South Carolina cyber-attack (that earlier post can be found here).  Although the security benefits alone are enough to justify starting the move to the cloud, there are numerous other cost-saving and productivity improving reasons for state and local governments to consider making the move. 

How the Cloud May Have Prevented the Cyber-Security Storm in South Carolina

 

Cloud C5 largeEarlier this week it was announced than an international hacker had successfully made off with over 3 million social security numbers and almost 400,000 credit and debit card numbers from the state of South Carolina.  State and local governments have collectively spent billions of dollars trying to secure their data systems.  In spite of this investment, a hacker was able to identify and exploit a weak spot in their armor.  As public sector budgets are continuing to shrink, there is pressure to add more software applications to automate tasks and lower costs; increasing pressure to cut costs on security for these applications; and increasing pressure to extend the life of less secure and aging legacy computer applications.  The result is that our government agencies are at increasing risk of successful cyber-terrorism through a greater number of applications, lower security standards, and aging applications that should be replaced.

How could South Carolina and other state and local governments cost-effectively protect vital citizen, business and government records?  The answer comes from an emerging private-sector technology: cloud computing.

CRM 2011 for Outlook with Windows 8 and Outlook 2013

 The latest update rollup for the Dynamics CRM 2011 client fixes some compatibility issues with Outlook 2013.  However, we are finding some issues with users that have upgraded from Outlook 2010 to Outlook 2013.  There was a similar issue when Office 2010 was released.  At that time, we had a client who purchased new computers that had Office 2010 pre-installed, but their corporate standard was Office 2007.  They uninstalled Office 2007 and installed Office 2010 – and CRM for Outlook no longer worked.

Quick Tip: Finding the Activity Feed Solution

It has come to our attention that the Activity Feed solution is temporarily unavailable for download from the Microsoft Marketplace (the link for the download had been: http://pinpoint.microsoft.com/en-us/applications/microsoft-dynamics-crm-activity-feeds-12884926310).

Fortunately, we had downloaded a recent copy of this for a client deployment. If you need a copy of the file, please contact us (click here) and request the file and we will email it to you. To install it:

  1. Be sure you are running UR6 or later (we have tested it on UR8)
  2. Import the .cab file into CRM as a solution

It is provided without warranty, but we have installed it in a test environment and it works without an issue. If you become aware of the download becoming available again, please reply to this post so we can update it accordingly.

Thanks!

 

UPDATE 6/11/2012: The solution is now available from the Microsoft Marketplace again. You can now visit the above link to download it directly. Cheers!

Convergence Report 2: The Future of Dynamics CRM from #CONV12

CRM 2011 on Windows 8

I am back home from Convergence and still trying to digest the wealth of information that was shared!

Of course one of the most anticipated parts of the Microsoft Convergence 2012 event in Houston was learning about the future of Dynamics CRM … what new features and functions does Microsoft plan to add?  I must say that Microsoft did a better job than normal in providing a vision of what the future may hold.  The very short summary is that over the course of the next 12 months, you will see Dynamics CRM become more: anytime, any device, any business – than ever before.  In this article we’ll take a deeper look into exactly what that means and how to expect this to translate into changes in the platform over the next several releases.

Convergence Report 1: The Future is Collaborative at #CONV12

After concluding the first day at the Microsoft Convergence 2012 event here in Houston, TX, I can summarize my feelings in one sentence, “It is a great time to be alive and working on collaboration!”  Why do I say that?  Here are a few brief insights:

 

Get a CRM Bible at Convergence 2012!

This weekend I’ll be packing my bags and heading off to Houston, TX to attend Microsoft Convergence 2012 to experience all of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM goodness I can get.  I’ll plan to publish at least a couple of blogs while I’m there on whatever news or tips I can pick up.  Feel free to leave a comment here if you’d like to request any specific topics Are you planning to attend?   Great!  Ping me and let’s plan to chat.  It would be great to network with individ ...

How to Avoid Orphan Contacts in Dynamics CRM 2011

Create as Contact - Outlook to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011Have you finally gotten users to start creating contacts in CRM only to find out that they are often forgetting to associate them with an account?  For B2B organizations, this can become a significant data quality issue.  Most B2B organizations are business centered rather than contact centered.  What this means is that users tend to use the account entity in CRM to search for information.  So if a contact is not associated with an account, then users are not nearly as likely to find it.  This problem is exacerbated by Outlook integration features, such as the ability create a new contact directly from an email address.  In this blog, I’ll offer a couple of practical solutions to aid you with creating higher quality data by ensuring that the Parent Customer field is always populated on contact forms.

Game-Changing Dashboards Combining SharePoint and CRM

 

SharePoint 2010 and CRM 2011 Dashboards on a Large Monitor

SharePoint has had excellent dashboard presentation capabilities for a long time now.  Dynamics CRM formally rolled out dashboard reporting with CRM 2011 (although using SharePoint and/or SSRS enabled dashboard reporting with previous versions of CRM).  Now that this functionality is getting embraced and adopted by many organizations, how can it best be leveraged to change the game by truly accelerating performance?  Simple.  Combine the best of Microsoft SharePoint, Dynamics CRM 2011 and TV or large monitors placed in public areas within your business.  Here’s how we’ve done it at C5 Insight.

CRM 2011 Activity Feeds: Gaining User Adoption

CRM 2011 Dashboard with Activity FeedsActivity feeds are a great new feature of CRM 2011.  But, as compelling as they are, there is a problem.  Getting users to adopt them can be daunting.  Some users are not yet comfortable with social networking.  Others don't want to have to go to yet another place to track and record information.  Still others just have a hard time establishing new habits and work patterns.  

But starting to get value out of activity feeds doesn't have to be difficult.  This article outlines 3 practical ways that we have been working with activity feeds to boost the value of them, and the adoption of them by users.  Read on for more - including a free solution to expand how activity feeds are used in your organization.

Quick Tip: Track Meetings and Calls in CRM Without Typing

A Happy Salesperson Using Dynamics CRMDo you see the person in the picture to the left?  She is a salesperson.  Why is she so happy?  Because she is using her CRM system right now, while she’s talking on the phone.  And it’s taking her less time than ever before.  And her manager is getting the reports that he wants at the same time!  And she gets her work done in CRM when she would otherwise have “down time”?  How is all this possible you ask?  Read on …

We frequently hear complaints from sales users that they don’t like having to take the time to track meetings and phone calls in their CRM system.  Many sales people feel that this just takes away from the time that they can spend in conversations with prospective customers.  While it is critically important that sales people are disciplined about tracking relevant activities in CRM, there are some helpful shortcuts available to save some time – or to make use of “down time” while driving or waiting for a meeting.

Quick Tip: Use CRM Email Templates Without Tracking in CRM

CRM Email Template non-CRM EmailE-mail templates are a great feature available in Dynamics CRM.  When Microsoft introduced the ability to access them directly from within Outlook in CRM 2011, it became even more efficient to quickly grab a template for any outgoing email.  In order to use an email template, you first have to track the email in CRM.  So the process works something like this: create an Outlook email | click the Track in CRM or Set Regarding button | select a template | send the email.

Adding a Twitter Feed to CRM Leads

Twitter Feed on CRM Form

When reviewing a lead, account or contact prior to a sales call, it is always helpful to have as much context about a company prior to making the call.  Putting a Twitter feed on the CRM record for a lead can put this information in a place where it is easy for a sales person to quickly see it.  By passing in the name of the company dynamically, the feed can show relevant information about the specific company.

Twitter makes it pretty easy to generate the “base” code for integrating with CRM (or any website) as a widget.  You can find their tools for generating widgets here.  Even if you use my code, below, as a starting point, you’ll likely find this link helpful as you start to fine-tune your code a bit.

Considerations for a Dynamics CRM 2011 AutoGroupManagementOff Installation

The installation of Dynamics CRM 2011 in tightly controlled multi-domain Active Directory environments can be a real challenge. Dynamics CRM’s tight integration with Active Directory (AD) is a double-edge sword: having built-in Kerberos single-sign on (SSO) for end-users is a big win for organizations using the Microsoft AD for desktop authentication, but the extraordinary permissions required by the CRM Installation Wizard to setup the directory groups and create SQL databases can be difficult to collect in an enterprise-class environment.

CRM 2011 and Outlook: 5 Functions Everybody Should Use

The CRM 2011 Pane in the Outlook 2010 Ribbon MenuThis is the third in a three part series I’ve been writing on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and Microsoft Outlook integration.  In the first two blogs, we reviewed the pros and cons of using CRM 2011 for Outlook and CRM 2011 for the Web.  In this article, we will take a look at CRM 2011 and Outlook functionality that everyone in your organization should use (regardless of whether they are using CRM 2011 for Outlook or not).  This integration functionality is easy for users to understand, saves a lot of time, and enables your organization to better track interactions with customers and other stakeholders.

For the previous two articles in this series see:

Activity Feeds, CRM 2011 Online and Windows Phone

Activity Feeds are a great new social feature in CRM 2011 that was made available with the November 2011 update.  Many organizations using CRM 2011 have begun to gain tremendous benefit by enabling Activity Feeds and training their users on how to take advantage of them.  Not as many, however, have started to use the Activity Feeds app for their Windows Phones yet.  This app has some great features, but it also takes a few tricks to get it working with CRM 2011.  This post will focus on the specifics of using Activity Feeds on a Windows Phone – and fixing a known bug with CRM 2011 Online and Activity Feeds on your Windows Phone.

4 Reasons to Use the Microsoft CRM 2011 Web Client

Microsoft CRM 2011 for Outlook

Microsoft CRM 2011 Web ClientThis is the second in a 3 part posting about accessing CRM within Outlook versus from the web.  In the first post in this series, I outlined some of the reasons why businesses should consider training their users in CRM for Outlook.  Given this powerful functionality, why would any business person prefer to use the web version of CRM (also called the “Web Client”)?  Well, as it turns out, there are some excellent reasons for doing just that.  Many of our clients (and many of our internal users of CRM) prefer to use the Web Client for various reasons.  In this article, we will explore the top reasons for choosing the Web Client over Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Outlook.

 

Quick Tip: Deactivating and Archiving CRM E-Mail Templates

CRM 2011 Email TemplatesDo you have old email, templates in CRM that you don’t use anymore?  You want to get rid of them because they’re cluttering up the views of users.  But you don’t want to get rid of them because you might want to use them again some day (or, like me, you’re just a packrat).  Unlike other record types, these don’t include the ability to deactivate the individual template records.  So what’s a CRM power user to do?

 

CRM and Outlook: 6 Reasons to Use CRM for Outlook

Should you use the web version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM or should you use the Outlook client?This is the first of a 3 part series of blogs that I’m writing on Microsoft CRM and Outlook.

With CRM 2011, Microsoft introduced significant new enhancements in how CRM works with Outlook.  These changes also introduced some differences in how the Outlook and Web versions of CRM work.  In previous versions, if you trained users on one version, they had all they needed to know in order to use either version.  Businesses now need to make an important decision on which version of CRM they will initially train their users on.  Users, too, need to decide which version of CRM they are going to use on a day-to-day basis.  This series of blog entries will examine the pros of using CRM for Outlook, then the benefits of CRM for the Web and will conclude with the CRM and Outlook functionality that you should use regardless of which version of CRM that you’re using.

This first article will focus on the 6 reasons why you should consider using CRM for Outlook as the primary way that you use the CRM application.  Dynamics CRM has always had better Outlook integration than any other CRM system on the market (no surprise there).  With all of the new features and Outlook integration that Microsoft has introduced in CRM 2011, the reasons for using CRM for Outlook are stronger than ever.

Blog Topics

1
Image

CPR for CRM Study

The complementary paper includes over 12 years of research, recent survey results, and CRM turnaround success stories.

2
Image

SharePoint Readiness Assessment

This 60-second assessment is designed to evaluate your organization's collaboration readiness.

3
Image

CRM Self Assessment

Learn how you rank compared to organizations typically in years 1 to 5 of implementation - and which areas to focus on to improve.

4
Image

SharePoint Feedback Solution

This is a sandbox solution which can be activated per site collection to allow you to easily collect feedback from users into a custom Feedback list.

9
Image

SharePoint Upgrade Checklist

Whether you are upgrading to SharePoint Online, 2010, 2013 or the latest 2016, this checklist contains everything you need to know for a successful transition.