Friday, April 25, 2008

Dynamic Methods Convergence 2008

Wednesday we had a great event in the Irvine Microsoft office, Dynamic Methods Convergence 2008. We found that a fair number of our clients were interested in going to Convergence but were unable to take a full week off to attend or couldn't justify the trip for any period of time, but all were very interested in seeing what Microsoft had to present and see the new features and road maps for the products that they owned and worked with everyday. So, this year we decided to try something new and see what our clients thought.

Dynamic Methods Convergence 2008 was our solution to that problem. We had a day where we presented to our clients and potential customers what Microsoft had to say about Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics GP as well as some break out sessions where we could show/train on some of the new features of the latest software and answer any questions people had about, well, anything.

Our thanks goes out to all who attended. In total we had 36 attendees (not bad for our first event like this) that were either existsing clients or potential customers, so a special thanks goes to each of them for taking a day out of their work week to join us at this event. A special thanks goes to all of our presenters/speakers from Microsoft; Lisa Hopkins, Randy Pack and Claire Saddington. We also had Gene Kaplan from Performance Operations (another Microsoft Partner) do one of our break out sessions for us on Warehouse management, so our thanks to Gene as well.

We also had a fantastic guest speaker, Peter Vidmar, the 1984 US Men's Gymnastics Team Captain and Olympic Gold Medalist start us off with "Risk, Originality & Virtuosity". Here is a picture of one of our CRM consultants (Nate Goodrich with Peter at the event):

In the afternoon we had break out sessions covering:

Microsoft Dynamics GP
GP 10.0 Overview and Enhancements
Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) and Dynamics GP
Warehouse Management System (WMS)
FRx Tips and Tricks

Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Working with Microsoft Outlook and Word
Working with Microsoft Excel and Report Wizard
Data Management with Duplicates and Import Tools

We got some great feedback from all of our attendees and we will do our best to improve where fell short next time around. The suggestion I think we received the most was to have more and longer break out sessions. We thought an hour would be just enough to not lose people's attention but apparently it was only just enough to wet their appetites. So, for next Dynamic Methods Convergence we expect to make changes to meet those requests from our attendees.

All in all, especially as it was the first year we've put this on, we felt it was a huge success. Jeff Arbuckle, though not a presenter, was in attendance and commented on how impressed he was to see the high percentage turn out of all who registered for the event. As most events go, you get people who register but don't show up. We had a very high percentage of registrants show up which from our point of view shows the loyalty of our customers as well as the great relationships that have been built between our consultants and our clients. And really at the end of the day, that's what my job is all about, making sure my customers are successful and happy.

So, once again, thanks to all who presented, prepared, or even just showed up for making Dynamic Methods Convergence 2008 a huge success.

David Fronk
Dynamic Methods Inc.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Many to Many Relationships

With the ability to create Many to Many (MtoM as I will reference them in this post) in CRM 4.0 people are so excited to use it they sometimes use it just to use it, even when it's not necessary or it's the wrong type of MtoM. Let me clarify.

Out of the box MtoM relationship just link one record to another. Nothing more. There is no additional data that gets tracked, only a link. This type of relationship is fantastic for things like seeing Associations that a Contact is affiliated with. You don't need to know when the affiliation started or anything else, just that the Contact is affiliated with that Association. NOTE: Association would be a custom object in a given CRM system.

However, the moment someone says that data needs to be tracked in that relationship you should NOT use the out of the box MtoM relationship. For example, Seminars, Events or Tradeshows are a great example of this. A Seminar (custom object) would contain data about the date and location of the event. However, the most important thing to track from a Seminar is who attended. This typically links to the Contact object. With the out of the box relationship you won't know if the person actually attended or not. If you enter the attendees after the fact, then sure that would work. But most of the implementations that I've done want to track who has registered and who actually attended. This way they can see how effective their registration process is and how effective they are at winning a deal when someone actually attends. This scenario requires what is typically referred to as a "linker" table. Seminar links to Seminar Attendee, which links to Contact. The Seminar Attendee is the link to both and it has a look up to both Seminar and Contact. It's actually a Mto1 relationship with a 1toM...if that makes any sense to anyone else. A Seminar will have many attendees, but a given attendee can only attend one seminar. An attendee can only be one person (Contact) but a Contact can attend multiple events.

Both options are great solutions to any given situation just be wary to use something new just because it's there. Just because the other method is older doesn't mean it's not as functional. The capabilities are there, let's just make sure our users get the systems setup correctly.

Good luck out there,

David Fronk
Dynamic Methods Inc.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Cannot "Track in CRM" Insufficient Privileges

I have been a part of over 10 upgrade or fresh installs of MSCRM 4.0 and every so often I get a complaint from the client that they cannot promote items from Outlook to CRM because they are told they do not have sufficient privileges to do so. After checking the security role everything looks good but still they cannot promote. I have even modified the role such that it has full access to EVERYTHING and still users with that role cannot promote. However, the system administrator can promote. So, the next step I tried was to create a copy of the system administrator role and have it replace the non-working role. The users who have the copy of the role as thier role, with no privileges modified, can now promote items from Outlook to CRM. I then tried removing the privileges such that they macthed the original role. Now the users could promote with not problem. All privileges were the same the last time through, so what was the difference? The only difference was that the second role was a copy of the System Administrator role.

I guess this means that there is some hidden attribute or something that CRM checks for that none of the other roles have (maybe the system customizer role).

The good news is that I haven't seen this issue with new installs of CRM 4.0, only in upgrades from 3.0 to 4.0. And in all honesty I've seen this issue in probably 20-30% of the upgrades I've been a part of. Not a ton but enough to cause a headache if you don't know the answer.

Good luck out there!

David Fronk
Dynamic Methods Inc.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Word Mail Merge - Part 2: Getting Line items to work the way you want them to

I have been getting a lot of comments/question on how to set up a custom Word Mail Merge Quote so that the line items appear on one page and look nice and professional so that clients (or your own organization) can send out respectable Quotes (or whatever entity you may be running the merge from).

I have tried to explain it but unless you see the code and know how crazy coding in Word can be (at least it seems kind of crazy to me), explaining it in words doesn't do it justice.

So I have tried to do the next best thing and post a screenshot of the code I wrote for the Word Mail Merge Quote that I posted about previously. Please note that I have moved some of the fields around but that was only to help keep everything on one page so that it was easier to see in this screenshot. Also, I made the top table visible instead of hiding all of the table lines so that you can see how the nice straight formatting was accomplished.

I realize that you cannot read anything from the screenshot on the webpage. Please be sure to right click the image and do a Save As onto you desktop. It will look much better.

I hope this helps answer some of the questions I have not been able to fully answer.

Take note that the table with the fields from the quote line items is inside an IF statement. That IF statement is the key to keeping your line items together.
The last bit of advice I can give is to download the out of the box Mail Merge Quote template and reverse engineer it yourself. Microsoft puts those templates up there not just to show the capabilities or give you a quote that you'll never use, but to see how they did it so you can reproduce it. It doesn't help Microsoft in the least to hold onto that code and not let people figure out how to do what they did. So, check it out and learn all you can from it.

Happy Merging!

David Fronk
Dynamic Methods Inc.