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Managing Your Project Reports

Managing Your Project Reports

Taking the proper steps to manage your project reporting

WHAT SHOULD BE MEASURED?

Measuring your project can mean more than simply measuring tasks against a timeline. You can also measure how well you are meeting project objectives, costs, scope changes, and risks.

Although each of the items mentioned are important in their own right, they may or may not make it in to your regular project reporting. Most companies will opt for a simple report showing budget, timeline, and risks.

SO, HOW BIG SHOULD THE REPORT BE?

For most projects, a one-page report is ideal. If someone wants further details, they can always drill further into other more detailed reports.

Toyota introduced their one-page project management report that everyone talks about. They called their report the A4 report. It was called the A4 report because it was produced on one piece of A4 paper. In North America, we would use a standard letter sized piece of paper (8.5” X 11”) in place of A4 paper.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I PRODUCE PROJECT REPORTS?

Of course, the size of your project would dictate how often your reports should be produced. For most software projects, a weekly report is the recommended standard. This provides resources enough time to get their weekly time-sheets in and using a Project Manager once a week to do this ties to the standard 20% utilization rate that is expected of them.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT NUMBER?

The “estimate to complete” (ETC) number is most likely your most important number. You will want to take your “actual time spent” number, add your “estimate to complete” number, and arrive at your “estimate at completion” (EAC) number to see if you are going to trend over or under against the original budget (i.e., estimate).

Here is an example of that calculation:

Happy Reporting!

Purely CRM

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Lunch n' Learn!

Having a great Lunch n' Learn here at the office, great way to kick off the weekend!

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What Makes a Project Successful?

What Makes a Project Successful?

The key elements to a successful project

Get to know your client

Completing a project does not only include meeting deadlines and completing tasks. Knowing your client and taking the time to fully understand their wants and needs can allow you to incorporate more elements that make that product specific to the company. In taking the time to understand them, it strengthens the connection between you and your client, creating a more well-rounded product. 

All hands on deck

Essential for an efficient project, the team must work like a well-oiled machine. In working together to achieve the project’s goals, it ensures that all ideas and opinions are heard, optimizing your team’s productivity and problem-solving abilities. With deadlines fast approaching, it will be guaranteed that your team will always be on time. 

Know your product

As the creator, you have to know all the ins and outs of your product. Without thorough knowledge, your product will not meet your client’s expectations, much less your own. To maximize efficiency, that knowledge is key. Along the way, your client may have different requests and expectations, or problems may arise. Knowing your product will let you give better or alternate solutions to what your customer is asking for, allowing you to give the best product that you can within the scope of your client.

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Why moving Microsoft Dynamics into the Cloud+Enterprise division makes perfect sense

Why moving Microsoft Dynamics into the Cloud+Enterprise division makes perfect sense

James Staten on Microsoft moving Dynamics under Cloud+Enterprise:

Last week our CEO Satya Nadella announced a reorganization of our engineering groups that combined our client hardware and Windows teams, and moved Dynamics, our business process application group, into the cloud and enterprise division (C&E). The hardware and software move made clear sense in light of similar structures at Apple and Google. The Dynamics move to C&E may not be as clear and in fact I’ve received several questions from you, our clients about this. Moving Dynamics into Cloud + Enterprise not only represents Dynamics coming of age with solid growth and strong wave of innovate solutions, but there is also a clear logic here that aligns well with the strategies of each division as well as broader trends in enterprise applications.
— http://blogs.technet.com/b/server-cloud/archive/2015/06/25/why-moving-microsoft-dynamics-into-the-cloud-enterprise-division-makes-perfect-sense.aspx?linkId=15298695

The CIO's Must Have CRM Dashboard

The CIO's Must Have CRM Dashboard

Don't Miss Critical IT Operations Info

Purpose Of A Dashboard

The purpose of a dashboard in IT is to typically provide a one-pager on the state of things, similar to your dashboard on your car.  On your car you can quickly see the gas, the temperature, and the speed.  Does it show everything about your car, like tire pressure and brake fluid levels?  Most likely not, but it may show them if they become necessary to know.  The dashboard is kept to a clean and simple "must-know" information, unless some other flag should pop up as critical.

Quick Must-Know Facts

So, if you are the CIO of a company what would the "must-know" quick facts that you would require on your dashboard?  Of course, the answer here will vary from CIO to CIO; but, there should be some general consensus on what the key items are.  If I were to throw out some quick key items that I would want on my dashboard if I was a CIO there would be four items.

The first item would knowledge of the network and WIFI status.  Is the network up and the WIFI up across my office(s)?  Are the speeds OK on those networks.  The second item I would want to know are how many critical help desk tickets do we have in the system and what the top three critical items are.  The third item would be what staff do I have on-hand today, who is off, and any sub-contractors that have contracts coming up for renewal.  The fourth, and final item, that I would want to know is if I have any software licenses coming up for renewal.

Future Direction

CRM has the ability to provide a dashboard that would meet all the items listed in the previous section of this blog article with some configuration, but what is the future direction of dashboards?  The first thing I would like to see in CRM dashboards is better use of graphics.  Not simply graphs, but graphics similar to what you would find in a car dashboard like an oil can picture or a gas tank image.  The other direction that dashboards should offer is a quick method to flip between various dashboards.  Dashboard generally exist for each role or grouping of job functions within an organization.  The drop-down list view of various dashboards is not intuitive enough or a quick enough method to flip between dashboards.  The final thought is that I would like dashboards that can hide and show dashboard elements based on some sort of criteria.  For example, the oil can only shows on your car dash if their is low oil in your vehicle.  An example of that in CRM might be only showing upcoming software licenses if they are coming up for renewal, otherwise it should completely hide any mention of software licenses on the dashboard.

Is your dashboard letting you manage effectively?

purelycrm.com

Will CRM Go Away?

Will CRM Go Away?

Making Technology Fade Into The Background

My iPad Love Affair

I knew I was in love with my iPad when it won me away from my TV set as a form of decompressing in the evenings.  I was able to sit on the sofa and just flip thru news on the iPad as effortlessly as looking at a magazine.  I didn't have to hold a laptop on my lap or look at a screen that was not the idealized size for me.  I could get the latest news in both text and video format.  And, the whole iPad seemed to fade away and I could relax and be casually entertained.

The Objectives Of Technology

When I realized that my iPad had somehow made technology fade into the background, I came to a realization on where I felt technology should go; and, my thoughts on where technology should go were not only about the living room but also about the office.  What I wanted to see achieved was making technology in the business place also fade into the background.  Technology in the business place, for me, is all about increasing the efficiencies which result in a particular business need or objective being met.  The point of using technology to achieve the result is not about the technology, but about the end objective.  Too, too often I see companies sucked into technology for technology's sake as opposed to focusing on achieving streamlined business processes.

Fading Technology, and your CRM, Into The Background

Before you can make your technology fade into the background in your office, just like the iPad fades into the background in your living room, you need to look at getting your business processes down pact.  And when I mean getting your business processes down pact, I also mean understanding why you perform certain business processes in the first place.  I often see companies make business processes more efficient where the business processes itself is not necessary if you look at the underlying reason the process is being performed.  Step one is always to look at why the business process is being conducted.  The second step is to flow out the optimal business process to achieve that objective.  And the third step is to document the current business processes and determine the gap between them and the newly defined process.  The point at which CRM comes into the mix is always around structured data that needs to be captured that does not naturally fall into any other systems that may be in place (e.g., the accounting system).  If this can be achieved, you will slowly see the CRM system fade into the background as the workers focus on doing what they were hired to achieve in the first place: doing their job!

Are you focusing on making your CRM fade into the background?

purelycrm.com

Two Must Know Things About CRM Today

Two Must Know Things About CRM Today

Is the CRM world about to change?

Are These Two CRM News Items Connected?

The first news item is Microsoft's goal of getting to $20 billion in cloud revenue by 2018.  That would imply that Microsoft will triple its' cloud revenue in the next three years.  In 2014 Microsoft had cloud revenue of $5.5 billion.  Based on Microsoft's latest quarterly earnings report, they are on track to have cloud revenues of $6.3 billion in 2015.  So, how are they going to get to $20 billion in three years with the current rate of growth?

The second news item is that Salesforce has hired financial advisors to help it because they were approached by a potential acquirer.  It is unlikely that Salesforce would hire the financial advisors if they were not truly approached to be acquired.  What is not known though is who approached them.

Who Are The Potential Suitors?

There are only a handful of companies who could potentially acquire a Salesforce company as they are currently worth $47 billion.  Those suitors most likely would be Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, Google, and IBM.

I am going to eliminate Google and IBM from this mix.  Google is, essentially, an advertising company and so I think it is a long shot that they would want to get into the CRM business.  IBM would have to get heavy financing to make this deal happen as they only have $8.8 billion in cash on hand.

SAP would also have to take on heavy debt if they wanted to acquire Salesforce.  SAP only has $5 billion of cash on hand and would have to finance the rest of the acquisition.

This leaves Microsoft and Oracle as contenders in this acquisition.  Microsoft has $95.4 billion in cash on hand and Oracle has $13.7 billion in cash on hand and another $30 billion in marketable securities.

What Happens To Microsoft Dynamics CRM If Salesforce Is Bought?

There are three possible scenarios that could play out if Microsoft would acquire Salesforce.  The first scenario is that nothing drastic happens.  Salesforce would be branded as a Microsoft product and both the Dynamics CRM product and Salesforce product would continue to coexist in the marketplace.  This is not unforeseeable as Microsoft has GP and NAV accounting products and has not combined them yet.  In fact, in the short run, this is the most likely scenario.

Another possible scenario is that Microsoft phases out Salesforce and integrates its' good components into the Dynamics CRM product.  If this were to happen, it would have to happen over a long period of time because this would be no trivial task.

And the final possible scenario would be that Dynamics CRM would be slowly wound down and the Salesforce product would take over.  Again, it would take time for this to happen if this scenario were to play out.  And, Microsoft would most likely create some sort of transition plan for its' existing Dynamics CRM customers if this were to happen.

I want to leave you with these thoughts and questions:  Is Microsoft the mystery potential acquirer?  Does Microsoft need this acquisition to hit its' target cloud revenue goals?  Is this simply a rumour or strategy on the part of the potential buyer to tie up potentially large pipeline deals for Salesforce because the potential acquisition makes their buyers hesitate?

What are your thoughts?  How would this acquisition impact you?

purelycrm.com

The Risk With CRM Resources

The Risk With CRM Resources

What makes a good CRM Consultant?

The Right Stuff

When I was 13 years only I remember watching the 1983 movie “The Right Stuff”.  The movie was about the “space race” and the team of pilots/astronauts who eventually landed on the moon.  I remember thinking what makes these people special other than the obvious reasons.  What makes this particular group of people have the right stuff?  After all there were thousands of qualified people to choose from.    Was it there superior intellect, the superior athletic ability, stamina, or is it something else that is difficult to quantify?    History tells us that these people were handpicked to achieve a monumental task.  They were all experts in their fields and excelled and what they did.   They had an extraordinary task to accomplish under “extraordinary” circumstances and they succeeded but sometime as great risk and loss.

The Wrong Stuff

Later in life I actually became a commercial pilot and during my flight training I watched an educational movie called, strangely enough, “The Wrong Stuff”.  It was a documentary whose aim was to point out the breakdown in the cockpit during stressful circumstances such as in-flight emergencies.  There were many different responses by flight crew depending on their background, training, and individual personalities.  Some ex-military fighter pilots tended to over control the cockpit which caused them to stop delegating important tasks to other crew members.  Some civilian pilots had a very hierarchical approach to the cockpit as well.  The captain was considered the “boss” and his judgement was seen as the last word and not to be questioned by the other crew members.  There are many cases when the co-pilot or flight engineer sat idly while the captain crashed the plane.  It seems very counter intuitive that the same people who could fly a space craft to the moon could be a detriment in a commercial airliner cockpit, but you have to understand….these are two different approaches to a similar task and therefore require different skill sets.  A flight to the moon is a risky business while flying a commercial airliner is supposed to be routine.  The differentiator may seem small but in reality it is very big.  Today’s commercial airline pilot will fly the same plane daily and is expected to keep everything within very strict limits at all times.  The crew mitigates the risk to passengers, themselves, and the airplane.  They typically have years of experience which helps them to foresee any potential problem and act long before something terrible happens.  So the real difference between a commercial airline pilot of today and a NASA test pilot is the risk tolerance.  This says nothing about the underlying capabilities of each group.  Just the approach to the task.

CRM — Crew Resource Management?

In order to correct these problems the aviation industry implemented a new training program known, coincidently, as CRM (Crew Resource Management).  The intent was to break down the hierarchal structure in the cockpit and have crews work together as a team instead of as individuals.  CRM is now a standard in the aviation industry and you’ll want to bet the captain on the next flight you take has had lots of training in it.

CRM vs CRM — Parallels

As a Microsoft CRM consultant I see a lot of parallels between these two worlds.   I have worked with many different consultants on a variety of different project over the years.  Every consultant I’ve worked with has had different approaches to implementing CRM.  Some approaches were slightly different and some radically different.  Even when skill and experience are equivalent the approach is sometimes the factor that indicates to me whether they have the “Right Stuff”.   

Understanding Where You Are Going

For Purely CRM, the “Right Stuff” is a consultant who not only takes the time to understand the client’s requirements and processes but also ensures that they stay within budget and scope while mitigating risks.  This usually starts by having a clear picture of where we are going, setting expectations, confirming them with the client and working to meet the objective.

It’s a great thing to know a lot about CRM, but if you attempt to fly the client to the moon when they only needed to go to “New York” then you are not doing a good job as a consultant.   If the client needs to go to “New York”, then the right approach is to carefully plan the route, check the weather, do a preflight inspection, make sure we have enough fuel, and set off to our destination.  While en-route we may need to make slight course corrections but we know exactly where were going and how were are going to get there.

This is truly the difference between a CRM consultant with the “Right Stuff” and a test pilot.

A Team Of CRM Experts Is Better Than One

A Team Of CRM Experts Is Better Than One

Sole Contractors Know This -- Having Good Backup Is Key!

Freedom In Flying Solo

When I first started contracting some nine years ago, there was this great sense of liberation in being solo.  I felt like a mercenary who showed up with is own shield and sword, a laptop and my intellect, to fight for hire.  I no longer cared about my "title" or about "promotions".  The sense of freedom, even if it was just in my head, was extremely liberating.

Sometimes We Can't Do It All

There were a few projects I had, though, were I wished I had the old support network I had when I was back with Pivotal.  Back in those days I could have walked over to the Support Team to ask questions or call on the Technical Writing Team to point me to an exact location in the documentation to help me; but, as a sole contractor those days were gone.  Along with all that freedom I loved was also this need to be completely self reliant.

Where Is My Go To Expert Nowadays?

Things have sure changed now that I am a partner in a firm of individuals focused on the same skill sets.  Although I would consider myself an expert in CRM, I am now with a team of experts.  If something is not known to me about Microsoft Dynamics CRM, I can get an answer to my question in minutes now.  And although I still consider myself pretty self-reliant, the knowledge that I have these other experts just a call away gives me a sense of empowerment that I have not felt in long time.

Do you have a network of experts that you can call on for help?

purelycrm.com

Don't Miss Out On Better Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Features

Don't Miss Out On Better Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Features

Why Upgrade To Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015?  It's all about the user experience (UX) !

The Original Promise

I started implementing CRM software 17 years ago.  I remember the promise back then was that the implementation of a CRM would transform you company overnight.  Your entire enterprise would switch from loosely defined processes (typically in the form of spreadsheets, memos and scattered documents laying around in shared folders or fling cabinets) to what was supposed to be a well-oiled machine using software to solve all your complex and time consuming business problems.    Companies courageous enough to take the leap were expecting a fast transformation.  All that was required was an investment in CRM software and “presto”.  Or so the promise was…..

Where's The Great User Experience (UX) ?

I’ll have to admit, it was a compelling argument and I, like many others, “bought in” hard.    The real problem was that the software manufacturers, consultants, and the companies implementing the CRM still had a lot of maturing to do.   With end users there was typically unrealistic expectation of the products.  Very often the CRM consultants implementing the solution didn’t’ do a good job of capturing real business requirements, tying them to the process and mapping them to the capabilities within the platforms.  To make matters worse the applications of the day were very much focused on features instead of user experience (UX).  The end result was often less than ideal (or even nonexistent) user adoption.

Well things have changed a lot over the past few year....We believe that Microsoft CRM has hit an unparalleled level of maturity that now delivers on that old promise. Focuses more (or at least as much) on the user experience than its features.

The Typical Issues / Usual Suspects

From the perspective of someone who has been implementing CRM since the mid 90’s I’ll have to admit, I heard a lot of recurring themes over the years and a lot of them are, for the most part, very valid points.  The most common issues that resonate with me are the following:

  • There are too many clicks to enter data in the CRM – it slows me down and makes my life more difficult without providing me much value.
  • How do we make it easier (more intuitive) for users.  The user interface is very confusing and I never know what to do next.
  • I need to be able to use CRM on a mobile device like a phone or tablet in order to help me do my job more effectively.

With every release of Microsoft CRM there has been wonderful enhancement to the products.  This ranges from “multi-tenancy”, to enhancements in workflow, and dialogs as well as developer tools etc.   Although these have all been great improvements to the product, they have done little to address the core user experience (UX) issues.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Is Attempting To Address Those Issues

Flattened User Interface (UI)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 is a complete rethink from the user interface (UI) perspective.  One of most impressive things about this new release is the flattening of the user interface (single window experience).  This might seem trivial at first but it is huge change in how the user ...

... interacts with the application.  In the past each time a new record was created for CRM a new window would open up overtop the last.  This became a very confusing for the user thus increasing their cognitive load.  Simply keeping track of where you are and what are working on can be a big challenge.   The new UI experience takes a lot of the confusion away from the user so they can now work in context of what is important and relevant to them without getting lost in “open window hell”.  Another thing to note is that new user interface is also supported in a multi browser (cross browser support) can use IE, Chrome or Firefox to access the system.   The results speak for themselves.  For example, entering a phone call keeps you completely in the same context of the Account or Contact.  You never lose the page you are working on.  It simple crisp and clear.  No more cognitive overload!

The (UI) is also much easier to user to navigate.  In previous version of Microsoft CRM there was a lot of clutter on the ribbons and left hand navigations.  

 If you look at the new UI for CRM 2015 you’ll notice that the experience has been really cleaned-up.  The ribbon is gone has been replace with the top of page command bar.

The 2015 navigation pane has been incorporated in to a new control on the top page which really reduces clutter and simplifies the end user experience. 

Business Process Flow 

Another great feature is the new Business Process Flow UI.  This feature allows you to setup CRM to guide users through a logical set of steps to move through sales, service, support or whatever process you need to define for your business.  The process flow allows organization to get much more prescriptive with their business processes allowing for a much more consistent/repeatable process.

Mobile

Although Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013/2015 is supported on smart phones it’s my opinion that the Tablet is the best “form factor” for productive CRM use when out-and-about.  Microsoft CRM 2013-2015 application has introduced the new Mobile Client Application (MoCA) Tablet client.  This new tablet client allows for an experience that is tailored to tables such as a Windows Surface or an IPad.   User can pin Tiles to the windows start screen for quick access.  The application is also tightly integrated on both platforms so that user can initial an email or start a Skype call simply by touching the screen.  The MoCA client also works with the “business process flow UI” which keeps the experience consistent across different devices i.e. (Laptop, Desktop, Tablet etc.).

Conclusion

I would say that in the past Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been focused on delivering more features than addressing some of these core user experience (UX) issues.    We know that is never an easy journey and software manufactures have to balance a lot of things to bring a product to market.  I think we can now safely say that Microsoft has switched its primary attention away from features (not completely of course) and is now really starting to focus on the user experience (UX) issues.  In my opinion Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 has hit a “home run” when it comes to UI improvements.  I would encourage anyone to take a “test drive” http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/crm-test-drive.aspx  of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015.  I know you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

purelycrm.com

Craftsmanship And The Art Of Specialization

Craftsmanship And The Art Of Specialization

From craftsmanship to artistry.  It's more than just money.

What Is Craftsmanship?

Every profession requires particular skills and knowledge.  Achieving mastery in one's profession is often what is thought of as "craftsmanship".  Arriving at the level of skills and knowledge to call yourself a "craftsman" is a combination of schooling and practical experience in the field.

How Many Years Or Projects Till You Achieve Craftsmanship?

Is it one year in the field?  Is it three successful CRM projects?  Or, is it twenty years and atleast ten CRM projects?  There is no exact answer here, but it is definitely not one or two projects and one year of CRM work.  It takes time in the game to really develop a mastery of your profession until you can call yourself a "craftsman".

What's After "Craftsman"?  The "Artisan".

Once someone truly masters their professional skills to the point that they can call themselves a "craftsman", I believe that they can still achieve one level higher.  To me, that level is the "artisan".  An artisan is someone who has achieved such a level in their craft that what they accomplish thru experience and aptitude reaches such a level that they are truly as expressive as "artists" in whatever their profession may be.  An example of this would be Muhammed Ali at the height of his boxing career.  He was so skilled at his job that he would orchestrate the whole boxing match in a manner that it was his artistic expression of how he wanted the fight to go down.  He was not just simply executing the skills he had learned during practice.  His years of experience took it to a whole new level.

My Craft.  My Art.

I, personally, have been a CRM consultant for more than 15 years now.  I've worked on Siebel, Pivotal, and now Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  I have worked on more than 20 individual CRM projects and I have partners in our firm that have worked on more than 30 CRM projects.  Are we artisans yet?  I don't know.  Perhaps our hair needs to get even more grey (or start falling out?).  I know I will be in this profession till I retire now.  It's the road I've taken.  It's the road my business partners have taken. 

Are you an artisan at your craft?  Is it about more than money at this point?  I know I LOVE my art at this point.

purelycrm.com

When Was Your Last CRM Implementation About CRM?

When Was Your Last CRM Implementation About CRM?

CRM has always encompassed so much more than just sales management

CRM Projects Are Always More Than Just CRM

Ask yourself, "When was the last time your CRM project was about just traditional sales management?"  I have been implementing CRM for near 20 years now and I can count on one hand the number of projects I have done that were about traditional sales management.  There is always some component that involves customer management, but rarely a component of traditional sales management.

What Are The Boundaries Of CRM?

There are defined areas within organizations with well established software systems that are not CRM.  An example of this is accounting software for the accounting department.  Another example would be a content management system maintaining a company website; and, CRM is not a document management system with all the nuances of document management that we have all come to expect today.

But CRM Does Creep Into Other Traditional Software Arenas

CRM has definitely travelled a far distance from the traditional sales force management systems that they were originally meant to be.  I often find CRM systems replacing HR systems because of the flexibility they offer in configuration.  And, I have built CRM systems that are stakeholder management systems for mining companies, configuration systems for home improvement companies, legal project tracking for law firms, membership management systems for associations, foreign exchange management systems for the banking industry, and the list just goes on, and on, and on ...

What Departments Could You See Realizing Efficiencies With CRM?

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New Features in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015

New Features in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015

Highlights from an article in the Q1 2015 CRMUG Magazine (bibliography at end of this post).

Favourite New Features And Why

  • "The expansion of business rules so Users have more opportunities to avoid writing JavaScript is huge win.  Not many Users want to miss with that."
  • "The expanded server-side processing of Business Rules can also eliminate the need for plug-ins in some cases."
  • *"... a new preview feature on the tablet client for iOS and Android that allows frames and web resources to be used ... allows for a wide array of possibilities for integration with other line of business applications or mash-ups with other services"

What Users Will Love The Most

  • "There aren't as many clicks or back and forth in terms of the User interface ..."
  • "The simple act of putting the advanced find and access to the multi-entity search on the main navigation so that they can launch it from anywhere is very basic, but it's a very useful benefit ..."

What Won't Be As Popular Among Users, But Really, Just As Important

  • "Calculated fields and roll-up fields will allow Users to apply extended logic and calculations without the need to write accompanying code ... We used tho use plug-ins for this, but they weren't as flexible."

What Advice Can You Share ... About Upgrades To Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015

  • "Make sure any custom code is up to date, including all third-party solutions, before you start your upgrade."
  • "Be aware that solutions exported from a Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 environment won't import into Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015."
  • "Don't rush your upgrade over a weekend and expect to be up and running that Monday."

Bibliography

Lattimer, Jason, and Carsten Groth. "New Features in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015." Comp. CRMUG. CRMUG Magazine Apr. 2015: 14.

PURELYCRM.COM

Interview with Kevin Penstock of The Profile

Interview with Kevin Penstock of The Profile

I recently took some time to sit down with Kevin Penstock.  He's the owner of The Profile, a unique co working space in Vancouver, Canada.  It also happens to be the home of the Purely CRM office.

Branding Your Microsoft CRM Implementation

Branding Your Microsoft CRM Implementation

Theming Is No Longer Just For SharePoint

Why Brand Your Microsoft CRM Implementation

On quite a few projects that I have been on, we have taken the time with our project champions to come up with a unique name for our customized installation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  There are a few reasons that we go about this exercise.  One of the reasons is that it means, as a group, we spend the time to go over why we are doing the customized CRM implementation in the first place.  Spending time going over the key reasons and goals of the project helps keep everyone focused on end results when it comes to requirements and design time.

Another reason that we name our implementations is that, in addition to keeping everyone focused on the end goals, it starts bringing the project team together.  We like to make sure that the naming process is a joint effort, with everyone contributing.  This means that all those present in the naming exercise end up feeling that they had a part in naming the solution that is implemented.

And finally, the name should indicate what the solution is all about.  Often times an implementation of CRM will have nothing to do with sales, marketing, or service.  The new name should have meaning to those in the company when it is in place.

What We Do Today To Brand Microsoft CRM

We often do a couple of things to brand today’s Microsoft Dynamics CRM Implementations.  One of those things is that the menu system is changed.  Instead of having drop-downs for “sales”, “marketing”, and “service”, we will place all the relevant menu items (i.e., entities) under one menu heading and have that menu heading the name of the branded CRM implementation.  Then, we hide and show entities based on users’ security roles, thereby making it easy to maintain all menu items under the one heading; and, every time the menu is accessed the name of the configured CRM implementation is seen.

Another method of pushing branding into your CRM implementation is to place images on all the forms.  With images being able to be uploaded as web resources, we have the ability to expose those images on forms.  Those images can be placed at the top or bottom of all forms and contain a branded image for your implementation.

What Is Theming And How It Will Change Microsoft CRM Branding

Microsoft has also seen the importance of branding and has enabled implementation teams to now manage theming in a much simpler method.  With Microsoft CRM Online 2015 Update 1, there will be an option for Theming found under Settings | Customizations.  We will soon have the ability to change the logo and adjust colors throughout.  And these themes we create (i.e., branding), are saved as unique themes; so, we can always go back to an older theme or the original theme.

Here is a link to a video that was produced showing the theming functionality in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Online Update 1:

https://youtu.be/MdT1yE9CW5U

Hello World

"Hello world" is such an evocative phrase in technology circles. It conjures up images through time centric to the verb "new".  Going all the way back through time to your first ever computer. Mine was a Sinclair Spectrum. At the age of 14 I was pumped to find myself lucky enough to own one. I remember feverishly unpacking the device, attaching the cables and hooking it into the television set, much to the chagrin of my mother who really just wanted to watch the afternoon soaps.

I vividly remember getting out the manual and diving straight into the programming section. Within but a few moments I had enough information for my first ever delve into the all new, shiny and exciting world of programming;

10 PRINT "Hello World"
20 GOTO 10

Then with feverish anticipation for the event that in my mind could only be on equal technological terms to the space program, I hit the run key and watched with awe as the screen filled with the words "Hello World"

And so for me and many like me the term, "Hello World" is synonymous with new beginnings and that may be a good segue to welcome you to Purely CRM.

Purely CRM
It started as many of these things start. A small group of friends, colleagues and peers debating what is wrong in our small part of the IT industry. From these small backroom discussions we decided that things should be simple and that life for both our customers and ourselves should and indeed could be better.

Focus
The problem of focus came up repeatedly during our discussions. What would the world look like if each of us focused 100% on CRM? Take away all the inevitable noise of a practice that deals in many different and disparate areas. Take away the frustration of dealing with that noise and let the delivery team and the sales executives take up any new challenges knowing that they are always putting their CRM customers first.

And so ...
Purely CRM is 100% focused on CRM. We do not do anything else. CRM is what we do, full stop.

People
Also appearing frequently during our discussions was the quality of the core of the team and its people. We had all worked on projects where we did not always have the right people. We had all stood in as one of the other roles in a project just because the right people are not always available. This can be managed when you have experienced people but we wanted to offer our customer something better.

There are many reasons why one person may have to wear many caps on a project but this can lead to ineffective burning of a client’s budget. This is the budget that our clients trust us with.

And so ...
Purely CRM will have a team of people that can cover all the roles of a typical project. We will foster excellent communications and team spirit. Our projects will have the right people in the right roles. Where this is not possible we will make available the experience of the core team members.

Experience
Purely CRM believes that this is critical. That each project should have experienced CRM Professionals working on it.

Our core team has somewhere in the region of 60 years of experience in the IT Industry and 50 years of experience specifically with CRM.

We believe that we are different and we believe that we can make a difference. More specifically, we believe that we can make a difference to your project, to help you turn your vision into reality. We will achieve this by bringing our CRM focus, our people and our vast experience to bear.

So welcome to the beginning of our journey, we hope that you will bookmark this blog. We have some exciting plans for what will come after this but you will need to keep watching this space. Join us on our journey in what we are convinced is one of the most exciting things to happen in the CRM space in Canada. We are incredibly excited and we would like to share this excitement with you.

Hello World …. 

The Purely CRM Team