Thursday, April 14, 2016

Display Dynamics pages in a dashboard : I want the Service Calendar and my Agenda on my dashboard

Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers some out-of-the-box pages, based on records on your organization, like the well known Service Calendar or the Agenda. According to your needs, these pages can become very useful but it is sometimes handy to reach them via the site map, especially if you use CRM 2013 or 2015. In this article, I will describe a very simple tip to add one of these custom pages directly in a system dashboard.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Maps in SSRS Reports : Showing the right visual for geographical data

As a CRM system contains plenty of interesting data, Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers several levels of reporting. Some, as views, charts or even integrated dashboards, as quite simple and can be created by users without any coding skill. But these first levels of reporting are often (always ?) insufficient for managers and directors. That's why Dynamics CRM offers the ability to create some custom SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services) reports, that can be fully integrated inside the web application.

SSRS offers great reporting possibilities, and one of them is showing some data on a geographical map, that we will discuss today.

As a simple example, let's say you have categorized all your contact records by they residential US state. You have now a large amount of data, and you would like to display the amount of contacts, by state, on a US map, instead of a basic table. And of course focusing (using a color scale) on states that have the larger amount of contacts.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Custom Auto-Post rule on Activity Feeds : Be notified on records you follow

In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Microsoft introduced the Out-Of-The-Box (OOB) Social Pane, with Notes, Activities and Posts, based on Activity Feeds. The behavior of Activity Feeds is just like Twitter, where users can follow or unfollow some records, mention them on post, and see all posts based on records they follow on their personal wall.

Unlike Twitter, Activity Feeds introduced some "Auto Post Rules" on a few of OOB entities ; on a particular event (let's say when a opportunity is won), a post is automatically created on the record. This feature is great because all the followers are automatically aware, by having a look at their wall, that this opportunity is closed.

Nevertheless, it has some drawbacks (I wouldn't write about it otherwise :) ). First, you cannot create an auto post rule manually (by going to Settings / Auto Post Rules / New for instance). You can only enable or disable existing ones. Second, Activity Feeds does not provide a way to notify (by email for instance) the followers of a record when a post is posted on it (like Yammer does).

As I had to provide this kind of functionality on a CRM 2013 project, I will introduce today a way of having the 2 features that are not included in the OOB Activity Feeds : the Custom Auto Post Rules (using no code, always great to fulfill requirements without code) and the Email Notifications to followers (with a little code, always good to fulfill requirements with a little of coding :) ).

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Custom auto-numbering : no code nor add-on needed

In nearly every Dynamics CRM project, you will be asked, at a time or another, to add an auto-numbering field to an entity. If you are (very) lucky, you can use the out-of-the-box auto-numbering feature, included in entities like Case, Campaign or Order. But if you are less lucky (let's say 99% of the time), you will be asked to add this feature on another entity, system or custom.

Hopefully, you have several options for that, each with some advantages and drawbacks. You can use some add-ons, with great options like custom formatting but with some cost, and sometimes unknown maintainability over CRM upgrades. You can use plugins, based on a "counter" custom entity. This won't require any license, but some development (so design and tests), and each enhancement will require more and more coding.

The third option, that I will explain today, does not require any coding, nor add-ons, just a few customizations. It sure has some limitations, but I think it is interesting enough to be detailed.