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One of the new features made available in preview is the Task Flow functionality. This applies to creating logical business flows to execute on mobile devices (both phones and tablets). One example provided in the documentation is the post-meeting steps to be executed after a client meeting.

The official documentation is available at:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/crm-customer-center/preview-feature-create-a-new-task-flow.aspx

As per the note, a preview feature is not to be used in production, as it might not only change, but it might contain incomplete features.

In order to enable preview features, you must be an administrator. Go to Settings > System Settings. Find the Preview tab all the way to the right.

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Here make sure you check the agreement check box, and then switch the Task Flows for Mobile Preview radio button to Yes. Click OK when done.

The provided steps in the documentation demonstrate how to create a new flow. Observe the following change to the process flow creation:

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Once the process flow is created, the configuration interface is very similar to any other process flow. You have the usual features, like adding fields, steps, branching, pages etc.

On the Task Flow Details section, once you expand it, you can set an image and a description.

The paging concept is similar to that of a classic Dialog, where we guide the user through several screens to get to a final point.

Branching works again just like with other processes, where conditions are set to dictate the correct path to follow.

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Don’t forget to Save and Activate the new process. It will show up in your My Processes/All Processes view, depending on the owner you assign.

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With the Task Flow activated, once you refresh the mobile application it will be available to use.

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The refresh will take a short while. Once it’s done, since we created this task flow on the contact entity, let’s navigate to a Contact. We can trigger the newly created Task Flow by selecting the symbol at the bottom-left of the screen.

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Observe the image we selected appears as the background for our Demo task Flow. Select this flow. It will take you through the following screens.

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That same image is in each form header. The title shows up right on top, as defined for each form.

Enjoy!

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The Spring Wave release for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 has been announced. Here’s the announcement:

Dynamics Blog

As mentioned, the focus is on the FieldOne and Adxstudio acquisitions and their integration onto the core platform, as well as Machine Learning enhancements.

A video of the new features is available here:

https://youtu.be/2Uy5Ql30tQc

In addition, and of great importance, the CRM Roadmap site has been also announced. It is available here:

CRM Roadmap

Here you will find all the necessary details about existing features release, in preview, in development or postponed. A great source of information.

Enjoy!

One of the greatest features of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform is the ability to configure entity forms to be available only for specific security groups. While this works great, in principle, the story quickly becomes muddy when you start implementing it in organizations with a more complex security structure. In particular, when working with different business units.

As we know by now, when adding elements to a solution, we can only capture security roles from the root business unit. This is a limitation of the solution package, and we have ways to work around it for most situations. For example, if we want security roles to be solution aware, even though we need them in child business units, we create them in the root business unit. They are inherited to the child business units, and we can assign the users at the business unit where we need them to have the respective security roles.

Unfortunately, one overlooked aspect is the role based forms. While the scenario described above works fine for users and security roles, once we bring into our equation role based forms, the whole pyramid collapses. Lets look at an example.

We’re going to start with a set of business units as described in the screenshot below.

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As we can see, we have the root business unit called very creatively me4co. Right below this, we have the following child business units: Finance and IT. And just to make it more interesting, we have the following three child business units underneath the IT business unit: Cloud, Delivery and Infrastructure.

Now let’s create a few security roles. Go back to Settings > Security and choose Security Roles. Here we see the default security roles on an organization, all under the root business unit. We’ll come back to this view in a moment.

Once we’ve seen the default security roles, let’s go and create some new roles in the context of a solution. So, go to Settings > Solutions. Create a new solution if one is not already available for playing with. In this solution go to Security Roles. Once there, create a New role and name it creatively role1. For business unit, leave the root business unit. Click on Save and Close. I’m not going to assign any permissions here, i’m just using it for demonstration purpose.

Same way as before, go ahead and create a new security role. Keeping in line with our extremely creative naming convention, name this one role2. Only this time, instead of leaving the default business unit, change it to Cloud. This is a 3rd level down business unit, having IT as parent, which in turn has me4co as parent (the default business unit). Again, hit Save and Close. Now, looking at the solution, this new role called role2 does not appear in the Security Roles part of this solution. This is because only Security Roles in the default root business unit are being captured in a Solution package. To verify that our newly create security roles was indeed created, navigate to Settings > Security > Security Roles. Select from the Business Unit drop-down the root business unit if not already selected, and observe that role2 is also missing. But if you change the business unit to Cloud, now you will also find role2 in the list. See the below screenshot.

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Now, with all these items setup and ready, let’s have a quick look at role based forms.

Go to Entities in your solution, select Add Existing, and select Contact.  When prompted to select entity assets, do not select anything, as we’ll just add a brand new view.

Entity Assets is a new feature added  with Dynamics CRM 2016, as part of enhancements to the Solution package model.

Click on Finish. Go to the Contact Forms, and add a new Main Form. Click on Save As, and name this form to RBF (short for role based form, but you can name it anything you want).Save and Close this form. In the Active Forms view for Contact, select this newly created form, and click on Enable Security Roles in the ribbon. The new screen that opens up allows you to choose a security role. Unfortunately, you only have a choice from the security roles created in the root business unit. No option to change the business unit selection. This relates to the fact that security roles in child business units are not captured in a solution package.

Conclusion: part of a Solution package, you cannot assign security roles to a role based form if the security role is not part of the root business unit.

But, if you really, really, really need to do this, you can still do it outside of a solution package. Do keep in mind that this configuration can not be ported to another organization through the use of a solution package. If you need this kind of configuration, you will have to manually implement if in all instances (dev, qa, uat, prod)… ugh…

Instead of doing this as part of the existing solution, let’s go back to Settings > Customizations. Select Customize the System instead. These customizations are applied directly to the root solution. Find the Contact entity, go to Forms and find the RBF form we’ve created earlier. Observe how the form created in an unmanaged solution is also present in the default solution.

Now, when you click on the RBF form and select Assign Security Roles, you will find role2 in the list of roles, as shown in the screenshot below.

securityroles2

Once you Save and Publish your customizations, your newly created role based form is available as defined.

Use this approach with care, and only if really necessary. The fact that this configuration can not be captured in a context of a Solution package, and can not be ported to another environment/organization is a major downfall, and it goes against best practices regarding solution management and deployment models.

Enjoy!

 

The CRM User Group (Canada) has published the dates for the following two chapter meetings. They are as follows:

  • When: Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016
  • Locations: Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Regina, Toronto, Vancouver – Microsoft Offices
  • Time: 12:00PM to 04:00PM ET

and

  • When: Thursday, Apr. 21, 2016
  • Locations: Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Regina, Toronto, Vancouver – Microsoft Offices
  • Time: 12:00PM to 04:00PM ET

The audience is described as:

All Dynamics CRM users are welcome. Your CRMUG membership extends to ALL employees at your company, so we encourage you to invite your colleagues and fellow peers. Partners members are welcome to attend provided they are accompanied by a customer.

For more details see the GRMUG portal at:

https://www.crmug.com/engage/chapter#chapterevents

Enjoy!

The following new Dynamics CRM 2016 Certification Exams have been added at the end of January 2016:

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Online Deployment MB2-710
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Customization and Configuration MB2-712
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Sales MB2-713
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Customer Service MB2-714

Enjoy!

I see this question asked every now and then, so I’ve decided to put all the new steps together. You have your Dynamics CRM Trial set-up. You’ve started from this URL:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/dynamics/crm-free-trial-overview.aspx

with the Self-Start Trial, followed all the steps, and your 30-day Trial is up and running. Hopefully you’ve made a note of the username and password configured, as well as the URL provided. If you did not save the URL, no problem, as you can login into the O365 portal with the user name and password, and get to your CRM instance from there:

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But, soon after, you realize that a whole bunch of services require a little more than just your instance of Dynamics CRM to run properly. Things like the Document Management features, OneNote, Office Groups, etc. require also a subscription to Office 365 Online.

No problem. You can easily add a 30-day trial of O365. But in order to be able to easily integrate these services with your Dynamics CRM Online instance, you should spin-up this trial on the same O365 instance. To do this follow these steps:

In the Office 365 Admin portal, once you logged in with the credentials for your Dynamics CRM trial organization, navigate to Billing > Subscriptions

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On the top-right of the page, find the Add subscriptions link.

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On the next page, scroll down until you find the Enterprise Suite section. Here you can choose to add a trial of Office 365 Enterprise E3, Office 365 ProPlus or Office 365 Enterprise E5. E5 replaces the old E4 and adds a few new features. E3 is still the most popular option. For the purpose of the demo, go for the best available option. That is, select the E5 trial.

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Confirm your order by selecting the try now button, and click continue on the next screen.

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And with that, your setup is complete. Don’t forget before you move on to assign the proper licenses to all users. You do that by navigating to Users > Active Users

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Select a user from the list, and on the right side, find Assigned licenses and click on Edit.

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Make sure both Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Professional and Office 365 Enterprise E5 licenses are checked, and click on Save.

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That’s it. Now your user has access to both Dynamics CRM Online and Office 365 Enterprise for 30 days. With this set-up in place, you can now go ahead and use the O365 services for integration in Dynamics CRM. Configure Document Management, set-up your integration with OneDrive for Business, Office Graph (Delve), and OneNote. Further more, while at it, have a look at the new CRM App for Outlook too once you’ve configured Server-Side Synchronization.

NOTE: Alternatively, you can do the reversed process, starting with an Office 365 Enterprise E3/E5 trial and adding the Dynamics CRM Online trial. The process is quite similar.

Enjoy!

I’m being asked every now and then about the URLs format for various services and global zones. I usually have a bunch of links bookmarked about this, but I’m pulling all information together here to make it easy for me to find it when needed.

The format of the Dynamics CRM Online Organization URL describes the data centre location. As such, the standard format is as follows:

https://OrganizationName.crm%5Bx%5D.dynamics.com

The OrganizationName is the name you have selected for your online organization. This is customizable, and is validated for uniqueness within the respective data centre.

The [x] represents a number. As of the time of this writing, this number can be anywhere between 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 or no number at all. This describes the global data centre used to host your organization. The following table maps the data centre to the URL format.

URL Format

Global Data Centre Location

crm.dynamics.com

NAM

crm2.dynamics.com

SAM

crm4.dynamics.com

EMEA

crm5.dynamics.com

APAC

crm6.dynamics.com

OCE

crm7.dynamics.com

JPN

crm9.dynamics.com

GCC

Out of these global locations, usually the following are getting the preview and new features first:

Organization

Global Location

crm.dynamics.com

North America

crm4.dynamics.com

Europe, the Middle East and Africa

crm5.dynamics.com

Asia-Pacific

The crm9 is reserved for Dynamics CRM Online for Government (public sector). The following page provides additional details on this offering.

Enjoy!

As Convergence 2015 EMEA got underway, announcements started to roll. Probably the most highly anticipated was the official release of Dynamics CRM 2016.

If you didn’t have a chance to se the live stream and the quick demo, you can read about it in the following post by Jujhar, available HERE.

This release is for both Online and On-Premise.

The opening keynote will be available along with other recordings from the Convergence Video Library. For more details see the Convergence 2015 EMEA page. 

Enjoy!

After the relatively recent acquisition of FieldOne by Microsoft, the solution is now available to be installed on a new trial of Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1.

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FieldOne Sky is an intelligent fields service management solution. Its functionality revolves around enhanced management and scheduling for work orders. The scheduling engine is the highlight of this solution, where we are presented with three types of actions:

  • Manual scheduling
  • Schedule assistant
  • Automated routing scheduling

The friendliness of the UI and the ability to provide drag and drop on a scheduling board makes using this product very easy and intuitive. Coupled with a powerful back engine to validate and recalculate schedules, this is an ideal solution for field service. Add to that extensive support for mobile, and you have a complete end to end package for managing resources in the field.

The amount of business insight that can be gained using this solution is of great value. Starting with a real-time view into the performance of your business and field service, analyzing of large amounts of data to determine patterns and issues with standard scheduling as well as extensive reporting capabilities for operations analysis and strategy, this solution is a great add-on to the Dynamics CRM family.

The process to add the FieldOne solution is the same as adding the previously available Insights and Office 365 Groups solution.

From the Office 365 portal navigate to CRM. In the Manage all CRM Online instances select the trial instance or the one you want the solution added to. Click on Solutions.

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On the next screen select the FieldOne Sky solution and click Install.

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Note that the installation will take a short while.

Once the solution is installed, navigate to your CRM instance and validate that FieldOne Sky is installed. If your standard navigation is not customized, you can do that by looking for a new tab added to the top navigation and named FieldOne Sky.

Enjoy!

Following THIS previous post where I described how to connect Power BI Desktop to Dynamics CRM, we’re going to have a quick look at how to map our Accounts from Dynamics CRM in Power BI. For the scope of this post, we’re going to highlight the states where we have clients (Accounts).

Once we have the connection to Dynamics CRM established, we are presented with the Navigator. Here we can select the data from Dynamics CRM that we want to work with. I’ll be selecting here the AccountSet.

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You will get a truncated view of the data for preview. Select Load. Note that this is not the fastest kid on the block, so wait for a moment while all your data loads. Depending on the data set, this could take a while.

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Once loaded, your data set will appear in the Fields area, on the right hand side. If you want to make your query leaner, you could edit the properties and remove the columns you don’t need, but we’ll be looking at advanced query configuration some other time.

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Now is probably a good time to check and make sure that your Accounts in CRM have Latitude and Longitude. Geo-mapping an address is not something you can turn on out of the box, so you will have to either customize the functionality to map an address to it’s coordinates, or use a 3rd party solution that does that.

Next select the icon that looks like a map, and click it. A map representation shows on the page.

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Click on the Data icon on the left side. Here you get a view of the data from CRM, and the ability to customize each field’s properties.

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Select each of the mapping fields and from the Properties ribbon area define the Data Category for each. For example, select the Address1_Longitude field and select Longitude in the Data Category.

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Do the same for Latitude and the address fields as needed.

Now go back to the Report view and in the Visualization Fields wells start dropping the values you need as depicted below.

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Now your Report view should refresh and show you something like this:

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You can tweak the settings as needed. When satisfied, save and publish your report.

Enjoy!

I just had a user asking me today about connecting Power BI Desktop to CRM Online. It’s been a while since I looked at this, so I had to think about it for a moment. So I decided to write it down as a reminder.

Starting the application you are presented with a screen as below.

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If you disabled the startup page, you can get to the same wizard by going to Get Data on the ribbon.

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Select More, and in the window that pops-up find Dynamics CRM Online.

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Once you click Connect you are presented with the URL screen. Here’s where it’s easy to make a mistake, even though it’s stated pretty clear what URL you have to point to. Make sure it’s the complete Organization Service URL, not just the Org URL.

CORRECT: https://<org>.crm[x].dynamics.com/XRMService/2011/OrganizationData.svc

NOT CORRECT: https://<org>.crm[x].dynamics.com/

When using the incorrect URL you are not prompted to provide the credentials later on, and thus can not establish the connection.

Next, for authenticating to CRM Online, select Organizational Account on the next screen

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If you have provided multiple URLs before, including the incorrectly formatted one, select the correct one you want to use.

You will be prompted to sign-in. Do so using a user with permission to access the organization.

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If everything is ok, when clicking on Sign In you will be redirected to the O365 login page:

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Once everything is ok, click Connect and you should be in. Now select your data set and start building the visuals. We’ll be looking at some of the features and options available with Power BI in another post.

Lesson learned: read and follow the instructions carefully. Check the URL you provide. Don’t be “lazy” and expect the app will figure out what you meant (even though it would have been easy to validate the URL and append the Organization Service suffix if missing).

Enjoy!

The GIS (geographic information system) applications in today’s day and age are a differentiator factor when it comes to some businesses success. A good GIS system allows visual analysis and interpretation of our available data. We can easily determine trends and patterns by regions or geographical coverage.

While the demand for this type of systems has been steadily growing, it is also interesting to see how the market also re-shapes itself and becomes more focused.

As such, one of the players well known in North-America has decided to retire it’s support for the Dynamics CRM platform. According to this announcement, Esri Maps for Dynamics CRM has entered Extended Support.

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What does this means? The solution will be still available for download until the end of June, 2016. Going forward, all integration into the ArcGIS platform will be custom, with support from the Esri Professional Services or from an Esri partner.

Support for SharePoint and Office still remains available going forward.

Mapping remains an option, with integration out of the box with Bing Maps or custom integration as described HERE with Google Maps.

Some Partners have also built solutions around mapping. PowerMap is one such example.

There is also the option of building custom components for mapping. You do have the greatest flexibility with this model, but also the most amount of effort, cost, and integration with other services. Besides tapping into a public/paid address geo-mapping service, for more complex scenarios where you want areas analyzed and heat maps generated, that can turn into a complex endeavor.

Luckily, PowerBI can step in and help with some of the mapping aspects. The Retail Analysis sample for Power BI: Take a tour shows a nice example where GIS flavors fit in:

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Where you used to spend time tweaking a GIS solution to show you data just the way you want it, now with PowerBI you can much easier get to the same result, as depicted in Supplier Quality Analysis sample for Power BI: Take a tour

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And since we’re looking at dashboarding and visualization, Microsoft acquired not too long ago Datazen. It has support for the standard ESRI shapefile format, which allows for custom maps. Now if this evolves nicely, it could really become a key toolset in mapping standardization for industries like Oil & Gas, Energy, Mining, Forestry, etc…

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Only if there were enough hours in the day to spend with all these goodies.

Enjoy!

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