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I recently reviewed an ideation platform, and looking at the new features added to Dynamics CRM 2016 Update, the Feedback features caught my attention.

Starting with the latest update, we now have a built-in entity called Feedback. Here’s the official documentation:

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt728949.aspx

So, now we can not only collect feedback, but also rate records. And this applies to all records in the system, both system and custom, where enabled.

Enable entity for Feedback

First step is to enable an entity for feedback. The easy way (you can do it programmatically too) is to navigate to the solution storing your entity definition, and on the entity property tab to find the Communication & Collaboration section on the General tab. You will find there the option to enable Feedback.

Note that for new entities, this is enabled by default. If you don’t use it, make sure to disable it. I would not want that enabled for most entities probably, so I think it should be off by default.

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Note also that this is one of the options that, once enabled, it can not be disabled.

Configuration

Once you have this feature enabled, you will find in your entity the relationship to feedback, as seen below:

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Observe that, by default, you can track feedback from both internal and from an integrated portal, if you have one. So far, this serves me well for the ideation platform.

Within the feedback record, you can first observe that, by default, there is in place the ability to have the status as Proposed or Accepted. This is nice, as you can enforce an approval process for feedback, and only take into consideration approved feedback. This can be beneficial for feedback from public, captured from a portal.

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The rating is what I was looking for. It is by default just a text field, but you can enforce rules to make sure you only capture the format you need. Let’s say I want to have a rating on the portal with 5 stars, so I’m only going to capture a value from 0 to 5.

Now that I can capture feedback and rating, I want to roll-up the rating. I want to display on the idea record the average of all ratings from the feedback.

On the Idea entity, I can add a simple roll-up field. I defined it as a Whole Number Rollup field, and added the following definition:

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And once it’s saved and published, I modify the default idea form to add this field, and the default view to add this column.

Result

Looking at a record view of ideas, now I can quickly see the ratings, sort and filter by rating, etc. And all this without a single line of code. Sweet!

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Enjoy!

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A new feature introduced with Dynamics CRM 2016 Update on both online and on-premise is the ability to use word templates. This makes simple reporting a lot easier now, as well as provides assistance with various data print jobs. A very welcomed feature added.

But let’s have a look at what this is and how to use it.

One common question back in the day was: How do I print this record? Can I just do a print? Do I do a print screen?

Not any more. Now, with a simple template, we can print a nicely formatted record, showing exactly the information we need, in a layout that’s pleasant to both users and customer.

The process involves a few steps. Let’s have a look at the steps involved:

  • Create a template
  • Define the template (design)
  • Upload the template to CRM
  • Generate a document (test before you release)

Creating a Word template

The first step is the creation of a Word template. This is a process we start from within Dynamics CRM. Navigate to More (…) > Word Templates.

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From the fly-out menu select Create Word Template.

Follow the prompts and select Word for template and the entity you started from. Next slide in the wizard shows you all the relationships active on the selected entity. This is a very important part of the wizard. Select the relationships you intent to use to bring into your template data fields from related record. You should understand the data model for Dynamics CRM.

If you only need to bring into your template data fields from the current record alone, nothing needs to be selected here.

Once done, click on Download Template and save it locally. Now comes the editing part.

Define the template

With the template provided saved on your machine, now it’s time to define how the final output will look like. You can make it as fancy as you need, your knowledge of Word editing being the limit.

When you open the template file you downloaded, it will show you a blank page. That’s normal!

Next, enable the Developer tab in Word. You do that from File > Options > Customize Ribbon.

As all new products, a few issues are documented by Microsoft as possibly causing crashes. They are:

  • Auto-correct – might lead to freezes when customizing word templates. Turn off auto-correct if that happens.
  • Content types – use only plain text or picture.

On the Developer tab find and select the XML Mapping option. Make sure to select from the drop-down the correct schema as seen in the screenshot below:

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Create your page design using tables, images, headers and footers, etc. Introduce the CRM data fields at the correct locations from the XML Map.

When you are satisfied with the layout and format, you are ready to push the template back to CRM and make it available to users.

Upload the template to CRM

Now here comes the flexibility. You do not have to be an admin to use this template yourself. You can actually create your own custom templates, and use them yourself.

If you want to make the templates available to all users, you need to either be an admin, or have an admin perform the template load for you.

As a user, to load the template for personal use, you follow the same steps we covered in extracting the base template from CRM. You navigate to a record. This defines the record type for the template. From the Create Word Template wizard select Upload and load your template. Once done, this template will be available for you to use on any record of that selected type.

In order ta make a template available to all users, as an admin, go to Settings > Templates > Document Templates and upload the template there.

This makes it available to all users that have permissions to use it.

Generate a document

As mentioned before, always test before you release. You can test by loading the template for yourself only first. Once you are satisfied with the output, load it through the Documents Template menu in Settings.

Now you have a nicely formatted way of printing records. All users of Dynamics CRM should take advantage of this feature to create nicely formatted print-outs for reporting or for customer communication.

Enjoy!

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!

I’ve seen a few questions recently about environment upgrades to Dynamics CRM 2015, or new security roles created where users do not have access to see the new hierarchical visualization offered by the platform. A user would for example navigate to Accounts and see a view just like in the previous versions, without the visualization links.

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The reason for that is because, in the security role(s) the user belongs to, he/she does not have permission to see this.

The setting is located in the specific role, on the Customization tab. It is called Hierarchy Rule. You must give the users at least Read permission for them to be able to see it. Or alternatively, remove the Read permission to not show it.

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This seems to be the missing link, as it’s not captured in a lot of blogs referring to this feature.

Refer to this post for additional details on hierarchical visualization features and it’s limitations:

https://thecrmwiz.com/2015/01/30/hierarchical-visualization-features-limitations/

Enjoy!

This post is intentional left at a very high level, as a potential solution description.

One interesting scenario we have encountered in a CRM involves the potential large number of shared views a user has to handle.

NOTE: This deals only with views shared by a user, to another user. Sharing to teams should not be handled by this design.

A user can potentially end-up with a large number of views shared with him/her. He or She could start tracking down who the view owners are, and ask them to un-share the view they are not interested in. Two problems here, one is the fact that you are at the mercy of another user, the other being you might leave those users with the feeling that “you don’t really care about the effort they put into it”.

The solution, as simplistic as it sounds, is to give the user the ability to un-subscribe from that shared view. But there is nothing OOTB to allow that kind of functionality. So, how do we build that?

It’s actually not that complicated, but it involves a little bit of coding. One of the developers I work with has successfully built a functional POC. Let’s have a look at the high level design.

There are a few elements to this. First off, in order to unsubscribe from a shared view, the most logical place to start from is the list of all views. You get to it by navigating to Saved Views on the Advanced Find ribbon.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wanted to take this opportunity to thank the community, my new book is currently #1 Best Seller in Expert Systems on Amazon.

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And the Kindle edition is on sale!

Thank you!

With the release of Dynamics CRM 2015, we now have a new feature called Hierarchical Security. We’re going to look at how we can configure it and take advantage of it. This feature helps us with giving permissions to managers to see their reporting resources records as needed.

First off, we get to the configuration area by navigating to Settings > Security.

Read the rest of this entry »

The following exams have surfaced for Dynamics CRM 2015:

MB2-704 – Microsoft Dynamics CRM Application

MB2-708 – Microsoft Dynamics CRM Installation

MB2-720 – Functional Application in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing

Free Second Shot on all of them until May 31, 2015.

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UPDATE: the following exams have also been added:

MB2-706 – Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Deployment

MB2-707 – Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customization and Configuration

Enjoy!

As we have seen in this previous article HERE, Rollup Fields are a new addition to Dynamics CRM 2015. The example provided in that article is the basic “Hello World!” of Rollup Fields. But as usual, let’s see when we hit the brick wall.

First of all, one issue we already flagged is that the calculation refreshes hourly. Further more, the initial refresh takes even longer than that. So, we’re left with manual refresh, right? Try explaining that to the user! Good Luck!

Luckily, Codeplex to the rescue! There is a project called “Dynamics CRM 2015 Calculated Rollup Field (Workflow Activity)” HERE which, according to the documentation, will allow you to force a rollup field to recalculate when running a custom workflow that includes this activity. Ok, one problem sort of solved, if your company policy allows you to install foreign solutions. The source is available also :) Thanks to the author.

This makes me think further. I have a good scenario where I think this could help. One of my clients tracks event registrations. It’s all routed through CSRs (I know, a portal would help). I have as part of the event definition the venue details, including the maximum capacity. Clink, this is it. I can roll-up the total number of registered users, now in real time, and when the event is full, disable the registration of new users. This way I could retire a plugin, and simplify the logic.

You would think! But not that fast.

Turns out that the rollup field update event can not trigger another process. It’s only available to be queried. Bummer!

So, just a FYI then, rollup fields are a nice and easy way to show information to users, but don’t plan to use them to trigger business processes. Maybe in a future version/update.

Enjoy!

So, you’ve upgrade your CRM to 2015, you’re browsing through the new features, and hierarchical visualization peaks your interest. You can finally do so many nice things where you needed Silverlight or custom HTML web resources before. Or can you?

First off, what is hierarchical visualization?

Starting with Dynamics CRM 2015, for records related in a parent-child relationship (1:N), you can now see a graphical representation of these relationships. Starting in a regular grid view, now the related records are presented with a new icon in front of them.

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Clicking on any of those icons will take you to a new view, showing cards for each record, and the relationship structure.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Customization - Second Edition

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customization Essentials

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Scripting Cookbook

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Reviewed Book

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011: Dashboards Cookbook

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011: Dashboards Cookbook

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