Monday, November 14, 2011

CRM 2011 Dialogs with Dynamic FetchXML - Duplicate Case Detection

Dialogs are a great new addition to the CRM feature suite. They provide an efficient way to capture business process information through a logical step by step workflow. Think of a Customer Service Representative entering a case, or Marketing folks qualifying a lead. There are still ways to go with regard to using dialogs as a full fledged call center scripter, but it is definitely the right step forward for Microsoft.

In dialogs, the user responses are captured and steps can have branching based on previous responses. There is also the capability of generating dynamic questions, which we shall see in more detail in a bit. Dialogs are a bit similar to workflows in that you can do create/update actions on entities/ records. In a sense, we can think of dialogs as a workflow with user input. Dialogs can be run only on one record, and unfortunately, the response does not have a muti select option (ie, you cannot choose more than one answer as a response).

The business case is as follows. I want to be able to detect any duplicate cases (based on title and customer) related on the current case. If I do find similar ones, I want to be able to create a connection between the 2 cases using a custom connection role, mark the case found as cancelled/ duplicate and add a note to the duplicate case mentioning the reason. Remember that both the customer and title needs to be match for this duplicate detection to work.

Friday, November 4, 2011

CRM 2011 useful packaged solutions

The following solutions are handy when working on crm 2011. They are similar in the sense that they make a task simpler, and customization's are more efficient compared to the steps involved without the solution. They have decent documentation on how to use their features, and so far I have not seen any issues using them (i.e, they are pretty stable). Hope it helps!

1. Ribbon editor: A tool for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 that lets you edit CRM ribbons.  This ribbon editor shows a preview of the CRM ribbon as you are editing it and allows you to easily modify the ribbon without needing to completely understand the underlying XML schema.

2. Sitemap Editor: Provides a quick and easy way for users to update the site map through a user interface within Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Users will be able to immediately see the updated navigation pane when they publish the customizations.

3. Metadata Browser: The CRM 2011 Metadata Browser is a Silverlight 4 application that is packaged as a Managed CRM 2011 Solution. This tool allows you to view metadata within CRM including Entities, Attributes and Relationships.

4. oData Query Designer: The CRM 2011 OData Query Designer is a Silverlight 4 application that is packaged as a Managed CRM 2011 Solution. This tool allows you to build OData queries by selecting filter criteria, select attributes and order by attributes. The tool also allows you to Execute the query and view the ATOM and JSON data returned.

5. View replicator: View Layout Replicator make it easier for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 customizers to copying the layout of a view and paste it to the layout of other views in the same entity

6. Manage JS webresources: JavaScript Web Resource Manager for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 helps CRM developers to extract javascript web resources to disk, maintain them and import changes back to CRM database.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Activity Feeds in CRM 2011

The CRM 2011 Update Rollup 5 has a very interesting feature called Activity Feeds. Having played with it for some time, I think there is tremendous scope in the context of daily professional use.

There are a couple of steps that need to be followed to get started before seeing the Wall updates. Let us go through them:

i) Download and install the Update Rollup 5 (duh!)

ii) Download and import the CRM Activity Feeds solution from pinpoint. Check the Activate processes and enable sdk message processing steps during the import process. Under Settings/ System, you will see 2 new nav links named "Activity Feed Configuration" and "Activity Feed Rules"

The Activity Feed Configuration is where you can define the entity that needs to be tracked, and whether you want the record wall to be displayed. Not all entities are enabled for the feed configuration though custom entities are supported. The Activity Feed Rules are scenarios that trigger the post to be made to the wall. These are pre-defined for each entity, but there is a workaround by adding scenarios through the workflow (I will explain in reference to the example below).

I am going to focus on the following business case: The Sales Manager wants to see on his wall a note when any open opportunity has an estimated revenue of greater than $100,000. The advantage of this approach is that the Manager can focus on the high value deals, and is a better option than getting an email or creating a task/ custom activity. And if further information is needed, the opportunity record is just a click away. In essense, we are aggregating information that is pertinent to the user, with the criteria set being customizable.

Lets take a look at the steps involved.