Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Activity Feed, Part 1 - Getting Started

Did you hear? Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 5 was released last week. We live and breathe Microsoft Dynamics CRM here at PowerObjects so it is no surprise that this big news.One of the cool new features is the much anticipated Microsoft Dynamics CRM Activity Feed.

What is the Activity Feed? Activity Feed is Microsoft CRM 2011 version of your LinkedIn or Facebook home page where it displays recent 'activities' or updates related to those entities in which you choose to follow. This mini Social Networking tool within CRM, will increase communication and provide quick and easy access to information you need.

Here a look at some of the features:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Activity Feed

  1. What's New area added to your Workplace area
  2. Share an insight with your colleagues, update your status
  3. Edit your personal profile, add a photo
  4. View who and what you are following in the Activity Feed area
  5. See other people status updates
  6. Post Url's in Activity Feed

To set up the Activity Feed (for existing CRM customer)

  1. Ensure you have proper security roles to import solutions
  2. Download the Activity Feed solutions from Microsoft Pin Point
  3. Settings > Solutions > Import

Once imported the 'What's New' entity will appear in the work place area

And two new entities will be created in your Settings Area.

  1. Activity Feed Configuration
  2. Activity Feed Rule

Activity Feed Configuration

Allows you to define which entities your organization can follow

By Default, System Users are added.

To add new entities

  1. Click New
  2. Enter the entity Name

Note: enter the entity's logical name, for example for Accounts enter accounts (it is case sensitive)

  1. Click Save and New to add other entities
  2. Very important, you will need to publish all entities you add to the Activity Feed Configuration for the changes to take effect.

Activity Feed Rules

Displays activity feeds records related to the posts you choose to follow.

Follow Users (and Entities).

To follow users (or entities)

  1. Navigate the What's Net section in the Workplace area.
  2. Select Advanced Find in the Ribbon

  1. Use advanced find to search for records

  1. Select Results

  1. Use the checkbox to select the users you want to follow
  2. Select Follow
  3. Confirmation Window appears, Click OK

You can follow the same process for following Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities etc. (Provided you added those entities in the Activity Feed Configuration section.

Stay tuned for Activity Feeds, Part 2 – Working with Activity Feeds and, as always, Happy CRM'ing!

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 5 - Features Overview

In late October, Q4 2011 Service Update (also known as CRM 2011 Update Rollup 5 or UR5) was published and is the first release of Microsoft's new program to rollout new Dynamics CRM 2011 features on a twice yearly basis. We are pumped about these additions! After a month of playing around and getting our hands dirty with the new additions, here's an overview of the new features now available.

CRM Outlook Client Enhancements

One of the biggest improvements with this service update involves email tracking. It's now an asynchronous process, so when you click on Track in CRM, the process of tracking that email occurs behind the scenes and does not slow down sending the email. AWESOME!

Dialogs & Workflows

With Q4 2011 Service Update, you now have the ability to add Dynamic record hyperlinks to Workflows and Dialogs. All entities now include a Dynamic URL field that can be added to any email notification by using the Insert Hyperlink feature. Check out our blog post about adding hyperlinks to email notifications: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 5 – Adding a Hyperlink to Email Notifications via a Workflow

Dialogs were added to CRM 2011 and provide a simple user interface that walks users step-by-step through a business process. In this update, new field types are now supported in CRM 2011 dialogs, such as look ups and dates. Adding these data options really expands the flexibility of dialogs.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 5

Business Intelligence

A super-cool addition to CRM 2011 in this update is the capability to create multi-series charts! You can now join different sets of data on a single chart. This means you can compare different data sets right within a chart. How cool is that! A great example is comparing Actual Revenue and Estimated Revenue for an Account or Sales Person.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 UR5            MSDYNCRM UR5

More cool additions to charts are the options for stacked bar and stacked column charts and the ability to set Top/Bottom Rules.

Duplicate Detection Rules

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 allows you to create duplicate detection rules to increase data integrity and decrease duplicate record creation. This latest service update provides more flexibility when setting up these duplicate detection rules. You can now choose whether or not to ignore null values, giving you more control of the potential duplicates that are flagged for further clean-up.

Microsoft CRM Duplicate Detection

Activity Feeds

Another awesome feature to Q4 2011 Service Update is the addition of Activity Feeds. These are the Microsoft CRM 2011 version of your LinkedIn or Facebook home page where it displays recent 'activities' or updates related to those entities in which you choose to follow. This mini Social Networking tool within CRM, will increase communication and provide quick and easy access to information you need.

Check out our blogs about activity feeds:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Activity Feed, Part 1 – Getting Started

Microsoft Dynamic CRM 2011 Activity Feed Part 2 – Working with Activity Feeds

Dynamics CRM Activity Feeds

These are the coolest of the cool new updates to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 in the recent Q4 2011 Service Update. If you need any help with the new service updates or are looking for a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner with a ton of experience, don't hesitate to contact us.

What has been your favorite feature addition in UR5? And why?

Happy CRM'ing!

(If you want to check out the technical specs and download RU5, go to the Microsoft Download Center.)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 5 - Add Hyperlinks to Email Notifications via Workflow

Have you ever received an email notification from Dynamics CRM and wanted to access that record immediately instead of having to go find it within MS CRM? Another great new feature in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Update Rollup 5 is the ability to add hyperlinks to email notifications via workflow. All entities now include a Dynamic URL field that can be added to any email notification by using the Insert Hyperlink feature.

The steps below will walk you through the steps to add the hyperlink to the email.

1. Select the "Set Properties" button of the email you wish to create or modify

Add Hyperlinks to Email Notifications via Workflow

2.Place your cursor where you would like to have the link inserted and then select the "Insert Hyperlink" button

MSCRM Update Rollup 5

3. Enter in the text you would to display in the email in the Text to Display field and then select "Record URL (Dynamic)" for the Dynamic Values list.

Note, you could add any URL to the email by using this feature as well.

Update Rollup 5 for MSCRM

4. Select "Ok" and you have now added a link to the Lead record.

UR 5 Microsoft Dynamics

5. As you can see below, the user now has an easy way to access the record directly from the email.
We are totally digging RU 5. What is your favorite new feature?
Happy CRM'ing!

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, Update Rollup 5 and Charts

The Update Rollup 5 has brought many amazing features and improvements to MS Dynamics CRM 2011, and one of those amazing improvements has come to the wonderful world of charts! Charts are one aspect of any program that provide a great deal of information. As a matter of fact, charts reveal more than they hide! A quick glance at a chart can tell us a lot more than a detailed scan of thousands of mundane records. So let's take a look at Update Rollup 5 and charts!

MS Dynamics CRM 2011 already provided great abilities to create charts based on so many system entities (Accounts, Goal Metrics, Recurring Appointments, Cases, Phone Calls…and the list goes on!). However, charts before Update Rollup 5 were simple, and they had one certain limitation – You could create a chart based on only one series (vertical axis), and Category (horizontal axis). However, UR 5 gives us the ability to add as many series and categories as we want, thus giving us an even more detailed view of our data, and making decision making easier.

Creating a chart with multiple series is extremely easy. Let us explain that with a simple example. Suppose we want to see all our active customers (Active Accounts) in all the states. In addition, we also want to look at the combined annual revenue of these customers grouped by state. This is what we will do:

In our left navigation menu, we would go to Accounts, click the "Customize" tab, and Choose Customize Entity.

That opens the Default Solution Window. Here we will click Charts, and then New.

On the new window that opens up, we essentially perform four steps.

  1. Choose a view that would act as data for our chart.
  2. Give the chart a name.
  3. Choose one or more than one Series (vertical axis).
  4. Choose one or more categories.

So, to go with our example, we will first choose Active Accounts from the "View Used for chart preview" dropdown, and enter a name for the chart.

Now it's time to add Series. We would add Account Name first, and for grouping choose Count:All. We also want combined revenue, so we would click "Add a series", and choose Annual Revenue. For grouping, we will choose "Sum". Since we want this data by State, we will add "Address1: State/ Province" in the Horizontal dropdown list.

Note: It is always a good idea to include a description of the chart as well!

And that's it! You can already see a preview of this chart on this window. Detailed charts look cluttered on this small preview screen, however, you can save this chart and add it to your dashboard to get a bigger/ better view.

If you want to change the type of chart, set Top/Bottom rules (e.g.," show me the top 3 states with maximum revenue"), or delete the series, then you would want to use these buttons:

The bigger chart on your dashboard would look like this:

Are there other topics you would like us to discuss? If so, let us know by commenting on this post.

Happy CRM'ing!