Dynamics CRM Activity Timeline via xRM Consultancy

Since the upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 administrators have been able to use the conversations tab to allow users to view related activities, notes and posts against their associated records, essentially replacing the activity and history tabs from previous versions. The conversations tab displays a chronological list of the activities that are either open or completed using the current CRM look and feel, however scrolling through this list for records such as accounts with a high volume of activities to those that are yet to be completed is not very user friendly.

One solution is to use the Timeline for Microsoft Dynamics CRM from xRM Consultancy to provide a visual representation of the future and historical interactions related to the entity in your CRM instance. Recently I have found this a useful addition to clients’ CRM deployments.

The solution can be applied to CRM Online and On Premise deployments and is compatible with CRM 2015 as well as 2013 and 2011, the solution is free if you are looking to apply it to the following entities:

  • Account
  • Contact
  • Opportunity

The timeline is pre-configured to use the following default entities to display:

  • Appointment
  • Email
  • Fax
  • Letter
  • Case
  • Phone Call
  • Task
  • Service Task
  • Opportunity
  • Campaign Response

As part of the free version you can manage which of these entities are displayed too, I will cover that later on.

For the walkthrough we will use the free version, you can purchase the full version to enable against custom entities from their website, (pricing at the time of writing is “Less than 50 active users” = 995.00 GBP/ $1935.65 NZ or “More than 50 active users” = 1995.00 GBP/ $3881.03 NZ).

Step 1 – Download & Import the Solution

You can download the managed solution from the xRM Consultancy website, or by using the following link: http://www.xrmconsultancy.com/what-we-do/microsoft-dynamics-crm-timeline/

xrm_download

You will be required to enter your name and email address and select the version of CRM you want the solution to be compatible with (in this examples CRM 203/2015) and then click “Send”. You will then see an alert asking you to click on the newly presented link. Click the link and the download will begin.

Once the download has completed navigate to your CRM instance and import the solution via; Settings > Solutions > Import. And follow the usual steps to complete.

Please Note: As this is a managed solution once you have imported into CRM removing the solution will remove all installed components, however you will still want to use a non-production instance first to assess the suitability of the customisations for your deployment.

Step 2 – Timeline Configuration

Once you have imported the solution you’ll need to open it in CRM and accept the terms& conditions of use as per below. You will then see a link to “Open Timeline Configuration”, click the link to launch the pop-up window.

xrm_config1

In the Timeline Configuration window you will see the “Timeline Entities” displayed in a sub-grid, here you can remove entities that you do not want to display in the timeline, (if you have entities in this list that are not in use or viewable to users you may encounter errors so it is best to check). Additionally you can open one of the associated entities to view/amend the settings and the query used (amendments are via the paid version only).

xrm_entity

Step 3 – Entity Configuration

Next you will need to add the timeline to your entity, for this you can use a new or existing unmanaged solution. Open the entities form (in this example I am using Account) and insert a new tab or section.

Then in the form editor go to; Insert > Web Resource > search for and select “xrmc_Timeline.html” > Add a Name > Add a Label > Ok, this will add the HTML component from the managed solution. You can then alter the amount of space you require for the timeline using the formatting options.

xrm_webres

If you have added the timeline to a new tab, you may want to collapse the tab as default depending on the amount of processing required for your form OnLoad. Then save and publish your changes.

Step 4 – Assign Custom Security Roles

In order for users to view or work with the timeline you will need to assign them one of the custom roles imported as part of the managed solution. “Timeline Writer” allows users to add the timelines to forms and change the configuration (version permitting), the other role “Timeline Reader” will enable them to view the HTML component we have just added to the Account record.

xrm_roles

Navigate to the “Administration” or “Security” area of CRM, depending on your version and assign the security role to your users and/or teams as required.

Once you have completed your set up navigate to see your changes. You can click on activities in the timeline to view the details or scroll up and down the timeline with your mouse/finger.

xrm_account

This can be a great addition to your configuration and add to the overall user experience in CRM. Enjoy!

In-form Analytics in Dynamics CRM 2015

Due to the updates included in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 it is even easier to provide contextual data insights from within records, such as accounts and contacts based on their related records. Through some simple, yet effective configuration you can provide users with an up-to-date tailored overview of your organisations’ interactions with clients or potential customers .

In this example I will configure the Account form in CRM to display Sales Pipeline and Order data using the following functionality:

  • Roll-up Fields
  • Sub-grids
  • Charts

Prior to customising your entity form you will need to identify what content you are looking to deliver within the form and makes sure the entity relationships are in place.

Please Note: The amount of calculated data which is rendered on load for your CRM records can affect performance in the application, you will want to test the load time for your customisations to be sure it won’t impact on the overall user experience.

Step 1 – Create Roll-up fields in CRM

Roll-up fields in CRM are a new feature introduced in 2015, they enable administrators to add calculated data fields to forms without the need for development. We can use this functionality to obtain data from Opportunities associated with an Account.

Firstly, navigate to Settings > Solutions in CRM and select your solution, navigate to the Account entity and open the Account form you are going to be working with.

Once in the account form select the Insert tab at the top of the page and click to add a new Tab. Give your new tab a name, (in this case I have called mine “Sales Data” and formatted as two columns) and click OK. There are some additional fields that have been added to CRM 2015 out of the box; “Open Revenue” and “Open Deals” which you will find in  the field explorer. For this example I am going to add both to my newly created tab in a section.

Add_Opp_Fields

You can open the field properties to view the roll-up calculation applied to each of these fields. In the field details you can see that the field type is set to “Rollup”, by clicking edit you will see the current aggregation and filters in use, those for the “Open Revenue” field are in the image below. The “Open Deals” field is a rollup that uses a count of open opportunities.

Rollup_Opp_Filter

Further to these fields I am going to add one for the “Closed Revenue Sum” and “Lost Revenue Sum” using the following steps; New Field > Currency Field > Field Type = “Rollup” > Edit.

For the Sum of Closed Revenue or Closed Revenue (Sum) field I have used the following rollup query;

Source: Account
Use Hierarchy: Yes
Relationship: account_parent_account
Related Entity: Opportunities (Potential Customer)
Filters: If Status Reason equals “Won”
Aggregation: SUM of Actual Revenue

For the Lost Revenue (Sum) field I have used the following rollup query;

Source: Account
Use Hierarchy: Yes
Relationship: account_parent_account
Related Entity: Opportunities (Potential Customer)
Filters: If Status Reason equals “Cancelled, Out-Sold”
Aggregation: SUM of Est.Revenue

Place your new fields on the form in the desired order and save your changes.

Step 2 – Add Charts to the Form

Next I am going to use the sub-grid functionality to add charts to the account form. This is a useful trick that can deliver some great results with very little fuss. The key is to make sure you are using the right view for the Chart for the sub-grid.

Insert a new section in the tab created in step one and then click to insert a new “Sub-Grid”, in the Set Properties window select “Only Related Records”, the entity to “Opportunities (Potential Customer)” and the default view to as required, for this example I am going to use “Open Opportunities”. Then scroll to “Chart Options” at the bottom of the window and select the “Default Chart”, (I have used the “Sales Pipeline” chart), then select “Show Chart Only”. Finally click “Set”.

Chart_Opp_Filter

Repeat the steps for the charts that you require, I created a custom view called “All Opportunities” and used this as a filter criteria for the “Deals Won vs. Deals Lost” chart. Adjust your chart formatting until you are happy with the layout and click save.

Step 3 – Add Sub-Grids

For this example I have moved the “Recent Opportunities” sub-grid to my newly created tab in its own section. If you are surfacing related data be sure to check the box for “Only Related Records”, you can also create specific views to use for your sub-grids.

Step 4 – Complete Your Configuration & Test

Finally, choose the appropriate formatting and layout to maximise the number of components added to your tab and set if the tab should be expanded by default or not, (collapsing the tab by default means that the data will only load when it is expanded rather than each time the form loads). Once you are happy hit “Save” and “Publish” your form.

Account_Opp_Tab

And there you go – easy, no fuss analytics that are filtered to the current record. The results for my example are displayed above, the key to this configuration is data – the more you have the better the results. You can also use JavaScript to hide or show the tab depending on parameters, such as customer type etc.

This is just a quick example of what can be done and hopefully has given you food for thought. Happy CRM’ing folks.

Add some style to your CRM Solution with icons from Metro Studio

If, like me you are borderline OCD with your CRM solutions (not just the functionality but the user experience) then you probably pay an unhealthy amount of attention to the icons you include, well fear not fellow obsessives – Metro Studio by the guys at SyncFusion can help reduce the anxiety. 🙂

If you haven’t already used Metro Studio, it is a great free tool that allows you to access a collection of over 4,000  icon templates that can be easily customised within a nifty UX and exported for use in your CRM solutions or App’s. You can download the latest version (Metro Studio v3) here: http://www.syncfusion.com/downloads/metrostudio

The simple drag and drop interface allows you to quickly navigate or search through the icon library and add selected items to a project folder. The icons fit perfectly within the Dynamics CRM or Windows 8/8.1 application look an feel.

Metro_1

Once you have opened or created your project then you can manipulate the size, colour, padding and background to you icon then export to a folder directory in the format of your choice. You can then add the icons as a Web Resource in your CRM solution, (for more information on web resources see this MSDN article: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg309473.aspx). Enjoy!

Metro_3