Dynamics CRM Tip: Get a Count of records using Reports

Reports are among the most interesting value in CRM. The following is some helpful information I dug up which I had hoarded away in the past.

CountwCountReports  can be used to group records based on a specific criteria and provide a count of records in each group using the Report Wizard. The count option in the Report Wizard groups the records by a count of matching records. For example, if you have 10 accounts created in the month of July and another 20 created in August, and you configure the Report Wizard to group accounts by month, the report will show a count of 10 accounts under July and a count of 20 contacts under August, but it will not show the total count of accounts as 30.

To obtain a count of records using reports, group items so that they are organized together in the report by some common properties:

  1. In the Navigation Pane, click Workplace, and then under My Work, click Reports.
  2. To add a new report, click New, and then click Report Wizard.
  3. Select Start a new report, and click Next.
  4. Enter the name of the report, and specify which record types (primary and related record types) the report will use. To obtain a count of accounts, use accounts as the primary record.
  5. Define which records to include by selecting a filter criteria.
  6. For each grouping level you click to select, click Click here to add a grouping.
  7. Define the grouping (Organizing the data in a report so that related data is grouped together. For example, you could group data by week the record was created or by the country.):
    • Record type. You can select records from the primary record type you selected, and from any related record types. If you selected a secondary record type, you can also select records from the secondary record type and its related record types.
    • Column. The name of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM field that contains the data to define the grouping.
    • Time interval. Specify the time interval to group the data by Month, Day, Week, or Year.

      This field is enabled only when the value specified in Column is of datetime type, for example, Records Created On, Created On, or Modified On.

    • Sort order. Sort order for displaying the groups.
    • Summary type. Select Count to group records by a count of matching records.

    For example, if you select accounts as Record type, Created On as Column, and Month as Time interval, the data in the report is grouped by Created On. The report provides a count of accounts created in any particular month.

  8. To reorder the grouping levels, use the up and down arrows in the Common Tasks section.
  9. Click OK.

This information should get you started in creating reports which count the number of records which match your filter criteria.

Jeff Loucks

Chief Strategic Architect | Winrox | 425-577-7377

Outlook “Problem communicating with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server”

When a user tries to configure Microsoft Dynamics CRM Client for Outlook, by using the Configuration Wizard the following error message is displayed:

There is a problem communicating with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server. The server might be unavailable. Try again later. If the problem persists, contact your administrator.

I love these messages and I only wish I had an administrator to contact besides me. However with the buck stopping here the following KB might be useful.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2502671

Essentially there is an issue with time on the CRM server which needs to be corrected. It is well documented in the KB.

  • The Operating System date is not set to the correct date.
  • The Operating System time is not set to the correct time.
  • The Operating System time zone is not set to the correct time zone.

Jeff Loucks

The art of saving a stalled or failed IT project

Ahhh, blue skies and a spring breeze. Faced with an IT project gone wrong, it is often good to stop and smell the blossoms. Changing your mindset may be the first step to a successful outcome.

It is not new that IT projects, not unlike other projects, get off track and stall or fail. It often leads to finger pointing and tensions none of which assists in bringing projects to a successful conclusion. Saving these projects and helping the parties work together to achieve the goals has been an area which I have practiced since I became certified as a mediator in the late 90’s. For the past ten years, I have been asked to help fix the projects by customers,  by implementation partners and by software vendors in situations where things have not lived up to expectations. It is an art where everyone has to be focused on the goal, they have to be honest and they have to agree to work together. Keeping them focused often requires a neutral third party with a dispute resolution background and enough industry knowledge to mediate a successful outcome.

There are multiple aspects to why projects falter and listing them and the strategies to fix them all here would be to write a book. Suffice it to say the majority fall in to six categories which affect the execution of the project and one category which helps the project maintain momentum when things have gone astray.

The execution categories which affect projects status are:

  • Negotiations and change management
  • Product short comings
  • Improper allocation of client side resources
  • Skill shortages for partners
  • Scoping issues and changing needs
  • Honesty and Misrepresentations

People and personalities are influencers on success, however professionalism is always required to see past personal differences and keep the eye on the goal. Taking a confrontational approach to communication styles or personalities is never helpful and will only persist the problems. A mediator should listen and recast salient points in conversations which allow people to focus on the issues.

Maintaining momentum depends on framing the project in terms of an overall strategy for the organization and understanding how the project reinforces the strategic position and competitive advantage of the organization.

The artful aspect is to paint a picture for success and sharing a vision in which the parties are willing to undertake their responsibilities. Some people will ask, can all projects be saved? The answer is yes, if all the conditions exists with the active cooperation of all the parties. However, sometimes when the parities are faced with the responsibilities they choose to abandon the project. So it is key to secure the cooperation of all parties and ensure they have a shared vision of success.

An important aspect of saving an IT deployment is the need for changes in budget based on the current state of the project. This is often a factor is deciding whether the project will go forward. For a mediator, the job is to help the parties secure cooperation and all parties will have to understand that the budget that once applied to the project is no longer reflective of the current circumstances.

Start early in the process of identifying that you might need help keeping your project on track. Mediators can be extremely effective dealing with issues and setting the shared vision before issues affect the overall project. In fact a significant portion of our business is now geared toward Strategy Translation consulting which helps clients focus their IT project and select their vendors with a neutral third party in the mix. This can help CXOs interface with IT and vendors in a manner which drives competitive positions by enhancing the companies core activity systems. When CXOs engage in strategy translation to IT plans and implementation, our clients experience is that the entire execution of projects and results they deliver sets a new standard for overall satisfaction and return on investment.

In conclusion, your project is not the first to face challenges. Reflect on your ability to understand your projects goals and your ability to secure cooperation of your collaborators to work towards a shared vision. Act early to get help of a neutral third party to assist in bringing the parties together. Look for someone with significant industry experience and dispute resolution training that will help you identify and work through the issues. Remember that everyone wants the project to succeed and don’t be afraid to take another look at the budget in order make it successful based on the current circumstances.

Jeff Loucks

Chief Strategic Architect | Winrox | 425-577-7377

Gates and Ballmer Showed Leadership Around Courier

Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer showed incredible leadership managing the transition from the 2008 downturn to preserve Microsoft as a major player in the technology industry today.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Courier project at Microsoft it is a product that was cut back in 2008/09 when Microsoft was facing the global economic meltdown. Microsoft faced an unknown future with doom and gloom on every 6 o’clock news channel. At the same time they were on an R&D spending spree which had never been seen before in the history of man.

Recent news reports have been critical of the Microsoft Batman and Robin duo who put a PC in every house, on every corporate desk and created the standards which define personal computing the world over today. See the CNET story here or the Redmond Channel Partner story here. However both of these reports lack the the broad economic context in which the decisions were made or the way the future looked in 2008. The reports fail to understand the true nature of Microsoft’s dilemma and a stable of spending that needed to be allocated to preserve their intellectual property dominance on the corporate budgets which drive the Microsoft business model. It is important to note that the intellectual property which drives Android and iPad pays royalties to Microsoft.

First the emergence of the Cloud as a phenomena was omnipresent and the battle for the data center was looking like VMware might make it hard for the Windows Server market to be monetized. Massive investments were needed to respond to VMware and keep Microsoft in the game which was building the future of cloud computing. Inline with this, the investment in cloud infrastructure was seen to be huge empowering a generation of developers Microsoft has hoped will come to use their tools. Although the future of Azure and the acceptance of its value by the market is still in its infancy, the broad vision offers incredible promise in a market that will be increasingly dominated by mobile users and the elastic computing which feeds their needs.

Second, regardless of which ‘screen’ in the Microsoft lexicon accesses the Microsoft stable of software it is clear that increasingly these services will come from the cloud and the investment in 2008 had to reinforce the future which we now know as Office365. The crux that CNet and RCP fail to factor in is that the iPad works for Apple because they can make the entire product profitable through their hardware and software approach. Microsoft is less able to make a product like Courier profitable unless it pulls consumption of the Microsoft stack.

Here in lies the true merit of the decision made by Gates and Ballmer. Investing heavily with a 2008 economy in crisis, in a product which out of the box does not drive the stack is investing in a losing game for Microsoft. One knows out of the gate Courier will struggle to be a profitable investment since this type of mobile operating system is not excessively lucrative.

Placing the bet on Windows 8 and Office365. Who could analyze Microsoft and recommend they preserve spending in projects like Courier versus ensuring the the investment in Windows and Office? And that was the question in 2008. Do we try to compete with a product in iPad which will not be profitable for us before we ensure our imageinvestment in Office and Windows which can empower the mobile users of the future when Windows 8 hits the market? For those of you still unconvinced, what is it about Courier that will not be available profitably in the Windows 8 timeframe?

Can Microsoft afford to lose to iPad? No, however the way they win in 2008 was to make sure that the product that will come out in 2009-2012 will be cloud enabled and run on Windows 8.

In my opinion, Steve and Bill are dominant players shaping the industry successfully with sound decisions around spending which generates profits for Microsoft. For those of you wondering what happened to the Courier team, many of them are working on Windows 8 and other teams at the Redmond based skunkworks.

Jeff Loucks