Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Where's my settings button?

I do not attach to my companies CRM Server through outlook, I just keep a shortcut to it on my desktop and access it that way. In outlook I access my test server, since as a developer this is where I do most of my work. I keep task specific information in there and run a lot of backups, since I'm frequently breaking the intallation through trial and error.

I also connect to it via the web client to do cusomizations, and this triggers one of my least favorite "Features" in Dynamics CRM. Because the outlook client does not have the settings tab in in the navigation pane, explorer use the cookies left over from the Outlook Client and therefore my web client will not have a settings tab either.

If you clear your cookies you can get around this, but I loathe clearing my cookies, because I like to use "remember me" features whenever possible. Time is money afterall, and the less time I spend trying to remember credentials for the various webs sites, news groups, discussion groups, and even this blog, the better.

So after I did some digging I found KB Article 910050. This beauty solves the problem quite easily. All you need to do is find the IP address of the web server hosting your CRM app, and switch that out in three urls in the registry editor.

Browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\MSCRMClient
and switch the machine name to the ip address (make sure to keep the port :8080 or whatever you use) in the values for WebAppUrl, PlatformRoot, and ServerUrl.

Now you can use both clients interchangably and not worry about the cookies.

Experlogix MPCpe 4.6 is available

Today I will be upgrading the Experlogix MPCpe to version 4.6. I'm looking forward to some of the improvements. They've streamlined the installation process and and moved their files from the administrators directory to the %ALLUSERSPROFILE% which should make it much easier for me to delegate the maintenance of the system to non-administrative users. Which is a beg deal for me, because I have the sales manager adding new parts as need by her sales folks.

The new release seems to be focused on reducing adminstrative overhead on my part. Of course I'm all for that. But some goodies have been tossed in to helps the users as well. Being able to copy a configuration is a nice feature some of my users will love. I can't wait to see the custom model selector, if it's what I think it is, it could reduce some entry time for our users.

After the install I'll report what I've found and give you my impressions.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Account not found during Integration - But its there?

Occasionally I get errors in SCRIBE transfers where the account can't be found. Even though the account is in both Dynamic GP and Dynamics CRM. Why? Unbeknownst to me the mapping for accounts is actually kept on the KEYCROSSREFERENCETWOWAY table in the Scribe Internal DB. Generally when this error occurs, the account has been merged in CRM and the GUID for the inactive account is referenced in the APP_B_KEY field in the KEYCROSSREFERENCETWOWAY table. We need to change this.

Check to see if the accounts have been merged. If they have been merged look at the GUIDs for both the Active and Inactive account. Copy The GUID for the active account including the "{}". The GUID is located in the address bar as seen here.

When accounts can't be found but they are in CRM and GP. Verify the GUID Scribe is using in APP_B_KEY in the KEYCROSSREFERENCETWOWAY table in \\NTINTEGRATOR\SCRIBE SQL Server.

Select *

The results should look like:

If the APP_B_KEY field doesn't equal the GUID of the active Account make it so.

This will fix any of those errors.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Microsoft One Note

This only slightly relates to MS CRM, but I have been using One Note 07 for a couple of months now. And I am very impressed with it. I can create activities in it that relate automatically to Outlook then select the regarding and therefore relate them to CRM.

I'm hoping to eventually be able to apply contacts from CRM to it, but I have not looked that far into it yet.

There a free downloads available for OneNote07 and I would recomend trying it out if you are looking for a way to get better organized.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

DST on WS2000

If your like me you have a coule legacy systems hangng around that you haven't bumped up to Windows Server 2003. Out comes the new Daylight Savings Plan, and your stuck with a painful manual update for WS2000 machines.

Or are you?

Nope the guys from Intelliadmin.com have put out a nice little utility for this. Worked like a charm. I scaned it for virii and maleware, and none were found. None were found on my system after install. Go check it out.


Monday, March 05, 2007

Revisiting Scribe

Over a year ago, I gave a review of Scribe Software's Insight. A product I had very high hopes for, but was not panning out in my production environment. I gave them an "F" after using their product, or rather attempting to use their product, for several Months.

My problems with Insight stemmed from two issues. One we attempted to install a trial version of MOM (Microsoft Operations Manager) on that server, only to have the install fail the prerequisites. We rolled it back and thought we were done with it, however we were wrong. During the long arduous troubleshooting of Scribe Insight, we discovered that there was a MOM installation stuck in the registry and had to uninstall it. Luckily it was still in the Add and Remove Programs mmc.

The other issue was that when my VAR installed the SQL server instance that would be used for Scribe they failed to install SP 3a. Once MOM was uninstalled and the SQL server instance upgraded to SP 4. We were able to get Scribe Insight on line.

Scribe is a very powerful integration piece. And after many months of working with Scribe Support people - Bill, Brendan and Larry, I have been able to stabilize Insight and get pretty good results with it.

I can comfortably say that they did not deserve that "F". In fact I can give their Support team a Solid "B+". I hold back on giving them an "A" only because they seem to lose track of some Action Items. They could definitely use MS CRM at their location. If they are reading this ... Call me, I can give you a good price on an installation.

They have pretty good knowledge of their product, and have developers handy if they need more info. On a couple of occasions I had to follow up with them to see where things stood. But if they said they were going to call me at 3pm the next day they did.

I can give their product another "B". Man I would love to give it a higher grade, but it seems overly complicated, at times. Like so many programs the insight seems bent on pushing you to partners and paid support, when with just a little bit of effort the program can be supported by blokes like me right out of the box.

If you are looking for a powerful integration piece, and don't mind a long learning curve, don't shy away from Scribe. I don't think there is much it can't do. Be prepared to spend hours learning the system, and running a lot of tests to see how your results come out. Once you get the hang of it though, expect some dazzling results.

Editing the Quick Find View

I have spent months toying with workarounds for the fact that Microsoft CRM searchs Products by descriptions not the Part Number.

You can easily modify the fields the search is run against out of the box. I wish my VAR had mentioned this months ago.

Here's how to do it. This is for products, but is applicatble for all Quick Find views.

Settings > Customizations > Customize Entities

Select Products

Select Forms and Views

Select Quick Find All Products

Now on the right select the Add Find Columns

Here you are presented with a list of fields that you can search

Select the fields you wish to search on (you can use more than one).

Click OK

You can modify the rest of the view (the results columns and sort orders) just as you normally would with any other view.

Friday, January 05, 2007

My review of Experologix MPCpe

We have begun rolling out the long awaited, CRM Quoting and Order Entry CRM (Q&OE) phase of our integration. We have decided to use Experlogix MPCpe as the platform. I can not rave enough about this product, and Experlogix. This company's service is what everyone in the software development and support industry should strive for when putting together a support department.

Fast friendly knowledgeable support on a very flexible platform. They really take time with you and help you not only do what you want to do, but steer you to better ways to accomplish what you want with their product. Christian and Jesse, and others over there, have pulled my butt out of the fire over and over again during the test phase as we corrected my configuration errors.

What is MPCpe?

MPCpe stands for Master Product Configurator with Paraimetric Engineering which is a mouthful, around here we call it configurator. It allows users to rapidly enter opportunities, quotes, and orders in MS CRM. As anyone who has tried will tell you the out of the box MS CRM solution is not workable for quoting at all. Especially if you are integrated. MPCpe comes in two flavors, Quick Quote and Quick Quote Plus. The Plus version lets you create formula based rules

The #1 feature in Configurator is the "Parametric Engineering". Parametric Engineering allows you to build advanced knowledge of the products into the configurator making it seem as if an engineer was doing the order entry. It requires more time in the setup stage, but the savings from preventing incorrect orders and the time saved by eliminating some of the research that data entry, inside sales or customer service requires to the answer questions more than makes up for the initial time spent in setup.

For instance, to use the standard mountain bike examples, you have a mountain bike with three choices of frames, and 3 choices of forks. The frame dictates which fork you can use. Consider that Frame one can use fork a or b, Frame 2 can use fork a,b, or c, and frame 3 can only use b or c. This is intimate product knowledge. If this were the only case, then it wouldn't be a big deal but as everyone knows product knowledge can require years to master. In some places the turn over rate far out paces the ability to master product knowledge. However the Parametric Engineering allows you to easily tell the system, if you use Frame 1 you can select only Fork a and b. Then when the user attempts to enter c it will give them a unmistakable error with customizable messages, and yet allow them to easily recover from it, by just de-selecting the incorrect entry. No tech support calls no re doing the quote or order. Nice huh?

I'll write more about some of the other features later this week, but check out their site, and download the brochure. It's one of the nicest pieces of software I've used, and the people at Experlogix will make you glad you considered them.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Scribe Saga Continues

Well scribe has been installed for sometime now, and I've decided to give a grade. I'd have to go with a F. Now many people have had much better results with it than I have, and I don't want to scare anyone away from it. But the scribe product for me has been an abject failure.

The program crashes constantly and to make things worse when it crashes it fails to send out the aprpriate warnings and notifications, so it can go crashed and unrunning for long periods of time. Call me crazy or lazy if you will but I think software like this shouldn't need constant monitoring. And it appears that it does. I have to look at it every day to make sure it is running. If it fails my customer and order information doesn't come over to my CRM system from the accoutning package.

To add insult to injury, the products maintainence has come due, and while I am waiting for word from them about how the repairs are coming I get a phone call from them to pay up my maintainence. It's ironic that this company build integration software for a CRM suite, and could desperately use the product themselves.