Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Techie AW #2 in Stockholm

As I mentioned earlier, we had a CRM Techie AW at an hotel in Stockholm. It is now time again, so if you are a programmer, application consultant, architect or in some other manner work with Dynamics CRM from a technical perspective, do attend.
Last time we had some very interesting discussions regarding managed and unmanaged solutions. This time we are going to discuss supported and unsupported customizations and solutions. Which is a subject that I feel is very interersting and that there are many aspects of it that can be discussed. I previously this year wrote a posting on the subject, which you can find here:

It will be located at the same hotel as last time, in other words Hotel Anglais next to Stureplan in Central Stockholm.

Further reading (in Swedish) and attendance submission can be found here:

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Monday, October 22, 2012

Creating quotes in word

I really love CRM but as with all things you love, there are also areas where there are areas of improvement. One of these areas concerning Dynamics CRM is the functionality to create quotes by sending CRM data to a word document by using the mail merge functionality of word. Until Microsoft have fixed this, there are a few good options.

The basic functionality really consists of two parts. The first part is being able to create a document without being a programmer. The built in functionality of Dynamics CRM requires you to open the document press Alt-F9 to see the "backend" of the document and then be really savvy with Word template programming to make it work for you. The basic problem with it is handling subtables, like quote rows in a quote. As the data being sent from CRM to word is a large table with one row for each of the detail rows. The problems with this are:
- You cannot have two sub-tables
- As the word for-each functionality works in such a way that it loops through all the rows and when the cursor points to the row after the last, it will leave the for-each-loop. The header data is copies as fields to all rows. This means that you cannot, using the normal logic of a template, have a template that first shows all quote rows and then the total after the table, as the latter comes from the quote header. Microsoft have solved this by some rather intricate programming of the template that makes it almost unmodifiable for normal user and programmers not used to advanced word template programming.

I have tried one product and know of another that I have not had the chance to try yet, that try to rectify this.

The first one is DocuementCorePack from MSCRM-Addons in Austria. It has a very CRM-like addon to Word where you easily can insert the fields you like from the entities and related entities. It also has special logic for handling sub-tables and to save the document back to CRM or SharePoint. The installation program is also exemplary! It is very easy to install. They also have some additional tools that jack into to this program like the AutoMerge. The company behind it is a very stable company that has been making addons to Dynamics CRM since version 1 and they have even helped me make special adaptations to the program when I have had customers requesting this.

The second one is QuickBix Document Suite from the Swedish company QuickBix. I havn't had the chance to try it yet but they have shown it to me and it has some very good features. They also have some impressive customer references. I have tried once to install it which I was sad to say was unsuccessful. This might however have been fixed or I might just have been unlucky. The people behind the company are very friendly and are always eager to help.

The prices vary for these products and I suggest going to their web sites or send them an email to find out the details.

In conclusion I never demo the built in functionality for generating quotes to word in CRM and I really hope Microsoft will fix this as it is rather fundamental to sales force automation (SFA). Until that time, and maybe also after, there are some very good alternatives at reasonable prices so do check them out!

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

MVP Book here + syndication of blog

Today I received my two copies of the CRM Field Guide! A real monster book written by no less than 19 of my fellow CRM MVP:s. It is truly a great book with indepth chapters regarding many of the areas you touch when working as a consultant with Dynamics CRM. It is also very personal with lot of tips and tricks by some people who really know what they are talking about. If you havn't already gotten a copy, hardcopy or e-book, head over to their site and buy one right now. The e-book is a real help in the field, when the brick-sized hardcopy might be a bit cumbersome, but nothing meets the feel of a real book. (yes, I was once a publishing editor and have a real fetish for real books :)

Today this blog was also officially syndicated by Microsoft Dynamics Community blogs, as you can see here: or you might actually be reading it at this new location.

Gustaf Westerlund
MVP, CEO and owner at CRM-konsulterna AB