Sunday, November 4, 2012

50 Shades of CRM: The True Story of the CRM Field Guide

This is the history (and a bit of a book review) of the CRM Field Guide ( To paraphrase a much greater tome, to tell the story of the book it is best to tell the story of some of the minds behind it.


On the 9 December, 2009 George Doubinski, a CRM MVP whose generosity is only matched by his dry Russian wit, wrote:

“Hi MVPs,

I’m probably one of the least qualified people on the subject yet for some inexplicable reasons I’ve been approached by one of the publishers about writing a book about new version of CRM. Writing a book, as some of you will vouch, is a tedious and time-consuming exercise. If you are looking for a return on investment, your time will be better spent flipping burgers. Genuine love of writing,  glory (albeit, a minimal one) and vanity are the only true reasons to even contemplate writing anything.

Having considered that, I still think that “MVP Cookbook on Microsoft Dynamics CRM 5” is not such a bad idea. Collection of recipes coming from people who do know their stuff.

I’m sure some of you have already been approached in the past and may have refused the offer of writing a book but a contribution of just one or two chapters is a significantly smaller effort and might just work. So if you believe that it’s not a scheme heading for an absolute disaster, please get in touch with me off the list.

Note that you will have to have access to CRM5 TAP with a signed NDA, of course.



Despite many positive responses, essentially nothing happened for about a year. Then on 13 August 2010 when, undeterred by the apathy of his comrades, George wrote:

“If you recall I floated idea for MVP cookbook some time ago after being one of the many approached by the same publisher… A few of you have responded and expressed the interest to participate and believe me, I have not forgot, simply was running inside the hamster wheel for a while. And with 2011 upon us, we probably need to re-group anyway.”

At this point I, and others, jumped on the book bandwagon. I wrote a chapter on workflows and dialogs and others threw in their bits and pieces.

Unfortunately the progress of others was slow and after yet another year all we had was three chapters (including mine) totalling about 150 pages of unedited content. The vision of an MVP-written book on CRM was fading.

By the end of 2011, CRM MVP Donna Edwards made one last-ditch attempt to restart the MVP book engine. Here is an abridged version of her email:

“As most in this email thread are aware, we kicked off a CRM MVP book project about a year ago.  We hit some bumps in the road and stumbled a bit but the good news is we are back on track with a stellar group of contributors.  If you are included in the To: line above, then you agreed to contribute one or more chapters to the CRM MVP book.  What an awesome bunch of individuals and I am thrilled to have each of you onboard!

Below is the list of book sections, chapters and authors.  As you will see, we have a great lineup and I think a good matching skillset for each chapter.  I hope you are all happy with the identified content.  Please contact me if you think we’ve missed something critical or have another chapter you’d like us to consider including.  As it stands now, the book should come in at over 600 pages”.

With Donna and Julie at the whip, not only did 19 CRM MVPs produce a book but it managed to overtake the 600 pages, eventually coming in at 940 pages.


Despite my hideous bias, I think it is fair to say the book is comprehensive in its coverage. Topics include:

  • Server/Client installation
  • Security setup
  • Report development
  • Integration
  • Configuring CRM and packaging configurations in solutions
  • Data management
  • User adoption strategies and tips from the trenches

It is also fair to say that, given the broad scope, there are areas where it is shallow in depth. For example, there is little code in the book (however the chapter on solutions is, by any measure, comprehensive). Similarly, my chapter of processes covers the essentials but, in terms of using processes you could write a whole book (and Richard has).


Obviously, given I wrote a chapter, count most of the authors as friends and receive a cut of the sales, it is difficult for me to review the book without some conflict of interest. However, I do believe there is something for everyone. If you or your team need to have a broad range of skills, in regards to Dynamics CRM, this is a great pdf to add to your reader. If, in reading the field guide, you determine there is an area you need to dive deeper, you can select one of the more focussed books in the market.

In terms of the quality of the content, it is difficult to argue against the pedigree of the authors, given they are all CRM MVPs and, moreover, we all got to pick the CRM topic we are passionate about or have strong knowledge of. In my case, I have a passion for processes in CRM, if only because they give me the power to make CRM do things only possible otherwise through code. However, I know precious little about the email router whereas Giorgio had written extensively on the router prior to the book and therefore was in a perfect position to create an informative, quality chapter.


While the book has literally been over 1000 days in the making, I believe the wait has been worthwhile. The book is the distilled wisdom of about 1/3 of the world’s CRM MVPs and from is only $49.99. It is fair to say even MVPs will learn something from this book (and I intend to).

If you want to try before you buy, I do run the CRM MVP Gospel twitter feed (@CRMMVPGospel) which quotes a line from a random page in the book each week. While the feed may not change your world, it will give you an idea of the subjects covered in the book and who wrote them.

Once you have sampled its wares, head to and get yourself a copy. I doubt it will be as popular as “50 Shades” but, unlike that novel, the vast amounts you learn from it you can employ in the workplace without fear of permanent injury or scarring.

1 comment:

Nick Doelman said...

I ordered the book pretty much immediately after I saw it come up on a slide at Extreme 2012. I have been working with CRM since v1.0 and immediately I not only learned a few things about CRM but also got some better insight on how to approach common problems. The official Microsoft courseware and help files are good, but real world experience makes the difference. Glad you guys stuck to it and produced a great resource.