Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Revisiting My Most Popular Articles

It has been a little over six years since I began writing this blog and I thought it is time to revisit my most popular articles to see how they stand up (and maybe update a few of them). On my blog page, on the left hand side, there is a “Popular Posts” section, showing the top ten most popular articles.


I will focus on these articles for the blog post.

My Themes

There are a few broad subjects I blog about:

Of these, tips and tricks seem to be the most popular with five articles. The rest are a bit of a mixed bag with one workflow article, my two Surface Pro reviews, a high-level piece on Gartner/Forrester reviews and my piece on moving my email to Office 365.

Tips and Tricks

Importing Records

Not a lot has changed with the Import Wizard but one difference stands out. In my original article I lamented at the speed, or lack thereof, of the import as the web service layer could only handle one record at a time. This has changed and batches of files can be passed through the web services for processing on the server side, greatly improving the import rate.

I have not done any testing on how this affects performance of the Import Wizard but my developer friends tell me it has made a significant difference for integration.

LinkedIn Integration

Here there is good news and bad news. The bad news is the LinkedIn integration no longer works and has not for quite a while. The good news is there is a free integration with InsideView now which gives you integration with LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.


Very powerful and very easy to install. Essentially you install the solution file, add the web resource it contains and label the section as required and you are good to go.

Advanced Find Limitations

Unfortunately all of the limitations from over a year ago are still in CRM. If you are looking to change this, you can lodge recommendations at Connect.

Running a CRM VPC

Three years ago, virtual PC images (VPCs) were the way to go for demonstrating Dynamics CRM; CRM Online was slow in Australia and wifi/network availability in board rooms was not guaranteed and certainly not fast. Things have changed. Frankly, I cannot remember the last time I spun up a virtual machine on my laptop. These days, I look to trial versions of CRM or, if I do need a virtual server, I go to Azure.

Making Records Invisible In CRM

This trick of assigning records to a team in a different business unit continues to serve me well, even though it was written about two years ago. There are often departments in an organisation who believe they have ‘special’ contacts and accounts. This solution means they can still get on board with CRM without losing control.

Workflow and Dialog Tricks

There are plenty of auto-numbering solutions out there but this basic one using workflows covers the essentials. My revised version using synchronous workflows is even better. As a point of note, for a client we recently reviewed whether it was possible to guarantee a unique number generation when using clustered servers. Unfortunately, there are rare occasions when a clustered environment can generate duplicate numbers, even if a plugin solution is employed, although it is rare.

Forrester and Gartner Trajectories

Like the workflow and dialog article, I have also written an updated version of this article. The same four CRM solutions which were leading two years ago, continue to lead today but with Oracle and SAP losing some ground. As the reports come out, I will continue to update the trajectories.

Surface Reviews

Two of my Surfaces review made it to the top ten list. I am writing this blog on my Surface Pro 1, which serves me as well today as it did back then. I occasionally have to flush the index to avoid running out of space but otherwise I have no complaints.

My Surface 2, unfortunately, has a failed battery which means it will only boot up on power and if that power is removed it immediately turns off. We still use it as home but, with no battery, it rarely leaves the house. Fortunately I will be in Seattle in a few weeks and will look to replace it before the 12 month warranty runs out.

Migrating to Office 365

Like my Surface Pro, I continue to use Office 365 as an exchange server and could not be happier. For the price of a couple of coffees each month, I do not need to worry about backups or PST file corruption and I get access to my email/calendar anywhere. In terms of space on my Exchange Server, I have used 19.3G. In my original article from January 2012, I had used 6.63G. This gives me a couple more years of use before I need to delete anything.



Overall, I am quite happy how my articles have stood to the test of time. CRM has moved on in some cases, for the better and my review/opinion pieces hold true to my thoughts today. As usual, if there are topics you would like me to blog about, feel free to let me know.

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