Category Archives for "Dynamics CRM"

Issues Exporting View Data to Microsoft Excel

Occasionally I see issues when I am trying to export data from a Dynamics CRM 2011 view to Microsoft Excel.

The error messages may vary, but they may describe not being able to start a process or something.


The Cause

Most of these issues seem to be related to the startup time of Excel, when Excel is not running.  The problem does not seem to surface when Excel is already running.

There is some type of timeout involved, like maybe around 10-20 seconds, that Internet Explorer will allow before canceling the operation.

If Excel and the worksheet haven’t completed loading during that time frame, IE will cancel the opening of the worksheet, though Excel will complete it’s startup process.

Attempting the operation again, will usually result in the successful loading of the worksheet.

The startup time for the Excel will depend on menu factors, including the number of add-ins that Excel must load during the startup process. The more add-ins you have, the longer Excel’s load time.


The Solution

There are a couple of solutions to this issue:

1. Start Microsoft Excel before attempting to load the worksheet.

2. When prompted by Excel, select Save, then open the worksheet from Excel manually.

Manually hiding the CRM 2011 Ribbon

Some may call me Captain Obvious, but sometimes it is the obvious that passes us by.

As is today’s Dynamics CRM 2011 topic: Did you know you can hide the ribbon on the main Application or an Entity Form?  Well you can.

In the upper-right corner of the window, beside the Organization Name, is a small arrow:



Clicking that arrow will show or hide the ribbon, leaving only the tab names showing.

This is not a permanent change, just for the current session or form.

Not a huge deal, but handy if you’re trying to recover some screen real estate.

3 Dynamics CRM 2011 Quick-Tip: Double-clicking e-mail addresses

I didn’t actually realize it until this week, but if you double-click on an email address field within Dynamics CRM 2011, it will actually open the default email application ( such as Microsoft Outlook ), and create a new e-mail message.

So double-clicking this email address:


Results in a standard Outlook e-mail message being opened:



I verified that this was not how CRM 4.0 worked.

Anyway, it’s a really cool feature and can be a real time-saver.

Training, Training, Training

Earlier in the month I participated in an MVP Roundtable with the xRMVirtual Users Group where I discussed the importance of training in overall success of your CRM implementation. 

Let us review some of the key points:


Who to Train

Well, everyone, actually.  Starting with the people who will be using it most.

One strategy that works fairly well is to identify and train power users who will be available to answer simple questions. Power users can remove a huge burden from your help desk staff ( which is probably already over-whelmed ) and get the user’s questions answered in a timely manner.

If you are using a Dynamics CRM partner to help with the design and roll-out of the software, make sure you build-in knowledge sharing between their staff and yours so that the people who are running your systems have a good understanding of how things work, where to go to solve issues, and how the general trouble-shooting process works. This helps them do their job easier and makes them feel better about what they are doing which is never a bad thing.


What to Train

The basic training needs to cover just enough of the system to help the users do their jobs.  Most will come with questions similar to the following:

  • What is it?
  • How does it work?
  • What button do I push to "make it go?"
  • Who do I call when I have a problem?

You can start by showing them the Dynamics CRM interface, where things are located, the areas in which they will be spending the most time, etc.

Then you further formulate your training to cover the tasks that the user does most frequently.  If possible conduct your training sessions with groups of people who have the same or similar jobs so that the context of the training makes sense to each of the students.

By starting small and keeping it simple, you do not run the risk of over-powering your user community with information. The sheer depth of the Dynamics CRM product can be quite daunting to users so don’t try to teach every feature at once. 

Keep it simple, keep it direct, and have hard-copy or electronic "cheat sheets" that can be used to help refresh their memory when they are trying something for the first time.


When to Train

You need to start training as close to the roll-out or go-live date as possible, so that people have their training fresh in their minds.

Again, keep it simple.


When to Retrain

Technically, your training really never ends. You should schedule frequent sessions to show the users a new topic or area of the system that they may not fully understand or that has been newly added to the system.


Selling your users on Dynamics CRM

I want to bring this point up because it happens all of the time and is the key reason why a Dynamics CRM deployment will fail:

Users need to be "sold" on using the new system and "use it or get fired is not how you gain user adoption!

Instead of threatening them with employment, why don’t you try to incorporate the following points into their education process ( listed in no particular order ):

  • How does this make my job easier?
  • What will it do for me?
  • How will it help me sell more?

Getting these questions addressed in the training, in formal discussions, and by the water-cooler will go a long way in helping your implementation succeed.


Other Tips

Here are some additional tips that I’ve gathered through the years:


Management by Wandering Around

The best-kept secret to a successful implementation of anything. Just wander around the office, if you have that capability, and ask people how they are doing. For remote users or distributed workers, a quick phone call, note email, will work in a similar manner.

Don’t make it official, just casually wander around and ask people how they are doing; answer questions when possible, and generally show them that you care.


Lunch and Learn

Part of your follow-up training plan should always be to have group learning sessions to either:

  • Present new information
  • Collect new information

So you are either helping them learn more, or they are giving you feedback. Providing lunch takes the formalness away from the interaction and (hopefully) allows people to open up a bit more.


Free Food

Somewhere during the middle of your implementation, have lunch or breakfast catered as a reward for having to deal with what is inevitably a hassle that is a new piece of software.