Category Archives for "Training"

New Workshop: Understanding Dynamics CRM Processes

Hi Everyone,

I have been trying to formalize some of my Dynamics CRM automation and processing training and I think I’ve finally found a format that I am happy with.

Let me introduce you to my new workshop: Understanding Dynamics CRM Processes.

Here is a little about the course:


When you finish this workshop you will have a very deep understanding of Dynamics CRM process, how to design and build them, and how they will benefit your business.



I am a huge believer that nothing makes you understand a new concept or technology better than just doing it yourself. That means you’ll be doing a lot of exercises and there will also be homework.


Live Environment

We’ll have a real playground in which to play by using a Dynamics CRM environment for all of our work.


A Different Style of Course

Instead of dedicating a full day to training, we’ll be meeting once per week for two hours. Can’t make a session? Don’t worry, they will be recorded and you can replay them later and just perform the work on your own, just like you are in class.

Class with start on Tuesday, June 21st and run through Tuesday, July 19th.

I will actually have two sessions: 10am-12pm CDT and 6pm-8pm CDT, so that people can fit it into their already busy schedules.


What You Will Learn

Here is a brief summary of the topics we’ll cover:


From the basics to the advanced, you’ll learn everything that you need to know to understand, create, and maintain custom workflow processes.


So I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Dialogs” but don’t really understand what they are and how you would use them. Like workflows, we’ll be covering them in-depth so you can see for yourself.

Business Process Flows

I’m sure you have seen the progress bars on the Lead and Opportunity entity that give the user a quick indication of where that specific entity record is within the process. You’ll learn how to create and maintain these process flows to fit your business.

Custom Actions

Custom Actions have been around for a while but are often overlooked. We’ll discuss how and why they are used so you can see if they can be of benefit to your business.


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few questions that have come up while building out the course:

Who is this workshop for?

This workshop is for anyone who is classified, or classifies themselves, an administrator or power user. Or, it is for anyone who wants to expand their Dynamics CRM product knowledge. (see the next question.)

Am I qualified to attend?

Do you have at least a basic understand of how Dynamics CRM functions, how data is stored, and how to navigate around the application?  If so, then yes, this workshop is for you.

Will there really be homework?

Yes. With only two hours of class-time per week, there will a lot that you will need to accomplish on your own.


Ready to Investment in Yourself?

The cost of the course is a one-time payment of $997.

Preferred Session:

Announcing the Dynamics CRM Developer Bootcamp in June.

TrainingCourse description

If you are looking to get started with Dynamics CRM development, and are looking for an instructor-led, hands-on workshop, then let me introduce you to the Dynamics CRM Developer Bootcamp.

This course provides an introduction to the technologies, tools, and processes required to turn a .NET developer into a Microsoft Dynamics CRM developer. In–depth coverage is provided for both client and platform technologies through the use of real–world lab scenarios. Students will also be exposed to the most current third–party tools to aid them in their development efforts and finally, each student will receive a collection of templates and code–libraries to jump–start their development efforts.

Is this course for me?

If you are a developer who is just starting your journey into Dynamics CRM development and who needs to gain an understanding of the technologies, processes, and tools required to be a Dynamics CRM developer, then the answer is Yes!

Likewise, if you have been thrown into Dynamics CRM development (either voluntarily or kicking and screaming) and need to fortify your knowledge, then this course is also for you.

What you will learn:

The information covered is relevant to Dynamics CRM versions 2011 through 2016 (though some topics are specific to one version or the other). Here is what we cover:

  • Using the Dynamics CRM SDK with .NET to perform platform and query operations
  • How to create plugins and custom workflow activities
  • How and when to use the Dynamics CRM JavaScript object model
  • How to edit the Dynamics CRM SiteMap and the Ribbon components
  • How to create and use solutions effectively
  • You’ll also learn where to find, and how to use, the free tools available for both Dynamics CRM developers and administrators

Your instructor:

This class is taught by Mitch Milam, ten–time Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for Dynamics CRM and an independent consultant specializing in Dynamics CRM architecture, development, and training.  This is your chance to learn from someone who has been developing with Dynamics CRM on a daily basis since Dynamics CRM version 3.0.

The dates:

Monday, June 6th through Friday, June 10th.

Class starts at 8:00am CDT and will last five or six hours per day, depending on the topic. Please budget the entire day so that you have time to complete the homework assignments. Class will end around mid-day on Friday, depending on the speed of the students.


This is a developer course so you must know:

  • Visual Studio, .NET and C#
  • Have a familiarity with the Dynamics CRM product
  • Passing familiarity with JavaScript

Course format:

This is an Internet-based workshop. Classroom time and discussions will be facilitated using GotoMeeting and we will be using Dynamics CRM 2016 Online  for our development environments. This will allow for the completion of labs and homework without causing conflicts with the other students.

The investment:

The investment for a standard developer ticket is $2,995.

The standard developer ticket with an additional four hours of follow-on coaching is $3,495.

Discounts are available for multiple students and a payment plan is also available to help spread the cost.


Sign up today!


Students will also receive the following tools and resources, valued at over $500. Here is what you get:

  • Single-organization license for SnapShot! for Dynamics CRM
  • Electronic copies of my Deep Dive book series: Plugin Development, Administration, Security, and Query Strategies
  • Templates and code libraries that I used in my everyday development efforts

Trainer/Presenter Tip of the Day: Cough Drops

One of the little tricks I learned while conducting webinars, training, or presenting, is to always have cough drops (throat lozenges) with me.

I generally take one about 10-15 minutes before I start and it seems to help calm my throat and clears out my sinuses.  This in turn helps me speak better.  It also, of course, helps with coughing which happens to me when I speak too much and do not drink enough water.

Try it out yourself.

Webinar Campaigns with Click Dimensions

I have been doing a lot of webinars lately through my Teaching Tuesdays program and in doing so, I am constantly refining my processes for all of the tasks that need to get completed before, during, and after the webinar.

The Click Dimensions integration with GoToWebinar  is a huge timesaver, in this regard, so I thought I would take a few minutes and document my process in hopes that it would be helpful to anyone else doing this type of work.


There are three distinct stages to any webinar:

  • Preparation
  • Presentation
  • Follow-up

Let’s discuss each one in turn.



The first stage covers all activities leading up to the actual presentation itself. Everyone will probably have a different set of tasks, but here is what I currently do:


1. Create the Webinar in GoToMeeting.

This, of course, is the first step. Don’t forget to put it on your calendar. (yes, simple, but sometimes you get busy and forget)


2. Create a blog post announcing the webinar

3. Send a tweet pointing to the blog post.

4. Post a note on LinkedIn pointing to the blog post.

These three steps are actually handled through the same process. I use WordPress for all of my web sites and I have plugins that handle the tweet and LinkedIn post automatically.


5. Create an email template containing the announcement.

I have a standard blank email template that I just clone and insert the information into. I talk about this process in this article.


6. Send an email to the contacts in CRM who I think would be interested in attending the webinar.

I have two main subject areas (CRM and Xamarin) in my xRM Coaches CRM instance and have marketing lists for each. I just pick the appropriate list and send the email to them.


7. Webinar registration confirmation

When someone registers for the webinar, GoToWebinar will automatically send them a confirmation email.

8. Reminder blog post

Since my webinars are on Tuesdays, I create a second blog post on Friday, reminding them of Tuesday’s webinar. In most cases, this reminder post drives additional attendance. This is automatically tweeted and placed on LinkedIn.


9. GoToWebinar reminders

GoToWebinar will automatically send a reminder emails one day and one hour before the webinar, unless you change the setting.



This stage encompasses more than just conducting the webinar. There is actually a lot more to it than that:


1. Start the webinar.

In most cases, you need to start a few minutes late to accommodate stragglers. Just delay long enough to get around 25% attendance or so, then start.


2. Make sure you are recording the webinar.

I forget this one about half of the time. Put a sticky-note on your monitor and use the “what attendees see” option on the GoToWebinar control panel to verify they are seeing the correct screen and application.


3. After the webinar, save the recording to disk.

You will be prompted to save the recording. This process can take as long as 30-60 minutes, depending on the length of the recording.


4. Upload the webinar

To my YouTube Channel. Again, this will take many minutes, depending o n the recording length.  I also create a custom thumbnail by taking a screen shot of my presentation title slide and use that for the recording. This eliminates YouTube from attempting to pull a random slide out of your presentation itself.



The follow-up stage closes the loop with your webinar registrants. One of the things you need to decide is if you treat attendees (those that actually attended the webinar) different than absentees (those to registered, but never attended).

Your numbers will vary, but if you get a 50% attendance rate you should be jumping up and down with joy because that is outstanding.  Most of the time, a 25-30% attendance is the norm.


1. Create marketing lists

Click Dimensions automatically creates the following CRM records for a webinar:

  • Event
  • Event Participants.
  • Contacts (which are tied to Event Participants)

You can use the participation to create the following types of Marketing Lists:

  • Registrants
  • Attendees
  • Absentees

There may be cases where you want to give only certain information to Attendees or you have a different message for Absentees, so you might wish to create separate Marketing Lists so you can target each group individually.  The Registrants Marketing List has everyone.

I personally have used all of the above, depending on the webinar.


2. Create email templates for follow-ups.

As with the notification email, you need to create an email template to perform a Click Dimensions Email Send operation.


3. Sent an email to the various Marketing Lists

Again, depending on how you want to handle Attendees and Absentees, will determine the number and content for the emails.

Note: Keep in mind that GoToWebinar can also send out a follow-up as well so you probably do not want two messages going out.

In my emails I typically add any links that I discussed in the webinar as well as a link to the recording.


4. Put a link to the webinar on your web site.

Depending on how you have your web site structured, you can put a link to the recorded webinar or embed a player directly on the page.  I am still trying to find the best fit for my sites, for this step, but I will probably end up with the embed option.


5. Blog Post (Optional)

I am still trying to decide if I want to do this step but you can always post another email pointing people to the webinar recording so that others may find and view it.  I am undecided if this is to much “chatter” about the same event.



So there you have it. That is what I currently do, and it is always subject to change.  I am thinking about adding some custom tools to help me with some of this process but they are only in the conceptual phase.

If you have things to share in your process, then leave a comment on this post.

I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Announcing Twenty-One Squared: Self-Study Training for Dynamics CRM


Twenty-One Lessons in Twenty-One Days

xRM Coaches

I have conducted a lot of training over the past two years but found that I was always missing connections to new students, mostly due to scheduling conflicts or just by them having too busy a schedule to take off work for a couple of days.

Even after I moved most of my training to the half-day model, I still had people who had interest, but no time.

That led me to explorations of other training solutions, one of which is a series of self-study courses I call Twenty-One Squared.

The Twenty-One Squared Concept

I wanted to break things into bite-sized chunks of content that anyone could consume in their own time, at their own pace, while also enabling them to get fairly immersed in a topic.

Each lesson is designed to take between 15 and 60 minutes to complete, depending on the subject matter.

These will be hands-on exercises where you not just read about what to do, you actually do it.  Much like the design of my instructor-led courses.

Topic Areas

I am working through the final processes of the following topic areas:

  • Dynamics CRM Administration
  • Introduction to Dynamics CRM JavaScript
  • Advanced Dynamics CRM JavaScript
  • Introduction to Dynamics CRM .NET Development

Training Format

Each course consists of a training and exercise guide and each lesson is mostly self-contained, though some lessons build on previous topic areas and concepts.

Additional supporting materials are provided as is needed by the course.

Need Additional Information?

If you would like to sign up to be notified as the courses become available, the please complete the following survey:

My goal is to make these available in the next few weeks, depending on availability and interest.

Please let me know if you have any other comments or thoughts on the concept or the materials.

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.