Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mystery of customizations

Today it's sunny again, this is already day 3! Nevertheless I still can't really enjoy it, because it's a working day and maybe if lucky can enjoy some sun in lunch break or at the end of the day.

Nevertheless, today I am working on some prototype for a customer. I tried to import some customizations and it seemed to work nicely, except one entity didn't show up after publishing?? I tried publish it again, give an IIS reset and nothing seems to work.

Hmmm did got me puzzled, because I see it in CRM as custom entity in 'customization' area, but not mentiod in the left pane under 'extensions'. Anybody seen this problem before?


Life can be so simple, I got the customizations from collegea. He forgot to check some boxes in the "Areas that displya this entity". Case solved, lessons learned check, double check and drink more coffee :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Scribe Insight vs C360 Import Manager (Part II)

Finally I could get started with Part II. I spend a lot of time to think about the right perspective for this part. I decided to choose for ‘installation & configuration’. So how easy it is to install and how easy you can adapt the product to do some import from text file. Also we still haven’t decided for one of the products and are new to the software.

Getting the evaluation software

First we like to get the product itself so we can install it for evaluation. For C360 Import Manager we can download it directly from the site. For Scribe Insight we have to first request the password for download the evaluation version of Scribe Insight. You can download the software in de user community, unfortunately not easy to find at the website.

Now we are ready for the installation

The C360 software is easy to install and it’s fully functional and ready to use, only limited to 10 rows. Very nice is the fact that you don’t need a register scenario, because the version you download is the evaluation version, which can be unlocked with a production key.

The Scribe Insight software must be installed followed by the adapter for MS CRM 3.0. The Insight software is available after requesting evaluation software by email. The evaluation version is only valid for 30 days and limited to 100 rows.

So the C360 software is very user friendly and needs little effort to get it up and running also no limitation in days which is nice for testing & pre-development. Scribe Insight takes more effort to get it up and running, because you have to apply for password for downloading the evaluation version. Other disadvantage is the limitation in time only works 30 days, but you could upload more rows (100) for testing and pre-development.

The screenshots taken from both products show the test file field with the field of Account entity. As you may be noticed I didn’t select column name in the test file yet. The product both use system dns to get connection to my test csv file in C360 software you can configure it as one of the steps with the C360 manager. In Scribe’s workbench you have to use the standard Data Source functionality of the OS.

So the focus for this part II was on installation & configuration. Hmmm, I am not sure yet C360 have very nice interface and is configured in a friendly way. For testing the 10 record limit can be seen as disadvantage. Scribe offers the same functionality, only the interface is bit outdated. The disadvantage is the time limit of 30 days, but the records are limited to 100 and that is very nice for testing purposes. I think people who first see both products will choose for the friendly and smooth interface of C360’s Import Manager.

Next is some serious testing

The two scenarios I will test are not that simple, of course I believe we could import a “name” from text file to “name” field in Microsoft CRM 3.0. So we try to import 5 account and 2 of them are subaccounts.

The other scenario will test how (easy) we can match a source value from text file with a value from a picklist. Now we have two test scenarios, let’s see how the products can meet up to our expectations.

Unfortunately I got in fight with my image just got it up at running this evening besides this I was also enjoying the sunny weather 18 degrees (Celsius) for the second day here in Holland, so I will continue my testing and write the results in part III.

To be continued…

Friday, March 23, 2007

Preview ‘Scribe Insight vs C360 Import Manager (Part II)’

Yes, it’s coming but it takes some time to compare the software. Below a preview of the two scenarios I am working on between my daily work:

“… The two scenarios I will test are not that simple, of course I believe we could import a “name” from text file to “name” field in Microsoft CRM 3.0.
So we try to import 5 account and 2 of them are subaccounts.

The other scenario will test how (easy) we can match a source value from text file with a value from a picklist.

I hope to publish it after this weekend.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Flexibility & Usability of CRM

Last Friday, I attended a breakfast meeting at InfoSupport Belgium. The topic was hosted CRM, which is very interesting concept, especially in these fast times. We need to be and keep informed as quickly as possible and you have to be connected.
Of course the service of hosted CRM was discussed, but there were no surprises, because you get same functionality, hosted Exchange etc. etc. The interesting parts were the two guest speakers.

The first was from Proximus Belgium ( Vodafone) they promoted their new products for being online all-time. Now the 3G network delivers high speed internet, but at the end of the year they expect the roll-out of HSPDA network in major part of Europe, so we can be connected 24/7 with broadband internet up to 3.6Mbit/s.

This sounded great so I looked for some data about HSDPA (= High Speed Downlink Packet Access). It is a 3G mobile telephone protocol, which increased the data transfer speeds and capacity of the current UMTS -networks to 1.8 – 3.6 Mbit/s. It can also be increased to 7.2 or even 14.4Mbit/s. The capacity of the network could provide the each customer with 30 gigabytes of data per month.
This would be great for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, because you could stay connected all the time and be up-to-date every second.

The second speaker was from head Hunters Company called KNET also situated in Belgium. They demonstrated their new CRM application, which was build by InfoSupport BE.

Interesting about this concept was that this company didn’t sale anything, they recruit people. The functional designer used the lead functionality for recruitment process, because the workflow matched the process of recruitment. Of course some customization where done, but basically it was the same functionality as standard provided by CRM.

Using this functionality for totally different business process proved that Microsoft Dynamics CRM is very flexible and could be easily used in different way. It looks that it works the way you do…. :-)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Scribe Insight vs C360 Import Manager (Part I)

In my previous post I announced to write an article about Scribe Insight vs C360 new Import Manager. I wondered about what’s the best way to get started, because the products are complex and offer much functionality, which I don’t expect to review in just one article. So I decided to follow the well known trilogy approach e.g. Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Die Hard, Back to the Future and if you forget something you can always add a part IV :-)

This is of course part I, the perspective in this article is to see what information is available to make the right choice for the product. So we take a look at available product information and documentation.

First we will visit the C360 product page of Import Manager

Interesting features are import into custom entities, because you can’t do this with standard bulk import of MS Dynamics CRM. Other nice feature is duplicate checking and data cleansing. Other functionalities are in my opinion features that you would expect from import utility.

Next I would like to read more details about how the tool works, because I like to know how it works. At the end of the page you will find the Installation and User Guide in PDF format. It is also possible to download a trial version fully functional only limited to import 10 records.

Ok, let’s visit the Scribe Insight website

Here you will already see difference between the two products. Scribe Insight has a core application and can be combined with an adapter, which connect to appropriate program, in our case with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

The features are what you might expect from a data migration tool. The interesting features here are especially the “openness” to Message Queue and XML and available adapters to different CRM and ERP application. In features of workbench the “Formulas”, which give you the ability to do data manipulations like case conversation and substitution.

Information about the adapter is a bit harder to find but you could find it under “Solutions for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics GP” after clicking on the “need” you should arrive at Insight For MSCRM.

Here you can find extra information about the adapter itself. The adapter provides a graphical user interface to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM API. Unfortunately there is not one User or Installation Guide, but on intro page of Microsoft CRM and in the User Community (click on “Resource Center” -> “Scribe User Community” - > “general” and choose “evaluation resources”. A trail evaluation is not public available for download, but you can request it by email.

In my opinion the website of C360 is more user friendly and gives you quicker access to information you want to know and also offers a functional trail. The Scribe software gives you more possibilities in connecting to other software and also let you manipulate your data before you import it into your crm application.

The focus for part I was about getting the information you want. At the C360 website the information is better provided and more easily to gather.

To be continued…

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Know where to get your information

Today I had to update my profile @ Atos Origin and realized that I work now around 10 years in the IT business. Nevertheless it still surprises me that people not know how or where to get their information.

Since I am working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 I try to gather a lot of information about it. Basically it can be found just by searching in your favorite search engine. In fact when I started working as IT professional the most information or solutions where found with search engines like Yahoo and Altavista. Now I personally use mostly Google to search internet pages and news groups. They say blogs seems to be good sources too ;-)

This is my shortlist today, in fact this should be known or at least have been bookmarked already.

Besides you now know where to find, it’s also handy to read :-)

Monday, March 5, 2007

My article at Menno's Blog

Some time a ago, before I started my own blog I wrote an article for Menno's blog about Scribe Insight, a third party tool I often use for data migration.

Today I got his mail that he published it on his blog. You can read the article "Microsoft Dynamics 3.0: How to integrate and keep costs low?" at his blog.

I hope to post this week an article about Scribe Insight versus c360 Import manager. I already did some tests with the c360 tool and it would be nice to show differences between those tools, so check later this week

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Import data into your CRM application

During a project there is always the data migration challenge. Usually this needs to be quick and fast, becasuse deadline is coming, not too much budget or time etc

Basically you have a few options. One is to use the bulk import feature of MS CRM, but this is very limited in functionality. Other option is to make custom script to import data using the web interface. A third option is go right it to the database (of course unsupported). Finally you could use third party tool.

In my projects we did choose for Scribe Insight software, because it's quick installed and easy to use.

Today I read about the new product of C360 and my first impression is that this will be very interesting option too. The product gives you the ability to import core data in all entities, also custom!, create relationships etc. Very nice is the feature of duplicate checking and data cleansing, because in my experience the data sources are always outdated or full with duplicates.

I will certainly test it on my development system and I think it might be a very interesting option in future projects. More information you could find at C360 - Import Manager.