Friday, April 27, 2007

And the winner is....

It took some time to write my first trilogy and now I should write the recommendation on what is the best choice. In my trilogy I compared the websites, documentation, download of trial software, installation & configuration and two test scenarios.

In general I think you could say that both tools meet your expectations of a third party tool for data migration and integration. The tools have their advantages and disadvantages.

C360 Import Manager

The new product of C360 is very well documented and has very smooth interface. The interface provides you with a natural flow, but is also limitation in your functionalities. It is a real improvement compared to the standard import functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The trial software is not limited by time, but you can only do 10 records. Also the license structure and price is very interesting.

Scribe Insight

The product Scribe Insight and the adapter for Microsoft Dynamics CRM is very solid solution. The interface feels a bit outdated, but it provides you with many valuable functionalities. Also real improvement compared to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, especially the option ‘formulas’. The challenge to find the right documentation, trail version and information at the website of Scribe Insight is very hard.

Which product to use?

For your basic data migration and integration, which don’t need many changes in data source(s), I think you would choose C360 Import Manager. It has an easy interface, well documented and good price for the provided functionalities.

If you need more advanced import routines with options to manipulate, transform or add data you certainly have to choose for Scribe Insight. It will take you some more time to find your way with the interface and figure out all functionalities, but it will benefit your data migration & integration in the long term.

The winner is…

In my experience I always run into data migration & integration challenges, which needed customized solutions. A tool that is limited wouldn’t work in these situations, because often I had to manipulate my data before it’s imported into Microsoft Dynamics CRM. I got introduced to Scribe Insight by a colleague and I liked the available (advanced) functionalities. One thing that really should be an improvement is better documentation like administration guide. Also a change in the limit of 30 days of the trial would be appreciated.

Of course this is my opinion based on my tests and my own experiences with the tools. Hope this will help you make the right choice…

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Analytics

Since I started my professional career it was always a hot topic to know who did visit your website, how many times, unique visitors and more. Of course you had your own 'homepage' at for example geocities or even your own website. You could download all kinds of free counters or program them yourself.

Now we, ok I, get lazy and for this blog I started to use google.com/analytics. And it's very nice what you can get for free and who don't love to see all kind of diagrams, charts and maps.

Of course, I was curious if someone reads my blog and where did they come from, so here you are:




This week I hope to post my article 'the winner is..' to end the trilogy about Scribe & C360. And maybe some more about Analytics, only then the MS CRM version.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Scribe Insight finally used by Menno

If you read one of my first post on this blog I wrote end of last year/beginning this year a review about Scribe Insight, which was published first at Menno's blog.

And finally Menno used it himself as he wrote in his post.

And of course I have to agree Scribe Insight is very usefull tool for your data integration & migration. As you could read more in the trilogy of Scribe vs C360. The final conclusions will follow end of this week.

Monday, April 23, 2007

"Virtual BB" for Smartphones with Windows Mobile 6.0

Today I read the news that RIM gonna launch software which creates a virtual BlackBerry on smartphones running Windows Mobile 6.0. Think this is good step to enroll the BlackBerry features to other device then the, in my opinion, very unhandy current BB devices.

The software should make it possible to connect to the BlackBerry server and gives the user access to push email, phonebook and tasks. See for more information.

As we know there were already solutions for Microsoft Dynamics CRM on the BlackBerry. If it's also possible to integrate CRM with the new virtual BB, except through webclient, I don't know. Please let me know if you got more information.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Scribe Insight vs C360 Import Manager (Part III)

Life can be beautiful, last weekend we had the hottest day ever in the month April for The Netherlands. So I did prefer sittin’ in my garden and light up my BBQ :-) instead of writing this article. In part II, I mentioned the two scenarios I used for further testing.

Getting started

To start testing we need to configure the source (flat text file). The C360 Import Manager provide ODBC configuration in the flow while setting up a new rule. In Scribe Insight you have to use the standard windows functionality to configure your ODBC. In the interface you select the ODBC you created.



The standard ODBC functionality gives you more flexibility for example you could define other field separators. I personally prefer to use ‘|’ character, because you don’t find this usually in import data.

The standard import functionality of Microsoft Dynamics also delivered the option for field data delimiter, which can be very convenient to escape characters in large text fields.

Scenario I

The first scenario I tried was to Import 5 accounts and 2 of them are subaccounts. I just picked some fields from the Account entity and creating a semicolon separated file with dummy values. Both utilities didn’t have problem with it. Of course the parent account should be available to make the relation between parent and subaccount. You have to options you can split the files in “parent account” and “sub accounts” or you define it in your import procedure.



The approach in Scribe Insight was to do a lookup if parent account already exist and then fill in the field ‘parentaccountid’. You have to use the ‘formulas’ to achieve this functionality. Also in the C360 Import Manager this could be easily configured in the interface, see image below.

Scenario 2

The other scenario will test how (easy) we can match a source value from text file with a value from a picklist. In an automated process you would like to check the value, if the picklist value is a valid entry and if not set the default value.

In Scribe Insight’s workbench it works similar to define the relationships, they provide through the ‘Formulas’ many functions to manipulate or evaluate your source data. For this scenario we used the IsPickListValue function. This function allowed us to check if the source field is valid option in our crm application; with extra code we also could set default value for the picklist.



In C360 Import Manager we can configure what to do when the source field contains not a valid picklist value. We can skip the record, leave picklist empty, but not set default value.

Conclusion (Part III)

The purpose of part III was some basic testing of two scenarios both third party tools pass the test and the import succeeded. For ‘standard’ use the C360 provides you with ‘out of the box’ functionality, but more advanced features are missed in my opinion. Scribe Insight strong features in these two scenarios are the ‘Formulas’ and this feature is very convenient for advanced data migration.

Now we ended the trilogy, but of course who is the best, which tool give you the functionality you want and need. I will save that for next time, because I see advantages and disadvantages in both tools and my sunny garden is calling again, yes life can be beautiful...

Why you need domain admin rights?

If you start with the preparations for installing MS Dynamics CRM you need an installation account. In general you not run into conflicts with the sufficient rights or other annoying Active Directory issues using a domain admin account.

Unfortunately the real world is not so easy and you have to compromise with the system administrator of your client. If you lucky he will install it, using the account with domain admin rights, but that won’t happen often.

Especially in larger organizations this will be a challenge. You have to convince the IT manager you need a separate installation account with necessary rights, preferable domain admin. The system administrator usually freaks out when you mention that you or the installation will need admin rights and also changes some things in the AD. This is like the famous line from Fawlty Towers ‘don’t mention the war’ when Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) got some German tourists in his hotel (Episode “The Germans”).

Usually the solution is simple; you can add an OU in the AD for example “mscrm”. In this OU you or the installation can create 4 groups (PrivUsergroup, ReportingGroup, SQLAccessGroup and Usergroup).

The installation account needs rights "Read/Write All properties on this object only and child object” in the earlier mentioned OU. Other rights you need to add are the “Create Group Right”. This should be sufficient to proceed with the installation, after installation it should be possible to remove “Create Group Right”, please test for yourself!.

And usually you have to add “trust for delegation” to the application server too, depending on your architecture.

Note: This solution is from my own experience and might not be the solution for your installation.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Announcing Part III

Just survived & enjoyed the short Eastern break, luckily it was sunny around 18 degrees and not visited the key attraction like shopping mall, theme parks etc.

In the meanwhile I am working on the final tests for Scribe and C360 Import Manager, so I hope to publish part III just before or after this coming weekend.

So keep checking and reading :-)