Tuesday, 17 July 2012

International Manufacturing Client Go Live!

An international manufacturing client of mine has now gone live.
This project involved the production of a streamlined sales process which both empowers the users with a sophisticated Quote Tool (built in Silverlight 5) and the management with intelligent forecasting.

Using Dynamics CRM 2011 provided the client with the ability to centralise all of the disparate databases and spreadsheets into one location, enabling insight into the business which was not previously possible.

The sales engineers however benefited from the Quote Tool which was build directly into the Quote form of Dynamics CRM, which not only allowed users to enter products quickly, it also provided them with:

  • Quick Product Searching on a variety of criteria
  • Stock levels fed directly from the ERP solution (using BizTalk)
  • Substitute Products when stock is unavailable
  • Spare Products which should be sold alongside key products
  • Ability to create kits which group products and allows kit pricing
  • Markup and discount calculations
  • Automated Customer discounts on key products based on agreements in the ERP system
  • Packing Specifications (Variable Bin Packing)
  • and more...
  • ... All available offline within Outlook!
This certainly was one of the more complex projects, but such a great challenge brings a great amount of satisfaction. I wish them all the best for the future with Dynamics CRM 2011.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Using the CRM web service with Silverlight and Rx - The CRM Methods

Recently, I've been developing a complex Quote tool for our client. This tool allows the user to create sophisticated Quotes with minimal effort and includes all sorts of things like preconfigured kits, automated discounts and translations into different languages. This tool had to work offline within the Outlook client, so there was only one way forward, Silverlight. And with that, a steep learning curve on how to get the most out of Silverlight within CRM 2011.

The first port of call was the MSDN walkthrough needed to connect a Silverlight app to CRM 2011 (available here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg594452.aspx). This creates your reference to the CRM SOAP web service and a new SilverlightUtility class with some of the helper messages needed.

But, one thing that really stumped me, was how to get the webservice calls to CRM to execute sequential code easily without having events and handlers everywhere, and without destroying the asynchronous nature of Silverlight.

The answer to this was Rx, which allows the developer to create simple (ish) nested code which is then executed on the completion of the asynchronous web service call, and this first blog post sets the foundations of how I used this to communicate with CRM.

I must give credit to David Yack (http://blog.davidyack.com/) who's advice online steered me towards Rx and onto develop this helper class.

First off, you need to follow the MSDN walkthrough to get the Silverlight utility and set up the webservice.

Secondly, you'll need the Rx Extensions for C# (available here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/data/gg577609) referenced in your project.

Next, we'll need to create our helper class. This class will create the simple methods required to talk to CRM using Rx, through which all calls to CRM will be made:

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Changing Columns in Mobile Express Views

Just an incredibly quick post to point out that when using Mobile Express, the Mobile views will always reflect the core views within Dynamics CRM, and will display the first two columns.

In the example above, the "My Active Accounts" view shows Account Name and Main Phone and we need to displaye the City instead. To change the columns displayed you will need to change the "My Active Accounts" view for all users, change the order of the columns, publish and you will then see your desired columns within the Mobile Express client.

So remember to take into consideration which columns are important to your mobile users and make sure that these are always the first two columns within the standard views.

If you need more functionality however, consider using a third party mobile solution such as CWR Mobility.

See you with more posts soon.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Major Insurance Company Go Live!

After several months, two Project Managers and hundreds of lines of code, my principal project has now gone Live!

The Dynamics CRM 4.0 solution will now serve 475 users in two continents, a rich user friendly solution incorporating a contact database, trip management and a backend integration with an easy to use change management engine.

The Project has not been without challenges, including both code and hand over difficulties, but this has been one of the most enjoyable Projects of my career, due to the dedication of both teams and the goal to make a solution that just works.

I wish them the best for the future and will be following their project for a steady move to support.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Welcome to CRM twenty11

Hi, welcome to CRM twenty11!

Over the coming weeks this site will be used to give back to the community that has aided me through my career as a Dynamics CRM consultant.

This will include tips and tricks, explainations of processes and detailed examinations on some of the areas that makes CRM 2011 the solution of choice.

I hope you find this site useful, and see you again soon.