Book Review Teach Yourself Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4 in 24 Hours by Anne Stanton

Starting off with two disclaimers.  First, this book was sent to me for free by the publisher seeking my review.  Second, I do not see the point in flowery words for this type of thing, so this is my honest take.

So, I consider the author, Anne Stanton, a colleague and a friend.  I had heard rumblings about her book, but working in the tech book industry myself I understood the need to keep it on the down-low for a while.  I was certainly looking forward to the book.  There are far too few books for CRM users that are any good.  My go-to book recommendation has been the For Dummies series.  From a user perspective, it’s been the best one out there.  Until now.  :)

Anne (with a little help from some other super-mega CRM rock stars) takes CRM into 24 easily digestible chunks, 24 one-hour lessons.  Can you take this book and go off and make CRM?  YES!!  Can you take it and go off and make xRM?  Not so much.  But that is not it’s goal, so no worries.

Someone new to Dynamics CRM could pick up this book and become a proficient user quickly and easily.  Someone that uses CRM could quickly brush up their skills on lesser used aspects like services and campaigns.

I had it on good authority that the chapter by Guy Riddle on Security was great, and it is.  Darren Liu takes on Campaigns, my personal pain point, so many thanks Darren for giving me some more on this.  Curt Spanburgh digs into Mail Merge and helps put that together with CRM quite well.  Scott Head brings us Add-ins.  Irene Pasternack does great coverage of Excel and Reporting.

Ok, so yes by far I love this book.  It will reside next to my For Dummies book and phase itself into the #1 spot for my personal CRM reference once I master navigating the content.  But yes, there’s also a few things that I didn’t like so much.

The images are tough.  They are sized too small and look a little too dark.  I confirmed that it wasn’t just my old lady eyes that couldn’t make out much useful info.  Additionally, the publisher uses circles to point to specific content on a screen image and it about gets lost.  I saw one by accident.  If you need to go black and white, that’s fine, but arrows work much better.  If you’re stuck on the circles, make them a thicker line.

I think there were two big oversights on helpful hints.  One in the workflows and one in security.  Here’s my two helpful hints.

1.  Workflows, if you start it, you must stop it.  For example, you design a workflow that triggers on a record being updated and the action is to update the record, you will loop for years or until your performance takes such a hit that you stumble upon it in a desperate hunt for a cause.  It’s a common rookie mistake, so be aware of it from day one.

2.  Security Roles, from a CRM (NOT xRM) perspective, your best bet is to copy a role, not make a new one.  There are a handful of hidden permissions that are just easier if they are there for MOST CRM implementations.  If you know enough about CRM to know what these are and why you might not need them, this book is not intended for you.

Bottom line, I would have paid for the book, even if it hadn’t been offered for free.  It’s a great resource and Anne, I’m proud of you, another smart chick out there for us to look up to. Sams Teach Yourself Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4 in 24 Hours (9780672330674): Anne Stanton: Books

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Anne Stanton

Excellent - My goal was to help people get started and to push them to another level. I also wanted to open up a few doors of potential and to clear up a few misunderstandings. Thanks for taking the time to both read the book and post an honest review!

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