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Self-service Business Intelligence & Level One Data Analytics in Dynamics CRM

(this is from the article I wrote for CRMUG Magazine)

CRM users have constantly changing and individual business intelligence and data analysis needs. And the need it now.

Solution

Teach them how by using custom views and advanced find.

  1. You can launch the Advanced Find from practically any ribbon in CRM.

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  1. From here you can build your data queries, customize your columns in your view, export the query in FetchXML for reporting, name and save your queries.
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  2. The selection will always default to where you came from when you clicked on the Advanced Find icon. For example had you been looking at a Contact record the entity selection dropdown would be defaulted to the Contact records and its default view selected. Note: if you click on Advanced Find from a place where it’s not supported (from Solutions for example) the dialog will still open for you but will be defaulted to the top item on the list. In an out of the box CRM system, that will be Accounts.
  3. Let’s have a quick look at our query builder. One column selection will trigger the contents of the next column; it will only give you contextual choices so you will be less likely to build an invalid query. There are many combinations of available columns. Here we’ll just see a couple of examples, but after making a few of your own queries, you will sort out the differences easily.
    1. Column 1 is your fields/attributes for that selected entity. All items that allow for Advanced Find will be shown. If you aren’t using all of the fields, clean up that setting to make Advanced Find more friendly for your users.
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    2. The next column offers choices to qualify the data you want returned. The values in this dropdown come from the data type of the first item selected, the field. So the first one below is from a date type, the second is driven by the data type of text.
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    3. The next column, again driven by the prior one allows us to add more details for our specific query. From our examples above, look at what our choices would be next.
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  4. For our example, let’s just say we need to see all of our Accounts in Washington. Our sales rep there has been asking for more help, so we want to keep an eye on the business to know when it might be time to hire a new sales rep. Let’s first build the query, and then we build the view in the next step. Using what you learned above, build your query to select Accounts from Washington. In practice, you would want to experiment the best way to make sure you have all instances of the state being Washington, such as accounting for possible abbreviations (and misspellings!), but in our quick example, this should work fine.
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  5. For the view, the columns that would be important for us might include Account name, record owner, maybe communication information and so on. We will also add a display column to show our basic query. Even though we don’t NEED to see state equals Washington, some people just like to see it. In the ribbon select Edit Columns. This dialog pops up and allows you to add/remove/sort columns that you want to see. You can edit column properties, such as width, by clicking Change Properties, when that column heading is selected.
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  6. Once you’ve built your query and defined your columns for your view. You are ready to see the results of your query! Click the Red ! in the ribbon to execute the query and display your results.
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  7. From your results grid, you can select any item/combination of items, just as you would in any CRM grid and then perform actions. Things such as adding to a Washington marketing list or assigning to a new sales rep would be easily accomplished here. Starting a workflow or dialog from here could also be very useful.
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  8. Once you are satisfied that your Advanced Find is what you need, click the Advance Find tab in the ribbon to go back to your save options and select Save As. Give the query a useable name, such as Washington Accounts, then save.
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  9. Close your Advanced Find windows after naming and saving. Navigate to the Accounts area of CRM, and have a look at your views above the grid. You should see the view we just built available to you as a personal view.
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Summary

Empowered users drive your software adoption. Teach them the value of consuming the data in CRM and they will be eager to learn how to do it themselves.


CRM Rock Star? Prove it. #extremechallenge #MSDYNCRM #CRM2011

Join me at the Extreme CRM conference in Las Vegas and show us what you’ve got!  Join as your own team, or sign up as a single and we’ll build your team for you.  You can bring your own ideas, or we’ll help you.  The Extreme CRM App Challenge is where you can show your stuff and get some recognition.

And….(drumroll…..) you get rock star mentors to help your team. 

And….. (next drumroll……..) you get prizes.

And…..(next drumroll……) you get to brag for a year the YOU won the Extreme App Challenge.

And…..(next drumroll……) you get to join us playing paintball the night before the challenge, along with pizza and beer (and I might probably smoke a stogie with you too).

For details click thru below, sign up there too.  See you in Vegas.

 

App challenge