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CRM used as a Data Cleaning Tool November 26, 2015

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in CRM, Management, Microsoft CRM 2015, Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
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There is often a lot of talk about poor data within CRM systems and sadly this tends to be the case in many instances. However it is possible to make use of the system itself as a mechanism to assist in data cleansing. It might sound anachronistic that bad data sitting in a system, can actually use that system to assist in cleansing the data, I will outline how this can be done. It is not quite a self-cleaning oven, not yet.

By the creation of Views, Special Advanced Find’s, Business Process flows and by adding “Data Cleansed” fields to various forms and by monitoring these elements, Microsoft Dynamics CRM can indeed assist in the cleaning of data.


For example a view can be created that shows all customers with no Business Phone or Address. The criteria being all records where <field> “does not contain data”, and other filtering as necessary.

This view would facilitate a view for management on how many records still meet this negative criteria, and by keeping records one can manage how these numbers decrease on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

The same as is done for performance, you can create a chart from these views in a data cleaning dashboard. And unlike the performance chart, the objective is to see the graph shrink.


If a field is added to CRM for Account and Contact, which gets updated with a date once the record has been cleansed. It is possible to pull reports from the system showing the number of records updated over a specific period.

What is best in this scenario is for someone to validate that the record has been cleansed and is up to date by selecting a tick box field, this then becomes read only and also populates a date field and also records who performed the action.

A similar process can be undertaken on an annual basis where records are checked for completeness.

Targets can be set and this can be linked to incentives. Again special views get run on all records that have been classified as cleansed to ensure that the standards are being kept.

Once the system is live and all the data is clean, these fields can be removed from the forms if required.

Business Processes

You can create a business process that requires data to be collected, cleansed or otherwise updated. This business process will immediately alert you to the fact that the customer record is incomplete. Again some reporting can be effected on these processes.


You can create an advanced find, select every field that is on the form, and export to Excel, have a look at all the white space where there is no data. You can then populate the Worksheet and reimport this back to CRM

The functionality of Excel to copy down data can also be used, especially where you may have multiple contacts at an account record and the addresses are incomplete, export them all, and copy down the addresses and other static data and reimport.

Address Validation Software

Address validation software where postcodes and complete addresses can be sourced from databases can be used to populate the CRM system. Although there is normally a cost involved in implementing one of these tools and they generally require some integration and setup, the results are very powerful and once implemented you can inspect and update existing records, and ensure that new records address details are always accurate and up to date.

More importantly someone needs to be made custodian of the data and be held responsible for its accuracy and completeness. This needs to be at executive or senior management level.




The Industrial Revolution and the Internet of Things IOT November 3, 2015

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in IOT, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Network Security.
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At the advent of the industrial revolution some very clever people started harnessing steam and electricity in the design of machines and industrial equipment that was to revolutionise the way that the world worked. We have not looked back and I would say that progress has continued unabated since these early days of steam.

When looked at today, some of these machines are truly amazing and of real inspirational design. As the industrial revolution picked up pace, innovations flowed across almost every facet of business life from looms for cloth making to printing presses and everything in between. Automation was delivered at a staggering pace.

There was one little problem however, the whole concept as we know it today of “health and safety” was not on the table, and many of these machines were capable of ripping your arm off if you got too close or made a simple mistake.

There is no doubt that very few of the machines from this era would be allowed to function today without some serious modifications.

I see a little parallel with the innovative developments in the area that is now termed “The Internet of things”, the “IOT”. The inspirational designers of today are creating the capability to connect and link things and systems together with spectacular results. My simple question for all of those connecting the accounting system to the toaster, have you taken into consideration security? Especially network security? I somehow suspect that the “No” answer will be forthcoming more often than not.

I work with and network together with a whole range of incredibly smart people, who I am sure if they had lived 175 years ago, would have spent their time inventing and designing sophisticated machines and automating the world. Their skill set is innovation and they are very very good at it, and for some of these folk security is a boring inconvenience as would have health and safety concerns in the 1800’s been to the innovators of the day.

The multiplier effect you need for security when you link two networks together is one thing, linking a whole menagerie of devices, networks, and systems together can become highly complex and requires the attention of network, device and system security specialists.

Think for just a moment about your new Smart TV, it is Internet ready and browser friendly, but has no real security, I appreciate that there is no hard drive (yet) on most, however once someone is on your network, or once you access a web page that has malicious intent, you are slightly exposed. This website spells it out in great detail. http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/smart-tvs-are-a-growing-security-risk-how-do-you-deal-with-this/ and remember this is just your TV.

I embrace the IOT fully, I think we are on a similar innovative path that our forefathers took and we are all going to be very surprised where this ends up in a few years. I do however think that I would check with my systems security specialists before I connect the CRM system to my electric blanket.

Enhanced Document Capabilities in the 2016 release of CRM October 29, 2015

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in CRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, OneDrive for Business, OneNote.
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The reality for many people working in a sales environment, especially where the products and services being sold are complex and highly sophisticated is that there is always a requirement to have documentation. For example product specifications, proposals, diagrams, price lists etc. To be really effective these documents need to be available to different people anywhere and anytime.

Within the upcoming release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 there is an increased capability to work with documents. To start with, a new templates functionality has been introduced to assist in creating documents directly in CRM using Microsoft Word.

What is even more exciting are the capabilities around storing and online collaboration of documents from within CRM directly to OneDrive for Business and Office 365. What is significant about this new capability is that users will be able to open these documents, proposals, view diagrams, presentations etc. from which ever device they access CRM and in the appropriate application. (Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc.) This additional capability augments the existing SharePoint functionality of CRM that has been available since CRM 2011. However this now adds a real mobility factor.

See: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/What-is-OneDrive-for-Business-187f90af-056f-47c0-9656-cc0ddca7fdc2

The integration to OneNote adds an additional dimension into the mix, in that source documents, notes and preliminary information is also synced, integrated and at your fingertips.


What is the real message?

Collaborative documents stored in a central location and accessible to all, is what it is all about. The contextual reality that the documents are linked to specific customers inside the CRM system, and can even relate to an actual contact means that the oft touted 360 degree view of the customer is now becoming a reality.

Another benefit with OneDrive for business is that it negates the situation where a multitude of different versions of documents are on different users computers at one time and where a definitive final version is often difficult to find. Another consideration is that as all documents are stored and accessible from within CRM, the requirement to have to make remote desktop connections to shared drives is no longer necessary to find and open shared documents.

There are so many more new capabilities that will be released with the latest version of CRM, I will be highlighting one of these each week.

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All views and opinions are personal opinions of the Hosk