For this month’s column, I would like to stay away from a technical subject and discuss the most important fact regarding Microsoft Dynamics CRM Users who I had the opportunity to meet at Microsoft Convergence 2012.
This year was the first time I had the opportunity to participate at Microsoft Convergence and I felt that it was the perfect time for me to meet the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Users that participate on this community and maybe answer some questions in person.
The most shocking and important fact regarding most of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM users I met at Microsoft Converge was the fact that they had no idea regarding all the FREE help that is out there to ensure that their experience regarding Microsoft Dynamics CRM is outstanding.
Since I learned that most users did not know where to go when they needed help (not just technical support), I decided to dedicate my next column to all the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Users out there and detail all the different options in one single post. All the tools in one column, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Swiss Army Knife!
If you look at the bottom left corner of your Microsoft Dynamics CRM Web Client, you will notice a section called “Resource Center”. This section is phenomenal and gives you access to all the information you need.
Access is granted to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Community, the Dynamics Marketplace, instructional videos, CustomerSource, Microsoft Connect, the Microsoft Knowledge Base, Technical Support and many other features.
Microsoft Dynamics Community – http://community.dynamics.com/product/crm/default.aspx
In case you are not connected to your Microsoft Dynamics CRM Organization but still need access to Microsoft Dynamics Resources, the Microsoft Dynamics Community is the main location for all your Microsoft Dynamics CRM needs. From here, you can access “CustomerSource”, the Marketplace, Blogs, Videos and the most important feature of all, “Ask the Community”. Let me give you some details regarding each of these features:
1. CustomerSource – https://mbs.microsoft.com/customersource: CustomerSource is a secure site that allows you to access job-tailored productivity tools including unlimited training courses and self-support resources like the knowledge base. Just as important, it provides access to downloads and updates such as timely tax and regulatory releases that may be necessary to help your organization remain compliant.
This site is Easy to navigate using the Left Navigation Pane where all these great resources are available in one place:
2. Microsoft Connect – http://connect.microsoft.com/ : Microsoft Connect is a place for you to submit bugs and suggestions for Microsoft products which will be considered for addressing in a future release.
Some of the things you can do in this web site are:
• Participate in feedback programs managed by Microsoft Dynamics CRM Product Team
• Download and test beta products
• Submit bugs and suggestions for future releases of Microsoft Dynamics CRM
• Vote, comment, and validate other people’s feedback
Many great features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 are the direct result of feedback provided by users just like you. Even some features of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Community are the result of feedback from Microsoft Dynamics Community users.
3. The Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace – http://dynamics.pinpoint.microsoft.com : The Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace helps you discover innovative applications and professional services from Microsoft partners worldwide. Find expert help, download applications and tailor Microsoft Dynamics to improve productivity and build your business.
There are hundreds of Applications and Services offered at the Marketplace for FREE.
The Marketplace can be access via Microsoft Dynamics CRM (Settings -> Dynamics Marketplace) or by going to the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace website.
4. Blogs – https://community.dynamics.com/product/crm/b/default.aspx : The Blogs section within the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Community contains blog entries coming from 85 different Microsoft Dynamics CRM Blogs around the web. These blogs have been recommended by other community users and include entries posted by the best Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professionals in the world.
Instead of searching or reading dozens of blogs out on the web, go to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Community and browse all of them at once!
5. Videos – http://community.dynamics.com/product/crm/crmnontechnical/b/crmvideos/default.aspx : The videos available in this section are posted by the Microsoft Dynamics CRM team as well as Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partners worldwide.
From an “Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM” to “Optimizing Internal Business Processes”; from “Adding a field on a form to complex customizations and development”, find free step by step instructional videos in one place.
6. Ask the Community – https://community.dynamics.com/product/crm/f/117/p/addpost.aspx : This is by far my favorite feature on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Community.
This section allows you to post any question regarding Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The difference between Microsoft Dynamics Technical Support and Asking for Community Support is that the community has no limitations and it is always free. Microsoft Technical Support engineers are the best in the world at solving issues relating to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. However, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Community is available to answer questions regarding issues inside and most importantly outside the scope of Microsoft Technical Support, “how-to” requests, best practices, related technologies that work with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Solution Architecture, User Adoption, etc.
We have received posts from simple “How do I…?” questions to “What is the best way to implement a CRM Cluster around the world?” questions.
In other words, here is the place where you can get ANY question you have regarding Microsoft Dynamics CRM answered by the best Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professionals in the World. All of this FOR FREE!
If you currently work with a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner that knows and understands your CRM organization and you have an agreement for support or access to their expertise, you will be able to exploit that benefit.
The organizations without access to these benefits can leverage the power of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Community to achieve success and drive User Adoption.
One great feature of Asking the Community is the access to all previous questions asked by many users in the past. There is a chance that the issue you are having has been already addressed before.
In Summary, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Resource Center and Microsoft Dynamics Community provide you with access to:
1. Free access to the latest news, software and fixes.
2. Free Training.
3. Free Instructional Videos.
4. Free Technical and Non-Technical Blogs.
5. Free Access to voting, commenting, and validating other people’s feedback regarding bugs and suggestions for future releases of Microsoft Dynamics CRM
6. Free Technical and Non-Technical assistance by thousands of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Users and Experts.
The questions posted on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Community Forums represent what I call a “Perfect Circle”. For the users, any concern or question can be addressed by some of the best Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professionals of the world. For professionals, it represents learning. Learning we normally wouldn’t find by working with a limited amount of customers and situations. We like to be challenged by these issues and solving them burns the knowledge in our minds.
If you are a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Professional, please distribute this column to all users you can currently reach and to every customer and user you work with in the future. It is important to provide awareness and I hope this column contributes to it.
So, if you have any questions or needs regarding Microsoft Dynamics CRM or even this column, let us know what we can do to help you.