Experiences on CRM, .Net and DHTML

CrmXpress

  • Join Us on Facebook!
  • Follow Us on Twitter!
  • LinkedIn
  • Subcribe to Our RSS Feed

Duplicate Detection in AX 2012

Duplicate data is very common these days given the multiple channels that bring data into the system. Lets explore what AX 2012 has to offer to help detect duplicates.

Is there a standard feature to detect duplicates?

Yes, duplicates are checked on demand as well as on record creation. However, AX 2012 checks for duplicate Party records only and not the entity records itself.

In AX 2012, an Individual (person) or an Organization information can be dealt  with (managed!) in many ways like a Lead/ Prospect/ Contact/ Customer/Vendor etc. Often, the same Individual/Organization is related with the business in more than one role. To maintain these details, AX 2012 stores them in the Global Address Book (GAB) as Party (DirParty table) records in addition to the Entity(Customer/Contact etc.,) thus enabling a Party to play multiple roles. Example: John Doe is a Party with roles of both Customer and Vendor. In such a case, Party, Customer and Vendor records are maintained in AX for John Doe. The Party record is shown on the Name (lookup) on the Customer and Vendor records.

Now lets check out the standard duplicate detection with an example to understand it better.

Note the First Name, Last Name and Contact For details of an existing contact. Say, Lilly Grace.

image

Also note that there is a party record for each of these contacts in the GAB.  

image

Now lets run a few tests

Test 1: Create another Contact with the same Name (Party). When the ‘Duplicate detected’ screen pops up, choose the ‘Add new person’ option. Notice that duplicate party records and duplicate contacts are created.

image    image

Test 2: Create another Contact with the same ‘Name’ (Party) and same ‘Contact For’. The ‘Duplicate detected’ screen will pop up showing that a duplicate party exists. Note that the prompt says the record exists in Global Address Book indicating that a duplicate Party exists not Contact itself. Choose the ‘Use selected record’ option and try to save the Contact record. You’ll now see a STOP error indicating that a duplicate Contact record cannot be created.

image      image

The critical STOP error is due to the index defined on Party in the ContactPerson table. Close the error message and cancel the contact creation form.

Test 3: Create another Contact with the same ‘Name’ (Party) but different ‘Contact For’. Use Sally Thompson to test this time. When the duplicate detected screen pops up then choose the ‘Use selected record’ option. Notice that duplicate Contacts are created despite choosing to use the selected record. However, the same Party record is used in both contacts. 

image     image

Is it optional?

There is a setting that controls the duplicate detection called “Use Check Duplicates” that is enabled by default. This setting can be found in Organization Administration –> Setup –> Global Address Book –> Address Book Parameters. Uncheck this if you don’t want the duplicate check.

Is it Configurable?

Not in the standard product. There is no configuration setting to allow adding any other entity (table) or field to the duplicate check. However, customization (through code) can be done to include additional fields in the search for duplicates.

Finally, even if the duplicate detection feature exists in AX 2012, as discussed it is limited to the party table. Customization is required if you need to add additional entities or attributes in the duplicate detection criteria.

Hope this helps!

Sure Step Methodology for CRM 2015 ?

A question that often pops up in front of the CRM Consulting teams is whether to use Sure Step Methodology with the latest version of Dynamics CRM (2015). More often now, since the methodology isn’t evolving as fast as the product.

Microsoft developed the Sure Step methodology with the good intent of providing a guideline to the implementation partners. It has not upgraded since 2012 to cover the product enhancements due to reasons unknown to me. However, the methodology can still be used as the project types, roles, responsibilities and activities in each phase remain same. Some of the tools may need be worked upon based on the recent features of CRM but the existing ones are a good place to start from.

Below are the models I have experienced in my CRM implementations.

  • Most big consulting companies (firms that implement multiple CRM products and other enterprise applications) have their own implementation mythology for enterprise applications that they prefer to use while referring to Sure Step for something very specific to Dynamics CRM.
  • Microsoft partners that primarily work on Dynamics CRM as majority of their consulting business generally use Sure Step as the methodology or improvise on it by building templates/content based on their implementations.
  • In some cases the Customer has specific processes or few templates that they are familiar with and would want to use them while depending on the Sure Step methodology for the rest.

In my opinion, Sure Step methodology has a Dynamics flavor that other generic mythologies wouldn’t provide especially the Decision Accelerators. I have implemented CRM even before Sure Step was available and used other frameworks/methodologies. However, I have found it advantageous and believe that it certainly helps the consultants to be aware of the tools & templates that are available.

Dynamics CRM and FantasySalesTeam

Microsoft has recently acquired Incent Games Inc, the owner of sales gamification platform, FantasySalesTeam (FST). Here is the announcement by Bob Stutz, VP Microsoft Dynamics CRM, who envisages it drive CRM adoption.

FantasySalesTeam  is a software platform that allows sales leaders to run more exciting and engaging sales contests modeled on fantasy sports like racing, baseball, football, soccer and basketball. Check out their website on how it works. FantasySalesTeam has customers like HP, Dell, Siemens, Aberdeen Group, FSU Credit Union, Comcast and has got some rave reviews from some of them.

It is exciting to know that the gamification would be available natively in the upcoming versions Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Immersive Excel Experience! CRM Online (7.1) and Excel Online

Am sure Microsoft Excel experts (that is to say most CRM users) would love not only the seamless integration but also the use of catchy marketing phrase Immersive experience to describe the feature. Export to Excel has been part of CRM from the early versions however, with CRM 2011 came the option to reimport. Now in CRM 2015 (7.1), the integration has been upgraded to open (embed) excel within CRM and provide for reimport every time (no more forget-me-not checkbox for make data available for reimport…).

This feature is currently available only to CRM Online users who have Office 365 license (for excel online). Export to Excel security role privilege is required for a user to use this feature in CRM.There is a nice technet article that describes a sample of use of this feature.

 

What’s new and how it works

  • Unlike Export to Excel, the Open in Excel Online opens the data in an embedded excel within the CRM window. This enables the user to do some quick analysis on the view’s data and return to CRM view OR update the records.
  • The format of the columns is retained as in CRM. So the date fields and numeric fields are readily available for analysis. Microsoft recommends this feature only for ad-hoc analysis like performing some calculations or viewing the information using charts. Changes to the data format could lead to import failure when attempted to save to CRM. If the analysis involves lot of data changes or needs to be shared with someone then it is best to use the Export to Excel feature instead of Excel Online.
  • Updates to the data are also adhere to the data type as defined in CRM. However, updates done in CRM Online are given preference over the updates in Excel Online. So keep saving the data changes in Excel Online frequently else the system will throw an error if any record was updated by someone else using CRM after it has been opened in Excel Online by you. Also note that any charts that have been added during analysis will be ignored when saved to CRM.
  • Open in Excel Online opens all the records in the view into Excel. A subset of records from the view cannot be selected for analysis. However, it honors any search performed on a view and displays only the search results from the view.
  • Number of clicks are reduced and working with excel is more user friendly. This feature now has a button to ‘Save to CRM’ which triggers the import process without the user having to go through it. The status of import can be checked as usual (settings –> Data management –> Imports) and the import job takes some time to complete.

 

Limitations

  • This is currently not available for CRM on-premises users.
  • Open in Excel Online is not available in the Advanced Find results view. You need to save the view and then perform the export from the saved view.
  • Data updated in CRM will not be immediately available in Excel Online. There would a lag of few minutes so plan accordingly..
  • Save As option on the Excel Online file cannot be used. However, you can copy the details on the spreadsheet into another excel file to take it for offline use.
  • There is no option to refresh the data from within Excel.

This feature enables users do some quick data analysis or bulk updates. I hear that it would be further updated in the upcoming release. Look forward to the ability to refresh data and share the analysis.