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Dynamic Hyperlink with Mail Merge using CRM 2015

This is a quick post based on a question in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Community forum.

Problem Statement: Can I dynamically add a hyperlink in a mail merge? The URLs are stored in a field on the CRM record. Need that URL to be added as hyperlink on an image.

Solution:
It is possible to add dynamic links coming in as merge fields to an image. To keep it simple, am adding the website field on account as a hyperlink in the merge document. You can use this feature to insert dynamic content for a campaign or something more useful.
Here’s how to do it:

  1. Select a few accounts and click ‘Mail Merge’
     Select Accounts
  2. You can use a template if you have. I’m going to create a Blank document. Choose the data fields required. Make sure you add the URL field. In my case, the website field. Click OK followed by ‘Download ‘ button on the Mail Merge dialog.
    image
  3. You should have the word document similar to below. As instructed, enable the macros on the document
    image
  4. Click ‘CRM’ in the Add-ins tab.
    image
  5. You will see the records we had selected in Step 1. Click OK.
    image
  6. Say that you want to distribute the high net worth accounts’ details to your key sales team. Add any text you want in the document and insert a picture (image). Right click the image to add a hyperlink.
    image
  7. In Insert Hyperlink dialog, enter some temporary text say ‘TempURL’ for the Address. Click OK.
    image
  8. Now press “ALT+F9” to see the code in the mail merge document.
    image
  9. Delete the temporary text ‘TempURL’ in the hyperlink and use the ‘Insert Merge Field’ option to add the actual URL field.
    image
  10. Press ‘ALT+F9’ to close the code. Now, select ‘Edit Individual documents’ in ‘Finish & Merge’.
    image 
  11. As seen in the tooltip, the URL is still showing the temporary text we had entered.  Unfortunately, Word isn’t refreshing the image link automatically. Press “Ctrl+A” to select all the contents of the document and then Press F9 to refresh.
    image
  12. Here is the result with all the dynamic address applied to the images!
    image

CRM In Microsoft Dynamics AX

In this blog post, I would like to provide high-level details of the CRM functionality available within Microsoft Dynamics AX, an ERP system. In doing so, I am using Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 with Cumulative Update 8.

During the Sales discussions with Customers who need both the ERP & CRM functionalities, the question that arises is whether to use functionality available in AX or to go for Dynamics CRM. I have witnessed a couple of customers implement both Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics AX for different business groups and then integrate them using the Connector or one of the Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) tools. A few others build a part of ERP functionality using xRM while some others took advantage of CRM functionality available within their ERP system. In addition to the functionality offered, factors such as required UI, deployment architecture, Microsoft SharePoint & Microsoft Office integration, data integration needs etc. have to be analyzed and thorough due-diligence has to be done for a specific customer to determine the best solution option.

While Dynamics CRM is Microsoft’s flagship product for CRM functionality, you can take advantage of the CRM functionality in AX and derive benefits such as

  1. No additional license cost for CRM
  2. No integration requirement as the functionality is addressed within AX
  3. Users don’t have to switch between applications for a business process (Example: Opportunity to Invoice)

Functionality Offered

  1. Lead Management: Lead qualification process, Responsibility distribution, Bing Map integration
  2. Prospect Management: This is where the relationship management begins before it matures into vendor or customer.
  3. Opportunity Management: Prognosis, Sales Process, Competitor details, SWOT Analysis, Responsibility distribution, Pipeline visibility
  4. Contact Management: Outlook synchronization, Competencies, Preferences  
  5. Activity Management: Task, Appointment, Event  & Action planning
  6. Product Configuration: Provides for complex product configuration management
  7. Quote, Order & Invoice Management: Complete process of creation and maintenance of these sales activities
  8. Customer Management: 360 degree view, Credit, payment details, Sales demographics, Financial dimensions, Collection, Invoice and Delivery, Service, Marketing details, Statistics etc.
  9. Marketing Lists: Target lists
  10. Telemarketing: Call lists, Call distribution, CTI integration
  11. Email Marketing: Basic campaign broadcast via email is available
  12. Social Marketing: Publish Retail discounts on Facebook and Twitter using Microsoft Site Services solution, ‘Advertise retail promotions on Facebook or Twitter’.
  13. Campaign Management: Campaign activity planning and execution, campaign resource management and budgeting using projects in relation to campaign, Broadcast, Response management
  14. Survey Management: Use Questionnaires in AX to design, distribute, complete and analyze the survey
  15. Call Center: Customer service, Catalogs, Orders, Payment etc.
  16. Case Management: Case Management process, Knowledge articles
  17. Field Service Management: Service Agreement, Customer Inquiries, Service Orders, RMA, Technician/resource management, Billing
Outlook Synchronization: Contacts, Tasks and Appointments can be synchronized with Outlook
In addition to the functionalities mentioned above Microsoft Dynamics AX supports features like advanced search, de-duplication, transaction log, reports, workflows etc. that can help you build a good CRM solution. Remember that Microsoft Dynamics AX is not designed to serve the CRM strategies alone and might lack some of the CRM capabilities. However, it is a workhorse that can help your business in getting the Holy Grail of CRM (360-degree view of customer).

2 Column Layout using CSS and KnockoutJS

Working with KnockoutJS and other frameworks makes you learn new tricks. I had to learn a new trick just few days back and I thought I should share it here.
I am hoping someone might read this and either save some time or maybe come back and suggest me an alternative.

Here is how I did it:

Added this CSS to my page:
And this HTML Markup:

The Microsoft CRM Email Router service on Local Computer started and then stopped

The Microsoft CRM Email Router Service will not start every time you start it manually from Services and throws an error message "The Microsoft CRM Email Router service on Local Computer started and then stopped. Some services stop automatically if they have no work to do, for example, the Performance Logs and Alerts service."

Event log entries say:
Event Type: Error
Event Source: MSCRMEmail
Event Category: None
Event ID: 0
Date:
Time:
User:
Computer:
Description:
#16192 - The E-mail Router service could not run the service main background thread. The E-mail Router service cannot continue and will now shut down. System.Configuration.ConfigurationErrorsException: The E-mail router service cannot access system state file Microsoft.Crm.Tools.EmailAgent.SystemState.xml. The file may be missing or may not be accessible. The E-mail Router service cannot continue and will now shut down. ---> System.Xml.XmlException: Root element is missing.

This means your Email Router configuration file is corrupted.

You need to go to C:\Program Files\Microsoft CRM Email\Service and delete the Microsoft.Crm.Tools.EmailAgent.SystemState.xml file. Try to re/start the Email Router Service. This should resolve your problem.