If you use Microsoft Dynamics CRM, chances are you are also using the Outlook Integration that allows you to access and update CRM data directly from Microsoft Outlook. Have you now noticed that the CRM tab in Outlook has disappeared?
The most common cause of this is that the CRM add-in has been disabled in Outlook (unfortunately, why the add-in got disabled is difficult to determine). This has been known to happen in Outlook with several add-ins, but particularly CRM.
To get your CRM integration back, use the following steps:
- In Outlook, go to File > Options
- Select the Add-ins tab from the left side
- Under the “Manage” dropdown at the bottom of the window, change the selection to “Disabled Items” and select the “Go…” button
- Highlight the CRM add-in and select the “Enable” button
- Hit OK to close the Outlook Options window
You may have to close out Outlook and restart it for the changes to take effect, but that should be all you need to get your CRM functionality back in business.
If you have a lot of data that doesn’t quite fit into one of Dynamics CRM 2011’s existing entities, you may decide to create your own custom entity and fields to house that data of yours. If you take this route, don’t waste your time building the entity and creating all of your fields ahead of time! Instead, you can use CRM 2011’s Import Data Wizard, which allows you to create entities and fields on the fly as you import the data for this new entity.
After selecting the file you want to import in the Import Data Wizard, you will reach the Map Record Types step of the Wizard – here, you can select to “Create New” Dynamics CRM Record Type, which will prompt you for more information to create the new entity within the Wizard. Next, you’ll reach the Map Fields step – here, you can dynamically create new fields for each column in your import file (or ignore fields that you don’t want to bring into CRM). While doing so, it even defaults the Field Name to match the column header from your import file, so all you really have to do is select the type of field that it is. And if that wasn’t enough – if you select “Option Set” as the field type, the Wizard will automatically create values for your option set based on the unique values in that column of your data file! The only thing left to do at this point is to set any additional options on your new entity as necessary and configure the entity form that will be used to manage the data – both of which can be done through the usual customizations window.
So if you find yourself needing to create a new entity along with having to import your data into this new entity, save yourself some time by combining both steps into one using this helpful trick in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Import Data Wizard.
If you find yourself always starting from scratch when creating custom VBA forms in Dynamics GP even though you've created other similar forms in the past, here's a little trick to save yourself some time:
1. Find a similar VBA form that you have already created and export that form to a package file using the Customization Maintenance window.
2. Browse to where you saved the package file and open the file in a text editor (such as Notepad).
3. Here you can do 2 key things that you can't do directly in Dynamics GP's VBE window. The first thing you can do is change the name of the form by simply doing a Find & Replace and changing the existing form name to the new name you want to use. The second thing you can do is change the Product ID. You'll notice that when you create a form in a standard Dynamics GP module, you can't use it in Project Accounting (or other add-on modules). By changing the Product ID at the top of the package file, you can make the form available in a different module. So if you originally created the form for the Customer Maintenance window (Product ID 0), simply change the Product ID to 258 to now make it available in Project Accounting.
4. Save your changes to the package file.
5. Import the package file back into GP and notice it imports into the Product you specified and with the new name that you specified.
6. Make any other changes you need to the Form
7. Take an extra long coffee break!
There is no doubt that Microsoft Dynamics GP offers a wide variety of custom reporting methods that can enable anyone in your organization to get real-time reporting quickly and easily – whether it be SmartLists, Linked Excel Reports, SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), or Management Reporter (MR). As a report developer, typically it’s not too difficult to find the data that you need for a given reporting request – instead, sometimes the biggest challenge is just figuring out which reporting tool to use when creating the report. I’ve found that there are a few key questions you can ask that can immediately narrow down your options for you.
Will non-GP users need access to this report?
If your answer is “Yes”, then SmartLists are automatically out of the question, as these can only be accessed from within GP.
Will users need to run this report for various scenarios?
If your answer is “Yes”, go with either SSRS or Management Reporter – these are the only 2 reporting methods that allow “parameters” that the user can play with before running the report. These parameters make it easy for the user of the report to run it for a specific scenario that suits their needs.
Is it a financial report that requires a lot of comparisons?
If your answer is “Yes”, you may find it easiest to go with Management Reporter. In MR, it’s much easier to create financial reports that allow you to compare Actuals vs. Budget, Actuals vs. Prior Year, etc. or run statements as at a certain fiscal period.
Does the report require totals and sub-totals?
If your answer is “Yes”, then SmartLists should be avoided. While SmartLists are a great and very dynamics tool for GP users, its biggest downfall is the fact that you can’t show totals for columns without exporting to Excel and adding them manually.
Are the users of the report tech-savvy?
If your answer is “No”, you may want to veer towards a Linked Excel report. In most cases, even the less technical users have some sort of experience with Excel, in which case you are better off giving them a report that they can access in a familiar environment.
Does the report require a lot of flexibility in the way it is presented?
If your answer is “Yes”, you definitely want to go with SSRS. While Linked Excel reports can be customized to some degree, it requires a lot of extra work. SSRS, on the other hand, gives you the flexibility of having multiple tables positioned however you need, graphs, gauges, conditional formatting, and more right out of the box.
Do users want to access this from anywhere over the web?
If your answer is “Yes”, you’ll want to go with SSRS for sure, as this is the only reporting tool of the bunch that can be integrated into a web browser for viewing over the web. While viewing SSRS reports over the web is not a standard feature, it is possible – for example, WebSan’s Time and Expense Portal allows users of the portal to view any SSRS report over the web and also allows administrators of the portal to manage security around which users have access to which reports. To see more on WebSan’s Time and Expense Portal, check out the following link:
I don’t have anything against a mouse – a computer mouse that is – but sometimes I find I can be more efficient using the keyboard. Over the years, you have probably gotten so familiar with some keyboard shortcuts that you find yourself even using the shortcut keys when you speak instead of the actual function it is used for – “Just Control+V that in the email.”
Sound like you? If it does, you may find some of these Microsoft Dynamics GP Keyboard Shortcuts to be quite handy:
- ALT+F: Activates the File menu in a GP window
- ALT+E: Activates the Edit menu in a GP window
- ALT+M: Activates the Microsoft Dynamics GP menu on the main toolbar
- ALT+R: Activates the Reports menu on the main toolbar
- ALT+A: Activates the Transactions menu on the main toolbar
- ALT+I: Activates the Inquiry menu on the main toolbar
- ALT+C: Activates the Cards menu on the main toolbar
- ALT+H: Activates the Help menu
- CTRL+L: Opens a Lookup Window
By: Rahim Jiwani, Application Specialist,WebSan Solutions Inc.
For some of the more technical Microsoft Dynamics GP users, you may want a little more control and customization when reporting on your GP data. SmartLists provide a fairly quick and dynamic option to custom reporting, but they may not be visually satisfying. On the other hand, integrating BI360 with GP will allow you create very clean and organized reports in an Excel-like environment, but won’t give you that rudimentary control that your technical mind may crave. If you’re looking for some sort of middle ground between these two options, take a look at SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) for Dynamics GP.
The key to creating effective SSRS reports is having a good knowledge of SQL – or at the very least, a fairly strong knowledge of databases. This is what scares away some users, but for those that have this type of background, SSRS Reports could be your salvation in the pursuit of both visually appealing and fully customizable reports.
While SSRS Reports can be easily viewed within Dynamics GP, they are created in Microsoft Report Builder – a separate software program that is offered for free by Microsoft. Using Report Builder allows you to take a custom SQL query that you have created (either from scratch or by using Report Builder’s intuitive Query Designer) and turn it into an appealing report. With the ability to easily create tables, charts, and even visual scales/gauges, you can turn a simple list of data into a work of art!
If you have SSRS Reports deployed in your GP environment, you can view them by going into any series and selecting the “Reporting Services Reports” item in the Navigation Pane.
By: Rahim Jiwani, Application Specialist, WebSan Solutions Inc.
If you are a frequent user of Microsoft Dynamics GP, chances are you use a select few windows much more often than others. If this is the case, you may find it helpful to have shortcuts to these key windows directly on your home page. These shortcuts can be added in several different ways:
- Quick Links – Arguably the most popular method is to add the window to the Quick Links pane of your home page. To do this, hover over the Quick Links pane, select the pencil icon that appears in the top right corner of the pane, and click the Add button to add new links. Don’t forget to refresh your home page if the new link does not appear right away.
- Navigation Pane – To add a shortcut to your navigation pane, open the window that you want to link to, select File, and select Add to Shortcuts. A link to that window will now be added to your navigation pane when you are on your home page.
- Toolbar – To view the toolbar for a particular series, right-click the blue menu bar at the top of the Dynamics GP screen and select the desired series so that a checkmark appears next to it. To customize which icons are on the toolbar, right-click the blue menu bar again, select Customize…, choose the appropriate series from the drop-down menu, and click Add to add a new icon to the toolbar.
By: Rahim Jiwani, Application Specialist, WebSan Solutions Inc.
A lesser-known method for reporting on your Microsoft Dynamics GP data is through Solver’s BI360. BI360 is an Excel-based business intelligence tool that offers out-of-the-box integration with Dynamics GP for reporting, budgeting, and dashboards. It offers several key benefits to users:
- Familiar Environment – BI360 is an Excel add-on, which means all of your reporting is designed and displayed in the same Excel environment that you are already accustomed to.
- Simple Design – No SQL knowledge is required to design your own report or budget in BI360. It’s a simple drag-and-drop interface that allows almost anyone in your organization to develop customized and effective reports quickly.
- Integration – BI360 automatically integrates with your Microsoft Dynamics GP environment and pulls data from GP in real-time when generating reports, so you never have to worry about synchronization.
- Easy Distribution – not only does BI360 give you an easy and effective medium to design and view custom reports, but also allows you to easily distribute static versions of your reports to non-BI360 users.
In a nutshell, BI360 is a simple tool that provides powerful Dynamics GP reporting in a familiar environment – what more do you need?
By: Rahim Jiwani, Application Specialist, WebSan Solutions Inc.