CRMUG Summit 2017

CRMUG Summit 2017

I was able to attend CRMUG Summit again this year. The 2017 Summit was hosted in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. I have been so impressed with the amount of content and the people who attend Summit both times now.

Before I leave for the Summit, I always prepare what my goals are out of the Summit. The number of sessions available is amazing and it is very easy to become overwhelmed and miss some very good sessions. Having my goals helps lower, not eliminate this. I keep my goals simple and also use the available app to “favorite” sessions I want to attend.

  • GDPR
  • Dynamics 365 v9 Update
  • Reporting
  • Customization

The topics listed above where were I wanted to focus this year. Of course, this can change based on further discussion with others at Summit. This year I heard there were about 7,000 people in attendance. Each year it continues to grow.


On April 27, 2016, the European Parliament adopted the General Data Protection Regulation. I work with a global company and knew this topic was very important even though I am not personally involved in the project myself. This regulation becomes enforceable on May 25, 2018.

I attended a roundtable discussion about GDPR with others who have had a lot more time to research and prepare for GDPR. I wanted to become more familiar and be able to bring back information I learned.

One thing that I learned about GPDR is that there is still a lot of questions about this regulation.  

Right To Be Forgotten

One major discussion was the Right To Be Forgotten and how this impacts other requirements for organizations. If a person is an EU citizens, they have the right to be forgotten and this is a personal option available to each EU citizen. This becomes complicated as personal information is many times exported to Excel or other reports used by organizations and all of these exports must be destroyed if a person requests to be forgotten. One thing to keep in mind is that if the data is required for other regulations such as financial reporting the data can be maintained. A major part of this is the ability to anonymize information so there is no way of personally identifying a person.

Data Policy

A data policy is a key component of GPDR. Having a data policy that not only specifies what data is being stored but also why it is stored. The policy must explain why the company needs the data that is stored and how they are protecting this data. A person’s consent is very important, once the data policy is available an individual must consent to a company’s use of their personal data. This means a person; a company cannot provide this consent for one of their employees. It was also discussed how if and when the data policy is changed consent must be collected again from people. 

This onehour roundtable was very informative but brought many more questions to me. As I stated this was my first exposure to GDPR and I am looking forward to learning more and correcting any misconceptions that I may have. 

Dynamics 365 v9 Update

Last year at Summit we learned about the launch and rebranding of Microsoft CRM Online to Dynamics 365. This year version 9 of Dynamics 365 was already announced and webinars available. But, we had the opportunity to attend sessions and hands-on labs with version 9. With version 9 of Dynamics 365, Microsoft has made available some new features that I am excited to use. Two of the biggest features that I am excited about are UUI and Virtual Entities.

Updated User Interface

The user interface has been updated even without using the new UUI. The updated user interface is cleaner to make it easier on the eyes and usability.

UUI Unified User Interface 

Dynamics 365 will now have a new user interface that is designed to be responsive and offer cross-device viewing. A big advantage of the UUI is to make a consistent user interface on any device. So, you can design a form once and have it available on all devices.

But, we must keep in mind this is not a feature that you just turn on and it works. A new “app”, a feature that was released in version 8.2 needs to be created where we set the user interface to UUI and then build out the forms and menus to be available in this app. This will take time to design and implement but will bring users a more streamlined experience. 

Currently, Advanced Find is NOT available in the UUI which is a big limitation for us. 

Virtual Entities 

There is never one single system that contains all of the data that is needed. Integrations with other systems is common and I have been doing integration for all of my career.The purpose of a Virtual Entity is to allow data from a different system to be available within Dynamics 365. The data in the system is NOT stored on Dynamics 365, but to the end-user it appears as if it is.

A virtual entity provides a way of creating an entity based on an OData feed to Dynamics without storing data in Dynamics and thus reducing the storage being used. A requirement of Virtual Entities is that the primary key must be a GUID. 

During the hands-on lab time, I created a virtual entity and added this entity as a related entity to the account entity. I was then about to open a form and use a drop down that pulled from the oData feed that was NOT stored on Dynamics. I could save data and use Advanced Find to find accounts that had data from this oData feed set. 

  1. Define a Virtual Entity Data Source, currently, it only supports OData V4 Data Provider. 
  2. Create a new custom Entity of type Virtual Entity, specifying External Name and External Collection Name corresponding to the name of the entity and entity set in the OData service to connect to. 
  3. Set the Id and Name attributes (or any custom attribute) of the Virtual Entity to the corresponding fields of OData entity. 
  4. Id (Primary Key) field must be of type GUID else we will get the exception. 

Dynamics 365 Users In Pittsburgh – User Helping Users

Last year I attended the CRMUG Summit in Tampa and have to say I was very impressed with everything that I was involved in. During the summit I attended two classes in the Black Belt Series and completed the series when I returned to Pittsburgh. The information that I learned in this series I put to immediate use on our Dynamics 365 project. I also met with a local Pittsburgh Chapter leader and discussed participating in the local chapter.

This past January, I facilitated the first meeting of CRMUG Pittsburgh at the Microsoft Office . We have a very good discussion about the local chapter and how it can benefit others. We talked about the value of the user group and what we would like to have presented and discussed in future local meetings.

The local chapter is a place to learn from other users, vendors and Microsoft about Dynamics 365. This is a place to enhance your network of people who you can discuss ideas and ask for help. Vendors at the group do NOT do sales pitches, this is part of the rules of the group. They are they to support the community and build relations. User, like myself are there to learn, teach and discuss ideas.

The next meeting is in April, to help make the meetings as valuable as possible to our local community we have a survey to collect information on themes of the next meeting.

To help create a better local chapter of CRMUG please fill out this short survey. The results will be used to create the agenda for the April meeting.
Create your own user feedback survey

Please register now for the CRMUG Pittsburgh meeting, April 18, 2017 from 1:30 to 3:30.

CRM Summit 2016

CRM Summit 2016


That is a one word description of my experience at CRM Summit last week in Tampa. The Summit is hosted by CRMUG, an international user group for Dynamics CRM.

**CRMUG Vision
To engage every individual and company using Microsoft Dynamics CRM in value-added networking and knowledge sharing and to be the single most important communication channel for Microsoft to seek guidance on future development of Dynamics CRM. Read more about CRMUG

As a first timer to the Summit and any event by CRMUG I wanted to share my experience. I was so impressed with everything that I saw and participated in. Today, I am going to share my experience from my perspective as a new comer. I will then follow up with some additional posts on what I learned.

CRMUG Academy Black Belt Training Series

Before the official start of the Summit, Academy Classes are available. The academy classes are priced very reasonable and I encourage you to take advantage of them or look for them on the CRMUG site. I decided to attend the Administrator Blue and Purple Belt classes from the Black Belt Series. I am looking forward to completing the series with the Brown and Black belt!

Both of the classes where instructed by Chris Weilandt, a Senior Solution Architect from Edgewater Fullscope. The series is designed to take in sequence, moving from Blue to Black Belt.

Blue Belt

Monday, I participated in the Blue Belt Academy, this is the first in the Black Belt Series. Chris provided a foundation of CRM and Office 365 as it relates to CRM. Starting with user maintenance, settings, business units, teams, security, form and view configuration and closing with field level security. This was a great way to begin the journey and start learning the powers of CRM.

Key Takeaway: Hierarchy Security

Purple Belt

Tuesday, I continued the academy with the Purple Belt and learned more. Chris continued with some advanced form configuration, multiple forms, custom entities, advanced find and closed with reports and dashboards.

Key Takeaway: Reporting and Dashboards

Dynamics 365

The keynote was so full of excitement. We walked from the Tampa Convention Center to Amalie Arena. Microsoft had people waving Dynamics 365 flags and some people on hover boards guiding us to the arena. I worked my way through the security gates to enter the arena and the excitement grew.
It was like a rock concert in the arena!

You won’t want to miss the official opening for Summit 2016! Microsoft joins in the celebration with an inspiring presentation of the Microsoft vision, including an exclusive first look at the all-new Microsoft Dynamics 365 by Microsoft EVP Scott Guthrie.

Dynamics 365 brings together the Dynamics products into a seamless suite of applications. Dynamics will have a CDM (Common Data Model) which will provide seamless integrations between the applications. Moving from opportunity to cash will be available with Dynamics 365 out of the box.

You can move between Sales, Marketing, Financial and Operations and the data is shared across systems! This is HUGE!

We have been building an Enterprise Service Bus to accomplish this bringing data from CRM to Oracle Financials. If you use Dynamics 365 Marketing, Sales and Financial you won’t have to build an integration, it is out of the box!

Microsoft also showed demos of Cortana Intelligence Suite and how artificial intelligence is used to help you make decision and relate records in CRM. This is then extended by adding actionable email with intelligence! Corresponding with your contacts has never been so easy and guided.

Key Takeaway: Common Data Model; Cortana Intelligence Suite; Actionable email with Intelligence  

So Much Learning

One thing I found out quickly is there are a lot of very good sessions and I ended up starring them through the CRM Summit app, triple booking myself! I then went back several times trying to single out each time block for a session I will attend. I tried to attend as many session as I could and also moved across skill sets to get the most valuable information to bring back to share with my company.

Below are some of the sessions I attended and my thoughts about each of them. I am not going to go through what I learned just my impression of the sessions. I have added a Key Takeaway after each section for future posts. I added a new section on my blog for Dynamics CRM that will be a place to write what I learn and share information about CRM and Dynamics 365.

I also met with one of the leaders a of the local Pittsburgh Chapter and talked with him about my involvement with the local chapter. Bob, was very friendly and excited about growing the Pittsburgh Chapter. User groups only work if people become involved and I will be working with Bob and the others to help the Pittsburgh Chapter.

Key Takeaway: Webinars; Local Involvement

Introduction to CRM Development

My first session was a good start. A basic introduction to developing plugins for Dynamics CRM. Corrie Rands went over how to register a plugin as well as the tools that are available to get started. This was a great session for anyone that wants to get started with plugins, I worked on plugins but still left the session with some great tips and tricks from Corrie.

Key Takeaway: Tools! Debugging Technique

Power BI + CRM = Better Together

Mike Hammons presented on Power BI and CRM, this session was full of demos and how to use the content pack of PowerBI. Mike showed how to embed PowerBI dashboards within CRM as well as some of the limitations of using the provided content packs. Mike really showed how powerful PowerBI is and how using it with CRM there is so much that we can present to our users.

Key Takeaway: Embedding PowerBI in CRM & Content Pack Limitions

Advanced Techniques to be your Organization’s CRM Guru

Kylie Kiser and Patrick Wright jumped right into some of the great tips and tricks that can be used every day as a CRM administrator. So many wonderful tips provided in this session that I learned about.

Key Takeaway: Security, Data Management

How to Maximize Value with Dynamics CRM Presented by Avtex

Below is an affiliate link for Marc’s book.
What to say about this… Well, Marc Wolenik is the author of Dynamics CRM ‘Unleashed’series of books. I just purchased Dynamics CRM 2016 Unleashed before coming to the convention and was honored to hear him speak and talk with him afterwards. He presented 25 tips that are very good for anyone using Dynamics. I started reading his book on the flight to and from Summit and write my thoughts on the book once I finish.

Key Takeaway: Use Business Process instead of Code

Security Best Practices – the Basics (Part 1)

Gustaf Westerlund guided us through best practices on security. The differences between Position and Manager Hierarchy security. He continue with concepts of teams, users, roles and business units. Gustaf provided some very good best practices for designing your security system.

Key Takeaway: Hierarchy Security

Different Strokes – Javascript vs. Business Rules

Donna Edwards shared some very useful information on when to use Business Rules verses Javascript. Business Rules in CRM continue to be more robust and powerful, a lot of functionality that was previously limited to Javascript can now be performed with Business Rules. This helps with upgrading CRM as well as providing more configuration options to CRM.

Key Takeaway: Configuration over Code

CRM Real Time Integrations with Azure Service Bus

I was excited to see this session, we are using Azure Service Bus to integrate CRM and Oracle. Abraham Saldana started with the concepts of Azure Service Bus, explaining the differences between the different patterns:
– Topics
– Publisher / Subscriber
– Queues
Abraham explained a lot in the short time he had for this session. If you have an opportunity to watch this on a webinar I would put this on your list.

Key Takeaway: Enable Custom Workflow Activities


This was one of my longer posts, I wanted to provide my perspective of the Summit and I hope I accomplished that. While I was at the Summit I joined CRMUG as a member for my company. I am also excited to be an active member of our local Pittsburgh Chapter to help build our local community. I am also already excited about next year’s summit in Nashville!

Like I mentioned earlier, I will be added a special section to my blog on CRM to post information, tips, tricks that I learn and also information about the local Pittsburgh Chapter.