Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Blog

Break the Ice with a Mobile Test Drive


Today's post is written by Kyle Gerstner, Principal Mobility Architect at Sonoma Partners

I believe that every company that has employees working in the field on a daily basis, needs to have a mobile solution. While this is easy for me to say, it’s not an easy initiative to undertake on your own. Some of the questions you may be asking could include:

"Where do we start?"
"What would the requirements be?"
"Why should we spend the money?"

Sonoma Partners offers a Mobile Test Drive package to help our clients tackle these issues, and get started on the path to creating an amazing mobile application.

One of the main components of our Mobile Test Drive is our ride alongs.  During these, our User Experience and Mobility experts observe representatives from the different user groups who would be targeted for a mobile application.  We are looking at what the users do on a day-to-day basis, what information they need access to, and get an initial idea about what the user base may want for a mobile application.  We go into these with a blank slate; no preconceived notions of how the users should be doing their job or what they need to do their job.

We use our findings from the ride alongs to help validate the business requirements for the application.  If you had a set of business requirements beforehand, we usually find some that aren’t overly useful, add some details to others, and find totally new requirements that we think would be valuable to add.  We also help prioritize your requirements, which is helpful when thinking of budgets or timing of feature rollouts.

Finally, we put together some high fidelity wireframes of what the application may look like and a simple proof of concept that you can run on a device to get a feel for how the app would work.  You can use these deliverables as a way to build internal excitement about the initiative and solicit feedback from your users about what you are planning on building.

Here are some examples of high fidelity wireframes and what your working prototype could look like:

Account View - History

Account - History

Account View - Call Report

Call Report

Account View - Information

Account - info.fw



A Mobile Test Drive will help your company figure out what mobile application to build, who will use it, and how they will use it.  I have found that starting with a Mobile Test Drive leads to a better end product and greater user adoption.

Here's how you get started:

1. Contact us to set up a time to discuss a mobile test drive
2. Watch and learn more about our Mobility Test Drive offering

Topics: Enterprise Mobility

Introducing Dynabacus – Microsoft CRM Record Count Tool

Today’s guest blogger is Mike Dearing, a Principal Developer at Sonoma Partners.

Ever wanted to get an accurate record count of all of your organization’s companies, contacts, <enter additional entity names here…>?  Well, you aren’t alone.  Your current options to accomplish this are limited. They include doing excel exports, writing reports, or performing SQL count queries (if your deployment is on-premise). We decided to develop a user-friendly, managed solution that you can easily drop into any Dynamics 2015 on-premise or online environment to perform these counts for you.  Dynabacus (the Dynamics-abacus) gives CRM administrators the ability to get the record count of any number of entities (native or custom) simultaneously.  Administrators can also refine these counts further by applying personal and system views if they choose to do so.  Then with the simple click of a button, Dynabacus crunches the numbers for you using supported API calls and returns the results.


And the best part is, it’s available now for free! Download it today and let us know what you think!

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Upgrading to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015? Here's What You Should Consider


Are you currently working with a version of Dynamics CRM pre-2015?  Have you not yet experienced the new flattened “single window” UI?  Do you not know what a CRM Solution is?  Or even worse, do you still use call-outs and deploy custom web resources to the physical CRM Servers (yikes!)?  If so, it may be time to start thinking of an upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015.

Upgrading any software can be a frightening thought and something you’d rather just put on the back burner.  However, delaying the upgrade has some negative impacts as well:  you obviously miss out on the latest and greatest features, and delaying the current pain of an upgrade may mean more pain down the road if you’re not on top of the latest software. Upgrading from 2011 to 2015 is much easier than 3.0 to 2015.  In other words, your current self can rest easy, but the pain you’re causing your future self is growing by the day. 

How configured are you?

A good consideration to take when you do decide to upgrade is, how much of a beast has your CRM system become?  You may have had multiple vendors, multiple deployments, multiple internal project sponsors with different priorities of a CRM system, and years of band-aiding a system you don’t even want to think about upgrading.

In this scenario, it may be best to take a step back.  Look at the Dynamics CRM upgrade as an opportunity to clean up all the noise that has accumulated in your deployment and revalidate the work that has been done over the years.  Use this as your opportunity to deploy 2015 in a “clean slate” and interview the key business groups as if they don’t have a CRM system at all.  Just because something was built and functionality was added to your deployment, doesn’t mean it’s needed.  Ask the question “why?” and if nobody can provide an answer, seriously consider leaving it behind.

Going through this process means you’ll most likely need to write a process to migrate data from your current version, to 2015.  You don’t want to go through the upgrade process which would automatically take all your current customizations and migrate them to 2015.  Instead, you’ll want to start with a fresh install and reconfigure your environment based on the requirements you obtained during the “revalidation discovery” process.  E.g., there may be fields that drop from your schema going forward.

On the other hand, if your system is small, relatively new, and hasn’t had many deployments to it since go-live, you may want to have the upgrade process perform most of the heavy lifting for you.  This means you won’t have to write a migration process – the upgrade process will automatically perform any data conversion needed for 2015.

If your current system hasn’t been too configured, chances are that the changes you’ve made have been supported.  Therefore, they should automatically upgrade through the upgrade process with not much falling out for you to manually clean up.

Budget is a big driver of this conversation as well.  If you have a massive implementation, it may be quicker for you to start fresh and implement just those features you want to carry forward versus trying to upgrade an old archaic system with a lot of deprecated code.  However, if your implementation isn’t complex, and all your code was supported via the API and nothing is deprecated, an actual upgrade may be quicker versus redeveloping.

Pre 2011 vs. Post 2011

There are a lot of clients out there that aren’t on Dynamics CRM 2011 or greater.  If this is you, you’ll want to definitely consider adding more time to your upgrade process as 2011 introduced some pretty groundbreaking changes to the deployment model.

With 2011, all customizations and configurations are packaged up in a Solution.  This includes any custom web pages, JavaScript files, etc.  With versions prior to 2011, these files were manually deployed to the server which means that they would have to be converted to 2011 format prior to upgrading to 2015.  If you’re on 2011 or later, then that work has been done already for you.  If you’re on a pre-2011 version, then you’ll need to factor that time into your upgrade decision.

Continued Investments into Mobile

Microsoft officially entered the mobile space with Dynamics CRM 2013, and they continue to improve upon that story.  With the release of 2015 they made enhancements to the Tablet Client by introducing an offline story, and making the dashboards more configurable.

Now with 2015 Online Update 1, they have introduced a refreshed phone app that has the same rich functionality that the tablet app has.  There’s still a lot of room for improvement in these apps, and during our time at Convergence 2015, the mobile roadmap looked feature rich.  If mobility is something you’re looking to get into, upgrading to the latest version of CRM could go a long way as you’d get a free mobile app in the process.

Features, features, features

Of course, the main driver for upgrading usually is the features that the new product comes with, and Dynamics CRM 2015 doesn’t fall short in this category.  With 2015, and 2015 Online Update 1 (Carina), Microsoft has continued to add to its already feature-heavy product.  Key notable features rolled out in these latest versions are:

  • Multi Entity Search
  • Business Rules
  • Business Processes
  • Continued Mobile Improvements
  • Hierarchical Security
  • Hierarchy Visualizations
  • Outlook Sync Improvements
  • Folder Level Tracking – Outlook Email Sync
  • Refreshed UI with cleaner Site Map
  • Theming
  • Date Only Fields
  • Office Groups Integration
  • OneNote Integration
  • Immersive Excel
  • Export to Excel Improvements

If any of these features are something you’ve been waiting for in the product, an upgrade now may be a no-brainer.

If your organization is considering a Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 upgrade, please let us help you decide the best way to approach the project.

Topics: CRM Upgrade Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015

Day in the Life: Meet Melanie



6:30 AM: Wake up and start the day!

Because we have a casual office environment at Sonoma Partners, getting dressed in the morning often involves the selection of jeans, a v-neck or a blouse (if I'm feeling fancy!), and either sandals or flats.

7:45 am: I'm out the door.

The Chicago office is in a primo location on the western edge of the Loop. I live in the northern part of the city and take the 'L' downtown. I hop off at Washington & Wells and it's a short walk from there to the office.

 8:45 am: COFFEE!


By the time I get into the office, two hours have passed since I woke up and it's time for coffee. After dropping my bag at my desk, the kitchen is my next stop. In the office kitchen we have a Keurig machine and a great variety of coffee. I usually go for a medium roast, but the developers in line ahead of me usually have a dark roast in hand.

After my coffee has finished brewing I grab a breakfast bar or I pour myself a bowl of granola. The kitchen at Sonoma has over 20 different varieties of granola bars, 6 types of granola/cereal and all of the milk options you could ever want; cow's milk, almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, and coconut milk!

9:00 am: E-mail and catching up.

Before I hop into meetings I scan my email and make sure that nothing requires my immediate attention. With co-workers and clients all over the US, a lot can happen between the time I sign-off and 9:00 am Chicago time.

During this time I probably spend a half hour responding to emails, instant messaging with various project team members, and catching up on the posts in our internal news feed.

9:30 am: "Always go into meetings with a positive attitude. Tell yourself you're going to make this the best deal for all parties." - Natalie Massenet

If my meetings don't start at 9:00 am, I'm usually on the phone by 9:30. Typically, I work on 2-3 projects at a time, each of them in different phases, so the content of these meetings varies greatly. 

When my projects are coming close to a milestone my morning calls are with the client. My project team and I will review the progress we've made and will work with the client to make any adjustments.

I also have weekly stand-up calls with my internal teams at Sonoma. With resources working in different locations, these calls are integral to keeping everyone informed and the project on track.

I report my progress on the latest bunch of features in the functional spec, how many configuration items I was able to close last week, and what tricky techy things are holding me back from completing all of my work. I also answer any business process questions our developers and quality assurance analysts may have.

11:00 am: Quality time with my coach.

Every week I take a break from my project and client meetings to sit down with my coach. Coaches at Sonoma are essentially managers, but at Sonoma, the manager relationship is more personal and has a greater focus on mentoring and collaboration, so we call them coaches.

My coach and I will talk about the projects I'm supporting, the type of work I'm doing, and the feedback he's received from my team. If there are any office announcements my coach will share them with me. Sometimes we'll discuss what can be improved internally, and sometimes we won't talk about work at all! Like I said, the coach relationship is supposed to be more personal. Sometimes we'll chat about Chicago sports, running, vacations, family, etc. 

11:30 am: More email.

Life moves fast at Sonoma. Before lunch I'm checking my email, responding to messages, and troubleshooting any build issues that may have come up.


12:00 pm: Lunch club.

Typically I bring my lunch to the office and eat in the kitchen, on busy days at my desk. In some offices this would be a very lonely experience. But in the Chicago office, even if you didn't bring your lunch, you order take-out and join everyone in the kitchen. We have two long tables that seat 10 each and it's not uncommon for both to be full.

12:30 pm: In the thick of the jungle.

After morning meetings when all of the hustle and bustle dies down, I start tackling the tough stuff. If we're in the early stages of a project I'm sitting down after lunch to write a functional spec. Throughout the process I'll drop instant messages to my teammates, get clarification  requirements, look for technical expertise from a developer, or meet with one of our principal consultants to see if a particular design is technically possible. 

If a project is further along, I'm spending time in CRM configuring the system. We have amazing internal tools at Sonoma to help keep features and items organized. With my dual monitors in front of me, I am constantly checking the list of items I have assigned to me on one screen, and actually building them on the other. 

2:00 pm - One more meeting.

Around 2 or 3 in the afternoon I usually have my last formal meeting of the day, whether that be with a client on the West Coast or with one of my Sonoma project teams to review an outstanding issue. After the meeting ends, I take advantage of the brief lull to run to the kitchen and grab a snack. If I am sticking to my diet, I'll opt for some grapes and a handful of almonds or pistachios. If not, I'm reaching for the Twizzlers in the candy drawer or a snack pack of chocolate chip cookies. I never forget the La Croix to wash it all down. 

3:00 pm: Home stretch

After my last meeting of the day I'm back to writing functional specs, fine-tuning other documentation, and knocking out some configuration items. The project manager of one of my projects may call me to see what the status of a particular item is, or I may call our tech lead to work out a solution to a specific business requirement.

Depending on how hectic life is, I may swivel around in my chair and chat with my desk mate about the Blackhawks or how we're both doing in the office fantasy football league.

5:30 or 6:00 pm: I'm outta here!

People start filtering out of the office around 4:30 or 5. I prefer to sleep in a little in the morning and stay a bit later at work so I head out around 5:30 or 6. Then it's straight to the gym or the lakefront trail for a run.

8:00 pm: One last check-in.

Right after dinner I'll check my email one last time. I'll take care of anything that needs an immediate response and then I sign-off for the night. I'M OUT!

 A day in the life by the numbers:


Are you a Salesforce Consultant or Microsoft Dynamics CRM Consultant looking for a new gig? Take a look at our current openings and contact us about a future at Sonoma Partners.

Video: Control Tower by Sonoma Partners

Are you experiencing end user adoption problems within your CRM system? Perhaps you have built out a great CRM system with all the bells and whistles, but you're finding that your people still aren't using it. When companies try to solve their end user adoption problems, they oftentimes have difficulty understanding the scope of the problem.

Most of the time, you can't quantify how many people use your CRM system on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, nor can you identify what types of records they are using and what they do with those records.

Control tower 2

System Administrators are left to track down rumors about what people are doing in the system and without the information, that quantifiable data, you can't make changes to improve the system to improve end user adoption.

That's where we come in. We've built Control Tower, a cloud-based app that measures end user adoption on a day-by-day basis and helps you answer three important questions:

  1. Who is using your CRM system?
  2. How are people using your CRM system?
  3. What are people working on within your CRM system?

 Watch the demo now to learn more about Control Tower.


Have a question about Control Tower? We're here and happy to help you get the answers you're looking for.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015

Just Say No to Homegrown CRM Systems

When we sit down to meet with prospects in the manufacturing and distribution verticals, we frequently encounter organizations looking to move off their existing homegrown CRM system. What these individuals are looking for is a consolidated system that can scale with their growing business and be easily managed by several members of their team. These seem like simple enough requests (they are when using Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Salesforce), but can be a nightmare to tackle in a homegrown CRM system.

Why do homegrown CRM systems even exist? 

Homegrown CRM systems are largely created as a result of the IT team raising their hand and volunteering their services to "quickly spin up a CRM". We've seen homegrown systems that are 20 years old and for the most part, are thrown together versions of Outlook. Oftentimes, the original architect behind the homegrown CRM system is no longer at the company; leaving present employees with nothing but duct tape, spit, and prayers to change or update the system. 

If you're ready to migrate off of your homegrown CRM system but don't know which platform to choose (we know this can be a confusing process), let us help you work through a CRM vendor selection

If you’re a manufacturer or distributor looking to become more efficient, but are still running a homegrown CRM…keep reading.

A formal CRM system will pay for itself.

If you think purchasing a formal CRM system and engaging with an implementation partner comes with a big price tag, just wait until you see the bill after years of trying to make your homegrown system scale.

Homegrown CRM systems do not scale, and the more you try to make them, the more money it’s going to cost you.

In our experience, we’ve discovered that manufacturing and distribution companies can recoup the cost of a formal CRM system and contract with an implementation partner in 3-4 new hires. We estimate that every time a manufacturer or distributor puts a new sales rep in the field, they spend about $50k-$60k to get them ramped up and running. An investment in an established CRM platform will save you time and money and pay for itself in a handful of hires.

Support is good. You want support.

Another reason you should just say ‘no’ to homegrown CRM systems is because they don’t come with support. Since they belong to you, exist on-prem, and can only be updated by existing employees, you have no one to turn to when things go wrong or need to be updated.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce release regular updates 2-3 times a year… and you don’t have to do a thing.

With all these regular updates come add-ons and free stuff; like authentication, mobile access, reporting, dashboards, automation, page reports, workflows, notifications, and the list goes on and on. You would have to spend millions of dollars to integrate these products with a homegrown CRM system, or you could have them out of the box with your purchase. It’s up to you.

Homegrown systems aren’t user-friendly.

In other words, a lot of homegrown CRM systems are ugly. If you’re trying to get your people to use your CRM (and hello, that’s the whole point) good luck getting your team to regularly use a system that’s as painful to look at as it is to use. 

Let’s work together. We’re here to help you successfully implement a CRM system that can scale with your business, provide real value to your employees, and replace your existing homegrown system, once and for all. 

Topics: CRM Best Practices CRM for Manufacturing

Sonoma Partners Named the Microsoft Dynamics CRM US Service Industries FY15 Partner of the Year

Last month, Microsoft proudly announced the United States Microsoft Dynamics Partner Award winners during the US Microsoft Dynamics Annual Conference. 

“The US Partner Awards gives Microsoft Dynamics the opportunity to recognize its top partners at a global event.  We are honored to acknowledge the extraordinary contributions and success driven by our Microsoft partners serving a strategic group of customers and driving strong business impact throughout the past fiscal year.” said Marietta Davis, Vice President, US Dynamics.

Sonoma Partners was recognized with the Microsoft Dynamics CRM US Service Industries
FY15 Partner of the Year Award. The company was honored among the top Microsoft partners for demonstrating sales excellence in innovation and implementation of customer solutions based on Microsoft technology.  


Awards were presented in multiple categories, with winners chosen based on their Microsoft Fiscal Year 2015 industry and product sales performance in the United States. Sonoma Partners was recognized for providing outstanding solutions and services, as well as demonstrating excellent engagement in the in the Professional Services Industry.

“Sonoma Partners is seen as an industry leader in the area of Service Industries. They have built their organization by embracing the need to have unique specializations for success.” said Lindsay Zwart, US Partner Lead – Microsoft Dynamics.

Microsoft Dynamics Day 3 Awards-0062

Microsoft Dynamics Day 3 Awards-0147

Our Microsoft Dynamics CRM Sales Team accepting our award in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Announcing CRM DevTools for CRM 2015 and Update 1!

Last January we released a brand new tool called CRM DevTools for CRM 2013 and 2011 UR12+.  Today we’re happy to announce a new update that supports CRM 2015 and CRM 2015 Update 1.  If you missed the original release, head here for usage information or here for the latest release.

Along with CRM 2015 and Update 1 support, we added a few more handy features.

Note:  Most of these new features will open a new window so be sure enable pop-ups

Form Tab – Record Properties

The Record Properties button on the Form tab brings back the old Properties page from CRM 2011 that still exists but isn’t surfaced anywhere in the UI.  The page displays the permissions on the record and the Created By, Created On, Last Modified By, and Last Modified On.



Form Tab – Performance Center

The Performance Center button on the Form tab displays the native Performance Center on top of the record form.  The Performance Center is used to debug any performance issues with a record form to see where it can be optimized.



Debug Tab

The new Debug tab replaces the old DB & Server tab.  The information from the old tab is now within the Environment Info button.  The Debug tab has 5 buttons to provide easy access to native debug pages within your CRM environment.


Debug Tab – Diagnostics Page

The Diagnostics Page button opens the native Diagnostics page for your environment.  This page helps debug any network issues and admins can use it to run a latency and bandwidth test.


Debug Tab – Environment Info

The Environment Info button opens the native Debug Information page for the CRM environment.  It contains version information for the CRM server and database, along with other settings. 


Debug Tab – Default Solution

The Default Solution button is pretty straight-forward and will open up the default solution for the organization.

Debug Tab – CRM For Tablets

The CRM For Tablets button will open up the CRM For Tablets app within your browser.  This is very handy to help debug any JavaScript issues with the app.  The native browser developer tools can be used to see any JavaScript errors that might occur within the app.  It can also be used to just see how the app will look with your organization.


We hope you enjoy the latest release of CRM DevTools as much as we do!  Hit us up in the comments with any feedback or suggestions for future releases.

Topics: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Come Clean With Your CRM Data

Two common concerns for professional services firms (accounting, management and IT consulting, AEC, and legal) surrounding CRM deployments are how to initially pull clean contacts into a CRM system and how to then keep them clean once they are there. 

This is a unique challenge professional services firms face because it's very common for firms to have duplicate contacts across multiple divisions within the same CRM system. Let's look at an accounting firm whose services includes audit, human capital, tax, and business advisory services. It's routine for a member of each of these teams to have a duplicate instance of the same contact with similar or varying information attached to the contact record. In other words, it's nearly impossible to start a project with "good" data. 



Because these duplicates exist, it makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for the firm as a whole to put out consistent messaging and effectively cross-sell services to existing clients. This is especially troublesome for marketing teams who are working to prevent marketing communication going to the same contact multiple times. It doesn’t look great if four members of your team from four different divisions are reaching out to the same contact at the same time trying to sell different things. As obvious as this may seem, we see it happen all the time.

It's time for professional services firms to come clean with their CRM data to strengthen long-term relationships with their existing clients and ensure data accuracy within their CRM in the future.

We have identified the following four steps to assist professional services firms with contact migration and management: prepare, analyze, migrate, and manage.

1. Prepare

Where is your data coming from? This is where you identify the data sources where your records exist which could include Outlook, an incumbent CRM system, ERP, spreadsheets, or another homegrown data system. This is also where you divide business vs. personal information and flag contacts that should be included or excluded in CRM.

We have the ability to choose which fields from CRM will sync to the primary record and which fields will remain private. This means if you have the home phone number of Paul Brown but your colleague doesn't, that field will be hidden and remain for your eyes only.

At the end of the prepare step you will have a targeted list of uncleansed contacts that are ready to be cleansed.

2. Analyze

Time to come clean. In this step of the project your data gets cleansed based on analysis and business rules. 

Important aspects of the analyze phase of the project include:

  • Identifying who owns a contact
  • Identifying who can view a contact
  • Defining rules of engagement
  • Discussing private data needs

Normalization, data enrichment, and data security are all taken into consideration as we work towards creating a comprehensive list of cleansed contacts that are ready to be imported into CRM.

3. Migrate

Now it's time to move. We begin by segregating existing contact records in Outlook and then executing business logic on the contact data set. Then we migrate data from the staging area to CRM. We will work with you to determine the best method for migration, whether it be SSIS vs. 3rd party tool. Your output will be the same: cleansed contacts in both CRM and Outlook.

4. Manage

Once you've gone through the process of normalizing your data and importing a clean batch into CRM you want to keep it that way. It's difficult to keep data clean on an ongoing basis and if you don't, user adoption will suffer. Enter the role of data stewardship.

Designating a member of your team as the CRM data steward (this does not need to be a full-time role) and giving them the tools they need to keep the data clean will ensure that your CRM remains pristine. Regularly scheduled data cleansing activities and a commitment of a data steward resource will ensure that you have clean data going forward.



This methodology we have developed ensures that your contact data is comprehensive, clean, and continues to stay that way so your organization’s CRM remains accurate (and useful) moving forward. Properly migrating and managing your CRM contacts will allow your marketing team to access marketable data that can be used to increase customer intimacy.

Do you work at an accounting, consulting, AEC, or legal firm and feel that your CRM system could benefit from data cleansing? Contact us today to learn more about contact migration and contact management for professional services firms.

Topics: CRM Best Practices CRM for Professional Services

Refreshed Dynamics CRM Phone App Available

A few months back, Microsoft announced the new and improved version of their Phone Client would be available with the Spring 2015 release.  However, with releasing any app to the various app stores, they’re not released immediately.

However, recently the app did show up in the Apple app store and we were able to get our hands on it to take a look and compare it to the previous version.  The previous version is still available in the app store, and has been rebranded “Dynamics CRM for phones express.”  A couple years ago we blogged about it’s release and the functionality it provided back then.  I linked to that post so you could compare and contrast the look and feel of the previous express version, to the new and improved version.

The new version, branded “Dynamics CRM for phones”, is now available in the Apple store, Windows store, and Android store.  You can tell the difference in the apps based on the icon and name.


Microsoft is moving to a “configure once, deploy everywhere model.”  What does that mean?  That means the life of a configurator is going to be that much better.  More specifically, the form customizations you make in the CRM web client, will now not only be what you see on the CRM Tablet client (as they have been since it’s release), but will also be what you see on the new CRM Phone client.  Therefore instead of having to update the main forms AND the mobile express forms, you’ll just need to update the main form for any changes you make to be applied across the board.

Now to the details.  What does the new Phone Client look like?  Well if you’ve used the Tablet Client before, it’ll look very similar to that.

When you initially log in (requiring only your IFD URL to your organization, user id and password), you’ll see your home page.  This home page is the Sales Dashboard.  However, in the Web Client, you can create additional dashboards that can be selected when you’re on the home page on the Phone Client, and you can also make that dashboard your default dashboard.

image  image

As you can see, from here you’re able to view records that you’ve pinned to your home page.  You can also resize tiles that are on your home page and this makes it super convenient for records with contact information like the Patrick Sands sample contact record above.  You can easily email and call this contact now directly from your home page without having to click into his record.

You can also see at the top of the page the global menu bar which has the following commands from left to right:

  • Back – takes you to previous pages
  • Home – takes you to your home page
  • Search – initiates a multi-entity search
  • Site Map – displays the entities you can navigate to

Also on all pages at the bottom right is an ellipses.  Clicking on this presents more options for the area you’re working in, as well as allows you to create a new record from anywhere you’re at within the application.


When you navigate to an entity from the site map, you can create a new record of that entity type by clicking the plus button at the top of the page.

image image

When on a record, you can view the data about the record and related data very easily.  The Phone Client now uses the same exact forms that the Tablet Client and Web Client use (configure once, deploy everywhere).  If you’re going in to talk to a customer, you can navigate to their account and view any open cases or opportunities immediately from the Phone Client.  You can click into an Opportunity to then see the process based form, and where you’re at within the sales process.

image image image

The phone app also allows you to easily create emails and make phone calls by clicking on email address and phone number fields.  The email fields will automatically open your native email client, and the phone fields will automatically initiate your phone client.  The good thing is after you hang up the call, you’re returned to CRM with a new phone form initiated so you can just punch in the details and click save.

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The integration between the Phone Client and the native mobile phone doesn’t end there.  Any address field on the application is clickable, and when doing so, you’ll open up the native map application.

The Phone Client also has a disconnected mode just like the Tablet Client.  While the offline mode is better that previous versions, this is still lacking in that it’s not showing you all records that you have access to, but instead, recently accessed records.  You can create new records while offline (called offline drafts), but unfortunately you cannot modify records while offline unless it was one that you just created while offline.  You can view your offline draft records by navigating to them via the Site Map (you’ll see a new “Draft Records” entry with a count of drafts).  Then when you’re back online, you can go into this list of drafts, and re-save them for them to save to the CRM database.  Not ideal, but is much better than nothing, and I’m really looking forward to what Microsoft has in store for vNext.

image image image

It’s great to see Microsoft continue this “mobile first’ mode and add more products to it’s repertoire.  Enhancing the Mobile Express app and making a true mobile phone app now rounds out their suite of products (web, tablet, phone) to all be first class.  Next steps are to add more features to these apps so that functionality that’s available on the web, is also available on these apps (e.g., custom web resources).  I’m also looking forward to seeing how they further improve on their offline story, and hopeful they provide a true offline solution where users can work with existing records while offline, and not only new records they create while offline.

However, as you can see, the application is pretty robust as it stands.  And the best part is the cost:  FREE!  Go ahead and download your copy now and start playing around.

Topics: Enterprise Mobility Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online