CRM Online Portal Trial – Step by Step Installation

Recently I obtained a trial portal to add to my CRM Online trial organization.  I thought I would share the process with you in the event you would like to try it out.  Note, this is the process at the time of this writing.  This process could change at any time.

The first step is to create a CRM Online trial, complete the setup and sign in.  Next, make a request for a Portal trial.  You can do that by selecting this link and completing the information on the page.  You’ll receive a follow-up email after you complete the sign-up request.


If your trial request is accepted, you’ll receive an email with an activate link.  Select the Activate button, and you’ll be taken to a page where you can choose to add the Portal to your existing trial [CRM Online] or create a new one.  Select Add Existing, if you have a trial or New if not.  If you accidently select New, not to worry as you’ll have the option on the page to sign into an existing CRM Online trial or create a new one.

Note:  At the time of this writing, you must select Add Existing for the Portal Trial to work as expected. 


I signed in with my existing trial.  You’ll be asked to confirm your order by selecting the Add button and on the order receipt page the Continue button. 

Tip:  If the order receipt includes a message to assign the users a license you can ignore that as it is not required  (see below)  


After selecting Continue, you’ll be taken to your Office 365 Home page.  If not, log into Office 365 and select CRM from the Admin Centers on the left navigation menu and you’ll be taken to your CRM Instance. 


Highlight the instance you want to work with and select applications from the top navigation menu.  In this example I have only one instance so it was automatically selected for me.


On the Applications tab you will see the Portal Add-on.  If you don’t see the Portal Add-on then something didn’t go as expected during the setup process.  You’ll need to go back and check your request for a Portal or open a support ticket for assistance. 

Select the Manage button to begin the initial Portal setup.

Tip: Note the status of the Portal is NotConfigured


On the next page you will enter information regarding the portal configuration. 


Here is where you will give your portal a Name, Portal URL (enter the value you want for the URL and the portal will confirm if it is available or not), select your Portal Audience and the type of portal to be deployed.  In this example, the Portal Audience is customer and Portal to be deployed is Community.  Select the Submit button, at the bottom of the page, and select accept for the Terms of Service window dialog


The configuration will begin and might take a few minutes to complete.  Stay on the screen until completion. 

After completion you will be asked to log back into Office 365.  At this point, you will be asked to give the Portal Add-on permissions that are required for the application to run.  Select Accept


The Portal Add-on is now working through the final stages of configuration and setup.  Give it the necessary time to complete.


Tip: If you select Portal Details, it will take you back to the screen where you entered your initial portal configuration information.  If you select Submit again, it will display a message that the URL is already in use.


You can check on the status by returning to Office 365, Admin Center, CRM, select the CRM instance then select the Applications button, select Manage and you should see a link to your Portal URL.  If you don’t see it, give it some additional time to complete the configuration and check back. 

Note:  Your Portal URL should be in the following format: https:<nameYouProvided>

That’s it; you’re now ready to begin configuring your Portal for others to access.  Below are a couple of resources to help you get started with the Microsoft Dynamics Portal solution.

Configure a CRM Portal

Administrator’s Guide to portal capabilities for Microsoft Dynamics CRM


Power BI Free Preview for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

In the event you are not aware, you can obtain a preview instance of Power BI for free.  When you go to the Power BI sign-up page it will ask for a work or school email address.  The sign-up process will complain if you try to use a personal email address.  In the event you don’t want to use your work address, you can spin up a CRM trial instance and use that email address to sign up.  That is the approach I took and it worked well.  The nice thing about that approach is that you can connect Power BI to your trial CRM instance with just a few clicks.  Let’s take a look.

After signing in to Power BI you’ll see Microsoft Dynamics CRM in the left navigation window.  When you select it a Connect button will appear.


Select the Connect button and you will be asked to enter your Dynamics CRM OData Service URL which can be found in CRM under Settings, Customizations, Developer Resources.


Copy and paste the OData URL into the Power BI field and select Next.


You’ll be presented with sign-in options.  Select oAuth2 from the list and Power BI will connect to CRM.  The initial data load will take several minutes but once complete you will see a Dashboard, Reports and Datasets section.


You are now ready to begin exploring Power BI.  Check out this Power BI getting started article for a host of information to include working with Datasets to create charts (drag and drop), creating reports and dashboards, sharing dashboards and a whole lot more.

You can also download and try out the Power BI for Mobile App, Power BI Designer Preview and Analysis Services Connector Preview.


Keep an eye out for future articles as I begin exploring all that Power BI has to offer for Microsoft Dynamics CRM analytics.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SharePoint & One Note Step-by-Step Integration

With the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Spring 2015 release just around the corner, I wanted to try out the OneNote integration. The setup is amazing easily.  If you would like a preview, check out the step-by-step article I wrote for the Microsoft MVP Award blog site.

I think this integration is definitely going to make the most frequently used, new feature, list.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Personal Options

Today I created a new CRM Online trial organization to enhance some training that I am taking.  Generally, the first step I take after setting up a trial organization is to configure my personal options.  I’ve done this more than a hundred times over the last few years and realized today that I’ve never shared it in a blog post.  So today I thought I would share with you the options I select.

The first thing we need to do is select the small gear icon in the upper right corner and select Options from the drop down display:


I’ll begin with the general tab and walk through each tab.

General Tab

The first setting is the Default Pane and Tab you would like to navigate to when you log in.  As you will notice, the Default Tab options change based on the Default pane selected.  I select Settings and Solutions for my default login option.

In addition to the login, I change the number of records to display to 250 (maximum allowed), Change Advanced Find mode from Simple to Detailed (saves me a click or two when initiating a search), ensure the time zone is correct, set default currency to US and select the option to Enable high contrast.



For CRM Online trials, I generally deactivate all of the Outlook synchronization filters.  I take that action because I want to control the synchronization of data rather than have it automated.




A different option that I sometimes use it to setup a different Outlook profile and select that profile when installing the CRM Outlook Client.  When using that approach, I leave the default synchronization settings activated and allow the CRM Outlook Client to synchronize records.

The important thing to keep in mind when setting personal options is to ensure you’ve selected the options that support the work you perform most frequently.  You want to automate as much as possible and reduce work when completing your task.  The careful selection of your options will help you meet that objective.


The activities tab is fairly straightforward.  I generally set my default calendar view to weekly and leave the default work hours start and end times.  You can make whatever changes you choose to this area to reflect your needs.



The formats tab allows you to determine how you want to see the format of things like numbers, dates, times, and currency.  When I setup a trial, my options are always set to English and I’m generally satisfied with the default formats provided.  However, you can choose from a long list of formats and you can further refine the display by selecting the customize button.

Default settings for the trials I create


Select the Current Format drop down for a list of available options


Select the customize button to further customize the display


Select the Reset button to return to the default settings


Email Templates

Personal email templates display on the Email Templates tab.  You can also create personal email templates from this area by selecting the New button.



From my perspective, this is one of the more important tabs and you should spend a little time here thinking through your needs. 

By default, the option to allow other users to send email on your behalf is not checked.  This option needs to be check if you have workflows that send emails.  Since almost all organizations have those email notification type workflows that can be triggered by other users, you will most likely need to select the option to allow.

I always select the option to track emails in response to CRM mail.  I choose that option because I’ve found that it gives me greater flexibility.  I sometimes receive email from CRM contacts that I do not want tracked in CRM.  If for some reason I receive an untracked email that I would like tracked, I can always use the Set Regarding option.  Having said that, I’ve found that sometimes organizations prefer to have users set the option to automatically track emails from either email enabled records or from Contacts, Leads and Accounts to ensure important communication is not missed.

I also uncheck the option to automatically create records.  I don’t want CRM to automatically create Contact or Lead records based on the email sender and I generally don’t recommend it for others.  The reason is because CRM is only as good as the data.  When records are automatically created, only a small amount of data is added and users must remember to open the record to add key data points.  I prefer to have users purposely create records when needed to ensure that important data in not missed.



I always set the option to automatically send error reports to Microsoft.  I do that because I don’t want to be annoyed by those pesky Script error messages.  Some people, like developers, choose the Never Send or Ask for Permission to send because they want to see the error message in the event it is something they can fix. I encourage you to select the Automatic send option if you do not planning on fixing Script errors.  My thought is that the more error information that Microsoft receives the better because



You can use the language option to set the desired language display for the User Interface and Help files.  The base language is set at installation and can no be changed.

Now you have all the information you need to set personal options in CRM.  Take a few minutes to review your settings and ensure they are optimized to support you while you work.


Please note that these are my personal preferences and do not necessarily represent “best practice”.  You should configure your user settings in a way that supports the work you perform. 

Update Rollups – Should I or Should I Not, that is the Question

With the recent release of CRM 2013 Update Rollup 2 aka UR 2, I thought this might be a good time to share what I’ve learned over the years from my experience and the experience of others regarding the deployment of Update Rollups to production.

Here are a few guiding principles that should help to ensure a more smooth rollout of Update Rollups.

Sometimes there can be unexpected issues related to the UR that could break something that is working.  Yes, it does sometimes happen even when the most rigorous regression testing is applied.  Following the tips below should help to ensure you do not experience an unexpected issue.

Read, um read & read one more time.  Update Rollups include fixes to issues.  Also, listen to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Podcast that the Premier Field Engineer team does for each UR.   If you are not experiencing issues that are addressed, it is ok to skip a UR or two.  Keep in mind, sometimes there are hidden gems in the UR, like performance enhancements, so take your time when reading through the list and making your decision.

Turn off automatic updates to the CRM servers.  You’ll want to devise a methodical and tested approach to applying updates to servers.  A methodical approach should include always applying the Update Rollup to a development environment first and ensure end users have fully tested the UR prior to deploying to production.  I recommend creating a test plan that includes a list of test scripts that users are required to run on the test environment.  You should have a ‘base’ list of test scripts to work from and update the list based on the information you glean from the UR.  Add scripts that will test the components referenced in the UR.

Understand that Client side update rollups will automatically be delivered through the Windows Update Service in a week or two after the UR release data.  Therefore, be sure to include tests to the Outlook Client in your scenario.  If you do happen to run across a breaking issue, you can temporarily turn off Windows Updates to the client machines until the issue is addressed.

Taking some time up front to apply a methodical approach to testing Update Rollups could save you some time and frustration if or when something unexpected happens. You can work with a cross functional team made up of IT and CRM end users to create your testing process to included test scripts.  Once you’ve done a couple of these, it will become quite easy.

Be sure to check out the CRM 2013 UR 2 Podcast


Microsoft Dynamics CRM – Business Process Flow

In this article, I will explore the new Business Process Flow (BPF) feature and provide some examples of how  you can customize it to fit an organization’s need.

Dynamics CRM 2013, BPFs have many beneficial qualities.  They are available for out-of-the-box (OOB) and custom entities, can span across multiple entities, you can create multiple BPFs for a particular business process, can be role based, can be included in solutions for export and import, and work in the browser, Outlook Client and Tablets.

A key purpose of a BPF is to guide users through a specific business process to completion.  A BPF is useful in several ways to include but not limited to:

  • Highly configurable to meet the needs of any Organization
  • Ensure that a set of steps are completed for a specified business process
  • Jump stages if needed
  • Track and report on progress
  • Support the establishment of efficient, effective and repeatable processes
  • Guide existing and new employees through the process
  • Support quick, on-boarding of new hires

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 comes with three OOB BPF’s; two are related to sales and one to service.  Let’s begin by briefly exploring the out-of-the-box Phone to Case BPF.

To view the OOB BPF’s, select Settings and Processes from the top navigation menu.


Select All Processes and open the Phone to Case BPF


Before proceeding, let’s make a copy of the BPF by selecting the Save As button from the top navigation menu.


After making the selection, a new BPF window will open with a newly created BPF named Phone to Case Process (Copy).  The new process will be in draft or inactive status.  We can change the name of the process by selecting the Expand / Collapse chevron from the right side of the process window.


Let’s change the Process Name to “Case Resolution” by replacing “Phone to Case Process (Copy)” with the new name.  Select Save from the top navigation menu and then select the Collapse chevron.

When viewing the Case Resolution Process BPF, you will notice that there are three stages; Identify, Research, Resolve.  Each one of the stages contains multiple steps.  For example, the Identify Stage includes two Steps; Find a Customer, Find a Case.


Let’s take a look at what the Identify Stage looks like on a new Case record.  To create a new case record, select Service and Cases from the top navigation menu.  Select the Identify process stage from the newly created Case to view the steps:


From here you can complete a lookup for the Customer and Find any similar cases.  Completing those two steps, completes the Identify stage.

Next, let’s make some changes to the new BPF we created.

The first change we’ll complete is to make all of the steps in the Identify, Research and Resolve stages required with the exception of Assign to Others in the Research stage.  To do this, select the Required option on each of the Steps.


Next we are going to add a new Stage and name it Propose Solution.  You can add a new Stage by selecting the plus button next to the word Stages.


Once selected, a new Stage will be added to the bottom of the Stage list. Let’s update the name to Propose Solution, select Propose for the Stage Category, update Steps to display “Suggest a Solution”, select “Activities Complete” for the Field Value, and mark the Step as required.


The next change I want to make is to move the Propose Solution above the Resolve stage.  I can easily make that change by selecting the Move Up option from the bottom of the process form.


Once that is complete, our new BPF displays the Stages in the required order with resolve being the final stage in the process.


After completing the changes desired to the BPF, there are a few additional steps required to make the new process available for use.

The first step step we’ll take is to enable security roles.  Select the Enable Security Roles button from the top menu.



Select the Enable for Everyone option and select OK.


Now let’s change the order of the BPFs so our new BPF displays by default.  Select the Order Process Flow button.


Select the Case Resolution BPF from the list, select the green, Move Up arrow and select OK.


The final step is to Activate the process by selecting the Active button from the top menu.


The new BPF will apply to all newly created Cases,  by default, since we moved it to the top of the list.

If you choose, you can apply the new Case Resolution BPF to existing Case records by opening a Case record, select the More button from the command bar, select the Switch Process from the drop down list and select the Case Resolution BPF from the list.


Be sure to test your new BPF by creating a new Case to ensure everything is working as expected.  You can make any additional changes needed by simply opening the BPF record.

I hope you enjoy the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Business Process Flow feature.   Be sure to share your favorite BPF features, tips and tricks with us.


Getting Ready for CRM 2013

As we all know CRM 2013 is scheduled for release this year.  If you are a Dynamics CRM Online customer than you might have already received your upgrade notification.  I have a couple of online accounts and have received notification that both are scheduled for upgrade in October.  That tells me that Microsoft is tracking to a Fall release as they’ve been saying for some time now.

There has been much activity in the Partner and Customer channels regarding CRM 2013 to include information and materials to help you prepare for the upgrade.  Below is a list of some of the resources.

Dynamics CRM Resource Center

Get Ready for the next Release

MSDN & Microsoft Blogs

What’s Changing in the Next Release

General Changes to Features & Functionality

What’s New for Developers

WPC 2013


Planning Guide Changes – Think Deployment

Partner Network Training – Requires PartnerSource Login

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Setup and Upgrade New Features

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Blitz Day – Sales and Marketing Track (Part 1 of 3)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Blitz Day – Sales and Marketing Track (Part 2 of 3)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Blitz Day – Sales and Marketing Track (Part 3 of 3)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Blitz Day – Technical Track (Part 1 of 3)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Blitz Day – Technical Track (Part 2 of 3)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Blitz Day – Technical Track (Part 3 of 3)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 SDK New Features

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 User Interface New Features

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Application New Features

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Application Upgrade New Features

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Application Control New Features

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Processes New Features

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Customization New Features

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 for Tablets New Features

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Server-Side Synchronization and Microsoft Office Outlook New Features

Stay Connected & Informed

Microsoft Dynamics Facebook

Microsoft Dynamics Twitter

Microsoft Dynamics LinkedIn

Microsoft Dynamics Community YouTube