The purpose of this survival guide is to provide a collection of necessary resources for understanding and working with Dynamics CRM, both as an resource for CRM newcomers, and for locating knowledge and assistance when problems occur. Unless otherwise specified, the resources listed herein apply to all versions of Dynamics CRM.
For ease of use, this Survival Guide is broken into the following parts:
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For this section, I’ll use screenshots from Dynamics CRM 2011 but you can find the same resources in the same places in Dynamics CRM 4 (except for the first one which is only available in CRM 4 Online). One thing to consider with the resources within Dynamics is that they only refer to features found in CRM out-of-the-box. Other than the “Help on This Page” which is customizable, the rest will not refer to any configurations or customizations done to your instance of CRM.
The getting started area is available at the top of most list view screens in CRM. For a user starting out it gives lots of handy tips and tricks. If you are a little more experienced with CRM you can hide this with the little up-arrow at the bottom of the getting started pane.
Every out-of-the-box page in CRM has a ‘Help on This Page’ feature. To access this look for the white question mark in a blue circle in the top right of the screen:
In CRM 4, once you click this you need to specifically select ‘Help on this Page’. In CRM 2011 it goes there by default.
As can be seen, this is a little more comprehensive than the Getting Started pane and worth a browse if you’re not sure about a feature or want to know what a field is for.
One of the best and least utilized features of Dynamics CRM. The Resource Center can be found in Dynamics CRM just below Settings, clearly marked “Resource Center”. Microsoft hosts the pages found therein, and can be navigated directly via http://rc.crm.dynamics.com/rc/regcont/en_us/ophighlights.aspx.
Open up the page and you are greeted with all sorts of online resources.
Type something into the search box and you’ll be given help sections, videos, forum discussions and all sorts of useful material.
If you have questions which you cannot answer using the resources within CRM, my next port of call would be ‘The Forums’. These are online discussion areas full of people who use, make money implementing or design Dynamics CRM (yes, the teams at Microsoft involved with Dynamics CRM are active participants on the forums). This is as good as it gets in terms of free, professional support for Dynamics CRM.
The forums are also one of the measures used in determining whether a Microsoft MVP is actively engaged in the community so us MVPs have a vested interest to ensure we are active in the forums and providing good answers in a timely fashion (because if we don’t someone else will).
Activity in the forums is so good that if you are asking a non-technical user kind of question e.g. “How can I add an attachment to an email?” you are likely to get a response within hours, if not minutes, not days.
This is arguably the most popular and most active of the forums. There are actual three main forums (CRM, Deployment and Development) therefore CRM tends to get more user-type questions than the other two, although the rule is not hard and fast and you will sometimes get dev-type questions posted.
This is not as active as the main forum but does still get some activity and worthy of a search if the main forum does not come through with the goods. There is talk of this being rolled into the main forum but nothing has happened as of yet.
I did not mention this before as I am mentioning it here. The main CRM forum is for any question on Dynamics CRM regardless of deployment, the CRM Online forum is specifically for online deployments of Dynamics CRM 4, although questions do arise on there which apply to CRM in general. If your question is online-specific, this is a good place to go.
This is similar in purpose to the CRM Online Forum, except specifically for Dynamics CRM 2011 beta. If the new version is of interest, I strongly encourage you to sign up for the online beta at http://www.crm2011beta.com .
Microsoft have made it clear that they no longer are active in the public forums and encourage people to go to the main CRM forum. Certainly the main activity on the public forums these days are non-CRM related advertisements. However, as a historical resource for Dynamics CRM it is worth a search if others have failed you.
There are many, many blogs and twitters out there dedicated to Dynamics CRM. Here are a couple whose content is often not as technical as others.
Yes, this is the blog and twitter of THE Dynamics CRM Team at Microsoft HQ in Redmond. While technical articles do appear, there are also plenty of ‘how to’ and ‘here is a feature you may not know about’ type of articles which can keep you using Dynamics CRM to its full potential.
The focus is on the functional aspects of CRM. It has articles on codeless solutions to common problems or general CRM-related articles of interest. It is rare to see code or discussions on things like plugins on my blog.
Tweets are designed for broad-audience appeal. Often they are links to interesting videos, the latest service pack or industry analysis on the CRM market. Check them out and if they’re not to your liking, there are many, many others out there, some of which got plugged in my blog post from last year.
The blog features posts about useful tools, solutions and articles which can be found in the CRM community. The blog features examples, walkthroughs and samples regarding all areas of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, from installation, consulting to development and is updated numerous times per week.
The following resources are specifically geared toward CRM 2011 and/or CRM Online.
The following resources are specifically geared toward CRM 4.0.
Any bugs or suggestions you would like to express to Microsoft should be submitted through Microsoft Connect. You can also vote other users suggestions up or down.