Written by Mike Adler, Master Consultant
Administering Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be challenging at times. Some tasks are quick and easy to do, and some take a lot of manual work and can chew up large amounts of time. Lucky for us there are many CRM users who have run into the same issues and created tools to help automate these processes and tasks. Even better, these tools are free! In this post, I’m going to talk about some of the tools I have found and use regularly to make my life easier. This is the first installment of a two-part blog on free CRM tools. We will be covering five more free tools in a future blog post.
Top Tools for CRM Administrators:
2. XRMToolBox - User Settings Utility
3. XRMToolBox - Bulk Workflow Execution
4. XRMToolBox - Advanced Chart Editor
Snapshot, from Cobalt, is great for protecting data from user mistakes. It allows administrators to add a recycle bin to their CRM environment and rollback changes and clone records.
“CRM Snapshot is a free, MS Dynamics CRM solution from Cobalt that allows you to create regular onsite backups of your data, recover deleted records and create copies of existing records with the click of a button. The idea is simple, whether you want to manually create a point in time backup of your records or create a workflow to automatically generate backups anytime a record is created, updated, or deleted, CRM Snapshot can oblige. In addition to backing up and recycling sensitive data, CRM Snapshot also allows you to copy existing records in CRM, reducing the time it takes to enter new records that contain the same information as other records in your system.”
Take a closer look and download it here!
The XRMToolBox uses a plugin concept to allow you to perform hundreds of different actions against CRM. I’m going to round out my “Top Free 4 Tools” by highlighting three plugins for the tool box: User Settings Utility, Bulk Workflow Execution, and Advanced Chart Editor.
I would recommend downloading the XTMToolbox and installing these plugins from the Plugin Store inside the tool box.
User Settings Utility
There are several places in Dynamics CRM where it is difficult to make bulk updates to records. One of those areas is user settings. The User Settings Utility plugin allows you to select users from a specific CRM View and update all of them at once. One of the settings I always recommend changing is the number of records per page that CRM displays. The default is 50 which is limiting. This tool will allow you to change that setting for every user in CRM to any numeric value that meets their needs. There are also other settings around Activities, Email settings, and Privacy that you can change in bulk. This plugin serves as an excellent productivity tool.
Bulk Workflow Execution
Have you ever needed to execute a CRM Workflow on more than 5,000 records? Most administrators will spend time trying to figure out how to break the advanced query into chucks or less, then run the workflow on each chunk. What if you could run an On-Demand workflow on thousands of records with a single click? Well, you can! The Bulk Workflow Execution plugin for the XRMToolBox lets you choose a workflow and either define a custom FetchXML query or pick from one of the views that are defined for the entity. Once the records are selected, just click the “Start Workflows” button and the plugin will handle fetching the records and spawning the workflow for all the records. Nothing could be easier.
Advanced Chart Editor
Charts in Dynamics CRM are a great way to display data in a visual form. Unfortunately, there are a limited number of settings to make the chart appealing to the user. Some chart customizations are not even possible with the CRM interface. Prior to Advanced Chart Editor, the adventurous CRM Admins had to export the chart and edit the XML of the chart in Notepad to customize it. This was tricky because you had to know the structure of the XML without any documentation. Now with the Advanced Chart Editor, admins can export the Chart XML and can edit it in a visual way and publish those changes back to the CRM. No more Notepad! It also lets you make changes that are not possible using just the CRM user interface.
So, there you have it. Four free tools that will make your life easier when dealing with Dynamics CRM administration. I hope this helps you make your work with Microsoft Dynamics more efficient. Please come back for the next part of this series in early 2018 where we will discuss five more tools that will help you manage Dynamics CRM.