Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011: Dashboards Cookbook

By Mark AuCoin
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  1. Viewing Dashboards

About this book

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 offers you access to exciting new interactive and flexible Dashboards that contain any combination of Charts, Lists, iFrames and Silverlight components. These can be used to easily visualize your CRM data and provide you with a light BI interface, all of which this practical cookbook will enable you to utilize.

At first glance, Dashboards and their myriad information can be overwhelming to users that are new to the Dynamics CRM 2011 interface. This book guides you through navigating and interacting with Dashboards in a simple and easy to follow manner, and builds on that experience to walk you through creating and sharing your own User Dashboards.

“Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011: Dashboards Cookbook” offers a range of practical recipes for mastering dashboard navigation, interaction, and building custom Dashboards in Dynamics CRM.
You will immediately get to grips with essential tasks like changing Dashboard settings and sharing Dashboards with other members in the CRM team, as well as adding custom components like iFrames and Lists. Along the way you will also follow the creation of a simple HTML WebResouce that can be added to your Dashboard.

By the end of “Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011: Dashboards Cookbook”, you will be fully equipped to take advantage of the exciting new Dashboards features of Dynamics CRM 2011.

Publication date:
January 2012
Publisher
Packt
Pages
266
ISBN
9781849684408

 

Chapter 1. Viewing Dashboards

In this chapter, we will cover:

  • Creating a free Dynamics CRM 2011 Online account

  • Finding and selecting dashboards

  • Expanding and collapsing dashboard sections

  • Changing your default CRM 2011 Dashboard

  • Making Dashboards your CRM 2011 homepage

 

Introduction


One of the best user features found in Dynamics CRM 2011 is the addition of standard dashboards. Dashboards can contain any combination of charts, lists, and other components to help give users a visual and interactive view of their CRM data.

At first glance, dashboards and their myriad information can be overwhelming to some users who are new to the Dynamics CRM 2011 interface. This chapter will guide you through the basics of navigating between dashboards and setting some basic personal options. We finish up by reviewing the standard CRM 2011 Dashboards with an explanation of what data is represented on these dashboards.

 

Creating a free Dynamics CRM 2011 Online account


In order to learn about the basics of viewing and later modifying dashboards in Dynamics CRM 2011, it is suggested that you create a free 30-day trial account for Dynamics CRM 2011 Online. In this way, you will be free to explore and test out the many features of CRM 2011 without any risk of being exposed to the production environment.

Getting ready

You need to have an active Microsoft Windows Live ID in order to register for a free 30-day trial account with Dynamics CRM 2011 Online. If you do not have a Windows Live ID yet, you should visit https://signup.live.com/ to sign up. You can create a Windows Live ID by using your existing e-mail address, or by requesting a new Hotmail address. There is timely communication about features and the status of your CRM Online instance during the 30 days of trial, so make sure to check the e-mail address you used to sign-up for the trial for important tips.

How to do it...

Creating a Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Online instance can be accomplished in under 20 minutes. Keep your organization name and e-mail address ready before you begin. This instanced of CRM Online can be used to complete all the recipes found in this book.

  1. Visit the http://crm.dynamics.com/ website and click on the large GET STARTED! button in the Free Trial section as shown in the following screenshot:

  2. You will be taken to an overview page that provides information about features found in CRM 2011 and how the 30-day trial account works. When you are finished reading, click on the TRY NOW! button as shown in the following screenshot:

  3. Now you can begin to set up your free 30-day trial account. Step 1 is the Country/Region information: this might already be selected based on your IE settings. Change the country if it is incorrect, and provide an active e-mail address in the E-mail field and click on the Next button as shown in the following screenshot:

  4. Sign in by using your Windows Live ID (e-mail address and password). Click on the Sign in button. This e-mail account automatically becomes the billing administrator and is the only account that Microsoft will use to process your request if you wish to turn your trial into a full subscription. There is no self-serve method to change this later and you will have to contact Microsoft directly to perform the change for you.

  5. Provide the CAPTCHA characters to ensure the safety of the service. Read through and accept the terms of service. Click on the Next button as shown in the following screenshot:

  6. Complete the Sign-up form by providing the contact and company information.

  7. Click on the Finish button.

  8. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will now provision a new account for you. Leave the window open, as this might take a few minutes to complete. When it is done, you will see the following screen:

  9. From this screen, you can create a bookmark by clicking on the Bookmark link shown in the preceding screenshot. The URL for your account will probably contain the organization name you entered in Step 3 of the sign-up process. Clicking on the Launch CRM Online button will take you to your CRM 2011 Online account, where you can now begin to tackle some tasks.

How it works...

Dynamics CRM 2011 is a Software-As-A-Service-based solution running from the Microsoft Azure cloud. When you sign up for a new Dynamics CRM 2011 Online account, a new instance of Dynamics CRM is provisioned in the Azure cloud environment.

There's more...

An important thing to point out about the Company Name field is that the value you provide cannot be changed later on. I would suggest using something similar to demoMyCompany (where MyCompany is your organization name). Country, Currency, and Language cannot be changed after sign-up, and they may affect pricing and offers from Microsoft if you decide to turn the trial account into a paid account later on.

You will receive an e-mail from Microsoft with the URL for your new instance of Dynamics CRM 2011 Online. However, if you ever lose or forget the URL, you can go to the main http://crm.dynamics.com/ website and click on the CUSTOMER SIGN IN link located in the top menu section.

 

Finding and selecting dashboards


The Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 interface has many new buttons, links, and UI features that can be a bit overwhelming at first glance. This section will introduce you to some of the common navigation methods to locate and view different dashboards.

Getting ready

Sign in to your Microsoft Dynamics 2011 Online account (we created one in the first section) by using your Windows Live ID credentials. By default, the Dynamics CRM 2011 application already has the Dashboards area set as the homepage. Therefore, the first time you sign into the application, you will start with the Dashboards. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online comes ready with pre-populated sample data. This data will help you to build your dashboards, and is the same as is used in the rest of this book.

How to do it...

Carry out the following steps in order to complete this recipe:

  1. By default, the Dashboards link can be found in the Workplace section of the left-hand navigation for Dynamics CRM 2011, as shown in the following screenshot:

  2. When working in the Dashboard area, you can select a different dashboard by clicking on the small down arrrow next to the current dashboard's title and then choosing a new dashboard to view. The following screenshot shows one such example of this:

  3. Another way to select and view dashboards is by clicking on the similar small arrow when you highlight the Dashboards link in the left-hand navigation section, as depicted in the following screenshtot:

  4. One of the new navigation features in Dynamics CRM 2011 is the new Recently Visited and Favorites link; this lets you quickly jump to a dashboard when you are not in the Workplace section. You can also pin your favorite dashboards, so that they are always available. For example, the following screenshot shows how you can access a favorite dashboard while you are still in the Sales section.

There's more...

Now that you understand the basics around locating and viewing CRM Dashboards, let's take a detailed look at the standard dashboards that come with the Dynamics CRM 2011 application and what each one contains.

To review each standard Dashboard, sign in to your Dynamics CRM 2011 Online account and navigate to the Dashboards section in the Workplace area.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Overview Dashboard

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Overview Dashboard is a good example of how a general user who might work across multiple modules in CRM (Sales, Marketing & Service) can use a dashboard to get a view of the entire system.

  • The Sales Pipeline chart is a funnel report on open/active opportunity records, grouped into the different stages.

  • The Leads by Source Campaign chart shows all lead records that came in as a direct result of a CRM-managed campaign. The data is grouped by campaign and covers the current fiscal year.

  • The Cases By Priority (Per Day) chart is a stacked chart that tracks the active cases assigned to the current user per day, stacked by priority.

  • The list of My Activities is a collection of CRM Activities (Phone Call, Task, Appointment, Email, and so on) that belong to the current user.

These are depicted in the following screenshot:

Sales Activity Dashboard

The Sales Activity Dashboard is an example of how a sales person might design a dashboard. The idea is to provide sales data and goal measurements to quickly identify areas that need attention. All the charts are focused on the current user's data.

  • The Sales Pipeline chart is a funnel report on open/active opportunity records, grouped into the different stages.

  • The Percentage Achieved chart shows the progress against the user's active goals. These goals cover four quarters of the current fiscal period, and track opportunities.

  • The Leads by Source chart shows all the Lead records this user owns, and groups them by source (Advertisement, Trade Show, Referral and so on).

  • The Top Opportunities chart takes the user's list of open opportunities and selects the top 10 based on the estimated revenue.

  • The Top Customers chart takes the user's list of closed opportunities for the current fiscal period and selects the top ten opportunities based on the estimated revenue. The related customer name is also displayed.

  • The list of My Activities is a collection of CRM Activities (Phone Call, Task, Appointment, Email, and so on) that belong to the current user.

These are depicted in the following screenshot:

Sales Performance Dashboard

The Sales Performance Dashboard shows how a manager or VP can use a dashboard to view the progress of a team or the entire organization. The charts read data across the entire CRM system, not just for the current user account.

  • The Sales Pipeline chart is a funnel report on open/active opportunity records, grouped into the different stages.

  • The Goals Progress (Money) chart allows the user to see how the team or organization is progressing towards financial goals. This example uses opportunities grouped by fiscal quarters.

  • The Percentage Achieved chart shows the progress against active goals. The default goals cover four quarters of the current fiscal period, tracking opportunities.

  • The Sales Leaderboard chart sums opportunities closed in this fiscal period and groups them by the opportunity owner.

  • The Deals Won vs. Deals Lost By Owner is a stacked chart that sums the opportunities won in this fiscal period and combines that with a sum of the opportunities lost in this fiscal period. That data is then grouped by the owner of the opportunities.

These are depicted in the following screenshot:

Marketing Dashboard

The Marketing Dashboard provides an overview of the marketing efforts across the organization. The charts presented here are more reflective rather than a call to action, but completing marketing and sales processes in CRM brings this dashboard to life.

  • The Campaign Type Mix is a pie chart that simply groups all the campaigns for the current fiscal year by the campaign type field.

  • The Campaign Budget vs. Actual Costs is a stacked chart that takes all campaigns for the current fiscal year and compares the budgeted amount versus the actual costs recorded to run the campaign. This data is then grouped by fiscal quarters.

  • The Leads by Source Campaign allows the user to see the number leads generated by each campaign run in the current fiscal year. This information is driven from the new lead records that are tied back to an originating campaign.

  • The Revenue Generated by Campaign chart sums the actual revenue data from all the closed opportunities for the current fiscal year and relates them back to a campaign that influenced or started the deal. This data is then grouped by campaign.

  • The list of My Activities is a collection of CRM Activities (Phone Call, Task, Appointment, Email, and so on) that belong to the current user.

These are depicted in the following screenshot:

Customer Service Representative Dashboard

The Customer Service Representative Dashboard shows the KPIs for a Customer Service Rep, or support personnel. The chart provides case data and goal measurements to provide a quick status report. The charts are focused on data for the current user.

  • The Case Mix (By Origin) is a pie chart that groups active cases by the case origin field value.

  • Cases By Priority (Per Day) is a stacked chart that provides a view of the incoming cases, grouped per day, and stacked by priority.

  • The Case Resolution Trend (By Day) chart is a mixed chart (bar and line) that is used to report on the number of cases closed per day, along with the average time spent to resolve those cases.

  • The Goal Progress (Count) chart uses the goals data in CRM to report on numeric (count) goals instead of the usual financial goals. This chart has a target for completing cases per quarter, and shows the completed status along with a forecast for current progress towards the goal.

  • The list of My Activities is a collection of CRM Activities (Phone Call, Task, Appointment, Email, and so on) that belong to the current user.

These are depicted in the following screenshot:

Customer Service Performance Dashboard

The Customer Service Performance Dashboard shows the KPIs for a customer service team within the Customer Service group. The data includes team-wide results, not just data for the current user.

  • The Service Leaderboard chart shows the number of cases resolved in the last 7 days, grouped by the user who resolved the cases.

  • The Case Resolution Trend (By Day) chart is a mixed chart (bar and line) that is used to report on the number of cases closed per day, along with the average time spent to resolve those cases.

  • The Goal Progress (Count) chart uses the Goals data in CRM to report on numeric (count) goals instead of the usual financial goals. This chart has a target for completing cases per quarter, and shows the completed status along with a forecast for current progress towards the goal.

  • The Articles By Status chart reports counts all of the knowledgebase articles stored in CRM and groups them by status (draft, unapproved, approved).

These are depicted in the following screenshot:

Customer Service Operations Dashboard

The Customer Service Operations Dashboard is similar to the Customer Service Performance Dashboard, except that this dashboard focuses on the entire Customer Service group (operation) and not just a team or an individual user.

  • Activities by Owner and Priority is a stacked chart that counts open activities by the user and then stacks them by the activity priority field value.

  • The Service Leaderboard counts all resolved cases and groups them by the user who resolved the case.

  • Articles By Status is a pie chart that counts all of the unpublished knowledgebase articles stored in CRM and groups them by status (draft or unapproved).

  • The Cases By Origin (Per Day) chart is a stacked chart that counts and groups all cases opened over the last 7 days and stacks them by the case source field (web, e-mail, phone).

  • Cases By Priority (Per Day) is another stacked chart that counts and groups all active cases opened in the last 7 days and stacks them by the case priority field.

These are depicted in the following screenshot:

 

Expanding and collapsing dashboard sections


Dashboards in Dynamics CRM 2011 can be filled with many different sets of data. To help organize this information better, some dashboard layouts come with expandable and collapsible sections. Not all the layouts support collapsing sections, so we will focus on one of the standard dashboards that do. For more information, the Creating a user dashboard recipe in Chapter 3, Creating a Dashboard provides more detailed information about which dashboard layouts support collapsing sections.

Getting ready

Start by going to the Dashboards section in the Dynamics CRM 2011 Workplace area.

How to do it...

Carry out the following in order to complete this recipe:

  1. From the Dynamics CRM 2011 Workplace area, select the Dashboards link.

  2. Select Marketing Dashboard from the list of available standard dashboards, as shown in the following screenshot:

  3. Marketing Dashboard is a large dashboard that requires the user to scroll down to view all the contents. Scroll down the screen and you will find three sections named Marketing KPIs, Activities, and Campaigns.

  4. Single-click on the title of the first section, Marketing KPIs, to toggle the section's visibility.

There's more...

You will notice that when you reopen a Dashboard section, if there are charts displayed in that section they will be refreshed (reloaded) to show the latest data.

 

Changing your default CRM 2011 Dashboard


The CRM Administrator(s) have the ability to set the system-wide default dashboard for all users—the dashboard which all users see when visiting the Dashboards section. However, in CRM 2011, users have the ability to override this default and select a different dashboard as their personal default.

Getting ready

Launch your Dynamics CRM 2011 application. The first time you access a new Dynamics CRM 2011 environment the default dashboard will probably be the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Overview dashboard.

How to do it...

Carry out the following steps:

  1. From the Workplace area in Dynamics CRM 2011, select the Dashboards link.

  2. The system default dashboard will be displayed. It is probably the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Overview dashboard. If not, don't worry, the procedure is the same.

  3. Select a different dashboard from the available list. In the following example, the Sales Activity Dashboard has been selected:

  4. As this is not currently the default dashboard, there is a button available in the CRM ribbon (toolbar) named Set As Default, as shown in the following screenshot:

  5. Click on the Set As Default button. If the current dashboard is already flagged as the default, then the Set As Default button will be disabled, as shown in the following screenshot:

  6. In order to test out the feature, click on the Activities section link located just beneath the Dashboards link in the Workplace area. Then, click again on the Dashboards link and you should be taken to your new default dashboard.

How it works...

Personalization settings, such as the default dashboard, are stored at the user level for Dynamics CRM 2011. The user's personalization settings override the system default settings. This applies to dashboards as well. If a user removes their personal dashboard, the system default will take effect again.

There's more...

Why doesn't the Dashboards link go back to my default dashboard? You may have noticed that when you navigate away from the dashboard (say into the Sales section) and then return, Dynamics CRM may not show your default dashboard, but rather goes to the last visited dashboard.

This is not a bug. CRM 2011 tries to remember your recent visits, including views and dashboards. Therefore, the default dashboard might not always be shown during your CRM session. However, if you close your browser and start a new session with Dynamics CRM 2011, the default dashboard will be shown again.

 

Making Dashboards your CRM 2011 homepage


Another personalization setting found in Dynamics CRM 2011 is the ability to set where your homepage link will lead. In this recipe, we will ensure that it lands on the Dashboards section.

Getting ready

Launch the Dynamics CRM 2011 application. You don't need to be in any particular section (Workplace, Sales, and so on) for this recipe.

How to do it...

Carry out the following steps in order to complete this recipe:

  1. From the Dynamics CRM 2011 interface, find the File menu tab at the top of the CRM application window. Click the Options menu item as shown in the following screenshot:

  2. A dialog named Set Personal Options will appear with eight tabs along the top. Select the General tab.

  3. At the top of this tab, you will see a picklist named Default Pane; make sure this is set to Workplace as shown in the following screenshot:

  4. In the section picklist called Default Tab, select Dashboards.

  5. Click on the OK button at the bottom right of the Set Personal Options dialog. This will cause your Dynamics CRM interface to refresh and apply any changes that have been made. The Workplace and Dashboards area will be the default location for you homepage link.

Tip

I don't have a Workplace or a Dashboard section

If you are missing the Workplace or Dashboards section in your Dynamics CRM navigation, chances are that the system sitemap for Dynamics CRM 2011 has been modified by your CRM Administrators. They may have been removed or renamed. If this is the case, then you should contact your CRM Administrator for assistance in finding the Dashboards section.

About the Author

  • Mark AuCoin

    Having been in the industry since 1992, Mark AuCoin has been involved in many different software projects. Starting out in application development, he learned about business needs while building robust client/server and ERP systems using Microsoft and Java development tools. Migrating to the internet, he was able to leverage his years of database and reporting skills to create business class web-enabled applications. Then a funny thing happened – Microsoft CRM. Mark was impressed with the ability to focus more on the business needs and “what” needs to get done instead of worrying so much about “how” it was going to get done. Since diving into Dynamics CRM in 2006, Mark took his own Dynamics CRM mobile solution to market, attained Microsoft Virtual Technical Specialist status for CRM and is a CRM Solution Specialist for Navantis Inc, which won the 2010 CRM Solution Partner of the Year award from Microsoft Canada.

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011: Dashboards Cookbook
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