Where Did The “Sails” Go?

After a very long time, it looks as though the sails in the Microsoft Dynamics logo have deflated. During Worldwide Partner Conference in July 2015, Microsoft announced that there are “no sails in the Microsoft Dynamics logo” any longer. It appears they are simply using “Microsoft Dynamics” to umbrella Office 365, Dynamics GP and Power BI under the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility suite.

We still need to “click” on an icon to take us into our applications such as Dynamics GP, CRM, or the iTunes app store – the new icon looks like this: 

Sail Blog #1

Ironically, it is astonishingly similar to Joesoftware’s iconology! Joesoftware has always been recognized as a trusted advisor in the GP community and it’s flattering to see that even Microsoft follows our lead.  Who knew we would have such an influence?

Sail Blog #2

Joesoftware is a group of highly-specialized professionals who make software that works for people wherever they are and our software is just like us – friendly and innovative. Simple approach. Great results.

Our mission? To consistently exceed your expectations with integrated tools that help offices run well and help your people quickly find important information.

For more information on Dynamics GP or any of our complimentary products to GP, please visit Joesoftware  or contact Sheila.

To SharePoint or Not to SharePoint

One of the most common questions we hear from our clients is “what is the best way to handle documents within Microsoft Dynamics CRM?” Almost every one of our clients wants to attach documents into their CRM implementation. The simplest way to do that is to use the Notes feature in CRM, but is that the best way?

Notes is a feature that is available on multiple entities. The Notes feature in CRM allows you to enter text or attach a document which is stored against an entity. A time and date stamp is applied to Notes when they are saved. This means that over time you can see a chronology of Notes, when they were created and also who created them.  While Notes is simple and easy to use, it provides very limited document management functionality. You can’t even search for a document that is added in Notes.

Microsoft SharePoint supports the whole lifecycle of managing a document, including document creation, version control, review, publishing, and finally document disposal or retention. For more robust document management we often consider implementing Microsoft SharePoint alongside Microsoft Dynamics CRM, due to the ease of sharing and searching for documents between these two systems. Microsoft SharePoint allows users to store documents that are contextually related to records in CRM, and then to search for these.

There are a number of ways to integrate CRM and SharePoint together. The simplest way is to use the out-of-the-box integration provided by Microsoft. This causes a folder to be created in SharePoint to house documents that are associated to a record in CRM. Records can then be seen either in CRM or directly in SharePoint. Alternatively, IFRAMEs can be used to show SharePoint pages in CRM, or CRM pages in SharePoint. Another option is to utilise Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint to connect to CRM or to search entries in CRM. A final option which is used less often is to build custom code to integrate SharePoint and CRM.

While documents can easily be attached to CRM records using the Notes functionality, it is not always the best option. If your organization needs to be able to easily find and retrieve documents related to CRM entities, consider using SharePoint to meet your needs.

Documents Access for Mobile Workers

Having a smart phone means that you can take your office with you wherever you go. Mobile workers are requesting tools to support their work out of the office, and organizations need to be able to respond in a secure, cost effective manner. Many organizations start out by enabling employees access to email on their smart phones. As a first step this can be invaluable, but it inevitably leads to employees wanting more.

Once employees have access to email on their smart phone, generally the next thing they want is access to documents. If your organization stores documents in shared folders that can be a tricky request to fulfil. But did you know that if you use Microsoft SharePoint to manage your documents then providing access to documents on a smart phone is really simple?

Microsoft SharePoint 2013 cost effectively delivers documents to your smart phone.  It even provides multiple ways to view documents: one view that is optimized for a mobile browser and a second full-screen view that mimics the desktop view of a SharePoint site and serves this up to a mobile device.

The obvious issues with providing access to documents on a smart phone is one of security. Luckily, SharePoint Server 2013 supports multiple authentication methods and authentication modes compatible with a variety of mobile browsers and devices.

Microsoft SharePoint 2013 on a smart phone uses the same access settings that you have when you access SharePoint from a desktop, laptop or tablet.  Using the security settings in Microsoft SharePoint 2013, you have the ability to set privileges regarding what employees can see, share and edit. You can see what employees have viewed or edited via the audit trail in the system.

Providing mobile workers with direct access to documents via a smart phone provides endless options to organizations that are seeking to improve business efficiency. You can make your forms available to your mobile workforce so that they can be completed in the field. Alternatively, you can provide reference information about your clients, like quotes and invoices. Where will you start?