Business Process

Wednesdays With Will: Do You Have A Business Process?

By William Marchesano, Technology Advisor & Evangelist

I recently met up with a friend of mine who owns a small but growing business.  He was telling how when the business had less than 10 employees things seemed so much simpler.  Everyone wore multiple hats and they just figured it out as they went along.  They must have been doing something right because before he knew it they had doubled in staff.  As they approached 15-20 employees, he realized they couldn’t do things as they had in the past.  Roles became more defined and the need to put processes in place became essential.  Like most entrepreneurs, he was more of a visionary than a process implementer.  For that reason, he hired a management consultant firm to help him develop processes for his expanding business.
Though the management consulting firm helped him in multiple areas of his business, my friend was most proud of his newly developed sales process.  They hadn’t had a formalized process in the past and pretty much left it up to each salesperson to figure it out on their own.  Once again this was fine when they only had 2 or 3 sales people but as the business continued to grow and their sales team approached 8-10 people there were need for some standardization.  His goal was to help his sales team open more opportunities and achieve a higher success rate from those opportunities.  He was also thinking about how he could simplify the onboarding process for a new hire and reduce the amount of time it would take to get them up to speed.  Having a sales process in place would allow him to accomplish both outcomes.
My friend is aware of my passion for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms.  The management consultant recommended they start using one to reinforce the processes that had been developed for them.  I couldn’t agree more.   What is the value of developing a process if you have no way to ensure it stays in place?  I told him how Microsoft Dynamics CRM has had an “out-of-the-box” business process built into it since the 2013 version.  Every business has its own unique sales process and Microsoft has accounted for this.  You have the ability to customize the business process to match your business’s need.  Analytics provided by Dynamics CRM would allow you to adjust your business process if need be as well.
Here’s a short video showing you what the business process looks like in Microsoft Dynamics CRM:

 

As always, I encourage you to reach out to me to discuss these topics in deeper detail. I hope you enjoyed and found this week’s article informative. If you’re interested in some how-to related CRM material, check out blogs by my colleague Ben Ward here. Till next time…
About the author:
Will has over 16 years of experience in business development, team management, and project management. Will has worked at Managed Solution for over four years and is currently advising businesses on best CRM practices and implementations. Will’s focus is on process improvement and analytics specializing in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Will is a Microsoft Certified Professional, with certifications in Presales Technical Specialist – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Sales Specialist- Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Application, Sales Specialist- Office 365, Sales Specialist- SMB Infrastructure and Sales Specialist- Datacenter.
For information on deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM in your organization, please call us at 800-257-0691.
To sign up to receive emails when new Wednesdays with Will Blogs are posted, complete the form below.
Other articles by Will Marchesano:

self-serve customer service

Wednesdays With Will: Self-Serve Customer Service

By William Marchesano, Technology Advisor & Evangelist
It’s amazing how an innovation such as the internet has had such a drastic effect on society. The two major impacts can be simplified to how we communicate with each other and how we seek and consume information. Just think about daily usage in your own life. If you don’t have an answer to a question it’s likely your first instinct is to look it up through an online search vs asking someone. This change in habit did not occur overnight but was definitely accelerated with accessibility to mobile internet devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, etc.). Since this has become the new “normal” so why not nurture this behavior and augment its capabilities even further?
About a month ago, we discussed how using a knowledgebase system within your organization empowers your employees to accomplish tasks above their own capabilities. Having the answers they need at their fingertips is a time saver and greatly improves their efficiency. This is especially important for your service staff (e.g. customer service reps, field technicians, etc.) who are working directly with customers. The ability to dramatically cut resolution time directly affects potential profitability as well as customer satisfaction.   The case examples given last time were more focused on internal use. This week we are going to take it a step further and explore the benefits of a customer facing knowledgebase system.
We’ve established a shift is occurring in how your customers are seeking customer support for the products and services your company provides. Self-serve customer service is becoming the preferred method by your customers for answering a question or resolving a challenge. This is great for the organizations that have a customer facing knowledge base system in place. It gives the business a “first line of defense” for providing answers to questions that may be repetitive and fairly simple to answer but time consuming. Look at it as a pre-Tier 1 level of support or possibly a replacement for your current Tier 1 support. This increases the chances for first contact resolution and improved customer satisfaction.
From the customer’s perspective they are now able to receive consistent service across their preferred channel of communication (email, ticket, knowledgebase, chat, social, mobile, etc.). The customer service rep will have a single view of the customer across these channels. This is important for understanding the journey your customer has already gone through and what they have already tried themselves to resolve their challenge. Knowing this reduces the chance of customer frustration from having to repeat their information or current challenge multiple times. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this one time or another.
If your organization is using a customer relationship management (CRM) system, you should most definitely pair it with a knowledge base system. A little over 2 years ago, Microsoft acquired on of their partners, Parature, to integrate their knowledge base and customer services software (CSS) into their Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform. Doing so has enhanced the capabilities of both platforms for their clients. Are you ready to provide the next generation of customer service?  Here’s a short video about how it integrates and an example of how it works:
As always, I encourage you to reach out to me to discuss these topics in deeper detail. I hope you enjoyed and found this week’s article informative. If you’re interested in some how-to related CRM material, check out blogs by my colleague Ben Ward here. Till next time…
About the author:
Will has over 16 years of experience in business development, team management, and project management. Will has worked at Managed Solution for over four years and is currently advising businesses on best CRM practices and implementations. Will’s focus is on process improvement and analytics specializing in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Will is a Microsoft Certified Professional, with certifications in Presales Technical Specialist – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Sales Specialist- Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Application, Sales Specialist- Office 365, Sales Specialist- SMB Infrastructure and Sales Specialist- Datacenter.
For information on deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM in your organization, please call us at 800-257-0691.
To sign up to receive emails when new Wednesdays with Will Blogs are posted, complete the form below.
Other articles by Will Marchesano:

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Wednesdays With Will: Knowledge Is Power

By William Marchesano, Technology Advisor & Evangelist
Knowledge is power.  This is a saying that you’ve most likely heard at some point in your life.  The reason it rings true is because knowledge allows you to maneuver through the different obstacles life throws your way.  Knowing how to overcome a particular challenge allows you to keep moving toward your goal.  Since we have a finite lifespan, there is only so much knowledge we can individually obtain within that time.  One of the reasons we’ve been able to progress as a society has been because of collaboration and sharing knowledge with others.  Instead of having to start from scratch each time, we are able to build off of what has been established by our predecessors.  All of the advancements in civilization and technology would not be possible if we didn’t share our knowledge and experiences with each other and continue to build from there.  The same can be said in the business setting.
Shared knowledge empowers your employees to do things above their individual capabilities.  Whether their role is in sales, marketing, or customer service, having the answers they need at their fingertips makes them more efficient internally.  When customer facing, having the right answers allows you to establish trust quickly and increase ease of use to do business with your clients.  A big challenge for most organizations when hiring a new employee is getting them up to speed as quickly possible.  Having a knowledge base available to them can help accelerate this process so they can become a valuable resource sooner than later.  This also helps strengthen business continuity and allows your employees to build off of the lessons of their colleagues and predecessors.
There are many ways to go about implementing a knowledge base system within your organization but it can seem a little daunting to start.  Like all data, it has very little use unless you know where to find it (stored location), how to pull the information you need from within it (search/query), and a way to properly manage it (governance/updating).  It was only logical that Microsoft incorporated a knowledge base system into their Dynamics CRM platform that addresses all of these needs.  The same customer relationship management (CRM) system your sales, marketing, and services team uses each day has a customized library where they can store product white sheets, industry specific articles, marketing materials, frequently asked questions (FAQ), or any other information regarding customers, partners, and/or competitors.
Creating new articles for the knowledge base and finding them when you need them has been made easy as well.  Colleagues within your organization can collaborate on creating these documents and submit them to a manager for review and approval.  If approved, they can then be published by the manager or sent back for revision.  Once an article has been published it can then be searched by the individuals or departments within the organization with the proper permissions.  Searching for what you’re looking for is very flexible as well.  You can find an article by keyword, title, text from within the document or the article number if you happen to know it.  Having this many options to find the answer you are looking for improves resolution time and customer engagement.

 

 

As always, I encourage you to reach out to me to discuss these topics in deeper detail. I hope you enjoyed and found this week’s article informative. If you’re interested in some how-to related CRM material, check out blogs by my colleague Ben Ward here. Till next time…
About the author:
Will has over 16 years of experience in business development, team management, and project management. Will has worked at Managed Solution for over four years and is currently advising businesses on best CRM practices and implementations. Will’s focus is on process improvement and analytics specializing in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Will is a Microsoft Certified Professional, with certifications in Presales Technical Specialist – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Sales Specialist- Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Application, Sales Specialist- Office 365, Sales Specialist- SMB Infrastructure and Sales Specialist- Datacenter.
For information on deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM in your organization, please call us at 800-257-0691.

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Other articles by Will Marchesano:

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Sales Pipeline Management
By William Marchesano, Technology Advisor & Evangelist

Welcome back! Today we are going to take a step into the exciting world of sales pipeline management. At first glance you may not think it’s an exciting topic but once you realize how much of an impact it has on the entirety of your business, it becomes much more exhilarating. The obvious connection made between a sales pipeline and your business is sales. It goes much deeper than that though. We are going to cover how properly managing your sales pipeline can also affect product inventory, hiring, operations, and of course…sales.
Like most businesses, chances are you currently have a sales process in place. Depending on the complexity and size of your business, your sales process may exist as a loose idea or a well-defined process. Either way, it’s the journey your business takes from the point of acquiring a lead to converting them into a customer. Your sales pipeline represents the stages in which your current opportunities exist. The number of stages you use is dependent on your sales process but 6-7 stages is the most commonly recommended number. Understanding your opportunity life cycle, or amount of time it takes to complete each stage, should be the next level of importance considered.
Now that we have these areas defined let’s discuss how they will affect the seemingly different areas of your business. If your company sells a product, ideally, you like to verify your supply meets customer demand. Oversupply leads to increased costs such as warehousing and undersupply can lead to missed sales. Maybe your business also manufactures the product. That can amplify these costs even further. If it’s your company goal to operate on a just-in-time (JIT) model, understanding when and how much supply you’ll need to meet demand can be predicted through proper sales pipeline management.
Much like in our product example, a services company has much to gain with sales pipeline management. In this instance, your staff are your product. Depending on the type of service your company offers its clients, different skill sets can be required from different employees. Let’s say your business specializes in Service A, Service B, and Service C. You currently have 50 employees that are qualified to do Service A, 20 employees that are qualified to do Service B, and 10 employees qualified to do Service C. Over the past 6 month market trends have changing and your business started getting more requests for Service C. These deals are now being won and you find yourself understaffed to deliver what was sold. By using sales pipeline management and knowing the life cycle of each type of opportunity you would then be able to recognize new potential business in the early stages and then decide whether to hire more staff that can do Service C. On the flipside, you may also identify a reduction in demand for Service A. In this scenario, it may make sense to start training your Service A specialists to learn Service C instead of hiring new staff.
Using sales pipeline management helps your sales team become better at selling. Time management is often cited as one of the top reasons a sales person fails. Understanding what stage an opportunity is truly in allows you to dedicate your time more efficiently. As we mentioned earlier, a key component of sales pipeline management is understanding the opportunity life cycle. This is important to a sales person because it gives them an idea of how long an opportunity should take in a given stage. If it’s sitting in the same stage noticeably longer than it typically should, it may mean something was missed and has stalled the progress. It could also possibly mean the salesperson is not properly guiding the opportunity through the sales process. If management can identify this shortcoming, they can help their salesperson fix it and improve.
As a manager or business owner, you have company goals to hit to “keep the lights on” and grow your business. Using sales pipeline management allows you to see where you are currently from a sales perspective and helps you forecast to make sure you are hitting quarterly and annual goals. This is also part of the business intelligence and analytics for your organization. One of the best tools used for sales pipeline management is a CRM. Microsoft Dynamics CRM has done a really nice job developing the opportunity and sales pipeline components of their solution. If your organization is already using Microsoft Office 365 and you are looking for a pipeline management tool, Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be a tremendous solution for you.

 

 

As always, I encourage you to reach out to me to discuss these topics in deeper detail. I hope you enjoyed and found this week’s article informative. If you’re interested in some how-to related CRM material, check out blogs by my colleague Ben Ward here. Till next time…

About the author:

Will has over 16 years of experience in business development, team management, and project management. Will has worked at Managed Solution for over four years and is currently advising businesses on best CRM practices and implementations. Will’s focus is on process improvement and analytics specializing in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Will is a Microsoft Certified Professional, with certifications in Presales Technical Specialist – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Sales Specialist- Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Application, Sales Specialist- Office 365, Sales Specialist- SMB Infrastructure and Sales Specialist- Datacenter.
Other articles by Will Marchesano:

For information on deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM in your organization, please call us at 800-257-0691 or complete the form below and we will contact you shortly.


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Business Resolutions

Wednesdays With Will: Business Resolutions

By William Marchesano, Technology Advisor & Evangelist
I know this greeting is about five days late but…Happy New Year! That’s the challenge of “Wednesdays With Will”, I have to stick to my day (Wednesday) for the blog title to make sense. Regardless, I’m sure most of you participated in the common ritual of making resolutions for self-improvement now that a New Year is upon us. Instead of asking about your personal resolutions, why don’t we discuss your business resolutions for the year? This question isn’t intended to give you anxiety but to get you thinking about how you can take what you did well in 2015 and make it great in 2016. Let’s narrow the focus to 3 areas that are common among most businesses no matter the size or industry…Sales, Marketing, and Customer Services/Support.
If your business is like 99.99% of businesses today, you are looking for ways to improve at least one if not all of these aspects of your organization. As we discussed in previous posts, one of the best ways a business can address all three facets or each individual component would be to leverage a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Is your sales team currently using one to track your interactions with customers, prospects, and opportunities? Is your marketing team using one to manage marketing campaigns (including budgets), gauge effectiveness of individual campaigns, and track social sentiment to better position your organization through messaging? And finally does your customer service or support team have the tools to effectively service your customers so that they become your advocates? These are all tasks that can be easily managed by a CRM.
It’s a New Year so that means you have a fresh start and new opportunity to set your business up for success. Seize the opportunity and have the conversation now. What you do in January will dictate your success for the rest of the year.

 

As always, I encourage you to reach out to me to discuss these topics in deeper detail. I hope you enjoyed and found this week’s article informative. If you’re interested in some how-to related CRM material, check out blogs by my colleague Ben Ward here. Till next time…

About the author:

Will has over 16 years of experience in business development, team management, and project management. Will has worked at Managed Solution for over four years and is currently advising businesses on best CRM practices and implementations. Will’s focus is on process improvement and analytics specializing in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Will is a Microsoft Certified Professional, with certifications in Presales Technical Specialist – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Sales Specialist- Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Application, Sales Specialist- Office 365, Sales Specialist- SMB Infrastructure and Sales Specialist- Datacenter.
Other articles by Will Marchesano:
For information on deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM in your organization, please call us at 800-257-0691.

Business Analytics

Wednesdays With Will: Analyzing Business Analytics

By William Marchesano, Technology Advisor & Evangelist
As a Business Owner, Director, or Manager, you know that having insight into your business allows you to make the right decisions for it. Not many people realize that the use of analytics has been a part of business for over 100 years. Henry Ford is probably one of the best known of the early adopters. Even though the concept of business analytics has been around in one form or another over the past century there have been some challenges with its use. The most common stumbling block has been gathering and maintaining the integrity of data. By definition, analytics is the information that you are able to pull from data. If you are trying to build a house (analytics) you must make sure the building blocks (data) are not of poor quality or you will not achieve the desired result. Typically the other challenges are pulling meaningful information from the analytics as well as sharing that inform between separate departments. This week we’ll discuss how to overcome some of these obstacles in your business.
Over the last couple of months, we discussed how you can effectively enhance the capabilities of your Sales, Marketing, and Services teams by leveraging a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. There are many CRM systems out there but my posts were mainly focused on Microsoft Dynamics CRM. I have used a few other CRM systems over the years such as ACT!, SalesLogix, and of course SalesForce. In the past few years, my preference has leaned towards Dynamics CRM because of its improved ease of use, functionality, and cost. Its tight integration with Office 365 and other Microsoft products doesn’t hurt either. For the sake of this article and to tie everything back to my previous articles Dynamics CRM will be our point of reference once again.
Of the myriad types of widely used systems in businesses today, a CRM is probably the most common technology used to gather customer information for analytics. Yes, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system can fall under this category as well but that is a different story for a different day. A CRM system such as Dynamics CRM gives you a place to input pertinent information about your customers and prospective clients. This information is then easily searchable and accessible by your Marketing, Sales, and Services teams. Each team will have a slightly different use of the information. Let’s touch on some basic scenarios for each.
From a marketing perspective, analytics provide insight to the effectiveness of different types of communications. There is huge value in understanding how campaigns perform so that budget and time can be best spent. Dynamics CRM powered by Power BI also provides you a visualization of how campaigns are reacting as well as sentiment from a geographical standpoint. Knowing and understanding where potential or existing clients are can help you when crafting your messaging. Being aware of when a prospect has reached a certain level of engagement is key as well. There is a certain level of timing involved when Marketing hands a lead over to Sales for contact. Too early can scare the prospect away and too late may mean the lead is cold again and has to be sent through the nurture process once more.
Once the Sales Team starts their engagement with the client it’s important to understand the journey the lead went through to reach them. The reason this is essential is because it allows you to have greater insight to their need and urgency. This in turn leads to a higher success rate of providing a solution and gaining a new client. The analytics produced by Marketing can provide the Sales Team this information. Throughout the sales process the Sales Team can leverage the analytics in Dynamics CRM to track touch point to conversation rates, pipeline and opportunity stages, and wins/loses over designated periods of time. It basically helps you become a smarter salesperson. Even better, management now has a better understanding of what is working and what is not so they can provide assistance in making you more successful.
The final example I would like to discuss is for the Services Team. With all the time, effort, and money required to gain a new client your number one priority should be to retain them. This is where a high level of customer service becomes crucial. By leveraging analytics through Dynamics CRM, you are able to recognize trends from similar support case instances. This allows you the opportunity to devise a resolution that will prevent similar cases from occurring. The goal is to increase customer satisfaction so they not only remain your client but become your advocate.
Trends are showing there will be a sharp increase in business intelligence usage over the next few years and a CRM system such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM is going to be a big part of that. As always, I encourage you to reach out to me to discuss these topics in deeper detail. I hope you enjoyed and found this week’s article informative. If you’re interested in some how-to related CRM material, check out blogs by my colleague Ben Ward here. Till next time…

About the author:

Will has over 16 years of experience in business development, team management, and project management. Will has worked at Managed Solution for over four years and is currently advising businesses on best CRM practices and implementations. Will’s focus is on process improvement and analytics specializing in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Will is a Microsoft Certified Professional, with certifications in Presales Technical Specialist – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Sales Specialist- Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Application, Sales Specialist- Office 365, Sales Specialist- SMB Infrastructure and Sales Specialist- Datacenter.
Other articles by Will Marchesano:
For information on deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM in your organization, please call us at 800-257-0691.

Social Engagements

Wednesdays With Will: The Importance Of Social Engagements

By William Marchesano, Technology Advisor & Evangelist
As a Business Owner or Director of Marketing, you recognize the importance of protecting your company’s brand and reputation. With the rise of social media over the past decade, everyone has been given a voice on the internet and you better believe they are going to use it. This can be perceived as either a good thing or a really bad thing. It can also be a moving target since public sentiment can change at the drop of a hat. Today we are going to discuss the importance of social engagements with your current clients and would-be clients.
Since there have been businesses, there has been a desire to know what prospective clients want without them having to tell you. In some respects, social media has become a vehicle for just that. With multiple social outlets available, people can now share their sentiment on a particular topic very easily. That information is now available for the world to see, in most cases, but you need to know how to find it and how to leverage it.
In my previous posts, I briefly touched on Social Engagements through Microsoft Dynamics CRM and how it relates to Sales, Marketing, and Services teams. Today we will be taking a deeper dive into what it is and how it can assist you with brand management. Let’s start with a quick example.
Imagine your company manufactures a popular line of household appliances. It’s November and your newly designed coffeemaker has just been released for the holiday season. Your marketing team did a stellar job raising awareness and excitement about your high-end coffeemaker so it has become the “must have” present for the holiday season. Some of your customers couldn’t wait for the holidays and decided to start using it immediately. To their dismay, the coffeemaker kept shutting itself off before the desired amount of coffee was brewed. They took their dissatisfaction to the internet and posted on social sites how it was a waste of money and that they recommend others steer clear of your product. This scenario could strike a major blow to your quarterly sales projections as well as your company’s brand. Luckily you have Microsoft Social Engagements.
Determining what is being said and by whom is the first step to resolving the situation. Social Engagements gives you the ability to see what is trending regarding your products and organization across multiple social platforms such as Twitter, blogs, Facebook, news syndication, videos, and any other source that supports RSS. It’s supported in 19 different languages so international brands can benefit as well. Based on your chosen topic and most active contributors to a conversation, you can determine the key influencers. From here you have the option to drill down even further to uncover the number of posts, trends, their location, and sentiment of these authors. You can also redisplay data to show influencers with the greatest reach by Twitter or news articles.
Being aware of social sentiment and being able to view what is being posted on social networks is important. Having the ability to easily interact with them is empowering. This brings us to the next step. Social Center allows you to view and respond to posts from multiple social outlets all through a single pane of glass. If you prefer, you can delegate these social interactions out to your team for response based on designated priority level. These great features help improve team workflow allows you to react quickly, remedy the challenge, and mitigate any potential damages.
I’m sure you have better things to do with your day than monitor the social sites. Through Trend Alerts in Social Engagements, you can set notification for when specific events occur regarding the topics you care about the most. Data is only as powerful as how meaningful you can make it. The Social Analytics in Social Engagements displays information that is easy to view as well as maneuver through.
Let’s put everything together using our earlier example with the coffeemaker. By using Microsoft Social Engagements we would be alerted that our product is trending through Trend Alerts. From here we can look at Social Analytics to determine what is being said based on geographic location(s) as well as the top influencers having conversations about it. After a solution to the coffeemaker malfunction has been determined, we can now reach back out to these influencers, using Social Engagements, letting them know about the resolution. At this point we can use Trend Alerts once again to be notified of improved sentiment. This information can be shared across your Marketing, Sales, and Services teams.
At the beginning of my post I mentioned that social media gives everyone a voice and this can be perceived as either good or bad. The realty of the situation is knowing what is being said about your company or product is always a positive. If something bad is being said, this gives you a chance to make it right. How a business handles customer service defines them in their customers’ eyes.
There is more to discuss when it comes to the Social Engagements portion of Dynamics CRM but I like to keep these articles short and to the point. As always, I encourage you to reach out to me to discuss these topics in deeper detail. I hope you enjoyed and found this week’s article informative. If you’re interested in some how-to related CRM material, check out blogs by my colleague Ben Ward here. Till next time…

 

About the author:

Will has over 16 years of experience in business development, team management, and project management. Will has worked at Managed Solution for over four years and is currently advising businesses on best CRM practices and implementations. Will’s focus is on process improvement and analytics specializing in Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Will is a Microsoft Certified Professional, with certifications in Presales Technical Specialist – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Sales Specialist- Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Application, Sales Specialist- Office 365, Sales Specialist- SMB Infrastructure and Sales Specialist- Datacenter.
Other articles by Will Marchesano:
For information on deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM in your organization, please call us at 800-257-0691.

An Overview on how to Create Advanced Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Reports using Microsoft Excel, Power Query and OData endpoint

By Ben Ward, Applications Analyst, MCTS, MCP, MS
Due to the cloud based nature of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, end users are not granted access to the backend SQL database (for a good reason which I will not go into now. Trust me, it’s long and pretty boring). This restriction to the SQL database makes pulling extensive reports a little more difficult than first thought. However, the good folks at Microsoft have provided an OData endpoint to be used with other products to allow extensive reports to be created. An OData endpoint is basically a URL for users to reference to access their data without permissions to manipulate the data with the SQL database. This ensures the data remains untouched inside the SQL database but users can download and access the data for other uses such as reporting.
Here is the high-level overview of how OData endpoints can be used:
Dynamics-CRM-Ben-Ward-Managed-Solution
The following example can be used to access your Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online OData endpoint:
[Your Organization Root URL]/XRMServices/2011/OrganizationData.svc
Power Query is highly recommended to access Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online OData endpoints. More information on
Power Query can be found here:
https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Introduction-to-Microsoft-Power-Query-for-Excel-6e92e2f4-2079-4e1f-bad5-89f6269cd605
Once the OData endpoint has been referenced in Power Query, select the entities where the desire data resides and start editing the tables to fit your business needs. If you are familiar with SQL databases, Power Query editor will be very easy to use.
Note: Microsoft Visual Studio can also be used to access OData endpoints and create tables, which will be covered in another post.

About the author:

Ben has worked at Managed Solution for over two years and is currently working on CRM customization and administration, Microsoft SharePoint integration and customization as well as Business Intelligence analytics including SQL reporting. Ben is a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist, Microsoft Certified Professional, Microsoft Specialist and has six Dynamic CRM certifications.
Other Blog Posts by Ben Ward:

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