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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A CRM Book and eXtremeCRM

I’ve undergone a change of employers, for both personal and professional reasons, but hope that will serve as a catalyst to reconnect with the Dynamics CRM community—with whom I’ve grown too distant for comfort.  Though I’m never more than a stone’s throw from you all, I feel that the lack of regular communication from me has alienated my audience.  While I’ve been growing and learning, I’ve been amassing a collection of knowledge and experience that I want to pass along—and I’d like to commit to doing so through this blog.

However, while all these cards are coming together in the next few weeks, I’ll simply offer some filler.  For those who follow me on twitter, news of a new book with my name on it is currently on the shelves.  The CRM 2013 Quickstart guide is a new work, intended for the intermediate and advanced Dynamics CRM users.  In particular, my contribution is the chapter “Developers, Developers, Developers” at the end.

The material in this book is up-to-date, and is an experienced look into the important differences between CRM 2013 and previous versions.  The digital version is available both on Amazon and through our publisher’s site:  http://www.crm2013quickstart.com/Buy/Discount

Finally, I’ll be attending eXtremeCRM in Las Vegas, Oct. 5th – 8th.  I’m not pegged for any presentations, but I’ll be attending roundtables where I’m welcome.  What I’m looking forward to, is the Innovation Challenge on the Sunday prior to the event.  Last year, I built a tool called “RedHanded” which was a light-weight, use-tracking feature, wholly contained inside CRM.  This year, I’m planning to build… oh, well, I guess you’ll have to be there to find out.  :)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I’m not dead yet!

It’s about time that I come to you, the Dynamics CRM Community, you rich and vibrant thing, with an apology and an explanation for my relative absence over these bitter winter months.  Rest assured that I’m not dead.  (And if that assures your unrest, then I can’t help you.)

It has been ages, it seems, since I answered a forum post, and longer still since I published a blog post of technical merit.  As such, I felt that I should at least fill what scarce readers I may still have (those devoted, loyal few) with some hope and information about what I’m working on for them.

Firstly, and most looming, I will be at Convergence 2014 in Atlanta.  Not simply as an attendee, mind you, but as a co-presenter with the indomitable George Doubinski.  Together, we’ll present “heroic” development topics under the CRMUG banner, and hope to see many of you there!

Secondly, an unnamed book project should also be published this year, with my name found upon it.  The details of this are intentionally vague at this point, as I’m still uncertain what more I can say about this work.  However, I am honored to be involved, and hope I can deliver compelling and useful content for other Dynamics CRM developers.

Lastly, I’ve been working tirelessly for my employer, Avtex, and have taken extra effort to identify and isolate many functional components that we can release as free community offerings.  Obviously the intent is to stoke the fires of interest around Avtex in the Dynamics CRM space, but also to introduce the community to our “Avtex 360” concept: that to provide a better experience for our clients’ modern customers, we apply experienced and tech-savvy consultants and implementers across all points of interaction, and optimize those points with robust and tight integration between platforms and processes.  Dynamics CRM is but one pillar of that mission, yet with strong engagement and recognition in several industry venues (and a varied and recognizable client portfolio), Avtex is not only a clear leader, but possibly the best kept secret in the field of Customer Experience (CX).

So, that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to.  However, as a Microsoft MVP, I’m continually looking for ways to squeeze in events and community face-time, so I’d like to also mention some up-coming events in which I’ll be participating in the coming weeks:

I’m also trying to back-fill some content that supplements a webinar I gave last year on xRMVC, which I did for CRM Partner Connections (CRMPC), an offshoot of CRMUG.  That probably won’t see the light of day until April or May, but we’ll see. 

So, in closing, I’m not dead yet, and I hope to see you soon!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The CRM Field Guide… Guide

You might not know it, because I’ve been silent on the matter, but I am a contributing author to The CRM Field Guide.  Specifically, I authored Chapter 24: Rapid Development Best Practices.  The intent of the chapter is to introduce people with backgrounds similar to mine to the practices I have developed over the years to produce code for CRM 2011, well, rapidly.  However, before I delve into some of the meat and value of the book or my chapter, I’d like to journal my experience of writing for the book.

It’s been stated before that the project was long-running, with several starts and stops along the way.  To the credit of Donna Edwards, Julie Yack, and Joy Garscadden, wrangling so many MVP authors was not a minor task.  As MVPs, we are all actively engaged in the Dynamics CRM community, while working day jobs.  These responsibilities conjointly leave precious little time for most other endeavors, family notwithstanding.

I was brought into the project later, and given the opportunity to write about my passion: development.  Because my exposure to CRM 2011 was light at the time, from a technical standpoint, and because many other authors covered a great deal of the technical components (solutions, customization strategies, etc.), I decided to focus on the tools and processes I use to handle development projects from start to end—evolved from my experience with CRM 4.

Deadlines were short, and yet I somehow ended up producing the single largest chapter, as measured in raw word counts.  It was amazing to write professionally, and the passion carried me quickly through my task.  To be a published author, for the first time, had been a dream as strong as my passion to become a professional software developer.  Marrying both experiences together is my crowning achievement.

However, I remain dissatisfied with my content—deserved or not.  It has received high praises from reviewers and developers who are introducing themselves to Dynamics CRM, yet I feel as though it could be better.  Perhaps, sometime soon, I’ll produce something stronger and (in my eyes) worthy of my audience.  Apart from this private embarrassment, I have been biding my time in writing up anything because many other authors have continued to do it on my behalf.  (Thanks!)

So why break the silence?  Because Jerry Weinstock, of “Jerry Weinstock” fame, has produced a Training Curriculum addendum, for the following roles:

  • CRM Admin
  • Power User
  • Business Analyst
  • IT Support
  • Developer
  • New User

He has expertly fleshed out approximately 10 to 15 chapters from the book that serve as reference material for each role, and stands as a fantastic appendix to a fantastically dense and useful book!  This curriculum is affectionately referred to (by me) as The CRM Field Guide Guide, and will help each role focus on their specific area of expertise or interest.

Jerry’s efforts will hopefully illustrate that the versatility of the book’s expansive content suites many purposes, and articulates its value in the library of any organization that works with Dynamics CRM.  Thank you, Jerry, for adding value to an immensely valuable resource.

Where can you obtain it?  Well, because the curriculum is only useful in the context of the book, it’s available as downloadable content (DLC) for all who purchase The CRM Field Guide, either in hard or digital copies.  To celebrate this addition, I will provide a discount code for the digital copy of the book to the first 10 people who tweet a mention of the book (crmfieldguide.com), and include me (@crmentropy) on it.  Look out for a Private Message from me!

Cheers!