#MSDyn365 Possible issue with Notes on Dynamics 365 CRM latest version

This post is a bit unconventional. I’m facing an issue on the new Dynamics 365 latest build that I’m not sure if it is a real issue or is it something on my side! Here is what I have:  a brand new CRM sandbox instance that I have reset to be built on version Dynamics 365. I create 1 custom entity called Test and I add only Notes to this entity – no activities, just notes.

I create a new record from entity Test and the record is created fine. Close this record and I try to reopen it, then I get the Notes section without the small rectangular area “Enter a note” which we use to create a new note! i.e. I cannot create a new note. I try to refresh the page few times but still doesn’t show (except with IE after few times – read further below)

This is what I get:

While what I should get is this:

The error shows on all browsers: IE, Edge, Chrome and Firefox except that with IE, after I click refresh (F5) several times it works, and I get the “Enter a note” box. I usually need to click refresh at least 3 times for it to work with IE. With all other browsers, the problem persist and I cannot create a new note regardless of how many times I click refresh.

To minimise the cause of the issue, I tried this again on a new and different CRM instance which is also a sandbox Dynamics 365 that I have just reset and then add a simple new custom entity with notes only.

The workaround I found so far is that if you add activities to the entity, so that the entity has notes and activities, then the social pane shows fine with the correct Notes box to create new notes. However, any custom entity that only has notes, you cannot create a new note from any browser except IE if you click refresh few times. Also when you first create the entity, you can create a note first time. However, try to close this record and re-open it and the problem starts to appear.

Finally, to minimise any other cause, I tried to access both instances from a completely different computer and it is exactly the same behaviour as above.

Is anyone else having the same issue or heard of this being reported to Microsoft?

I got some feedback confirming the same issue on the Dynamics CRM Community portal:  https://community.dynamics.com/crm/f/117/p/223202/601756

Any comments or feedback are much appreciated.


Microsoft Dynamics 365 #MSDyn365 – CRM Online versus #MSDynCRM On-premise comparison of features, capabilities & updates

The newly announced Microsoft Dynamics 365 is certainly a massive and exciting move by Microsoft to gain additional market share of CRM & ERP Business Solutions. Dynamics 365 with its CRM, Ax and Nav components and the ability to integrate them together via Common Data Services (previously known as Common Data Model) is certainly an interesting step forward for everyone in the Dynamics Community. Microsoft Flow, Power Apps and the new Power BI capabilities are all adding to the positive hype but also adds to the pressure on Microsoft Dynamics Implementation partners to keep up to speed with all these new technologies and features.

One big question, my clients are currently asking is whether or not they should consider CRM Online and Ax Online (Dynamics 365), a hybrid of the two or even a hybrid model (CRM Online and CRM on-premise hybrid setup).

I found this article on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Help and Training (Customer portal) to be really good high level comparison that can help businesses make the decision.

In my view, the important observation from the comparison table below is that Microsoft increasing focus on Artificial Intelligent is concentrated on the Cloud with most of these capabilities and features Online only. Other significantly important and rising features such as Microsoft Dynamics Field Services and Microsoft Project Services Automation are all Dynamics 365 Online only. Some excellent new features such as App designer and Sitemap designers are also Dynamics 365 CRM online only.

For any organisation considering or planning to use any of these features, they will certainly need to consider Dynamics 365 cloud (previously known as CRM Online).

Here is the full comparison list as per the Dynamics Help and Training article referenced above – more comparisons can be found on the actual article:

Feature Dynamics 365 (online)/Dynamics 365 (on-premises)
3rd party S2S Inbound Authentication Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Advanced Service Analytics Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Analyze with Power BI (requires Power BI) Both
App Source Both
App designer and sitemap designers Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Business process analytics (requires Power BI) Both
Connected Field Service Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Customer backup and restore Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Customer Insights service Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Data Export service Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Document suggestions Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Dynamics 365 administration Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Dynamics 365 Admin Role in Office 365 Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Dynamics 365 App for Outlook enhancements Both
Dynamics 365 Connector Updates for Power App and Flow Both
Editable grids Both
Exchange booking integration Both
Field Service enhancements Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Gamification Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Mobile authenticated mashups Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Mobile homepage with Relationship Insights Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Mobile management enhancements Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Mobile Offline Data API Both
Mobile UI productivity Both
Modular business apps Both
Office 365 Groups enhancements Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Online customer backup and restore Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Partner Portal enhancements Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Portal service enhancements Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Project Service Automation enhancements Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Relationship Insights Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Relevance Search Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Resource scheduling optimization Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Scheduling unification Both
Sovereign cloud Germany Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Task-based experiences Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Threat management with SIEM Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) only
Visual process designer Both

Hope this helps.

Mohamed Mostafa


Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 & CRM Online Training and Introduction Agenda – Recommendations and Suggestions

I have recently been asked by one of my clients to take them through a walkthrough / high level training / demo of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online (also applies to Dynamics CRM 2016). The audience is a collection of Client senior leadership, programme leadership and various business stakeholders.

I decided to limit handouts to a single A4 Agenda which lists in a chronological order Dynamics CRM modules, features and functionalities to be covered along with Dynamics CRM navigation, layout and capabilities such as search, filtering, sorting, menu bars, etc.

I then thought I’ll share this suggested agenda list with my blog followers to help everyone out if they are looking for a recommended agenda for Dynamics CRM Introduction or basic Microsoft CRM training. It is certainly not an exhaustive list of all agenda items that you could cover and the scope & flow may also need to change from one client to the other. This agenda, however, seemed sensible for my client needs and requirements.

The agenda is available as an a downloadable PDF file at the bottom of the post below or you can simply copy and paste it from the following list.

Here comes the agenda – Hope this helps:


  • Entity (DB table)
  • Record (DB row)
  • Relationships between entities
  • Modules: Sales, Marketing & Service
  • New: Field Services & Project Services


  • Navigation – Application Top Menu bar
    • Recent items
    • Quick Create
    • Global Search
    • Advanced Find / Search
  • Personal Options (top application menu)
  • Views: System & Personal -(e.g. active contacts)
    • Open record vs Link/Relationship
    • Select record or multiple records
    • View top menu (full record vs quick create)
    • View Selector (System vs Personal)
    • Set Default Personal View
    • No. of records displayed in view: 25 -250
    • Search within View (Quick find)*
    • Search wildcard (within current view only)
    • Search by related records (parent account)
    • View charts (right side of view)
    • Filtering & Custom Filters*
    • Sorting & double sort columns
    • View Jump to Letter (Bottom navigation)
    • Bulk Edit multiple records
    • View Data Refresh
  • Forms (Multiple) & Records– (e.g.: contact form)
    • Form Selector
    • Record top menu bar
    • Navigate to next/Prev record & pop out
    • Ownership (User vs Team vs Org)
    • Assign to me/another
    • Social Pane: Posts, Notes & Activities
    • Map (OOB – e.g. contact)
    • Lookup, Option set & Composite (name)
    • Click through to email & dial out (Skype)
    • Saving: shortcut, icon or navigation
  • Advanced Find queries & views
  • Charts & Dashboards
    • System vs Personal
    • E.g. chart: Account by City
  • Business Process Flows
  • Activities: Type of entity
    • System vs custom
    • Filtering
  • Queues:
    • Routing
    • Work On
    • Assignment
  • Reporting:
    • Advanced Find
    • Report Wizard
    • SSRS
  • Help Content/ Learning Path
  • Connections (Networking / non-hierarchical)
    • Connection roles
  • Case Management
  • Other Dynamics CRM features & capabilities:
    • Administration
    • Security, Roles, Users, Teams & Bus
    • Processes: WFs, BPF, dialog & actions
    • Templates
    • Product Catalog / catalogue
    • Data Management & Duplicate detection
    • Service management
    • Business Management
    • Solutions: managed vs unmanaged, patching
  • Other Topics / Future sessions:
    • Outlook Client (x2) & filtering
    • Mobility: Mobile & Tablet apps
    • Document Management (OOB)
    • Social Engagement
    • MS Dynamics Marketing
    • Entitlements & SLAs
    • Activity Feeds
    • Interactive Service Hub
    • ADX Portals
    • Feedback/Customer Voice
    • Sales Gamification
    • Marketplace & AppSource
    • Dynamics 365 vs Office 365

Recap on Search:

  • Global Search
  • Advanced Find
  • Search within View (Quick Find)
  • Filtering within Views

Recap on Reports:

  • Advanced Find
  • Report Wizard
  • Dashboards & Charts
  • SSRS

Multiple Persona or Profiles per customer contact in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online & CRM 2016 on-premise: CRM contact architecture approach

A CRM contact with multiple personas or separate individual profiles is a fairly common scenario in many Dynamics CRM projects. For example:  A contact could be a Managing Director of an organisation while at the same time they are non-executive director in a different firm or sits on the board of a Charity.

In Dynamics CRM, a contact is normally one person. Setting an individual contact to have multiple profiles and personas can be delivered in a number of ways – arguably most of them are not 100% ideal.

First option for delivering the multiple personas for the same individual contact is to create a custom entity for each persona/profile and have the contact record as a parent (or a child) for each one of these entities. Other options, which I wouldn’t recommend, is to create a custom entity for each persona and not include or use the contact entity at all – i.e. you will be re-creating the contact entity multiple times, once for each persona. This is not a good practice and a highly discouraged approach.

Another option which is also not recommended, but more common, is to create a separate contact for each persona allowing for duplicate contacts – for example: John Smith, the Director of company X and another contact, John Smith, sitting on the board of company Y. Again, duplicating contacts is never a good practice.

There are other additional options to achieve the multiple persona scenario in Dynamics CRM such as as customising the contact entity heavily so that it allows for capturing multiple personas on the same form and entity. Again, this might work for some CRM solutions but is not ideal.

Let’s explore the first option further. In this approach, a custom entity for each persona or profile is created while having the contact entity as either a parent or a child for each custom entity. This option is the most commonly used and was unofficially suggested by a highly qualified Microsoft contact for a number of scenarios. One main challenge, among other challenges and limitations of this approach, was to be able to display all contact information within the custom entity for each persona.

For example, let’s say John Smith is an Ex-employee, a Director in company X and also a non-executive director on the board of company Y. You will have 3 persona records (same custom entity or different) all linked to the same contact record. Then, if there is a process where you want to show 1st Persona, you will use data from the 1st Persona form and so on, just using the relevant persona entity record.

However, if you want to show contact information from the contact record such as mobile number or email address, you were left with limited options as you couldn’t directly show this information within the persona entity form. Your options where to copy the contact information across from the contact to the persona record and always keep them both in Sync programmatically. Synchronising the contact information was a lot of overhead of custom development though. The other option was to show the persona without the contact information and then expect users to click their way through from the persona record all the way up to the parent contact record, just to be able to see the persona phone number! This wasn’t helpful either.

Now, in Dynamics CRM 2016 and Dynamics CRM Online, there is a new feature that I found to be very useful to help resolve this limitation in the persona situation or even in other situation where you need to show fields, information or data from the parent record on the child entity form.

My suggestion is to do this using calculated fields. I found this to be very powerful. You can now go to the form of any entity and add a calculated field that shows the data from the parent record. So in our persona example, you could simply have the contact entity as the parent of the persona custom entity and then add a calculated field on the persona entity form. This calculated field is then set to be equal to the relevant parent contact record information such as: mobile number or email address. This is done just like you would do a formula on CRM calculated fields where you are now able to select the parent field from field calculation formula building screen.


This applies to many other situations where you can show data or calculation of data from parent records of any child entity form. I found it to be a powerful new feature with many  other useful uses. Anyone else found this interesting or have other recommended approaches?

Set Field Default Value in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and On-premise using Business Rules without Javascript or custom components: plugins or workflows

A fairly common requirement in many Dynamics CRM implementations  is to set the default value of a field every time a new record is created. Previously, this was done using plugins or JavaScript in older Dynamics CRM versions. Now in Dynamics CRM 2016 on-premise and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, it is a lot easier to achieve this using Business rules by using the business rule action : ” set Default Value” available in Dynamics CRM business rule.

However, and that’s the objective of this whole blog post, there is a catch. If you use the business rule action “Set Default Value” to set the default value of a field, the value is set correctly but not in every situation or scenario of creating a new record. It will specifically not work when you create a new record using the “Quick Create” button route.

For example, let’s say you have a new custom entity: project and you have a field called: “Project summary” which you want to set a default value for this field every time a new Project record is created. A business rule that has one action of “Set Default Field Value” as set “Project Summary” equals “some information” will only work in case you click on the “New” button on any “Project” view. However, if you have allowed the “Project” entity records to be created via the  “Quick Create” link at the top and then you tried to create a new “quick” project record using the quick create button, you will find that the field default value has not been set. Apparently, and I stand to be corrected, the Set Field Default Value does not set the value in case of quick Create forms. The workaround that I found for this limitation is to add another action of “Set Field Value” to the same business rule. So if “Project Summary” field is empty, then “Set Field Value” to “some information” – note here this is the “Set field value” action not the “set default field value” one. Having both actions: “Set field Value” as above and “Set Default Field Value” both within the same business rule, seem to work well and catch all different ways of creating a new record. My recommendation is to always have both actions in every business rule where you need to set the default value for a field every time you create this field.

44 Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Videos by #MSDynCRM YouTube Channel – New features & What’s new in CRM 2015

Microsoft Dynamics team have released 44 new Dynamics CRM 2015 videos on their YouTube channel covering the majority of new features, enhancements and updates in the Microsoft CRM 2015 release.

The list videos cover a variety of subjects including business processes, Mobile and Tablet apps new features, SLAs, Upgrade from CRM 2013 to CRM 2015 and a lot more. You can go and watch all videos in order from the following YouTube play list:

Alternatively here is a list of all videos with a single link to each video separately. Hopefully this will help:

Business Process in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
SLA Enhancements in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
Hierarchy Visualization in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
Upgrading from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 to 2015
Tablet Productivity Enhancements in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
Field Level Security in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
Hierarchical Security Modelling in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
Rollup and Calculated Fields in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
Configurability in Synchronizing Data with Outlook or Exchange in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
Product Taxonomy Administration in Microsoft Dynamic CRM 2015
Using Power BI with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
CRM for Outlook Configuration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
Update Process Enhancements with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update
Salesperson Experience with Product Taxonomy in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Product Catalog New Features – Product Properties
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Enhanced SLA New Features
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Product Catalog New Features – Setup and Management
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Field Level Security New Features
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Product Catalog New Features – Architecture
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Product Catalog New Features – Product Selling
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Product Catalog New Features – Localizable Attributes
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Product Catalog New Features – Pricing Calculation Configurability
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Product Catalog New Features – Suggestions
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Product Catalog New Features – Bundles and Kits
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Product Catalog New Features – Overview
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Business Process Flows New Features
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Customization New Features- Power BI
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 CRM for Phones New Features
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Multi-Geo Tenant New Features
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Business Rules New Features
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Customization New Features- Customizable Help
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Customization New Features – Roll Up Calculated Fields
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 CRM for Tablets New Features – Additional Features
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 CRM for Tablets New Features – Offline Drafts
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 CRM for Tablets New Features – Iframes
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 CRM for Tablets New Features – Dashboards
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Hierarchy Visualization New Features
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 CRM for Outlook New Features
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Miscellaneous New Features
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Search New Features
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Setup and Upgrade New Features
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 SLA New Features – Differences
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Hierarchy Security Model New Features
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Product Catalog New Features – What’s New

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Business Rules new features #MSDynCRM

New features and enhancements in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 business rules. A 10 minutes video on the Microsoft Dynamics YouTube channel describing new features in #MSDynCRM 2015 Business rules:

Managing the Impact of Business Change in your #MSDynCRM Project

Yesterday I was invited to do a talk at the UK Microsoft Dynamics CRM User Group (CRMUG) in Microsoft offices in Reading, United Kingdom. It was a great opportunity to talk about a subject that is close to my heart which is managing the impact of business change in CRM projects and specifically the #MSDynCRM ones.

I had great interactive audience which meant we all worked together in the session to explore the few points I wanted to discuss. One of these important points in my mind was, how to define a success Dynamics CRM project? Is it No Priority 1 (P1), P2 issues? Is it the fact it is within budget and on time? No scope creep? how about ensuring you are hitting your margin / profit / revenue forecast?

In my view, it’s none of the above. You can deliver a great technological solution with minimal bugs (or even no issues at all!), but the question really is: Has it delivered the expected business benefits? Has it achieved the overall business objective? how is marked against the programme benefit case? Or does the project actually has a benefits case that you are working against aiming to deliver?

In this CRM User group, and with the help with a lively audience, we managed to explore how we can actually define the success of the project by debating all of the above questions. I appreciate there is no right or wrong answer but I guess we reached a consensus on what would make a programme of change a success.

Following that, we started to discuss managing the business transformation and change in your project… but that, is the subject of another blog post.

In the mean time, if you would like a copy of my slides, please feel free to ask via a comment below and I’ll email it to you.



Overcoming the 2 minutes limit on execution of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online workflow activities and plugins #MSDynCRM

One important information to note about Microsoft Dynamics CRM event execution pipeline, is the 2 minutes time limit on all custom components execution. Regardless of whether a plug-in or custom workflow activity executes synchronously or asynchronously, there is a 2 minute time limit imposed on the execution of a (message) request. If the execution of your plugin or custom workflow activity logic exceeds the time limit, a System.TimeoutException is thrown.

Now this value of 2 minutes can be updated in Dynamics CRM on-premise in an unsupported way. However, there is no way you can override this in Dynamcis CRM Online.

My team and I were faced with this dilema and after a lot of backward and forward POC that included tens of design, build, test cycles, we came to the conclusion that the best way forward, at least for our very complex computation execution, is to go with an azure based computation service. We tried custom components (plugins or custom workflows) calling each other but this triggered the IExecutionContext.Depth Property (Microsoft.Xrm.Sdk) with the maximum depth of 8 and time limit of one hour (more details here: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/microsoft.xrm.sdk.iexecutioncontext.depth.aspx)

We were then left with the option of running a windows service (or console app – not recommended) on an Azure server that pulls the data from CRM Online applies its computation and executes the results back to CRM and other applications where appropriate. This might not be the optimum solution for all similar scenarios (and this post is provided as is with no warranty). However, this worked really well for our complex calculation and we have managed to achieve optimum performance (after tens of performance and code optimisation cycles) as well as avoiding the 2 minutes time limit issue that was bugging us during our technical design work (more details here: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg327941.aspx)

Hope this helps – if you have any questions, please ask via a comment below.

#MSDynCRM What’s new in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Fall Wave Release Code Name Vega

Microsoft today has shared some information on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Fall Wave release – codenamed Vega as part of the Microsoft Dynamics roadmap 2014/2015. There are 3 other releases as part of CRM 2015 (Q4 2014) Fall wave release. These are: 1) code name Hydra: Microsoft Social Listening, 2) Electra: Microsoft Dynamics Marketing and 3) Phoenix: Parature (Dynamics CRM Integration with Parature) as shown in the below Microsoft Dynamics CRM road map (for 2014 and 2015).

Microsoft Dynamics  CRM 2014 2015 Roadmap

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2014/2015 Roadmap

More details about these 3 other releases will be in future posts.

As for Dynamics CRM Vega, this is a release focusing on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Core product. The Fall Wave release Vega applies to both CRM Online and CRM On-Premise.

So Vega is apparently going to be officially named: CRM 2015. It will be released before end of this year (Q4 2014). It is expected to include some core product features in Dynamics CRM that many have been waiting for!
New features and enhancements in Vega Dynamics CRM 2015 are:

Business Process Improvements:

  • Rule-based branching
  • Single Edit experience
  • Support for multiple entity loops
  • Programmability through Client API
  • Active processes
  • Change of currently active process
  • Move Stages
  • Stage selection and Changing of currently active stage

User Experience Improvements:

  • Multi Entity Search Capability (horraayy!)
  • A new Advanced Search Button
  • Nested Quick Create forms

Mobility Features:

  • The addition of 29 new Languages
  • More Dashboards and new concept of Home-pages
  • Support of “Any Device”
  • Ability to have offline drafts

Enterprise Sales Features:

  • Entity Hierarchy
  • Cross-sell and Up-sell capabilities (also know as Next Buy Actions)
  • External Pricing features
  • Attribute Inheritance
  • Product Relationship
  • Bundles

XRM and Development Advances:

  • Complex calculations (Calculated Fields & Roll-up of values) (Yes!)
  • Hierarchical Relationship Property
  • Ability to query multiple entities
  • Hierarchical Security Models
  • Field Level Security for system fields (out of the box fields)

Analytics and Business Intelligence Enhancements:

  • Power BI in CRM Web client
  • Transactional reporting of CRM on Windows Mobile Client Application
  • Roll up on different fields across hierarchie

Specific for CRM Online (Microsoft’s Online First motto):

  • Self-Service
  • Sign up process Simplification
  • Global Expansion from 42 to 61 Markets (Latin America data centre)
  • Multi-Geographical tenants
  • Scaling out Organisation Synchronisation
  • Minimal downtime Upgrades
  • Addition of Load balancing

Supported OS and Software Requirements:

  • Windows Server –2012 & 2012 R2
  • Windows Client – Vista, Windows 7 & Windows 8
  • ADFS – 2.0, 2.1, 2.2
  • SQL Server – 2012
  • Exchange Server –2010 & 2013
  • Outlook – 2010 & 2013

Software and OS no longe supported:

  • Windows Server 2008 & 2008 R2
  • SQL server 2008 & 2008R2
  • Windows Small Business Server ( all version )
  • 2008 Series Terminal Servers
  • Windows Vista
  • SharePoint 2007
  • Exchange 2007
  • IE 8, IE 9
  • Office 2007

This post has content from this Dynamics Community post