Tip #255: Have some cake

Happy BirthdayOne year ago, we published our first tip, “don’t use Salesforce.” For an entire year, we have had a tip every weekday with some breaks for statutory holidays. This is a good excuse to eat cake. But really, who needs an excuse to eat cake?

Speaking of birthdays, I was recently asked about birthdays showing up on the Outlook calendar after installing CRM for Outlook. Why does this happen, and how do you make it stop?

First of all, CRM does not directly sync birthdays to your calendar. This is standard Outlook functionality (also happens in the iPhone calendar). Any contacts with birthdays show up on the calendar. By syncing contact records to Exchange, if there is a value in the birthday field, it will show up on the calendar.

If you don’t want this to happen, consider storing birthdays in a custom field on the contact. This will prevent them from synchronizing to Outlook, and they won’t show up on your calendar. CRM 2015 also adds configurable sync pipe between CRM and Exchange, which will allow you to set the birthday field not to sync to your Outlook contacts.

Or, just leave this feature on and call all of your contacts and tell them “Happy Birthday!” And have a piece of cake in their honor.

Like we just did – with exactly 255 posts we just took our first byte.

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Tip #254: Update fields on disabled records

I got an email from a CRM administrator who needed to update a field on a disabled user record; however, he was not an Office 365 admin, so he could not re-enable the user to make the change. Was there any way to update a field on a disabled user without having to re-enable the user?

There is a little trick that can update just about any field on just about any disabled/inactive record without having to first re-activate the record.

1. Using advanced find, build a view containing just the records that you wish to update and including the fields that you need to update.

2. Export to Excel, being sure to check the box to make the data available for re-import.

Screenshot 2014-10-29 16.17.24

3. Update the values you wish to change in the spreadsheet.

4. Import the updated xml spreadsheet in via the import utility.

When the import finishes, you should see the changes in the deactivated record.

In some cases, you may be better off activating and changing the record, but with some record types, like opportunities, this can have a down side of messing up the opportunity close data, or with users, requiring someone with Office 365 admin privileges to add a license to the user and waiting for it to synchronize with CRM. In those scenarios, this approach will be faster.

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Tip #253: Keep your emails unique

Say, you want to do some checks for inbound emails on Senders Account.

Matching Senders Account

It will work well until one of other email-enabled entities (typically systemuser) has a record with the same email address. Having multiple system entities (systemuser, contact, account) with the same email is a bad idea because, when system starts matching sender’s email to figure out which entity record can be marked as a Sender for the email, it will go in the order of creation. So if you happen to have a system user that shares email address with a contact from a Fourth Coffee, the condition above will never trigger causing you hours of despair and lost sleep. Keep. Your. Emails. Unique.

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Tip #252: Unconditional business rules

From time to time there is a need for a business rule that simply copies value from one field into another unconditionally. For example, with the faxes being slowly but surely on their way out, we might simply want fax field to hold a copy of the main phone number. Well, not really, but let’s assume that for the demo purposes.

Instinct is to write something like that:
Non working business rule
It’s great but, unfortunately, it will only work in form load event and not when the phone number changes. Leaving condition empty means that there is no condition when the action needs to be executed with the exception of unconditional form load event. Adding a condition (any condition, in fact) that includes form fields will wire up the action to onchange event for these fields. For example, in this rule:
Working business rule
action will be triggered when either phone or fax value change.

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Tip #251: But I am a user!

The other day I was using CRM in a non production environment of CRM Online, and when I saved an account, I received a message from CRM telling me I did not have a CRM Online license. This was strange, because I was logged in successfully, and I didn’t have any issues doing anything else.

After checking behind the door for Rod Serling, I examined the environment. It was a sandbox organization that I recently had refreshed with a copy of my production organization. It turned out that due to the organization security settings, not all users in prod were enabled in the sandbox.

The issue was that there was a real-time workflow owned by a user in prod that was not enabled in the sandbox. When I tried to save the record, it was telling me that user was not enabled in the organization–it just felt like it was talking about me, because it happened when I saved the record.

After enabling the user (or reassigning the workflow) the problem went away.

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Tip #250: Where do you see Advanced Find View

One of the system views for every entity in any CRM organization is so called Advanced Find View. It’s rarely customized, probably because there is no clear understanding when and how this view is used. System entities might have some columns added to this view while all custom entities receive Name and Created On ubiquitous combination.

The definition of this view is very concise and tell us exactly what it’s used for and how to make it useful.

The default view used to display results when using Advanced Find. This view also defines the columns used by default when new custom public views or personal views are created without defining a view to use as a template.

In a nutshell, every time your users click Create Personal View, they receive the default set of columns from Advanced Find View. To make this view useful, include all common attributes for that particular entity so that end-users do not have to. For example, if you have an entity Project for managing customer projects, it’d be a good idea to include start date, end date and project status but get rid of Created On column.

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Tip #249: Can I disable the personal queues?

Dear tipsters, I find the personal queues in CRM (the queues starting with “<”) make the queues very cumbersome. We don’t use them. Can I disable them?

Yes. Yes you can.

Another option, if you have SP1 for 2013, is convert them to private queues. You will notice that for users created post SP1, the user queue will be configured to be a private queue with only the user on the queue team. Queues for existing users should be automatically converted to private queues. If you find after opting in to the SP1 features that the user queues are still public, you can change the queue type to private, and the owner will automatically be added to the queue team.

By changing to private and adding the user to the queue team, the user queues will only be visible to the user and system administrators, and the queue views will be more manageable.

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Tip #248: If you use mail merge, use the Outlook client

If you launch mail merge from CRM via a browser, after the mail merge dialog, you will download a file. When you open the file, you will see this message in Word:mm message

This message is enough to scare some users away from using mail merge. To continue, you need to click “enable” on the yellow bar at the top, click the “Add-ins” tab, then click the Dynamics CRM button.

There is an easier way. it is called CRM for Outlook.

When you launch mail merge from the Outlook client, you will be presented with the same mail merge dialog; however, after you click the “download” button, the user will be taken directly into the Word mail merge process. No need to enable the macro or travel to the add-in tab. This is because the mail merge is launched directly within Microsoft Office, rather than from an external website.


If you regularly use mail merge, the Outlook client will make your experience much more seamless. Even if you prefer using CRM via browser for everything else, having the Outlook client installed for mail merge is worth it if you need mail merge.

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Tip #247: Assign records to disabled users

When you click the “assign” button to assign a record to a user, you can only choose an active/enabled user, right?


When you click the assign button and select “Assign to another user or team,” you only see enabled users listed. This is because the lookup field is set to use the “Enabled Users” list.

But if you click the lookup button, scroll down to select “lookup more records,” the lookup dialog will appear. From there, you can select any view, including the disabled user view.lookup

From the disabled user view, you can select a disabled user and assign the record to that user.

Why would you want to do this?

Typically you want active records to be owned by enabled users; however, there are several scenarios where you would want to assign records to users who are no longer with your company. For example, say you are creating or importing some legacy opportunity records. in this case, you might want to have the opportunity owned by the original owner, as it will be valuable to know who the sales representative was at the time of the sale.

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Tip #246: Slow down

If you have been following our marketing initiatives, you know by now that recalling emails does not work and just makes you look like a <insert>. It’s all well when double-sending technique is used to prop your sales figures but what about those occasions when you pressed the Send button only to realize split moment later that you shouldn’t have done it, really. Individual causes range from forgetting to attach a file to calling your boss a <insert>.

I was told that the period between you pushing the send button and realizing that you shouldn’t have done it is called ohnosecond and apparently it’s well under 10 seconds on most occasions.

If you use Outlook, there is a simple solution to mitigate the self-harm and extend the ohnosecond.

  1. Click Files > Manage Rules & Alerts
  2. Click New Rule
  3. Select Apply rule on messages I send, click Next
  4. Click Next, then agree to apply rule to every message
  5. Check defer delivery by a number of minutes, click a number of in the lower panel, click OK to set it to 1, click Next
  6. Check except if it is marked as importance, set importance to High, click Next
  7. Name the rule something profound, set other options as needed

Your rule should look like this:
Auto-delay rule

This rule will delay all outbound emails by 1 minute. So if you say “Doh!” within one minute of pushing the send button, calmly reach for the Outbox and nuke that message. For urgent boss stuff, set message priority to high.

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