Archive for January, 2016

Charts on Forms, or User/Account Specific Dashboards

Charts don’t just go on dashboards, they can go on the forms too.

It’s really just a sub-grid that displays a chart instead, but as this seems to be a heavily underutilized feature in MS Dynamics CRM, maybe I can bring some more focus on it with this post.

The primary example where form charts can come in handy is for the “Sales Activity Dashboard” that each sales person can look at and see their current statistics, opportunities, tasks etc.

Sales Activity Dashboard for User in MS Dynamics CRM

A common question from a sales manager is “That’s great, but I want to see all that same data, but be able to flip through the members of my sales team and see the data that they see”.

Simple enough as all the views can be filtered to a named user rather than “Equals Current User” which is used throughout the example above. Obviously very cumbersome since you would need a saved view for each sales person and you would have to change the views on each chart individually, or create a dashboard for each person on your sales team, etc.

MS Dynamics CRM dashboards do not have good ways of filtering an entire dashboard to a specific user. CRM2016 is getting a little closer, but the filter can only be applied to option sets and only in the new engagement hub.

However, the combination of charts you are looking at does not necessarily need to be on a dashboard.

The example above is the “Sales Activity Dashboard” that comes with Dynamics CRM. There are five charts on it. In this blog, I will go through the steps needed to add all these chart to the user form so the same charts are displayed, but specific to the user being viewed. Then a sales manager can flip through the users, and see the data they see on their “Sales Activity Dashboard.”

Like this:

Sales Activity Dashboard on User form, specific to the USer in MS Dynamics CRM

Same charts as the dashboard, but all user specific and you can circle through the list of users with the arrows in the upper right hand corner.

These record specific charts are a very powerful way of bringing insights onto a specific record. In this example it is a sales person, but we could also be looking at service and case KPIs for a service user. From an account record you can add charts with sales statistics, activity statistics, case and service KPIs, all specific to the account. It would give the account manager a very clear view on the current state of the account.

Putting chart on MS Dynamics CRM forms

Go to your solution editor and open the User form and click “Save As.”

Create New User form for Sales Dashboard in MS Dynamics CRM

Name the new form “Sales Dashboard.”

 

Open it and insert a new three-column tab.

Insert three-columns Tab on user form in MS Dynamics CRM

I chose three columns evenly distributed, because that is the same way the dashboard was. Open the properties on the new tab and rename it to “Sales Dashboard.”

Now it is time to insert some charts.

Select the first section in the new tab and insert a Sub-Grid.

Insert SubGrid in section on user form

In the Name and Label fields, just write the name of the chart. Make sure the Display Label on the Form box is unchecked. Neither of these values will be shown on the form, or need to be as they are already included in the chart.

Subgrid and chart settings to display chart on form in MS Dynamics CRM

In the Data Source section select

  • Records = Only Related Records
  • Entity = Opportunities (Owning User)
  • Default View = Open Opportunities

This is what pulls the right opportunities to build the chart on.

In the entity setting, make sure you select the right relationship to the opportunity, which is the owning user in this case.

For default view, use a similar, but not the same view as the dashboard. In this case, the dashboard uses the view “My Open Opportunities”. To get the expected result on the user form, use the view “Open Opportunities”. The “Only Related Records” is already filtering to only include opportunities for this specific user.

Scroll down and find the chart settings.

Subgrid chart settings on form

Select the same chart as the dashboard for this section, in this case “Sales Pipeline” and check “Show Chart Only.”

Leave the view selector off.

Note: You can choose to include the view selector and check the “Display Chart Selection”. This will enable you to switch views and chart in the same section on the dashboard. This can be very powerful as well, but in this case I am trying to replicate the standard dashboard as much as possible, and those features were not enabled there. I would highly recommend playing with those features as they can significantly improve your charts and dashboards.

Scroll back up on the properties and click the “Formatting” tab.

Formatting Tab 30 rows on subgrid settings

Leave the layout option at “One Column”

In the row layout, add the number of rows you want the chart to take up. This is a place where you need to be generous. 30 rows for the funnel chart will make it about the same size as the funnel chart on the main sales dashboard which we are replicating.

Repeat these steps for the other four charts that are on the sales dashboard.

Save the form and publish it.

Save and Publish form

Go to a sales person’s user record and  switch the form to “Sales Dashboard.”

Switch form on user to display sales dashboard

Enjoy the same sales dashboard, but specific to the user you are looking at.

Full Sales Activity Dashboard on User form in MS Dynamics CRM

Wow, a post with no XML editing!!!

Thanks for reading. Please sign up for my newsletter and follow me on Twitter

,

13 Comments

Charting on Activity Parties in MS Dynamics CRM

The Activity Party entity surfaced a little in the MS CRM blogosphere late last year.

First Jukkan wrote this excellent piece “Your Interaction Network in Dynamics CRM”

And then Joel Lindstrom and George Doubinski talked a little about the challenges of reporting on the activity parties in episode 14 of the CRM Audio podcast called “SSRS is Dead to George”.

While you can chart on activities with the chart editor and Excel, there are two questions you cannot answer without some xml customizations. I will use appointments as an example throughout this blog post although you can apply this to any of the activity types.

The two questions are:

1. How many people are included in each appointment?
Count of Attendees per Appointment - MS Dynamics CRM

2. How many appointments are CRM users included in?
Count of Appointments per User - MS Dynamics CRM Chart

This information is stored within the activity party table, which keeps track of all the contacts, users etc. that you add to the required and optional fields on the appointment form. It also keeps track of the owner and organizer.

A user can create their own appointments, but they can also be required attendees in other users’ appointments. That means you can have two or more users involved in a sales meeting, but in a normal chart, only the owner of the appointment would get “points” for the sales activity. If you are having regular sales meetings with multiple participants or if you use appointments to keep track of who attended what event, it can be useful to know how many people were actually involved in each of the appointments.

101 on Activity Parties

While I do urge you to read Jukkan’s blog on activity parties, here’s an ultra-short 101 in case you didn’t.

The Activity Party works as a manual N:N relationship between any activity and the people participating and what their participation role is.

If user John Smith is the owner of an appointment, and a required attendee, he will have two activity party records between his one user record and the one appointment record.

The official documentation on activity parties can be found here. ActivityParty entity details on MSDN

How many people per appointment chart

We need to create and download two pieces of xml before we open up Notepad ++ and start our chart xml editing.

1. A base chart we can build on.

Attendees Base Chart in MS CRM

2. A FetchXML from Advanced Find which includes details on the attendees we want to include.

Advanced Find link to activity party in MS Dynamics CRM for chart customization

In Advanced Find, select the participation types you want to include.

Participation Types selection in Advanced Find

Download the FetchXML.

Download Fetchxml button in Advanced Find

Open the FetchXML and find the <link-entity> section. Highlighted below.

Fetch downloaded from Advanced Find in MS Dynamics CRM for chart customization

Export and open the chart xml from the base chart and get ready for some editing.

In the xml for the base chart, locate the line with the aggregate in the fetchcollection. As usual I have renamed the aliases to something sensible.

Original fetch from the base chart with aggregate line highlighted

Now we need to edit the fetch, so that the <link-entity> section downloaded from Advanced Find goes inside the fetchcollection and that the aggregate ends up inside that section.

MS CRM Chart fetchcollection modified with link to Activity Party entity.

Note I did some other changes to the aggregate too.

  • Replaced name=”statecode” with name=”partyid” which refers to the attendee record. The statecode came from the field selected in the chart editor.
  • Added distinct=”true”. We only want to count people once.
  • Aggregate was changed to countcolumn so we only include records with a value.

Import the fetch and have a look.

Count of Attendees by Appointment - Final chart after customizing the chart xml in MS Dynamics CRM

 

How many appointments per user chart

Not all sales people are lone wolves. Some are pack hunters and go to meetings together. However, in standard CRM charts, only the owner of the appointment will get “points” for attending. We need to make sure all users are accounted for, and of course make sure that each user is only counted once. No double dipping by putting yourself in both the owner and the attendees’ fields.

The process is very similar as above, but we will need to create an extra <link-entity> from the activity party to the user entity so we can group by it.

Again, build this in Advanced Find and download the FetchXML. Include a lookup to the users to ensure only users are counted.

Advanced Find - by User - additional link to User entity

Modify the fetchcollection in your chart xml to include the added <link-entity> to the users.

Appointments per User fetchxml modified. Dynamics CRM chart customization

Other changes:

  • Aggregate is activityid rather than partyid since we are now counting appointments, not participants
  • Groupby was moved to the new link-entity section and is now on the user
  • Aliases updated to fit this scenario better

Import the chart and you’ll see a count of appointments per user.

Count of Appointments per User chart in Dynamics CRM - Chart customization XML

 

Bonus Chart – Count by any Party

Since any party is worth counting, we can skip the additional link-entity and group directly on the partyid. By doing this you get a mix of record types involved in the appointments so you can compare participation between Accounts, Leads, Contacts and Users.

Bonus chart for coounting the number of appointments for all party types. Fetchxml modified for import to a Dynamics CRM Chart.

Here is the chart after import.

Bonus Chart - Count of Appointments by all party types. MS Dynamics CRM Chart customization.

This is clearly candidate for a Top X chart. Read more about those here.

Thanks for reading. Please sign up for my newsletter and follow me on Twitter

, , ,

6 Comments