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    Dashboarding for Success with Dynamics CRM

    So you know how to create a dashboard and it has plenty of colorful charts. That is awesome! The team loves it and it is the perfect eye candy when they login to the system. In my experience, what a lot of people miss is the extra value dashboards provide by giving users all they need in one place. Don’t get me wrong, I love colorful charts as much as the next person. The drill through is great. But what about access to records? In my experience, the ability to access records from the dashboard keeps users from having to search and that saves them a lot of time.

    Here is my dashboard using sample data in a test environment.

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    How I use the charts:

    In my project leader role, I need to see hours by project and hours by task by project. My dashboard has one chart with the hours for my projects for the current month. From that chart I can drill through. I will also pop out the grid (center icon in the top right corner of that chart’s window) with the records for that chart and then filter by project and/or drill through the chart by task and by user in a matter of seconds (literally). What I am getting at here is that I don’t have three dashboards with every possible chart that I could need. One well-built chart lets me leverage just one dashboard for most of my management needs.

    With the chart below I can right click on a bar in the chart and drill in to filter by owner. Once that is rendered, I can further drill through on an attribute of that subset of records.

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    Many times I don’t know what question I need to answer about my projects but I can usually get to that through my charts or the pop outs. So what do we fill in that empty space with?

    Data views.

    How I use the data views:

    My personal dashboard has a few charts but also a few views of data. As a project leader, my portfolio of projects is most important to me. With the project name column in the grid, I can quickly access each project I am managing. Often times though, I need to look up a person at the company the project is for or at the activity wall of the company. In my grid of projects I include the “Account” column in my view. The account name value is a clickable link which when clicked, opens the Account record which will show the activity wall and related contacts of that Account. Building my data grid that way keeps me from ever having to go look for an account record for one of my projects.

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    We also use cases to track open items with our Accounts (sample grid above). I have the “Customer” column visible in my view of cases as well for the same “clickable” account name value. Another key thing I do is include the search box on the grid on my dashboard. Sometimes I get contacted about an old project and my dashboard only has my active projects. By including the search bar (top yellow highlight in the screenshot above), I can search for projects directly from my Dashboard. I do not need to navigate to the projects area of our CRM and then do a search. I love that I can interact with CRM mainly from my dashboard. When I share these ideas with clients, they see the value in it.

    As a CRM consultant, we need to offer up the value of our experiences. You will not find this material in a user guide somewhere. It comes from experience. When working in Germany years ago I was told “Mann lernt dass auf die Baustelle”. Translated, that means you learn it working on the job.

    At Hitachi Solutions we take a lot of pride in the fact that we run our business on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and use it every day. Does your partner do that? Can they provide the value they learn by using CRM themselves?