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Microsoft CRM Dashboards vs EnterpriseWizard

March 13th, 2009 by Pat Rundall in EnterpriseWizard, Microsoft Dynamics

The best charts in the world aren’t useful if they are never used.

Over the years, companies began to shift from being “gut instinct driven” to “data driven”.  With this phenomenon came charts. Lots of charts. More data = more charts.

Good charts are good. Great charts are great. Bad charts waste money – they take time to create, they may lead the organization to making bad decisions,… poorly defined charts are just plain bad news.

CRM and issue tracking dashboard

CRM and issue tracking dashboard

That’s exactly the reason over the past few years, folks from moved away from endless amounts of charts of unknown value to selecting a few really good charts and placing them on a management dashboard.

MS CRM 4.0 Custom Dashboard Creation

The Microsoft team has posted to their blog the steps required to add a dashboard to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM using the Windows Presentation Foundation.  Unless you are a certified MS CRM guru (collecting big $$$ to implement this stuff), you probably won’t bother. The process requires Visual Studio, XAML markups, and lots of custom code that will likely break when a new rev of MS CRM is available. Ug.

CRM and Issue Tracking Dashboards in EnterpriseWizard

OK, the Microsoft CRM solution is not for the faint of heart. Sure, you can build a CRM dashboard with it – but, really, would you?

In EnterpriseWizard, dashboards are much easier to create and maintain. Let’s go through the process:

Step 1: Create some CRM and Issue tracking charts

Let’s say that we want a 4 part dashboard that appears once users login to the CRM and Issue Tracking system. In this case, our system is a CRM and Tech Support portal for a fortune 100 client. This customer wants custom dashboard to track:

  • Number of tech support issues reopened by customers segmented by the assigned support staff
  • Sales quote funnel status showing Quotes Prepared; Sent to Customer; Signed and Accepted
  • Customer support cases segmented by Issue and Priority
  • A Google Widget – (what’s wrong with a little fun on a CRM & issue tracker dashboard?)

So, we create our charts using EnterpriseWizard. No custom code involved – just walk through the wizard to define the data to be presented.

CRM chart creation for dashboard

CRM chart creation for dashboard

Simply walk through the steps to create your charts. For the first, we want to add a technical support chart to the dashboard. So, open your Support Cases chart wizard, choose “New“, name your chart, choose your output (Graphical, Excel, etc.) then hit Next.  On the next screen, pick “Standard Chart” and then hit Next again to choose your chart type (in this case, we want a column bar chart).

CRM chart creation

Select your chart type

Select your data fields to be presented, setup filtering (if necessary) to restrict the data presented on your chart (for example, only show records from the past 3 months), formatting (3D, legend info, …) and so on. Keep walking through each step of the chart setup wizard to create your tech support chart. You’ll be done creating your chart in a few minutes. Really.

Step 2: Setup your CRM – Issue Tracker Dashboard

OK, now that you’ve created some great charts, it’s time to place them on your dashboard. Just click on the Home link in the left panel.

dashboard creation

Dashboard creation in EnterpriseWizard

Your dashboard will appear. Next, edit your dashboard. Then add some charts and a widget to the dashboard by simply clicking New and using the wizard to choose the appropriate table (Support Cases) and the charts associated with that table.

Once you’ve added some widgets to your dashboard, simply select the widgets you would like to display. Then choose the Layout tab to place them on the dashboard using the drag and drop dashboard layout editor.

You can see that the dashboard layout editor allows you to choose the number of rows, columns and placement of each widget. No custom code. Adding a Google widget to the dashboard is just as easy.

CRM/issue tracker dashboard layout

CRM/issue tracker dashboard layout

Finally, Click Finish and enjoy your custom CRM/issue tracking dashboard.  Note: your dashboard can be configured to refresh as often as you wish and includes the ability to easily “drill down” into the data (click the chart to pull up an Excel spreadsheet to dive into the Quotes Sent to Customer data for example).

Cool, huh?

2 Responses to “Microsoft CRM Dashboards vs EnterpriseWizard”

  1. Steve Chipman Says:

    Nicely laid out and clear post, Pat.

    One of the impressive aspects of EnterpriseWizard is the fact that so much functionality is built in, there’s really no need for sometimes costly third party add-ons.

    While some CRM vendors have encouraged a cottage industry of third party add-ons, EntepriseWizard has used their talented team of developers to build out functionality that customers have asked for — right into the core system.

  2. MS CRM Dynamics: Customizing the Look and Feel | Solving CRM, ERP and Issue Tracking Says:

    […] Microsoft CRM Dashboards vs EnterpriseWizard CRM […]

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