On January 21st, 2013 the official announcement on “broader availability” of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM December 2012 Service Update (formerly known by codename Polaris) was made on the CRM Connection blog. Even though not all the CRM Online organizations have yet been updated, new trials in US and shortly in EMEA & APAC will get the latest functionality installed upon provisioning.
The absolutely best way to get familiar with the future UI of Dynamics CRM is to get a 30 day trial organization for yourself and play around with the demo data. In fact for a large share of the existing customers this will be the only possible way, since there will be no on-premise version of Polaris. You’ll get the cross-browser support, API updates, and, contrary to previous information, the updated Activity Feeds solution when installing Update Rollup 12 for your CRM server (currently not yet available for download after having been pulled). Sorry, you’ll have to wait for the Orion release that’s coming out sometime later in the year 2013.
Since I know many of you must be busy with deploying, supporting, developing and actually using the current on-prem version of CRM 2011, I’ve created a summary of the new features in the December 2012 Service Update just for you. No, not just a list of the bullet points that Microsoft has already communicated, but rather a hands-on exploration of how the new version works differently from the old CRM 2011. You’ll find it on SlideShare available for download or you can view it below (although the image quality in the streamed version is a bit crappy).
The 34 slides cover those features I personally found noteworthy when getting to know the Polaris release. It’s not an exhaustive list by any means, but I’ve tried to highlight the changes and gotchas that a system customizer or administrator familiar with the previous versions should be aware of. The topics include:
- Sitemap changes
- Activity Feeds filters (see this earlier post for more details)
- New process form structure and components (previously known as the “Flow UI”)
- Swithing between new and Classic forms
- Updated subgrids and limitations on working with related records in general
- Extended case management functionality
- Support for creating leads for existing accounts
- + Many more!
With this release Microsoft has done an excellent job with publishing a plethora of training videos on the Dynamics CRM December 2012 Service Update on the Microsoft Dynamics YouTube channel for anyone to watch, with no login required to access the materials on Customer/PartnerSource, so do take advantage of them. Unfortunately I haven’t yet found an official MS index page to these videos, so I suggest you refer to this post by Donna Edwards with the video links, because the video titles are impractically long when browsed on YouTube (hmm, wonder if this says anything about Microsoft’s product naming convention… probably not 😉 )
And that’s not all, folks! By browsing through the updated Resource Center content online you can access detailed help articles on topics such as installing product updates, turn on the new sales and service process forms or customizing the forms in the new sales process. There’s so much more to this release than just the cross-browser support (although that’s bound to keep people busy as CRM 4.0 scripts start to break) that I urge you to have a look, even if you’re not working on a CRM Online environment. By starting early you’ll have a better understanding of how to prepare for the next on-premise release, what comes out of the box in Polaris and what type of customizations are sensible to make when knowing the upcoming form architecture and user experience that will arrive in the Orion release.
An extremely useful summary – thank you Jukka.
The bottom line seems to be – “it’s not really useable yet”? Effectively a beta release as hypothesised last year?
If the customer’s use cases for CRM are very simple, i.e. there’s just the need for managing customer data, activities and a standard sales pipeline, then I think Polaris functionality should definitely be explored due to the improvements introduced. However, if there are more than a few situations where the user would need to step outside of the 5 COLAC entities or switch between Process and Classic forms, I’m afraid the user experience could be too clumsy due to the exceptions required with the current limitations.
Sure, the Ribbon has its issues and the default UI of CRM can appear quite cluttered without hiding unnecessary items through customizations (which smaller CRM Online customers often don’t want to commit before rushing into using the system). However, trying to explain both the simplified Flow UI and the Classic Ribbon-driven “full” UI during user training could will surely present some challenges. The only way to really know if it’s usable in its current form is to go out and implement it, I guess. As said, this will become how CRM works in the future, so we might as well start learning what to do & what to avoid right now. Also, since anyone signing up for a 30 day trial will be taken to this new UI by default, consultants better have good explanations for making recommendations on the choice of UI to a new customer that’s already enjoying the latest Dynamics CRM end user experience…
Very nice recap thanks…….been testing it internally on a “standard” setup for a few days and it works well !!
I like the lead you were working on in slide 8/9 🙂