Last week in Sydney, we had 2 special guests from Microsoft Corp in Seattle, Bryan Nielson, Director of Worldwide Product Marketing, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and  Nikhil Hasija, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Dynamics CRM who ran our XRM summit event. It comprised of 2 tracks, a 1 day Sales & Marketing Track & a 2 day Technical Track.

I joined over 50 other attendees in the Technical track which on the first day covered an Introduction to xRM concepts, Technical audience overview, Technical architecture and the Underlying Microsoft technologies.

The second day was where things really got interesting; we were given a scenario of a Recruitment solution that required remote access, workflows, sharepoint integration and BI. Then came the cruncher: We had 3 hours to build a working demo using xRM.

Fortunately, Nikhil who was guiding the session, shared the valuable lessons learnt on the 24hrs to build an XRM Application experience that he had while at Worldwide Partner Conference in July. The result of which was a Rapid Prototype Deployment methodology – which had tasks broken down into 15-30 minute brackets.

Below is a Panorama I created with Windows Live Photo Gallery during the first (and perhaps most critical) stage, where we negotiated the features to include.

XRMSummit

Throughout the stages, Nikhil continued to closely watch the clock & point out to us that “you should only build what you are going to demo”, and that if we over engineered the system, it would really hurt us when we get to the later stages of more complex customisations & sample data entry.

Once we defined the scenarios we would demo & the BI reports we would build, suddenly the required entities & attributes where easy to define and within the first hour we had our demo solution defined, custom entities created & were ready to kick off the design of our forms! We needed a break for lunch!

buildingaprototype

After lunch the rapid pace continued with everyone madly contributing to the solution.  We designed workflows to schedule tasks, alert users to changes in the system and manage a multi user approval process. 

We used the great Microsoft Dynamics CRM Demonstration Tools to help us customise the GUI, removing the items we didn't need & adding the ones we did.

Next up – our reports. But reports are useless without sample data so before we built them, we also used the Demo tools to generate the Random Sample data – a great time saver – but still a stage that did take 30 mins! Nikhil was right! The number of custom entities you have is directly related to the amount of time it takes to get the sample data together so keep that in mind!

Once we had our sample data, the required BI reports were built that included a pipeline analysis funnel report, a categorised bar chart & a drill through data report. The pipeline report was converted to a Dashboard & added to the GUI as the default page.

We were running out of time - we had 30 minutes left!

We set up Mobile access  (which literally only took a few clicks & was configured & deployed in under 5 mins!). After this, one of the more complex customisations, which involved building & deploying custom C# code that created a SharePoint Document Folder on creation of a new Job & then added a link back to it to the Custom Entity in CRM.

After setting up some security groups it was time to test! We need to make a few changes to our forms, but all seemed good! We even had a few spare minutes up our sleeve so deployed the new Portal Integration Accelerator.

TIME IS UP!

I couldn't believe it! In 3 hours, we managed to define, design & build a custom xRM solution for recruitment that included custom entities, sample data, BI reports & a dashboard, Windows Workflows, custom call outs, Sharepoint Integration, a mobile client & a Web Portal! 

Overall, a fantastic experience and an eye opener for everyone involved. Most of the group didn't think it was even remotely possible to build what we did in that time, yet impressively – we did! :D