Gain Real-Time Actionable Insights with Enriched Chart Features in CRM 2011

Today, I wanted to briefly illuminate some of the great capabilities of enriched charts in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. Graphical charts are integrated with grids, and they can be viewed simultaneously with the grid views. Charts can be added to any list of records. The data displayed in the charts derives from the grid’s view query criteria for the current list of records. Drilling down on a chart then updates the grid. Similarly, filtering the grid’s view will update the chart accordingly. The extensive charting and contextual inline data visualization tools help users analyze aggregated data quickly and effectively to gain real-time actionable insights. As seen below, charts appear for most on the right side of the grid.

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If one so desires, he or she could expand the above chart by hovering over the circled dots and dragging to the left. However, this may prevent viewing some of the columns in the grid that contain key data elements. Instead, a better option may be to place the chart on top of the grid as opposed to the right. To do so, just click on the Charts tab and select “Top” from the Charts Pane as seen below.

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The end result is that the chart is now on top of the grid, as seen in the next screenshot. The fit and scale of the bar chart look much better, and all of the columns in the grid are displayed. How and where to display the chart is up to the user, and the type and amount of data being shown will aid one’s chart placement decision. By offering choices and customization options that do not require developer skillsets, CRM 2011 gives users flexible and easy ways to visualize their data.

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Out of the box, multiple chart options are built-in with the majority of the core entity records, such as Accounts, Opportunities, Leads, Activities, Goals, and Cases. As needed, even more charts for these entity grid views can be created and shared with other users or teams throughout the firm. In the case where a user wants to add a visual chart to an entity grid, he can go to the Charts tab and click on “New Chart.”

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Then, the Chart Designer will appear. All that is needed here is to add a title, the pertinent data fields, and a description. The following example involves creating a chart showing “Contacts by City.”

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After saving and closing, the new chart appears next to the Contact records grid.

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Keep in mind that charts serve as the foundation of dashboards, and they are not limited to just vertical columns. They can also appear in the form of a pie, funnel, scattered line graph, or horizontal bars. To change the chart format, go to the Charts tab and select “Edit Chart.”

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To modify the format, just click on the new preferred design and Save and Close, assuming all the other variables will stay the same.

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To demonstrate a few of these other options, I have included “Contacts by City” as pie and line charts as well.

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Lastly, it is important to note that charts are not just relegated to supplementing grid views or serving as the backbone of dashboards. As previously discussed on the Customer Effective blog, you can even add them to a sub-grid on a form or, if you prefer, choose to create them in 3D. Regardless of the position and appearance of charts in CRM 2011, they will make it easier for users to better understand vast amounts of data spread across multiple business lines. By having key analytics and powerful chart visualization capabilities placed in context, CRM 2011 will definitely facilitate more effective and efficient data analysis, and empower users to make timely, well-informed decisions.

 by Kevin Wessels, Customer Effective , Georgia Microsoft CRM Partner

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