Introducing CRM Data Detective

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With my eyes focused on visual studio, I didn’t even notice her walk into my office.  No knock, no “hello”, just an aura of frustration crashed into one of my pleather chairs.  I looked up to say “hi” and was met with a  silent cry for help.  I’ve seen this look before and knew whatever it was, it wasn’t going to be easy.

Turns out a new customer was coming to us after a failed CRM implementation with another partner.  Doing what I do, I see it every now and again.  This customer, was a really good kid, but unfortunately got mixed up with the wrong crowd.  It happens.  You can’t blame the kid, but sometimes those shiny lights turn out to have a dim glow and user adoption turns into user betrayal.

My colleague's frustrations came from how the configuration was all over the place.  Fields were scattered all over the place; some were used, some were hidden, but all of it was a mess.  We didn’t have a requirements document to fall back on, but we did have one crazy idea to solve this mystery… CRM Data Detective!


Granted, CRM Data Detective wasn’t our only method, but it clearly helped.  We used the Data Detective to analyze the customer’s CRM environment and got a handle on what attributes we could remove and which attributes needed to be more prevalent on the form.  Another case closed and another happy customer.

What is CRM Data Detective?

I know what you’re thinking.  “You have pleather chairs in your office"?  You see my self portrait above (that’s me with the magnifying glass), my question to you is, “why would I not have pleather chairs?”.  Oh, and you maybe wondering what CRM Data Detective is and where can you get it.  First, it’s a free tool and it is currently available on codeplex.  I developed this in my 'spare time' and hope CRM community will find it useful.

CRM Data Detective is a great way to measure user adoption and helps improve performance.  It displays the attributes on an entity and the percent each attribute is populated.


Let’s look at a specific example.  From the above mug shot, “Development Lead” and “Development Status” are both suspects.  When we discussed the crime scene with the client, we realized that “Development Lead” was a new attribute.  “Development Status”, on the other hand, had been on the form for a long time.  When we investigated the column, we realized “Development Status” was something we needed to dispose of.

We found a plethora of fields that were duplicates, deprecated, or simply ignored.  None of these were removed from the environment until we brought in the data detective.


Where can I get CRM Data Detective?

Before you download it, this tool is something I wrote for myself and doesn’t come with any warranty.  The software is provided “AS IS”.  The license for this software is the MIT License.

I’ve added the project to CodePlex:

Any issues you find, please add them to CodePlex as this is a personal project and not affiliated with Customer Effective.

How do I use CRM Data Detective?

You simply import the solution and browse to “/webresources/way_/detective/detective.htm” within your CRM environment.  On the left hand side, you will see a list of your entities.  Select the entity you’d like to investigate and then you’ll see a list of attributes.  Each attribute will show you whether it is searchable, customizable and more importantly how much it’s used.  Not every field with a low percentage is worth removing; however, you can see which fields you need to look into.

What if I need another feature?

I plan on adding more to this and have several ideas, but I’m probably going to move at a very slow pace.  After I asked for some internal feedback on this tool, one of our MVPs informed me of a commercial tool that has some of this functionality but also provides features I don’t have on my horizon.  Explorer!, by Mitch Milam, offers a tremendous amount of functionality as well as reporting.  If you find yourself liking the data detective, you ought to consider using Explorer! so you can look at more than fields.

Are there any known issues?

One thing I want to mention is that there is an aggregate fetch limit of 50,000 records.  This is configurable if you are using on premise or partner hosted.  If you’re using online, then the current version won’t work for entities with more than 50,000 records.  I’m curious how often online users surpass the 50,000 mark, so please let me know in the comments if this is a limitation that is frustrating you.

Wrapping up the Case

I’m sure you see I was really close to writing suspense novels for a living, but luckily found my niche with CRM blogs.  Seriously though, I hope you enjoyed the read and more importantly find the tool useful.  I’d love to hear some feedback for this.  I hope you enjoy!

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