Hmn...What should I put on my dashboard?

From "Richard Knudson's Dynamics CRM Trick Bag"


CRM 2011 Dashboard Examples

The more I use dashboards, the more uses I come up with for them. (That’s always a good sign, compared to features where the more you use them, the less useful they seem!) This article is a little different from most of the ones I write, in that it’s more of a what-you-can-do piece rather than my typical how-to. I’m thinking this might be useful for dashboards: my experience is that once you get the basics down, the hard part is coming up with good applications for them rather than the technical implementation details.

Anyway, let me know what you think. What kinds of interesting applications have you come up with for dashboards in Dynamics CRM 2011?

Here are six examples of how you might use dashboards, followed by a few dashboard implementation tips to keep in mind.

Example 1: Tracking User Activity and Record Creation

This dashboard provides a heuristic visualization of user adoption. The top row shows 3 charts, each one displaying counts of records created over the last 6 months for selected record types. The bottom row shows a different slice of the same data: for each record type over the same time period, which users created the records?


Here’s an article I wrote recently describing an approach to track and score user activity.

Example 2: Metrics and KPIs for Custom Record Types

Whether you’ve created your own or imported them as part of a solution, remember that custom entities are just as “dashboard-able” as anything else. For example, the one I show in the next figure uses the custom Page View entity that’s part of the ClickDimensions managed solution for marketing automation in Dynamics CRM. After getting provisioned with their solution and dropping some tracking script on your web site, page view records start getting created automatically. All I had to do for this one was create a couple of custom views and charts. (And notice the Trick Bag almost hit the 10,000 page views in a week milestone last week!)



Example 3: My Activities

OK, enough with the pretty pictures. Another good use of dashboards is to help users do something. One of my favorite examples is what I refer to as the My Activities dashboard. Two things about this one I like a lot:

  1. It makes sense for every user, since it uses slightly tweaked “My Activities” views to filter out all records not owned by the current user.
  2. It encourages good activity management by making it easy.

It contains two lists. The top one is for open activities, sorted by Start Date (you can also use the Due Date field) in ascending order, so you see first things first. If you’re keeping your activities up to date, there shouldn’t be anything in that list earlier than today’s date. The second one is for completed activities:


The nice thing about this is that if you expose a list on a dashboard, the ribbon for the list is exposed as well. In this case it means that a user can use the Mark Complete button to push something from the top list to the bottom:


Simple, but useful!

Example 4: Launch Dialog Processes

I wrote a detailed how-to article on this topic, but this technique is definitely general enough to include here. Dialogs can be launched with a URL, and you can use JavaScript and web resources to do things like dynamically figure out the current user and so forth. I’ve got a client for whom internal lead referrals are very important, so I created a “My Referred Leads” dashboard that lets a user both kick off a lead referral dialog session as well as see what’s happened to leads they’ve previously referred:


Example 5: Links to Commonly used Views and Reports

Here’s a slightly different take on the “put a link on a dashboard” theme. This dashboard in this example consists of a single HTML web resource that contains hyperlinks to views. Remember that every view in Dynamics CRM (similarly to forms, dialog processes and so forth) is addressable via its very own persistent URL. You can exploit “URL-addressable forms & views” to create the ultimate KISS dashboard, such as the following one:


In the previous figure, if I click Hot Opportunities and the JavaScript in the HTML web resource is written right, the Hot Opportunities view will open in its own window:


Example 6: Use HTML Web Resources for Training/Documentation Content

Another way to push user adoption is to make it easier to access things like training content, system documentation and so forth. The following figure shows an example of this. These are all simple, straight HTML web page resources with nothing but text. But with a little more work you could embed links to the views mentioned in the content, links to demonstration videos, more detailed content and the like:


A Few Dashboard Implementation Tips

Here are a few dashboard factoids that weren’t obvious to me when I first started working with them:

  • System dashboards can only be created by system administrator-type security roles, and are visible to all users who can see dashboards. This means you can’t target system dashboards, so if you only create system dashboards you might end up with a LOT of dashboards and a cluttered user experience.
  • Personal dashboards can be created by any user and by default can only be seen by that user. But they can be shared (to users or teams), so if you want to create a targeted dashboard experience, consider creating personal dashboards and sharing them.
  • System dashboards cannot contain personal views or personal charts.
  • Personal dashboards can contain personal views and charts, OR system views and charts.
  • But remember: if you try to create a targeted dashboard experience by creating a personal dashboard and sharing it, remember to share out any views or charts used in the dashboard!




Richard Knudson's Dynamics CRM Trick Bag


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