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Making sense of your CRM data

Understanding how the Power of Advanced Find will convert your data into useful, ordered information in Microsoft Dynamics CRM / Dynamics 365

AdvancedFind Titleimage

How to extract your CRM data to create simple reports and views

In this walkthrough video tutorial, Gill Walker takes you through the steps to use Advanced Find to create queries, views and simple reports. Each step is illustrated with a short video.

Why use Advanced Find?

There is little point in capturing all your customer / client and prospect information, and diligently entering it all into Microsoft Dynamics 365, if neither you nor anyone else can get it out in a meaningful way.  Avanced Find enables you to ask lots of questions of your CRM and get meaningful answers.  It helps to convert data into useful information.

Your CRM solution will contain a lot of data - data that has been keyed in by users, data that has been imported, emails and other communi cations, probably from Outlook, and other documents.  And if your CRM solution has been designed properly, and your users have been trained appropriately, you will be able to get that data into useful forms.  One of the mistakes in CRM solution design that we see too frequently is a system, which has been designed with only data entry in mind. When this has happened, it is often extremely difficult to create the reports and other useful information, that users, or their management require. 

There are several tools within Microsoft Dynamics 365 that enable you to make sense of all of the conscientiously captured information including:

  • Out of the box reports
  • Report Wizard reports
  • Dashboards
  • Charts
  • Views

and Advanced Find - the topic of this video tutorial.

Understanding Advanced Find makes using all of the above tools much easier.  At the end of this walk through tutorial, you will be able to create a range of Advanced Find queries, and you will understand some of the ways that you can use this information.

Summary of Advanced Find topics demonstrated

 

What is Advanced Find? 

The parts of Advanced Find

Steps to create an Advanced Find query

A first simple query

Using two or more criteria together

Finding records where any or all of multiple criteria are true

Changing the data displayed in your query results

Using a different primary entity to build a more complex query

Using columns from more than entity in the query

Saving an Advanced Find query

Using a saved query in another Advanced Find

Using criteria from multiple entities

What is Advanced Find?

Advanced Find is a tool in Microsoft Dynamics 365, which gives you the ability to ask a question of your Microsoft Dynamics 365 database. Advanced Find returns you a spreadsheet-like grid of data. These spreadsheet-like grids of data can be saved as a view so that you can quickly rerun the Advanced Find query and get up to date information.
As well as being very useful to review the information in your CRM database, Advanced Find queries also underpin many other parts of CRM including:

  • Charts
  • Dashboards
  • Reports
  • Marketing Lists – static and dynamic

The parts of Advanced Find

There are two parts to an Advanced Find:

  • Question
  • Answer

The question is the query and the answer is the result or the spreadsheet-like grid of data, or view.

Steps to create an Advanced Find query

All of the illustrations and videos are done using a Microsoft Dynamics 365 with the sample data installed. The steps to create and run an Advanced Find query are:

  • Open Advanced Find
  • Select the primary entity – the entity on which your query is based
  • Build the query
    • Decide which fields give you criteria return the records
    • Choose the first field
    • Choose the operator
    • Set the value
    • Repeat for any additional criteria
  • Select the columns that you want in your result, or output or spreadsheet of data
  • Reorder or change the properties of those columns
  • Run your query

You can copy all of these examples if you have a trial of Microsoft Dynamics 365 version 1612 with the sample data installed.  If you have another version, you will be able to follow along, but there may be slight differences in the screen layout.  To find the version of your CRM, go to settings and choose About

 

 settings version CRM 
Finding Settings in CRM (browser) The version of CRM - here it is 1612

First of all, we will see the initial three steps using a very simple query to find all the accounts located in Redmond. Later videos will introduce the more advanced features of Advanced Find.

 Finding all the accounts in Redmond

In this example we find all the accounts in Redmond.

Launch Advanced Find using the funnel icon funnel icon in the top right hand corner of many CRM pages.

Set your query. Each part of the query will be a field, an operator and the value of the field that is required. In this example the field is Address1:City, the operator is equals and the value is Redmond.

Run the query using the Results icon results iconwithin the query window.

 

Setting multiple criteria, (two, or more, criteria) together

In this example, we will find all accounts in Redmond with an annual revenue below $100,000.  This example will also revise the steps learnt in the previous example.

Launch Advanced Find using the funnel icon funnel icon in the top right hand corner of many CRM pages.

Set your query.  Each part of the query will be a field, an operator and the value of the field that is required.  In this example the first criteria field is Address1:City, the operator is equals and the value is Redmond.

Now add another criterion to your query to find those accounts with an annual revenue below $100,000.  For this criteria, the field is Annual Revenue, the operator is less than and the value is $100,000.

Run the query using the Results icon results iconwithin the query window.

This is illustrated in the video 
 

Setting multiple criteria, (either of two or more criteria)

In this example we find all records where the Address1:City field is set to Redmond or Dallas or Phoenix.

The start is the same is for the previous two examples.

When you use an OR group the query returns those records where any one (or more) of the criteria is true.
 

Seeing different data in your query result or query output

In the above three examples we have always had the same columns in the query output – the spreadsheet-like grid of data, or view.  You had to take my word that the five accounts were those in Redmond, Dallas or Phoenix.

In this example, I will show you how to select and format the columns in your output.

We will display the address of the companies in Redmond, Dallas or Phoenix.

The columns can be changed before or after running the query.

In many cases you will use both, i.e. run the query, check the output and making further alterations until you are completely happy with the result.

Setting up the query, i.e. deciding which records you need to see and setting up the columns are two completely separate steps. Choosing a criteria does not change the columns.  I have seen this confuse many people who are unfamiliar with Advanced Find.

Using a different primary entity

In all of the above examples, we used the Account, or company/organisation entity. In the next example, we will find data from the Opportunity record. We will also introduce a more complex query and we will display columns from both the opportunity and the account.

Once you have built the query, it should look as in the screenshot below.

multiple entities query

 

Using columns from more than one entity - the account and the opportunity

Now we will include columns from multiple entities in the query.  In this exampkle we will add columns from the opportunity - primary entity, and the account.

You can only include columns from the primary entity and from other entities that sit above the primary entity. The simplified data model diagram below shows the main entities used in sales and their relationship to each other.

Simplified data model for sales in Microsoft Dynamics 365

 

Saving an Advanced Find query

Saving a query allows you to further use that query in several ways:

  • as the start point in another Advanced Find Query
  • as a personal view
  • as part of a dashboard

Saving a query simply requires clicking on the save button and giving the query a name.

 
 

Using a saved query

A saved query can be accessed from Advanced Find or as Personal View under the relevant entity.

A personal view is available to its owner unless its owner has shared it with other users. This is done from the Saved Views tab with the query selected – see screenshot below

share query

 

Using criteria from multiple entities

Here we combine our previous examples and find all the open opportunities for potential customers who are located in Redmond

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Opsis is an expert CRM consulting company. We are not an IT company, nor a management consultancy, although we often work with both of these.  Our focus is wholly CRM, and particularly Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  We are based in Sydney, NSW, with clients in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and across Australia.  Our range of CRM services include CRM strategy, CRM scoping, CRM implementation, technical  support and CRM training.