Monday, 15 February 2016

Product Review: SkypePOP for Dynamics CRM

Hello Readers.  As always I hope this finds you well.

One of the many things I love about Lync and Skype for Business is it's extensibility.  What I mean is that it is a platform with set of specific functionality that Microsoft has deemed worthy to add, but with an open framework and a well documented set of APIs so that developers can add additional functionality that may be important to some.

One such feature is one that always puzzled me.  It is a feature that I would have expected to have been there from the start.  One of the many things we hail in Skype for Business is its native and tight integration with the entire Microsoft Ecosystem.  Whether Active Directory, Microsoft Office, SharePoint or Microsoft Exchange Server, the integration with other Microsoft software forms part of the solution.

One Microsoft product that Lync and Skype for Business doesn't tightly integrate with, but absolutely should, is Dynamics CRM.  To be clear, there is SOME integration.  

Presence can work, as long as CRM is on the same domain as Skype for Business and you use Internet Explorer.  Really?  Yes, really.  Presence only works in Internet Explorer.  Not Chrome, Firefox or Safari.  And no mention of Edge.  It says so here.

Click-to-Call also works from within Dynamics CRM.  It has to be configured to do so.  Again, here are the rules and the instructions on how to set it up.  But effectively, your administrator must set the telephony provider to Lync.  See below.
Go to Settings > Administration > System Settings, in the General tab, scroll down to Set the Telephony Provider
Hang on a minute.  Lync?  Not Skype for Business?  Doesn't the Dynamics team know that there was a re-branding exercise last year? 

Click-to-call does more than just set the telephone number to a correctly formatted hyperlink of "tel:+44123456789", which prompts the Skype for Business client to start a phone call.  It also creates an activity record to log that a call took place and allows you to save notes for the call.

While I'm at it, I also notice that there is no field in a contact record for IM Address.  There is one for Business and Mobile Phone, Email and Postal Address, but not one for IM.  Again, really?

So when I say integration, what I really mean is click-to-call works from a phone number in CRM. 

What other integration is there?  I hear you ask.  What about POP?  Yes POP.  If Dynamics CRM is your Customer Relationship Management tool, it will surely contain a list of your customers and contacts at your customers.  I know you can keep these in Outlook.  And yes I know Skype for Business can perform a lookup against Outlook Contacts.  But it doesn't POP it.  It also doesn't create an activity record of the call you received.

OK, enough complaining.  On with the show.

As I said, thankfully, Skype for Business is extensible.  This extensibility means that clever people out there can create applications to enhance the existing feature set.

One such application, and the subject of this review is SkypePOP for Dynamics CRM from appVnet.

I registered for a trial and received an email with the download link for a ZIP file.  To install it, unzip the EXE and double click to begin the installation wizard.

Once the product installs it will automatically connect to the running Lync or Skype for Business client.  To connect it to CRM you need to specify the connection URL for your CRM web-page along with your credentials and organization.

To do this, just click on the tray ICON and choose change connection details.

In the Dynamics CRM Tab you need to enter the address of your CRM URL.

If you use CRM Online in Office 365 you can get this URL from here.  Enter the URL, your username and password and then click the drop down link next to organization.  If the URL and credentials are correct, the organization will be listed when you click the drop down.  Then click OK.

It should look something like this.

Then click OK.  If it works both Skype for Business and Dynamics CRM should say connected.

If you have CRM 4 or Lync 2010 you must also configure the application to support them.  If you press the CTRL key and right click on the tray app you have a menu which includes plugins and logs.

Click Plugins

Then expand the menu items and tick what you need to.

I haven't tried Call Simulator, Form POP or XAML Address Book.  Maybe one for later.

If you need to get into the logs for whatever reason you can do so by clicking CTRL on the System Tray Icon and clicking logs.

Once it is connected you can choose your POP preferences.  Just click on the tray app and click change preferences.

You can choose to pop the browser window for the contact if the caller is known, create a new contact if the caller is unknown and even create and pop a new phone call activity upon receiving a call.

That's about it.  On with the review.

The review - SkypePOP v3.0

What is it? 
SkypePOP is a system tray application that forms a connection between the Skype for Business client and Dynamics CRM to facilitate screen popping of a contact or account record from an inbound call.  It uses the inbound CLI to perform a lookup of contacts and accounts in Dynamics CRM and if a record is found it will open the record so you know who is calling and can handle the call efficiently.

Why do you need one?
If you use Skype for Business and use Dynamics CRM as your customer database it could help your users handle calls more effectively.  Version 3.0 works with both Dynamics CRM 2015 and CRM Online and Skype for Business 2015.  It also works with Lync 2010 and 2013, but also CRM 4.0, Dynamics CRM 2011 and 2013.

Now you have it
As I said, it uses the inbound CLI to perform a lookup against your customers in Dynamics CRM and POPs the record.  This means you know who you are taking a call from before you answer the call and can react accordingly.  It can also create an activity record to log the call along with some notes you enter in CRM. 

To configure it, click on the tray app and choose

What else can it do?
It can create a new record if the caller details are unknown.

Is it any good?
Yes.  It is simple, but it works.  It does exactly what you'd expect from the application actually.  It can be made to start with Windows and once the connection details are saved, it connects and starts working.

What's wrong with it?
I can't find anything.  I don't know if there are any limitations such as support for Remote Desktop sessions.

What would I change?
The product is fine as I said.  It does what I'd expect it to.  And it does what I'd expect to be native functionality in Skype for Business.  The one thing I would ADD is the ability to package and deploy the application centrally, adding the CRM connection details.  And if possible, support for Single Sign On, assuming CRM is in the same domain as the workstation and Skype for Business, of course.

The developer mentions that they are working on plugins to support other popular CRM applications such as Salesforce.

One other is a user/admin manual with instructions on how to get it working and how to administer it.  Even a Help File would suffice.

Also, if the developer is serious about continuing to support this product they should consider becoming qualified or at least validated for Lync and Skype for Business.

I haven't found another simple tray app that does what this can.  The alternative, as far as I can see, is to shell out for a full blown Contact Centre which integrates with Skype for Business and CRM.  Or you could write something yourself.  As I said, extensible.
It is a simple application, but it does work.  It could have more information available for users and administrators.  It could have centralized deployment and management.  

For more information or to download a trial visit the developer page at

Thanks for reading.  

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