Is it Time to Check the Vital Signs of Your Microsoft Dynamics CRM System?

This blog is part of our Customer Care series, where our experts address technical implementation and service questions across the Tribridge product portfolio to assure that customers have the support they need to optimize their solution most effectively and efficiently.

When we go to the doctor, we are ready for them to check our vital signs as a routine part of our care: body temperature, blood pressure, pulse (heart rate) and breathing rate (respiratory rate). If something is awry with these vital signs, it may be a symptom of something going on with your body. What if we approach the health of your Microsoft Dynamics CRM system in a similar way? As a CRM Admin, part of your weekly duties should include activities related to monitoring how your system is performing, or checking your system's vital signs.

Some of the greatest information in your CRM application can be found in the areas of System Jobs and Email Messages. What we're looking for are situations where workflows have failed or are in error status and where e-mail delivery is not operating as planned. Very often these issues can go unnoticed for weeks or months before one of your users alerts you to the fact that the system is not working, and that could have a major impact on your business. Once you have this information, you can begin to drill down into the details and determine corrective actions.

You can access this vital information right from the CRM user interface by creating Advanced Finds, and saving them to allow you to regularly visit the views and monitor the results.

Here are two Advanced Find views to start with and how to set them up.

System Jobs – With Errors

The goal of the system jobs with errors view is to locate jobs that are waiting with errors and show the related error message.

Setup: Open up Advanced Find, look for system jobs

  1. Add search criteria where the message field contains data and status reason equals waiting or failed.
  2. Columns to add include the System Job Name, Friendly Message, Message, Regarding, Started On and Status.

Click the "Save As" and give a title something like "System Jobs – With Errors."

Open up Advanced Find, look for system jobs

Email Messages – Pending

The goal of the pending e-mail messages view is to show any emails that are waiting for delivery from your CRM server to your email server. This will help identify any issues with outbound delivery of your email which could impact team notifications or external customer communications.

Setup: Open up Advanced Find, look for e-mail messages

  1. Open the "My Pending Emails" View
  2. Delete the row with the filter criteria:  Owner - Equals Current User
  3. Click the Edit Columns button and add the following: Created On, From, No. of Delivery Attempts
  4. Click the "Save As" and give a title something like "Email Messages – Pending."
Open up Advanced Find, look for e-mail messages

Now that you have this information, what do you do with it and does it all mean? Here are some ideas on how to approach the information.

  • Prioritize system job issues- For system jobs, export the results to an excel spreadsheet, create a pivot table based on the workflow name and analyze to see the frequency of the failing workflows. This will identify the workflows with the most errors, allowing you to concentrate on those first.
  • View System job error messages - When there is an error causing the system job to fail or change to a waiting status, the "friendly message" field in the system job can be easily viewed from the advanced find to show the reason for failure.
  • Narrow down reasons for outbound e-mail failures - Look in the pending e-mail messages for patterns related to sender or topic.  This will help identify if the issue is related to a single user in CRM or outbound process. For failed messages, the number of delivery attempts may show multiple attempts before failure.

The number of workflows waiting with errors can build rapidly and fill up the CRM asynchronous table in the database, leading to performance issues. It is a good clean up practice to deal with these system job errors so they can be completed in the system. For workflows that are in waiting status due to an error, you will need to either cancel & delete or attempt to resume the workflows to clear them from their current status.

Typical issues with workflows include:

  1. Trying to send emails to or from users without valid e-mail addresses.
  2. Trying to update records that are read only
  3. Workflows running in the context of a user who does not have permissions to do the tasks in the workflow step.

While you are looking at the system jobs, another thing to include in your housekeeping routine would be to ensure that completed system jobs are being regularly removed from the system. The decision on how long to retain these is based on your business needs, but very often once a system job has completed its work, it can be removed from the system. Regularly recurring bulk delete processes or choosing to delete the system job automatically upon completion can be used to handle this task.

If you need help analyzing and correcting the issues you find during your system checks, please reach out to us and we will gladly help.

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