As you may know, Oracle is in the process of rolling out the latest CRM On Demand upgrade to customers – Release 17, or as we like to call it, R17. Today Robert and I pick our five favorite new features and go in depth on why we like them so much.

Oracle provides these new releases automatically to customers, usually over the course of several weeks. One of the nice advantages of Software as a Service is that you continually get the benefit of these releases – whether they are bug fixes or totally cool new features.

You know, it seems like only yesterday our little CRM product was just a toddler. They grow up so fast… 17! Wow, all grown up! Guess she’ll be moving out on her own pretty soon

Well, as with all of our Five Things podcasts, we won’t be covering everything in R17, just the ones that we think are especially cool. So here goes…

Record Copy
Native ability to copy records is something I asked for a long time ago. See, they listened! This is nicely done in R17 – you can choose which fields are included in the copy, so you get some nice level of control.

The Copy option applies to most record types, and you’ll see the Copy option in the record-level drop-down menu (another new R17 feature) wherever it is supported.

Keep in mind that Copy applies to the main record only – that is, child records do not get copied. So when you copy an Opportunity, all the products associated with it do not come over. Robert says that is called “deep copy”. So I guess this is “shallow copy” – but it does what we need it to.

This even applies to several areas of Administration, including Workflows – which if you’ve got experience with this, you know how valuable this is. So administrators are going to love this!

Data Loader!
I’m a big fan of this new downloadable utility. Yes, it’s just a simple command-line interface, but it is going to be a big help to customers doing large bulk data loads and basic recurring uploads.

Up till now we’ve had two – well, three ways of getting data into CRM. Type it in manually, use the web-based import tool (we like to call it the Import Wizard), or custom web services. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Import Wizard is easy to use and gives you great feedback on errors encountered. But it’s limited to 30,000 rows (or 10mb) for most record types and it is a manual process- no automation is possible. Web services supports unlimited records and can be automated – but you have to build it! That means potential cost and time to implement.

Data Loader fills the gap perfectly. No limit on the number of records? Check. Ability to automate? Check. The Data Loader uses the same mapping files you generate from Import Wizard – so the two work very well together. Use Import to test your loads and get your map files, then DL to do the heavy lifting.

Because it is a command line application, it can be wrapped up in a batch file and scheduled to run using Windows scheduler (or whatever tool you want). And DL jobs show up in the Import Request Queue – so you can monitor them and pull logs just as with web import.

OK, so this may not be major new business functionality, but it is pretty cool. With R17 you can modify and create your own custom themes. A theme defines the whole look and feel of CRMOD – from the background and font colors to the logo graphics.

The Theme Editor will also let you create your own global links and turn off our standard help and training links – useful for companies that have their own internal helpdesk.

The nice thing is that multiple themes can be deployed for a single company. So you can deliver a unique experience to different roles or individual users. Why do this? More and more customers are using CRM as part of a PRM solution and deploying it as a partner portal. So with Themes, each partner can have their own branding, and their own help and training links. Nice!

Inherit Primary
This is one that you’ll find in your Access Profiles. Go look for it now. Got it? You know how you have those options like Read, Read/Edit, Delete, View, etc? Now you’ve got a new one: Inherit Primary.

You’ll only see this on the Access profile for related items – such as Opportunities related to Accounts. With this option selected, the information that appears in a related information applet will be filtered based on the user’s “primary” access to those records.

So, for example, if I look at an Account Detail today, I’ll see five Opportunities in the related info applet. But I may only have access to three of them – if I try to click through the other two I’ll get an unfriendly “Access Denied” message. With this option set on my Access Profile, I’ll only see the three Opportunities that I can actually get to.

Time Based Workflow!
Enough said. Ok, well, maybe we’ll say a little more. Since workflow rules were introduced in R14 (back in the day…) people have been saying, “Yeah, that’s nice, but I want them to initiate a month after that SR is created. I need it to be time-based!”.

Whiners. But Oracle listened and with R17, you get a brand new kind of action – Wait! Wait for what, you say? No, it’s a new action called “Wait”.

Workflow has a few components. An event trigger (record updates, saves, deletes), a condition (check for certain conditions to be true) and a resulting action (what to do if the conditions are met). Actions can be things like sending an e-mail, assigning a book, or creating tasks and integration events.

Now we’ve added “wait” to the list. Doesn’t sound too exciting, but it is very powerful. Imagine you have a policy to escalate SRs that aren’t closed within 10 days. You can use workflow to initiate a Wait action upon SR creation. This tells OD to wait for a period of time – from a minute to over a year – and then re-evaluate the rule and continue to perform other actions. So after 10 days, the workflow will wake up, check the SR status and if it isn’t closed, it can send off an e-mail and create a task advising the SR be escalated.

Yep, or it can assign it to a new Book or kick off an integration event. I think support users will love this, but its also going to be nice for sales and marketing. Say you want to ping a manager if an Opportunity isn’t closed within a week of the projected close date? Or you want to ensure Leads are being handled in a timely manner? Wait for it!

Episode Wrap-up
So those are your Five Things about R17: Copy Records, Data Loader, Themes, Inherit Primary, and Time Based Workflows! Hey, use that handy Comment feature on the blog and tell us about YOUR favorite new features. Or start your own freaking podcast.

That’s all for now, see you next time!

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Good CRM. Good CRM said: Podcast 011: Five Things About R17 — The Oracle CRM On Demand Podcast: As you may know, Oracle is in the process … [...]

  2. Mani on 27 Apr 10 11:25 am

    Thanks! Nice intro to R17. I have tested most of the new features except Data Loader. Hopefully we’ll get cross object WF’s soon.

    There is also another new feature “Role-Based can Read all Records”. (I believe it was released as a R16 Patch.) This will be useful for many customers.

  3. Emily on 31 May 10 5:50 pm

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Good CRM. Good CRM said: Podcast 011: Five Things About R17 — The Oracle CRM On Demand Podcast: As you may know, Oracle is in the process … [...]