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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0: Common Functions

This chapter covers the common features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, including Actions, Activities, History, Notes, and many more.
This chapter is from the book

In This Chapter

  • Actions
  • Activities
  • History
  • Notes
  • Attachments
  • Run Workflow
  • Advanced Find
  • Form Assistant
  • Record Merge
  • Send Direct E-mail
  • Resource Center

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has a number of common features. By "common," we mean that, when working with most of the entities, they have the same functionality included in this chapter.

As an example, Accounts, Contacts, Leads, Opportunities, and Cases all have functionality on their main form that includes the following:

  • Actions
  • Activities
  • History
  • Notes
  • Attachments
  • Workflows

Because they are so similar (regardless of which entity you're working with), we have grouped these functions in this chapter to consolidate the description of their functionality.

The Resource Center is included with this chapter because all users of the application use it in the same manner.


The Actions icon (presented with a small hand on a star) has a drop-down menu that enables you to easily perform a number of Actions on a record without having to navigate to the near navigation. It often reduces the total number of clicks to accomplish something. The following Actions are available to Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities, and Leads. Although each Entity has Actions specific to it that are not listed, these are the most common:

  • Add Activity
  • Add a Note
  • Attach a File
  • Add Additional Address (Accounts and Contacts)
  • Add to Marketing List (Accounts, Contacts, and Opportunities)
  • Add Relationship (Accounts, Contacts, and Opportunities)
  • Delete Record
  • Deactivate Record (or Activate Record, if it is deactivated)
  • Mail Merge (Accounts, Contacts, and Leads)
  • Assign
  • Sharing
  • Copy Shortcut
  • Send Shortcut

Most of the options available in the Actions drop-down menu are available elsewhere on the form and, in fact, are merely shortcuts. (For example, Add Additional Address has the same functionality as if you went to More Addresses and selected New Address.) Additionally, the Copy Shortcut and Send Shortcut options from the Actions drop-down menu should not be confused with the Copy Shortcut and Send Shortcut options from the More Actions when working with subrecords (explained later in this chapter).

Add Activity

Add Activity enables you to quickly add a new Activity to the main entity you're working with. When selecting this option, it has the same effect as selecting Activities from the near navigation and selecting New.

For a complete list of the available Activities, see the "Activities" section later in this chapter.

Add a Note

Add a Note opens the note dialog box with Regarding set to the entity you're working with by default (see Figure 7.3).

Figure 7.3

Figure 7.3 Add new note dialog box.

Attach a File

Attach a File opens the attachment dialog box, enabling you to upload a file to the entity you're working with. The uploaded file appears within the Notes tab section. Any file type can be uploaded and then opened by clicking the file within the Notes section (see Figure 7.4).

Figure 7.4

Figure 7.4 Add attachment.

Add Additional Address

Add Additional Address has the same functionality as selecting More Addresses from the near navigation and selecting New.

Add to Marketing List

Add to Marketing List enables you to quickly add the entity to an existing Marketing List. As explained in Chapter 11, "Working with Marketing," Marketing Lists are specific to Accounts, Contacts, or Leads. If you are working with Accounts and have only Marketing Lists for Contacts, you will be unable to add the Account to the existing Marketing List. However, you can create a new Marketing List for Accounts after you select Add to Marketing List that consists of only the Account you're working with. (You can manage the Marketing List further either by opening it under Marketing Lists on the Account page or by navigating to Marketing and selecting Marketing Lists there.)

Add Relationship

Unlike the near navigation option of Relationships, which enables you to create only a Customer Relationship, you can easily associate the entity with an Opportunity relationship. For more information about relationships, refer to Chapter 8, "Working with Customers."

Delete Entity

Delete Entity enables you to completely delete the record. Use this option with caution and carefully consider whether you want to delete or deactivate a record (see the next section). The reason for this is that when an Entity such as an Account is deleted, all records associated with the account are deleted and features such as reporting on the record are no longer available.

Deleting an Account has the following actions:

  • Contacts associated with the Account are deleted.
  • Activities associated with the Account are deleted.
  • Opportunities associated with the Account are deleted.
  • Subaccounts associated with the Account are not deleted but are removed from the Account.
  • The Account is deleted and no longer available to report on.

Deleting a Contact has the following actions:

  • Activities associated with the Contact are deleted.
  • Opportunities associated with the Contact are deleted.
  • Cases associated with the Contact are deleted.
  • Subcontacts associated with the Contact are not deleted but are removed from the Contact.
  • The Contact is deleted and no longer available to report on.

Deleting a Lead has the following actions:

  • The Lead is deleted and no longer available to report on.

Deleting an Opportunity has the following actions:

  • The Opportunity is deleted and no longer available to report on.

Deactivate Record

Deactivate Record (or Activate Record, if it is deactivated) enables you to set the status of the record. This is the preferred method (rather than deleting) when working with older records because reporting visibility remains along with historical information. Also, when a record is deactivated, the associated records are kept as active as opposed to when it is deleted and the associated records are deleted. This is an important distinction, as it is possible to deactivate an Account and still have active Contacts that are associated with the Account that must be manually deactivated as well.

Mail Merge

Mail Merge (Accounts, Contacts, and Leads) is a new option available on both the Internet Explorer client and the Outlook client. Previously, this option was available only on the Outlook client.

Mail Merge is a powerful and easy-to-use feature that enables you to perform the following as part of its wizard steps:

  • Select the records you want to use for the Mail Merge.
  • Create Activity records for the records, reflecting the Mail Merge contact.
  • Assign the Activity records to another user.
  • Create a new quick campaign for the Mail Merge records.
  • Use an existing template or create a new template based on the document type.

To access Mail Merge, select either the Mail Merge option from the Actions menu drop-down (when available) or the Mail Merge icon located on the toolbar directly above the records you're working with (see Figure 7.6).

Figure 7.6

Figure 7.6 Mail Merge icon.

When working with the Mail Merge function, a pop-up window called Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mail Merge for Microsoft Office Word presents the available options (see Figure 7.7).

Figure 7.7

Figure 7.7 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mail Merge for Microsoft Office Word.

By default, the base language is selected for the Template Language. However, you can change it to any of the languages your administrator has made available (refer to Chapter 14, "Settings and Configuration," for more information about language options). Notice there is no drop-down menu if no MUIs have been installed.

Selecting the Mail Merge type defaults Microsoft Word to the correct page layout, and you have the option to work with either existing templates or create new blank one. Existing documents are available on either a personal or an organizational level. However, you can easily create a new template if none exists and set the access level (personal or organizational) manually.

Additional options include record merge options and the capability to select specific data fields.

For the following example on how to use Mail Merge, assume that you have no existing Mail Merge templates (either personal or organizational) and that you will create a new letter to send to all active Accounts announcing the relocation of your main offices to a new address.

Additionally, these options are explained as follows:

  • Selected Records on Current Page—If you have selected one or more records on the page, only the highlighted (or selected) records will be used for the Mail Merge.

  • All Records on Current Page—Remember that Microsoft Dynamics CRM displays only the first 50 records per page, by default. If you have more records, you must navigate to the next page to see the records. As such, this option sends only to the records you have on this current page.

    Typically, this is the best option when you have entered a value in the Search field and returned a subset of existing records. A good example of this is if you have multiple Contacts named Bob Smith and you want to send an e-mail to every Bob: You could enter Bob in the text search and, with the results displayed, select Mail Merge and then All Records on Current Page. The Mail Merge would create records for only the selected Bob records—assuming that they all fit on the existing page.

  • All Records on All Pages—Selects every record you have for that Entity, regardless of whether it is displayed on the current page.

    As with the previous example, if you did a search for Contacts that started with Bob and you had 400 different Bob type Contacts, you would need to select this option so that you would send to more than just the first 50 (or whatever value you selected for your records to display) Bob Contacts.

Follow these steps to create a mail merge using the Web client (the steps are similar in the Outlook client):

  1. Select Account Entity and the View type from the drop-down list.
  2. Important: Select the View type as Active Accounts from the View drop-down, as shown in Figure 7.9.

    Figure 7.9

    Figure 7.9 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Accounts View drop-down list.

    By selecting the view, you are adding what is essentially a "prefilter" on the available records. If you had selected a different view type, the records available by default on this mail merge would be different (for example, if you had been working with the default view of My Active Accounts).

  3. Select the Mail Merge icon. The Mail Merge pop-up menu appears (see Figures 7.6 and 7.7).
  4. Leave Template Language as its default English, and leave the Mail Merge type as its default of Letter. Because you'll be creating a new document as part of this sample, leave the Start with A setting as its default of Blank Document as well.
  5. Because you want to send this letter to all your Accounts, select the Merge option of All Records on All Pages.
  6. By default, the most commonly used fields for an Entity are selected as its data fields; however, by selecting the Data Fields button, you can easily select or change the columns that you want to have available for Mail Merge.

    Leave the defaults, and select OK to close the Data Fields window; then select OK to continue.

  7. Microsoft Word automatically starts with the selected Mail Merge type format (Letter, Envelope, Fax, or Label), and the Mail Merge Wizard displays the list of recipients that will be used in the merge. By default, all records are selected; however, if you want to exclude one or more, you can uncheck the selection here. From here you can also add sorting and filtering options (see Figure 7.11).

    Figure 7.11

    Figure 7.11 Microsoft Word Mail Merge Wizard select recipients.

    Click OK to continue.

  8. You may be presented with a dialog box asking if you want to Open or save this file. Select Open to continue.
  9. To use the Mail Merge feature, macros need to be enabled. If you have already enabled macros, you can skip this step; otherwise, select Options near the security warning and then Enable this content to continue the mail merge (see Figure 7.12).

    Figure 7.12

    Figure 7.12 Enable macros in Microsoft Word.

    After you've enabled macros, select either the Add-Ins or CRM option from the top tab; then click the CRM icon to continue with the mail merge.

  10. Working within Microsoft Word, you now have the option to follow the Mail Merge Wizard, located in the lower-right corner of the new document, where it reads Step 1 of 4 (see Figure 7.13).

    Click Next: Write Your Letter to continue.

    Figure 7.13

    Figure 7.13 Microsoft Word Mail Merge Wizard (lower-right corner).

  11. Following the Mail Merge Wizard, you can compose your letter and enter your data fields as appropriate (see Figure 7.14).

    Click Next: Preview Your Letters to Continue to continue.

    Figure 7.14

    Figure 7.14 Microsoft Word Mail Merge letter composed with data fields added.

  12. Completing the steps in the Mail Merge Wizard enables you to preview the records and make any changes or exclusions you might need to make at this point (see Figure 7.15).

    Figure 7.15

    Figure 7.15 Microsoft Word Mail Merge letter preview.

    Click Next: Complete the Merge to continue.

  13. In the last step of the Mail Merge Wizard (Step 4 of 4), you are presented with three options:

    • Print
    • Edit Individual Letters
    • Upload Template to CRM (when using the Outlook client)

    Upload Template to CRM is available because you created a new document using the Outlook client. If you want to work with this document again, select Upload Template to CRM. Click Yes when asked whether you want to create a new mail merge template; the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mail Merge Template opens, enabling you to name, assign, and save the template for future use.

    See Chapter 14 for working with templates.

    When selecting either Print or Edit Individual letters, the merge job completes and you are presented with the option Create Activities for the Mail Merge (see Figure 7.16).

    Figure 7.16

    Figure 7.16 Microsoft Word Mail Merge Create Activities options.

Track Activities for the Mail Merge

By default, no Activities are created in Microsoft Dynamics CRM after the mail merge is completed. Because you want to track that you sent this letter to your active Accounts only, you will change the default setting and ask that Activities be created after the mail merge is completed. Although it is not necessary to select the Activity Details button, you can easily view and change what the Activity will look like when it has been completed (see Figure 7.17).

Figure 7.17

Figure 7.17 Microsoft Word Mail Merge Activity Details.

Assign Activities

Because you are creating Activity records, you have the option to change the Activity assignment (see Figure 7.16). By default, the owner of the Activity is the user who completed the mail merge; however, because the records might belong to different owners, you can set the ownership to the owners of the record that were included in the mail merge. Alternatively, if you wanted to manually assign them to another user entirely (say an administrative assistant who is responsible for managing the outgoing correspondence for example), we could change the setting to Another User or Queue.

If you chose to keep the records open for follow-up, be sure to change the default selection for Automatically Close the Activities as Completed.

Finally, the option Create a New Quick Campaign enables you to quickly and easily manage the Mail Merge as a campaign and, therefore, track responses.

For more information about quick campaigns, refer to Chapter 11.

Depending on the size of your mail merge, you might experience a delay while Microsoft Word is preparing the merge and while Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 creates the Activity records, assigns them accordingly, closes them (if applicable), and adds them to a new quick campaign.

You can easily view the Activities in the History (if you selected them to be closed) or in the Activities tab of the affected Contacts.


Assign enables you to set record ownership by selecting a new user or queue within the system, depending on the Entity type. For example, an Account can be assigned only to another user. An Activity, on the other hand, can be assigned to either a user or a queue, as shown in Figure 7.18 (for more information about working with queues, refer to Chapter 14).

Figure 7.18

Figure 7.18 Assign dialog box.


As its name implies, the Sharing option enables you to share the record with other Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 users or teams. The capability to perform the act of sharing is set with the security roles for a user (see Chapter 14 for more information about security roles). When you share a record with another user, the other user inherits the security settings on the associated records of the record.

The following is the list of records that can be shared:

  • Accounts
  • Contacts
  • Cases
  • Campaigns
  • Invoices
  • Quotes
  • Orders
  • Reports
  • Opportunities
  • Marketing Lists
  • Leads
  • Contracts

When sharing, select the user or team and then toggle the permissions you want to give (see Figure 7.19).

Figure 7.19

Figure 7.19 Microsoft Dynamics CRM share permissions form.

Copy Shortcut and Send Shortcut

Copy Shortcut and Send Shortcut are new options available with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Do not confuse them with Copy Shortcut and Send Shortcut from the More Actions option located at the top of the Quickview. Although both provide the capability to quickly and easily create shortcuts directly to the record, when you select from the Actions drop-down, the main record you're working with (Account, Contact, and so on) will be selected instead of the specific associative records (if chosen from the Quickview menu option—that is, Contacts associated with the Account or History for the Account). For this reason, you might get the error message shown in Figure 7.20 when you select Copy Shortcut from the Quickview menu but fail to select any associative records (to avoid this error, select one or more records and then try again).

Figure 7.20

Figure 7.20 Copy Shortcut chosen from the Quickview, but without any subrecords selected.

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