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Small yet Important Enhancements to Dynamics CRM 2011

If you’re unaware of some of the small changes to Dynamics CRM 2011, they can be much wanted and yet missed, and so l highlight them as follows.

Bulk E-mail Messages and Attachments

In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, it’s now possible to include attachments when sending bulk e-mail messages. The system stores only one version of the attachment even when you send out many different e-mails with the same attachment to many different people. So the attachment design does not overwhelm your CRM database with multiple copies of the same material. Originally there was a core concept that firms should not blast out attachments as it is just not great e-mail best practices, but now the team allows the user to do this if they want to.

Negative Pricing

The negative pricing feature now allows for negative quantities, amounts, and negative prices. Negative pricing was not supported in earlier versions and as such integration to powerful ERP systems with unique accounting needs became more problematic. This issue has now been eliminated.

Enhanced Decimal Precision

Depending on the company, decimal precision needs can be very from one extreme to the next and can be very different. System Settings now supports setting decimal precision based on a variety of high level category choices, including Pricing Decimal Precision, Currency Precision, and Field Precision and then some low level fine tuning. The feature is a hour of training all on its own.

Opportunity Enhancements

The opportunity feature now supports the ability to create a quote, an order, or an invoice directly from the opportunity. You can also add write-in products to an opportunity. Figure 3.7 shows access to quotes, orders, and invoices from the Opportunities form. Now when you are working on an opportunity you can look at all the details, move the sales process forward, connect with your prompts via a sales dialog, and continue right through creating and printing the quote. You can also manage the quote if changes need to be made during the negotiation process.

Figure 3.7

Figure 3.7. Quote access from a specific opportunity form.

View Filters

The advanced find feature is handy and extremely powerful but can be a bit intimidating for some users. All that power when all you want to do is filter a view is unnecessary, so to help with this, CRM 2011 offers filters in the views. You can now create a personal or shared view (that is similar to advanced find) directly out of a filtered view. Now this concept can seem a bit ho-hum, but consider this: Dynamics CRM is built on top of a complex SQL Server database. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is designed with secure and controlled access to the underlying SQL Server database. The team provides an API layer, security services (permissions, roles, and so on), and some business logic. Needless to say, hacking at the CRM databases with a SQL Server query is not supported nor does it always return the results expected. Dynamics CRM v2011 now has access to filtered views right from the user interface. A nice wow when you really think about it from a technical perspective.

Recurring Appointments

Recurring appointments are a special type of activity, and in Dynamics CRM v4 they were not supported nor available; luckily the recurring appointment activity type is now available as a new entity completely designed to support all those extra requirements such as the different types of reoccurrence. You can use this type of activity to track recurring appointments from Outlook in CRM and from CRM back to Outlook. Figure 3.8 shows the details on the new recurring appointment activity type.

Figure 3.8

Figure 3.8. Recurring appointments.

Dynamic Marketing Lists

Marketing lists once configured in the Dynamics cRM v4 days were static until a user made changes. In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, you can create a dynamic marketing list in which you define or specify a query. So, instead of requiring you to manually update an existing marketing list, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 runs the query and updates it for you on the fly. Depending on the list type, the leads, accounts, or contacts that fulfill the query, criteria are automatically added as the members of the list whenever the list is used. Figure 3.9 shows this new setting.

Figure 3.9

Figure 3.9. The Dynamic Marketing List setting.

Queue Enhancements

Queues have been significantly enhanced in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, as has the service module. The queues have moved from a set of simple first in, first out offerings to a feature-packed suite of numerous different choices as seen here. The service module has matured into a “follow the sun” model. If you have a 24x7 multiple team member support team, you can now easily hand cases between members in any 24 hour period of time.

The following are some of the enhancements to queues:

  • You can secure queues through role privileges.
  • You can add a default queue to users and teams.
  • You can enable all entity types for queues.
  • You can customize the Queue entity.
  • Process workflows support queues and queue items.
  • You can separate a queue item’s working on assignment and record ownership.

Queues are discussed in more detail in Hour 18, “Contracts, Cases, and Capturing Time.”

The following are some of the enhancements to the service module:

  • You can check out a case as a “working on” team member.
  • Queue integration to case management has a number of new features, as listed previously.
  • You can now define a service process similarly to a sales process that is stepped and either manual or automated.

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