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The full functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be accessed via the Outlook client. In this blog we look at the features and configuration options with Outlook for Dynamics CRM
Accessing CRM Records in Outlook
Using the work areas, users can access the CRM work entities via the side menu under the company’s CRM section within Outlook.
In the example below we can see the "My Active Contacts" view from CRM, within the Outlook client.
Outlook also offers some unique CRM functionality, such as the ability to synchronise data offline and support for offline updates. As such users can access their CRM data on the move, even when they do not have connectivity.
Converting & Tracking Emails
Emails can be tracked in Dynamics CRM by clicking the ‘Track’ icon located in the email menu. Tracked emails will be displayed on the contact’s social wall in Dynamics CRM and against the record the email is associated with e.g. Invoice, Sales Opportunity etc. Emails can be tracked against a record by using the “Set Regarding” function in the email menu bar. This then allows the user to select the record the email is in relation to. Once an email has been tracked any conversation will continue to be automatically tracked. This is achieved via an Email tracking token that is automatically added to the email subject, or via smart matching rules. A wide range of options are available to configure which emails are automatically tracked, and also to configure the use of tracking tokens/smart matching.
Tracked emails can also be converted to another type of CRM record by clicking the Convert Icon within the email window. Users can choose which record type the email will be converted to. Currently the email can be converted to an Opportunity, Case or a Lead. This minimises the rekeying of data and ensures users can quickly create a record that relates to the email content.
In CRM 2015/2016 a new folder level tracking option was introduced. This allows users to configure the Outlook folders they would like to track in CRM. As such any email dragged to these folders will be automatically added to Dynamics CRM.
Tasks, Appointments and Activities
Any Tasks, Appointments and other activity types that are assigned to a user will also be available within the Outlook client. This ensures that user’s diaries will automatically include any actions assigned to them in CRM and reminders will be handled by the Outlook client. Users also have the option of Tracking appointments or Tasks from Outlook to add them to CRM.
Dynamics CRM and Outlook integrate with each other in one of three ways. If possible we recommend that server to server integration is configured.
Server to Server Integration – with this option Dynamics CRM and Exchange are configured to talk to each other. This ensures that Outlook is synchronised with CRM automatically when it connects to Exchange. It also means that any emails to be sent from CRM can be sent immediately via Exchange.
Email Router – This was the precursor to the Server to Server integration and relies on a separate server application to process email from CRM. This does therefore create an additional IT management overhead. We recommend this option, only if Server to Server integration with Exchange is not an option.
Outlook Client Integration – This is the simplest option to configure, but means that Outlook synchronises when it connects to CRM. As such any emails created in CRM won’t be sent until the relevant user connects with their Outlook client. This can therefore limit the effectiveness of CRM workflows which automatically send emails as they will not be sent immediately.
Outlook with Dynamics CRM Video
The following video illustrates how Dynamics CRM is used within Outlook:
A new Outlook client has just been released and we will be featuring this in a forthcoming video tutorial and blog.