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How to Manage Cross-Entity Business Process Flows in CRM 2013

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Cross-entity Business Process Flows provide an excellent tool for companies to guide CRM users to intended outcomes, in a consistent and repeatable fashion.  BPFs are flexible and extensible, allowing for CRM to model complex scenarios and thereby bring an organization’s business processes to life.

Below is an overview of how to build and implement a cross-entity business process flow in CRM 2013.  To help, I've included a useful process design template at the end of this post.

 

ANALYSIS AND DESIGN

  1. Define the BPFs you wish to model in CRM.  While this seems like a ‘no-brainer,’ I have found that this process tends to lead to some interesting discussions and sharing around best-practices, efficiencies, and compliance.
  2. Unlike single entity BPFs, cross-entity BPFs require that you identify the entities used to manage the process
  3. Break down the process into Stages.
  4. Document this design (I would suggest using an excel spreadsheet).

 

A few notes on designing effective processes: 

  • BPFs are limited to 5 entities, and are designed to run from the parent entity.  This is important when dealing with processes that may have different entry points.  For example, an organization that does B2B and B2C sales, may have customer on-boarding process initiated from either an Account record, or a Contact record.
  • BPF Stages should align with logical breaks in the process, which are typically: changes in responsibility or accountability, changes in function, and / or achieving a significant milestone.  As a rule of thumb, for cross-entity BPFs, you should have ~2-3 stages per entity, with no more than 10 in total.  Stages should not cross entity boundaries.

 

IMPLEMENTING CROSS-ENTITY BUSINESS PROCESS FLOWS

Once you have designed and documented your BPF, implementing it in CRM 2013 is quite easy.  However, before you get started, for the entities you plan to include, ensure:

  • Business Process flows have been enabled within the entity definition
  • Entities that are to be joined in the BPF are related by a 1:N relationship
    • You cannot traverse N:N relationships, or move from a child to parent record
  • You are not creating a cyclic relationship between entities
    • An exception to this is that the final entity may reference a previous record to close the process

Within the Business Process Flow editor (Settings > Processes), you can add or link additional entities by clicking the ‘Options’ button.

 

The ‘Add Entity’ drop-down shows the related entities available for linking.  If you do not see the entity you are looking for, you may be missing a 1:N relationship.  For each entity, configure the stages and steps as per your design.  If you choose to close your BPF by linking to a previously traversed entity, click the ‘Options’ button, and choose from the ‘Close Process Cycle’ options available at the bottom of the drop-down.

By default, BPF does not create CRM records when transitioning between entities.  You are, however, given the ability to lookup related records, or create new records from within the BPF.

To simplify things, we typically develop a simple workflow or plugin that automatically creates a record in the related entity, allowing the user to seamlessly continue through the BPF.

That's it! Check out the resources below for further tools and guidance around managing cross-entity business process flows.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

by Catapult

One Response to “How to Manage Cross-Entity Business Process Flows in CRM 2013”

  1. Dave H says:

    Great info! Too bad the Process Enablement doc from Microsoft is so poorly written. Obviously it wasn’t proofed before it was published.

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