For many of you, the extent of integration between Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Dynamics CRM ends with the “Track in CRM” feature. This is serviceable to a point for tracking your CRM tasks in Outlook, but Dynamics CRM 2011 is adding a host of new features that will make navigating your CRM tasks and records much easier and more efficient.
1) Track email in CRM
The first major change comes with the screen you probably look at first thing in the morning – the “Outlook Inbox”. For all the e-mails you decide to track in your Inbox, Dynamics CRM 2011 will automatically pull and display contextual information about those e-mails. You’ll be able to see related records for all the contacts involved in CRM inside the reading pane. Organizing these records by type makes them very easy to read and organize, and all you have to do is click on any of the records to bring up the related CRM forms. Even better, if a related contact isn’t yet in your CRM database, it will show up in red, indicating that it needs a profile. All you have to do then is click on the name and you can create a record right then and there.
2) Automatically create CRM contacts/leads/accounts
Sounds easy enough, but if you correspond with lots of customers, even creating records directly from Outlook may be cumbersome. Thankfully, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 can even save you the trouble of clicking. Dynamics CRM 2011 can automatically create contacts or leads for contacts on an e-mail any time you track it (if they don’t already exist, of course). Better yet, the options for tracking and record creation can be managed through Outlook from the “Options” menu.
The increased functionality in the Inbox isn’t just related to records and contacts either. While reading an e-mail, you can convert the entire mail into a case or opportunity, or even add connections to new products – all right from the inbox. Of course, the inbox isn’t the only Outlook feature receiving some Dynamics CRM 2011 love.
3) Automatically create CRM opportunities and cases
Composing e-mails through Outlook with Dynamics CRM 2011 will combine all the powerful text-editing of Outlook and the flexible functionality of CRM. Now you’ll be able to access web resources, KB articles, e-mail templates, and CRM custom fields all though Outlook. Drop-down menus along the top of the editing window efficiently offer any CRM data you want to include in your e-mail, and a handy “Most Recently Used” list will gather the items you select most often.
4) Edit CRM fields from Outlook
But say you’re including some CRM data in your e-mail and you notice an inconsistency or an error? You’ll even be able to edit CRM fields directly from Outlook for last-minute corrections and fine tuning. If your computer gives up the ghost when you try to run more than two applications at once, this will be a godsend.
In addition, there are a few more notable features. When you customize fields through your CRM e-mail, those fields automatically appear on the fields page. More than that, the CRM fields page can also be used when setting up appointments, and you can even track recurring appointments. All that – and this is even a high level overview of the functionality coming with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. Microsoft has yet to announce how or if this functionality will be included with the Outlook package in the recently-announced cloud-based Microsoft Office 365, but we’ll definitely be keeping an ear out for that.
By CRM Software Blog Editors, Find a local Microsoft Dynamics CRM expert