Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011: Top Features to Be Excited About

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Microsoft recently released Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 to the world as the next iteration of their popular Dynamics CRM application. For users of CRM 4.0, there are a number of enhancements and improvements to the application, many targeted at end users. The top few features to get excited about, and possibly encourage organizations to upgrade soon, are listed here.

1. Real-time Dashboards and Charts One of the biggest gaps in CRM 4.0 was the lack of dashboards and easy, graphical reporting. This gap is now filled with CRM 2011. End users can quickly and easily define their own graphical charts, and embed these charts within personalized dashboards. Then users can set that personal dashboard as their default homepage using…
2. Personal Default Views A common request for CRM users has always been the ability to have a default view that is different by user or department. For example, sales managers might want to see all active accounts when clicking on Accounts, but sales staff might want to default to their “my active accounts” view. Previously, this was a system setting and changing it affected all users. With CRM 2011, however, users have the power to select any view (system, personal) as their default when accessing a given area.
3. Ribbon User Interface As with many other Microsoft products, the Ribbon UI has found its way into CRM 2011. While some have differing opinions on the benefits of the Ribbon, with CRM it offers many additional features over the old toolbars. For example, you are now able to qualify a lead or resolve a case from the list view, without having to open the record. You can also add activities to a record, without opening it up, in the same fashion.
4. Faster Access to Customization In CRM 4.0, if you needed to customize a form, you had to head into Settings, click on Customizations, Customize Entities, find the entity, open it up… and so on. One of the features of the Ribbon on any given form is a Customization tab, which allows users with appropriate access to directly open the form customization window without having to go through all of the above. Additionally, the form customization window is now drag-and-drop, so you can shuffle fields around without using the green directional arrows.
5. Re-Import from Excel CRM has always been great about allowing users to export data into Excel, but sometimes users want to be able to make changes to that data and then update the CRM records it came from. Previously, you needed extra tools to perform this function, but with CRM 2011, users can check a box while doing the export to include information to allow re-import. Then when the data is changed in the spreadsheet, it can still be imported back into CRM to update the source data. This is especially useful for working with outside vendors, where you want any updated data back into your CRM.
6. Team Ownership This feature is exciting for any organization that has thought in the past “I have these records that don’t really belong to any one user, but I still need to control access through security.” With all previous versions of CRM, a record had to be owned by a specific user, or the organization as a whole. Introduced in CRM 2011 is the ability to have a team own a record instead of a user. This means you can assign a case to the Customer Service team, or to a specific user, as needed.
7. SharePoint Document Library Integration While this was possible in CRM 4.0 with some javascript, now CRM 2011 provides a native integration with SharePoint document libraries for document management. CRM will automatically provision for new records and integrates the library directly onto the record for ease of use. Now it is easier than ever to take advantage of SharePoint’s document management features from within CRM.
8. And many more! This list focuses primarily on improvements for end users, but there are a number of improvements and enhancements for system administrators and customizers as well.

Learn more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.

By OTT, Inc., a Minnesota Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner

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