CRM 2011 – Making New Connections

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There is a new feature in CRM 2011 called Connections.  Connections allow you to be creative when linking records based on your business needs.

In CRM 4.0, the concept of Relationships is available, allowing links between Accounts, Contacts, and Opportunities to be created and tracked.  With this limited set of entities, it wasn’t intuitive on how to create or utilize them to designate a relationship.

In CRM 2011, the Connection functionality provides a lot more flexibility than Relationships for the following reasons:

  • the Connection form is very simple to use
  • Connections can be made to any entity within CRM
  • Connection Roles can also be created, allowing you to further describe the relationship to your advantage

Relationships are still available in CRM 2011.  Those  upgrading from CRM 4.0 to CRM 2011 will still have their Relationships.  But, based on the flexibility described above, we recommend using Connections to link records together, during our project consulting

How does this apply to your everyday business needs?  Let’s say you are working to close a large opportunity with a new customer within the next 45 days.  When you pull up the Account record, you see 15 contacts – people you’ve met through a series of proposal meetings while vetting this project.  Which contact is the most important for this Opportunity?  With Connections, you can designate a Contact with an Opportunity and further provide descriptions like Decision Maker, or Influencer, to further your cause.   Having a place to now track this information rather than commit it to memory or write it in your notes is powerful.

Another example might be when responding to a customer incident.  Knowing if the person is a technical person, a marketing specialist, or a product manager might help you understand how to troubleshoot better.  In this case, you can create a Connection between the new Case and the Contact, indicating that detail.

Creating Connections is easy.  From any open entity, click Connect from the Ribbon (You can either Connect to yourself or another record within CRM):

This will bring up the Connect form.  You pick the entity you want to Connect to and then pick the appropriate role.

 

You can see all the Connections on that record by clicking on the Connections link in the left hand Related window on the record.  Also, CRM incorporated the Connections into a default Contact view called:  Contacts: Influenced Deals That We Won.  You can copy this logic and create other customized views that use Connections to filter the data.

 

By Ledgeview Partners – Wisconsin Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner

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