Optimize Address Book Performance in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Outlook

One sometimes overlooked part of the CRM for Outlook integration is the address book integration—the functionality that allows you to search for CRM contacts from the “To” field of your email, or to find a CRM contact’s email or phone number from the “Find Contacts” box in Outlook.

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Some users confuse the address book integration with the CRM Contacts synchronization, and while they are related, they are two distinct parts of the integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Outlook.

The unique thing about the address book synchronization is that it allows you to see  not only contacts, but also accounts and leads from within Outlook, and makes it as easy to select someone from CRM as a recipient for your emails or an attendee for an appointment as it is to select someone from your company address book—just search for them, like you would someone in your company or personal address book.

To get the most out of the Address Book synchronization, there are a few settings that you should check:

1.  Select which records are synchronized

By default, only contacts synchronized with Outlook or records like accounts that are owned by the user are synchronized to their address book.  This works great if you are in an organization where you own all of the contact records that you ever want to email; however, if your organization has users who access and interact with contacts and companies owned by another user, you will want to adjust the address book settings in CRM for Outlook.

Open the CRM Outlook settings and go to the Address book tab. 

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If you want all contacts to be available from the address book in Outlook, change the settings to “Match all contacts in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.”  If you want other types of records owned by other users to synchronize with the address book, change the other record types setting to “Match all items in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.”

2.  Select which entities are synchronized

Besides contacts, the CRM 2011 address book also matches against queues, accounts, leads, users, and facilities/equipment.  If you find that your address book search is slow, returns types of records you don’t want returned, or you have many records in your database, reducing the entities that are matched will improve your address book search performance. 

In the CRM client Address Book settings, double click on the “Change the record types synchronized” field and select the entities that you want to synchronize with the address book.  In my case, I’ve only selected account and user.  Remember that this is the entities OTHER THAN contacts that will be synchronized.

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3.  Optimize the search order

You may notice that searching for CRM records from the address book may take longer than searching for internal contacts.  This is because, by default, Outlook searches the global address book first, then other address books (including the CRM address book).

To modify the search order, click the Address Book link in the upper right hand corner of Outlook.

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Then from the Address Book window, click "Tools” then “Options

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If you send most e-mails to internal recipients, the default setting is probably best; however, if you frequently email external contacts in CRM, you can change the search order so that addresses are resolved against the CRM address books first, before using the global address list.

From the Addressing options window, select “Custom,” then you can arrange your address book in the order in which you want the address books to be searched.

In this example, I’ve changed my address book search order to first look for users and accounts in CRM, then contacts, and then the global address book.

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Post by: Joel Lindstrom, Customer Effective

2 thoughts on “Optimize Address Book Performance in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Outlook”

  1. Thank you very much for the excellent article. We are using the Address Book Synchronization betwen CRM 2011 and Outlook 2007. We are quite happy so far, with maybe the exception that the Address Book includes the active and incative CRM contacts. We would prefer to limit the Address Book synchronization to active contacts. Woudl this be possible?
    Thank you

    Alain L.

  2. Hello,

    Through testing we have identified significant performance impacts using "match all contacts in Microsoft Dynamics CRM" option in the ABP settings. The organization has ~400K Contact records, and we are seeing the Outlook client consume significant resources when we launch the Address Book from Outlook (>60% for ~10 minutes) but then the usage drops off afterwards. We've tried to address this issue by increasing the RAM, but have not been successful thus far.

    The issue is resolved by changing ABP settings to "Match only against Contacts Synchronized with Outlook CRM", since it results in none of the Contacts being added to the Address Book.

    I am working in an implementation with an open security model which allows virtually all users access to all Contact records, but does not allow them to synch Contact records to their Outlook client using filters (security restriction).

    I assume that others have encountered this problem in the past and that Dynamics-Outlook Address Book synch was designed to handle 400K Contact records. Is this a gap in the Dynamics design or is there a simple solution?

    Many Thanks,
    D

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