In-line Editable Grids for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

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Save time and reduce clicks

For those unfamiliar with editable grids in CRM systems, the concept is similar to Microsoft Excel. Microsoft Excel allows users to create rows, columns and manipulate data fields. Like Excel, editable grids in Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a single screen tool that allows users to add, edit, and delete single or multiple CRM field entities in grid format.

There are a number of benefits to using editable grid functionality in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

  1. Quick access to data. One of the knocks on Microsoft Dynamics CRM is that it takes multiple clicks to get to data. The editable grid functionality eliminates opening multiple windows thus reducing clicks and greatly improving user productivity.
  2. Easy user adoption. Like I had mentioned earlier, experienced Excel users should have a good understanding of how to use this functionality in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
  3. Supports all fields in CRM and third-party applications. Editable grids can be applied to any entity and any type of field (dates, memo fields, currency, pick list, Boolean, entity lookup…). Use editable grids in CRM Accounts/Contacts screen, or third-party enhancement (add-on) solutions like Pipeline Manager, Time and Billing, Forecasting, etc.
  4. New records can be added to the grid in-line, and are sensitive to the current filter. When changing a field, the next drop-down (or other field type) in the chain is updated. Let’s say that you’ve filtered a task grid to show items with a due date of November 30, 2012. A newly created row will automatically populate November 30, 2012 in the due date field.  This saves the user the trouble of opening the full form, and makes entering the data even easier.
  5. Easy indicators for changed data. Color-coded indicators appear on the left side of row(s) where data has been modified. A red bar appears when changed data in that row has yet to be saved. A green bar appears when changes to that row have been saved since the last refresh.

Now that we have defined editable grids and covered its benefits, let’s talk deployment. Because this feature/functionality does not come out-of-the-box with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, customers turn to widgets or write custom code themselves. The most popular option is a toolkit to build editable grid screens in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Axonom offers a toolkit to build editable grids through its Application Builder product. Actually, the Powertrak Application Builder is more than a toolkit; it builds entire CRM applications with screens, business rules, lists, menus and process-driven workflow. All CRM application functions are table-driven and built in an administrative console so non-programmers can maintain the pieces that change the most.

Customers should not look at editable grids as an added feature. Step back and look at your system as a whole. Build your entire CRM and add-on applications on the same foundation. This will provide a safe path for scalability, integration, and in turn, a highly functional enterprise solution.

by Axonom, ISV Partner

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