Customer Effective Extends Basic SharePoint + Microsoft Dynamics CRM Integration

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Dynamics CRM has an out of the box integration with SharePoint and many of our customers leverage this feature for their document management. It allows you to link documents stored in SharePoint to a CRM record, as well as add documents to SharePoint through CRM, which can be very useful for users who are used to CRM but not exactly comfortable in SharePoint.

Because this integration is so relevant and useful, we often get requests for additional features to capitalize on the integration including customized search capabilities and additional ways to attach documents. Here I am going to show two of these features that we built for our customers to improve their SharePoint to CRM integration experience.

Attaching documents from an attachment in an email:

Our customers wanted the capability for email attachments from an email that was tracked for an account or contract to automatically move to the SharePoint location associated with the account or contract record.

We created a custom email attachment file entity to trigger that a new attachment had arrived.  We used plugins to create a new email attachment file record when an email arrived in CRM that met the criteria.  We then created a timer job in SharePoint to periodically poll the email attachment file record set to see if any files needed to be processed.  If there were new files to be copied, the timer job would copy the file to the appropriate location in SharePoint.  This gave us flexibility that if one system was down, it didn’t disrupt the file transfer procedure.

This option would be available in any of the CRM deployments, but requires an On-Premise SharePoint deployment.

The custom Search:

Our customers also wanted to access CRM records from SharePoint Enterprise Search.  This would provide them with the ability to see accounts, contracts, and contacts when doing a search from a SharePoint Search Center. Out of the box, this capability is not already built, but the tools are there. We created a custom Business Connectivity Services Data Model that allowed us to pull over all the data we needed to meet the custom search requirements.

Business Connectivity Services (BCS) is a component that comes with SharePoint Foundation beginning in SharePoint 2010.  It provides businesses with a way to pull data from systems that are external to SharePoint and display them in a similar way to SharePoint data.

Once we created this custom BCS Data Model, we were able to setup a search crawl in SharePoint Enterprise Search to pull the CRM data into SharePoint search results.  We then modified the SharePoint search result’s XSLT to display the CRM data in a useful form with clickable links to open up the CRM objects.  We also wanted to mimic the CRM Security for the CRM records being crawled.  We were able to achieve this using some advanced features from BCS.  The custom search solution that we completed required both CRM and SharePoint to be On-Premise deployments.

Advanced customizations like these can greatly enhance the user experience and productivity by optimizing already useful Sharepoint and CRM integration features.

by Customer Effective

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