Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 – 4 New Features you Need to Know about

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Microsoft has been teasing us with the new release of Dynamics CRM 2013 and what all it entails.  I have compiled a brief listing of some of the items that have changed and how it could impact your organization.

The first significant change is the interface.  The view that your end users have finally grown accustomed to will be changing to be a simpler, friendlier dynamic look.  However, due to some major changes if the interface change is not addressed with end users you could run into significant decrease in user adoption and data collection.  The interface has evolved and no longer contains the left navigation but was replaced with a thin ribbon at the top of the screen.  This new design opens up real estate on the form for users and follows other Microsoft products with their dynamic ribbons.  Additionally they have modified the Flow UI so that it is cleaner, has fewer pop ups, and has a visual process guidance.  What this means is that it is more simplified and contains the pertinent data points right up front where you can easily see and modify them.  While between the changes to the interface and the UI seem significantly different, they do follow other Microsoft 2010 products so the adoption should be fairly quick and streamlined especially as the remaining layout is relatively unchanged.  For those of you that are apprehensive about this new interface design, Dynamics CRM will allow you to keep the “classic” style forms.  There is some flexibility with these forms that allow you to have some display as a “classic” while others display in the new design.

Besides being able to utilize workflows and dialogues, the addition of two new process types help promote efficient management and utilization of your CRM.  The addition of Business Process Flow is the tool that powers the top portion of the Flow UI.  It enables you to define the stages being utilized by your staff for each entity type, as well as define the data collection rules that appear under the list of stages.  Since we all know that we have multiple business processes, you are able to define as many as you need for each form.  We also now get to work with Custom Operations.  The function of this new process type is to be used for “real time” workflows, meaning it runs as soon as the trigger happens.  We no longer need to wait to save the record to start the workflow; instead it can happen while your end user continues to update the record.

We also have the implementation of Business Rules.  This new area of configuration is the ability to apply business rules to an entity.  This is a key development for those of us that are not developers.  In the past we relied on developers for our JavaScript but with the business rules engine, which is a new part of each entity, non-developers are able to apply business rules without having to do the code associated with it.  Along with the simplified ability to add business rules, they implemented Quick Forms.  This allows end users to quickly create a new record without leaving the record you are currently on.  They also included the ability to have a field type called image.  Each record in Dynamics CRM can have its own image or multiple images per a record.

One new functionality receiving mixed reviews is removal of the save button.  End users no longer need to click on save as the system will automatically save change as they are made.  For some this is a positive while for others they like the ability to cancel the changes that they were making to their data.  A negative of this functionality is that with the removal of save, we lose the ability to run duplicate detection.  This is a significant drawback as duplicate detection is a key functionality utilized to maintain and sustain clean data.  Microsoft has realized the importance of this functionality and their developers are working to be able to potentially add it to a later release.  One workaround to be able to use it is if you are using service (surface) interface and asking for it in the SDK for it to run.  This obviously will take additional investigation and blogging by developers and users.

Overall there are quite a few changes with this Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 release.  It has been a release that has brought apprehension and concern as well as improvements that are directly reflecting an awareness of increasing end user adoption.  These changes will significantly change the end users experience and is geared towards streamlining their interaction with the software and maintaining quick and easy data collection.  This new release will require changes and modifications to the system but those with an eye for process improvement will quickly adapt to the 2013 release simply because it allows an independence for the end user regardless of the role they fulfill within their organization.

For more tips and CRM related information please visit the blog on our website.

OTT, Inc., is a Microsoft Dynamics Gold Certified Partner and member of Microsoft Dynamics President’s Club for 2012 and Accounting Today’s Top Var 100 list for 2012.

By Brandi Bozek, CRM Consultant with OTT, Inc., St. Paul, Minnesota. Leading Microsoft Dynamics ERP & CRM partner.



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