Dynamics CRM: Should You Use Business Process Flows?

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I recently was asked a question by someone upgrading from CRM 2011 to CRM 2015 who wanted to know if they should implement business process flow or keep using the legacy sales stage field.

The majority of our CRM 2013 and 2015 deployments use business process flows for process driven entities like opportunities and cases. The reason they do is because it designs the form around the process, and gives users a map for what they need to do. Think of it as the map in TurboTax or the indicator on your LinkedIn page that shows you how complete it is. Without it, users are left on their own to figure out how to work a record. In some cases that's not a bad thing though. If you have all senior people who are experts at their roles, frequently they can very quickly find what they need to do on the form. However, I think the map analogy works really well as business process flow is a map to users to show them what they need to be doing next, and an indicator of how we got here, so management can visually see where we are in the process and what steps have been done.
But you have to use them correctly. The following is a blog post that I wrote detailing some of our lessons learned and best practices: http://blog.customereffective.com/blog/2014/06/microsoft-dynamics-crm-business-process-flow-lessons-learned.html
One of the most powerful features of the business process flow is the ability to connect separate entities via process flow, allowing users to seamlessly move between stops as if it was all part of one entity. For example, say a property management company had a process started with an application and then went to a lease. You could have a process flow that connects the application with its related lease, so you can see how far someone has come in the application to lease process. Here's another post where I documented the lessons learned about multi-entity process flows: http://blog.customereffective.com/blog/2014/08/dynamics-crm-cross-entity-business-process-flow.html
So the point I would make is that process flows are not just for sales opportunities. They're great for any type of record or process that has defined start and end. Some of our clients who started with CRM 2013 chose not to use process flows due to some limitations around what kind of conditional logic you could use with them, for example if you had multiple groups with different processes. Many of these clients are now reevaluating process flows, because the 2015 version introduced conditional branching, so we have much more flexibility now to handle complex processes. See https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn887193.aspx.
Of course, even if you choose not to use business process flows, CRM can still be configured in the user friendly way that meets your processes. Business process flows are only a visualization of the process, they're not "the process."
By Hitachi Solutions
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