Over the years we had several clients tell us they want to use the same instance of CRM throughout their organization, but (and this is a big but) they don’t want to share Account and Contact records with members of other departments. They would like to restrict access to “their” records in order to keep the details of their relationship with Accounts and Contacts private. In other words, maintain departmental privacy and avoid duplicate records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
In a typical organization, withholding valuable customer information from other Users is a questionable practice and contrary to basic principles of CRM. We advised clients on the relative advantages and disadvantages of this strategy. The conversation used to boil down to the following questions:
- "Are we going to duplicate records in CRM just because users want their very own instance of an Account or Contact?"
- "Are we going to require business groups to share the records within CRM as it’s intended to be used….being that it’s a collaborative tool and all?”
Having run into this conundrum so many times, we came up with a way to configure around this issue and make everyone happy.
We created a custom entity that can be linked to an Account or a Contact record allowing many different users or business groups to link themselves to just one Account or Contact. We choose an appropriate name for the entity based on the Organization’s nomenclature, such as “Internal LinkedIn” or “XXX Company Connection”(not to be confused with the inherent entity Connections).
Here’s what the entity looks like along with some sample data:
Some additional details:
- It can be linked to either an Account or Contact.
- It can be owned by a User or a Team.
- When it’s linked to a Contact, the Contact Quick View form displays and when it’s linked to an Account, the Account Quick View form displays.
- We’ve provided the Account relationship Type field on the form for the owning party to designate their relationship with that Account (if it’s an Account they are linking to). You could do the same for a Contact if there was a business need.
- Shared Notes are used for data that's OK to share among Users with access to the record.
- Personal Notes are only visible to the owning User or Team. We employ field security to allow parties to record secure notes about their relationship with the Account or Contact.
- Views can be created to easily see the Contacts who have an XXX Company Connections owned for that person’s User or Team owned records.
- This same filter can be used to sync those Contacts with an associated XXX Company Connection record to an individual’s Outlook Contacts.
In order to maintain the relationships and keep data in sync, we created a plugin that auto-creates a Company Connection record (owned by the original User or User’s Team) each time a new Account or Contact is created. The plugin also creates a Company Connection for a new owner if a Contact or Account is reassigned. This ensures the organization maintains the CRM relationships they need but provides a shortcut so Users don’t have to manually create the connection each time a new record is created or reassigned.
Luckily, Dynamics CRM provides such a flexible platform that we can work our way around seemingly thorny issues, providing the privacy the User wants. E-mail us if you want help employing this custom entity in your organization.
By Jessica Carsten, Applications Consultant with