Synchronizing Your Email System with Microsoft Dynamics CRM: A Comparison of 3 Approaches

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If you have Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you are probably charged with synchronizing it with your email system. Microsoft offers three approaches, so how do you decide which is the best for your organization? To help with the decision, following is a comparison of each approach. To begin, we will explain each approach.

An explanation of the 3 approaches to synchronizing email with Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Server-Side Synchronization - This method is used to set up email processing, connecting one or more Exchange servers or POP3 servers for incoming email and one or more SMTP or Exchange servers for outgoing email to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This method allows you to centrally manage profiles and mailboxes, track email processing errors, and configure email for users and queues, as well as synchronizing appointments, contacts, and tasks between Outlook and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Email Router – This application creates an interface between Dynamics CRM On-Premises or CRM Online and a supported Microsoft Exchange Server, SMTP, or POP3-compliant email server. The configured router transfers email messages to CRM and sends outgoing messages created by users, workflows, or custom applications within CRM. It can also serve as an interface between Dynamics CRM and one or more Exchange or POP3 servers for incoming email and one or more SMTP or Exchange servers for outgoing email.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook – Also called the Outlook Client, this application enables access to the same data through Microsoft Outlook as through the Dynamics CRM Web client. It is ideal for users needing access to CRM data while using Outlook, integrating Outlook with Dynamics CRM. It provides full CRM functionality and data, as well as additional features and functions. It is popular because it eliminates the steps of navigating and logging into a program to access your CRM data. It also allows users to add contacts and activities by tracking them to CRM, saving time by eliminating the need to re-type the data into a new record in CRM. The Outlook Client also allows users to attach CRM collateral to emails sent through Outlook and offers offline capabilities.

A side-by-side comparison of the approaches to synchronizing email with Microsoft Dynamics CRM

The following table offers a side-by-side comparison of the three approaches:

Comparing 3 Ways to Synchronize Microsoft Dynamics CRM with Email Systems

As shown in the table, each approach is full-featured, providing support for POP3 and SMTP email servers, the ability to synchronize records between Exchange Online and Dynamics CRM Online, and more. However, the differences need to be considered when you are deciding on the approach that best suits your organization.

Additional notes on email/Microsoft Dynamics CRM synchronization


  • Server Side Synchronization can be used with Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook can still be used to manually track records (using the Track button or the Set Regarding button) even if synchronization is being handled through Server Side Synchronization. According to Microsoft, using Server Side Synchronization with Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook can improve the performance of CRM for Outlook.
  • At this time, neither Server Side Synchronization nor the Email Router supports internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) email.
  • Because Server Side Synchronization uses asynchronous services for mailbox synchronization, scaling up Async server might be required for optimal performance.
  • It is Microsoft’s recommendation to use Server Side Synchronization for integrating email systems with CRM.
  • Appointments, contacts, and tasks cannot be synchronized with POP3 email servers.

Microsoft has released the Dynamics CRM App for Outlook. This app differs from the Outlook client; it is lightweight and lets users track email and look at CRM data from anywhere. Read more in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Help & Training.

Need more information or help deciding on the best method for your organization? AKA can help. Contact our CRM experts today.

by AKA Enterprise Solutions

2 thoughts on “Synchronizing Your Email System with Microsoft Dynamics CRM: A Comparison of 3 Approaches”

  1. I tried to do following setup in trial 2016 environment:
    1. Enabled mailbox for Global Admin user.
    2. All 3 options (Incoming Msg, Outgoing Msg and Appointment/Task/Contact Synch) under Mailbox were set to Server Side Synchronization.
    4. Test and Enabled mailbox: result was success.
    5. Sent a mail from gmail to this global admin. This mail was received in O365 Mailbox.
    However this mail was not present in CRM under the contact (whose mail was set to gmail id from which mail was sent) or activity.
    I am able to send the mail from CRM to external domains but reverse is not happening.
    Could you please help?

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