Dynamics 365: How to Increase Team Collaboration and Keep System’s Health

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You open your email and find an alert from Dynamics 365: you’ve reached 80% of storage limit. In most cases, this is not because you have too many records but because you have a habit of storing files and attachments in your CRM.   

What would a person do in this case? Buy more storage or try to reduce the occupied space?  

Storing files in the cloud CRM leads to several issues with its functioning, which we will discuss in this post.  

Dynamics 365 collaboration


Why storing files and attachments in Dynamics 365 is a bad idea 

  1. Although Dynamics 365 provides an option to attach files, many employees abuse this function turning into data hogs, and the system is not optimized for that. The cloud CRM exists to manage customer relations and operate database records, and not store files. It simply has not been created for that.  

It should be no surprise that the huge database size eventually becomes a performance issue impacting the speed of interaction and user experience.   

Can one do anything about it? In the blog, we explain the steps for manual reduction of occupied space in Dynamics 365. However, this solution will not work for all. Normally up to 70% of the database space is occupied with various attachments. And you need a dedicated approach to that (we are discussing it below).  

  1. Another reason why files should not be kept in Dynamics 365 is security. Under data residency regulation, depending on the country where your business operates, your customers’ data may have to be stored on servers within the country borders. Cloud CRM providers try to meet this requirement. They install data centers in priority countries, but of course, they cannot cover all.  

Besides, since 25 May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation has been keeping organization alerted. What does GDPR mean for CRM? Most importantly, the ultimate responsibility for data of EU citizens and residents. Under the GDPR, you as a company are a data controller, and your cloud CRM system provider is a data processor. According to the Information Commissioner’s Office, controllers have more obligations under the GDPR than processors do, because they decide what personal data is collected and why, and exercise ultimate control over the information. Processors have fewer obligations and must be careful to only process personal data in line with the relevant controller’s instructions. Thus, having more control over customer data and documents is imperative nowadays.   

  1. Finally, storing documents and attachments in Dynamics 365 is risky due to a potential system crash and the need for backup. Cloud data can be lost for several reasons: someone may delete or overwrite it accidentally; you can lose access to it due to some malicious activity or because the subscription finishes. Although Dynamics 365 provides automatic regular backup, you may want to do it manually if some major actions took place. Having thousands of attached files can complicate the issue significantly. In addition, if you rely on a third-party solution to perform an automatic restoration or back-up, you may pay much more as some of them charge per GB restored.  

These reasons may have left you wondering where to store customer-related files, if not in the CRM. We have one solution for you which many organizations around the world use.   

Leveraging document management systems  

Like every other cloud CRM system, Dynamics 365 has been primarily designed to manage customer relations and not store documents. That is why the best-proven practice is forwarding them to a document management system. And if you are using Dynamics 365, it is only logical to combine it with SharePoint. Especially because Microsoft provides a free synchronization tool for that.   

Managing customer relations in Dynamics 365 and storing related documents in SharePoint has so many benefits that companies which apply this combination can’t imagine going back to using only the CRM. The benefits of the combo include:   

  • Much more functionality in managing customer-related documents and collaboration with other team members on the same documents  
  • Possibility to share documents with non-CRM users or externally (for example, for contract changes)   
  • Adding SharePoint specific options (document check out/check-in and version history; interface to support OneNote integration with CRM; syncing with Desktop Library and Outlook; integration with Microsoft Delve for advanced searching functionality through document library and documents).   

Microsoft SharePoint is not the only option for storing your CRM files: Azure File Storage and Azure Blob Storage can do the job as well.  

Can it be done automatically? 

Now that the issues of storing files in your cloud CRM and benefits of removing them are obvious, a valid question is: how do you transfer the attachments to those systems?  

Good news is, there are services which can transfer Dynamics CRM attachments automatically to the destination you appoint. Here is one example 

There are other similar solutions on the market, but if you value security, read the technical description carefully: not all products will work “seamlessly”, i.e. documents will first leave your system, go through the third party’s pipe, and then land in your document management system. Not all regulators will call it the proper data protection, and besides data leakage is theoretically possible. 

A good solution will transfer the files directly from the CRM to the DMS system, without detours, and preferably with encryption. 

Every application should do the job it was designed for, and it’s time to allow your CRM to perform at maximum capacity. 

Read more on Dynamics 365 to SharePoint integration here.


By Anastasia Mazur, Connecting Software, a producer of integration and synchronization solutions

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