October 14, 2009
Make Microsoft Dynamics CRM Workflow More Useful
I now have a new favorite Microsoft CRM Accelerator: Business Productivity Workflow Tools accelerator.
In case you aren’t aware of the CRM accelerator program, these are a series of add-ons for Microsoft Dynamics CRM that showcase how CRM can be configured and extended. Some of the accelerators, such as the Extended Sales Forecasting Accelerator, are more conceptual prototype examples of how you could configure your CRM system, but need to be tweaked and adapted to work in your real world CRM environment. Everybody forecasts their sales a bit differently. Other Accelerators, such as the notifications accelerator, are add-ons that add functionality that can be deployed in a real-world environment.
I had overlooked the Business Productivity workflow accelerator when it was originally released, but I finally gave it a try earlier this week. It rocks. It definitely falls into the latter category of add-ons that just about anybody could use as is in their real world environment.
The Business Productivity Workflow Tools accelerator is a group of workflow extensions that make CRM workflow significantly more useful. The following extensions are included:
- Math functions—add, subtract, multiply, divide, or find remainder based on calculations of CRM record values. It adds a calculator step that you can use to calculate/aggregate values, and the calculated value can then be called multiple times in subsequent steps.
- String functions—concatenate values from the record into a string, which can be called multiple times in subsequent steps.
- GUID functions—retrieve the GUID of the record.
- URL functions—this is what had me saying “wow.” This allows you to build a URL to the CRM record that triggers the workflow, which you can include in a workflow generated email notification. Without this functionality, CRM e-mail notifications tend to be a dead end. For example, say you have a workflow that notifies a sales rep when a new account has been added to her sales territory—out of the box you can get an email notification with details of the account, but not a link to the account. The URL can specify a friendly text for the URL, such as “click here to view the account.”
Other URL functions include a generic URL, which can incorporate multiple parameters from the CRM record. This is useful when linking to an external system and passing parameters, or linking to a SSRS report. You can also create mailto hyperlinks, which open a new email message to a recipient (click here to send us feedback).
Now to be fair, all of this stuff was already possible in CRM 4.0 using SDK coding and plug-ins. The real power of this accelerator is it makes this functionality accessible to less technical users who can use these functions against whatever entities that they wish, including custom entities.
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