We have been implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for a few months now and I am excited with many of the new features that have been added to the system. While several of these new features were consistently requested by customers in CRM 4.0 deployments, they could be only be delivered through custom development or with serious customization in CRM 4.0. In 2011, they have been included as end-user manageable options. Here are a few of my favorites:
Ability to manage releases!
Now we can allow our clients to make changes and not have to worry about wrecking their stuff! We want our clients to be independent and have the ability to do many of the customizations on their own. From time to time we are called upon to do more of the “heavy lifting” or difficult customizations. If these changes were to take any time we were required to manage our development environments to ensure that any changes our clients made to their environments were duplicated in ours. This created some steep challenges in past engagements.
Adding items to the queues besides cases
There was a way to do this in 4.0 using custom views and adding filter attributes to the lists. It was, however, never a real queue. Dynamics CRM 2011 supports this out of the box.
Assigning records to teams
This feature was asked for by most of our clients, and was only manageable using some serious sleight of hand. In 2011, this is included by default.
Adding related items grids to forms
This used to be a customization, now it’s a configuration.
We previously needed to have our reporting expert build dashboards for us. SSRS was used to develop custom reports that were then imported into CRM and displayed through an iFrame. Now, it’s entirely wizard-based, providing business users with the ability to create their own dashboards, and giving them the power to choose the information they want to see.
With CRM 4.0 the only way to create a lookup field was to create an entity, create a relationship, define the label options for the primary and secondary entity and then to add that lookup to the form. This has been simplified with the introduction of lookup fields. You no longer need to define a relationship between the two entities! It makes this functionality much, much easier to implement.
Moving the text labels ABOVE the text box
This seems, at first, like a very minor detail. The ability to modify the display options of a form has long been one of the limitations of CRM. The new layout options allow customizers a variety of options when designing forms, a welcome change.
A Change for the better
CRM 2011 represents a big step forward in the way we work with this product. These new features allow us to deliver better systems faster, while providing our users with more control over the end product. If you have any questions about CRM or how its new features can benefit your organization, contact us to find out more.