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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 – Summary of What’s New

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 is around the corner and will be generally available in Q4 2013. For those interested in what is coming, this blog article serves as a summary of the highlights of what is new in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 – codenamed Orion. I will focus on the functional enhancements in this blog article, the architectural enhancements in a second blog, and then the licensing changes in a final blog article.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Functionality Enhancements:

  1. Mobile Device and Touch-Optimized Screens:

A new user interface that is touch-optimized for tablets and mobile devices, with ability to swipe through forms and stages. Icons and fields are tailored for entry on a mobile device. For example, when I’m on the customer Fourth Coffee below, I don’t have to have a left navigation bar with hyperlinks for forms but can pull down a menu item to see all the related items, such as activities with the customer, documents uploaded for the customer, sales opportunities and customer service cases. As you will notice in the screen shot below – these are large size touch-optimized buttons that are easy to work with as compared to most applications in the market, which need the accuracy of a sniper to work with your mobile device.

Mobile Device and Touch-Optimized Screens

  1. Business Rules:

Business Rules

Configurable business rules in Microsoft Dynamics allow you to set business rules which, based on certain conditions, can have actions tied to them. For example, you can automatically populate other fields including calculated fields. These business rules work on the web forms, tablet/mobile applications, and the new quick create forms. They can be applied to a single form or to all forms for an entity. These business rules are solution aware, so they can be made part of a CRM solution. The solution architecture itself has been improved, and I’ll talk about that later in the blog article. The business rules also support labels for localization, and there is full SDK support through the workflow API.

These business rules can have processes, and each process can have constraints or steps that need to be completed before you move to the next stage

As an example – the screen shots below show a demo of a Biking event. We want to set a rule that if the bike type is Mountain, then a Waiver is required and additional information is captured – e.g., date waiver signed, etc. So we set up a Waiver rule, and if the Bike Type Equals Mountain, then the Action is that Waiver is Required.  The screen below depicts that.

design view of the Event form

The screen above shows the design view of the Event form, which has the fields Bike Type (dropdown with values = Mountain and Road) and the Waiver Type. Also notice the Business Rules Explorer on the right hand side that shows all of the Business Rules setup.

Waiver Rule setup with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

Waiver Rule setup with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 with Condition where Bike Type is Mountain, then an action will be taken.

Auto Action on the Business Rule

Auto Action on the Business Rule. The action here is that the Waiver Required field will automatically become Yes and will be locked so it will not be editable.

  1. Image/Photo support:

All entities including contacts, leads, accounts can have images tied to them, as in the example of Jim Glynn shown below.

Image/Photo support

  1. Quick Create Forms:

These are essentially forms that allow you to do quick actions when on a form – e.g., you can be on a customer and create a contact from there quickly. Or you can be in the sales area and click on create and create a lead, opportunity, account, activity very quickly. These forms are especially helpful to be able to enter data very quickly, as these are tailored to take the least amount of data required. You can of course select the fields needed.

Quick Create Forms

For example, if I received a phone call from a prospect that saw us at a Charity event for a donation we made and I just want to capture some basic information, I can do that on the Campaign response Quick Create form shown below. The field you want to capture on the Quick Create form can be configured, and as you’ll notice the only mandatory fields here are the subject and the campaign. Others are optional fields. This is especially useful when you are on a phone call or have to jot down a quick note, so instead of reaching out for a pen or paper, you can reach out to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Quick Create Forms

  1. Real-time workflows:

Real-time workflows

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 introduces synchronous workflows which work on the same process framework – i.e., the same web designer as before. These work everywhere – i.e., web, mobile, or through the CRM SDK, allowing for the build once, use anywhere. These workflows are very powerful and are transaction aware. What does that mean? That means that all steps run within a single transaction. If something goes wrong there is full roll-back capability with the workflow.  In addition, these workflows support both pre- and post-pipeline stages. Simply stated, you can determine at what point the workflow kicks in – after or before an action happens.

Real-time workflows

In the workflow web designer screen, there are now options that allow you to specify the scope of the workflow – e.g., the organization or a business. Also, there is a Start When field which has a Before and After ‘Record is created’ or ‘Record is deleted.’ These workflows also have security enhancements in that these don’t need to now run under the security permissions of the owner of the workflow. You can have the option to run under the security privileges of the owner of the workflow, or the security privileges of the user who made changes to the record.  This helps significantly with security integrity and ensuring that the workflows’ security can be managed to the security permissions of the user that is triggering the workflow.

For example, in the screen shot here – the workflow I have is set to be run after the record changes and the scope to be the entire organization but to run with the security privilege of the user who changes the record.

To understand the power of the real-time workflow, here is an example in action. When a new lead is created and tied to an existing contact, the workflow will in real-time bring over the contact information for the lead and populate the lead screen. This would in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 have required that the record be saved to trigger a workflow and then the record be reopened to see the information (which defeats the purpose). Alternatively, this could have been achieved in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 with Java script, which requires programmer expertise. However, with the real-time workflow, no programming is requires as you can configure the workflow to run real-time immediately after the action is taken.

Step 1: Lead information is entered.

Lead information

Step 2: Real time workflow in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 fills in details of the existing contact and account that is linked to the lead.

Real time workflow in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

  1. Native Mobile Apps:

At the beginning of the blog, I talked about a mobile-optimized UI. This will allow you to use Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 from any tablet or phone device, including an Android, iOS or Windows mobile device. However, in addition to that, there are two apps for the Windows Surface devices and the iPad that will provide native apps for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013. As I understand, the plan is for these to be available at no additional cost if you have a user license.

Overall, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 brings significant functional enhancements to the already powerful platform. If you are interested in evaluating Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 for your organization, please do not hesitate to write to us as crm@ignify.com. Watch out for our next blog on technical and architectural improvements in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013.

Disclaimer: This information is based on the beta version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 so things may change, though it is unlikely that any functionality listed above will not be in the final release. However, this is not an authoritative guide of what is new since the GA is not yet out. This article is based on personal research and does not reflect Microsoft or Ignify’s opinion.

Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRM, eCommerce and ERP, software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has won the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2013, 2012 and 2011. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 7 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine from 2007 to 2013.

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