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Dynamics CRM & Office 365 – Better Together

I had the opportunity to present and moderate panel discussions at the Hitachi Solutions Customer Conference two weeks ago in Greenville, SC (Side note: you can hear me talk about this session and hear other great interviews on the CRM Audio Podcast). For one such session I teamed up with CRM MVP Joel Lindstrom to discuss CRM & Office 365 and some of the advancements from both the administrator and end user perspective. Considering that this was the last session on the last day of the conference, we knew that we had to bring our A-game to make sure we kept the audience engaged—and based on the session attendance and engagement throughout things were on target.

Fortunately, the business case for using these products together has become stronger and stronger (and with what we’re seeing in the CRM 2016 announcement, this will only continue to be the case). After we shared a client story, Joel dove right into the administrative side of CRM in Office 365. Specifically, he keyed in on the Administration Console. Compared to the somewhat disconnected experience this was only a few years ago, CRM administration now fully integrated with the Office 365 admin experience.

Office 365 Admin Console
Office 365 Admin Console

This led into a discussion around sandbox management. The ease with which sandbox CRM organizations can be copied is even easier now than doing the traditional backup/restore procedure that on-premises customers are familiar with. Add to that the newer feature of the “minimal” copy, which includes all of the configuration of the source organization, but doesn’t bring along the data. Thus saving on space requirements when doing dev/test/training.

Joel concluded the admin portion and I launched into the end user experience and some of the advancements we’ve seen over the last handful of Dynamics CRM releases.

CRM record with OneNote sections included
CRM record with OneNote sections included

First I dropped into a live demonstration of Immersive Excel, which readers of the Hitachi Solutions blog will know that it’s a favorite topic for me. The example we ran through was using formulas when doing batch updates to records. After a brief demonstration, we discussed some best practices around preparing to roll this functionality out to end users.

Next, we moved on to using OneNote inside of CRM. The example we used was capturing some notes during a brainstorming session, then grabbing a few photos of the whiteboard on an iPad and dropping them into the notebook using the OneNote app. We then pulled up the notes inside of the Account record in CRM and made some additional modifications.