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Microsoft Dynamics CRM vs. SalesForce.com Comparison: Outlook Integration

Why exactly do businesses spend money on CRM technology? To increase productivity at a lower cost, right? So if you use and are comfortable with Microsoft Outlook, then you will want your CRM system to integrate seamlessly with this existing tool, or at least not get in the way. Well, Dynamics CRM and Outlook come from the same home town, Microsoft. One would assume then that these products integrate seamlessly and compliment each other, and one would be correct. Microsoft has capitalized on its existing technologies when creating new technologies and this native integration works beautifully. The same can not be said of other CRM solutions such as SalesForce.com. Most other CRM solutions will put a check mark next to Outlook integration, but what does that really look like especially compared to dynamics? This blog will explore how the two systems, Salesforce.com and
dynamics CRM integrate and interact with Outlook specifically around attaching emails.

 

Email to Salesforce

Below is a view of the two Salesforce buttons that can be added (based on defined, user options) to the Home ribbon in Outlook:

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These buttons are “Add Emails” and “Create Cases”. For this blog we aregoing to focus on the “add emails” button which is used to attach Outlook Emails to records in Salesforce.com.

To use this button the user simply has to select one or more emails from an Outlook email folder, like your Inbox, then click on the Add Emails button.  This will send an email from your account to Salesforce.com, and then copy the email and it’s attachments to the Salesforce.com record that matches the sender’s email address.

So exactly how is it copied and attached?

When Salesforce.com receives the email, it creates a “task”, the “task” is then
attached to the corresponding record… seems pretty straight forward right?

Well this process works if you are attempting to attach to a contact, lead, or opportunity where an identifiable email address can be leveraged to associate it to one of the mentioned records.

*If the address is not resolved a task will still be created and put in an “unresolved”
area for you to manage manually later (But didn’t you just click the button to
attach it?)*

So what if you would like to attach to a record other than lead, contact, or opportunity? I personally attach emails to tasks quite often. Why? Often times emails contain attachments that I want to reference when I go to complete those tasks (requirements documents, reference material and so on).

According to Salesforce.com If you want to attach to any other record then you have to follow these 6 simple instructions. FYI:  It requires a 3rd party email account. Easy right?

1. Compose an email from a third-party email account that you designated in My Acceptable Email Addresses on the My Email to Salesforce setup page.

2. In Salesforce, locate the record ID of the record with which you want the email associated. The record ID is the 15-digit, case-sensitive, alphanumeric code that displays at the end of the URL
for a record. For example, if you view the detail page of a campaign record,
the URL will look similar to this: https://na1.salesforce.com/701D0000000HQZy;
the record ID for this record is 701D0000000HQZy.

3. In the subject line or body of the email, type ref: followed by the record ID. For example: ref:
701D0000000HQZy.

4. Enter your Email to Salesforce
address in the To, CC, or BCC fields of your email.

5. Optionally enter additional
recipients in the To, CC, or BCC fields.

6. Send the email.

All of that being said, you could still be out of luck: “If your organization has a validation rule that requires a type when creating a new task, adding emails through the Salesforce for Outlook Side Panel fails”. Currently there is no workaround for this issue aside from removing the validation rule. http://success.salesforce.com/issues_view?id=a1p30000000SU8NAAW

So after all of that, the integration still might fail… or you could use Dynamics…

Dynamics CRM:

The comparison is almost unfair but we will briefly review the clean and truly seamless integration of Outlook and Dynamics. Dynamics CRM contains two buttons as well that facilitate linking an email to your CRM. They are “Track” and “Set Regarding”

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So how do they work?

If you select a record and hit the “Track” button an email record is created in CRM (clever huh?). It is associated only to the recipients of the email as well as the senders, be they users or contacts. (These activities also rollup to their parent records as well by default). CRM also attempts to resolve against the user or contact email addresses (At the very least it will attach the email to the recipient or user).

It also lets the user leverage a “Convert to” option which is similar to the “Create Cases” button for Salesforce which I will cover in my next blog.

Set Regarding “tracks” against contacts and users as well as attaching to other records of your choice. When you choose the email records you want and select “Set Regarding”, this will create an email record in CRM and attach the email record to the specified record. A little icon will display on the email line item as well as a text box at the bottom of the email itself to let you know it was successful.

How do you select the record and which records can you attach to?

Well you can attach any record you want, and selecting the record is as easy as finding and selecting a record when you are in the CRM client (because it’s seamless!) The same “look up record” pop up menu assists you in finding the correct record. You can also see and leverage any of your custom saved views for that record (perhaps an “attach to outlook” custom view might help eh?). The picture below shows a mini pop up menu that includes recent selected records to help you select the correct one when you choose "Set Regarding".

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You can also actually open the CRM record from Outlook further assisting you in selecting the right one or with productivity in general. The bottom line is that you can quickly get to the record you are looking for (and you never have to leave your outlook inbox).

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce both offer Outlook integration, but the actual functionality differs greatly. The Salesforce functionality is cumbersome and time consuming whereas the Dynamics integration is seamless and adds great value and functionality to your Outlook experience.