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Naming Records Using Real-Time Workflow in Dynamics CRM 2013

If you are a Microsoft Dynamics CRM user, there is a good chance you have come across a view that looks a lot like this:

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There are records in the view, but no indication of what the data represents because the records are not named, and the only other column in the view is the Created On column. Dynamics CRM 2013 (and previous versions) use these two columns by default – and sometimes administrators neglect to update these views which can make them pretty meaningless to the average user.


Many times, a blank Name is a result of the decision to use a field or fields other than the default Name field as the indicator of the record “name”. This is not a bad practice in and of itself, but there is a bit more to be done before this approach is presentable to users.

For example, let’s say I have a Contact Category record that has only two fields: one is a lookup to the Contact, the other is a lookup to a custom entity called Category. These are the two primary data points for this record and the Name field is not on the Form, so a customizer may think no other action is needed.

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Here’s where I would highly recommend naming the Name field something meaningful to Users. In the past, this has been accommodated with JavaScript. In Dynamics CRM 2013, there is a feature called real-time workflow that I would suggest using to name records that fit this scenario.

In the Settings area, navigate to Processes and create a new process. Give it a name, a category of Workflow, and choose the appropriate entity it will relate to. Then, uncheck the “Run this workflow in the background” box. This is what makes this a real-time workflow as opposed to an asynchronous workflow.

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Once the process is created, fill out the Workflow Form to meet the conditions desired. In our scenario, we want to run this workflow any time a record is created or when either of our two fields (Contact or Category) change.

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The steps are pretty simple. If the fields contain data, update the Name field. Otherwise, cancel the workflow.

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Click the “Set Properties” button to define how the record will be named. We will not update the Contact field or the Category field, but instead we will update the Name field using the Form Assistant. In our scenario, I used “Contact | Category” as the naming convention. You can use whatever will make the most sense for Users viewing this record.

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In our scenario, I used: “Contact | Category” as the naming convention. You can use whatever will make the most sense for Users viewing this record.

When you are finished, Activate the Workflow and it is ready to be used! Your Contact Categories will be meaningfully named, and your columns that include Name will be nice and descriptive for your users. All without writing a single line of code, and using features available in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013.

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