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3 Ways to Make Your Dynamics CRM Views Better for Drilldown, Charting, and Reporting
I’ve had an uptick recently in the number of people who are interested in discussing ways to make Views in Dynamics CRM better. Some of this is likely spurred by product improvements like Immersive Excel and Excel Templates, which use views as a starting point, but much of the discussion applies to ANY version of CRM.
The following suggestions are focused on identifying the right fields to include with the view. In my day-to-day, the columns/fields that are available are one of the more “visible” aspects and frankly they’re the way many of us think about the data. So for this post I’m going to put any conversation about record filtering off to the side and focus purely on how field selection can improve the quality of your personal views, shared views, as well as system views.
1) Take Advantage of Relationships
One of the best parts of Dynamics CRM (pick any version you like) is that a view or report can pull in related data. Not all popular CRM systems work this way (which is still amazing to me because of the extra overhead this places on reporting efforts) and not only do we have this, it’s at the fingertips of EVERY SINGLE USER of the system.
Consider the following example: We want to report on a list of Opportunities and their Estimated Revenue, broken out by Industry. In this scenario, Industry isn’t tracked at the Opportunity level, rather it’s tracked at the Customer Account level (that Account has an industry classification). Rather than ask an admin to copy industry information into the Opportunity record, we instead add the Industry field via the relationship.
Now we can build our chart which now gives us the option to select the Industry (Potential Customer) field for our grouping.
So we can leverage these relationships when building a chart or report, and we can also take advantage of it when doing chart drill-down. The top set of fields is the list of fields included in your view. This will even include fields from related entities that would not otherwise be available in the full chart drilldown list!
This great to keep in mind for items 2 & 3 below…
2) Build “Companion views” that will aid your reporting
Well, “Companion views” isn’t exactly an industry term, so here’s my working definition:
Companion view – n. – a saved view inside of CRM that is not used for building out chart elements and aiding in drill-down. Useful when used in conjunction with a CRM chart, but may carry little value on its own.
Commonly, companion views will include several fields to give drill-down and grouping options from related entities. This capitalizes on the relationship capability of #1 above. This allowed us to build an Estimated Revenue by Industry chart by using a companion view, which included the Industry (Potential Customer) field.
The chart segments by Industry—and the chart can be combined with any list of Opportunities even one that does not have the Industry (Account) field.
3) Plan on Multiple Iterations
I’ll admit something: most views that I regularly use in CRM are at least a second iteration. Some of them are v3, v5, or even v17. The reason here is that most of us who are using CRM aren’t intimately familiar with all of the data available to us.
This does get better as you become more familiar with the data. Some elements will become go-to fields that you know and rely on. As you learn these, consider building a personal view that you can use as a reference later on. It may grow to be quite a few fields, but this can be a starting point later—do a Save As and trim out the extras instead of trying to seek them out of the full field list the next time.
One final thought: collaborate with others when building views. Teammates have similar needs when looking at their data, and sometimes a shared view will park a great idea for how to gain insights to the information. Not everyone needs to be a master view builder, but they may have ideas or unique questions that are worth hearing. CRM allows us to embrace this via shared views and shared charts.