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Not Your Father’s Outlook Integration: Touring the New Lightweight CRM App for Outlook
With the recent general availability release of CRM’s Spring 2016 wave the new svelte and streamlined CRM App for Outlook is ready for the big dance. This is not an upgrade to the existing Outlook plugin which lives on in its own right but an entirely separate experience geared towards your mobile workforce. The new app is clean, well-integrated, and ubiquitous across many platforms including Outlook on the web, Outlook on the desktop, Outlook for Mac, and Smartphones. If you’re ready to break the chains from your PC then this is the solution you’ve been waiting for.
Attn. Administrators: Configure your Users
As a pre-requisite to using the CRM app for Outlook your users must be configured to use server-side synchronization for incoming emails. Their CRM mailbox should be tested and enabled before the app can be installed or they may see the message below when attempting to load the app. Users may load the app themselves as detailed below or you may push it out administratively to some or all eligible users following the instructions here.
Attn. Power Users: Installing the App
Installing the app is a fairly uneventful affair. Follow the steps below to get the app loaded.
1. Navigate to the “Apps for Dynamics CRM” page in CRM using the settings menu
2. Click the giant blue “Dynamics CRM App for Outlook” button:
3. Wait for it…
You’re now ready to being using the app’s features in Outlook.
Attn. Everyone: Using the app
When logged into Outlook you’ll immediately see the new integrated CRM features.
for example.. while drafting a new email you may click either of the apps buttons:
This will grand access to the Dynamics CRM App in a fly-out:
Based on to whom your email is addressed this will reveal critical information about that person:
This is really an area where the new app surpasses the old plugin. We get all of this great at-a-glance information before the email has been sent and note that we didn’t have to officially “track” the email as we would have in the plugin. For someone wanting a quick refresher before sending their email this is perfect and, from time-to-time, might save you from sending the email to the wrong “Bob” at a different company.
Additional features of this screen include:
- Open the Contact record in CRM
- Track the email to CRM
- Click-to-dial the Phone number
- Review upcoming and previous activity
- Click to open these records (as shown below)
- Review other related data such as recent cases or opportunities
- Note that these last 2 items follow the sub-grids you have on your Contact form and may vary based on your specific configuration.
Click to open an Activity record in CRM and mark it complete:
Note that we now have the ability to track this email (even from Outlook for the web) by clicking the track button. This will suggest an item as the set regarding. In our case this is an open Opportunity set for our email’s recipient but we have the option to choose something else if we would like.
If you choose to set regarding to something else then the below wizard is shown where you may either create a new object or search for an existing one.
Searching your existing records:
Clicking the track button a second time will offer options to untrack or change the regarding object:
Incoming and Existing Emails
Inbound emails will contain a new “Dynamics CRM” option:
After clicking this link a new embedded window will appear showing the same relevant contact data:
You of course have the same options here as we did above including the ability to track the email or drill into any of the shown records.
Create new records inline
You will naturally be sending or receiving emails from individuals who are not currently in your CRM. In these cases you will have the option to create new contacts right from the app by following the steps below.
Decide to track your new email: and you are alerted that this person does not currently exist in CRM:
If you choose to create a new Contact you will be asked for additional details:
Including the ability to associate to an existing or create a new parent account for this new contact:
If you are creating their account at this time as well then you’ll be able to provide some additional details for that account record as well:
When all is done you will have created your new records without ever leaving your email draft in Outlook:
The CRM App for Outlook is a fantastic addition to your CRM arsenal. Using the app in conjunction with server-side sync eliminates the need for your mobile workforce to open their laptop just to track emails and provides critical just-in-time data right where they are already working. If your solution is upgraded or will be soon I encourage you to get some folks using the app instead of the traditional plugin. I think you’ll find that it provides a better experience while eliminating the need for distributed software.