Jumping around from program to program makes less sense when such a tight integration between Outlook and Dynamics CRM exists. At the end of the day, you just want to be able to access the information you need quickly and effectively, so why not take steps to maximize your productivity?
For this reason, we wanted to share 5 Outlook tips that will help you make the most of this integration and significantly increase your Outlook experience as a Dynamics CRM user.
5 CRM Outlook Tips
Tip 1: Set Up Your CRM Address Book
One of my favorite productivity tips is to use the CRM address book in Outlook. This feature allows you to search, email, and work with contacts that you do not own in Outlook or CRM.
With the CRM address book, you don’t need to worry about setting up your own version of organization contacts in your Outlook address book and inadvertently introducing duplicate data into CRM. (On that note, be sure to read these steps to mastering the art of CRM duplicate detection).
Please note that this tip does require a setting change.
1. Navigate to File > CRM > Options
2. In the Set Personal Options window, select the Address Book
3. In the Contacts section, select ‘Match all contacts in Microsoft Dynamics CRM’
4. Select OK.
Note: The security model in Dynamics CRM still applies, so only Contacts that you have permission to view are synced.
This comes in handy when composing emails or appointments in Outlook. You can quickly access the CRM Contact list by following the instructions below:
- Click To
- In the Select Names window, click the Address Book drop down, under Other Address Books, select CRM – Contacts. Note: The Address Book will be named after your CRM organization name.
Tip 2: Personalize Your Folder Structure
Using Shortcuts in Outlook, the Outlook folder structure can be personalized to make key folders in CRM available within a click. Classic Outlook folders — like the Inbox — can be mixed and grouped together with CRM folders — like Opportunities.
From Outlook, you can quickly access Activities assigned to you in CRM, Opportunities you’re involved in, right in line with your Inbox folder. The best part is that you can do all of this without having to drill down through the default Outlook-CRM folder structure, or logging into the web version.
For example, below is a screen shot of how my Outlook is organized for convenience and productivity:
To configure Shortcuts, in Outlook:
1. Access Navigation Options. In the bottom ribbon, click the ellipsis, and select Navigation Options.
2. Use the Move Up and Move Down navigation buttons to move Shortcuts to the top of the navigation list.
3. Customize your shortcuts.
In the Shortcuts navigation pane, right click and select New Shortcut Group, name the Shortcut Group.
Right click the new Shortcut Group, select New Shortcut.
Navigate through the Outlook and CRM folders to select shortcut, and select OK.
Tip 3: Pin Your Important CRM Views
Just like I mentioned above, when you need data, you need it fast! CRM for Outlook allows you to pin your most useful CRM views in Outlook, so that you can access them on the fly. This includes both system views and any personal views that you’ve created.
To set this up, navigate to CRM with Outlook, and select a target entity:
1. In the top navigation ribbon, click the New Tab icon, and select a View.
2. Click the Pin so that it points downward. Next time you navigate to this area, the View will be available as tab.
Extra tip: Accessing records via Views in Outlook is especially convenient when combined with the Reading Pane in CRM for Outlook feature which allows you to scroll through a record form without having to open it (similar to Outlook’s preview pane). The record preview contains the same fields and subgrids as standard your CRM record forms, allowing you to quickly retrieve information like related Opportunities or Cases.This preview feature is unique to CRM for Outlook, and not available in the web client.
To check that the Reading Pane in CRM for Outlook is enabled, check the entity settings in the CRM Settings > Customizations > Customize the System. Select the target entity, in the Outlook & Mobile section, and ensure that Reading Pane in CRM for Outlook is selected.
Tip 4: Group Records
If you’ve ever tried to aggregate or group a series of records by exporting to Excel, running a report, or even manually – be sure to read this tip. A hidden gem inside Outlook that will help speed up the filtering process is “Group by Box.” Similar to using a Pivot table, this function allows you to drag and drop your groupings onto your Outlook view. This is a great example of Outlook and CRM working well together and inheriting abilities from analysis tools like Excel and Power BI.
To do this, navigate to CRM with Outlook, and select a target entity:
1. In your chosen entity, select a View.
2. In this example, I have chosen “Address 1: City”. Right Click on this column.
3. Choose the Group by Box option
4. Notice a Drag & Drop section appears asking you to drag a CRM Column into the Group
5. Your data is now grouped by City (or whatever column you wish) for easy pivot, search, and find.
Tip 5: Prioritize CRM Records with Colour Categories
While you may already be familiar with using colour categorization for emails in Outlook, it’s possible to extend this to CRM records. Similar to the Grouping option, this allows you to categorize your records and associate colors that are meaningful to you.
1. Using a Pinned view, simply look for the Categories column (this is present in all Outlook CRM views).
2. Right click the Category square on the record that you want to categorize and then choose a colour.
These Outlook tips are just a starting point in helping make your CRM experience a more integrated part of your everyday activities. The integration between these two products is a gold-mine that leaves plenty of room for constant productivity improvement. What other features or functionality have you uncovered?