If you install Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook with Offline Access, you have the option to work with your Microsoft Dynamics CRM data when you are disconnected from the server.
The ability to go offline with CRM for Outlook has been around for several releases of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. If you need to travel onsite to customer meetings, this feature is useful because you can look up your existing notes, add new notes, and run reports without needing an Internet connection.
Note: Keep in mind that with CRM 2015 you can now take advantage of other options to work with out a connection, like the Mobile App.
When you go offline with CRM for Outlook
Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook copies a subset of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM database to your computer. This way you can utilize almost all of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM functionality just as if you’re online. When you are able to connect to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM server again, you go online to synchronize your offline database with the main Microsoft Dynamics CRM database.
When you go online:
Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook will automatically determine which records it should upload to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM database and which records it needs to synchronize with your local database. Some Microsoft Dynamics CRM databases can get quite large so going offline does not copy all of the data to your computer. Instead, Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook uses offline synchronization filters to determine which subsets of the database it should copy to the offline database. The use of offline synchronization filters provides better performance and faster synchronization times than if you were using the entire Microsoft Dynamics CRM database.
Here’s what this should look like in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Outlook Client:
You can configure Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook with Offline Access to perform a background update of your local data as often as every 15 minutes. Setting up this option in the CRM for Outlook options will allow you to go offline more quickly in the future, in addition to allowing you to access relatively updated offline data in case you forget to explicitly go offline.
Implications of Working Offline
Going Offline with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Outlook Client is a useful feature that allows you to access and update essential information anywhere without an internet connection. However, the process of going “Offline” versus going “Online” is fundamentally different and requires the user to be diligent and sync up regularly. Here are some of the risks that you should consider before implementing.
Workflows will only execute when the user synchronizes their data with CRM Service Online Not captured or executed as part of the SQL Express database created with CRM 2015 Offline client.
Sharepoint Document Integration
SharePoint Documentation library integration is not supported in Offline mode. The Document Library views will become in-editable until the user goes online.
These need to be re-factored to accommodate offline mode but requires an additional layer of complexity and testing.
- Plug-ins can be executed Offline Only, Online Only or Both. If you register a plug-in offline then it only executes offline, the code executes against the local SQL Server Express database created as part of the Offline instance. The data that is modified (whether it be the current record or a new record created etc) on the SQL Express database will be ‘played back’ to the main CRM database when the user goes online (Via a careful sync process).
- There are implications if the plug-in are registered to run Offline and Online that you could have code modules executing twice. Careful consideration needs to be put into any plug-in development that is intended for Offline mode.
Additional User Training
User training would be needed to facilitate the changes in CRM (I.e. using the “Go Offline” and “Go Online” commands) and syncing requirements.
Using the “Offline” version of the CRM for Outlook client installs SQL Express to accommodate the Offline Database used to store CRM data when the local PC is not connected to the CRM network. If the Offline CRM client is installed, a PC with less than 2GB of RAM may suffer significant performance hits when going online or offline. The SQL Express database is limited to 4GB.
Overall Performance Considerations
Some operations that are available online mode, such as Convert Order to Invoice, are not available to users in offline mode. In addition, most customization features, as well as security operations such as changing roles, privileges, or organization settings, are available only in online mode. Other features, such as workflow, run upon reconnection to the server.
Going Offline with CRM for Outlook
Catapult recommends carefully exploring all your options when it comes to working disconnected Offline with CRM for Outlook. You should question the business value in implementing these changes versus enabling users to remain connected via Mobile network.