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How does Microsoft CRM 4.0 integrate with Microsoft Office?

Expert Richard Smith lists the Microsoft Office integration enhancements in Microsoft CRM 4.0.

My company is shopping around for a CRM system. If we are already using Microsoft Office products, is Microsoft CRM 4.0 the best way to go, since it will easily integrate with Office?
When it comes to integrating with Microsoft Office, it's hard to beat Microsoft CRM. Microsoft has offered extensive integration since the first CRM release with an integrated Outlook client, dynamic Excel PivotTable exports and reports and Word mail-merge integration for letters and custom emails.

With Microsoft CRM 4.0, the integration with Microsoft Office is even better. Here are a few of the major Office-integration enhancements in the new release:

Ribbons: The new toolbar functions are integrated in the ribbons in Microsoft Office 2007.

Outlook: The Outlook toolbars now offer a quick list of recently selected records (accounts, contacts, etc.) for linking an Outlook email, appointment or task to a CRM record. Just about every CRM function, including administrative functions, can now be accessed through the Outlook client. There are improvements to synchronized Contacts and just about every type of task (phone calls, tasks, letters, faxes, etc.) can now synchronize with the Outlook Task list. Also, the change in the CRM infrastructure makes it possible for users to easily access CRM outside of the office without having to go through a VPN connection.

Excel: Users can still create dynamic exports and reports of data in CRM, but now they can select data from multiple CRM tables (entities) to be included in the export. There is also a function that allows data to be exported, edited in Excel and re-imported into CRM as updates. Excel workbooks can still be linked as reports to specific functional components of CRM.

Word: The mail-merge functionality has been completely overhauled. Users can select from a set of personal or organizational Word templates stored directly in CRM, so users have access to the same templates from the Outlook and Web clients. Like with the Excel exports above, data can be extracted from CRM to Word from either one or multiple tables (entities), making it easier to get the right data into the exports. Once the merge is complete, a copy of the merged document can be logged in CRM as a closed activity, and an electronic copy of the document will be linked to the appropriate CRM record.

Microsoft is committed to making Dynamics CRM work the way its customers work. The tight and comprehensive integration with Microsoft Office increases user adoption and productivity by integrating powerful customer management functionality with the tools that users already know and use to interact with their customers.

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