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Running Microsoft Dynamics CRM workflow and other functions

Running Microsoft Dynamics CRM workflow can be a tricky process. This chapter from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Unleashed explains how to run workflow in Dynamics CRM and gives step-by-step instructions for sharing CRM records with users, assigning ownership to new records and working with the Activities and History functions.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Unleashed
Chapter 7, Common Functions

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Unleashed

Running Microsoft Dynamics CRM workflow can be a tricky process. This chapter from Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Unleashed explains how to run workflow in Dynamics CRM and gives step-by-step instructions for sharing CRM records with users, assigning ownership to new records and working with the Activities and History functions.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Unleashed, Chapter 7
Table of contents:
Microsoft CRM fundamentals
Using the Microsoft CRM Mail Merge Wizard
Running Microsoft Dynamics CRM workflow and other functions
Advanced Find in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
The Microsoft Resource Center in Dynamics CRM

Running Microsoft Dynamics CRM workflow and other functions


Assign enables you to set record ownership by selecting a new user or queue within the system, depending on the Entity type. For example, an Account can be assigned only to another user. An Activity, on the other hand, can be assigned to either a user or a queue, as shown in Figure 7.18 (for more information about working with queues, refer to Chapter 14).

Figure 7.18: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Assign dialog box

FIGURE 7.18 Assign dialog box.


As its name implies, the Sharing option enables you to share the record with other Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 users or teams. The capability to perform the act of sharing is set with the security roles for a user (see Chapter 14 for more information about security roles). When you share a record with another user, the other user inherits the security settings on the associated records of the record.

This chapter is excerpted from the book, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Unleashed, authored by Marc J Wolenik and Damian Sinay, published by Sams Publishing an imprint of Pearson Education, March, 2008. ISBN 9780672329708. For more information please visit

The following is the list of records that can be shared:


  • Accounts
  • Contacts
  • Cases
  • Campaigns
  • Invoices
  • Quotes
  • Orders
  • Reports
  • Opportunities
  • Marketing lists
  • Leads
  • Contracts

    When sharing, select the user or team and then toggle the permissions you want to give (see Figure 7.19).

    Copy Shortcut and Send Shortcut

    Copy Shortcut and Send Shortcut are new options available with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Do not confuse them with Copy Shortcut and Send Shortcut from the More Actions option located at the top of the Quickview. Although both provide the capability to quickly and easily create shortcuts directly to the record, when you select from the Actions drop-down, the main record you're working with (Account, Contact, and so on) will be selected instead of the specific associative records (if chosen from the Quickview menu option—that is, Contacts associated with the Account or History for the Account). For this reason, you might get the error message shown in Figure 7.20 when you select Copy Shortcut from the Quickview menu but fail to select any associative records (to avoid this error, select one or more records and then try again).

    Figure 7.19: Microsoft Dynamics CRM share permissions form

    FIGURE 7.19 Microsoft Dynamics CRM share permissions form.

    Figure 7.20: Microsoft Dynamics CRM copy shortcut

    FIGURE 7.20 Copy Shortcut chosen from the Quickview, but without any subrecords selected.



    The capability to send the shortcut to another user does not preclude that user's appropriate security role to view the record. So even if you have the capability to view a record, the user you're sending it to might not and would then receive an error page when attempting to access the link you send.

    Activities Think of Activities as how work gets assigned. For example, if you have an Account that requires a follow-up Phone Call, you would open the Account, create a new Activity with type equal to Phone Call, and assign it to yourself (or another user). Quite commonly, employees who use Microsoft Dynamics CRM come into the office in the morning and, after checking their e-mails, check their pending Activities.

    As with all Entities that have Activities, the Activities display nonclosed actions applicable to the Entity. When an Activity becomes closed, it is not visible here; you can find it in the History (see the next section).

    An Activity can consist of the following:


  • Task
  • Fax
  • Phone call
  • E-mail
  • Letter
  • Appointment
  • Service activity
  • Campaign response

    Additionally, within the Activities, you have the option to run manual Workflow via Run Workflow, located at the top of the section. The option to run a Workflow is based on the entity you're working with, so to run Workflow manually, you must have at least one Workflow created for it.

    By default, the Activities filter shows Activities that are due within the next 30 days and filters on This Record Only.



    An Activity that does not have a due date shows in all filter views until a date is assigned to it.

    Unlike previous versions where activities could only be converted to opportunities, activities can now be converted to leads and cases as well.

    Finally, when working with Activities, you are limited to only the Activities that come with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and you cannot create one as you could with a custom entity. So if have a specific Activity that is not in the previous list (Task, Fax, Phone Call, and so on), you must change your business process to accommodate these Activity types only. For more information about using Activities, see Chapter 9, "Working with the Workplace."


    Think of History as where all work (or Activities) that has been closed or completed resides, along with e-mail correspondence. Similarly, when you send an e-mail from CRM or from Outlook and select the Track in CRM option, this is where you find the history of that e-mail.

    As with the Activities section, you have the option to run manual Workflow via Run Workflow, located at the top of the screen. The History shows the last 30 days and filters on This Record Only.

    For more information about using the History, see Chapter 9.


    The Notes field enables you to enter notes about the Entity free form. Generally, if you have standardized data about an Entity (for example, favorite restaurant) and you want to record similar information across the Entities (such as for all Accounts or Contacts), it is a better idea to add a new field to the Entity interface via customization rather then enter the data here. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, there is no built-in ability to query on the Notes field. While you can do it by going to the database level or utilizing a third-party tool, there is no functionality from Microsoft Dynamics CRM to search Notes fields. Second, it is usually a much better idea to standardize the entry (via a drop-down box of restaurants, for example) and have a common location that you can control entry to.

    To enter a note, navigate to the Notes tab (generally, the last tab) on the main Information tab, and select Click Here to Add a New Note. By default, the title of the note is Note Created on <date/time> by . To change the title, save the Note either by selecting Save from the top menu options or by merely clicking somewhere else on the form (this automatically saves any entered date); then double-click the Note icon to open the Note form, where you can make changes to the title of the Note as well as the Note contents.



    If you need to make a quick change or add a new note quickly, we recommend not opening the Note form—just enter it on the Notes tab by clicking where it says Click Here to Add a New Note. If you need to make a Note with a title or upload something, select the Add a Note option from the Actions drop-down, described earlier in this section.

    Additional Notes considerations are the capability to easily see when a note was entered and by whom, as well as when a note was edited and by whom (see Figure 7.21).



    Notes do not support either rich text or HTML. If you need to have content such as this, consider uploading an attachment instead.

    Figure 7.21: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Account Notes entry screen

    FIGURE 7.21 Account Notes entry screen.


    When you upload a document to the Account entity, it is placed in the Notes section with the same audit information mentioned previously.



    As mentioned previously in this chapter, you cannot upload anything to a newly created Entity until it is saved first (see Figure 7.22). After it is saved, the Paper Clip icon appears (as well as the other advanced options), enabling you to perform the actions on the record (see Figure 7.21).

    Attachments are stored in the CRM database. After you've uploaded them, you can view them by selecting them from the Notes.



    When viewing attachments, the location of the file can sometimes be misleading. The reason for this is that, when you are viewing an attachment, its location is your C: drive. We have had many calls from concerned clients saying that they were sure they had uploaded files from their C: drive, only to view them and, when viewing the properties, find they were on the C: drive also. The explanation is simple: When you view a file from the CRM, it downloads the file for viewing to your Temporary Internet Settings folder (usually located on your C: drive). So when you're viewing an uploaded file, you're really viewing a local copy of the file.

    Figure 7.22: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Account screen prior to saving

    FIGURE 7.22 Account screen prior to saving. Notice the lack of the Paper Clip icon (allowing you to upload) present in Figure 7.21.



    To make edits to an uploaded file, you must first download it, edit it, and then reupload it. Microsoft Dynamics CRM does not have the capability to handle versioning or online document editing. If this is a requirement that you might have, we suggest that you look at an integrated Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) solution.

    Run Workflow

    When located as part of the Quickview, the Run Workflow option enables you to quickly and easily run a workflow that has been marked as Run on Demand. By default, the Workflows are entity dependent, so there will not be an option to Run Workflow if you have not created at least one workflow for the entity you're working with.



    If you need to run a workflow and are unsure from where to run it, you can always navigate to the Settings and Workflow page to check its attributes and manually run it, if necessary. When checking, you might notice that no workflow exists for the Activity Entity; each Activity is a separate option for Workflow (such as E-mail and Appointment). These items all are available from the Activity Run Workflow.

    For more information about Workflow, refer to Chapter 20, "Workflow Development."


    Continue to the next section: Advanced Find in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

    Download Chapter 7, Common Functions

    Read other excerpts and download more sample chapters from our CRM and call center bookshelf


    Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Unleashed is also Safari Books Online-enabled. For owners of the print book, you will automatically receive access to the online edition for 45 days by following the steps in the back of the book. For those who are interested in the online edition but are not yet Safari subscribers, you can try a free Safari pass here.


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