CRM2015 introduces a number of enhancements based around the synchronising of data between CRM and Outlook. The key new features include:

·         Configurable Field Level Synchronisation

·         Appointment Attachments Synchronisation

·         Outlook Assigned Tasks Synchronisation

·         Additional Address and Phone Number fields

 

Before we go ahead and look at these in more detail, there are a few key points you should be aware of:

·         You will need to upgrade your Outlook Client to CRM2015 in order to start using these new features

·         Currently, these new sync setting can only be applied at Organisation level (not user level)

·         As these are server side settings, you may experience some delays with the setting to take effect. It’s also important that you close and re-open outlook each time you amend any of these settings

·         When you amend these settings, they will only take affect from newly created records (existing records will not be affected)

·         The settings cannot be applied via a solution so it’s important you consider this when moving through your release cycle and configure each organisation accordingly.

 

Configuration

All of these new settings can be found via Settings > Administration > System Settings > Synchronisation tab. See example screenshot below.

 

Configurable Field Level Synchronisation

To configure a number of synchronised fields and control the direction of how data should be synchronised, so whether it be from CRM to Outlook, Outlook to CRM, or bi-directional. You also have the ability enable/disable the sync of these configurable fields.

 

 

 

Configuration

On the Synchronisation tab mentioned in the previous section, click on the ‘Manage the synchronised fields’ option.

You will now see the new configuration screen as shown below. By default, Appointment entity fields will be displayed however you can amend other fields by changing the ‘Entity Type’ drop down located at the top of this screen.

 

You can change the Synchronisation direction rule of each field by clicking on the arrow(s) to toggle through the 4 available options listed below:

 

Duel Synchronization (both directions)

 

CRM to Outlook Only

 

Outlook to CRM Only

 

Disable (field will not synchronise)

Note: Not all fields can be amended as some fields are required by Outlook.

 

Synchronising Appointment Attachments

CRM2015 now gives you the ability to sync appointment attachment from Outlook into CRM. The following screenshots demonstrate this in action.

In the screenshot below, I have create a standard appointment within Outlook and have inserted an attachment to this appointment. Note, at this stage the ‘Sync Appointment Attachments’ setting is disabled.

 

When I view this appointment within CRM, you will see that the ‘Attachments’ section on the form does not show any attachments.

 

I will now activate the ‘Synchronise appointment attachment with Outlook or Exchange’ setting which can be found on the Synchronisation tab of the System Settings screen shown in the previous section (Setting > Administration > System Setting).

 

I now do a similar test by creating an appointment and inserting an attachment.

 

This time, when I view the record in CRM, the attachment will be listed in the ‘Attachments’ section of the form as seen below.

 

Note: After amending system setting, ensure you close and reopen Outlook. As this is a server side configuration, you may find it could take a short while for this setting to take effect.

 

Outlook Assigned Tasks Synchronisation

When using the ‘Assign’ button for a Tasks in Outlook, this can now update the record owner within CRM.

If you create a new task in Outlook and use the track and set-regarding options in the usual way. If you then click ‘Assign’ while the ‘Outlook Assigned Tasks Synchronisation’ is switched off, you will see a warning message advising you that tracking of assigned tasks isn’t currently enabled (shown below.

 

 

To enable the Assign Task Tracking feature, go into System Setting, Synchronisation tab and tick the ‘Synchronise tasks that are assigned in Outlook’ option as shown below. Click ok to save your changes.

 

If you now try to Assign the task again in Outlook you should no longer see the warning message. As mentioned previously, you may need to close and re-open outlook before it picks up the configuration change.

Once the Task has been accepted by the assigned user, you should now see that the record owner has changed in CRM.

Additional Address

 

If you want to synchronise all 3 address fields you can enable this via the setting show below.

 

Notes and Take Away Points

·         Ensure you have upgraded your Outlook Client to CRM2015 when moving onto CRM2015. The new sync feature may not function correctly if still running the 2013 Outlook Client

·         The new sync setting can only be applied at Organisation level (not user level)

·         As these are server side settings, you may experience some delays before the setting take effect due to client side caching. It is advisable that you close and re-open outlook each time you amend any of these setting

·         When you amend these settings, the will only take affect from newly created records (existing records will not be affected)

·         The settings cannot be applied via a solution so it’s important you consider this when moving through your deployment cycle.

 

Conclusion

I particularly like the new features around synchronising appointment attachments and Task Owners as this to me gives greater consistency across the system. Traditionally, the bi-directional synchronisation has been problematic from a control perspective as companies do not always want information held in user’s Outlook data stores overwriting data in CRM. Furthermore, fields can be ‘re-mapped’ between CRM and Outlook where previously they may not have been consistent (Title in Outlook mapping to Salutation in CRM springs to mind!)

The ability to switch off fields for mapping may prove to be useful but would be something that would need consideration on a project by project basis.