What's new for administrators and customizers in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 and CRM Online
Applies To: CRM 2015 on-prem, CRM Online
Learn about what’s new for administrators and customizers in the release. More information: Help & Training: What's new
For Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online organizations, the following features are available only if your organization has updated to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1. These features are not available for Dynamics CRM (on-premises).
- “Older Than X” clause improvements
- Use server-based authentication with CRM Online and SharePoint
- Enable or disable the Dynamics CRM Web API Preview
- Change the color scheme or add a logo to match your organization’s brand
- New behavior of the Date and Time data type
- Channel Engagement Framework: Define rules for creating or updating CRM records from incoming activities
- Rollup field enhancements
- Clear field values with business rules
- Move back to the previous stage of the process flow on a different entity
- Call custom actions from workflows or dialogs
- Create alternate keys for referencing records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
- Easy navigation with the remodeled navigation bar
- Set up knowledge management in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
- Full-featured phone and mobile app and phone-specific customizations
- Provision and enable Groups in Office 365
- Changes to the CRM Online Administration Center
- Enable track changes to control data synchronization
- Map Exchange folders with CRM records to automatically track emails in CRM
“Older Than X” clause improvements
Earlier versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM were limited to the Older Than X Months clause for filtering by using Older Than. You can now filter on additional units of time including minutes, hours, days, weeks, and years. The Older Than X clauses can be used with Advanced Find, the saved view editor, and queries that are based on FetchXML.
Use server-based authentication with CRM Online and SharePoint
Administrators can configure Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online authentication with SharePoint (on-premises) to use server-based authentication. When you use server-based authentication, users don’t need to sign in to SharePoint and the list control isn’t required to display SharePoint documents in Microsoft Dynamics CRM views.
Enable or disable the Dynamics CRM Web API Preview
The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Web API provides a network-based communication and messaging interface to the Dynamics CRM web services. The Dynamics CRM Web API Preview lets developers learn and experiment with the capabilities of the web API in future releases and provide feedback. As a CRM administrator, you can enable or disable the Web API Preview for an organization in the web application by going to Settings > Administration > System Settings and selecting the Previews tab.
Change the color scheme or add a logo to match your organization’s brand
You can create a custom look and feel, a theme, for your application by making changes to the default colors and visual elements provided in the uncustomized CRM system. For example, you can create your personal product branding, add a company logo, and provide entity-specific coloring. The theme colors are applied globally throughout the application, with the exception of some legacy areas, such as gradient buttons. A theme is created by using the customization tools in the user interface, without requiring a developer to write code. The theme customization is supported in Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook. The changes made for an organization's theme aren’t included in solutions exported from the organization. To learn how to export\import a custom theme, see: Manage configuration data. You can define multiple themes, but only one can be set and published as the default theme.
New behavior of the Date and Time data type
Previously, the behavior of the Date and Time data type was limited to the current user's local time zone. With this “time zone aware” behavior, we couldn’t properly address cases, where the date and time needed to be presented independently of the user’s local time zone, such as birthdays or hotel check-in time. In this release, we introduced two new time zone independent behaviors for the Date and Time data type to address such cases:
Time Zone Independent
Channel Engagement Framework: Define rules for creating or updating CRM records from incoming activities
In earlier versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you could convert incoming emails (Email Activity) and social posts (Social Activity) to the Case entity records and add them to the queue. With the new capabilities, you can further increase the efficiency of your sales, marketing, and service teams by defining rules for automatic creation or update of system or custom CRM records from incoming activities, such as emails, social posts, or custom activities. One or more CRM records can be created or updated from a single activity. You can specify various rule conditions and define actions to create or update records, or send emails. To capture additional information from an external application, you can define a property bag, which is a collection of name-value pairs. For example, along with a social post content, you can obtain information about the post, such as a post rating or influencer score. The property bag values can be used to define the workflow’s conditions and operators. For complex scenarios, you can configure child workflows. The rules can be packaged as a part of a CRM solution. You can configure the Automatic Record Creation and Update rules in two places in the CRM web application: Settings > Business Management or Settings > Service Management.
Rollup field enhancements
Rollup fields help you obtain insights into data by monitoring key business metrics. In this release, we’re further enriching your experience with rollup fields by adding new capabilities that include:
Calculations using the AVG operator.
Aggregating data across all activities related to a record, such as phone calls, emails, or appointments.
Aggregating data across all activities related to a record and activities indirectly related to a record via the Activity Party entity. For example, by using the Activity Party participation types, you can include emails where the account is listed only on the To: and Cc: lines for aggregation.
More information: Define rollup fields
Clear field values with business rules
Enhancements to business rules let you clear field values, on the client and server, to ensure correctness of your CRM records - all without writing a single line of code!
More information: Create and edit business rules
Move back to the previous stage of the process flow on a different entity
A new capability in Microsoft Dynamics CRM lets you go back to the previous stage in the business process flow regardless of entity type. For example, if the active stage is Deliver Quote on a quote record, you can move the active stage back to the Propose stage on an opportunity record. In another example, suppose, you are currently in the Present Proposal stage in your process flow: Qualify Lead > Identify Needs > Create Proposal > Present Proposal > Close. If the proposal presented to the customer requires more research to identify customer needs, you can simply select the Identify Needs stage of your process and choose Set Active.
More information: Enhance business process flows with branching
Call custom actions from workflows or dialogs
Workflows and dialogs have numerous capabilities supporting business scenarios. Until now, you could call basic SDK actions, such as create, update, and delete a record, from within a workflow or a dialog. While this solves quite a few business scenarios, in this release, we coupled the capabilities of the workflows and dialogs with the power of the custom actions. Now you can invoke a custom action directly from within a workflow or a dialog, without writing any code.
Create alternate keys for referencing records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
To improve performance of certain operations in CRM systems and help correctly identify data imported into CRM from external systems, we provided a new way of uniquely referencing records in CRM through alternate keys. Until now, the records in CRM were only referenced by unique identifiers, known as GUIDs. However, some external systems can’t be extended to store CRM record GUIDs. For these cases, you can now reference records by using alternate keys that aren’t GUIDs. An alternate key has a unique name and you use one or more entity fields to define the key, for example, account name and account number. While you can define an alternate key in the Customization area in the web application (Components >Entities > Entity X, select Keys), the key can only be used programmatically, in code.
Easy navigation with the remodeled navigation bar
With the new navigation bar design, you can find information easier and faster, even if you have to navigate through a large number of entities. We also provided an access to most recently viewed records (up to 30 records) and easy navigation in large forms with hundreds of fields.
Set up knowledge management in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Having a rich knowledge base is important in increasing customer satisfaction as well as improving productivity of sales, service, and marketing teams. Knowledge base in Parature, from Microsoft provides a way to easily create and organize content, that can be delivered both internally to the service agents and to customers through all major service channels at the right time to prevent frequently asked questions.
To give your users quick access to this comprehensive and searchable information on Parature, connect to Parature by setting up knowledge base management in CRM.
After you set up knowledge management in CRM, you can add the Knowledge Management Search control in CRM entity forms, including custom entities, so that users can search for knowledge base articles in Parature right from a CRM record. This control includes new form script APIs. See MSDN: Form script support for the new Knowledge Management (KM) integration with Parature in What’s New in CRM for Developers.
Full-featured phone and mobile app and phone-specific customizations
More information: Set up and manage tablets and phones
Provision and enable Groups in Office 365
You can choose to add the Groups in Office 365 integration solution so Office 365 users can share documents, have conversations, reference a shared calendar, and collaborate on a shared Microsoft OneNote with others in the same Office 365 tenant – including those not licensed for CRM Online. Once you add the solution, you can specify which entities are enabled for Groups.
Changes to the CRM Online Administration Center
We’re making changes to the CRM Online Administration Center where you manage instances and updates. Changes include:
- Storage management: quickly and easily determine which instances are consuming the most storage and take steps to free up space or purchase new storage.
- Service health: bring service issues down to the organization (instance) level so important status is available to those who need to know.
Enable track changes to control data synchronization
Large CRM organizations that synchronize their data with external data sources can now enable entities for change tracking, which will enable a new change tracking API to be executed against the given entity. Using the new API, you can reduce the load on your server resources and save processing time when extracting CRM data and syncing it to an external store.
More information: Enable change tracking to control data synchronization
Map Exchange folders with CRM records to automatically track emails in CRM
You can enable folder-level tracking for Exchange folders to map an Exchange Inbox folder to a CRM record so that all the emails in the Exchange folder get automatically tracked against the mapped record in CRM. Consider an example where you have an account called “Adventure Works” in CRM. You can create a folder in Microsoft Outlook called “Adventure Works” under your Inbox folder, and create some Exchange rules to automatically route the emails to the “Adventure Works” folder based on the subject or the body of an email. Next, in CRM you can map your Exchange folder (Adventure Works) with the account record (Adventure Works) to automatically track all the emails in CRM that land in the Adventure Works Exchange folder, and set the regarding object as the Adventure Works account record in CRM.
More information: Configure folder-level tracking
Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers customizable help and tooltips to provide contextual information to users filling in forms. With customizable Help, you can control and override the out-of-the-box Help experience. You’ll be able to provide entity-specific or organization-specific Help, making the content exposed through the Help links more relevant to the user’s day-to-day activities. The customizable Help is available at a global (organization) level or per entity. You can use a single, global URL to override the out-of-the-box Help links for all customizable entities. Per-entity URLs override the out-of-the-box Help links on grids and forms for a specific customizable entity. Also, you can include additional parameters in the URL, such as language code and entity name. These parameters allow a developer to add functionality to redirect the user to a page that is relevant for their language or the entity context within the application. Custom tooltips provide the ability to set the text that appears as a tooltip when the field is displayed in a form.
More information: Customize the Help experience
Previously, you were able to create hierarchies of related records using self-referential relationships, but you had to iteratively query for the related records. New capabilities will let you query and view the records as hierarchies. To query an entity as a hierarchy you must enable a One-to-Many (1:N) or Many-to-One (N:1) self-referential relationship as hierarchical. You’ll be able to query records using Under and Not Under logic. The Under and Not Under hierarchical operators are exposed through Advanced Find and the workflow editor. For more information on how to use these operators, see Configure workflow steps.
You can gain valuable business insights by visualizing hierarchically related data. The new visualization feature gives you a hierarchical view into the data. You’ll be able to enable visuals for specific system entities and custom entities after you have updated the hierarchy settings for the entity. Users can choose between a tree view, which shows the entire hierarchy, and a tile view, which is a detailed view of a smaller portion of the hierarchy. You can explore a hierarchy by expanding and contracting a hierarchy tree. Also, you can compare the attributes between the records at multiple levels in a tree and perform actions on one or more records right from the tree view. Once defined, the hierarchy settings enable visualization in the CRM web application and in Microsoft Dynamics CRM for tablets, but, for the tablets, in a modified format suitable for the smaller form factor. Because these visualizations are solution components, they can be transported between organizations like any other customization. You can configure the attributes shown in the visualization by using the customization tools in the CRM Web application. There is no requirement to write code.
More information: Query and visualize hierarchical data
In addition to an existing security model that uses business units, security roles, sharing, and teams, you’ll have a new security model for working with hierarchies. You can use the new security model in conjunction with all other existing security models to achieve a more granular access to the records. One of the security options is the management chain, which gives managers access to the records of their reports. Another option is the position hierarchy. You can define different job roles in the organization and arrange them in the position hierarchy. Then, you tag a user with a particular position in the hierarchy. Users at the higher positions have access to the records of the users at the lower positions.
More information: Hierarchy security
Many businesses have sensitive data that should only be viewable or editable by certain users. Previously with field-level security, you could restrict access to custom fields, now you can restrict access in other fields as well. For example, admins can enable the Account Number field to be viewed but not changed by members of the sales team.
The rollup fields are used to capture key business metrics at a record level from related entities with One-to-Many (1:N) relationships. The rollup fields also provide the ability to aggregate over hierarchies for more complex scenarios. You can define the entity rollup fields as decimal or whole numbers, currency, and date/time. For example, a salesperson may want to know:
How many leads they’re working on
A total revenue for the open opportunities related to the account
A total number of high priority open cases related to the account
The aggregates are rolled up from the child records to the parent record. A maximum of 100 rollup fields can be defined within an organization and each entity can have no more than 10 rollup fields. The rollup fields are calculated by asynchronous system jobs. The Calculate Rollup Field is a recurring job that runs according to the recurrence pattern. The Mass Calculate Rollup Field job runs once, when a rollup field is added or updated. Because the rollup fields are solution components, they can be easily transported between organizations and distributed in solutions.
More information: Define rollup fields
Often, users are looking for data that is a result of some calculation. For example, a salesperson may want to know the weighted revenue for an opportunity, which is based on the estimated revenue from an opportunity multiplied by the probability. To provide this data, you can define the calculated fields in the CRM user interface without needing to write code. The calculated fields contain a value that is calculated based on conditions and a formula defined within this field. The conditions and formulas can refer to the values of the other fields in the same entity or values of the fields in the related entities. You can define a calculated field to contain values resulting from many common calculations, such as simple math operators, and conditional operations, such as Greater-Than or If-Else, and many others.
More information: Define calculated fields
Business process flows guide you through various stages of sales, marketing, or service processes toward completion. In this release, we will further improve your user experience and efficiency while working with business process flows. We are introducing a branching capability to allow you to design more complex and comprehensive process flows. As an administrator, you’ll use the new If-Else-Or logic to add multiple branches to the sequential flow. The branching condition can be formed of multiple logical expressions that use a combination of AND or OR operators. Once in place, the branch selection is done automatically, in real time, based on rules defined during the process definition. For example, in selling cars, you can configure a single business process flow, which after a common qualification stage splits into two branches on the basis of a rule (Is the buyer’s budget below $10,000 or above? Does the buyer prefer only new cars? And so on) – one for selling new cars and another for selling used cars.
More information: Enhance business process flows with branching
In the initial release of business rules, you could only evaluate whether all conditions in a rule were true. In this release, you can use multiple logical expressions, with combined OR and AND operators, to define a more complex and rich business logic. With added support of the If-Else operators, creating branching logic is a simpler task. The business process flow branching capability is built on the new If-Else logic.
More information: Create and edit business rules
In this release, we are introducing a richer, easier to configure product catalog that may help your company sell your products more efficiently. A sales operations manager can configure the product catalog to contain fewer SKUs, create product and service bundles as an attractive and cost effective offering, and define up-sell and cross-sell of products. As an administrator, you’ll define system-level settings related to the product catalog and exportand import the product catalog configuration data across CRM servers. For example, after the product catalog configuration is fully tested on the test server, you can move the configuration data to the production environment, without having to recreate it. To perform the migration, use the Configuration Migration Tool: Manage configuration data.
More information: Manage product catalog configuration
More information: Help & Training: What's new
You can disable the welcome screen (navigation tour) for the entire organization. When it’s turned off, the welcome screen isn’t presented to users every time they sign in to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
More information: Turn off the welcome screen (navigation tour)
You can bring powerful social insights into your organization by connecting Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Microsoft Social Engagement. With the new release, we will be expanding this functionality from CRM Online to CRM (on-premises). You’ll need to have a subscription to Social Engagement and be an authorized Social Engagement user before you can connect CRM (on-premises) to Social Engagement.
More information: Connect to Microsoft Social Engagement
With configurable field synchronization, admins will be able to set the sync direction (one-way or two-way) between Outlook or Exchange and CRM fields, or keep fields from synchronizing at all. For example, a salesperson may want to make personal notes about a contact. You can set the Personal Notes field for contacts in Outlook to not synchronize with CRM so the salesperson’s notes remain private.
More information: Control field synchronization between CRM and Outlook or Exchange
In the newly redesigned Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook Configuration Wizard, system administrators will be able to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) through the OAuth 2.0 Framework. OAuth 2.0 is an open framework for authorization that enables users to provide access tokens, instead of credentials, to access their data that is hosted by a given service provider (such as CRM). Using MFA can help make client authentication more secure, especially for mobile users. CRM Online and on-premises versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 can take advantage of MFA; Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 on-premises requires at least Windows Server 2012 R2.
More information: Enable multi-factor authentication through OAuth
For multinational companies with employees and customers distributed around the world, you can create and manage CRM Online instances specific to your global regions. You can create an instance in a different region than where your CRM Online tenant resides. Local instances can provide quicker data access for users in that region.
More information: Create and edit multiregional instances
Marketing users want to see Marketing dashboards on their tablets. Service personnel want to see Service dashboards. Admins and customizers can set the various CRM Online dashboards to be enabled for CRM for tablets users. It’s not just the Sales dashboard anymore!
More information: What the admin needs to do in Set up CRM for tablets.
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