The new version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been available for a while now and I have had a chance to work with it with a couple of upgrading clients using the Microsoft Online version.
For the upgraded clients that have upgraded, the thing I like most is how smoothly the upgrade went for them. All their existing forms upgraded correctly and were still the default form, rather than the new Microsoft forms delivered for some of the entities. Even the custom button on one of the forms was still available as a descriptive tool button on the new form.
So the only impact to users was to come to terms with the new (to most of them) Windows 8-style menu system.
The delivery of a ‘what’s new in 2013’ session is helpful for clients to understand the new features available, such as Business processes, Business rules, and Real-time workflows.
I’m still coming to terms with Business Processes. I can see how they can be useful in that they focus the user on just those actions that are important for a given business process stage. At the same time, I am disappointed they don’t include any tools to add logic to the process. However, I’m hoping that will come in subsequent releases.
The ability to add simple business rules to a data entry form is very useful. This will reduce the need to resort to adding jscript to forms for every bit of data logic on a form. This first release only allows for very simple rules: a simple condition or conditions (no or, else) then a set of simple actions (show error, set field value, set business required, set visibility, lock/unlock field). I’m confident later releases will add more logic and command functionality.
However for me, the biggest feature of 2013 is the Mobile functionality. There are now apps available for phone and tablet devices. The iPad and Windows surface apps are only sales-focussed at present and cannot be changed. However, within what is offered – dashboard, forms, views – any customisation changes made to Dynamics CRM using the normal customisation tools, flow seamlessly to the tablet app without any further configuration. This is really brilliant.
Using an iPad and Safari browser, 2013 can now be run exactly the same way as if you were running it from your Apple Mac or PC. That’s right, all the functionality of your CRM system runs on the iPad or Windows surface via the browser. Using Dynamics CRM this way is slightly slower than using the app as the app stores the application definitions locally and only goes to the web for data. But this is a small price to pay to get the full CRM functionality (including workflows, business rules, jscript, etc) on a tablet device.
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