With the advent of BPM software which integrates with CRM, the question arises: how should CRM and BPM workflows interact with each other? Some users, especially "power users" prefer to write workflows using Dynamics CRM's workflow tool. On the other hand, complex workflows with multiple flow lines, loops and integration, must be designed using a BPM software. So what are the best practises IT teams should adopt when it comes to setting up both kinds of workflows?

We've got some hands on experience with this issue, as a BPM vendor whose software tightly integrates with Dynamics CRM. Here are some best practises we advise:

1. Use CRM workflows to listen to CRM events.

CRM workflows are ideally suited to listen to events such as the creation of a new record, reassigning a record, etc. Use them for this purpose.

At this point, if the requirement for the workflow is simple, you may just want to complete it in the CRM workflow itself.

But, if the requirement is complex, you can use the CRM workflow to call the BPM workflow, and take care of the complex activity.

2. Use CRM workflows for straightforward, linear actions.

This is what CRM workflow is built for. A series of linear steps. If that's your workflow, there's no need to look further.

3. Use BPM workflows for advanced flow requirements.

If you require multiple lines of logic (more than 1-2 paths), and loops, a BPM software with a visual workflow canvas is almost a must.

4. Use CRM workflows when working on a singular record of an entity.

CRM workflows are great for handling this situation, and they enable you to update and perform actions on a particular record of an entity quite easily.

5. Use BPM workflows for workflows which involve multiple records of entity, multiple entities, and complex logic between records and entities.

A BPM workflow can enable you to govern complex logic between multiple records and entities in an organised manner. When requirements get complex, it’s time to move to a tool that is built to handle complex workflows.

6. Use BPM workflows for integration with other systems.

BPM suites, in particular iBPMS (Intelligent BPM Suites) come with the capability to integrate workflows with additional systems. Sequence Kinetics, our iBPMS, can Dynamics CRM with SharePoint, LoB and ERP systems. Use BPM workflows when such integration is necessary. Often, such integration can help unify disparate systems and connect your organisation.

7. Enable both CRM and BPM workflows for users. Don't shy away from having both in play.

In our view, it’s a mistake to limit your workflow developers to just CRM or BPM workflows. Each has its roles, strengths and limitations. While enabling both may create some level of complexity, at the end of the day, flexibility wins out over complexity, and your users (IT and Power Users) will be able to accomplish what they want, more of the time. You may even find that CRM and BPM workflows that interact with and call each other, are the most effective.

8. Appoint a CRM Workflow supervisor, to keep track of all BPM and CRM workflows, and facilitate coordination between workflows and teams.

With multiple workflows running around, you need someone to keep track of what's going on, and ensure that there are no conflicts. This might be the most important best practise of them all!

If you want to learn more about CRM and BPM workflows, check out: http://www.pnmsoft.com/intelligent-workflows-for-dynamics-crm/


Eli Stutz

Head of Knowledge and Collaboration, PNMsoft