One of the key features included in the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is built-in integration with SharePoint. Now that the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been around for a few months, more and more businesses are starting to realise the power, potential, and value of this powerful new feature.  

What is SharePoint?

SharePoint is one of Microsoft’s fastest growing business applications. SharePoint is a collaboration tool which makes storing, accessing, finding, and sharing documents and information easy, efficient, secure, and controllable. It’s also a highly configurable application and so is ideal for creating custom business solutions. This gives SharePoint the potential to improve a wide range of business processes, and makes it great for a wide range of practical uses. These range from business-wide document management systems to SharePoint intranets.

And here’s the really good news: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 integration works with SharePoint Foundation, which you probably already own (it’s included free with most servers).

Document Control

Microsoft Dynamics CRM doesn’t have comprehensive document management functionality ‘out of the box’, so integration with SharePoint is a big advantage for areas such as Sales and Customer Service that need strong document control.

For example, say a company needs to produce a tender response or bid for a large potential project. The response document or documents can get worked on by a number of different people within the organisation. It may start at the marketing department, go through Sales, then to subject matter experts elsewhere in the company, reviewed and revised, perhaps looked over by finance, and back to sales or marketing before being collated and submitted to the client.  SharePoint enables these documents to be checked in and checked out, have all changes fully tracked and document versions tightly controlled. At the same time, by using SharePoint the business can apply different levels of security to restrict the documents, or give access only to those who need it. Later in the document’s life it can be also archived as required, while retaining its full revision history. 

SharePoint within Microsoft Dynamics CRM

With the SharePoint integration available in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online , businesses can have rich document management functionality as part of their CRM system. So while you’re working in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you’re able to create, upload, view, and delete documents that are in SharePoint and relate to what you’re working on. You’ll also be able to check documents in and out, view their version history and change their properties – all from within Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

With the previous example of a tender or bid response, the documents would probably relate to an Opportunity. But rather than attaching the document to the Opportunity as a ‘Note’, the integration with SharePoint would create a SharePoint folder and a window within Microsoft Dynamics CRM will show all the relevant documents within that folder. So your tender documentation is tightly and fully controlled, and you’re still working in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Consistent Security

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 SharePoint integration works with any entity, not just Opportunities. It’s one of the features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM that has practical application throughout the product such as case management, service management, leads, quotations, and much more. In addition, security is consistent between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint, as you can also apply the same security profiles. This means that if a user isn’t allowed to see the document in SharePoint, they won’t be able to see it in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Delivering Innovative Solutions

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint integration is really starting to bring CRM Software to the next level. Recently, Concentrix TSG has been building some sophisticated functionality and workflows using the combination of these products. For example, one of our clients produces a high volume of proposal documents. Using SharePoint’s powerful mail merge functionality (which can do a lot more than the standard mail merge in Word), the client is able to click on a button in Microsoft Dynamics CRM which automatically completes a whole list of tasks and processes in both products. One click and in the background a range of proposals are merged with selected contact and other business information, converted to PDF’s, saved in a SharePoint folder or folders, attached to an email and sent to the appropriate client (or to the user to look at first if required). These actions and activities are all logged against the relevant records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Massive Future Potential

The integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and SharePoint has massive potential and opens up a whole world of possibilities. It will be interesting to see the range of innovative solutions that businesses, Microsoft partners and others will develop in the coming months.

By Concentrix TSG – independent UK SharePoint and CRM Specialists

How Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011’s Built-In SharePoint Integration is Delivering Major Business Value is a post from: CRM Software Blog

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