So you just got CRM 4.0 and upon setting up the users you see several options for Email and are a bit confused, no problem. Microsoft offers several email deployment options to suit most any company’s needs. These include an Email Router, Forward Mailboxes, and the trusty Outlook client. I wanted to take a few moments to explain some of the pros and cons of each to get people up to speed and facilitate the selection process.

CRM AND EMAIL AT A GLANCE
CRM & Email at a glance
OPTIONS

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM E-mail Router

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM E-mail Router is a software component that provides an interface between the Microsoft Dynamics CRM system and Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, SMTP, or a POP3-compliant e-mail server. When E-mail Router is installed, it transfers e-mail messages to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM system, and it sends outgoing e-mail messages. Below are the pros and cons:

Advantages

  • Can be used to connect to Exchange and POP3 mailboxes to track e-mail into Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0.
  • Can be used in deployments where the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Client for Outlook is not installed.
  • Can be used to monitor individual user mailboxes.
  • Can connect to multiple CRM organizations
  • Can be integrated with queues (unmonitored mailboxes)

Disadvantages

  • For POP3 accounts, you must create an incoming profile for each POP3 account and you must enter the password for each POP3 account.
  • Requires a dedicated computer that is always running.
  • Can be more complex to set up and maintain if used to monitor a large number of user mailboxes.

The Forward Mailbox

While there may be 3 different deployment options, be aware that Forward Mailboxes are still part of the Email Router utilizing much of the same components, but from a different ideology. The biggest difference here is that all email is brought in to a single mailbox and then “forwarded” to the other mailboxes. This, of course, is configurable as to what the mailboxes will be and who they go to, but in general there is less overhead since the email router only has to work off a single mailbox instead of one per user, for example. While hard to say what number of users makes this the most useful, this is generally for a larger user base than the Email Router option. See below for pros and cons:

Advantages

  • Reduces the number of incoming profiles that must be created and managed for organizations that monitor a large number of user mailboxes.
  • One central mailbox to monitor.

Disadvantages

  • E-mail provider must have the ability to forward as an attachment. This is required to forward e-mails to a central mailbox that is monitored by the Microsoft Dynamics CRM E-mail Router.
  • A mailbox rule must be deployed to each user to forward e-mails to the central mailbox. (more management)

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Outlook client

The Outlook client is just like it sounds; all emails are sent from the Outlook client utilizing the plugin. The biggest advantage here would be the ease of setup as there is none (from administrator standpoint) as well as the ability to see sent emails in the Sent folder of Outlook. On the other side, Outlook must be running in order for these emails to actually send. Below are some additional pros and cons:

Advantages

  • This scenario does not require the Microsoft Dynamics CRM E-mail Router. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Client for Outlook is able to send e-mail for each user whether the user sends it from within Outlook or within the CRM Web Client, as well as receive and track e-mail in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0.
  • There are no user passwords to maintain for access to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 or to the user mailboxes.
  • Sent email appears in the Sent Items folder of Outlook
  • Does not require an administrator to manage

Disadvantages

  • The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Client for Outlook must be running for e-mails to be sent or tracked in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. If the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Client for Outlook is not running, the e-mails will be queued until Outlook is launched and connects to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM server and to the mail server.
  • This scenario cannot be used for Queues created in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0.

Article written by Stephen Schilling, Technical Consultant – ERT Group

If you’re looking for specific CRM software information, check out the resources on the ERT Group website. You can also contact ERT Group for assistance in determining if a technology solution can help your organization better serve your business needs.

ERT Group is a Florida Microsoft Gold Certified Partner– offering Microsoft Dynamics ERP and Microsoft CRM.

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