As you probably know there are a bunch of features in CRM Online at the moment which have not yet made it to CRM 2011 (On Premise). Some of these I am very keen to see (such as Bing map integration and Yammer integration) while others I am happy to leave in the cloud.

One of the features in the second camp are the Flow forms for COLA entities (Contacts, Opportunities, Leads and Accounts). If you have not yet played with a 30 day trial of CRM online, this is what it looks like:

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We now have three columns, the ribbon is gone, as is the navigation on the left and jscript. As a glimpse of the future, it is great. As a tool for my CRM workshops, it is troublesome, especially if those workshops are for a system which is going to be on-premise. In terms of its limitations, it reminds me a little of the Absolutely Fabulous remodelled kitchen by Bettina and Max in “White Box” (‘We will bring back the stairs with Orion’).

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Using a CRM Trial in the Workshops

For CRM workshops, I find a CRM demo trial invaluable. Often, many of the people telling me about how their business works have not seen CRM before or, at least, are unsure of the finer details of how it works. Having a configurable demo system during these conversations gives the future users a sense of what the system is capable of (and not capable of) and provides a palette to mix their ideas with the configuration tools available.

When you have nervous executives in a room whose reputation, career and business depend on the system being able to perform a process as least as well as their current systems, the trial system gives a level of comfort difficult to achieve without it.

Unfortunately, an online form with a completely different look, feel and functionality to its on-premise contemporary hinders these goals. So how do we go from the above form to our, more familiar, ‘classic’ form?

Form Security

Our best friend in this case is form security, which I have talked a little bit about in the past. CRM (both online and on-premise) allows you to create multiple forms and to specify which roles can access these forms.

Suddenly the issue of the new form becomes simple to solve; we simply deny access to it to all roles. To do this we need to go to Settings-Customizations (or Solutions if the configuration is part of a Solution) – Customize the System – Entities - <Entity of Choice> (in our case, the Account entity). Once here, we can expand the drop-down to reveal Forms (which is where we want to go).

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You should see three forms (I have Parrot above, which is an excellent add-on, but not part of the standard CRM suite). These forms are:

  • Information – Main: The ‘classic’ form
  • Account – Main: The new form (unless someone has access to more than one form, in which case it changes to a 3-column ‘classic’ form)
  • Information – Mobile: The configuration page for the Mobile Express form

In our case we want to remove the ‘Account’ form from being accessed by anyone. To do this we select the Account form and click ‘Assign Security Roles’. We then remove any access to this form for any role and remove it as a fallback.

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The fallback is available so that if a user cannot access any form, there is at least one form they can use (the fallback option).

We then also make sure users have access to the form we want them to use. In our case, this is the Information – Main form.

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Once we save and publish, we find our world has changed and the Bauhaus forms are gone and the more playful ‘George Nelson’ forms return (who would have thought I would learn about modern art while researching a blog post).

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Conclusions

If, like me, you are not quite ready for the ‘modern’ style of the flow forms, you now have a way of turning them off. This is especially useful for workshops and demonstrations where the client will be using an on-premise installation with the ‘classic’ forms. Be warned though, when Orion is released, you can expect to see a lot more of the flow forms so do not think of this as a permanent form fix but more a stay of execution until On-Premise and Online are aligned.