Today's blog post was written by Ross Talbot, Principal Developer at Sonoma Partners.

Collaboration within your organization is vital to your success. Your teams may have different focuses, but they still want cross-selling visibility. The key is ensuring that information reaches the appropriate people in your organization to better serve your customers. In this series, we will focus on a few options for collaboration within Microsoft Dynamics CRM. 

We start with Activity Feeds because they are built into Dynamics CRM. Introduced in Dynamics CRM 2011 in an update after its initial launch, Activity Feeds are enabled when you create a new instance of Dynamics CRM. 

The first place you encounter the posts are the social dashboards in CRM such as the Sales Activity Social Dashboard or Marketing Social Dashboard. You can see the feed similarly in the “What’s New” area in the CRM sitemap. This feed view will show post records that are regarding your user record, your user is @mentioned in and posts regarding or @mentioning records that you follow in CRM.

Activity 1

You can also see the feed filtered down to records that are regarding or @mention a specific record by looking at the social pane on the record’s form.

Activity feed 2

Posts are denoted as either system generated or user posts.  User posts are manually created by users or by code on behalf of users (such as in a plugin). System generated posts are created from the activity feed configuration under the Settings->System area of the sitemap. 

Activity feed 2c

Here we can see which entities have been configured for Activity Feed posts. 

Activity feed 2d

We can take a look at all rules in the CRM organization via the Activity Feed Rules as well, however we will typically be looking at rules related to a specific entity.  In our case, let’s take a look at Opportunity.  Here we see that there are already 10 related rules on opportunity.  We see that a post will be generated when a new opportunity is created for a contact. 

Activity feed 2e

The text for a system generated is not something that can be altered, so if there is anything specific to the content of a record (more than the primary attribute of the record and links to the related record) this would require a workflow or plugin to dynamically set the text of the post instead of leveraging these native rules. As we create new opportunities and cases, we see the system generated posts created below.

Activity feed 2f

Users can now comment as replies to these system posts or add new posts for a record if there is more to be said regarding status, information that others may have, or just cheering a repeat customer.

Activity feed 2g

Activity feed 2h

Security regarding Activity Feeds is set in security roles as on or off (organization wide or none selected). Users are either allowed to view posts or not, and this is not context specific to the records related to the posts. User follows on the related records will affect visibility of these posts in the What’s New areas on dashboards, however, so users can target specific records that they want to see for the related activity posts. 

Activity feed 2i

In summary, Activity Feeds are useful for light collaboration within your CRM system. With a little configuration, you can see system generated messages that help alert the team to new opportunities, service requests, customers, or team wins. You can leverage user posts to help conversations along and have conversations within your CRM system regarding opportunities, support cases, or even shared contacts. If you are looking for ways to bring more collaboration into your CRM world, the easiest place to start is a tool that already exists in your system. If you travel that world and the seven seas and you’re still looking for something that fits your need, stay tuned for our looks at additional collaboration tools that integrate with CRM.