To understand CRM, it helps to have a firm grasp on the basics, and one of the key building blocks of Microsoft Dynamics® CRM is the entity. In the simplest terms possible, an entity is a table that holds a certain type of data, with the attributes (more on those later) functioning as the columns of the table and determining which information goes into the records of that entity type.

Entities Overview – Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Entities form a vital piece of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM framework. Essentially, entities are used to model and manage business data. Some common entities that most Dynamics CRM users are familiar with are Account, Case, Campaign, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity. These entities deal with many of the most common sales, service, and marketing data with which a CRM user frequently engages.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Entity Overview Video

There are three main types of entities: system, business, and custom. In Dynamics CRM, system entities handle internal processes such as workflows. It is important to note that system entities cannot be deleted or customized. Business entities are the default entities within Dynamics CRM which include Case, Account, and Opportunity. One of the most important elements in Microsoft Dynamics CRM is customizability. Custom entities provide organizations with a way to meet their needs head-on. One example of this is that you can create a vendor entity if you are a retail business and then dictate how it relates to different entities within your organization. Since each entity supports a variety of actions, streamlining communications processes amongst your organization is now an attainable goal.

Entity Attributes – Microsoft Dynamics CRM

For each entity in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, there is a set of attributes that corresponds to the fields in the entity form and defines the type of data contained by the records created from that entity. To help illustrate this idea, the picture below shows an Opportunity record. Each of the fields visible on the Opportunity record that you are looking at is defined by an attribute. Among the several dozen attributes of the Opportunity record are Est. Close Date (estimatedclosedate) and Status (statuscode). You can read a full list of the attributes for Opportunity records here. The attributes of each entity determine which fields appear on the entity’s form and therefore which data the records that use that entity contain.

 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Opportunity Record

Entities Ownership – Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Ownership is a key factor in how entities work. In Microsoft Dynamics CRM, most entities have an owner, which is determined by the ownership type. There are four ownership types in CRM: organization, business, user, and none. Organization-owned entities can be accessed by an entire organization. These records cannot be assigned to an individual owner (or shared). Business-owned entities belong to a Business Unit, while user-owned entities are owned by one specific CRM user and typically contain customer-related data. Accounts, Contacts, and Cases are examples of user-owned entities. A few entities in Dynamics CRM have no ownership type. They are not owned by another entity (user, business unit, or organization) within CRM.

 The following table lists the complete ownership types:

Ownership Type Description
Organization Owned Organization-owned entities typically contain data involving something that belongs to or that can be viewed by the whole organization. Organization-owned entities cannot be assigned or shared. For example, products are owned by the organization.
Business Owned Business-owned entities belong to a business unit.
User Owned User-owned entities are associated with a user. User-owned entities typically contain data that relates to customers, such as accounts or contacts. Security can be defined according the business unit for the user.
None The entity is not owned by another entity. For example, the uom (unit-of-measure) and workflowlog (workflow log) entities are not owned by another entity.


 There are many more tutorials within the Success Portal that touch on entities within Dynamics CRM. With just some basic customization, Microsoft Dynamics CRM handles data of just about any type. This concept is known as “xrm” or “anything” relationship management. is here to help you succeed in your CRM deployment. Once you have a greater understanding of entities, you will be able to tailor the entities to better serve your business needs and enrich your Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployment.

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