CRM Business Process Flow and Stages: The Challenges…and Hacks for Making It Work

CRM Business Process Flow and Stages: The Challenges…and Hacks for Making It Work

Written By: Kayla Fricks

from May 4, 2015

Business processes were introduced with the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This new feature is used to easily and efficiently drive a user through each stage to complete a Lead, Opportunity, Case, or any other out-of-the-box or custom entity. This is a powerful feature that is extremely helpful to users by enabling them to interact with the records they are working on, which will move users through the different stages to complete the records. An example of a business process flow is a process that is created for an Opportunity to complete all the necessary steps to bring a deal to close and win the Opportunity.

To enable business process flows, one must go first to Settings, Customizations, and then click the General tab under the entity. Under that entity there is a box that says “Business process flows (fields will be created),” and this function needs to be checked. When you enable this functionality, the entity will now have two new fields: Process ID and Stage ID. The Process ID holds the ID (GUID) of the business process, and the Stage ID holds the ID (GUID) of the current process stage that the record is in.

There are several out-of-the-box business process flows that you can modify, or you can create a new one for any entity where the process flows are enabled. If the user goes to Settings, then Processes, the user can create or modify existing business process flows. These allow the user to add multiple stages to the process flow, and each stage can have multiple steps.

After much fun toying with the business process flows, we found it proved difficult to provide the ability to report on the process stage that the record is in. There is no easy way to grab the actual value of the process stage. The Process ID only stores the GUID of the stage that the record is currently in.

After much research and testing, it was found that out of the box, for the Opportunity entity, the business process stage will update the text value in the field called the Pipeline Phase. For example, if the record is moved to the process stage “Propose”, the Pipeline Phase will update to “2-Propose.” This will allow a user to grab the actual text value of the process stage; however, as most of us know, in Microsoft Dynamics CRM it is much easier to report on an option-set type of field. To be able to report on the actual value, the easiest solution is to create an option-set field, which will store the values of the process phases as well. Therefore, the next step is to create that option-set field, for example, Sales Stage, where you can put in the same values as the business process stage values. Then a workflow will need to be built that can update your new field “Sales Stage” with the value related to the Pipeline Phase, which will update each time the process stage changes. This field can be used to report and chart process stage values for a set of records.

In conclusion, the business process flow stages can be used to report and visualize the values of each record. All it takes is the time and knowledge to complete it. Happy business process flow reporting!