Upper Management: Using CRM 2011 and SharePoint 2010 Integration to Improve Document Management Capabilities

Written By: Kelly Rose

from September 24, 2012

An organization’s efficiency and effectiveness depends on business systems that drive its processes from start to finish. Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides the ability to manage these processes, whether it falls into the area of customer acquisition, customer management or customer retention. While Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides the best possible method of managing the customer experience, there are still many customer documents created that need to be stored and must be easily searchable. Companies need to decide where these documents should be stored and is the best way to make them viewable to individuals in the organization.

As a business thrives, all of the company’s documents that are created grow exponentially as well. The ability to store sales proposals, scope of work data, client information, marketing and business correspondence, and other documents of any kind typically requires a centralized document storage location. Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s native functionality delivers file attachment capabilities on any Microsoft Dynamics CRM record, such as Accounts, Contacts, or Opportunities by using the Notes section. Users are able to upload file attachments associated to any record, but editing the same file requires multiple steps. The file must be ownloaded to a local drive or shared drive, modified, and then re-uploaded nto Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Users are not able to easily manage versions nside of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. To search for a document inside of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the entire notes entity must be queried and the document  name can be searched on.

To streamline user document management, Microsoft SharePoint can be used instead of Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s native functionality. Microsoft SharePoint is a business collaboration platform that provides total document management, simplifying how organizations store, find and share information as well as other capabilities.

There are many sensational features that Microsoft SharePoint provides. Version Control capability can be configured so every time a document is edited, a new version is created. The document can be easily reverted back to a previous version, if needed. It is so simple and easy to open a document, click on it, the document is fully editable, then just save and close when complete. There is also Content Search that allows the document name and also any document tags to be identified for use in a document tag search. Of course, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint are better used together! Through a Microsoft Dynamics CRM record, SharePoint documents can be uploaded and viewed in the same intuitive and familiar interface as Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Document folders inside of SharePoint are created every time a new record is created. Even non-CRM users are able to access the documents directly through SharePoint.

Consider the following example. Company X has the need to store sales proposal PDF documents that correlate to the sales opportunity in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Every time a sales representative for Company X creates a new sales opportunity inside of CRM, a new folder is created inside of SharePoint, but visible within the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Opportunity form, for the user to upload the document to. Company X can take advantage of SharePoint document capabilities by using version control, which would create a new version of the document every time it is modified. Now sales representatives can view previous versions of the sales proposal documents.

This native integration can be configured with just a few steps. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM/SharePoint administrator installs the Microsoft Dynamics CRM for 2011 list component for SharePoint 2010 and runs the documentation management setup wizard inside Microsoft Dynamics CRM. That’s all there is to it – Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint are ready to use!

If a business has needs beyond what the native SharePoint integration offers, a custom workflow can be written to achieve their goals. Recall the example Company X who wanted to store sales proposal PDFs inside Microsoft Dynamics CRM via the the native SharePoint integration. Fast forward to the future and Company X has decided that they would like to use Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mail Merge to populate the sales proposal customer deliverable with opportunity and customer information directly from Microsoft Dynamics CRM records. In addition, after the Mail Merge document populates, they would like the document to be automatically saved into SharePoint into one folder labeled “Proposals” where ALL customer proposals are saved. By changing the structure from multiple opportunity sales proposal folders to one proposal folder, non- Microsoft Dynamics CRM users are able to easily navigate to the proposals folder to find what they need.

Microsoft SharePoint Foundation is available and included at no cost with a licensed copy of Windows Server. Other editions are available at a price that provides enhanced functionality. There is also an exciting cloud service edition available as part of the Microsoft Office 365 platform. Whether the choice is to natively integrate Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint or use custom development to attain business objectives, the solution can be deployed using Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint On-Premise solutions, Online, or a Hybrid model.