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Application Navigation

When talking about application navigation and Dynamics 365, one could be talking about multiple things, as there are multiple interfaces for Dynamics 365.

  • Traditional web interface
  • Unified Interface (AKA unified client)
  • Dynamics 365 App for Outlook
  •  Dynamics 365 Mobile apps

In this chapter, we will describe what is likely the most common interface for dynamics 365, the traditional web user interface. This is what you'll get if you open a browser and go to your dynamics 365 environment. Later in the chapter we will describe the new unified interface. For more information on mobile or Outlook, please see  the mobile and Outlook chapters. the interface we are describing is the generic interface for new dynamics 365 customer engagement environment. If your environment has been customized, the menus and layouts may look different, but the general navigation will be similar to what we describe in this chapter.

Getting started: Accessing Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 customer engagement supports the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer on Windows
  • Microsoft Edge on Windows 10
  • Firefox on Windows
  • Safari on Mac OS X
  • Chrome on Windows or Google Nexus 10

 To log onto dynamics 365, open a supported browser and enter the URL for your Dynamics 365 environment. If your environment is hosted by Microsoft, the URL will be in the format of * in North America. Other geographies may have a number after the crm in the URL--this indicates in which data center the application is hosted.

By default, users will see a dashboard when they initially log into the system. This default start screen can be set to any menu pane in user settings

Main application navigation

The main application navigation controls are located in the upper left side of the screen. These controls remain available wherever you are in the application.

1. Office 365 application selector: This grid gives users the ability to switch to any other Office 365 application to which they have permission. This control  is available throughout office 365. users and other office 365 apps, such as SharePoint online or Outlook Web Access (OWA) can use this button to get back to Dynamics 365.

2. Dynamics 365 app selector: Clicking on the dynamics 365 logo (or what ever logo you have replaced it with in your theme) will take you back to your main start page. Clicking the down arrow  next to the dynamics 365 logo will allow you to select one of your Dynamics 365 apps. This includes  dynamics 365 customer engagement app modules, dynamics 365 for operations,  as well as Power Apps. For more information about Dynamics 365 app modules, see the App Designer chapter.

Tipsy Reminds You...

If you upgrade to Dynamics 365 8.2 or later, you may find that you accidentally hit this button as it is located in the same location that the "home" button used to be. If you find this happens, click the "home" link in the navigation menu to return to the main start screen.

3. Sitemap area: This area displays the menu (sitemap) area from which you are currently working. For more detail about the sitemap menu, see the section "understanding the sitemap." 

Clicking the drop-down arrow by this part of the menu will expose the full sitemap menu. The currently selected area will be displayed, but you can click on any of the other main areas to select the link in those areas. This is the primary way that users will navigate between application entities.

4. Entity/recently viewed records: this part of the menu will dynamically change to reflect  the entity from which you are working. For example, if I navigate to the Account link in the sitemap, this area will display "accounts."

If you click the entity name (in this example "Accounts," it will take me back to the Account view. This is helpful if I open a record but want to get back to the entity view to select another record.

If you click the drop-down arrow next to the entity name, you will be presented with a list of recently used records. This makes it easy to find your frequently accessed records.

5. Record navigation menu: If you open a record, you will notice an additional menu option becomes available. This is the record level navigation menu.

This will display the name of the selected record. Clicking the drop-down will allow you to select related entity links. For example, from an account record, a user can navigate to a view of contact records associated with the selected account record.

Tipsy Reminds You...

Confused by all of the drop-down arrows on the application navigation menu? It's not uncommon for users to be confused or accidentally click on the wrong arrow when they start using Dynamics 365; however, if you think about the logic in how they are organized it will begin to make more sense. The links go from general to specific, with application selection on the left, and individual granular record and relationship selection on the right. Want to navigate to a different record in the entity from which you are working? Click on the entity name. Want to navigate down in relationship hierarchy? click the arrow by the record name. Want to move to a different entity?  Click the drop-down arrow next to the menu area name (sales, customer service, etc).

On the right

On the right side of the top menu you will find the links for quickly finding and creating data. Want to read more about finding data, check out the chapter "Finding Data."

1. Global search: click the search button to search across multiple entities. The entities that are searched are determined in Settings>Administration>System Settings and click "select" by "select entities for categorized search." You can add up to ten entities.

Tipsy Reminds You...

​Want more than ten entities in categorized search? Add the activity entity--this will make all types of activities searchable from categorized search, and only count as one entity. Keep in mind that this means the standard fields will be searchable, but not custom fields on activity entities like phone calls, tasks, and appointments.

2. Recently viewed ​items: This link will display recently viewed records and views, making it easy to return to frequently used application areas. This includes items viewed in all interfaces, including Dynamics 356 mobile as D365 App for Outlook.

If you want to lock a favorite item so it always appears in the recently viewed items list, hover over it with your mouse and click the push pin on the right of the item name.

3. Quick Create: The + button gives users the ability to quickly create records. Quick create uses a special type of form called "Quick Create Form," designed to be more simple than the full entity form for quick data entry.

To be available for quick create, the entity must be set to allow quick create in Settings>Customization and have at least one quick create form defined for the entity.

Tipsy Reminds You...

Remember that when you use quick create, the newly created record does not maintain context to a parent record--for example, if you click the + for quick create while on a company record and select "Contact," the contact form will not automatically populate the account field on the contact form. If you want the created record to maintain context to a parent record, you need to create in from the associated view for that entity in the parent record navigation menu, or from a subgrid on the parent record form.

​4. Advanced Find: Advanced ​Find is the query builder in Dynamics 365 that allows users to filter lists of records, select view column layouts and sorting, and save personal views. For more detail on using Advanced Find, see the next chapter.

​5. Options gear: The options gear gives you access to personal settings and application options.

  • ​Options are personal options for the application. This includes options like the default start pane for the application, number of records displayed per page of views, email tracking options, and user Exchange synchronization filters.
  • Apps for Dynamics 365: This is where you can deploy the Dynamics 365 App for Outlook or find the links for mobile apps.
  • See Welcome Screen: If you want to see the welcome screen that pops up the first time you access the application, ​click this option. You may want to do that to visit the link for books and videos about Dynamics 365.
  • ​About: this option will display the version of Dynamics 365 that you are using. This is helpful when you talk to Microsoft support​ so they can provide appropriate assistance for the version which you are using. Also, when you read Microsoft documentation, the document will detail which versions the information is applicable to. By finding your application version number, you will be able to verify that the documentation applies to your version.
  • Opt Out of Learning Path: If you don't want to see in-application guided learning (Learning Path), you can use this option to opt out of seeing this feature (or opt in if you have already opted out)>
  • Privacy and Cookies: this option will display the Microsoft privacy statement

​6. Help: This link will display application help content. If your organization opts in to learning path and creates custom help content, your organization's help content and learning path content will be displayed when the help link is clicked.

7. User Account: The circle with the head in it is where you can see details about the logged in user or log out. This is also where you can provide a photo (which will be displayed on the user button and user record forms).

To add your user photo:

  • ​Click the user account circle and select "Edit image"
  • ​Browse to photo and click "OK."
  • ​The user account circle will now display your image.


​Working with the sitemap

​The sitemap is the main Dynamics 365 application navigation menu.

Finding Data

How can we find data in CRM?

Using CRM is not simply about entering data in, but what value is there if you can't then go find it again later? In this chapter, we will focus in on the different ways to seek out data that resides in CRM.

The basic methods for finding records include:

  • Recently Viewed Records
  • Searching
  • Filtering Views
  • Advanced Find

Each of these approaches offers suits a different need and we will cover each of the options below.

Recent Records

Whenever you navigate around Dynamics 365, the system keeps track of the individual records and views that you have viewed. Instead of having to search through to find records again, you can pull up a list of recently viewed records and click through to return to that item. This is very similar to the recent records you might already be familiar with in Word, Excel, or most other Microsoft Office applications.

The recent records list is a combination of multiple record types, which you can tell apart based on the icon symbol next to the record name.

In the traditional Dynamics 365 interface, use the Recent Records icon in the sitemap. There are two columns displayed. The left-hand column shows a list of Recent Views and the right-hand column shows a list of Recent Records.

The recent records icon is in the main navigation in the traditional Dynamics 365 interface.

In the unified interface of Dynamics 365 (available on Dynamics 365 v9.0) recent records icon is found in the sitemap via the hamburger menu icon, which exposes the full navigation. Behind which you will find the recent records menu.

The recent records icon is in the main navigation in the Unified Universal Dynamics 365 interface.

Additionally, you can find an entity-specific list of recent records by opening the  hamburger menu icon then clicking the carat next to any entity type for which you have recently viewed records.

The recent records list for each entity by clicking the arrow next to the entity name in the main navigation.

Global Search

Searching for a record is table-stakes for any CRM system--and sometimes you don't necessarily know what "type" of record you're looking for. A Lead? An Opportunity? An Account? All of the above and more? It would become cumbersome to search separately through each record type.

This is where Global Search comes through in a big way.


Accessing the global search is easy. Simply click on the magnifying glass in the navigation menu, found either on the top or left side of the window depending on your configuration.


Type in your search term then press enter (or tap the search button). The system will search across the different entities, returning the matching results.

[Tippy: You can use a wildcard like * when searching.]

[Note: Not all record types and fields are search-enabled. If you're not seeing all of the results you would expect, check with your administrator.]

Search Techniques

[strategies and best practices for searching]

Category Search vs. Relevance Search

If enabled, you may have two different options for the format of search that you use.

Category Search displays results in several columns, with each column representing a different record type. 

Relevance Search returns all records in a single list, similar to results of a Bing or Google search, and includes filters that you can apply to further refine the results. We will cover these filters in another chapter.

If Relevance Search is enabled for your organization, you can can choose whether you use Category Search or Relevance Search. Changing this only impacts your own user experience.

Tipsy Reminds You...

CRM Remembers your search format selection for future searches, for convenience, but you can always switch between the two.

Record Views (lists)

For each entity type, you are able to pull up lists of those records that you have permission to view. These lists are called by other names, such as lists or reports, but regardless of what you call them, they are used to display records in lists that can then be sorted, filtered, and searchedA core set of System Views are configured by an administrator, but views can also be personalized for a specific business unit, team, or individual. 

In this chapter, we will use an example of the Account entity and the related views.

When navigating to the Account entity, 

[animated gif: Account]

Contact Management

Contacts are people or individuals with which your company has a relationship. This can include people who work for customer companies, individuals that you sell directly to, or advisers or other people who have relationships with people or companies with whom you do business. Like companies, contacts are a very important entity, as they are one of the core customer entities and available to be selected as customers or activity parties. Think of contacts in Dynamics 365 as your company Rolodex. Rather than just having everybody maintain their own individual set of contacts, some of which may be inaccurate or outdated, maintaining contact records in dynamics 365 affords your company the ability to have a shared contact address book and lays the foundation for activity management.

The Contact Form

In this section will look at the standard contact form layout for dynamics 365 contacts.

Header and Summary Tab

The default form configuration for contacts only includes the record owner in the header. The header is designed to provide visibility for up to the four most important fields on the record. The header persists as you scroll down the form or view associated record views. You will probably want to add additional fields to the contact form header. Dynamics 365 administrators typically add fields like phone number or email address to the contact form header to make it easy to communicate with the contact.

The summary tab provides the most frequently accessed details about the contact. The contact information section provides answer the questions who, what, and where. What is this person's name, what is his or her job title, where do they live or work, and how do we get in touch with them.

The activity and social pane is in the middle of the form, as it is will all other standard entity forms. This provides users with visibility for historical notes, activities, and posts related to this contact. For more information about working with activities and notes in Dynamics 365, see the next chapter.

The third section of the summary tab includes subgrids for related entity records. This is helpful to provide users with a "360 degree view" of records related to the contact. The default relationships displayed in this section are opportunities, cases, and entitlements. I recommend that you remove any of these that you don't use in context of contacts and add whatever other relationships are most valuable to your users. For example, if you sell primarily to companies, you probably won't want to show opportunities on the contact form (as your opportunities will be related to companies, not contacts).

Tipsy Reminds You...

The default format arranges information in a logic manner. The most important details are on the left, with historical and related records on the right. Sometimes configurators are tempted to move the activity pane to a different location on the form. While there can be good reasons to do so, a guiding principle of good configuration is consistency. If you move the activity pane to the bottom of the form on contacts, you should also move it to the same location on all other entities so users are not confused when they use the system. By maintaining a standard form layout for common components, training users on application navigation will be simplified.

Details Tab

The details tab of the contact form includes the least frequently accessed details about the contact. This is the "below the fold" information. While this data is infrequently accessed, it can still be very important.

The left sections include personal details, such as gender, marital information, and birthday. Note that the spouse/partner field is a text field--if you sell to clients in household situations, like insurance, you may wish to replace the standard spouse field with a contact lookup to link your customers to their spouse contact records.

The marketing section includes marketing related details, such as originating lead and campaign details. If you generate contacts from leads or include contacts in marketing lists related to campaigns, these details will be automatically captured by Dynamics 365.

The Contact Preferences section records the communication preferences of the contact, including preferred contact method and whether or not communication via email, bulk email, phone, fax, or mail are allowed. Some of these fields carry special properties in the system, for example, if a contact is set to not allow email, the system will not allow an email to be sent from Dynamics 365 to or regarding that contact. If you set phone call to “do not allow,” the system will not allow users to include the contact in a phone call. Note that this does not actually prevent the user from calling or emailing the contact, it just prevents these types of records from being created in the Dynamics 365 system. 

Tipsy Reminds You...

Contact Preferences provide basic preference management, but are not sufficient to comply with many anti-spam or privacy regulations like EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). You will want to ensure that you are in compliance with all relevant regulations.

Also, since your employees may use multiple systems to communicate with clients, many Enterprise companies maintain client communication preferences and synchronize preference details between multiple business systems. The source for preference management can be Dynamics 365, or it can be a different system (like Adobe Marketing) and integrated with Dynamics 365.

The Shipping and Billing sections are used to record the payment and shipping terms for the contact. Typically these fields are only used if you sell directly to individuals and create quotes, orders, or invoices in Dynamics 365. If you sell to businesses, you likely can remove these sections from the form (although you may want to hold on to the Currency field if you have money field on the contact or related entities).

Missing fields

In an effort to simplify the Contact form, Microsoft does not include every account field on the form. The following are frequently used system fields that exist in the Contact entity but are not included by default on the form. You may want to add these fields to the form if they have value to you:

  • Address 2: Dynamics 365 includes 2 addresses on the contact entity (and as many as you want more via the “more addresses” entity). By default, only address 1 is displayed. If you have two primary addresses for your customers (such as mailing and street address), add address 2 and define for which purpose each address should be used (such as street address in address 1 and mailing address in address 2).
  • Relationship Type (customertypecode): Option set used to classify contacts based on the type of relationship that they have with you. Need to identify whether a company is a customer or prospect? Use relationship type and update the option set with the appropriate values.
  • Nickname: Need to store the formal name of clients, but want to also know how they are informally addressed so that you call Gerald "Jerry" when you talk to him? Nickname is a standard field that can be used for this purpose. If your contact data is integrated with another system, you may lock editing on the contact name fields. By allowing users to populate or edit the nickname field, you will empower them to refer to clients using their preferred name.
  • Suffix: When you sell to households, you will have people who have the same name in the same house. The suffix field allows you to store the suffix (like Jr. or Sr.) and make sure that the contact is addressed correctly in communication.
  • Middle Name: Dynamics 365 includes a standard middle name field that you can add to your form.
  • First Name/Last Name: The default form configuration includes the "Full Name" field. This is a unique control that combines the first and last name in a single field. When you click on "Full Name," a dialog open that allows you to enter first and last names. If you use additional name fields, such as Middle Name, Suffix, or Nickname, these values will not be included in the "full name" field. In this case, you may want to remove the full namve from the form and add the individual first and last name fields in a section with the other name fields. Another common reason for replacing the full name field with separate first and last name fields is for users who want to keep their fingers on the keyboard and tab through the form without touching their mouse.

Tipsy Reminds You...

The Middle Name will be included in the record name if you set your full name format to a format that includes middle name. This setting can be changed in Settings>Administration>System Settings "Set the full-name format" field. Changes made to this setting will only affect new records created or records modified after the setting is changed. 

The Nickname field synchronizes with Exchange via the Dynamics 365 server-side Exchange synchronization. If you populate Nickname, this name will appear in Outlook on synchronized contact records.

  • Home Phone, Business Phone 2, Email Address 2 and 3: If you need more phone or email address fields, you can add these to the form rather than creating custom fields.
  • Has Children, Children's Names, No. of Children: If you want to record details about your client's children (so you can ask them how little Bobby is doing in school), Dynamics 365 includes standard fields that can be used for these purposes.
  • Modified By and Modified On: System fields indicating who last updated the record and when it was updated. If this is important detail to see on the record, you may want to add these fields to the form footer.
  • Status and Status reason: indicate the status (active/inactive) of the record. Typically users can tell if a contact is active or inactive based on whether the record is editable; however, if you integrate your contacts with another system or you don’t grant users security permissions to update records, they may see active records on read-only forms, so adding the Status or Status Reason to the account form may be helpful in identifying the active state of a record.

Tipsy Reminds You...

Tip #516: Say no to the first name (by George Doubinski)

As some of you know, with the exception of the podcast where we keep straight face, Joel and I disagree a lot. This time I think he is wrong and I am right (I think that most of the time, to be fair). Without further ado, our most recent squabble.


I’ve had it with first and last names (project I was working on had a list of countries where these names are to be swapped when building the full name o__O). It’s culture dependent and mostly useless except when searching by the surname. So the idea I’m entertaining to use form now on for contacts:

  1. Use just name which is the same as the fullname (just remove first name and relabel the last name). Example: George Doubinski, Mao Dze Dun, Mao Zedong, Schnitzel Von Krumm, Joel Ave Maria Johnathan Batista Lindstrom.
  2. Use salutation to determine how to address the contact, e.g. George, Shifu, Leader, Dog, Mr & Mrs Lindstrom etc. That’d be used in the letters as in Dear Leader, Dear Shifu, Dear Mr & Mrs Lindstrom, etc.

Any issues with this approach? (Apart, of course, from the need to fill in an archaic form that requires separate first and last names)


Kind of funny, I was just having a conversation about this specific idea with a client lately. Their source system only had a single name for contacts, which made moving them into CRM a bit of a challenge.

I can see the attraction of having a single name; however, as I see it, there are two major downsides:

  1. Outlook sync. IMO the sync experience is weird if you don’t have separate first and last names, especially since that is how Outlook and most contact management applications on phones, etc do it. So if your CRM contacts start syncing in with only the last name/surname field populated, it looks really out of place if you have other contacts with separate first and last names.
  2. You are limiting options for direct mail/mail merge/marketing automation. If your client ever wants to do any kind of targeted marketing with CRM data, not having separate first and last name fields precludes having templates that say “Dear John” or “Mr. Doubinski.” I’ve had too many cases where a client tells me “we’re never going to …” to turn around and need to do that thing later.

My approach is to have an alternate firstname lastname field that stores the name in the opposite order of the fullname field and make it searchable. That way if I search for “Redlaces, Captain” or “Captain Redlaces” I get a result.


Haven’t thought about 1 but for 2 is exactly what salutation is about. So my name is George Doubinski but I’d prefer if you address me as Dear <salutation>, e.g. Dear Shifu.

The challenge with the first names is that in many countries they have the exactly opposite meaning, e.g. China. I know that for you, being in egocentric North America, it’s a concept that is hard to fathom but I thought after your visit to Japan you’d have a bit more appreciation of what we’re dealing with on a daily basis trying to offload the coal surplus?!


I agree that it is most useful for Asian countries. For North America, you would want the option to use the last name, such as Mr. Doubinski


Oh boy… “How would you like us to address you? Mr Lindstrom? OK” (busily writing “Mr. Lindstrom” in salutation field)

Does it work for you?


What about “Dear first name, we would like to invite you and the rest of the [lastname] family to our event?” Not saying that is everyday, but not unheard of.


Oh man, imagine if the guy is single because his family [insensitive blurb removed]. Who’d be responsible for his suicide then?!
Not saying that is everyday, but not unheard of.


The client is a life insurance company. They would have updated his marital status in CRM.

Understanding the relationship between Accounts and Contacts

​There are two relationships between Accounts and Contacts in Dynamics 365:

1. 1:N relationship between Accounts and Contacts. This relationship sets the parent customer relationship for contact records. The name of the parent account appears in the Parent Customer/Account Name field.

Contacts associate with Accounts are visible via the "Related Contacts" subgrid or navigation menu area on the Account form.

2. Primary Contact lookup field on the account form: this 1:1 relationship allows users to specify the primary point of contact for a company. For non-traditional usages of Accounts, this field is frequently re-purposed to show the primary point of contact, such as head of household.

While these are separate relationships, they work together. A best practice is that the primary contact for a company should also be related to that company as an associated contact (with the company selected as the contact's parent customer). When selecting a Primary Contact on an Account record, the lookup will filter to contacts related to the company.

If you want to select a contact that is not related to the company, you will need to uncheck the "Filter by related company name" checkbox on the lookup dialog. when you select the primary contact.

Building Your Golden Rolodex

You are starting from scratch with Dynamics 365 and your first question may be "how do I populate my contact database?" Frequently, a company will have a master company list from an ERP or accounting systems. However, these other business systems do not typically maintain a list of business contacts. In this section we will discuss common ways of getting contact data into dynamics 365.

  1. Individual users' personal address books: You can get each user to provide their personal list of business contacts, or have them track their relevant contact in the Dynamics 365 app for Outlook. However, you want to be very careful that you don't inadvertently load bad or duplicate data. Also contact data that comes from your individual user's personal address books may have private details and notes that you may not way to be visible in Dynamics 365. It is recommended that you maintain some level of control over contact data and verify the data quality prior to loading multiple user's individual contacts into the system. The usability of Dynamics 365 is only as good as the quality of its data, and if you simply load multiple individual address books into the system, you will have incomplete, inaccurate, or duplicate data. It's always easier to clean up from the beginning than moving bad data in and cleaning it up later. If you will be building your database from user's personal contacts, my recommendation is to collect them all in a single spreadsheet or database table, enhance and de-duplicate the data (if necessary, use a third-party data cleansing and enhancement service), then import into dynamics 365 via the standard import utility or a good import/ETL tool like SSIS with KingswaySoft. This will also help you ensure that the contacts get correctly matched and related to their parent companies or organizations.
  2. Import templates: Porting your data from spreadsheets or from data gathered from other business systems, another option is data import templates templates in Dynamics 365. Go to Settings>Data Management and choose "Templates for Data Import. Select the contact entity in the Templates for Data Import dialog and click Download. Data templates provide a blank XML spreadsheet with columns from the selected entity. Columns are formatted to enforce data types and option set values, making data import more reliable.
  3. Immersive Excel: If you use Dynamics 365 Online, you can go to any contact view and click Export to Excel/Open in Excel Online. The view will open in Excel Online inside of Dynamics 365. You can type or paste in new contact rows directly into the spreadsheet, then click Save changes to Dynamics 365 to create the new records.

Tipsy Reminds You...

Before you import your contact data, always verify that your contact duplicate detection rules are published. Dynamics 365 unpublished duplicate detection rules when entity metadata changes (such as when configuration changes are published. Data import will prevent creation of duplicate contacts if duplicate detection rules are published.

Contact Synchronization Considerations

When building your golden rolodex, it is important to consider up front what  the desired contact synchronization behavior should be between Dynamics 365 and Exchange/Outlook. If you don't think about this before loading your contacts and users logging in to the system for the first time, the result may be a painful experience for your users.

 By default, users will receive any contact that they own in Dynamics 365 synchronized to their Exchange and Outlook contacts. While this works well for many companies, it may not be optimal for you. Consider that if users own many contacts, the default synchronization rule may overload their personal address book with thousands of contacts, making Outlook contacts cumbersome to navigate. On the other hand, if users own very few contacts but want to have contacts synchronized besides those that they own, the default synchronization rule will not deliver the desired result.

It's also important to ask the question "do we want context synchronizing at all? When exchange synchronization was introduced years ago, this was a very handy feature, as it was really the only option for Dynamics 365 contacts to be available from email and mobile phones. However, with the advent of Dynamics 365 for mobile, all major mobile platforms have very good Dynamics 365 apps available for them, which include full access to Dynamics 365 contacts. This means that from my phone I can easily search and find a desired contact, click to dial or email, and log an activity record, all without synchronizing any contacts to my change inbox. For these reasons a  growing number of users are turning off contact synchronization and simply using the Dynamics 365 app to call and email contacts.

Contact synchronization recommendations

  • Determine if contact synchronization is necessary. Test the Dynamics 365 mobile app and verify if users can use the app in place of contact synchronization.
  • If contact synchronization is necessary, determine what the optimal sync filter logic will be for your users. Will users want every contact that they own to be synchronized with their mailboxes, or will some other logic be more optimal.
  • Some companies want to use contact synchronization, but make it a subscription model rather than automatically synchronizing all contacts that users own. A common approach is to have users "follow" contacts that they want to synchronize, and then use the "Contacts I Follow" view for the user's contact synchronization filter. Note, the system limits how many records can be followed by an individual user to 1,000 records.

For more information about modifying synchronization filters in Dynamics 365, see the Server-Side Synchronization chapter.

Tipsy Reminds You...

Tip 1028: Prevent Duplicate Contacts the Viking Way

Marius “CRM Viking” Pedersen gave us a great tip about how to prevent duplicate contacts from being created in Dynamics 365:

I set emailaddress as alternate key on contact once. That actually worked very well to prevent duplicate contacts from being created. It also required that all contacts must have an email address.

You have to start with clean data, either at the beginning of a deployment, or deduplicate your contacts, as you cannot create an alternate key on a field that contains duplicate data.

An additional benefit is that when you use the web api the email is an alternate key, so you can retrieve and update data using the emailaddress1. So if you push data from your ERP solution you don’t have to create a mapping between MSDYN customerid and ERP customerid.

Configure Synchronization Direction

The following fields synchronize between Outlook and Dynamics 365 Contacts:

Outlook Field

Dynamics 365 field



Assistant’s Name


Assistant’s Phone

Assistant Phone



Business Fax


Business Phone

Business Phone

Business Phone 2

Business Phone 2


Callback Number


Children’s Names

Company Main Phone

Company Phone





E-mail 2

Email Address 2

E-mail 3

Email Address 3

FTP Site

FTP Site

Full Name

Full Name

Government ID Number


Home Address

Address 2

Home Phone

Home Phone

Home Phone 2

Home Phone 2

Job Title

Job Title

Mailing Address/Business Address

Address 1

Manager’s Name



Mobile Phone





Other Address

Address 3

Other Phone

Telephone 3



Parent (Regarding)

Company Name (Regarding)


Spouse/Partner Name

Web Page


Yomi First Name

Yomi First Name

Yomi Last Name

Yomi Last Name

This synchronization is a bi-directional synchronization, meaning that changes made in one side will overwrite the same field in the other. This can cause issues in some scenarios:

  1. If users store sensitive notes on contact records in Outlook, the default synchronization behavior may expose sensitive data to other employees.
  2. If someone updates a field like Description in Dynamics 365, the synchronization may overwrite personal notes in Outlook with the description from Dynamics 365.

To prevent these from happening, you can modify the default synchronization direction for any of the synchronized fields. In Settings>Administration>System Settings go to the Synchronization tab. Click the hyperlink to manage synchronization fields of Outlook and Exchange items. 

  1. In the Synchronization Settings dialog, select "Contact" in the Entity Type drop-down.
  2. For each field you wish to modify the synchronization direction, click the Synchronization Direction arrow until you see the desired direction. Options include:
  • Two headed arrow: bi-directional synchronization.
  • One-headed arrow: data will be synchronized in the direction that the arrow is pointing. For example, if the arrow is pointing toward Outlook/Exchange, changes made to the contact in Dynamics 365 will overwrite fields in Outlook. 
  • Two headed arrow with an X: This will not synchronize changes. Use this setting for the description/notes field if you don't want to expose sensitive private notes in Dynamics 365 or you don't want to have Dynamics 365 overwrite users' personal notes in Outlook contacts.

Once you have the desired Contact field synchronization direction set, click "OK" to close the dialog.

Merge duplicate Outlook contacts

You set up your contact synchronization filters and users start using Dynamics 365. They will likely see some duplicate contacts in Outlook after they start using Dynamics 365. If contacts downloaded in the initial synchronization are the same as contacts already existing in the user’s Exchange/Outlook contacts, a new contact is created, rather than updating the existing which duplicates existing contacts that I have in Outlook. This is by design so the synchronized contact doesn’t overwrite data you have in your personal contacts. But you now have two copies of the same contact in your inbox, the official synchronized version, and the personal copy that has years of notes that you don’t want to lose.

This can be frustrating and make your Exchange contacts more cumbersome to use. Fortunately there is a not-so-painful process to merge these contacts so you can keep your data and merge it with the master contact.

  • In Outlook, click People and change the view to the phone view (if not already selected).

  • Create a new folder in Outlook contacts. I call mine Backup Merge.
  • Select all contacts with the vcard icon and drag to the backup merge folder.
  • Move the contacts from the backup merge folder back to the main contacts folder.
  • Outlook’s duplicate detection will prompt you for each duplicated contact that an existing version of that contact already exists, giving you the option to merge the synchronized contact with your personal copy.
  • The updated contact will then synchronize back to Dynamics 365.

    Warnings and risks

    Keep in mind that this will overwrite the data in Dynamics 365 with your personal contact data. Of course, this introduces risks to your data quality. If your master contact data is pristine, you may want to take a more manual approach. However, in some situations, the contact data in your user's Outlook may be more up to date than the stale old copy that you have in the master database.

    If you don’t see the icon change

    So if you merge the contacts and you wait a while and you don’t see the icon change back to the synced icon, one common reason is duplicate detection. If you have duplicate detection rules published and more than one copy of the contact exist in CRM, duplicate detection will prevent the contact update from synchronizing back to CRM.

    Go to the users mailbox record (located in Settings > Email Configuration > Mailboxes). Open the user’s mailbox and go to the alerts tab. If you have a contact where synchronization is being blocked due to a duplicate scenario in Dynamics 365, you will see an alert letting you know that duplicate detection has prevented the update and giving you the option to approve the update. Click yes to update the contact record in Dynamics 365. After that you should see the icon change back to the two-headed synchronized version.

    Wrapping Up

    Contacts are one of the most important entities in Dynamics 365, and along with Accounts, Contacts put the Customer in CRM. When implemented properly, Dynamics 365 Contacts provide your users with a "golden Rolodex" of shared business contact data, ensuring that everybody has access to the up-to-date contact information, and that contacts will receive great customer service (since contact preferences will be honored and people who interact with contacts will have a 360-degree view of relevant contact information.

    To build your "golden Rolodex," you must first determine where your contact data will come from and how you will get it into Dynamics 365. Options include import utility, third party migration/ETL utilities, Dynamics 365 templates for data import, immersive Excel, or user's personal contact lists.

    However you get the data into Dynamics 365, data quality and duplicate record prevention are vital to good Dynamics 365 user experience.

    Another important consideration as you set up your contact database is what should our contact synchronization strategy be? People value their personal contact lists, and careless deployment without careful thought of synchronization strategy risks unwanted surprises that may damage user perception of Dynamics 365 when people start using the system. 

    Determine if contact synchronization is desired, set the synchronization filters to optimal settings, plan for sensitive data and set field synchronization direction appropriately, and plan for duplicates in Outlook--they are going to happen, so plan ahead and have a strategy for duplicate remediation before you need it.

    Account Management

    Accounts in Dynamics 365 “represent a company with which the business unit has a relationship.” 

    This can include customers, prospective customers, vendors, competitors, or any other type of company. [Insert tippy tip about renaming account entity]. Account is one of the most important entity, as almost all other entities are related to account directly or indirectly. Accounts are the potential customer on opportunities, the customer on cases, orders, quotes, and invoices. And along with Contacts, they put the C in “CRM.

    Account form

    Let’s review the account form to understand what is available by default.



    The default header includes annual revenue, number of employees, and owner. Given that the header is always visible, unless these are the most important fields to you, you may want to replace some of these fields with more relevant information.

    Summary Tab

    The summary tab includes the most frequently accessed details about the company.

    1. Account information identifies who the company is along with phone number, address, website, and parent account. Frequently the account number field is added to this section if your company uses account numbers to refer to clients (for example, when CRM is integrated with ERP).
    2. Activity and social pane is a common component of all forms for entities enabled for activities and notes.
    3. The third section includes a link to the primary contact (person) for the company, along with other methods of contact, including email and phone. This section also presents related child entity data, giving users a 360 degree view of company relationships, including contact associated with the company, recent open sales opportunities, cases, and entitlements.

    Note that in the image above there appears to be a lot of empty space. As additional notes and activities are added to the account, the form will look more complete. If you don’t use any of these entities, you can remove these subgrids or replace with more relevant information (such as related quotes or orders)

    Details Tab

    The details tab includes less frequently accessed account information. The details tab is typically infrequently accessed, and may be important only to a small subset of users, but it is important information.

    1. Company profile includes identifiers for Industry and SIC code, as well as public/private ownership.
    2. Marketing reflects marketing related details, such as what was the originating lead, last date the account was included in a campaign, and whether or not marketing materials should be sent to the company.
    3. Billing captures the billing and financial details for company financial transactions. The most important field in this section is currency, as it determines the default currency to be used for related quotes, opportunities, orders, invoices, or any other related child entity with currency fields that is related to the company. The other fields such as credit limit and payment terms are useful reference points, and do set properties on related quotes, order, and invoices. If you integrate CRM with your ERP, the financial system typically maintains these properties.
    4. Description is a long text field for a description of the company. This can be helpful for a sales representative to read when he or she is new to familiarize themselves with the company, and many Dynamics 365 customers copy the description of a company from their website to populate this field; however, you want to be careful, as this information can get outdated, so it is recommended not to rely too heavily on the account description form if you don’t regularly update it.
    5. Contact Preferences record the communication preferences of the company, including preferred contact method and whether or not communication via email, bulk email, phone, fax, or mail are allowed. Some of these fields carry special properties in the system, for example, if an account or contact are set to not allow email, the system will not allow an email to be sent from CRM to or regarding that customer. If you set phone call to “do not allow,” the system will not allow users to include the customer in a phone call. Note that this does not actually prevent the user from calling or emailing the company or contact, it just prevents these types of records to be created in the Dynamics 365 system. Also note that this may not be sufficient to comply with certain anti-spam laws to prove consent to be contacted.

    Missing fields

    In an effort to simplify the Account form, Microsoft does not include every account field on the form. The following are frequently used system fields that exist in the account entity but are not included by default on the form. You may want to add these fields to the form if they have value to you:

    • Account number: A text field and is frequently used when integrating Dynamics 365 with your ERP or financial system.
    • Address 2: Dynamics 365 includes 2 addresses on the account entity (and as many as you want more via the “more addresses” entity). By default, only address 1 is displayed. If you have two primary addresses for your customers (such as mailing and street address), add address 2 and define for which purpose each address should be used (such as street address in address 1 and mailing address in address 2).
    • Relationship Type (customertypecode): Option set used to classify companies based on the type of relationship that they have with you. Need to identify whether a company is a customer, prospect, competitor, or vendor? Use relationship type and update the option set with the appropriate values.
    • Category: Option set capturing whether the customer is “standard” or “preferred”
    • Classification: Option set indicating the potential value of the customer account based on the projected return on investment, cooperation level, sales cycle length or other criteria.
    • Modified By and Modified On: System fields indicating who last updated the record and when it was updated. If this is important detail to see on the record, you may want to add these fields to the form footer.
    • Status and Status reason: indicate the status (active/inactive) of the record. Typically users can tell if an account is active or inactive based on whether the record is editable; however, if you integrate your accounts with another system (like ERP) or you don’t grant users security permissions to update records, they may see active records on read-only forms, so adding the Status or Status Reason to the account form may be helpful in identifying the active state of a record.


    Deploying account management

    As you start using Dynamics 365 for account management, there are several questions that you will need to answer as you build your account data in Dynamics 365.

    Where will my data come from?

    Are you migrating company data from another system? Importing it from a spreadsheet? Or is the data integrated and synchronized with another system

    If you are integrating Dynamics 365 accounts with another system (like ERP), which system will be the “master” for integrated records? For example, if you are integrating with Dynamics AX, you probably will want AX to be the “owner” of customer records, given that the ERP controls financial transactions and order fulfillment. For integrated company records, you will want to lock down primary account fields (so that users don’t overwrite integrated field data values).

    But you may have other types of companies that you work with that are not in the ERP, such as prospective clients that have not ordered anything yet. If Dynamics 365 will be used to manage sales opportunities with leads and prospective customers, you will want to give salespeople permission to update fields like company name and address on prospective customer records, but lock these fields down on client record.

    A common approach for controlling updates to customer records is to populate the Account Number field in Dynamics 365 accounts with the identifier for the company in the master system. Then, via a business rule, lock the fields that should not be updated by end users if the Account Number field contains data.

    With this approach, salespeople will have the flexibility to create and update prospective client records while protecting master client data.


    What’s in a name?

    The name of company records is very important, the company name is what you will use to search for companies that they work for, and the name field appears in any lookup field that references a company (such as the “Regarding” field on activities and the parent customer field on contacts).

    The “name” field on accounts should contain the name which your users use to refer to the company. Sometimes the commonly used company name is not the same as the legal name of a company. For example, say you work with a large retail chain with multiple locations—you will want to name the locations in a way that users can easily identify which company location they are working with. You may want to add an identifier such as city name to the company name to make it easier for users to identify the correct account.

    If the common name of the company is different than the legal name, and you are integrating Dynamics 365 with your accounting system, you may want to add a secondary name field. That way you can use the name field for the “friendly” name that users refer to the company and also have another text field for the official legal name for the integration.

    Who is the parent?

    Another planning point is the parent account hierarchical structure. If you work with large companies with multiple locations, you will need to decide how the hierarchy will be modeled in Dynamics 365. Should you create a company for each level in the hierarchy, or should you flatten it out? One rule of thumb is you should create a company for each level at which somebody can buy something or each level where you have distinct people that you work with. So if you work with a manufacturing company with a corporate headquarters, two divisions, and different locations for each division, you may create an account for each location, a parent account for each division, and have each division account parented by a record for the corporate headquarters.

    What you need to know about Parent accounts

    • Parent account is a self-referential 1:N relationship between accounts. A company’s parent is visible via the Parent account lookup field on the account form.
    • The relationship hierarchy can be viewed by clicking the hierarchy visualization button on the upper right side of the form.

    • Activities on accounts roll up to the activity view on their parent accounts. If you have a scenario where you have different sales reps working with different locations of a company and you want to be able to monitor what is going on at all locations, you don’t have to open each company to read the activity history—just open the parent account and look at the activity view.

     How should I classify my accounts?

    Given that many different types of companies can reside in the account entity, it is important to classify your account data so that users can find what they need to find and different types of companies can live together peacefully.

    Why not just separate different types of companies into different entities?

    You may be tempted to say “instead of adding different types of companies into the same entity, I will create custom entities for customers, prospect, investors, advisors, and vendors.” While you can do this, it is typically not advisable for the following reasons:

    1. Some companies will have multiple types—you may have a company that you sell products to from which you also purchase components used in your manufacturing process. If you separate them to different entities, you will duplicate data.
    2. The standard account/contact relationship has special properties—address values map from account to contact when contacts are created, the company relationship on the account form points to Account entity, and the account name synchronizes to Outlook contacts with the standard exchange contact synchronization. If you use separate relationships between contacts and other types of company records, you will limit this system functionality for contacts related to other types of companies.
    3. Account entity has standard support for multiple addresses per company. While you can add custom address fields to custom company entities, you cannot relate them to the customer address entity, so you will not be able to leverage the standard “more address” functionality.

    Standard classification fields

    Dynamics 365 includes several standard classification type fields:

    1. Relationship type
    2. Classification
    3. Category
    4. Industry

    Additionally, custom company classification fields may be added to Dynamics 365 accounts.

    How should I segment my Accounts?

    In the previous section we talked about classifying accounts. Classification answers the question “who are you and how are you related to me?” Segmentation answers the question “what is the value of this customer and how closely aligned with them are we?”

    The frequently sited Pareto Principal (aka the “80/20 rule”) states that 80% of your effects will come from 20% of the causes. When applied to sales, some people have observed that 80% of the sales comes from 20% of the customers.

    When you sell a product or service, to be most effective, you must identify the highest value customers so you can focus your limited sales resources where the outcomes will be most profitable.

    There are multiple strategies for client segmentation. An effective customer segmentation strategy should answer the following questions:

    1. What is the value of the customer to us? This can include potential revenue, but also other more intangible value, such as the value of having a well known customer in a target industry.
    2. What is our value to the customer? Are they in our target industries? Do we fit within their strategic goals?
    3. What is the client’s future potential? Is their business growing or shrinking? A medium sized customer with rapid growth may be more valuable than a larger size customer whose market share is declining.

    When the client is high value to us and we are high value to the client, these are the companies that we are strategically aligned with and should focus the most sales resources on them.

    Client Segmentation approaches

    Strategic account management (SAM)

    One of the oldest forms of account segmentation is Strategic Account Management (SAM).

    Strategic account management is defined by the Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA) as “is a company-wide initiative in complex, highly matrixed organizations which focuses on building strong and mutually beneficial relationships with a company’s most important customers and partners.”

    SAM segments clients using the following tiers:

    Tier 1 High value to the vendor and the customer. These are the accounts that get tagged Key or Strategic.

    Tier 2 (A) High value to the vendor, but low value to the customer. These accounts need care and the vendors will look for ways to improve their value to the customer.

    Tier 2 (B) High value to the customer, but lower value to the vendor. The vendor must learn how to take more revenue and profits, or other non-monetary value out of these accounts

    Tier 3 Lower value to both the customer and vendor; classic transactions accounts. Good to have, but not appropriate for a strategic management approach. Most companies manage these accounts through their customer service department. Often the customer will call the customer service team looking for an add on or enhancement. It’s growth just by being there; we call it catching raindrops.

    ABC Analysis

    Another common segmentation strategy is “ABC Analysis.” This is generally more simple than SAM, but still provides a useful framework by which customers and potential customers can be segmented.

    A: Most valuable customers by revenue or strategic importance.

    B: Average value clients that have the potential to get to segment A.

    C: Low value clients with minimal future potential business or alignment with strategic goals. The least amount of sales resources should be dedicated to this group, or sales should be automated for this segment.

    The segmentation methods identified in this chapter have been traditional manual segmentation methods. New technology is making client segmentation much more precise, with tools like machine learning automating segmentation based on rules and refinement based on actual sales data. Microsoft provides a segmentation engine called Dynamics 365 for Customer Insights that works with Dynamics 365 Customer Engagment.

    Why segment clients in CRM?

    You will likely have different sales reps or teams focused on different client segment tiers. For example, a national sales team focused on A accounts and an inside sales team focused on B accounts. By storing the client segment on the account entity, you can filter company views based on client segment and automate account assignment based on the segment of the client.

    This will empower your sales representatives to focus their time on the most strategically important customers.

    How should I assign my accounts (territory managements)?

    There is not one right answer for how you should handle record ownership. There are multiple account assignment strategies. Some common examples:

    • Geographic territories: zip codes assigned to territories
    • Industry territories: users or teams specializing in certain industry verticals
    • Segment territories: territories separated based on customer segment
    • Team selling: Multiple people own the account
    • Open accounts: nobody owns the account, or sales representatives are salary based.

    However you assign your accounts, the following are some recommendations for successful territory management in Dynamics 365.

    1. Consider the security implications—do sales representatives need to be limited in what company records they can see or update? If the answer is yes, you will want to assign the sales representative’s accounts to the sales representative, or to a team on which the sales representative is a member. But before you lock everybody down to only see their own stuff, ask yourself if this is driven by a legitimate business requirement, or if it is driven by fear and mistrust of your employees. Legitimate security restrictions are ok, but excessive restriction for the wrong reasons can negatively impact user adoption and data quality (when multiple reps create prospect records for the same company). See the Security chapter for more security recommendations.
    2. Dynamics 365 includes a territory entity located in Settings>Business Management>Sales Territories. There is a lookup to territory on account (although it is not displayed on the form). This can be used to build a territory structure and relate territories to accounts.

    This is nice, but basic. The territory entity does not have any special system properties, other than providing a lookup for territory. There is no automation between the territory manager and the owner of accounts in territories. It does support adding multiple members to the territory, but these members are not granted any permission to the accounts in the territory.

    1. Make the territory entity better: The following recommendations will increase the usability of the standard Dynamics 365 territory entity:
      • Add a parent territory self referential lookup if you have a territory structure.
      • Add a subgrid of accounts in the territory and a subgrid of territory team members to the territory form.
      • If the territory manager should be the owner of all of the accounts in the territory, add a process like a plugin to automatically assign accounts to the territory manager when the account is added to a territory or the territory manager assignment changes.
      • If you use geographic/zip code based assignment, create a custom entity for zip code, replace the standard account address 1 zip code field with a lookup to the custom zip code entity, and add a 1:N relationship between territory and custom zip code entity. This will enable to you automate the assignment of accounts to territory based on zip code much easier, and also make territory realignments much easier. If you do this, be sure to map the custom zip code lookup field to the standard zip code text field, as that filed is linked to the Customer Address postal code field, and also maps to contacts when they are created or synchronized with Outlook contacts.
    2. Automate it. If your territory assignment follows a set of rules, these can be automated so that when a new account is added, it is assigned to the correct territory automatically, without an administrator having to do anything. This can be driven by several methods, including workflows, plugins, and batch integration jobs.
    3. Make it easy to administer. Over-engineered or overly complicated territory logic can sometimes break down over time. The leading reason for this is processes that are difficult to administer. If your CRM partner goes away or your CRM administrator gets hit by a bus, the territory logic should be easy to administer so that it is maintained over time.
    4. Make it easy to update. I have seen many territory designs that are very cumbersome to change when a territory assignment changes. For example, if your territory is driven by postal code, instead of putting the territory on the account, create a table of zip code records, and associate the territory with the zip code. With this approach, changing the territory of accounts in a certain zip code only requires update of one record, rather than updating hundreds of account records.

    What if multiple people “own” accounts?

    If you have multiple people who are responsible for an account, you will probably want to use some of the team options available in Dynamics 365. Teams are handled in greater detail in the Security chapter of this book, but we’ve included a summary of the main options in this chapter.

    1. The same group of people manage the same accounts: If Janet, Jim, and Pat work together on all of the same accounts, owner teams are the way to go. You can define a static team with set members and assign all of the accounts managed by the group to that team.
    2. Each account has teams with different members. Sometimes teams are assembled ad-hoc based on factors such as skill or certification required and market segment. In this case you would probably want to assign the account to the lead representative and then add an access team to the account and assign the rest of the ad-hoc team to the access team.

    What if nobody “owns” the account?

    In some cases, there is no clear owner for an account, for example, in a bank where anybody can help the company with their questions. In this case, remember that all company records in CRM must have an owner, but that doesn’t necessarily have to mean that the designated owner has special privileges on the record. Alternatively, you may decide to assign the accounts to a defined system administrator or service account, or assign them to the team for the business unit, granting all users in the business unit ownership over the account.

    Even if nobody really “owns” the record, one consideration that you may want to think about is that ownership of records determines what appears in the “My Accounts” view. If you assign all accounts to the business unit team, all users in the business unit will see all accounts in the “My Accounts” view. For this reason you may still wish to determine a primary owner for account records.

    How should I manage company addresses?

    In Dynamics 365, there are two addresses on the account entity (although only one is displayed on the form by default). Additional addresses are located in the “More Addresses” entity, available from the Dynamics 365 navigation menu.

    Even though addresses appear in multiple places, Dynamics 365 stores all addresses in the Address entity. The Account entity address fields on the account and contact entity in reality are located in the Address entity.

    Behind the scenes, Address entity includes a field called AddressNumber (not displayed on the address form). Address records linked to an account where AddressNumber = 1 will appear in the account address1 fields. Address records where AddressNumber =2 will appear in the account address2 fields. Addresses where Address Number = 3+ will appear in the default “more addresses” view.

    Want to have all addresses appear in the list for account addresses? Clear the filter for the “All customer addresses” view.

    Considerations for customizing address fields in Dynamics 365

    Given the “split personality” of address (where it shows up on Account and Address for the first two addresses), special care must be taken when modifying addresses configuration in Dynamics 365. Let’s say you decide to replace the standard state, country, or postal code field with a lookup field to a custom entity. This can be a good idea, but since the custom field added to the account record is not also automatically added to the address entity, if you replace the account Address1 Country field with a custom country lookup field, the addresses created will not have a country value in the address table. And there is no supported way to modify the relationship mapping between account and address, so even if you add the same lookup field to address entity, your selection in the country lookup field will not automatically populate the custom country lookup field in the address entity. A common workaround is to have a workflow on account update the standard address text fields when a value is selected in the custom address lookup fields, ensuring that the value selected is recorded in the address entity.

    The account entity and address entity also both have a field called addresstypecode (option set) for each address. This can be used to indicate the purpose of the address, such as mailing address, shipping address. However, these fields are not global option sets, so if you change the address type field options on the account, it is important to also update the address entity address type option set options to match. Otherwise, you may find your account billing address is stored in the address table as a shipping address.

    If you have two main addresses, such as the billing address and the shipping address that need to be displayed on the account form, the recommendation is to add the address 2 fields on the form and designate the addresses for their defined purpose. You may also want to put each address into its own section and name the section for the type of address (“Shipping address” or “billing address”). This will ensure consistency in the way that addresses are used in Dynamics 365 accounts—address 1 will always be the shipping address and address 2 will always be the billing address. Consistency is very important for maximizing user adoption, and while there is an addresstypecode field for each address, keep in mind that users will create views and marketing lists of account data, including the address, and if you are not consistent in the use of the two addresses, these views could contain a mixture of address types.

    Address validation options

    Dynamics 365 does not include standard address validation; however, if you are licensed for and running Dynamics 365 for Field Service, company and contact addresses will be validated. There are also a number of good third party address validation options available for Dynamics 365, such as PCA Predict (


    Wrapping up

    Accounts can be used to manage relationships with any company with which you do business. This can include customers, prospective customers, vendors, or any other type of company relationship. The account form contains many of the commonly used fields, but there are several account fields in Dynamics 365 that are not on the form by default. Review the existing fields not on the account form before creating new custom fields.

    As you plan your deployment of account management, there are several questions to consider:

    1. Where will my data come from? If data is coming from an integration or migration, you will need to ensure that there are fields for each data component that you want to bring into Dynamics 365, verify that option sets and lookup fields contain data values to support the imported data, and that prerequisite dependencies are loaded first. If account data is coming from an integration, determine which system will be the “master for the account data. Typically this will be the ERP/financial system for primary account fields (like account number and account name). Lock these fields down in Dynamics 365 for integrated customer account records.
    2. What naming strategy will we follow? Remember that the account name field is really important, as it will appear in every lookup field that references account records. Typically the name should be the “friendly” name that most users refer to the company as. If needed, add a secondary name field for the official legal name of the company if different than the common friendly name.
    3. What is our parent account strategy? Dynamics 365 does a great job of handling hierarchical relationships between accounts, but you don’t necessarily have to create an account record for each location of your client companies. Create an account for each level of the company that you sell your products or services to, or for which there are distinct contacts with which you work. And remember that activities roll up to parent accounts, so if you need to monitor activity with multiple locations of a company, the parent activity roll up will make your life easier.
    4. How should we classify our accounts? We need to know who our customers are and how they are related to us. Dynamics 365 includes standard classification fields that can be used to identify how we are related to a company (Relationship Type) and other types of classification like Annual Revenue, SIC, Industry.
    5. How should we segment our accounts? You should segment your accounts so you can prioritize your sales efforts. There are multiple segmentation strategies, such as Strategic Account Management (SAM) and ABC Analysis. Good segmentation defines the client’s value to us, our value to the client, and client’s future potential. Once you determine your segmentation strategy, create custom fields for segmentation purposes and build account views by segment.
    6. How should we assign our accounts? Dynamics 365 is flexible enough to support multiple types of sales territory structures. Whatever structure you choose, it should be easy to administer, easy to restructure territories, and automated as much as possible.
    7. How should we manage company addresses? Remember that address data is actually stored in the “Address” entity. The account entity has the first two addresses, additional addresses are displayed in the related “Addresses” entity. If you make changes to addresses on accounts, such as adding custom fields or changing the address type option set, remember that these changes will not be reflected in the address entity.


    Customer Management

    Who is your customer?

    What the “C” in CRM means to you will depend on how you sell your products or services—are you selling to other companies, or are you selling to individuals. Are you “B2B” or “B2C?”

    If your target customers are people, the account entity may not matter at all, or may be a minor data point defining where your customer works. If you sell to individuals, the contact entity will probably be your most important entity.

    If your target customers are companies, the Account entity will be very important, as it will define your customers. Accounts will be central to everything that you do. Contacts will be important, as companies are made up of people, and your relationships with people will drive your sales to companies, but those contacts will matter in context of their role at companies.

    Even if you sell to people and don’t care about where they work, don’t discard the account entity—you will probably have other organizations that you need to track in CRM, such as firms you partner with, vendors, and competitors.

    In this section we talk about Account Management and Contact Management—how to manage your customers and prospective customers. Whether you are B2B or B2C focused, this section will help you understand the capabilities in Dynamics 365 for Account and Contact management, and strategies for effectively managing and segmenting customer data.

    Features added by Dynamics 365 version



    2015 SP1


    D365 (8.1)

    D365 (8.2)

    D365 (9.0)

    Command Bar

    Hierarchical security

    New navigation bar/reduced scrolling

    App for Outlook works in Outlook

    Learning Path

    Mobile workspace

    Virtual Entities

    Horizontal Navigation

    Global search

    Refreshed sitemap

    Excel templates

    Email signatures in web client

    App designer

    Unified User Interface


    Offline drafts and mobile dashboards

    Form tab navigation drop-down

    Word templates

    Project Service Automation

    Mobile offline

    Refreshed web interface

    Business Rule

    Business rules if/then logic, And/Or grouping


    Private documents in OneDrive for Business

    Field Service Automation

    Enhanced Outlook app displays more information

    Configurable Outlook app


    Configurable Outlook synchronization

    Folder based tracking

    Server-side SharePoint Integration

    Dynamics 365 portals

    Relevence search

    Multi-select option sets

    Business Process Flow

    BPF Branching

    Lightweight Outlook App

    Document integration on mobile

    SLA's for any entity

    Connected field service

    Relationship Insights

    Social Pane

    Sales Product bundles and properties

    Immersive Excel Online

    Export to Excel on mobile

    Mobile offline

    Add-in for Microsoft Project

    LinkedIn Sales Navigator

    Quick Create Forms

    Calculated fields

    Refreshed Excel export

    Email a link from phones and tablets

    Mobile KB articles

    Unified resource scheduling

    Mobile app supports app designer app modules

    Quick View Forms

    Rollup fields

    Office 365 groups

    Voice of the Customer surveys

    mobile quotes, orders, and invoices

    Editable grids

    Refreshed web client

    Access Teams

    Hierarchy Visualization

    OneNote Integration

    New KB articles

    Company news timeline

    Ability to add an existing O365 group with a record

    New activity timeline

    Real-time workflows

    Enhanced SLA's

    Phone client

    Interactive Service Hub

    Enhanced Power BI Integration

    BPF supports workflow

    App modules have offline profiles


    Dynamics 365 for Good (Blackberry Enterprise)

    configurable maximum session length and access controls

    Basic SLA's

    Default entitlements

    Organization insights enhancements

    Auto record create rules

    Customer Service Hub

    Routing rules

    Turbo forms rendering engine

    What is Customer Engagement?

    The application formerly known as CRM

    In 2009, Paul Greenberg provided the following definition of ​​​​​Customer Relationship Management (CRM): "CRM is a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a system and a technology designed to improve human interaction in a business environment."

    CRM systems (like Dynamics CRM) offered functionality like Account management, case management, sales opportunity management, and activity tracking.

    Then in 2009 with the release of Dynamics CRM 2011, Dynamics CRM became a development platform for line of business applications that had little resemblance to functionality in the traditional definition of CRM. This was known as xRM—replacing the “Customer” in CRM with anything you want.  This meant that CRM could be used for virtually any business process, including those not directly customer facing.

    A popular video from that time illustrated the wildly different applications of xRM, including student management, Human Resource Management, even Cow Management.

    From CRM to Customer Engagement

    In 2016, Microsoft announced that they would be bringing together Dynamics CRM and ERP platforms under a new brand, Dynamics 365, with the platform formerly known as CRM now called Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement (and the platform formerly known as AX now called Dynamics 365 for Operations).

    The change of product name to “Customer Engagement” is an acknowledgement that the platform has grown well beyond the functionality traditionally associated with CRM. CRM functionality over time became a commodity, and Microsoft Dynamics “CRM” has grown rapidly to encompass other areas like IOT, Field Service Automation, Project Service Automation, and Social Engagement. While the traditional CRM functionality is still there, the change to Customer Engagement means the emphasis has changed from data entry and tracking to a proactive business intelligence system. With the introduction of functionality like relationship insights, relationship sales/LinkedIn, and document suggestions, the system is smarter than “CRM.” It’s a system of intelligence that makes users lives easier and improves engagement and experience with clients.

    This fits Paul Greenberg’s definition of “Customer Engagement.” "The ongoing interactions between company and customer, offered by the company chosen by the customer."

    So why write a book?

    Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement/CRM has gone through extremely rapid change, with 1-2 new releases each year for the past six years. This has been great for the Dynamics community, as we now lead the market when compared with most other Customer Engagement/CRM vendors. One challenge is that for new people entering the Dynamics community as administrators or consultants, it is increasingly difficult to find good training materials on core application functionality. This is because in a rapidly changing product, traditional books are outdated before the book is published. While Microsoft is releasing good documentation on new and exciting capabilities, there is much core application legacy functionality that is not adequately covered in much of the newer releases' documentation.

    By building this book in the format of a blog, we have the flexibility to provide more rapid updates as new functionality is introduced. This also means that you can read it as we write it, provide feedback and suggestions, and make the content better.

    Setting Up Search

    Dynamics 365 includes an out of the box configuration for Category Search, while Relevance Search is disabled by default. While a user with the System Customizer security role may configure the search fields for either, a System Administrator security role is required to enable Relevance Search because it sends CRM data to an external (Azure) database.

    Tipsy Reminds You...

    The searchable fields for both Category Search and Relevance Search can be configured in a lower environment, then promoted through Test, QA, then Production by using a Solution (or multiple Solutions).

    Category Search

    Category Search leverages the Quick Find views for up to ten (10) entities, displaying the results returned for each entity in its own separate column.

    By default, CRM includes the following entities by default:

    • Account
    • Contact
    • User
    • Activity
    • Lead
    • Case
    • Opportunity
    • Competitor

    The entities, as well as their display order, may be configured through the following action:

    1. Go to Settings > Administration then click System Settings.
    2. On the General tab, in the Set Up Search section, click the Select button next to Select Entities for Categorized Search.
    3. Use the Add and Remove buttons to include the desired entities (up to 10).
    4. Use the Move Up and Move Down buttons to change the order in which the search results will be displayed.

    Category Search entity selection dialog.

    Configuring Category Search

    The Category Search relies on the fields added in the Quick Find view for any search-enabled entities.

    Tipsy Reminds You...

    It is important to set both the Find Columns, View Columns, and set the order of the View Columns.

    The three (non-primary) View Columns in the column order will be the fields that are displayed in the search results. For custom entities, this includes the Created On date field which is typically irrelevant in this type of search.

    To choose the fields that will be searched in Category Search results for an entity, perform the following steps:

    1. Go to Settings > Customizations, then choose Customize the System.
    2. Under Components, expand Entities, then expand an entity (e.g. Account), then choose Views
    3. Double Click the entity's Quick Find view
    4. Once the View Editor opens, use the Add Find Columns to modify the fields that will be included in the search. Then click OK.
    5. Then choose and Add View Columns to include the fields that will be returned. Then click OK.
    6. Next, set the order of the view columns by selecting a field and using the left/right arrows.
    7. Once complete, click OK

    Tipsy Reminds You...

    When fewer fields are configured as Find Columns in the Quick Find views, overall search performance is improved.

    Learn more: Tip #422: Search faster by searching less

    Relevance Search

    Relevance Search has been made available as an additional search option for Dynamics 365 customers. Because it synchronizes data to an external server (Azure Search) it is disabled by default and must be configured then enabled by a Dynamics 365 Administrator.

    Once enabled, users will be able to choose which search method they would like to use and have the option to freely change their preference while using the system.

    The recommended order for configuring Relevance Search is to:

    • Select Entities for Relevance Search
    • Configure search fields for those entities
    • Enable Relevance Search for the organization

    Select Entities for Relevance Search

    To choose the entities that will be included in Relevance Search results, perform the following steps:

    1. Go to Settings > Customizations, then choose Customize the System.
    2. Under Components, expand Entities, then choose Configure Relevance Search.
    3. Once the Select Entities dialog box opens, click Add to include the desired entities to search. Then click OK.

    Relevance Search entity selection window in the Solution editor along with the progress bar showing the total number of fields indexed for the Dynamics 365 organization.

    Tipsy Reminds You...

    While there is no limit to the number of entities that can be enabled for Relevance Search, there is a maximum of 1000 fields per Dynamics 365 organization. 

    A progress bar shows your total usage towards this total.

    Configuring Search Fields

    Similar to the Category Search, Relevance Search relies on the fields added in the Quick Find view for any search-enabled entities.

    To choose the fields that will be included in Relevance Search results for an entity, perform the following steps:

    1. Go to Settings > Customizations, then choose Customize the System.
    2. Under Components, expand Entities, then expand an entity (e.g. Account), then choose Views
    3. Double Click the entity's Quick Find view
    4. Once the View Editor opens, use the Add Find Columns and Add View Columns to modify the included fields (see table below).
    5. Once complete, click OK



    View Columns

    Define the available facets and filters. The first four facetable fields will be shown.

    Find Columns

    Define the searchable fields for the entity.

    Tipsy Reminds You...

    The first four "facetable" fields included in the Quick Find view display columns will be the default facets that end-users are able to filter on. Four (4) is the maximum that will be displayed with the search results, though more facet fields may be defined.

    Users may select their own priority for facets via their Set Personal Options menu. This could result in different users seeing different available options when performing the same search.

    Supported Fields

    Field types are not treated equally in Relevance Search. Some fields are supported for the text search itself, while others are supported for filtering the resulting list of data.

    Searchable Fields

    • Single Line of Text 
    • Multiple Lines of Text  

    Facet & Filter Fields

    • Option Set
    • Date
    • Currency
    • Lookup

    As a note on facets: Fields in a view that are from related entities are not valid Facet fields.

    Tipsy Reminds You...

    When considering the 1000 field total, be aware that Option Set fields count as 2 fields and Lookup fields count as 3 fields toward that total.

    Enable Relevance Search for the Organization

    Once the search entities and fields have been configured, enable Relevance Search for your organization by doing the following:

    1. Go to Settings > Administration.
    2. Click System Settings > General tab.
    3. In the Set up Search section, select the Enable Relevance Search checkbox.
    4. The Enable Search consent dialog box opens. Click OK to give your consent to synchronize data.
    5. Click OK to close the System Settings dialog.

    Table of Contents

    Introduction: What is customer engagement?

    Section 1: Using CRM

    Application Navigation

    Finding Data

    Customer Management (Who is your customer?)

    Activity Management

    Sales Management

    • Opportunity
    • Quotes
    • Orders and Invoices

    Customer Service Management


    Section 2: Configuring CRM

    Entity Configuration

    Form Configuration

    View Configuration

    Process Automation (BPF, business rules, and workflow)

    Search Configuration

    Solution Management and App Modules

    Section 3: Administering CRM


    Exchange Integration

    Outlook App

    SharePoint Integration


    Section 4: Extending CRM