What’s New in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

I was reading Sonoma’s new book Working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and found this list to be very helpful.

· Improved Microsoft Office Interface Microsoft Office 2007 introduced a new ribbon interface in products such as Excel and Word. Microsoft Office 2010 expanded the ribbon into other office products such as Outlook and OneNote. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 also includes the contextual ribbon interface for improved ease-of-use and consistency with the other Microsoft Office applications.

· Role-Based Forms and Views Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 allows administrators to create multiple forms for each record type. By doing so, organizations can streamline the user interface so that users only see the data they need to access. For example, sales representatives might see a form filled with sales data about a customer, while customer service representatives could view the same customer record but instead see a different form that displays only customer service data.

· Inline Data Visualization You can now quickly create charts that display next to records in a grid. For example, you can view a list of opportunities and have a chart to the right that visualizes the estimated revenue of those opportunities. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 also includes web-based tools for you to create and edit your own charts.

· Dashboards This feature allows users and administrators to configure dashboards with charts, grids, and possibly even data from external systems. Dashboards can be customized and tailored to each group’s or individual’s needs so that users can quickly access the information they need.

· Better Office Outlook Experience Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook offers even deeper levels of integration with Microsoft Office Outlook. You can now use Outlook features such as filtering and conditional formatting on CRM data, in addition to other new benefits such as inserting CRM templates into Outlook email messages.

· Contextual Document Management With Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2010, you can set up and associate integrated document libraries with specific records. For example, you could open an account record in CRM and access a SharePoint document library with the contracts and other documents related to the account.

· Field-Level Security You can toggle security on a custom field and then configure security so that only certain users can view or edit data in that field. This field-level security applies both to forms and data views.

· Goal Management Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 lets you specify the goals you want individuals or teams to achieve, and then track performance against those goals.

· Interactive Process Dialogs You can configure interactive dialogs that work like screen wizards to guide users from page to page, collecting information along the way.

· Solution Management Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 offers a new way for system administrators to manage their customizations. In particular, solutions allow administrators to group and bundle customizations so that the customizations can be transported to different systems more easily. In addition, solutions can be configured to prevent other users from modifying the changes.

· Extensibility and Developer Features Microsoft Dynamics CRM includes a number of new programmer enhancements, including a new programming model using Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), extended use of Windows Workflow Foundation 4.0, and support for .NET Language-Integrated Query (LINQ).

· User Interface Enhancements Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 includes multiple user interface enhancements designed to reduce the number of clicks it takes users to accomplish tasks. Some of these enhancements include a recently viewed items list, the ability to tag specific records for quick access, and in-line filtering on data views.

· Global Customizations You can now create option sets of values that can be attached to multiple records. For example, you can create a single option set for a list of countries and use that option set on accounts, contacts, and leads (instead of managing three different country picklists, as you did in previous versions of the software). In addition, you can also create globally available JScripts that can be accessed from any entity.

· Cloud Development Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 includes Azure extensions that help speed development of cloud-based solutions.

· Connections This new feature replaces the relationship functionality from previous versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Connections offer more flexibility, allowing users to create their own connections between records. Further, connections can be applied to many different types of entities.

· Queues Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 extends queue functionality to other record types, instead of limiting it to cases. Queues also now offer better security options and can participate in workflow.

· Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace The Marketplace is an online catalog of third-party solutions available for download that you can use in your Microsoft Dynamics CRM system. You can access the Marketplace directly within the Microsoft Dynamics CRM web interface.

· Teams Teams can own records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, whereas only users could own records in previous versions of the software. This opens new options for teamwork and collaboration in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM security model.

· Auditing You can now enable auditing on a field-by-field basis, in which Microsoft Dynamics CRM captures each change on a record. The audit feature also captures the date and time of the modification, along with the old and new values of the specified fields.

· Web Resources Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 allows you to store HTML, Jscript, and Silverlight applications as web resources. System administrators can then use the web resources in form customizations, as well as in the site map or application ribbon.

Although this list only contains a small set of the new features in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, we hope you’ll agree that this version of the software offers great new customization and end-user productivity enhancements.