Microsoft announced the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Online today!
I haven’t seen an official press release from Microsoft (yet), but I just signed up for a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online trial and I received the 2011 edition of the software! So if you’ve been patiently waiting to use CRM 2011 in a production environment, wait no longer my friend. Roll up your sleeves, sign up for trial and get in there!
If you like track build numbers, you can see that this build is 5.0.9688.56.
Ok so the holidays are finally over and you’re just now catching up on all those emails you received. If you were not paying careful attention right before Christmas, you might have missed a huge piece of news regarding Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Microsoft announced and posted the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Release Candidate!
The RC is the last time Microsoft will release the software for customers to test before the official CRM Online Release to Web (RTW) launch in January 2011, and the on-premises Release to Manufacturing (RTM). There are just WAY too many features to list everything that’s new in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, but here are some of the key highlights from our perspective (with links to some of the YouTube videos we created back in September 2010 highlighting these features):
- Improved Microsoft Office Interface Microsoft Office 2007 introduced a new ribbon interface in products like Excel and Word. Office 2010 expanded the ribbon into other office products like 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 really streamline the user interface so that users only see the data that they need to access. For example, sales reps might see a form filled with sales data about a customer, while a customer service rep could view the same customer record but instead they would see a different form that displays only customer service data.
- Inline Data Visualization You can now quickly and easily create charts that display inline 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 data you’re viewing. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 also includes web-based tools for users to create and edit their own charts.
- Dashboards This feature allows users and administrators to setup dashboards with different types of data such as charts, grids, and possibly data from external systems. Dashboards can be customized and tailored to each group’s or individual’s needs, so that they can quickly and easily access the information they need.
- Better Office Outlook Experience Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook offers even deeper levels of integration with Outlook. Users can now use Outlook features like filtering and conditional formatting on CRM data, in addition to other new benefits like inserting CRM templates into Outlook emails.
- Contextual Document Management With Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2010, you can setup 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 that accounts contracts.
- Field Level Security You can toggle security on custom fields and then configure security so that only certain users can view or edit data in that field. This field level security will apply to both forms and data views.
- Goal Management Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 lets you setup goals that you want individuals or teams to achieve, and then track your performance against those goals.
- Interactive Process Dialogs You can setup and configure interactive dialogs that work like screen wizards that guide users from page to page collecting information along the way.
- Solution Management Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 offers a new way for system customizers to manage their customizations. In particular, solutions allow you to group and bundle customizations together in smaller packages so that they can be transported to different systems more easily. In addition you have the option to configure solutions so that other users can’t edit or modify your customizations.
- 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) for writing queries.
- 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 recently viewed items list, the ability to pin specific records, and inline filtering on data grids.
- 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 leverage that option set on accounts, contacts and leads (versus managing three different country picklists in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0). In addition, you can also create globally available JScripts which any entity can access.
- 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 Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. Connections offer more flexibility because users can make their own connections between records, and connections can apply to many different types of entities.
- Queues Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 offers better queue functionality because now you can use queues on different types of records beyond cases. In additions, queues are also improved because they offer better security options and can participate in workflow.
- Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace The Marketplace is an online catalog of 3rd party solutions available for download and use with your Microsoft Dynamics CRM system. You can access the Marketplace directly within the Microsoft Dynamics CRM web interface.
- Teams You can have teams own records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, whereas only users could own records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. This opens new options for teamwork and collaboration within the Microsoft Dynamics CRM security model.
- Auditing You can now enable auditing on a field by field basis where Microsoft Dynamics CRM will capture each time a user modifies a record. The audit feature also captures the date and time of the modification along with its old and new value.
- Web Resources Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 allows you to store html files, JScript and Silverlight applications as web resources. System customizers can then use the web resources in form customizations, the Sitemap, or the application ribbon.
Stay tuned as we release more updates on what’s new in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 in the coming months.