Following Records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

With it being Halloween, the other day I heard the 80's classic "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell. Naturally it made me think of the "Follow" feature in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013.

Record following is part of the social features of CRM 2013. When you follow a record, activity surrounding that record is presented to you in your activity feed. This is a great tool for CRM users who need late breaking information about records they manage.

To follow a record in CRM 2013, you'll need to access the record by opening the form or by selecting it in the home grid, click the ellipses symbol, then click the Follow menu item. To unfollow a record, perform the same action, but select Unfollow.

Following Records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

You'll be reminded that you are following a record and that you can unfollow it as well.

Changes to followed records are logged to the activity feed, which can be viewed on the home screen under the What's New section. The types of posts that are created on your activity feed are determined by the configured and enabled post configuration rules as well as posts created by workflow.

Following Records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

On the home screen, you can adjust the filter for the What's New feed to include specific record types by entity, to filter posts about yourself, or to see posts about records you own.

A little to the right in the screenshot above, you'll notice that CRM user Rockwell has someone watching him! Beneath his user image is a count of CRM users who are following him. Clicking the number runs the Users Who Follow You view, where Rockwell can see who his followers are. He can also see how many records he is following.

Following Records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

The follow feature, when configured for your specific needs, can be quite helpful. Here are some scenarios for effective following:

Now that you know all about the powers of following records in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, maybe you're interested in Connecting CRM with Yammer to increase your social capabilities in CRM?

Happy Halloween, Happy following, and happy CRM'ing!

Configure Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online With Yammer

The integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Yammer is now available for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online customers. This blog describes the steps to set up and configure the integration for your organization. In order to do this, you must already be a Yammer Enterprise customer.

Connecting Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online with Yammer

After a Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online organization has opted in to receive the latest product update, a Yammer Configuration option will appear under the Administration section in Settings as shown in screenshot below.

Note: By default this option will be only visible for users that have system administrator role.

Connecting Dynamics CRM Online with Yammer

1. To begin the Yammer configuration process, click the Yammer Configuration option shown in above screenshot. A disclaimer will appear as shown in screenshot below. After reading and agreeing to the disclaimer click the Continue button highlighted in screenshot below.

2. The screen below will be displayed. Click on the link Authorize Dynamics CRM Online to connect to Yammer.

A new window will open.

Note: You must be a verified administrator on your enterprise Yammer network to configure the Yammer integration.

3. Enter your email address and your Yammer password in the email address and password fields to log in.

4. Click the Allow button. This will allow your Microsoft Dynamic CRM to access and update your Yammer data.

After authorizing Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to Yammer, a few security settings will appear in CRM organization we are configuring.

5. Select a Yammer Group ID to Control the conversation access (optional step).

You can choose the user group to control the access to the conversations initiated with in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. If this option is not selected, conversations are posted to the All Company Group in Yammer. To restrict access to conversations, it is possible to select a private group in Yammer which is only visible to approved members. Note that the group membership in Yammer is administered within Yammer.

6. Set the level of security for Yammer activity stream messages.

This setting controls the security of the system post that are configured to appear within the Yammer activity stream. If the setting is set to private, only users that follow the record in Microsoft dynamics CRM will be able to see the system post related to that record in Yammer. There is no save button on this screen, so whatever settings we select will be automatically saved when we navigate away. We can always come back and change these settings at any time.

Enable Entities for Yammer

After we connect Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, we can now choose which entities to enable for Yammer.

Enabling an entity for Yammer allows an entity to be followed by a user, as well as when a record log can be displayed on the form for the entity. This allows us to create a post on a form for a specific record. The record log displays the Yammer feed for that record. Certain entities are enabled for Yammer integration by default. We can start with default configuration or customize it at any time.

To control which settings are configured for Yammer integration, follow these steps:

  1. Click Settings and click Post Configurations. The list of entities that can be enabled will appear.
  2. Select the entities to enable and click Activate ribbon button highlighted.

If you choose to enable an entity for Yammer and the option to have the record wall enabled, make sure to Publish all the Customizations of that entity before the record wall appears on the form.

Enable Auto Posts

Auto Posts is a feature introduced with the Activity Feed feature set. Although connecting Microsoft Dynamics CRM with Yammer replaces the user posts with Activity Feeds, the same auto-post engine is still used.

The auto-post feature can automatically create system post messages in response to certain events in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. For example, when a user successfully closes an Opportunity, the system will automatically create an associated system post.

Post Rule Configuration records are used to control which Auto Posts are enabled. The Post Rule Configuration records exist for some of the out-of-the-box entities. We can choose to deactivate some or all of the rules by deactivating them through the post rule configuration list. To access post rule configurations list click settings in CRM and then click Post Rule Configurations.

There are two properties that can be changed for a post-configuration record.

Note: the creation of new post-rule configuration record is currently not supported. It is possible to use a workflow or a plugin to create a new post rule configuration record. Although these posts can appear in system posts tab in CRM, there is currently no built-in way to have those posts in Yammer. The post-rule configurations for appointment, phone call, dialog session, recurring appointment cannot be enabled to post to the Yammer activity stream. If you select one of these entities, you'll get a message that says "rule not applicable to Yammer."

After connecting Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Yammer, users of CRM may see a Yammer login button anywhere a Yammer feed appears. Also, the email address being used for Yammer must match an email address in the user record in CRM.

Now that you have your Yammer integration up and running, you can start to enjoy the benefits of combining structured process data with unstructured social conversations! Shazam!

For more information on how to get benefits from Microsoft Dynamics CRM, visit PowerObjects CRM How-to Portal, which includes videos and handouts to help users learn.

Happy CRM'ing!

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Yammer Integration

It was announced at YamJam'12 and made clear in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Statement of Direction that CRM will have a much deeper integration with Yammer. This is really exciting news on many fronts. But it's most important to realize that most organizations will likely replace the current Activity Feeds capability with the expanding Yammer integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

At PowerObjects, we've been using Yammer since 2011. Let us tell you a few reasons why we're so thrilled about the changes to come.

  1. Yammer attaches Microsoft Dynamics CRM supported processes to business conversations.

    At Yam Jam '12, Yammer announced the new Pages capability, which will allow for a Page to be created on any topic in Yammer (currently pages can be created only within Groups). Therefore the integration between Yammer and Microsoft Dynamics CRM will be able to create a page in Yammer when a record is created in CRM—whether it's an Opportunity, a Case, a Project, or something that is unique to your organization, you will be able to discuss it in Yammer. Conversations about that topic then have the possibility of occurring with people from all parts of the organization.

    Featured below is a screenshot from this great video on how all your business apps will work together for one social experience showing a customer service case created in another system and shown in the Yammer feed.
    CRM and yammer: activity feeds

  2. Yammer brings business conversations into Microsoft Dynamics CRM supported processes.

    Sending information from Microsoft Dynamics CRM to Yammer isn't just about notification—like, "there is a new opportunity". It's about an invitation to connect—do you know about this opportunity, case, event, or project? Do you have something to contribute to it? Do you have questions on it? Are there issues with it to discussion? You're invited to comment. Many organizations are finding this streamlines so many processes by allowing others to engage in unstructured conversation.

    And this gathered information then becomes a part of the structured and defined process when it is viewed in CRM within the CRM record. Even non-CRM users may comment on conversations Yammer, and that information will be viewable on the related CRM record.

    Featured below is a screenshot from the Statement of Direction showing the new process driven UI and how the Yammer conversation is embedded into the user experience.

    CRM and Yammer

  3. Yammer brings the focus back to people and teamwork.
    The common denominator of all this connecting, sharing, and collaborating is people. People help customers, people have valuable organizational information, and people share that information internally and externally. So posts to Yammer don't just say "a Case was opened". It says who opened the case--connecting the business process to the team member who is conducting it.

    The screenshots below also from the Statement of Direction feature the difference between a standard automated feed about and a people-focused feed.

    CRM and YammerCRM and Yammer

Yammer is a business application focused on the connecting and collaborating across teams and layers of an organization. Case study after case study shows how Yammer improves productivity and promotes company growth, saving time to resolve customer issues and bringing key people together to make decisions more quickly. By using Yammer integrated with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, organizations are bringing the power of structured processes into the power teamwork and collaboration.

Stay tuned in to the PowerObjects blog to gain more insights into the integration with Microsoft CRM and Yammer.

Happy CRM'ing!