‘x’ Marks The Spot: Why Microsoft Dynamics CRM Development Is The Most Versatile Yet

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has often been touted as an xRM platform. The ‘x’ is used to represent anything, signaling the CRM’s versatility. Essentially, this platform helps you maintain all sorts of relationships important to your business. Conventionally, it has been ideal for Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service. However, any operational process can be modeled and implemented; thus, justifying the xRM tag.

The CRM development company India can adapt platform as per the growing and changing needs of your business, regardless of its size. The custom business logic can be extended and specific business needs can be introduced to the system. This is usually done by adding custom entities, fields, forms, views, security models, and workflow. These are created using certain ‘out-of-the-box’ tools and features that have been made available for basic dynamics AX customization. Beyond that, there are also ‘Outside the Box’ features which refer to business process that are not pre-defined by the Dynamics CRM. Therefore, by creating new record types, dashboards, reports, workflows, and relationships, the CRM can be used to manage non-traditional relationships as well. The availability of ‘Outside the Box’ toolset is primarily why the CRM is considered a development platform in itself.

When to customize Dynamics CRM?

Often, we come across businesses that have been using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM for a long time. It becomes a centralized storehouse for all their data pertaining to key business processes. As the complexity and size of this data grows with the business, specific needs with respect to its usage arise. These needs usually affect strategic business decisions, bottom-line profitability and efficiency of certain processes.

There are two prominent ways in which the CRM’s functionalities can be extended:

  1. Creating new workflows

  2. Installing plug-ins

One of the most common use cases for creating a new workflow is for automating the email system. This is done by identifying certain criteria about the recipient from the database, using a parent workflow. Then, through a child workflow, the appropriate email format is sent out to them. Once a workflow is created, it can be templatized and replicated. Custom workflows can also be used to add unique functionalities such as in the following examples:

  • Performing basic arithmetic processes between two numbers to create a calculated field.

  • Embedding link of a CRM record within the body of the email.

  • Performing various date format and date calculation operations.

  • Calling external Web APIs through SSL (only https).

  • Managing various types of Activities on create/update of records.

Beyond this, there are workflow extensions. These are not created in the designer interface like the generic workflow. Instead, the developer writes code that programs workflows beyond the pre-defined CRM capabilities. Once again, this is the Outside the Box attribute coming into play.

Sometimes you want to execute a business logic asynchronously. This is why critical business steps like financial calculations are often executed using plug-ins. There are other times when you want to custom create a multi-layer solution upon an ‘inherited’ business logic. There are still other instances when you need to integrate with external application– for example, payment processing gateways. In these times, a plug-in is the most effective tool to extend the CRM. Also, for a plug-in, the code execution is entirely server-side, and there is no user interaction required.

Another area where plug-ins serve better than workflows is their support for different event execution pipelines. Whereas, workflows are always post-operation, plugins can be pre-event and pre-validation, pre-event and pre-operation, and post-event. This comes handy in situations like,

  1. Comparing/calculation Old values with New values during update.

  2. Validating important fields before saving the record.

  3. Associate/Disassociate relationships

In conclusion:

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