Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Activity Feeds

We have gotten quite a few inquiries regarding what Activity Feeds are and how to best use them to satisfy specific business needs.

Activity feeds are not meant to replace face to face conversation, emails or automated workflows, although you can trigger workflows off activity posts and vice versa. Instead, they are meant to increase collaboration between teams working with the same account, opportunity, case, or custom entity etc.

Much like Facebook News feeds, Microsoft CRM Activity feeds allow you to:
1. Stay up to date or follow users or records (leads, accounts, opportunities, cases etc.) that are important to you.
2. Keep others informed with your posts regarding specific records.
3. Communicate in real time. Your posts become available on followers Walls immediately.

Note: In order to see activity feeds for a specific record, the user must have appropriate permissions to that record.
This Microsoft Getting Started Video actually provides a good overview and business case of how to use Activity Feeds (if you can tolerate the Microsoft background music).

Although I believe Activity Feeds can be very useful, I do caution the amount of “noise” it can create within the organization. It can be effective if a user is only following the records or users that they have a vested business interest in. Activity Feed rules also have some limitations such as not being able to create new rules for an entity. Furthermore, you cannot tweak existing rules, you can only activate or deactivate out of the box rules.

The Activity Feeds managed solution is pre-installed and configured on all Dynamics CRM Online Organizations provisioned after the service update in Nov 2011. For CRM 2011 On-premise and for CRM Online Organizations provisioned prior to service update in Nov 2011, the Activity Feeds managed solution can be downloaded from the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace.

Automation with Dynamics CRM 2011 Process Workflows

Out of the box, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 does provide a Revenue Generated by Marketing Campaign Chart and View; however it does not copy that Actual Revenue amount to a field on the Campaign Form. A recent client wanted to have this field on the Campaign Form in order to perform some ROI calculations (using Java script) on the Campaign Form. We accomplished this goal with these steps:

1. First, create a new field (currency) on the Campaign Form.
2. Create a process workflow on the Opportunity entity that updates the Source Campaign tied to a given Opportunity.

a. Scope = Organization
b. Start when = Record status Changes
c. Add Check Condition Step = Opportunity Status equals [Won]
d. If condition is met Add Step = Update: Source Campaign
e. Click on Set Properties

CRM 2011

f. The Campaign form will open
g. Click in the Actual Revenue field (that was created in Step 1)
h. Select Operator: Increment by
i. Look for: Opportunity
Actual Revenue
j. Click on Add

process workflows

3. Close and Activate the workflow
4. Now, every time an opportunity tied to a Source Campaign is won, the Actual Revenue amount gets incremented/added in that Source Campaign form.

This is just one of the uses of the “increment by” feature in workflows. It obviously can be used to update other numerical /date fields on related entities. There is also an option to “decrement by” and “multiply by” which is also very useful.