User Interface Customisation
Most of Microsoft CRM can be extended and functionality is also improving with each release of Microsoft CRM. In addition, you can create pretty much any new functionality by creating your own custom entities. If, for example, you wanted to track complaints, you could simply add a new Complaints entity and then add the required fields. You would then create the user data entry forms to allow you staff to add new complaints or modify existing ones. This type of record would typically be linked to the customer so management reporting and analysis is easy integrated. The benefits are that your own system administrators or trusted staff can do all of this through a simple to use web based user interface.
Entities and Fields
Entities are the data records and represent tables that are built up of a series of fields. They are a bit like a spreadsheet with a series of columns and then rows describing each of the data records. In this analogy the columns equate to fields.
If needs be, you can create brand new entities as in the example above. However, it is more likely you will want to customise existing entities by adding fields or changing their descriptions to suit your business. Administrators are able to customise fields by define a field’s name, data type, requirement level, search ability, security, and whether it is auditable.
To present information, a form must be created and there are number of different form types.
- Main - these forms are for the web application use and are also used by CRM in Outlook and CRM for tablets. They are the main user interface for the inputting and editing of data.
- Mobile - these are a simplified form for mobile devices.
- Quick Create – these are summarised form for the quick entry of data for creating new records
- Quick View - these forms appear within the main form to display additional data
The form can be laid out and customised to meet the exact requirements of the business and you can tailor the wording of the fields so they are recognisable by your teams and match the terminology you use. Forms can be modified to show only those fields that are absolutely required and can be different by job role.
A view is effectively a grid view of records and, if you are familiar with Excel it looks a bit like a filtered spreadsheet view. It is in fact a type of saved query. There are 3 types of views: public, system, and personal. These are fully customisable and users can create and modify their own personal views to make them more efficient. All entities can be viewed in a list format.
An example of a view is the activity list. This is a list of a user's or team's work activities. It can be used by the user, team or a manager to review the status of work and look for overdue or unallocated work.
Managers and users can define their own filters to view data in the way that suits them. Work allocation can be driven manually or via automated workflows.
For reporting it is possible create a graphical representation of the data in the form of a chart. Charts also include a grid representation of the data and are built from querying the data. Charts can be associated with views in the CRM (see above). Charts are collapsible by the user in order to maximise screen usage.
There are 2 types of charts:
- System Charts – created by an administrator and visible to all users.
- User Charts – these are personal charts which can only be seen by the users who have created or shared them.
Each time a user signs into the system they see their dashboard. This provides easy-to read charts, graphs and lists to understand how they, or their team, are doing against key measures. It can also show what work needs to be done or progress that is being made. For example, if the user is in Sales they may see the status of open opportunities in the pipeline, or how many leads were generated from a marketing campaign. In a service organisation they would typically see the status of open cases and how these are allocated to users. A user can choose to set their user dashboard as their default dashboard and override the system dashboard.
There are 2 types of Dashboards:
- System Dashboards – created by an administrator and visible to all users.
- User Dashboards – these are personal dashboards which can only be seen by the users who have created or shared them.
- Dashboards can include both lists, such as work queue activities and charts which can be used for monitoring performance or trends
- Dashboards would replace some existing SLA and pipeline reporting from BIRT and can also include external data
- Detail can be viewed by clicking on and drilling down into the underlying data
- Goals can also be managed in the CRM and linked to reporting