Relevance Search in Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft introduced the concept of Universal Search, which let you search across multiple entities in a single search, into its core application in CRM 2015. With Dynamics 365, searching has been made even more useful, intuitive, and easy to use with “Relevance Search”. Relevance Search is powered by the Azure Search engine to make searching in CRM much more like using… a search engine.

In the past, searching has been an exact text search, and required the user to be very precise in their search terms and use of wildcards. For large organizations, it was often very hard to find all relevant records. One of the really nice features of Relevance Search is that it will actually return various forms of the search term that you’re using.

As an example, I know we have a couple wineries in our demo database. So, I’m going to enter the term “wineries” in my search.


Notice that the search is always available from the magnifying glass at the top of the top of the page, regardless of where I am in the system. The results will be returned sorted in descending order of relevance, searching through all entities that have been configured for searching. Here’s my results list for the search:


Notice that my search term was “wineries” and, much like a good search engine, it returned items that contained the similar but not exact term “winery”. Along the left hand side, I can see the items grouped into when they were last modified and when they were created. I can use the sliders to tell the search not to include (or only to include) items that were modified or created more (or less) than a month/week/day ago.

But, there’s one item that I know a lot of people are going to be super excited about. If you look closely at the last result returned, it’s a Note with an attachment. The search text wasn’t found in the Note record in CRM. It was found in the attachment. I know a lot of clients that are going to be pretty happy about being able to do indexed searches through their attached documents.

So, big props to Microsoft for their upgraded search capabilities in Dynamics 365. There’s one big caveat with using the Relevance Search, which is that data is synced with an external search index, so you need to be careful which fields you are including in Relevance Search to make sure you are not syncing sensitive information externally. Check out my related blog post on Configuring Relevance Search, which goes into more detail.

Relevance Search is available in Microsoft Dynamics 365 only, and is not available for on premise instances of CRM.

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