Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is a great leap forward for the Dynamics family of products. Microsoft really focused on an improved user experience. Things are easier to do in less clicks, and the whole look and feel of CRM is improved, in my opinion. CRM 4.0 had a lot of lacking features, and it appears that Microsoft kept up reading the forums of people’s wants and needs, and brought almost all of those to life in CRM 2011.

Here are some of my favorite new or enhanced features:

  • Dashboards– Exciting, rich, interactive dashboards out of the box are probably the best new feature of CRM 2011. It’s simply to create and customize personal and organization-wide dashboards with charts, graphs, lists, and more. You can also bring up graphs and charts from practically any view on the right sidebar for a quick visualization. Prior to 2011, many customers had 3rd party plugins or custom development to enable dashboard-type functionality. Now, that can all be eliminated with this new feature.
  • Microsoft Office-style Ribbon –CRM now has a Office-style ribbon to match the other Office applications. Best of all, the ribbon is fully contextual, which means it changes dynamically based on the focus in the form. This allows you to have quick access to common features and actions based on the item you are working in, instead of just the generic entity or form actions.
  • Default Views– CRM 4.0 had system-wide default views that were set for all users. CRM 2011 finally allows users to set their own default views! Why wasn’t this always a feature?!
  • Column Filtering– CRM 2011 has a quick action available for all views to filter by column. This eliminating the cumbersome action of going to Advance Find to filter your results when necessary.
  • Import/Export– Data import and export is greatly expanded in 2011 to a number of different file formats (CSV, TXT, XML, etc.) which makes it easier to save and recreate records in bulk. I also like to use it to “copy” records by exporting, editing, and reimporting them. This is great for entities that do not allow duplication or creation of a new record based on an existing one.
  • Session Stickyness– A number of items are now session-aware… That is, if you are looking at a custom view of an entity and navigate away, when you come back it will load that last used view. This is yet another “why wasn’t it already there?” type improvement that saves time and effort.
  • SharePoint Integration – If you have Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you probably have SharePoint also. CRM 2011 allows you to map SharePoint libraries to entities like Opportunities, so you can leverage the document library and workspace functionality of SharePoint in tandem with CRM. This is a great way to stay completely organized and far superior to the limited file attachment options in CRM 4.0.

And those are just a few a my favorite features from being a daily (hourly?) CRM user who went from a 4.0 implementation to 2011. eimagine is a Microsoft Dynamics CRM optimization expert. Whether you have 4.0 or 2011, we can help you utilize the best of the features available to keep your business running smoothly and efficiently!

Check out this follow-up blog post on the great new developer features in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011!

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