Microsoft CRM 4.0: Mail Merge Improvements – Part I

Unitek’s Microsoft CRM Practice not only specializes in CRM Certifications, but also has a large force related to CRM 3.0 & 4.0 Consulting Services. With that in mind, I’d like to talk a little bit about some of the issues that we have seen with other clients and the following topics will specifically address the Mail Merge Wizard within Microsoft CRM 4.0.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Mail Merge was created to work only with Accounts, Contacts, and Quotes. The overall functionality was there, but the tool had some limitations and complications that Microsoft obviously felt needed to be changed.

  • It did not allowing the user to easily create email templates or other letters, faxes, documents.
  • It did not support Mail Merge for the Web Client.
  • It did not support Quick Campaigns.

Just a few of the improvements made to the Microsoft CRM 4.0 Mail Merge tool includes:

  • Automatic upload of templates from MS WORD. (all versions) MS WORD 2007 even includes a section dedicated to CRM Mail Merge E-mail templates!
  • The ability to run with both the Outlook and Web Clients.
  • The creation of Activities associated with the Mail Merge and upon completion, the listing of those completed activities in the History view.
  • The ability to run Mail Merges for Quick Campaigns, which is very helpful for those quick email blasts and newsletter distributions.

Although the Mail Merge tool with CRM 4.0 is not perfect, it has enough improvements from CRM 3.0 included that makes it worth the upgrade. Overall, I have been very pleased with the improvements and have listed a few CRM Consulting tips and tricks in using the tool, as well as some basic steps that seem to keep most folks “hung up” in the process.

Security Roles and Privileges using CRM 4.0 Mail Merge

Remember that the user that is running the Mail Merge must have a Security Roles setup properly for Outlook. The user also needs to have access to the entity being used for the mail merge (Accounts, Contacts, Leads, Opportunities, Quotes and Custom Entities, etc…) as well as any related entities that the user might merge the data from. Mail Merge Templates also require that the user has specific privileges setup to Create, Read, Write, Assign, Share, and Delete. You won’t be able to complete the merge if you don’t have this setup properly! Ask your administrator for help…

Mail Merge with Microsoft Outlook

Mail Merges can be started several different ways. You can start the tool from the ‘Actions Menu’ as well as from records returned by Advanced Find, or included in a Mailing List. Start the CRM 4.0 Outlook client and go to your Contacts page. From there, select the contacts to include in the merge and click on the Mail Merge Icon. This opens the Mail Merge form. Easy peasy!

From the Mail Merge form, select a mail merge type. The choices are to create Letters, E-mails, Envelopes and Labels and the mail merge tool corresponds to Microsoft Word’s Mail Merge types. Select ‘Organization Mail Merge Template’ which will allow you to select the template to use. Templates are either Organization (available to other users) or Personal. When saving a template from a mail merge, the default is set to personal. This can be changed in the ‘Mail Merge Template’ form or from the Settings tab / Templates / Mail Merge Templates toolbar.

Once this is done, Microsoft Word will to start. The Data Fields button opens the ‘Add Columns’ dialog, where additional entities can be selected to be included in the mail merge.

Hint: CRM 4.0 can only use a max of 62 fields and some implementations may require you to uncheck the fields that won’t be used. Complete this step because it makes it A LOT easier to select the few fields that will be merged, rather than searching through all 62 fields to select only one or two that might be required.

The first time a Mail Merge Template is opened, a Macro Alert will be displayed. Make sure that Word will allow macros to run and click on the CRM Mail Merge Icon to run the Macro. The next screen shows the recipients to select for the mail merge. Follow along as instructed.

OTHER STEPS & OPTIONS:

  • Mail Merge Field tags are identified by the beginning ‘<<’ and ending ‘>>’ characters. TIP: To see field details, use the Ctrl + F9 to toggle the field markers.
  • Mail Merge has the option to “Preview your letters”. With the exception of Envelopes and Labels, the ‘Write your letter’ should be seen. At this point, you can add text and/or additional fields to the mail merge document from the ‘More Items…’ hyperlink or from Word’s Mailing menu.
  • From the Outlook Client, the ‘Upload Template to CRM’ allows you to update the template you started with by clicking the ‘Yes’ button or create a new one by clicking the ‘No’ button. REMINDER: Cancel will stop the operation all together.
  • You can create a template to use at a later time, and then continue with the merge. If you are creating a new document from scratch, use the Blank Document option and just write the letter, preview it, and upload the template.
  • From the ‘Merge to Printer’ dialog allows all selected records to be merged and opened in the ‘Print’ dialog. From there, select the appropriate printer and other printer related options. Click the OK button to open the ‘Create Activities’ dialog and start the merge. Select the ‘Create Microsoft Dynamics CRM activities’ radio button and click the ‘Activities Details’ button to open the activity detail form.
  • The ‘Assign Activities To’ section defaults to assigning the activities to self. The other options are to change to assign to owners of the records in the merge or assign the activities to another user or queue. This is a GREAT feature that allows managers to create the merge and still keep the contact records assigned to the appropriate users.
  • The ‘Create a New Quick Campaign’ check box enables Mail Merge to create a Quick Campaign that will contain the activities created. A ‘Name’ for the quick campaign must be included.
  • You can verify the Mail Merge records by navigating to the Contacts and clicking the History tab (if the activities were not created as completed, they will not appear in the history grid).

Part Two of this blog will go into further details; specifically about what CAN’T be done with Microsoft CRM 4.0’s Mail Merge Wizard and other features we’d all like to see in the next version of CRM…

Feel free to add your comments to this blog and say what YOU would like to see in the next version of CRM. Stay tuned…

JH
Microsoft CRM Consultant
Unitek Microsoft CRM Services

3 replies
  1. copenhagen
    copenhagen says:

    hi,
    has anyone any clue how to make the quote template nicelooking / customized to another look – i can’t use the template supplied with crm 4.0, but cant figure out how to customize it

  2. JH
    JH says:

    You should be able to access the customization from “Settings, Customize Entities, Quotes” and then customize the “Preview form”, but it depends on what kind of customizations you needed done. (color, layout, custom form, etc…) What changes do you need made?

  3. Gary
    Gary says:

    The ‘Assign Activities To’ section defaults to assigning the activities to self. The other options are to change to assign to owners of the records in the merge or assign the activities to another user or queue. This is a GREAT feature that allows managers to create the merge and still keep the contact records assigned to the appropriate users.

    Great feature, but does not work. How do I get the dialog box to pop in word?

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