One of Microsoft’s strongest selling points of Microsoft CRM 3.0 was its integration with Outlook. Microsoft correctly deduced that many Users were used to managing their day to day activities through Outlook. This not only included email activities but contacts, appointments and other tasks as well. Many Users had become dependent on Microsoft Outlook’s calendar as their primary visual tool for managing their appointments and tasks. In Microsoft CRM 3.0 emails and appointments could be synchronized in CRM but not other activities (the biggest complaint was the lack of synching of phone calls). But my experience in teaching CRM 3.0 Applications to end users has been User frustration about not being able to fully use Outlook to manage all of their day to day tasks. They did not like having to go in and out of Microsoft CRM to schedule common tasks such as phone calls. They had grown used to scheduling phone calls as tasks in their Outlook Calendars and getting convenient pop-up reminders.
Well Microsoft has addressed this in CRM 4.0 with the ability to synch not only emails, but phone calls, faxes, letters and tasks. Users can now function primarily through their familiar Outlook interface using the Outlook Calendar to schedule tasks in CRM. They also get the benefit of being able to schedule useful pop-up reminders that Users have grown use to (or in some cases dependent upon) to remind them to do daily tasks. When a task is scheduled, the “Track in CRM” box gives the User a Drop Down option to select which type of task to be tracked in CRM. CRM tasks are viewed in the Outlook Calendar as all other tasks in Outlook. When tasks are scheduled within CRM they are automatically pushed out to the User’s Outlook Calendar. There is only one drawback to scheduling tasks directly in CRM and that is inability to schedule a pop-up reminder within Outlook. An Outlook pop-up reminder will still occur for those tasks directly scheduled in CRM but it will be for whatever the Outlook default pop-up reminder setting is set for. This new feature should make Outlook Users much happier and more comfortable using CRM.
Microsoft CRM Consultant
Unitek Microsoft CRM Services