Microsoft CRM integration and customization – SharePoint document gateway

MS CRM is very close to automating the workflow of documents, including Microsoft Office documents: Word, Excel, etc. Document workflow was perfectly automated about 10 years ago in Lotus Notes Domino. In this short article we describe the solution based on the integration of MS CRM with MS SharePoint.

Microsoft CRM is a new player in the CRM application market and is gaining market share. Have a different paradigm in its design (bet on Microsoft operating systems and technologies and completely discard alternative platforms, such as those based on UNIX, Linux, Oracle, etc.). The Microsoft CRM market is highly diversified – from small (5 users) to large (several hundred MS CRM user licenses) and serves a variety of industries: transportation, logistics, lawyers, pension funds, high-tech, and many other The implementation of technologies, such as Windows Active Directory, Microsoft Exchange 2003/2000, SQL Server, Crystal Reports Enterprise, Biztalk, Microsoft Outlook, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Great Plains and Navision in the near future, makes CRM a system loved by the Microsoft-oriented IT departments.

Let’s get straight to the point.

The main problem with storing documents in MS CRM in the form of attachments to Activity is the inability to work on these attachments in cooperation with other colleagues, who do not have to use CRM. When multiple service people serve requests from the same customer, this is necessary. Currently, you can use an alternative way when you store office documents in your file system folders, and when you edit the document, save it and reattach it to CRM. This is inconvenient, because it requires all edition users to have CRM licenses first, which delays CRM implementation.

It seems that we are increasing the popularity of document storage systems, such as Microsoft SharePoint, Oracle Files, etc. The implementation of these systems gives you time savings, related to revisions and versions of documents, approval cycles and workflows, web access through web portal systems and the like.

The goal of our product is the integration of Microsoft SharePoint with MS CRM for document storage. Let’s take a look at the details of high-level technical realization:

o The main modification on the MS CRM side is a standard system behavior change when you open the attachment in Activity. The unmodified standard CRM suggests that you store documents on the file system. Modified version of the sores document in SharePoint document library (required library is subject to MS CRM system administrator settings) or save in MS CRM as is (for minor documents). From the moment the document is saved in the SharePoint document library, it is not stored in MS CRM – CRM will now store only the link / reference to the document. You also have the ability to open and modify the document on the spot, which substantially speeds up the performance of the MS CRM user.

oTable, storing the links to the documents is in a separate database and does not deal with MS CRM tables (you know it is forbidden to make structure changes in MS CRM db)

o The process of saving documents in MS SharePoint occurs in MS CRM and with its help: SharePoint bridge, which adds and updates the existing document in the target document library with MS SharePoint web services calls

oOnce added to Document Library, MS CRM – SharePoint Bridge registers the document in special table for future data extraction or notification mechanism registration

o Then interested users can work with the documents simply using MS Office 2003 or other editing programs / tools, assuming these tools have access to MS SharePoint.

o Feedback is provided by the MS SharePoint Event Handler component. This is a special controller, which inspects the change status of the document, is transferred from MS CRM to the document storage (SharePoint) and informs the activity owner about the changes with notifications from the home page (user home page in MS CRM). The user, in turn, can review the edit history of the document: who, when and where the change is made.

oOpen activity, where the document is “attached” and actually placed in the MS SharePoint document library, and by pressing the open button, the MS CRM user gets the live version of the data

oThis approach allows you to work seamlessly with the MS CRM document in the entire informational space of your company

Additional enhancements to this product may be the management of the document library directly from MS CRM (web interface, i.e. remotely), the administrative interface for MS Sharepoint document review, the ability to create reports on the document storage status, MS CRM rights / access management (author, reader, contributor etc.), portal page integration in MS CRM, to name a few.

Happy programming, implementation, customization and modification! If you want us to do the job, call 1-630-961-5918, 1-866-528-0577. [email protected]

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