The truth is now out there, as Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 beta was released for the public on Thursday, September 9th. As a result, the NDA for the Early Adopter Program is no longer stopping me from sharing some of my thoughts and experiences on the latest and greatest version of CRM. Instead of trying to cover each and every new feature in a bullet list, I’ll focus on the topics which have caught my attention the most.
Some love it, some hate it, but here it is anyway! In an application like CRM where the actions one can perform on a record tend to keep on growing over time as more and more customizations and integrations are applied to the system, the context sensitive ribbon with it’s graphical icons is much more important than in traditional Office apps. While not everyone is happy that CRM 2011 has lost form its tabs after the entity form was changed into one long page with sections, the tabs have infact found a new home on the ribbon. With this UI shift in mind, it’s easy to see why having two alternative levels of tabs was not really an option from usability perspective. In this new fluid ‘n flat world of CRM 2011 the custom tabs on the ribbon will offer a great customization point to insert shortcuts and custom actions that will help the user navigate inside the application.
There are already many nice shortcuts included in the default UI to reduce the number of clicks, which has previously been a common complaint from Dynamics CRM users. One convenient new feature is the Recently Visited button on the CRM main window, which shows a list of previously opened items and lets you pin down the favourite links that are most frequently accessed.
The ease of customization
Usability is a big factor not just for the system end users but also administrators, developers and any type of consultant that needs to spend a significant share of his working day interacting with the application. Back in the previous versions of CRM the number of clicking you were required to do in modifying customizations and various system settings was infuriating at times. I’m very glad to see that the UI enhancements in CRM 2011 have also been extended to the “engine room”. [Read more…]