The ability to get your CRM contacts automatically synchronized to your Outlook address book and mobile phone is a very handy feature in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Why would you ever manually dial the phone numbers of your customers when you can just set them to appear in your smartphone’s list of contacts? Wouldn’t it also be nice to see the customer’s name instead of just an unfamiliar phone number when he or she calls you after your first meeting? These are examples of everyday benefits that not only save time but can also help drive CRM user adoption by showing tangible benefits of having the customer information managed centrally in a database shared by all employees that are in contact with the customers.
The new server-side synchronization in CRM 2013 has made the synchronization process independent of the Outlook client, so that updated information flows between your phone and CRM even when your PC is not online. What has not changed, though, is the lack of an administrative control panel for configuring the synchronization settings for the users. Since CRM by default only offers API calls to manipulate the synchronization filters, most users are likely using the default synchronization settings that come with CRM out of the box (unless they’ve received thorough training on how to configure the filters in the personal options menu). These are not always the optimal way to get the most benefit out of the synchronization functionality.
Once again, XrmToolBox comes to the rescue with its recent Sync Filter Manager addition. This tool gives system administrators the power to create and change the Outlook and offline filters on behalf of the end users. Now you can easily plan the proper synchronization strategy and deploy the correct settings to all users in a controlled manner, instead of needing to visit their PCs or try to get everyone to click the right options.
Since the concept of synchronization filters and templates may not be so easy to grasp for the CRM admin, I decided to make a tutorial that walks you through a few common scenarios for contact management. These cover enabling more than just the single owner of a contact to have the record synchronized to their address books, as well as how to avoid users in administrative roles from getting thousands and thousands of miscellaneous contacts suddenly appearing in their Outlook and mobile phone. You can view the presentation below or go to SlideShare and download it from there if the embedded slides are not showing up.
As a great follow up reading, I recommend you to also have a look at the article on contact management best practices that was recently published in the new CRM Virtuosity blog. This will show you how to take the Outlook contact synchronization even further via modifications to the contact form’s Command Bar in CRM 2013, among other things.