Welcome to the third in a six-part series on the new features available to you if you are upgrading from CRM 2011 to CRM 2015, with a focus on changes made to CRM forms.

In our introduction, we discussed the breadth and depth of changes that Microsoft has added between CRM 2011 and CRM 2015.  Click here to read the introduction.

And last week we discussed the user experience changes with the introduction of business process flows, the new navigation system, search features, hierarchical views, updates to dashboards, and revisions made to the lead conversion process.  Click here to read about the user interface changes.

In this article, we will look at 9 new features available on the forms within Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015.


(1) The Social Pane

Front-and-center on most forms now is the social pane.  The social pane combined a view of the activities (appointments, emails, calls, etc), activity feeds, Yammer feed (if you're using Yammer) and notes for a record - all in a single pane.  Your administrator can set the default view (for example you can see activities by default).  This means that the most recent interactions with a contact, account, opportunity or other record are immediately visible on the form when you open it.  No more having to remember to click around to see the latest information about a record.

CRM 2015 Social Pane


(2) Composite Fields

The name and address fields have been updated to appear as "composite fields."  This means that they take up less space when viewing them on the screen, but when the user edits them, they appear as individual fields to ensure quality data entry.


CRM Composite Field


(3) Record Images


Records can now have images associated with them.  For example, in the nearby image, you can see that we have added our company logo to our company account record as an image.  We're hoping to see tighter integration with LinkedIn here so that company and contact images are automatically downloaded from social sites in the future.


Image Fields in CRM 2015


(4) Auto Saving Records


Beginning in CRM 2013, records are auto-saved a few times every minute.  This may seem like a small new feature, but when you're navigating to different records, it means one less "click" each time you need to move around.  There have been some complaints about this new feature, but once you get used to it you really do find it to be quite a time-saver.


(5) Better In-Form Sub-Lists


In CRM 2011 and earlier, adding a sub-list to a form (such as a list of contacts on the account form) was possible, but it was unintuitive to use these lists, required a number of extra clicks, and seemed to make the forms "clunky."  CRM 2013 significantly improve this, and CRM 2015 has taken it further still.


Sub-Lists on the form now include a "plus" button to add a new record and a "grid" button to bring up the full grid view of the child records.  Clicking the plus button brings up a "Quick Form" (more on those, below) - making adding new records much more intuitive and efficient.  With the grid button, you no longer need to click on a sub-list view to bring up the full list.  In other words, you can now have a single streamlined data entry form without requiring the user to constantly navigate to sub-lists to see all the information about a record.


Some forms (the opportunity form, in particular) also make it possible to do data-entry in-line.  This means that when adding a product to an opportunity, you never leave the opportunity form.


CRM 2015 Inline Data Entry - Opportunity Products


(6) Maps


Records that have addresses can now have a map of the address displayed directly on the form.  While this had been possible in the past, it required JavaScript code to pull it off.  Bing maps are now included as a part of the form designer.


CRM 2015 Has Maps on Forms


(7) Quick Create Forms


CRM 2013 introduced the concept of quick create forms.  These are smaller versions of the data entry forms that can be used to quickly create new records.  They can be accessed by clicking the "create" button in the ribbon on the top of the application.  But their real strength is when creating child records (such as contacts for an account) - the quick create form scrolls down over the account form, allowing you to create and save a new contact without ever leaving the account form.


CRM 2015 has moved this concept forward with better integration with sub-lists, and nested quick-create forms (for example, you can quick create an opportunity and - from the opportunity quick create form - you can quick create a related contact).


Quick Create Forms in CRM 2015


Quick create forms make CRM much more intuitive to use, and also improves the productivity of users with fewer pop-ups and less keying and clicking required to get their job done.


(8) Quick View Forms


Quick view forms are forms that can be "nested" onto other forms.  For example the opportunity form can have a quick view of the account record - including key account information and the list of active contacts and opportunities for that account.  CRM systems have always tried to provide a "360 degree view" of the customer.  Quick view forms make that view visible without having to navigate to 3 different forms to see it.


Quick View Forms in CRM 2015


(9) Timer Control


The timer control was introduced in CRM 2013 to provide better integration with the improved customer care management module.  But it can be applied to any form in CRM.  This control enables an organization to track the time spent on certain tasks.  One of the core concepts of Six Sigma and lean manufacturing is understanding the time certain tasks take in order to optimize those tasks.  The timer control enables organizations to begin to apply these concepts to the processes that they manage with their customer relationship management solution.


Timer Control in CRM 2015


Coming Next


Wow … that's a lot of ways to make your users more productive, reduce learning curves, and put better information about the customer at the fingertips of your team.  Next week our topic will be "Sales Plus."  Our focus will be on the sales role and how CRM has provided specific improvements in this area - but we will also take a look at the customer care and marketing roles.


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