Harvey BallsI was on a conference call the other week when Jack Bender, a Senior Consultant from Microsoft, mentioned Harvey Balls in reference to security role privileges. Later on I asked him what the heck he was talking about with this Harvey Ball stuff. If you already know the whole  Harvey Ball story then feel free to roll your eyes and give me the gas face. I just thought it was a somewhat odd description of the little balls used to adjust security permissions. For those of you who don't know what Harvey Balls are here is a brief summary so that when the time comes and you hear about Harvey Balls or you just want to impress someone by talking about them you'll be in the know.

Harvey Balls, also known as Booz Balls as it pertains to CRM are the little round circles when you pull up a security role for adjusting user privileges. Harvey Balls are used for visual communication of qualitative information. In plain English they depict a relative state that makes sense for the context of what they are applied to. For example, I could apply Harvey Balls to depict my relative anger when a user calls to complain about something. The more filled the ball is the more frustrated I am the that this user just doesn’t understand that I am always right and he just doesn’t know what he is talking about. I’m kidding of course…

When it comes to CRM, as it is shown at the bottom of the security roles window an empty ball means the security role has no rights to the entity or privilege. As you click on an individual ball it changes to increase the level of access for that particular access until finally the role has organization access to that privilege.


Just for a bit of history, Harvey Poppel is credited with inventing Harvey Balls back in 1970 while working as a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton. The fact that he was currently working for Booz Allen Hamilton is why they are sometimes referred to as Booz Balls. Mr. Poppel was known as the go-to guy when it came to increasing office productivity, and these balls struck him as a time saver. They were such a hit that quickly all Booz consultants were using them, and the rest is history. Harvey Balls are used in quite a number of application for obvious reasons. Personally I had seen them before I just never knew what they were actually called or the history behind them. Now I know, and so do you.