CRM 2015 is now available, and if you create a new trial of Dynamics CRM you will be taken straight to CRM 2015 to experience these changes for yourselves. I recommend you doing this just so you can see what it is like for yourself. The changes includes awesome features including being able to search anywhere in the system for anything, advanced find being available from anywhere to custom help pages. Read more to find out..

1. When you log in you’ll notice firstly, the search bar that has appeared in the top right corner of the screen and perhaps less notable but more important you may wonder where the advanced find button has gone. You may recognize the icon used to the right of the new search bar as this is where Advanced find has now been moved to.

Search Bar and Advanced Find in CRM now accessible on the top bar

Search Bar and Advanced Find in CRM now accessible on the top bar

The search works much like the search that has lived near the top of list screens in the past versions of CRM, however the output is a little different, and it is multi-entity, so it will bring back all entity types that it can match. You can filter on this list using the dropdown to the right if required.

Search multiple entities from the search bar

Search multiple entities from the search bar

2. When information was originally released for CRM 2013 the business process flows played a big part of this information. I believe the reason they did it because they allow a user to be visually handheld through a process. However from my experience with them, they didn’t give enough flexibility that was easy to use (switch process…really?) with real life business scenarios, which as you can imagine, are not always a linear left to right process represented by the business process flow interface.

CRM 2015 has brought some significant improves to the Business Process Flows and you can instead of handhold a user through a simple process, they can be metaphorically guided through it based on the data they input, without them needing to know the rules or what is supposed to happen. This is achieved by branching abilities and this includes if else statements, if & else if statements, and also you can put multiple conditions on the branches you create, not just ‘If X = X’ you can put If ‘X= X & Y=Y’

The new look Business Process Flow

The new look Business Process Flow – A much easier, and expanded, user interface

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Branching is now available on Business Process Flow functionality. Select ‘Add a Branch’ and click on the green ‘+’ icon underneath your query to add more.

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When you first branch, it creates a secondary branch for you where you can expand further and click to convert it to an ‘else if’ and keep the branching process going on and on..

3. The product catalog has expanded even more, and with is comes product families, bundles and hierarchy functionality.  Products are not easy to understand, however from first glance this looks more complicated than it is and I’ll hope to produce an new info graphic on these to help out soon. The best tip is to use the sample data and to use the hierarchical view, which I believe is it’s intention to check out related items, and there are a whole lot of relationships that are possible in product families.

The new Products and Families

The new ‘Families and Products’ in the Settings area

 

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Much more functionality has been added to the Products, including properties

Some of the awesome stuff with products isn’t actually in the products catalog, it is in the sales process and by using the product catalog effectively, you can have information about the product you have selected become available to you and also you can click ‘suggestions’ when you hover over a line to check out cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. This is done by configuring the properties of the product in the product catalog area.

When you are adding a product line into an Opportunity, you can see the 'Properties' by clicking next to the name to reveal the information held at Product level

When you are adding a product line into an Opportunity, you can see the ‘Properties’ by clicking next to the name to reveal the information held at Product level

 

You can also click 'Suggestions' which pop's out a scrollable window which you can see any related products through different contexts - such as cross sell, or up sell.

You can also click ‘Suggestions’ which pop’s out a scrollable window which you can see any related products through different contexts – such as cross sell, or up sell.

4. Hierarchical Views.

Hierarchical views are only available on a small number of entities, the ones I know of are the products and the accounts. This is the only disappointing area of the 2015 release, as I wanted to be able to see something more customer facing – product catalog is more internal configuration and accounts are only effective really when the 1:N relationship is utilized. This would be amazing to see multi-entity, in the connections entity for example to show how records relate to one another visually.

Product Heirarchy

Hierarchical View for a Product family – they are a great tool just to be able to see how entities are related

 

5. Nested Quick Create

Quick create is quite a nifty feature that I believe is underutilized as no one really remembers it’s there. I am hoping by allowing nesting this changes that somewhat. The best example for this is when you are creating an new contact using quick create but realise the account also doesn’t exist, you can now click new and a second quick create form will drop down and you can see your depth by the file path at the top.

An Account quick create form nested inside a Contact quick create form

An Account quick create form nested inside a Contact quick create form

6. Improved Business Rules

Business rules were an excellent feature introduced in CRM 2013, allowing you to manipulate the forms without the use of JavaScript mainly, meaning a less error prone way to add nice functionality. Business rules did have there drawback through which often meant if you had set a rule to expose a hidden field for example if a condition was met, you normally had to create a second one to set that back, and so on. I’m pleased to say these, like Business Process Flows, have been greatly improved with branching functionality, and/or and if/else which really add to the application-level functionality.

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And/Or & If/Else functionality added to Business Rules

7. Custom Help Pages

Something that hasn’t been that published is the addition of custom help pages. This means rather than the CRM help pages you get when clicking the ‘?’ help icon in the top right corner  of your screen, this is instead now your own hosted website/page. This is quite pleasant functionality, and can be even taken to the level of creating a large directory of pages and linking them to customizable entities individually in CRM through the entity level configuration.

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As you can see, this is really just scratching the surface of the new functionality, and I am going to be playing more and seeing what it can do, especially in terms of customisations. I am planning on putting up a video in the next week of what I have just covered so you can follow on that, which will also include much more detail.