At this point in our evaluation of our free 30-day trial of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, we have conducted most of our analysis from an internet browser. However, we heard that Microsoft CRM will work within Outlook as well, allowing us to utilize virtually all CRM Online functionality from the familiar Outlook client that we use every day in our office. Luckily, we do not need to purchase CRM Online to try CRM for Outlook; we can use our trial organization to see if it’s right for us.
Before we can add our organization to Outlook, we must first install the CRM 2011 Outlook client. There are two ways of doing this, both are very easy. However, there are a couple of important things to know before we install the client.
First, we have to make sure that we have administrator rights on our machine. Second, if we already have the CRM 4.0 Outlook client, and have updated to CRM Online 2011, we must uninstall the CRM 4.0 Outlook client. Thirdly, the Outlook client for CRM Online 2011 is compatible with Outlook 2003 with Service Pack 3, Outlook 2007, and Outlook 2010. Lastly, if we currently have Outlook 2010, we have to determine if it is 32-bit, or 64-bit.
The first way we can install the CRM 2011 Outlook Client is through the “Get CRM for Outlook” button, located below the ribbon in CRM Online, as shown below. This button automatically appears when we log into CRM Online, if we do not already have the client installed. By clicking the button, an automated installation will begin. However, this button will not appear if it has been closed previously by clicking the “X” on the far right side. It also can be disabled for all users by our system administrator, in which case, it will not automatically appear upon signing in.
We can also install the CRM 2011 Outlook Client from the Microsoft Download Center. If we are using Outlook 64-bit, we’ll click the Download button on the top (CRM2011-Client-ENU-amd64.exe). For the 32-bit Outlook, we’ll click the Download button on the bottom. We will be given the option to save the file locally or to run it. Then we will be led through a simple, step-by-step, installation wizard.
Once we complete the wizard, we can access all of our CRM Online information in a single application, because all of the data is automatically synchronized between Outlook and CRM Online. Any record that is synchronized with Outlook will also be available on any web enabled mobile device, such as Windows Phone, Blackberry, and iPhone.
Another great tip to know when evaluating the CRM Online trial is that we can connect to multiple CRM Online organizations from Outlook. Let’s say that we need to sign up for multiple trials simultaneously, with each one serving a specific purpose. We can then access each organization from Outlook without having to sign out and sign back in to navigate between the two. See the two screenshots below. I can navigate between the organization named “Success Portal”, and the one named “xRM.com” right from Outlook.
Another benefit of using CRM for Outlook is it allows us to automatically track e-mail messages, contacts, and appointments.
Finally, if at any point we experience an issue installing or configuring the CRM 2011 for Outlook client, we can refer to the CRM for Outlook Configuration Troubleshooting Wizard.
Hopefully by this point in your trial of CRM Online you are close to determining whether or not this application is right for your business. Stay tuned for our final entry in this series: “Converting Your Trial Account to a Paid Subscription”.