Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Using SharePoint Online to store Dynamics CRM Online Documents

Integration between SharePoint and Dynamics CRM has been around since Dynamics CRM 2011 – this integration allows for linking documents to Dynamics CRM entities but the documents will be stored in SharePoint instead of the CRM database. This integration is actually a must have for Dynamics CRM Online since there is a built-in storage limit which initially is 5 GB and which is increased with 2.5 GB per 20 licensed users – you can buy additional storage but it is more expensive than storing the documents in SharePoint Online (See Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online : Service Description (whitepaper) for more details)

With the introduction of Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 there has been an important change with the deprecation of the the Dynamics CRM list component for Microsoft SharePoint. Initially Dynamics CRM integrated with SharePoint using the Dynamics CRM list component for Microsoft SharePoint but with Dynamics CRM 2013 SP1 Server based integration was introduced.
For the time being you still have two different options to integrate Dynamics CRM Online and SharePoint Online – one using the Dynamics CRM list component for Microsoft SharePoint and the other one using Server-based SharePoint integration but this will not be supported anymore after one of the next updates.

In this post I will explain how the server-based SharePoint integration in Dynamics CRM Online looks like from an end-user perspective (For more details about how to set it up - check out Setup CRM online to use SharePoint Online as well as Enable SharePoint document management for specific entities ) and what you should watch out for.  For a deep dive technical description I recommend that you read SharePoint Integration Reloaded – Part 1 .
In this example I have document management enabled for a custom entity called policy (this is an example from the Traviata CRM solution for Insurance Carriers) and document folders are automatically created based on a specific entity (this is something you will need to configure up

The automatic folder creation is actually a very useful feature since you can also use these SharePoint folders to secure these documents (keep in mind that security/authorization needs to be configured separately in SharePoint Online) and it also a way to overcome the list view limit in SharePoint Online (for an interesting discussion around folders using Dynamics CRM see Scalability considerations for CRM/SharePoint integration ) – so the first time that you attach a document to a CRM record a folder will be created based on the related entities – in our example we have an insurance policy for our contact/party Kristof – so it will create a folder structure based on the party entity.

Now you can upload your documents into SharePoint directly from within the CRM user interface – in the past this component used an iFrame but now it is technically completely integrated.

You can directly upload documents to SharePoint within this interface but you can also create Office documents directly from within the interface using the Office Web Apps.

You can also work from within SharePoint and see the different documents from within the SharePoint document library.

You might also have noticed that there is a GUID in the folder name – from a developer perspective this seems like an interesting additional although as an end-user I don’t like it – also check out the comments section of this post CRM 2013 and SharePoint integration new feature for more debate around this “feature”.  Unfortunately there are still some downsides to the server based integration which are clearly indicated in Important considerations for server-based SharePoint integration as well as New server to server integration with CRM Online and SharePoint provides much more limited functionality. Besides document management integration there are however some other interesting options such as integrating Dynamics CRM, SharePoint  and OneNote and I expect a lot more to available in the upcoming releases of Dynamics CRM. For an overview of integration points check out the Integration Guide: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Office 365

No comments: