Connections in CRM 2011

I was in meeting/discussion about CRM 2011 and we were discussing how to view accounts in a list, should we use the owner of the account or maybe add a new field onto accounts.

then someone said lets use connections.  Now at this point connections to me were one of the new features added in to CRM 2011.

there are lots of new features added into CRM 2011 which I am not quite sure how they work….yet.

The person linked the account to a user using connections and then we viewed the accounts connected to the user. pow.  It’s one of the new features in CRM 2011 which when you see what it does you think “that’s really useful, nice one microsoft”.

so connections are really relationships between two entity records in the system.  It’s a way to create a relationship (link) between two entities records

entity’s like Accounts and contacts

here is how the SDK describes the benefits of Connections

Connections provide the following capabilities:

  • An easy and flexible way to make a connection between two records of most Microsoft Dynamics CRM entity types. All customizable business and custom entities can be enabled for connections.
  • An option to add useful information, such as description of the connection and the duration.
  • An ability to create connection roles that describe the relationship between the two records, such as a relationship between a doctor and a patient, or a manager and an employee.
  • A quick way to create multiple connections and roles for a particular record. For example, a contact may have many relationships with other contacts, accounts or contracts. In each relationship a contact may play a different role.
  • Information for building queries and creating graphs. You can search for all connections and connection roles for a particular record and create graphs and charts for visual representation of the connections.
  • Support for workflows and auditing for automating and improving the business processes.

Here is a video on youtube about connections in CRM.

There is another video called – Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 – Connections

Finally there is a good blog post on Connections here

The interesting aspects of connections is you can have a time span for the connection and you can also report on the connection.

I have to say I’m not sure how it does it behind the scenes but it’s quite a cool little feature to be added.

It’s basically a loose relationship between entities.

The article mentions something I didn’t know about you can have connection roles for frequent connections

Documenting connections using connection roles

If certain users connect frequently to certain records, or if certain records are frequently connected, we can use connection roles to formalize this. Connection Roles are defined under Business Management under Settings

The article also concludes with a good summary

Comparing with normal relations between records, it has the following advantages:

  • We don’t need to customize the system for every type of relation that could occur
    • This makes the system more flexible when processes change
    • And we don’t bother the user with all the possible fields/lists for these relations
  • We can add a lot of detail to these Connections. Description texts are already better than only providing a link. With Roles we can add even more depth.
  • Adding these Connections is faster than adding a true relation with the special button on the ribbon.

Testing your Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Apps

I have been wondering about how the CRM market place would work and what exactly you would need to do to certify your apps

I finally found this blog page today saying there is a software test which is self administered.

I found it a bit odd that there wasn’t much information on the subject and finding it was quite difficult, well searching google for it.

anyway if you having trouble finding the information like I was the article should help, I have quoted some of the more interesting parts.

You have a fantastic App for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and you want to list it on the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace and/or achieve certification. Good news! The software test that you have to take is self-administered and is available now for you to give it a try. Do note that several of the sites mentioned here still need to be updated with information about CRM 2011 but that shouldn’t prevent you from giving the software test a try.

The process

1. Register your company and application and download the Microsoft Platform Ready test tool athttp://www.microsoftplatformready.com. For questions or comments about the Microsoft platform ready site and tool you can contact: devspec@microsoftplatformready.com

2. Run the tool and execute the corresponding tests that are applicable to your application. You must execute the test cases for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 as well as any other applicable technology that is currently supported by the test tool.

3. Once you have passed the test and submitted the results to Microsoft you can now proceed to register on the Microsoft Dynamics. The Get Listed page spells out the process you need to follow to get your product listed. Currently there is a certain amount of duplication between both systems (e.g. you have to register twice) but the experience will be streamlined with future enhancements.

4. If you want to pursue certification ensure that you have taken the test and submitted the results before you contact the vendor that administers certification on behalf of Microsoft. Do note that there are additional requirements (e.g. customer references) other than the software test to achieve certification. Certification is not required to be listed on the marketplace but it will grant you a “Logo”, better placement in search results and other perks that are well worth it. To learn more about certification see this link. You can also contact msdynamics@veritest.com if you have questions about certification.