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.