11 features that will make you want to upgrade to Dynamics CRM Online

By Elaiza Benitez, UX & Functional Consultant

Elaiza started her CRM journey back in 2009 with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4 and is the lead consultant for many clients. She is a committee member of the Melbourne Microsoft Dynamics365 User Group and actively shares her knowledge in her blog.

Previously we covered why you should upgrade to CRM Online. This time round, I'm here to tell you about the top 10 new and cool features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. If you can't wait for Dynamics365, here's some features to make you want to upgrade to CRM Online.

Utilize everyday programs you're used to

Excel online bulk update

Previously you had to export from CRM into Excel and enable the exported file to be imported back into CRM. After making changes in Excel and importing into CRM, there's always the odd chance of rows not being updatable as someone else may have updated the record in the time you were making changes in Excel.

With CRM Online, you can now update records in bulk easily using Excel online which makes me smile! Simply view your list of records that you want to update and select the "Open in Excel" Export to Excel function.

The browser window will then display your list of records where you can edit the columns directly. Once you're happy with your updates, you can save the changes back into CRM.

Word document generation

Record information can now be easily exported into a Word file where you can define the layout of the document. You can even pull through the profile image of the record onto the Word document. It's pretty neat.

In the screenshot below, the Word document outlines the Opportunities associated to the Opportunity as well as pulled through the image from Word.

Outlook Web App

For those using Outlook Web through Office 365, you can track emails from Outlook Web. Simply enable the app from Settings in Microsoft Dynamics CRM and you'll be able to instantly track emails.

CRM features available right now

Voice of the Customer

Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows you to design surveys where you can embed your company branding which includes logos and colour palette. 


You can also set up emails to be automatically sent such as when a Case has been resolved. The email would display the URL to the survey which the customer can browse to.

The survey can also reference CRM data to personalize the survey such as referencing the customer's full name.

"Clicks not code" business logic instead of custom development

Business rules was introduced in CRM 2013 which allows system customisers to apply logic to a record without using code. You can manipulate field outcomes on the forms to control how users interact with the fields using the following methods,

  • Display of an error message
  • Set the value of a field using a pre-entered value, a value from another field or clearing the field
  • Indicate whether a field is mandatory based on a previous field action
  • Show or hide of fields to clarify what a user should be seeing based on the current data on the record
  • Lock or unlock of fields to determine what fields users are allowed to update

Basically you would need to identify the criteria that will enable the outcome of the fields - this is what we call the "Condition." Once you have your condition set, you can then determine what type of method you would like to apply for the relevant fields. You can apply more than one condition to a business rule.

Interactive Service Hub

The Interactive Service Hub is a platform that has been designed for Customer Service Representatives who deal with cases where customers need support. There are two main components to Interactive Service Hub which are Interactive Dashboards and Interactive Forms.

Interactive Dashboards allows users to preview records related to their selective choice. As an example, if a user was to select "Email" in the Case Mix (By Origin) dashboard, the entire dashboard will refresh to only show information related to Cases that originated via Email. This provides a more targeted experience for the Customer Sales Representative as they focus on the information that is related to the selection of their choice. Unrelated information is not displayed to the Customer Sales Representative.

Interactive Forms presents the information to the user in a more meaningful layout with some neat features. On the left general details is presented whereas in the middle, the "Timeline" provides a history of what user actions have been completed recently.  The Related section of the form provides insight to other related items of the record such as entitlement information.

If there are email activities in the timeline section, users can perform actions without needing to open the activity record such as a reply action. If you were in CRM, you would have to open the activity record in order to perform a reply action.

Apply company branding palate

Themes was the star when Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Update 1. Company branding including logo can be embedded into the general look and feel of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. This is great as historically it was tougher to do. You were able to achieve company branding in CRM 4 but this required custom development. In CRM 2011 and CRM 2013 it was not possible. Fast forward to 2015 Update 1 and it's now possible to do so within 15 minutes by adding in the hex colours of your branding and uploading a logo.

Please note that your logo must be uploaded as web resource before applying it to the CRM Theme that is to be used for your Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online environment.

Once your theme is published and you refresh your browser, you'll see that the look and feel has been updated.

Server Side Synchronisation

Server Side Synchronisation was introduced in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 where emails, appointments, contacts and tasks from Exchange are synchronized with CRM. Previously there was a dependency on a user's Outlook to be operating in order for synchronisation of records to be processed in CRM through the Outlook CRM Client. These days, the better alternative is to use Server Side Synchronisation. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Online, synchronisation through Exchange Online, Exchange Server, Gmail or Outlook Web (Outlook.com) is supported.

Project Services

Project can be run and maintained in Microsoft Dynamics CRM where you can build Project Templates that include a Work Breakdown Structure and Project Estimates. Project Templates can be applied to Projects where additional tasks can be added to adjust the Project Work Breakdown Structure accordingly.

The other cool things I like is how you can perform resource management where you define your resource's skills and filter by their skills which can help during the planning of a new project. You can also view their capacity at any given time to understand who is available vs who has a high workload. This can be extremely useful for project planning as visibility of resources is key to the project deliverables.

Office365 Groups

To go one step further with your project in promoting team collaboration, an Office365 Group can be created. Documents can be shared among members of the project and conversations can also take place.

A shared calendar is also available which will be visible in the the project team member's Office365 calendar as well.

All of these features are available through the Office Groups mobile app where project team members can view the documents, conversations and calendar on the go from their mobile phone or tablet.

Field Services

Keeping an eye on your team who are out and about providing services to your customers. Organisations that would Field Services useful are those that provide services to goods that are sold, such as a plumber being called out to a job to fix a leaky toilet cistern or a carer that is scheduled to provide care for a care recipient.

Jobs can be easily assigned and scheduled to resources who are available right then and there. Field Services provides visibility to understand where your resources are, what job/service they are handling and what's in the service pipeline.


There's a lot of features available right now in CRM Online and will continue to exist in Dynamics 365. If you're on a legacy version of CRM, considering upgrading to CRM Online (soon to be Dynamics 365). As mentioned in our previous post the longer you wait to upgrade from a legacy version, the more effort is required due to the upgrade path to be undertaken.