The Benefits of Folder-Based Tracking for Microsoft Dynamics 365

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By Dan Pickering, Consultant

Dan consults in Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM with a focus on client experience and delivery.

 

 

Tracking emails in CRM can be time consuming. Maybe you have to click on the ‘Track Regarding’ button every time and that alone is frustrating. Or you receive emails from multiple people within a company and only a certain topic (subject line), sender or importance needs to be tracked. 

Sure that sounds familiar, but how does that apply to YOUR real world? 

Challenges you might face: 

1. Tracking unnecessary items: Project/solution based workers consult multiple people/departments and need to track the various responses against a certain Account, Project or Opportunity in Dynamics 365. This keeps the important conversations transparent and a clear reference for the project status. If your organisation is using Dynamics 365 Project Service to manage your project delivery end-to-end (and you should be), then having one clear place within your Exchange mailbox to track emails from multiple project people would be ideal. But you don’t need to track every response, only the important stuff so the ability to choose quickly is necessary. 

2. Tracking unnecessary replies: Tracked responses to emails are automatically tracked to Dynamics 365 and this can be an inconvenience. If you receive a large number of emails from someone and a reply with ‘let’s set up a meeting’ is probably not worth tracking nor is the personal banter between yourself and a client. 

3. Tracking on the go: Mobile workers need quick solutions and often don’t have the luxury of a desk, comfortable chair for 8 hours and desktop computer with a right-clickable mouse. They might simply have an iPhone to fulfil their role with and this is limiting. The iPhone Outlook mail app does not have Dynamics 365 App for Outlook capabilities but otherwise operates like the desktop program. Using your folders to archive emails is simple but what about tracking them? 

4. Archiving multiple items: You operate a service based call centre and an internal department emails you copies of hundreds of monthly Case Overview report and invoices which need to be recorded against each of your Dynamics 365 Accounts. This is where Exchange rules are handy to archive these communications against a certain account or external contact in your inbox. But tracking each of them could be a nightmare.

The Solution

All of the scenarios above could be the perfect case-studies for using folder-based tracking within Dynamics CRM. In CRM Online 2015 Update 1 and CRM 2016 On-Premise Microsoft introduced what is called folder-based tracking.

What is it? 

Folder-based tracking involves creating one or more folders in your exchange account which are linked directly to a CRM record in Dynamics 365. You can track any folder against an Account, Opportunity, Project or other custom entity. If no Set Regarding option is made, the emails defaults to the Contact. 

The idea is you receive emails and choose to manually drag them into a tracked folder, or set up your Exchange rules and let Microsoft’s server-side synchronisation do the rest. In the latter case Outlook’s powerful and specific Exchange rules are making you more efficient and the synchronisation to Dynamics 365 is keeping important conversations transparent and visible by the required people in your organisation. 

If that folder is linked to a particular record such as an Account, all emails in that folder are tracked against it. In fact you can link multiple folders to a single record. Ie. You could link a single Account record to Finance and Legal folders so that your email correspondence is kept separate but all emails are traced back to your Dynamics 365 Account record. 

Note: You can only track folders and subfolders within your Exchange inbox and only the folder selected will be tracked. If you select a folder that contains subfolders, the subfolders are not tracked unless you specifically select them. In this case only the main folder would be tracked. Subfolders can be tracked if selected in the tracking rules. 

The maximum number of folders you can track is 25.

How to set up

Here's how you set up the Folder Tracking Rules to add new mailbox folders to your Dynamics CRM user profile. 

Personal Settings > Options > Email > Configure Folder Tracking Rules.

Once set up you just move the emails you’d like tracked to the linked folder and you’re done.

Benefits

The benefits are multifaceted depending on your preferred method of archiving emails along with your understanding of Exchange Rules. 

At the very least the benefits of folder-based tracking are: 

1. It works with Exchange rules. It’s likely you are already using folders to archive emails against an Account, person or project so this is just an extension of that to include tracking. 

2. Works on all Mail Apps on most devices. This means you can use folder-based tracking on your IOS Apple iPhone then switch directly to your HP desktop computer. Outlook on all devices that display your inbox folders will work. 

3. A perfect solution for those people using phones and tablets. Outlook on a phone has limited functionality but this solution works perfectly. If you spend a lot of time on your tablet and phone you’re likely moving and deleting emails on the go. Simply read, hit ‘Move to’ (or drag across) and send the appropriate emails to a folder for tracking. Or let Exchange rules do the work for you. 

4. Multiple email tracking. Ideal for Projects where multiple emails, both internal and external, from various people and companies need to be tracked. 

5. Where you only want to track against a contact, just a create a generic ‘track in CRM’ folder could be created with no Set Regarding rules. In this case no account or opportunity would be tracked so the tracking would only sit against the contact. This folder can contain emails from all your contacts that don’t have an entity to track against and keeps the number of folders in your inbox to a minimum.

Requirements

  • CRM 2015 Online (Update 1) and CRM 2016 (On-premise) minimum 
  • Your organisation must use Exchange and server-side sync as your email synchronisation method 
  • Tracked Exchange folder rules must be enabled in Dynamics 365 by an Admin

Best Practices for Folder Tracking

  • Make sure to take advantage of folder tracking on your mobile devices. If your device supports Exchange email, folder tracking will work automatically. You don’t need to install anything. Just drag or move email to a tracked folder to automatically track that email in Dynamics 365. 
  • Whether you set a regarding record for a folder or not depends on how you plan to use the folder: 
  • If you receive a small volume of email from many different customers, you may want to create a single folder called “Track in Dynamics 365” (or similar name) that isn’t linked to a particular record. That way, you can drag messages to that folder to track them automatically. If you later want to link an email message in that folder to a specific Dynamics 365 record, open that activity record in Dynamics 365, and then fill in the Regarding field. 
  • If you receive large volumes of email from a particular customer, create a folder (or use an existing folder) just for that customer and link it to a specific record. For example, create a Contoso folder and set the regarding record to a Contoso account record or opportunity record. 
  • You can set up multiple folders that link to the same regarding record. For example, you could link a Contoso Sales Proposal folder and a Contoso Legal Matters folder to the same Contoso account record. 
  • It’s best not to use the same folder for different records over a period of time. For example, let’s say you’re tracking email communications for an opportunity with Customer 1, but you’ve won the opportunity, and now you don’t need to track further communications with that customer. You may be tempted to simply change the regarding record for that folder to a new customer (Customer 2) you’re working with. If you do that, however, all email in that folder, including the email pertaining to Customer 1, will be associated with Customer 2. So it’s best in this case to create a new folder associated with Customer 2, and then set the regarding record for that new folder to Customer 2. Then you can delete the regarding record for the Customer 1 folder. 
  • You can include an untracked folder inside a tracked folder. For example, let’s say you want to store personal email from a Contoso contact. You can create a Personal subfolder under the Contoso folder and leave it untracked. 
  • If you no longer need to track a folder, it’s a good idea to untrack it for performance reasons. To untrack a folder, remove it from the Folder-Level Tracking dialog box.
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How can State of Matter help you with this?

Visit our Dynamics CRM page to read more about some of our services related to folder-based tracking. We'd be happy to help you leverage productivity in your business.