New Features in Microsoft dynamics CRM 2011. Introduction to CRM 2011 new Customizations & Productivity functionality, Web Client & development enhancements

What’s new in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2011 & International worldwide Europe and United Kingdom (UK) CRM Dynamics Online launch. This post tries to answer these questions. The post is the next one in the series and collection of posts that discuss Microsoft dynamics CRM 2011 new features, changes, additions, add-ons and improvements. We discussed in our previous post CRM Outlook client for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 New features, changes, additions and improvements & gave a fairly quick introduction to the CRM Outlook client  (you can read the previous post here). This post is focusing on what’s new in Dynamics CRM 2011 Web Client (IE) and CRM 2011 Customizations, configuration and development o f the new Microsoft CRM 2011 version.

The number of additions, enhancements, improvements in CRM 2011 are estimated to be over 500 new features at least. Some new features are fundamental and others are minor changes that are aimed at making the lives of Microsoft CRM Architects, consultants and developers easier, much easier I would say.

Let’s now go through some of the enhancements in CRM 2011 without too much details and I will aim to do more detailed posts in the future on how to work on each main new feature.

  • Dashboards: CRM 2011 now has the big, major change which is the Dashboards. You can now build out of the box standard dashboards, graphical dashboards, charts, etc in CRM 2011. Building dashboards has been made easy enough so that business users can build dashboards for themselves without the need of CRM consultants or developers to build them unless they are advanced dashboards. Gone are the days (or at least I hope so) when CRM Consultants had to build dashboards for clients using page, user controls a.k. widgets, etc. We can now very easily configure (can’t really call it develop) a dashboard in quick few steps. I think I will have to do a separate blog post to go through CRM 2011 Dashboards in detail.

Dashboards in CRM 2011

  • Records Navigation: CRM 2011 now has full records navigation in the web clients, so CRM users can just click on the next record or previous record buttons to navigate easily between CRM records especially in case they want to do a specific task on all records one by one. They no longer now need to double click a record, edit it, save it, close and then go back and open the next one. There is simply one button to get you to the next one.

CRM 2011 new Records Navigation feature snapshot

  • Headers & Footers: Every form for every entity record in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 now can have footers and headers. Here is a screenshot:

CRM 2011 Headers & Footers screenshot

  • Sub Grids:You can now build sub grids in CRM web client for drilling further into CRM data.
  • Customise Tab: To customise (or customize for my American friends!), you now have a tab on ever entity that allows you to customise it without having to go to the settings –> customisations area as in Dynamics CRM 4.0. Obviously only users who have the relative security roles that allows them to customize entities can see this tab. Normal CRM users will not see this tab if they do not have the related security role.
  • Form editor: Forms customisation and editors are now much much simpler really. No more going between several screens to add fields and then go back to the main form to add the field. It is now as simple as drag and drop fields on the form, and as easy as creating a new field while customising the form, there and then. This will definitely lower down the time required for customisations as everything is handled from one screen.
  • Multiple Forms per entity: Every CRM 2011 entity now can have one or more forms. Each form can have different security roles associated, so you can basically have a form for each security role or in other words each group of users. So if you want not to display certain data to specific CRM user, you can just create a form that only has the data they need to see. Don’t confuse this with field level security which is also a new feature in CRM 2011. You can also add parameters to be passed to the Form from within the Form properties. This data from the parameters can be accessed in scripts for form and field event handlers.
  • Global Picklist – Option set: CRM 2011 now has a new field type which is Option set. An option set is in effect a picklist (or dropdown) field type but which is global to all CRM entities. So any entity form can add the same option set. This is quite useful when you have something like countries list or job types, etc. You can now create one global option set and then all entities can reference this option set.
  • Entity Forms left navigation: You can now edit every entity’s left navigation graphically (no JavaScript is needed). You can move (drag and drop) left nav items up and down, from one group to another group (for example from sales to marketing, etc) for each form. You can also remove specific left navigation links on any form. You can even hide all left nav items for a specific form for a specific entity. You can also rename any section (such as sales, etc..) and you can rename every left nav item using their properties dialog window. Again, no scripting required. You can add a new navigation item which can be pointing to a URL or to any web resource and you can choose an icon for it.
  • Publish within the customisation screen: Do all your customisation changes then click Publish button without the need to close or open any windows (horrayyy).
  • Auditing: CRM 2011 now comes with an auditing module included. You can enable and disable auditing for every entity. If auditing is enabled on an entity, all its fields become audited as well. You can then go through each field in this entity and disable auditing for it if required.
  • Field Level Security: You can now enable and disable field level security for every custom field (not customizable ones). If a field security is enabled, you can then go to Settings –> Administration –> Field security profiles and change the field level security for each field for as many profiles as you want. For example you can create a profile for temp employees and set certain fields as: Read, Update and/or Create. If you don’t tick any of these 3 options, Teams and users in this profile will not see this profile’s fields on the related entities’ forms. You can add teams and users for each field level security profile.
  • Form level Security: Every CRM 2011 form now can be secured against each security role. When you edit every form in CRM 2011, you will have an option on the CRM 2011 ribbon at the top that allows you to assign security roles to this form. So, you can either choose the option to display this form to everyone or you can select what security roles can see this form. Anyone who does not have the security roles assigned to this form, will not be able to view it.
  • Excel Import and Export CRM Data: CRM 2011 allows for the import and export of data to and from CRM and an Excel sheet. You can now add information in the excel sheet and import to CRM and vice versa. When you open excel spreadsheets with CRM data exported from CRM, you will be able to see all values for each picklist to change the values in the excel sheet and then import back to CRM. This is excellent for Sales and field employees who can work disconnectedly on excel sheets and then import to CRM at the end of the day. This is also very useful for data cleansing where you can export data, do a data cleansing exercise (wash it thoroughly) and then import back.


That’s it for this post. More blog posts are coming with more CRM 2011 features and capabilities. Next blog post will be a continuation of the productivity enhancements that Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 has.

The next post will be published very soon so, please watch this space.

// Update 1 November 2010——————————————

The new post, in continuation of this series can has been published and can be viewed by clicking here.

Hope this post was helpful. Please feel free to comment with your feedback and input.


Mohamed Mostafa

Disclaimer: No Warranty or Liability on this post:
As always, this post, like all other posts on this blog are presented as is without any guarantee or warranty and I’m not responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect information mentioned in this blog nor decisions made based on this post. Myself, Microsoft and my employer can not be held responsible for any of this post content or information.

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