In this post I will continue my series connected with the MB2-713 certification (Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Sales). As I revise for the MB2-713 exam I am publishing posts regarding the subjects I cover.
A good portion of this exam looks at integration with other products, in this post I will therefore consider email integration. Let’s start by reminding ourselves of the skills measured statement, the statement I have colour red reflects the scope of this post.
Configure email integration
- Configure email server synchronization; configure server settings, server profiles, and mailbox configurations; migrate to server-side synchronization; configure synchronization options; configure email client integration; use folder tracking; use the Dynamics CRM app for Outlook
There are many combinations of email / CRM server architecture that are supported, email may reside in a local Exchange server and connected to an on premise instance of CRM. Or maybe CRM is online and making use of Office 365. Office 365 is a cloud service containing a collection of services that together form an overall productivity suite. Include Exchange online, SharePoint online, Skype for business online, Delve, Office 365 ProPlus, Project Online, Power BI and Office Groups.
Email integration enables users (and queues) to send and receive email in and out of the CRM solution, plus integrating with exchange allows appointments, contacts and tasks to be synchronized. It is important to be aware that not all features are mandatory, you could for example only configure outgoing email and opt not to synchronize.
Some common uses of email integration include;
- Outbound emails from CRM. Either sent directly from CRM users to contacts, accounts (etc) or automatically via workflow.
- Updating contacts, appointments and tasks between CRM and Outlook.
- Inbound emails into CRM, including automatically taking emails into queues. (e.g. support emails into a support queue.)
- Record creation rules to convert inbound emails into CRM entities. Such as creating a case from an inbound email.
- Tracking of emails from Outlook into CRM. (For example sales “conversations” tracked against an opportunity.)
- Support for mobile devices.
Email Synchronization Options
There are several options for integrating email with CRM, including using CRM for Outlook, using the email router and server-side synchronization.
For CRM on-line / office 365, Server-side synchronization is the recommended approach. It allows CRM and Exchange to communicate with no additional client software or server processes.
Server-side synchronization is a required component if you wish to enable the email folder tracking feature.
If you use CRM for Outlook for email integration users are required to be logged in for sending / receiving emails. With Outlook loaded and the CRM for Outlook client configured. However, server-side sync does not require this. As the name suggests, all of the processing is done on the server meaning the user does not have to be connected to a client.
Even when using server-side sync you can still opt to use the CRM for Outlook client as it provides access to all CRM data within Outlook.
Like server-side sync the email router can be used to synchronize email without the users being logged into Outlook. The email router runs as a separate process and needs to be installed / configured. As the name suggests, the email router is only for email. (It does not synchronize tasks, contacts or appointments.) One advantage of the email router is it support a wide range of configurations, making it the preferred approach when server-side sync isn’t an option.
Server-side synchronization is specifically mentioned in the skills measured statement and is the recommended approach, so let’s look at that in a little more detail.
To track emails AND synchronize appointments two configurations are supported for server-side sync. Those being CRM on premise to Exchange 2010/2013. Or CRM online to Exchange online. (Exchange on premise to CRM on-line or Exchange online to CRM on premise would require the email router.)
CRM on premise with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, MSN, Outlook.com and Live Mail are supported over pop3/smtp. But this is for email only no appointments, contacts or tasks are synchronized.
CRM online with Gmail and Yahoo Mail are supported over pop3/smtp. (MSN, Outlook.com and Live Mail are NOT supported with online) But only for email. Appointments, contacts or tasks are not synchronized.
Configuring Server-side Sync
Three steps are involved in configuring server-side synchronization;
- Configure system settings.
- Configure the server profile.
- Define and configure mailboxes for users / queues.
Options for all of these steps can be found in the email configuration options in the settings area of CRM.
The email configuration settings option lets you define the configuration of email you wish to deploy. Including server-side sync, email router and outlook. As part of your preparation it is worth going over this screen to be aware of the key options available.
Note: Notice the warning that if you change from email router to server-side sync the router will be blocked for email processing.
Tip: Notice the “Configure default synchronization method” section in system settings. It maybe common that most users have the same settings, so defining the defaults here will help make the process of creating new users easier. It is also possible to open an existing mailbox and use the apply default settings option.
Also notice that you can configure server-side sync and email router to only process emails for approved users and queues. This is the default and the reason why all mailboxes (by default) must be approved before being tested/enabled.
The next step is to create an email server profile. A step which is done automatically if you are using CRM online and Exchange online. It is possible to have multiple email server profiles, in that scenario mailboxes will be linked to an appropriate server profile. This might be useful when migrating from one configuration to another. Or possibly simply done to create logical groupings, maybe all the user in the south are on one profile and the north on another. This logical grouping might be useful as error messages from all the mailboxes associated with each profile are rolled up.
Mailbox records get created when users or queues are created. These can be amended to govern what type of email synchronization is required for each individual mailbox.
Mailboxes must be approved and tested / enabled for them to operate. FYI, occasionally an email may force a permanent error and then the mail box would need to be re-approved / re-tested.
Also notice that a mailbox can be a forwarding mailbox.
Notice that the synchronization method on the mailbox can be set for “incoming email”, “outgoing email” and “appointments, contacts and tasks”. For example, incoming email might be handled by the email router, whilst appointments remain on Microsoft Dynamics for Outlook.
Also, importantly the method can be set to none. Say you wanted to block all outgoing mail from a particular mailbox that could be done.
Often each user will have dedicated mailboxes, so that each user has an individual email address. (and mailbox configuration.)
With a forwarding mailbox large numbers of users can be configured to link to one forwarding mailbox. One mailbox is configured as a forward mailbox; then multiple users forward their mail to that forwarding box for tracking in CRM.
The advantage being there is only a need to configure one mailbox but the disadvantage being you sacrifice the ability for users to individually send emails from CRM.
In a call center you could configure everyone to use a forwarding mailbox. This would work because in this scenario synchronization of individual appointments, contacts and tasks is not essential. But in a sales environment, each field sales person would need a personalized view of their contacts and appointments. Meaning a forwarding mailbox would not be appropriate for them.
Don’t forget that a mixed deployment is possible. With some users working with a forwarding mailbox and others having individual mail accounts.
Server-side sync monitoring / performance
Monitoring email usage will be an important administration task to ensure smooth running. Whenever an error occurs an alert event is triggered and can be seen at an email box or server profile level. These can be for information, warning or errors. There is also a server-side sync dashboard available, this gives details of how many boxes are healthy and how many have continuous or warning errors. Plus, it contains charts to help see the current and historic performance for email synchronization.
Sometimes it may also be useful to go to the mailbox and select “Download Mail Details”, this will give full details of the configuration of that mailbox.
Migration to Server-side Synchronization
The skills measured specifically mentions migration to server side sync! I guess this is because server-side sync is a newer option, and being the recommended option you should know how to move people across to it.
Firstly, you’ll need to check that the current configuration meets the requirements for server-side sync. (CRM online to Exchange online OR CRM on premise to Exchange 2010 or 2013.)
If users are currently using CRM for Outlook for email integration it will be simple change. In system settings simply change to server-side sync and then change the sync methods to “Server-side sync or Email Router” on the mailboxes when ready.
If the email router is currently in place, as it commonly will be! There is an option to migrate the email router options into a new server profile. So you don’t have to create a profile from scratch. Once done you can change the system settings then update the mailboxes to use the new profile. Not forgetting that once email processing is changed to server-side sync, the email router will then be blocked. It will be a good idea to disable the email router before moving to server-side sync.
This has been a rapid overview of email server options and configuration in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016. Hopefully I have included enough information to help with your revision for the MB2-713 certification. And as always I strongly recommend you to get some hands-on time experimenting with email configuration. (And in particular server-side sync.)
Next time I will continue this series by looking at email clients. J