I am creating a series of blog posts that collectively are designed to help anyone preparing for the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Core exam. (aka MB-200) In this post I will look at concepts around hierarchical relationships.
You can see below that we have a section of the exam which covers managing entities and data. Within this section needing to know how to create and modify relationships is referenced. (This could include hierarchical relationships!)
What is a Hierarchical Relationship?
A hierarchical relationship is used to reflect how one record in an entity relates to another. A good out of the box example of this might be how accounts can have parent accounts. Allowing us to create an account structure of head office, regional offices and branch offices. You can also create custom hierarchical relationships.
Hierarchical relationships are self-referential one-to-many relationships. (Self-referential as the account has a parent account.)
NOTE: Within Dynamics 365 we actually now have another concept of hierarchical relationship! This applies to contacts and can be used to show an organisation chart of contacts within an account. (So I will also mention that later in this post!)
When a record in CRM is part of a hierarchy you can see this in the list views. As a “hierarchy icon” is displayed next to the record.
Also on the forms for the entity an option will appear to view hierarchy and the “hierarchy icon” will also be present.
Selecting any of these options will give a graphical representation of the hierarchy. An example is shown below. Notice that the hierarchy can have multiple levels as a parent account can in turn have a parent account.
How to Create / Edit a Hierarchical Relationship?
Firstly, ONLY one relationship can be defined as being hierarchical on an entity. It also needs to be a relationship with the primary entity and related entity as the same entity.
For example, parent account on an account. As shown below.
Quick Tip: You will find that you cannot amend existing system relationships, meaning you will need to create fresh custom relationships. This came up recently for me! As the case entity has an out of the box concept of parent case. But this relationship is not marked as hierarchical and cannot be changed. Therefore to show a case hierarchy you’d need to create a new custom relationship.
Next we can use the hierarchy settings to define how this relationship will behave. Note, each entity has one entry for hierarchy defined. By way of an example the hierarchy setting on account is shown below.
Notice that I only have an edit option. If a hierarchy setting didn’t yet exist a New button would also display.
On the hierarchy setting we can see that the default quick view form is defined. It is this that decides how the “cards” in the organization view should appear. Whilst the hierarchy can’t be changed you can amend the hierarchy form or create a new form as required.
I am trying to use the latest interface for amending entities as much as possible! But I found I had to swap to the classic view to maintain the hierarchy settings. The newer make.powerapps.com interface is improving very quickly. By the time you read this you may be able to find these settings in that!!
I haven’t covered the concepts associated with forms. (yet!) So I will not discuss the form in detail! At this point it should be enough to know that in the hierarchy settings we define which quick view form will be used to display the tiles in the hierarchy. And that the fields shown on that form can be customized as required.
More recently a new view that makes use of hierarchal relationships has been added into Dynamics 365! The is the org chart view and works slightly differently to the traditional hierarchy view. In this case we have a specific need to see the relationships between contacts within an account.
An example org chart is shown below. (Sorry Avengers geeks, this chart might not be accurate!) Hopefully you can see this is a pretty cool way of showing the organization of contacts within an account.
Also notice that if I double click on a contact I can see (and edit) the details behind their relationships
I hope this post will have been an aid to anyone preparing for the MB 200 exam. But as always I would like to stress that you need to get as much hands on time as possible.