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Microsoft CRM Integration with Microsoft Office documents overview for system integrator

Written By: Andrew Karasev

Microsoft CRM is CRM application, maintained and supported by Microsoft Business Solutions. Microsoft CRM utilizes majority of the Microsoft technologies: Windows Active Directory, SQL Server, MS Exchange, BizTalk (integration with MS Great Plains, and soon with Navision), Message Queuing, .Net web services to name a few. There is market demand on the efficient integration of MS Office documents into Microsoft CRM. Lets take a look at the options:

  1. Attachment to MS CRM Notes. You may attach Office docs as file attachment to MS CRM Note. It is bullet-proof method, however you should be aware that it is not that simple for the user to attach files, especially web interface, which may work slow. The second drawback you are actually copying document into MS SQL Server database and you may quickly increase its size and degrade efficiency.
  2. Lotus Notes/Domino remarks. Also we need to give mind set change advise to Lotus Notes/Domino switchers to MS CRM. Lotus is designed to incorporate files and documents (such as MS Word, Excel, Power Point, etc.) into its database why it is efficient in Lotus answer is simple Lotus is not a relational database. At the same time MS SQL Server MS CRM DB platform is perfectly relational. So go ahead and make attachments, but do not try to make your CRM database be the repository of your documents. It is also possible to use Lotus as your documents repository and programmatically realize the links from MS CRM objects to documents, stored in Lotus Notes/Domino. Also it is possible to have Lotus/Domino playing the role of email server (instead of MS Exchange) but this is outside of the scope.
  3. MS SharePoint. This is probably the best MS Office documents repository which could be seamlessly integrated with MS CRM, in this case MS CRM links to the repository, not imports the whole documents into MS SQL database. Sharepoint integration is subject for dedicated article and might be realized with elements of MS CRM programming (MS CRM SDK)
  4. Windows Files Links. This solutions doesnt require SharePoint license but it will require some MS CRM programming
  5. Microsoft Office Information Bridge Framework for Microsoft CRM this tool is sometimes misunderstood. It is the other way integration from MS Office documents you can link to MS CRM objects (including proposals). This solution however works in the realm of MS CRM security model and requires the user, who opens MS Office document have MS CRM user id (and so the user license)

You can always have us help you, give us a call: 1-630-961-5918 or 1-866-528-0577, help@albaspectrum.com

About The Author

Andrew Karasev is consultant and CTO in Alba Spectrum Technologies ( http://www.albaspectrum.com ) Microsoft Business Solutions partner, serving clients in Illinois, New York, California, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Virginia, Minnesota, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia, Asia, Russia. He is Microsoft Great Plains certified master, Great Plains Dexterity, Microsoft CRM SDK C#.Net, Crystal Repots developer. You can reach Andrew: akarasev@albaspectrum.com

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