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260 Part IV: Managing the WorkPlace
A sample of the standard Opportunity
Each probability is only an estimate, but by combining a statistically significant number of potential sales, you can fairly accurately estimate your total revenue for next month or this quarter or, perhaps, for the year.
Business Rules and Workflow
In This Chapter
^ Events ^ Conditions ^ Actions
^ Creating, managing and monitoring workflow rules and templates ^ Monitoring your workflow
rn yB Workflow, part of the Professional Version of Microsoft CRM, is the most ▼ ▼ interesting and powerful part of the system. The Workflow Manager is what turns Microsoft CRM into a customer relationship management system.
The Workflow Management System takes your manual business rules and turns them into an automated system. Without workflow, you’d have a database with names, addresses, and a schedule, but the database by itself wouldn’t do anything. With workflow, Microsoft CRM becomes a system that farms your existing Accounts for additional business, helps you hunt for new Accounts, and makes sure that no important Task ever falls through the cracks by providing you with electronic business alerts.
You probably already have many business rules in place, although they may not be well documented or even written down. For example, a typical business rule might be to return a phone call to a client who asks you to call him back. Workflow might automate that business rule by sending you an electronic reminder message — again and again — until you actually do it. Your business rule has now become a “workflow rule.” I like to call this one “auto-nag.”
If you don’t plan to make extensive use of this part of the program, you are missing the boat. Before beginning to program rules and templates, you should review all your existing business processes. This is the time to tidy them up and, perhaps, even develop a few new ones. Automating an ineffective procedure just allows you to create chaos more quickly than you could do it manually.
262 Part IV: Managing the WorkPlace
In this chapter, I review the general principals of implementing workflow rules and provide an example of a typical one. This chapter gives you background and a basis to design and implement at least some simple workflow rules of your own. Some of the really complex ones might be best left in the hands professional Microsoft CRM consultants or dealers.
Note: Because workflow rules are part of the Professional Version, if you’re only licensed for the Standard Version, this chapter may whet your appetite but may also frustrate you. You can’t use any workflow rules with the Standard Version. Sorry.
Describing the Workflow Setup
Workflow has two main modules within the system administrator:
Manager: Enables you to develop and use workflow rules, which is nothing more than a system to automate many of the business processes you already have and use.
Monitor: Provides a display of the current status of each of the Rules. You can see exactly which processes are running and which ones may be waiting for a triggering event.
Although Workflow is a powerful utility, you need to be aware of some of its limitations.
Workflow can monitor data and events within the Microsoft CRM database but not outside the database.
^ A workflow rule can’t check for data in more than one object (Accounts or Contact Records or the calendar) at one time. While a workflow rule can look through all your Accounts to notify you of any that are missing telephone numbers, for example, a single workflow rule can’t check for Accounts with missing phone numbers and no scheduled Activities.
Workflow rules have difficulty checking for the absence of an event. So Workflow can alert you to an Appointment that was not completed, but creating an alert about an Appointment that was never scheduled (but should have been) can be a challenge.
A third-party business alert system, KnowledgeSync, enables you to look at multiple databases and multiple types of records. I discuss KnowledgeSync in more detail in Chapter 24. If you anticipate needing to build really sophisticated rules and alerts, you may want this add-on program.
Chapter 22: Business Rules and Workflow 263
Creating Workflow Rules
Your company’s system administrator or someone with access to the Microsoft CRM server is the best person to set up workflow rules because the Workflow Manager is a separate, but included, module which is accessed directly from the Microsoft CRM server. In addition to this issue of access to the software, you don’t want too many cooks stirring the broth. Preferably you will have a small, business savvy group reviewing existing business processes and then implementing them within Microsoft CRM’s Workflow Management system.
One of the most common tasks you may want the Workflow Management system to perform for you is to automatically assign an account manager to a newly created Account. In this section I go through the basic steps involved in setting up a brand new workflow rule, and use assigning an account manager as an example so you can see specific keystrokes. To set up a workflow rule, follow these steps: