The introduction of business process flows offers a significant new capability and way of working with Dynamics CRM by providing a streamlined user experience.
Business Process Flows serve as a road map to guide users and reduce the need for training as users do not have to focus on which entity they should be using and can simply follow the process flow.
The basic purpose of business process flows is to guide users through understanding the following:
- Current stage of the business process
- Next stage to execute
- Path executed to get to this stage
An update to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 introduced Business Process Flows with extensibility gaps. Microsoft has extended this feature with the release of Dynamics CRM 2013 and has filled in the extensibility gaps to support most of the system entities and custom entities.
The major highlights are listed below:
- Multi-entity processes
- Multi processes per entity
- Role based processes
- Solution Awareness
There are three main components of a business process flow:
A stage is a set of steps. And a step represents a field of an entity.
Stages and Steps are displayed at the top of the form within the “process bar”. The process bar is used to move the users through the organization’s business processes and is an alternative method to capturing data in stages, instead of the fields on a form. It is capable of moving users through processes across multiple entities. For instance, a sales process might start from a Lead, continue through an Opportunity, Quote, and Order and end with an Opportunity close off.
Users can focus on the requirement for each process stage to proceed, without having to consider the different entities or relationships required to complete the necessary tasks.
Users can advance to the next stage using the Next Stage button. A step can also be marked as required so that the users must enter data for the corresponding field before being able to proceed to the next stage. This is referred as ‘stage-gating’.
Role-based Business Process Flows in CRM
Not all users in an organization have to follow the same business process, and different roles sometimes require different processes to be followed. Business process flows offer the capability of having role-based processes so that users can follow the process which best suits their role. For instance, a Sales Manager might want to follow a different business process than a pre-sales consultant.
Multiple processes per entity/Multi-entity processes
Dynamics CRM 2013 also offers a capability of having the following based on the business scenario:
- Multiple processes per entity
- Multi-entity processes
As mentioned earlier, process flow supports multiple processes per entity which allows the administrators or business analysts to configure multiple processes per entity based on either the user role or a specific business scenario. Similarly, it also supports the business process to span across multiple entities so that users can just focus on the business process rather than worrying about working with specific entities.
How to configure a new Business Process Flow
Consider an example: a company is utilizing the capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 to support the business activities of “Product Development” business unit.
One of the key business processes is “New Product Development” and the main activities include the following:
- To Generate new product ideas
- To Create prototypes
- To collect feedback and perform improvement assessments
Let’s say we have three entities to capture the data in Dynamics CRM 2013:
Let’s walk through how we would configure this new business process flow.
Step-by-Step Guide to configure a new Business Process Flow
- Click “Settings” as shown in the screenshot below.
- Click “Processes”.
- Click “New”.
- Select “Idea” to be the primary entity of the process (Business Process Flow).
- Review the newly created process. The “Idea” entity should already have been included in this process because it was selected to be the primary entity of this process. Click “New Stage” to add a new Stage.
- After adding the “Gather Information” stage, now add two additional steps for this stage, “Name” and “Target Market Size” as shown below.
- Now add another entity called “Prototype” with two Stages. Click “+/-“to add another entity in the process.
- Add two new stages by clicking “New Stage”
- Initial Scope
- After adding stages, add corresponding steps by clicking the “New Step” control as shown below.
- Add a third entity to the process “Feedback” as shown below.
- After adding the third entity to the process, let’s add two more steps (Satisfaction Rating and Rating) as shown in the screenshot below.
- Activate the processes by clicking the “Activate” button at the top.
- Once the process has been activated, now create a new record for the “Idea” entity and see the business process flow in action.