Looking at the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Flow User Interface

Together with cross web browser compatibility the revised Dynamics CRM Online flow interface is the biggest improvement introduced in the Polaris (January 2013) update.

With a more flattened experience tasks can be completed in one place avoiding the need to navigate through multiple CRM windows.

Compared to previous CRM versions the new UI is more proactive by guiding users through processes to qualify leads, progress opportunities and resolve cases. An adapted version of this new interface is also available through the new Dynamics iPad experience for sales users.

On-premise users will get access to the new interface when Microsoft release the Dynamics CRM 2013 platform update this Autumn.

The new forms are a significant change from the classic interface and in the initial Polaris release not all legacy customisations are support so at this stage the updated UI may not be suitable for all CRM Online customers.

For this reason the new interface is available on an opt in basis but Microsoft have confirmed their intention to apply this as the default layout following the Orion update for all editions. Clearly they'll need to ensure that all supported CRM customisation can be migrated to the new UI by then.

Even if you don't intend to deploy this now it's still worth exploring the new layout and functions in readiness for when this becomes the default interface.

Before migrating an existing live CRM database to the new interface administrators must first migrate all customisations including custom fields. Please contact Preact if you require help in evaluating and applying this update.

For Dynamics CRM Online databases registered before January 2013 the new flow user interface will not appear until a database administrator completes the opt in process.

Command Bar

A new command bar is shown in the top left screen for accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities and cases to progress, close and create new records.

As the lead example above shows, individual records can be qualified and disqualified from the bar. For cases and opportunities this area is used to resolve, complete and close these records.

Users can also follow records using activity feed functions to receive updates about new posts on these items.

A three dot ellipsis appears on each command bar that groups other actions including options to edit the form or view the record in the classic CRM editor.

Record Header

A header for each lead, case, contact and opportunity record is shown prominently in the top right corner.

Process Control

A process control bar displays suggested tasks and steps that users should complete to progress leads, opportunities and cases making CRM more prescriptive than the classic form UI.

The current stage is highlighted in blue with information and checks that should be completed listed below. For lead records the later stages will be locked until each lead has been qualified.

** 11 July Update ** The Polaris update only supported 1 process per CRM record type. For the CRM 2013 platform update (released Autumn 2013) multiple processes will be supported.

Customising Process Control

By default the Flow UI displays 4 stages for leads, opportunities and cases that comprise a series of steps that users should follow.

Each step and stage can be sorted and amended by an administrator by selecting the Edit option from the command bar to reflect your own bespoke processes that users should follow.

Lead Duplication Matching

The new interface features improved lead duplicate detection rules compared to earlier Dynamics CRM versions so new records can be more easily linked to existing contacts and accounts.

The latest lead detection rules include matching accounts with the same phone number, contacts with the same full name and accounts with the same web address.

Navigation Bar

In the new CRM user interface the left navigation bar is collapsed by default. It can be expanded or collapsed by clicking the chevron icon.

This action is cookie enabled so once the menu is expanded to display these links this will be the default view for all other records in the form until the menu is collapsed.


Autosave is automatically applied to existing records open in the new UI in edit mode.

When a user updates a field and tabs off, or clicks away, from an amended field a background CRM process will run to automatically save the change.

If a field edit isn't valid, for example if an email address or phone number is in the wrong format, Dynamics CRM will show an on-screen alert and the change won't be saved.

The above manual save button appears in the bottom right corner of each record.

Autosave uses the same process as a manual save so these updates can still be applied to CRM workflows and plug-ins.

Stakeholders & Competitors

As we featured in an earlier post the updated interface enables individual stakeholders to be associated with a lead or opportunity to identify decision makers, influencers and other parties. This detail is shown to the right of the screen and below it competitor information can also be tracked.

A similar function is available for opportunity records to connect CRM users with each opportunity and define their roles and responsibilities.

For CRM case records this area lists the most recent customer cases.

Activities, Notes & Posts - Tab Control

A tab control is shown in the centre of the page to click between activities and notes associated with an opportunity, lead, case, contact or account record.

If activity feeds or Yammer integration has been enabled these posts will also be shown.

For activities individual items can be expanded, collapsed and completed as required, or edited in a new window.

New activities can be added by clicking the post, activity or notes title and entering text in the window as shown below.

Skype & Lync Integration

When a phone number is clicked in the new form interface, CRM will launch the default Skype or Lync application to connect the call if these applications are already installed.

This process also opens a new CRM phone call activity automatically in the same screen that can be used to track information about the conversation.

Bing Maps Integration

Lead, Account and Contact forms feature integrated Bing Maps to dynamically show a map of the primary record address. The record snapshot map can be clicked to open a full page Bing maps display in a new window.

Please contact Preact to find out more about new Dynamics CRM release and the latest Flow Interface ahead of the major 'Orion' update later this year.