Dynamics CRM 2013 (Orion) Update: 10 Things You Need to Know

Microsoft Dynamics

** Updated 11 October **

CRM 2013 is a major platform update so we recommend that customers make early preparations for this upgrade.

Download the official Microsoft resources:

CRM 2013 Release Preview Guide
What's Changed in CRM 2013
Best Practices to Prepare for an Upgrade to CRM 2013

Here are 10 immediate points to consider:

1. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 (previously codenamed Orion) has begun rolling out for the cloud editions of Dynamics and will be available for on-premise CRM in November 2013.

Because this is a major platform update CRM Online customers will be able to choose a suitable time when this will be applied to their live database within a 90 day upgrade window.

Microsoft began sending upgrade invitations in late July and CRM Online administrators will be able to pre-schedule an upgrade date and timeslot between October 2013 and February 2014.

2. For on-premise CRM 2011 customers CRM 2013 will also include the enhancements from the earlier Polaris cloud release in January 2013.

These include the new process driven (or 'flow') interface and integration with Bing Maps, Skype & Lync.

3. For On-Premise CRM, 2013 updates will only be available to CRM 2011 or Version 4 customers that hold active Microsoft Software Assurance. v4 users must first upgrade to CRM 2011 before applying CRM 2013.

4. CRM 2013 will apply a new horizontal user navigation bar that replaces the traditional menu ribbon and left menu.

The new user navigation frees up screen space and will remove CRM pop-up windows enabling new records to be created in a single pane. Read more about the CRM 2013 User Navigation.

The updated UI will automatically be applied once the CRM 2013 upgrade is applied. The only exception will be the CRM administration area which continues to use the traditional ribbon menu and navigation.

5. All users will be able to apply the new process oriented form interface after upgrading. This was first released in the Polaris update for CRM Online customers and will now be available to all CRM customers.

The new process (or flow) interface represents a significant change from earlier releases by making CRM more prescriptive and proactive to help users progress tasks.

Microsoft has confirmed that users will be able to transition to the new process forms.

Existing CRM forms will be upgraded and displayed in the new interface enabling customers to first explore and test the new process oriented interface before choosing to apply this to each entity.

The updated process interface features several improvements since the Polaris release:

Process bars will work across all standard and custom CRM entities.

Whereas Polaris only supported 1 process per entity CRM 2013 enables multiple process so administrators can define additional sales, service and other processes as required.

CRM users can switch to another process if best suited but individual processes can be made role specific to correctly apply defaults and control user access to individual processes.

In another change from Polaris, processes can also flow through multiple entitles.

CRM has always enabled leads to be converted to opportunities but now the new process extends this. For example, convert a lead to an opportunity and when the sale is won convert the opportunity to a custom entity such as a project in the same window.

The process bar supports stage-gating to enforce your process rules to prevent users progressing records to the next stage if one or more steps haven't been completed e.g. if a sales timeline isn't set, if a budget isn't confirmed, or if a case origin isn't selected.

6. The new UI includes a form auto-save function.

Existing CRM workflow processes should be reviewed and amended if they are currently triggered by users clicking the ribbon save button because this process will no longer exist in CRM 2013.

The auto-save can trigger plug-ins on save and with separate scripting CRM can identify between auto-save and on-save methods if required. Contact Preact for guidance to ensure your 'on-save' processes work correctly after upgrading to CRM 2013.

7. Early adopters of the Polaris UI encountered restrictions when attempting to migrate CRM form customisations that involved custom code.

For CRM 2013, Microsoft has stated that all supported CRM 2011 scripting and customisations will be migrated and supported when moved to the new UI. However, no legacy CRM v4 API customisations will be supported in this process.

8. Free mobile apps for iPad and Windows 8 tablets have been released as part of the CRM 2013 update.

As shown above CRM 2013 mobile apps have a touch enabled and consistent look and feel to the desktop browser.

Designed for sales users the CRM apps include real-time read and write access to opportunities, contacts, leads and other processes though permissions can be set to control write permissions.

These mobile apps are available from the Windows Store and iTunes. Additional free apps are available for Windows Phone, iPhone and Android mobiles.

CRM 2013 tablet apps are be supported with iPad 3rd & 4th generation devices, Surface RT, Surface Pro and other Window 8 tablets.

9. New System Requirements. With CRM 2013 the Dynamics systems requirements are updated:

• Windows XP, Office 2003 and Internet Explorer 7 are no longer supported
• Exchange 2007 and WebDav are not supported when using the E-mail router (Exchange Web Services 2007 will still remain supported)
• Terminal Server 2003 is no longer supported with Dynamics CRM for Outlook

10. In built duplicate detection during create and update processes won't be supported for the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM user interface on standard or bespoke entities. As a result, if you require individual duplicate detection for any record type this will need to be handled through another route e.g. CRM workflow, scripting, plugins, etc.

More update news...

We've expanded this post to include more recent CRM announcements:

• Microsoft has announced a new licensing structure for Dynamics CRM Online for release of CRM 2013

• New server side Exchange sync replaces the email router for CRM to improve the sync of activities, contacts & appointments with remote users. CRM Online is supported with Exchange Online (as part of Office 365) and CRM On-Premise is supported with Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013.

• New Business Rules enable more native controls to be applied that currently require custom javascript. These are client side enforced condition and action-based rules including options to hide fields and enforce field entry if a related field value is set. The rules work across web, Outlook and new mobile apps and are managed in the form editor.

• Synchronous CRM Workflows can now be configured using native functions to run workflows in real-tiime on demand without the need for custom code.

Preparing to Upgrade to CRM 2013

The new CRM interface is the result of Microsoft applying customer feedback to improve the user experience, not least by moving towards a single record screen and getting rid of pop-up CRM windows.

Because the new UI reflects a major shift from the traditional ribbon based forms it presents both challenges and opportunities for existing Dynamics CRM customers so careful planning is strongly recommended before CRM 2013 is rolled out to end users.

Some questions you should consider include:

How will the new process interface help you improve your processes?
Existing CRM database forms can be dropped into the new UI but this might mean that some new enhancements aren't realised.

The new process forms make CRM more prescription and proactive by visually guiding users through sales and service workflows but this may require some time for customers to test the new process bars and understand how your processes can best be mapped and you may opt to delay applying this part of the update.

Contact a Microsoft partner like Preact who will help you map across your processes and best optimise this new CRM feature.

How long will it take your CRM users to master the new CRM interface?
What familiarisation training will they need on the revised UI and new processes?

Will the new CRM auto-save function require any existing processes that use 'on save' actions to be replaced?
Users will no longer need to manually click a button to save CRM field updates. This simplifies data input by automatically saving field entries but will require changes to automated CRM processes that currently rely on the legacy manual 'on-save' function. Contact us to determine to best action to convert your 'on-save' processes.

Can you identify any unsupported coding or legacy CRM v4 database customisations?
These won’t be supported when you upgrade to Dynamics CRM 2013.

What external CRM add-on’s and integrations are you dependant on?
Will these partners provide development support to ensure that their solutions are supported with CRM 2013 (Orion).


Microsoft Customer Center - links to official CRM 2013 release and upgrade guides

Watch a recording: of our recent Dynamics CRM 2013 webinar:

As a Microsoft CRM Gold Partner Preact have been involved in the CRM 2013 Beta programme and have been busy learning about the changes and new features to understand how it will impact existing users and database customisations. Our consultancy team has also been immersing ourselves in the new features to ensure we maximise the potential benefits for our clients.

A lot is changing in the new version so it is imperative that you understand how it will affect your business. We’ll help you understand what is changing and when you need to be ready for the change.

We're ready to help! Call 0800 381 1000 to talk to us now about your Dynamics CRM upgrade.

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