Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 (Spring 15 Release 'Carina')

Microsoft has released its latest update for Dynamics CRM Online!

Codenamed 'Carina', Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online (2015 Update 1), to give this release its full title, is a cloud update to CRM 2015 that began rolling out in December 2014.

On-premise customers will get access to these new features and updates when Microsoft releases its next major upgrade - UPDATE: Microsoft Announce Dynamics CRM 2016 for Q4: 2015.

No other CRM provider can match Microsoft's investment in research and development and that reflects the sheer volume and breadth of new enhancements in this latest update.

Here is our selection of latest Dynamics CRM Online improvements:

New User Experience

The most visual improvement in the Spring update is a revised CRM navigation.

With a new drop down panel listing each supporting category it replaces the need to scroll through menu items.

Further improvements to the CRM user interface include:

  • Updated form navigation – perfect for longer record forms, a new control quickly navigates to any form tab. Open the drop down list & jump to the relevant tab.
  • Themes – adjust the colour scheme of the CRM user interface to match your own branding & even personalise the UI with your logo
  • Most recently used items – a new shortcut display to access up to 30 recently viewed records & pin your frequently used records & views
  • Area Switch – a new switch button enables navigation between CRM sections, e.g sales & service without the need to wait for a new page to load

Read our post to find out more about latest improvement to the CRM user experience.

Improved Dynamics CRM Performance

Microsoft are rolling out several performance improvements to speed up the responsiveness of the application. These include:

  • New data centres are being brought online
  • Reduced latency using new Microsoft Edge network – Microsoft has stated they expect this to improve CRM Online performance by as much as 25%
  • Improved form rendering for faster load speeds and improved user experience

The new form rendering, or turbo forms as they're described by Microsoft, involves changes to how CRM forms are constructed, loaded and how scripts are managed. With regards this last point, Microsoft has stated that unsupported script customisation will likely break.

Consistent CRM Experience in Mobile

Using the mantra, 'design one, deploy everywhere' Microsoft will release new mobile apps for a unified experience across all devices.

That’s demonstrated by the addition of more functions to the mobile interface:

• User defined home page & dashboards
• CRM charts
• Process driven interface including business process flows
• Form logic to run client API

Offline CRM mobile access will also arrive later in 2015.

The new reimagined mobile application will work with: iOS: 7.x and 8.x (RAM 1GB+), Android: 4.4 (RAM 1GB+) and Windows: 8.1 (RAM 512MB+)

Read more about CRM for Mobile

Improved Excel Integration

The new CRM update includes a raft of improvements to its integration with Excel.

Refer to our post for a detailed tour of the main Excel integration improvements including:

  • Export to Excel in a single click - no more export wizard or warning dialogs
  • Preserves the CRM view - retaining the same column width, field formatting & the tab name matches the CRM view
  • Export up to 100k records - subject to 32MB maximum)
  • Export to Excel Online - export, analysis data & even make bulk edits and write these changes back to CRM from the Excel Online

Improved Exchange Sync

The new release improves the integration with Microsoft Exchange enabling CRM users to track emails on any device and email app that supports Exchange folders.

• New CRM App for Outlook
• Exchange Folder Based Tracking
• Works with Exchange Rules for automated email attachment in CRM
• Works with Outlook Web Access

With tracked folders, using any Exchange folder in the Inbox, simply drag an incoming email to that folder and it’ll be tracked CRM.

Or, use Exchange rules to fully automate this process.

Read our post for more detail about the improved integration between Dynamics CRM and Exchange / Outlook in v7.1.

Office Groups Collaboration

Office 365 users can now use Office Groups to share files, emails, conversations, calendars, and Microsoft OneNote resources across multiple Office products and CRM – even if not all the group members are CRM users.

CRM integrates with Office Groups by adding a new ‘Items Shared With Group’ tab to records which shows the recent conversations, calendar entries and other activities collected from Outlook and OneNote.

This means Dynamics users can now collaborate on a CRM sales opportunity with people in your business who aren’t using Dynamics CRM.

OneNote Integration

With this release, Microsoft is enabling users to share more information with the introduction of OneNote embedded inside Dynamics CRM.

Use OneNote on any device to create notes containing text, drawings, photos, voice recordings and connect these resources to a CRM account, contact, opportunity or any other CRM record.

Using this new integration salespeople can take meeting notes in OneNote and file this against the appropriate CRM record.

In a web browser, OneNote is appears as an extra tab in the activity wall and is shown across CRM tablet and mobile apps. Data will be stored in Sharepoint integration folders.

Microsoft Social Engagement

Microsoft Social Listening is changing to Microsoft Social Engagement (MSE).

As the title implies, MSE extends from purely listening to helping businesses to proactively engage with contacts from this interface through your business social profiles.

The latest Social enhancements include:

  • New social centre enabling service, sales, and marketing teams to collaborate and engage on social channels
  • Engage over authenticated Twitter and Facebook accounts with MSE (requires CRM Online Enterprise licence)
  • Create CRM actions including cases and opportunities directly from social posts including sentiment (requires CRM Online Enterprise licence)
  • Social analytics to measure topics that matter to you & analyse sentiment
  • New social filters for author, post type, assignee and labels.

New Advanced Find Term

It’s a short point, but a big improvement if you run CRM advanced finds. Search query terms include additional ‘Older Than’ criteria for minutes, hours, days, weeks and years.

Process Flows & Business Rules

  • Users will now be able to move back to an earlier stage in a process flow, even if it was on a different entity. For example, after a lead is converted to an opportunity users can now move the process back to qualify status if needed.
  • As we’ve already touched on above, process flows will now be shown on the CRM Mobile apps for a consistent user experience through all interfaces
  • Business rules can now be set to clear field values. For example, if an opportunity decision timeline is set to 6 months it’ll automatically remove a standard discount % field value.

New Date Field Type

In v7.1 database administrators can use a new date field type to track purely the date of an event without the need to also specify a precise time in hours and minutes.

Admin Performance Dashboard

Administrators have a new dashboard to measure the performance of components than run on each entity which involve long running queries.

Measure individual component trends over time and follow CRM suggestions to optimize performance.

Knowledge Integration

First released in 2014 the Unified Service Desk pulls customer data from multiple sources which now includes Parature knowledge base.

Service teams can utilise Parature knowledge base capabilities to reduce issue handling time from the CRM Unified Service Desk while they work on a case record.

This includes functions to:

• View system-suggested knowledge base articles
• Search for relevant articles
• Read the content of knowledge articles inline, including embedded images & videos
• Send knowledge article links to customers & integrate these with CRM

Default Entitlements

Apply default entitlements for individual customers to have these automatically set when a new case is created to save user time and ensure conditions are enforced.

As we featured in a recent post CRM previously required users to manually select a predefined entitlement record but now this action can be automated each time a new case is created.

Customer Driven Update

For this Online release Microsoft will again be making this a customer driven update.

In comparison to some earlier releases (CRM 2013 springs to mind) CRM administrators have the flexibility and freedom to determine when this is applied. Schedule your preferred date for the upgrade and if circumstances change this can be rescheduled.

If you have CRM sandbox or non-production instance you can use this to test the upgrade before it’s applied to your live system.

The great news is that this preview instance won’t consume any of your CRM storage capacity and it can simply be deleted when it’s no longer required.

Related: How to manage a Dynamics CRM Online Upgrade

Look out for admin updates from Microsoft about the upcoming and consider adding more people to your CRM distribution list.

Get Ready for the Dynamics CRM Update

Wow! That's a lot to look forward to in CRM v7.1 just a few months after the release of CRM 2015 / v7.0 and we can expect even more from Microsoft later this year...

Bookmark the update page on Microsoft's Customer Service Center to keep up to date with CRM releases.

If you are still working with Dynamics CRM 2013 or an earlier version check our summary of the most significant recent improvements.

As a leading Microsoft CRM partner Preact will help you plan your upgrade and benefit from these latest CRM features. Please contact us to find out more and discuss how we can help you achieve maximum value from Dynamics CRM.

Related: What's New in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016