How to Create Hierarchy Visualizations in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

New hierarchy visualizations were introduced in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 and in our previous post we looked at how they can be applied to account and contact records.

We'll now focus on how hierarchies are enabled on a CRM entity.

Hierarchy functions and visualizations are currently only supported within a single entity on a one to many basis (1:N).

Each hierarchy member must be of the same type.

Taking the example of the contacts entity a CRM hierarchy can involve multiple contacts but it is not possible to bring an account, or other any other CRM entity, into this structure. Each of these can have their own entity specific hierarchy.

For this example we’ll continue with the contacts entity as the basis for the hierarchy.

On the contact form we’ve added a new self-referential field named ‘manager’ that will determine the hierarchy structure between parent and child records:

For the above contact record, Fernando De Souza’s manager is set as George Kaplan.

Only one parent can be set so in this case no additional manager can be defined for this contact.

However, as this is a 1:N structure multiple child contacts can be connected to the parent contact. In this example George Kaplan, has two individuals reporting:

Multiple hierarchy levels are supported so while George Kaplan is the parent record for Fernando and Natalie Pence he is also subordinate to the managing director of this organisation, Karen Hawes:

These hierarchical levels are shown on the expanded structure:

An existing hierarchy visualization can be opened from any record by clicking the 'view hierarchy' on the CRM ribbon or the icon shown in the top right corner of a record:

The first step in enabling a hierarchy structure is to define a self-referential field for this entity that will track the parent : child relationship.

Once this is set, in CRM Settings a database administrator should browse to Customizations and select Customize the System.

After the CRM 2015 upgrade is applied a new ‘Hierarchy Settings’ option is shown when the entity component is expanded. For this example the hierarchy option is shown in the contacts entity list:

To define the parent : child rules select ‘New’:

In this screen we’ve defined a new name for the hierarchy and selected which contact form this will be applied to.

We previously created a self-referential field called ‘Manager’ that will look-up other records specific to this entity so this has been selected for the hierarchy relationship setting.

To ensure the relationship is enabled for hierarchies click the link below these options and update the settings if the relevant schema is not already set to ‘Is Hierarchical? = ‘True’

Once complete these customizations can be published and you can begin creating hierarchies on this entity using the selected form!

Contact Preact if you want to find out more about about CRM hierarchy visualizations and be sure to check out the other Dynamics CRM 2015 enhancements.


Product Family Hierarchies
Hierarchy CRM Security Profiles