Pithy Maxims for Dynamics CRM 4 Power-Users and Customizers


When it comes to maxims, the pithier the better, I always say. Most of the following maxims for CRM 4 fail the truly pithy test, but I hope they make up for it in usefulness.

Power-User & Configuration Topics

  • Business Units and Users can never be deleted, but they can be disabled.
  • Teams cannot be disabled. Mysteriously, they can only be deleted through the “Bulk Delete” feature available on the Teams More Actions menu.
  • Disabling users has no impact on any records they own.
  • Most record types (accounts, contacts, opportunities…) must always be assigned to a user.
  • Some record types (cases and activities) can be “assigned” to a queue. That’s a loose usage of the word “assigned”, since they are never really owned by a queue: these user-owned records are always owned by a user.
  • Although it seems like you should be able to assign a record to a team, you can’t. Records can be shared out to a team (in which case they’re shared with every member on the team and you “un-share” by removing members from the team.)
  • If assigning records to teams seems like it would be useful, you’re going to like Dynamics CRM 2011 since that’s going to be a new feature. Similar issue for CRM queues: in CRM 2011 look for any record type to be “place-able” into a queue, rather than only activities and cases as in CRM 4.

Entity Relationships and All That

  • A 1:N from A to B and a 1:N from C to B is an N:N from A to C. Plus, B has a form, status and attributes. This is referred to as a “manual” N:N, in contrast to the “native” N:N that debuted in CRM 4.

    Example: 1:N from Contact to Registration, 1:N from Event to Registration. Here’s an article I wrote that contrasts the native and manual approaches to creating N:N relationships.

  • Advanced Find can filter on values from a child record, but child record columns can’t be included in view.

    Example: If you just want to know which accounts you’ve done business with, create an Advanced Find view on account and filter on which accounts have closed opportunities. But you can’t add columns from those closed opportunity records to the view.

  • Advanced Find can filter on values from parent record, and CAN include columns from the parent record in view.

    Example: If you create an Advanced Find view on opportunities, you can include columns from both opportunities and their parent account records in the view.

  • Report Wizard can filter on child records, and CAN include child record columns in report.
  • Workflows know about values in primary entity of workflow plus parent record records, plus any records created by workflow.

Entity Customizations

  • Quick Find and Lookup views should usually be customized, and should usually be the same.
  • Status can never be customized. Status Reason can and usually should be customized. For a handy reference of default status and status reason values for all Dynamics CRM entities, read this excellent article.
  • You can never delete system attributes, but you can delete custom attributes, if they aren’t on published forms or reports.
  • You can change icons for custom entities but not for system entities.
  • Quick & Easy Lead customizations:
    • Change requirement level of default Company attribute to “no constraint”, and change its Label to “New Account”.
    • Create a new N:1 relationship to Account, call it “Existing Account”, and place it on the Lead form.

    I discussed these and related customizations in this article.

  • Quick & Easy Opportunity customizations:
    • Add a custom N:1 from opportunity to contact, call it “Primary Contact” and add it to the opportunity form.
    • Change the Display Label of the “Potential Customer” field to “Account”.
    • If you don’t use the product catalog, change the “Revenue” field (schema name “isrevenuesystemcalculated”) so that its default value is “User Provided”.
    • If your organization uses multiple currencies, add the “Est. Revenue (Base)” and “Exchange Rate” attributes to Opportunity form.

    I discussed these and related customizations in this article.

  • Default relationship behavior for accounts: reassigning account record reassigns ALL child records, even closed transactions and activities. If you rely on closed opportunities for sales history reports, this means that reassigning accounts can change history. You can fix that by customizing the Parental 1:N from Account to Opportunity to Configurable Cascading, “Cascade Active”: open the account customization UI, click on “1:N Relationships”, and sort the view by the “Related Entity” column. You’ll see two relationships to Opportunity, the one you want to customize is the Parental one.
  • You only get one form per entity in CRM 4, but you can work around it with some relatively straightforward code I described in this article. Or if you prefer, you can wait for Dynamics CRM 2011 which will include this as an important new feature.
  • Privileges are assigned at the record level in CRM 4, so although you can hide fields on forms based on security roles, you can’t really lock them down. Look for real field-level security to be included as another important new feature in CRM 2011.


  • Creating an Opportunity Product can trigger a workflow, but a workflow can’t create an Opportunity Product. Same for Quote, Order and Invoice Products.
  • On Demand Workflow tip part 1: Can you run one? Depends mainly on your security role’s read privilege on the workflow entity.
  • On Demand Workflow tip part 2: If you can run it, will it work? Depends on the rest of your security role.

    Here’s an article I wrote about on demand workflows and security roles.

  • Automatic workflows are different than on demand ones (and not just because they’re automatic!). With these, the question is which users will trigger them, and the answer depends mainly on the Scope of the workflow.

    Here’s an article I wrote attempting to clarify the issue of automatic workflows, security and scope.

  • One big limitation of workflows in Dynamics CRM 4 is that they don’t allow for user interaction. Dynamics CRM 2011 workflows – sorry, processes! – do not have this limitation.

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