Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 is sensational! It’s exciting because there are many new enhancements and advancements that will improve user experience and clarify business processes. CRM 2013 also improves usability across multiple browsers and devices. Here are the top 10 features new features of CRM 2013 that will surely profit your organization for years to come!

1. Command Bar

The left navigation used in previous versions is gone, replaced by the touch-friendly, yet mouse-friendly Command Bar. Each command features a down arrow to the right indicating there is a menu below it. The commands are layered, so selecting a command reveals additional options.

In the screenshot below, you can see that when you select Sales from the main navigation, you are presented with the sales functions. Selecting the arrow next to Accounts displays the recently viewed Accounts.

New Features of CRM 2013

The Command Bar drops down from the top when you run your mouse over it or touch it with a touch screen.

2. Simplified Navigation

Rather than using a ribbon displaying every option to the user, the navigation is streamlined to a few commands. The user can select the ellipses called the MORE COMMANDS button to find relevant commands for the records in context.

top 10 New Features of CRM 2013

In addition, small icons such as the pin icon above replace buttons on the ribbon in previous versions. The screen capture below shows how commands relevant to the chart appear as icons on the chart rather than buttons on the ribbon.

The filter on the view is also shown as a small icon to the top right of the view.

3. Flat User Interface

While navigating CRM 2013, you will notice the absence of pop-up windows. Similar to a website, clicking an item in the navigation replaces your current view with the new page. You can use the back button to take you to your previous page.

Therefore, as show in the Account image below, a record opens up right within the same window—NOT a new window or tab. To navigate out of the record, you do not *close* the record, but rather you just select where you want to go on the top navigation.

You may like to use pop-out windows periodically to compare two records or to multitask. In that case you may click an icon in the top right corner to pop the window out.

4. Auto-Save

As you might imagine with the flat navigation, it’s easy to exit records in CRM 2013 without giving it much thought. That is why Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 now has the ability to auto-save records as you edit them. While editing a record, CRM saves the record every 30 seconds. And when you leave the record, it is auto-saved. While this feature can be disabled in the Settings, having an auto-save will significantly reduce clicks for power users who had to save and close ever record in previous versions.

5. Business Process Flow

The concept of Business Processes was introduced in the December 2012 Update of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, but it was limited to the Lead, Opportunity, and Case entities. With the release of CRM 2013, organizations can now create processes for any entity, as well as processes that go across entities. (Think Opportunity that turns into an Order or a Project). In addition, multiple processes can be created for the same record type and made available to users through security roles.

The method of creating Processes in CRM is just like creating workflows or dialogs. For the intermediate level technical person who has mastered the toolset, modifying and adding processes will be fairly straight forward.

6. Social Pane

Referred to as the “Record Wall” in previous versions, the social pane appeared first in the December 2012 release of CRM Online on the Lead, Opportunity, and Case. It allows you to view and create social posts right on the record. You can see posts automatically generated, such as when the record is created. The social pane also allows the users to create notes and activities in a simplified form—making it much easier for users to see and record what is going on with this record.

In CRM 2013, the social pane has now been extended to most other types of records. Also included is the ability to add all types of activities in addition to the Task and Phone Call.

Using the buttons in the top right of the newly created activity, the user can expand the activity to see all the notes or open the activity to view, edit, or complete it.

7. Quick Create Forms

Whenever the user clicks create on the top right of the screen, the form that is displayed is called the Quick Create form. This allows users to fill out a subset of fields needed to create the record. What’s neat about this is that it does not disturb the record you are on. The Quick Create allows you to multitask should you get a phone call or want to make a note while you are working on something else.

Administrators can modify the Quick Create forms through the customizations area in CRM 2013.

8. Portable Business Logic

OKAY, it’s techie time!! Completely new to CRM 2013, portable business logic is a wizard that allows you to create logical functions on the form including hiding and showing fields, enabling or disabling fields, showing a message, or setting the requirement level on fields.

While this feature will replace some of the JavaScript needed in previous versions—what the tool is really doing is creating JavaScript in the background. What’s so portable about it? Well, once a rule is created, it can be used on multiple forms, such as in the case of role-based forms.

9. Quick View Forms

For a long time, organizations using Microsoft Dynamics CRM have wanted the ability to show fields from another record on a form. Well, it’s finally here! With Quick View forms, you create a form on one entity, and then add it to another entity. The fields are read-only, but phone number and Email fields are active.

In the example below, a Quick View form has been added to the Opportunity showing the contact information for the primary contact. Therefore, the user can quickly call or email the contact without leaving the opportunity.

Administrators can create multiple Quick View forms, as well as modify the layout for these read-only forms through the customizations area.

10. Real-Time Workflows

What will they think of next!? The ability to run workflows right on the screen? Yes! Real-time workflows in CRM 2013 have an amazing potential to streamline processes. Not only can you automate processes, but you can do it right in front of the users without slowing them down. This might mean creating records, creating activities, or updating fields on the screen.

In the example below, when an opportunity is over $25,000, the Size of the opportunity is set to strategic.

This feature replaces much of what is done with JavaScript and/or plugins in previous versions.

As you can see from the list above, the CHANGE in user experience is greater than in past releases. There are MANY more features to discover with CRM 2013 beyond this post. One thing is sure—it will be critical for organizations moving from previous versions to provide hands-on instructions and training materials for end-users.

For more information, read out our blog on Preparing for the CRM 2013 Upgrade. You can also check our Dynamics CRM 2013 page, where we’ll be posting the latest news, info and events regarding the new release!

Happy CRM’ing!

  • cja

    “Similar to a website …” – It is a website

  • Nancy Rademaker

    Headers 1 and 2 should be toggled

  • Kodiak

    CRM 2013 – what a terrible UI design. Has to be the worst of all CRMs. I wonder whose idea it was to completely remove tabs.

    • John

      I agree Kodiak. Frankly I’m left speechless by it. I’ve tested it and operates like a really bad website out of the 90’s. It has to be experienced to believe how bad it is, if this is the talent left at MS they are doomed. Forms even use frames inside of frames, you know, the type most websites abandoned 10 years ago, all over the place, and on some you have to scroll up/dn and left right – inside the form! On top of it forms have huge buckets of empty unused space all over the place.

      Field and areas within forms are placed at random with no clear differentiation. I could write pages. This is like a case study someone should use to show hilariously bad amateurish design. It’s an abomination. Our company uses hosted and since they are forcing hosted customers to upgrade, this is forcing us to move to a different platform.

      • Battle_up

        It would appear your sentiments are in the minority Kodiak/John. We are enjoying the new UI and so are other end users. It has challenged administrators and configuration managers to quit talking about the engine and horse power and get their proverbial backsides in the car seat and drive like an end users. Methinks that is a very good thing for the community. But don’t take my word for it by all means. Just look at the results. An average of 500 SFDC clients are moving to Dynamics per month worldwide…with the trend moving higher.

        • John

          Spoken like a true Microsoft partner. First an appeal to popularity without even proving the popularity. Then another appeal at the end to popularity. Oh my, 500 SF clients a month are moving to CRM. Lemme guess, a Microsoft funded “study” produced that statistic.

        • SM

          How many Dynamics clients are moving to SFDC per month? The new UI is no good. I’m optimistic about a select few of the new features MS has added but it will take a long time to get back to the productivity level we were at with the better UI in 2011. It’s difficult for our eyes to see the data in dashboards now that grids and other visual organization cues have been removed. Could MS have made the screen any whiter?

          I like the idea of de-cluttering the screen by uses the three dots but not on screens that only have a couple menu options. The dots just add more clicks.

          When you try to regard a record to another record it takes extra clicks. You can no longer just click the record title (which opens the record now). You have to check the record and then click add (one more click).

          I miss the windows that would open up when i opened records. It allowed me to work on multiple things at once (since multitasking is how life works and interruptions can occur). Now that everything happens in one browser tab it’s difficult to keep track of what i’m doing and follow my trail of breadcrumbs back to where I started. Sometimes I just want to see a view of accounts and click on one or two accounts, maybe even open up a few contacts to dive a little deeper. Once i’m done browsing i want to quickly get back to that same view of Accounts. The back button is hard to keep track of where you are plus it doesn’t work half the time. You lose the view or filter you had setup. Does MS not think people ever have multiple records open at once? Maybe this UI works for a tablet where your efficiency level is expected to be lower since you are trading up for portability and convenience (say for 5 minutes sitting in your car before a customer call). But when you actually need to get a bunch of work done you want to sit on a computer for a few hours and see multiple records. In 2013 you can pop windows out if you want but it’s difficult to go against the grain of this design.

          Now that the left hand pane is gone it’s virtually impossible to remember where all the options are since that main navigation only shows a few items at a time. I don’t want to have to play a game of memory when i’m trying to find all the options. Wasn’t the idea of seeing your options the big advantage Windows had over a command line operating system? Seems like we took a step back with this UI.

          These things may seem minor by themselves but you add them all up and it slows users down (not because they’re new and different but because they aren’t designed as well as Dynamics 2011).

          • Gretchen Opferkew

            Great thoughts! Overall, we have seen a positive response to the UI changes in CRM 2013. However, Microsoft is very interested in your feedback. Definitely
            take some time to post your suggestions to the product team at connect.microsoft.com.

          • stee

            Are you implying that the product team would take these suggestions? I doubt that. If they were open to hearing how sales people actually do work, they would have left the CLASSIC view as an option.I agree with everything that SM listed. This application is terrible. My productivity is cut in half because I can’t have multiple windows open to work on.

          • Kodiak

            Exactly – all the extra clicks you wonder if they actually used it as a product.
            I agree with John, SM, Stee. Really did they need to hide all the options? Why not give us the Classic view as a default setting? Or at least allow to continue the ribbon.
            After all working on a tablet surely they’ll have a native app?? It feels like they’ve dumbed it down to a tablet level with a terrible nav structure and very poor navigation.
            It really doesn’t follow any good design principles. It is so much harder to get customer’s interested in this version.

    • punit tyagi

      I agree with you too. UI is really bad, they tried pull the Windows 8 UI but its really pain while navigating and searching, every time I use it I get serious headache. Why can’t MS introduce these new feature in 2011? Why to make another product every time and make all the partners struggle understanding it. I guess they tried it because of the touch screen UI these days people buy. Not a good CRM 2013 product for a developer.

      • Joe CRM

        Good feedback. Be sure to post feedback in the Microsoft’s connect site: https://connect.microsoft.com/

        In some deployments the out of the box navigation works really well. However, in other deployments which are more ‘xrm like’ applications with tons of entities, the new navigation has room for improvement. In these cases, we sometimes use one of the free addons from code plex. Here are 3 that our customers have used and liked:

        -One click navigation – adds a menu In the top left with all sections and all entities.
        http://crm2013oneclicknavigation.codeplex.com/

        -QuickView – a screen full of tiles so just about anything is one click away. Thanks Damian!!
        https://crm2013quickviewmenu.codeplex.com/

        -Quick Navigation – Great for entities that have a ton of related entities. Adds links in bottom of the form. Thanks Jason Lattimer!!!
        https://crm2013quicknavigation.codeplex.com/

  • Molly J.

    Joe, this is a great article. Thanks for breaking down the components in an easy-to-read style.

    • stee

      He just copied and pasted the press release from Microsoft. This blog post has the exact typos that the Microsoft article does.

      • powerjeff

        Stee, would you be so kind as to reply with the link to the press release you are referencing? The content on this blog gets scraped and copied all the time and we like to to make sure our original content stays original. Thanks!

  • http://blog.lentzit.com/ Daniel Lentz

    Is anyone using the CRM 2013 for Outlook addon?

  • stee

    This new interface is terrible for a PC. There is so much clicking to get to places that used to be one click.
    If I’m in activites and want to go look at a contact, I have to go up to the top, get that sales bar to pop down, scroll over to get to contacts, then click. I used to just go to the left and click on contacts. My only solution is to have multiple windows open so I can work. This update is overengineered to look cool on a tablet but is not helpful for productivity. Plus I still don’t understand why Microsoft thinks we all sell to individual leads not the enterprise. I am lobbying hard for a switch to SFDC. We went with CRM because it was cheaper but it sure isn’t better. Those imaginary 500 clients switching to CRM every month must only be looking at the bottom line and not the loss of productivity of their sales teams.

  • Simon

    The new user interface is an absolute farce. I have a degree in website design and I struggle to figure out what the UI is trying to tell me, never mind the vast majority of my users who just want a system that’s obvious and works

    It seems to me that someone in MS has insisted it look good on a tablet and then the UI team just collectively lost their “£$%. Never mind that the vast majority of users in a business are not mincing about with tablets.

    I’ve no idea how our business is going to move its hundreds of users over to the new version without massively increasing our internal IT team just to answer questions like “How do I get to the !”£$!”£ Quotes area now?”

    Thanks MS

  • Nuka Teh

    Great insight, I do recommend top of the line services like the one that helped my business. I am currently using CRM software through
    http://www.snapforce.com
    They offer secured software, affordable, user-friendly, and life technical support it cannot get better than that =)

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