Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 certainly has changed quite a few of the areas that users and developers alike have grown comfortable with in CRM 4.0. While there have been some significant changes to the marketing and service areas (as well as other areas), some of the biggest changes in CRM 2011 have been in the ‘workflow engine.’


If you browse through your CRM 2011 beta environment you may find that there is no longer an area in SETTINGS for WORKFLOWS. Now before you assemble your torch-wielding mob to march to Redmond and decry the loss of workflows in CRM, allow me to explain a bit further.

You will notice an area in SETTINGS which is called PROCESSES. This is where our WORKFLOWS are now hiding. The PROCESSES area of CRM 2011 not only contains our trusty workflows, but it also contains an exciting new feature: DIALOGS.

In CRM 2011 a process can be defined as either a WORKFLOW or a DIALOG. A workflow, of course, is a sequence of steps which can be used to automate business processes. A DIALOG is an interactive form which can be launched from any record to facilitate information gathering, record creation, script/process adherence or it can be used to simplify complex forms!

Why would I use a DIALOG?

There truly are limitless possibilities for dialogs in CRM 2011. I am sure there are a ton potential uses that we have not envisioned yet, here are some examples of where you might use a dialog:

  • Are your inbound call reps supposed to follow a set script based on the issue the customer is experiencing? Create the script in CRM and have your reps type the answers as the questions are asked! We can use dialogs/child dialogs to build out your complex call center scripts!
  • Prospecting? Create a dialog and have your outbound call specialist follow the script during their calls. You could then create a lead record based on certain inputs in the dialog. For example, create a LEAD if the person I am calling is interested in buying in the next 6 months.
  • Are your reps forgetting to fill out certain fields when they are creating opportunities or orders? Create a ‘simplified’ opportunity form with a dialog and guide your reps through the process of entering an opportunity step-by-step!

How do I use or trigger a DIALOG?

Dialogs can be triggered the same way that workflows are currently triggered in CRM 4.0: On-Demand, as a Child Process or based on the values/changes to any field in CRM record. Once again, CRM 2011 works the way you would expect it to work!

What can I do with the results of a DIALOG?

In short, a lot! Once the dialog is completed we can do many different things with the results.

The most basic thing we could do with dialog results is nothing at allJ. Once a dialog is completed a new DIALOG SESSION record is created from the record the dialog was created from. These DIALOG SESSION records tell us who ran the dialog, what the responses to the questions were and when the dialog was ran.

One of the most powerful things you can do with the results of a dialog is the creation of another record. Think back to our call center example. Once we run the dialog and obtain our responses we can automatically create a CASE record with the information we obtained in the dialog!

We can also create child dialogs based on the input of another dialog! For example, I want to ask a different set of questions for customers who are having an issue with Widget C. With CRM 2011, we can define a dialog as a CHILD DIALOG and then call that dialog based on the inputs of the parent dialog.

Bringing it Back Home

Dialogs are one of my favorite new features in CRM 2011 and it is definitely a feature that is going to be embraced by CRM users across the globe. Stay tuned to the PowerObjects CRM blog for more cool features and tips for CRM 2011!

Happy CRM’ing!

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Joe D365

Joe D365 is a Microsoft Dynamics 365 superhero who runs on pure Dynamics adrenaline. As the face of PowerObjects, Joe D365’s mission is to reveal innovative ways to use Dynamics 365 and bring the application to more businesses and organizations around the world.