Historically in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, when you create a new record within the context of a parent record, the mapping controls what data is populated from the parent. For example, when you create a new contact from an account, the main phone number, address, and description fields are brought down from the account. But if you create a contact record from anywhere OTHER THAN the account—no such luck.


Luckily, CRM 2013 real-time workflows have come to the rescue!  These workflows can fire on change of a field and present the changes while the user is still on the page.  To demonstrate this, we will create a real-time workflow to update the basic contact fields based on the selection of an account.

Here are the steps to create that workflow:

  1. In CRM, navigate to Settings > Processes.

real-time workflows in CRM 2013

  1. In the Create Process window, name the new process. Set the category to Workflow and the entity to Contact. Uncheck the Run this workflow in the background box and press OK.

Retrieving Data from a Related Entity with real-time workflows in CRM 2013

  1. If you have used workflows in the past, you may notice that new options are available in the process window when you choose to run the workflow in the background.
    1. Set the scope to Organization.
    2. Select the desired option for Execute As. Using the system default of “The user who made the changes to the record” has some benefits because the changes will show that user on the audit log instead of the workflow’s owner. However, there are times when a workflow needs to run with permissions greater than the average user, and in those cases you would want to change the setting.
    3. Check the Record fields change checkbox, press the Select button, choose Company Name from the resulting window and press OK.

Real-Time Workflows in CRM 2013

  1. Press Select this row and click Add Step and press the Add Step button.
  2. Choose Update Record in the resulting list.
  3. Enter a description on the step and press the Set Properties button.

    Real-Time Workflows in CRM 2013

  4. In the Update Contact form, click on the Business Phone. In the Form Assistant on the right side, set the Look For value to Company Name (Account) and select Main Phone in the next drop down list. Then press the Add button (which will make Main Phone appear in the window below the drop down list) and press the OK button.

Real-Time Workflows in CRM 2013

  1. Follow similar steps to add the address fields to the workflow. In this case, scroll down to the bottom to the Additional Fields section to populate the Address 1 fields. These fields make up the fly-out on the address section of the form.

Real-Time Workflows in CRM 2013

  1. Press Save and Close on the update contact form.
  2. Press Save and then Activate on the workflow form.

    Real-Time Workflows in CRM 2013

Now the workflow is done and ready to run! Simply select a contact and change the customer to test it.

This is just a hint of the power of real-time workflows. Stay tuned for more CRM 2013 news. 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.