Most Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement users want an easy search capability within their application. While they are on a call with their prospect or customer, for example, most lead generation associates, salespersons, or tech support personnel need to access this info quickly so they can immediately begin typing call notes under the corresponding Lead, Contact, or Case Record. In today’s blog post, we’ll walk you through how to enable an Azure-powered Relevance Search in Dynamics 365 online (not available for on-premises).

Standard CRM Search functionality allows users to search by commonly used search fields (Columns) – first name, last name, phone, email, etc. – and then presents those records that match the search criteria. In the example below, we searched by last name “salah” from the lead screen and were presented with the only lead that matched the search criteria.

relevance search

Another search capability that can be enabled is Multi-Entity Quick Find or Categorized Search, formerly called Global Search. This allows users to search records across a maximum of 10 enabled entities. In the example below, we entered “john” as the keyword for search across multiple entities and it found an Account, a Contact, and a Competitor starting with “john” on same screen.

relevance search

You can also filter your search by specific entity by selecting it from the “Filter With” option here.

relevance search

Relevance Search was introduced by Microsoft in v8.2 of Dynamics 365 Online. Relevance Search spans across multiple entities like Categorized Search, but it has the following advantages.

  • Delivers fast and comprehensive results across multiple searchable entities in a single list sorted by relevance based on factors like number of words matched on their proximity to each other in the text.
  • Uses external search service (external indexing) powered by Azure to boost the search performance in Dynamics 365 Online.
  • Finds matches to any word in the search term in any field in the entity. Matches may include inflectional words, like “stream,” “streaming,” and “streamed.”
  • Matches in the result list are highlighted for easy viewing.
  • Offers the ability to search documents found in Notes and Attachments on Emails and Appointments tracked in Dynamics 365.

Let’s look at how to enable this functionality.

Step 1: Enable Relevance Search

To enable Relevance search, go to Settings > Administration > System Settings.

relevance search

relevance search

From System Settings > General > Set up Search, check Enable Relevance Search. Click OK to accept Azure Privacy policy.

relevance search

Click OK on System Settings dialog box.

relevance search

Now that we’ve enabled Relevance Search system wide, we need to make sure that the managed property of entities that need to be added to our search is set to True for Can enable sync to external search index.

Step 2: Set Managed Properties

Go to Settings > Customizations > Customize the System. Under Components, expand Entities, and then click an entity to be included in search. On the menu bar, click Managed Properties. For Can enable sync to external search index, click True to set the property and click Set. Repeat for all entities to be included in Relevance Search.

relevance search

Note: By default, all entities are set to True for Can enable sync to external search index, so more than likely it is just a matter of verifying.

Step 3: Add Entities to Search List

Go to Settings > Customizations > Customize the System. Under Components > Entities, click Configure Relevance Search.

relevance search

The Select Entities dialog box opens. Click Add to select the entities for the search results. Click OK when finished.

relevance search

Did you notice Total fields indexed at the bottom? In the example above, 230 fields out of maximum total limit of 1,000 are currently enabled. Note that while there is a limit of 1,000 fields in total for all entities, there is no limit for number of entities to include in search.

Step 4: Set Default Search Experience in User’s Personal Options (optional)

This step is performed by each user going into their Personal Options. Click Settings icon on the top menu bar and select Options to open the Set Personal Options dialog box.

relevance search

From General > Default Search Experience, select Relevance Search from the list and click OK.

relevance search

The last step is to add Find Columns on Quick Find View for each entity. Repeat these steps for each entity to be included in the search.

Step 5: Configure Searchable Fields for Relevance Search

Go to Settings > Customizations > Customize the System. Under Components, expand Entities, and then expand the desired entity. In the navigation tree, click View. Double-click Quick Find View. In our example, we’re using the Active Contacts entity.

relevance search

Click Add Find Columns. In the dialog box, select the fields to be added to the search index. When done, click OK

relevance search

relevance search

Repeat for Add View Columns and click OK.

relevance search

Click Publish All Customizations for the changes to take effect. Now we’re all set to use the Relevance Search functionality in Dynamics 365 Online. Let’s test it…

Click Magnifying Glass icon from top menu bar, type in a keyword for search and check out the results!

relevance search

And that’s it. Relevance Search is now fully enabled.

The chart below is provided by Microsoft as a brief comparison of three available search capabilities in Dynamics 365 Online:

Functionality Relevance Search Full-Text Quick Find Quick Find
Availability Available for Dynamics 365 (online) organizations that have installed Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps version 9.0. Not available for Dynamics 365 (on-premises) organizations. Available for Dynamics 365 (on-premises) organizations, starting with Dynamics CRM 2015 Update Rollup 1. Available for Dynamics 365 (online) organizations and Dynamics 365 (on-premises) organizations.
Enabled by default? No. An administrator must manually enable it. No. An administrator must manually enable it. Yes
Single-entity search scope Not available in an entity grid. You can filter the search results by an entity on the results page. Available in an entity grid. Available in an entity grid.
Multi-entity search scope There is no maximum limit on the number of entities you can search. Note: While there is no maximum limit on the number of entities you can search, the Record Type filter shows data for only 10 entities. Searches up to 10 entities, grouped by an entity. Searches up to 10 entities, grouped by an entity.
Search behavior Finds matches to any word in the search term in any field in the entity. Finds matches to all words in the search term in one field in an entity; however, the words can be matched in any order in the field. Finds matches as in a SQL query with “Like” clauses. You have to use the wildcard characters in the search term to search within a string. All matches must be an exact match to the search term.
Search results Returns the search results in order of their relevance, in a single list. For single-entity, returns the search results in an entity grid. For multi-entity, returns the search results grouped by categories, such as accounts, contacts, or leads. For single-entity, returns the search results in an entity grid. For multi-entity, returns the search results grouped by categories, such as accounts, contacts, or leads.

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Happy Dynamics 365’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.