Activity feeds are the newest social networking addition that Microsoft has made to Dynamics CRM 2011. They work in a similar manner to Facebook, LinkedIN or other social networks. Each record type (i.e. Leads, Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities, Users – and other record types that your administrator specifies) gets a “wall” as the first tab on the record form. From the wall, users can “Follow” a record. Whenever a significant action happens on that record (i.e. an opportunity is added, a phone call is completed, a field is updated), the record wall is automatically updated with information about the action that was taken. Users can also post messages directly on record walls (i.e. “I know the CFO at this company, check with me before sending them a proposal.”). The “what’s new” area consolidates all the wall postings for all of the records that a user is following. Again, this is very similar to Facebook (I can follow another person, they can post on my wall or their wall, and I can see the postings on my main page for Facebook).
This is a fantastic way for individuals to keep up with what’s going on in CRM without having to get dozens of “email alerts” and without having to scour all of the records in CRM that someone is trying to keep up with. Sales Managers use this to quickly see what their team is up to and to offer quick advice and tips to keep momentum in the pipeline. In our organization, we have a Project entity with a wall – all participants on each project are setup to follow their projects so that they can get quick updates about their project. Some of the benefits of activity feeds are not self-evident when you initially start to play around with them – spend some time with them (and, if you’re an administrator, take the time to figure out how to enable them for other entities and to setup workflows with custom automated activity feeds).
Bottom line: if you’re not using Activity Feeds yet, you’re missing an important productivity accelerator!
When Microsoft added activity feeds to CRM, they also added a Windows Phone application that gives you mobile access to your activity feeds. This is a great way to quickly see the important happenings with your customers, prospects and other stakeholders even when you can’t be at your PC regularly. It also includes the ability to find and subscribe to any records that have been enabled for activity feeds (which means you have read only access to some information about your Leads, Contacts, Accounts – and any other records that your organization uses with activity feeds).
To get the application, you’ll need a Windows Phone (Microsoft will likely roll it out on other devices in the future – but I recently upgraded from an iPhone to a Windows Phone and am very happy with it). Next, you’ll need to visit the Marketplace on your phone and download “Dynamics CRM” (with the publisher being Microsoft Corporation); it’s a free app. Start the app and run through the configuration (see below if you’re using CRM Online, or see your administrator if you’re hosted internally). Each time you open the app in the future, it will download the latest updates for your wall. Sweet!
If you’re using CRM 2011 Online, you’ll likely get a frustrating error (something like “password changed”) when you try to configure it the first time. I expect Microsoft will fix this error in the near future, so try setting it up as you typically would first and, if you get the error, follow the instructions below for the fix.
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