Have you ever been asked, “Can you add a field for me?”. Long ago in a galaxy far away I was in customer service and come from a family of servants. That mentality is hard to turn off. 

CRM Best Practices - Too Many Fields


Best Practice for Adding Fields in Dynamics 365

After all, the mechanics of adding a field in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Experience (from here on out CRM) are pretty easy. Settings-> Customizations-> Pick the entity-> Click the add new button in the field node and BOOM, your 3 fields away from having that baby created. But then you have the dawning realization… now what? As with many things you aren’t just adding a field are you? You are creating a data point among many other data points, and how that data point interacts with your CRM harmony is important.


CRM Administrator or Consultant?

Before you create that field there are several questions to ask. If not to the business, then to yourself. I know, the business side can seem boring to the system administrator that gets excited about all the new toys in CRM. But think about yourself as a consultant. And come on, whether you like it or not, that is what you are. Whether you are an employee or hired as an outside resource, you are advising the business and consulting on behalf of your CRM.


Questions to Ask Before Adding a CRM Field

If you ask at least these questions and the follow up questions they will inevitably produce, they will help both you and the business decide if this field really needs to be created in the first place. If you get an "I don’t know" or "just because", that field needs to stay in the planning stage a little longer. Once you have gotten answers to these questions you have done your duty as a good steward of CRM. Plus you should have the majority of the information you would need to create the field.

  • What is the business need for this field?
  • Is this part of a new process or an existing process?
  • How has the business been managing this data point before now?
  • How long will it be used?
  • Who will use it?
  • Will it be used across multiple departments?
  • How will the data get added?
  • Will this field be integrated with another system?
  • Can every user view, edit, and create this data?
  • Will this data need to be added to any forms, views, or charts?
  • Is this data something users will use in searches?
  • Are there any data integrity rules?
  • Is it required? Is it required in every instance?
  • Are there only certain values that should be allowed?
  • Is the data in this field related to data in other records in the system?
As you can see we have a lot of questions that we can ask to get to the heart of the matter. On the surface this may look a little overwhelming and a waste of time. I promise you it is not. Without asking these kinds of questions for every field that gets created we run the risk of overcrowding forms with fields that no one even uses or no one remembers the business reason behind its creation. I have seen this happen to the extreme. It is time consuming to find out the "why" behind a field, if it is used and ultimately if it needs to be cleaned up or even deleted.

Taking the time to go through these questions, and other questions that may be specific to your organization, on every field will make you a better consultant to your business and your CRM.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I will review why we are asking these questions and what these questions could mean during configuration.

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