Microsoft Dynamics® CRM Training
Flow Form Introduction
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The December 2012 Service Update introduced new flow forms to the Account, Case, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity entities. The flow forms have a new interface that is designed to be flat, simple, and intuitive. Don’t think that this new interface is a gimmick. It’s a reimagining of one of the core functionalities of Dynamics CRM. I’ll elaborate on this more in a minute.
In this tutorial, I’ll start by covering some of the basics of the new user experience. Next, I’ll show you how to switch between the flow forms, classic mode, and the old forms. Finally, I’ll demonstrate the benefits of using Polaris forms by showing you how to qualify a Lead as we progress through the sales process.
I’ll begin by opening a Lead record. Once the record opens, you’ll see that the flow form looks completely different than the old one. One of the great improvements to Dynamics CRM is the centralization of information. In previous versions, users would often have to locate information across entities and forms in order to unify data. With this flattened approach, users can avoid opening multiple windows to find related information. At the time of this video’s production, the flow forms are only available for the Account, Case, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity entities. They will extend to other entities in future updates.
While this is a new interface with some new features, Dynamics CRM functions the same way for the most part. However, if by the end of this tutorial you still find yourself uneasy with flow forms, you can return to the ones you are familiar with. Notice the command bar at the top. Simply click the ellipsis and select Switch to Classic.
This is classic mode. Technically, it is the same form. Any custom fields you add, or formatting changes you make to the flow form will be present here. To switch to the old form, use the dropdown at the top of the navigation pane. See where it says “Lead”? If I click it, I can toggle between forms. The one labeled “Information” is the old default form. If I were to select the Information form, and then close the record in that state, the next Lead record I open will be in the old form. Dynamics CRM remembers what form you used last and opens the corresponding version automatically. Instead, I’ll close the record and open it back up so we see the flow form again.
Before you slip back to relying on the familiar old forms, let me show you why the flow form is not only easier to use, but much more productive. As you can see, I have access to the same information that I did in the classic version of the form. There are the Summary, Details, and Preferences sections. The layout of these sections, as well as the fields that they contain, can all still be changed in the form editor. On the right, I see a section for Stakeholders and Competitors where we can quickly identify decision makers and our competition. What’s great is that we can add information to these sections without leaving this form.
Immediately to the left is this record’s wall, where I can toggle between Posts, Activities, and Notes. This is the central hub of the record where users can collaborate and take notes to work towards closing the sale. At a glance, this wall allows me to see the most recent activity revolving around this record. If you choose to integrate Yammer with CRM Online, posts from the social media application will appear here instead of Activity Feed posts.
Above, I see colored tiles in the header. These tend to be fields that contain data of significant importance that should be prominently featured in the form. The information in these tiles can be edited by simply by clicking them. I can also choose which fields I want located here by using the form editor.
On the left, the navigation pane is hidden by default. In order to view it, click the small arrow in the upper left corner. This is a demo environment, so it’s bare-bones right now, however, the navigation pane can be configured in the form editor as well.
As you may have noticed by now, there is no ribbon in the flow forms, but there is a command bar. I can create a new Lead from here, as well as follow, qualify, and disqualify this record. If I click the ellipsis again, I’ll see even more options.
Now I’ve arrived at the Process Bar. This is where the flow form really starts to differentiate from the old one. The Process Bar makes it easy for users to visually track the progression of a Lead from qualification to close.
As you can see, by default, there are four stages here in the Process Bar: Qualify, Develop, Propose, and Close. I can tell which stage this record is in because it says “Active” next to the label. Below, I see all the information I must collect before this Lead can be qualified. As I collect each bit of information, a check mark appears next to the corresponding field. Once I have all the necessary data, I can click Qualify in the command bar.
Dynamics CRM processes the record and generates an Opportunity without ever leaving the page. Previously, a new window would appear, which was a little disjointed. It was still the same person, the same sale, but it was a new record. By keeping me on the same page it feels more like a continual process that is easier to track.
I can still go back to the Qualify stage to view the data by simply clicking the label. Notice that when I do this, the page refreshes and the fields change. This is because I am technically switching between the Lead and Opportunity records, but I’m staying on the same page.
Once I gather the necessary information in the Develop stage, I can click the right-pointing arrow to move to the Propose stage. A checkmark appears next to Develop, new steps appear in the Process Bar and the Propose label is highlighted in blue. Just as before, I can still toggle between the stages by clicking each label. Also, notice that even though I am in the Propose stage of this sale, I can still edit fields in the Develop stage. If I ever need to regress this sale back to the Develop stage, I can click the left-pointing arrow and deactivate the Propose stage until I’m ready to move on again.
Now that I am back in the Develop stage, notice that there is no longer a left-pointing arrow. This is happening because this is an Opportunity record; a Lead that I have already qualified. The Qualify stage is for Leads, whereas the Develop, Propose, and Close stages are for Opportunities. I cannot regress this back to a Lead, but would instead record this as a lost sale.
Hopefully I’ve successfully explained this reincarnation of the sales process. This Process Bar can be found in the Service module as well when working with Cases, however, there are different stages and steps to fulfill for each entity type. It is also important to know that the Process Bar is highly customizable, and it is quite simple to do so. If your business operates under a different sales process and you want different stages or steps, simply add and modify them with a few clicks of the mouse. To learn how to do this, please watch “Process Control Customization”.
For more tips, tricks, and tutorials, please refer to the Success Portal and blog.xrm.com.