This post is for Dynamics CRM developers and Administrators looking to better track sales, marketing and customer relationship activities.
It isn’t news that a well-oiled CRM system is the MOST important tool for sales, marketing and customer relationship management initiatives. I am not ashamed to admit that I would be lost without it. Anyone who feels the same would also agree that unless a CRM system is configured to your unique needs, it can be tricky to quickly access and view the details needed for timely and effective action.
One such example of this that we recently tackled arose when we tried to give the sales team a quick way to visualize the last activity date for a lead or contact.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM does offer an out-of-the box field called ‘Modified On’ that displays the date when a record was last edited or updated, but in our day-to-day, lead and contact activities (tasks, emails, phone calls) are happening that do not require the actual record to be updated. This means that the ‘Modified On’ field is irrelevant to our processes. Instead, we needed a way to track when the last activity was completed for a record.
The fix ended up being a very simple custom field and a few short processes (workflows) added to Dynamics CRM. I will take you through the steps below. I should also note that I did this myself and if I can do it, you can do it – so roll up your sleeves and start configuring your CRM (assuming you have been granted Administrative access of course).
Use the ‘Date of Last Activity’ field if you need to easily reference:
- The last time a customer was in direct contact with the support team or vice versa
- The last time a lead received an email or call from sales
- The last time a partner account engaged directly
Here is an example of what our sales team sees in a record and in views:
How to Track the ‘Date of Last Activity’ for Dynamics CRM Records
1. Create a custom field for ‘Date of Last Activity’
The first step is creating a new field for Dynamics CRM forms that will display the actual date and time the last activity was completed. It will be a date field and you should create and map for all entities you would like (leads, contacts, accounts, opportunities etc.). This assumes you have administrative access to configure Dynamics CRM setting.
Creating a lead field (example):
Settings–> Customizations–> Customize the System –> Entities –> Lead (or entity) –> fields –> NEW
2. Create a Process to Update the Record
The next step is to create a workflow that will keep the data in our new field up-to-date each time a new activity related to a record is completed. The process will then update the field with the new date and voila! To set this up, please follow the steps below and forgive my terrible condition labeling.
Settings –> Customizations –> Customize the System –> Processes –> NEW
Create a separate process (workflow) for each activity type that your users use. This is typically:
- Phone calls
Here is the setup for the process ‘Phone Calls – Update last activity date’
a) Ensure the scope is set to ‘organization’ and runs when a new activity is created. Also ensure the workflow is set to run as an ‘on-demand’ process. You’ll see why later.
b) Create a separate process step for each entity where you would like this process to run. This means if you would like ‘Date of Last Activity’ on leads, opportunities, and contacts, then each will require a step.
c) The conditions are pretty simple and you can copy them from the image below. Overall, we are asking CRM to check the current ‘date of last activity’ and update it with the date the latest activity (in this case the phone call) was closed. Because there may be cases where the ‘Date of Last Activity’ is blank, the ‘OR’ condition in the step accounts for that.
Updating the regarding record updates the ‘Date of Last Activity’ to the phone call’s end-date.
Here is the setup for the process ‘Emails – Update last activity date’
a) Follow steps a) and b) above. The general setup for the workflow is the same as the phone call except the ‘regarding’ is ‘Email’.
b) Configure process conditions and steps: The issue we had when configuring this originally was that other types of emails are added to accounts such as marketing emails. We needed to take those out in order for the field to display the date when a member of the team engaged. You can see we have excluded the emails created by our marketing system or CRM ‘crmcampaign DataBroker’. You might also add any emails created by other users whose activities should not be considered.
This process will update the date of last activity with the date the email was created.
3. Insert your new field into the entity form and views
For us, it made the most sense to display this field in the header of the lead, contact, and opportunity forms.
Settings –> Customizations –> Customize the System –> Entities –> Lead (or other entity) –> Forms
Dynamics CRM enables easy drag-and-drop to add new fields to the form.
I also adjusted various views to include that column so it is easy to skim. This is easy enough for custom views. For default views, you will have to adjust in the customizations section.
Settings –> Customizations–> Customize the System–> Entities–> Lead (or other entity)–> Views
Once you have your processes completed and fields added and published, don’t forget to activate it and test it! Remember that emails can take a few minutes (min 15) to synchronize so be patient or force the synchronization in your email account.
And Voila! All should be working nicely.
Because you set this up as an on-demand process, you can run this in batches to update existing records.
Now the sales team can use this field as a way to prioritize activities and can quickly sort if any leads or opportunities should be contacted.
If applied at the contact or account level, this field could also be used to identify any customers who have gone silent (i.e. have not directly engaged in x amount of time). Customer support could then check in to ensure all is well in the land of customers.
There are infinite ways that this field could be used for sales, marketing, and customer support so go ahead and add it today!
If you need any help, contacts the experts at CRGroup who have been providing service and customizations for Dynamics CRM since 2003.
About the Author:
Natalie Trudel is the Marketing Manager at CRGroup. Natalie leads the sales and marketing activities for CRGroup products, including Add-Ons for Dynamics GP and CRG emPerform, employee performance management software. Natalie uses Dynamics CRM extensively for sales and marketing automation and is heavily involved in the customization, maintenance and monitoring of CRGroup’s Dynamics CRM sites.