In November 2011, Eric Boocock from Microsoft announced a change to SharePoint Online (Office 365). The change included the ability to enable document management using the SharePoint List Component with CRM Online.
Since I’ve been waiting for this feature for several months, I decided to give it a try. The first thing I did was to clear a 4 hour block of time from my schedule to implement the solution. I was aware that several articles list a few clicks here and a few clicks there, a tweak here and a tweak there and you’re done. I also understand that one person’s experience with a new feature can vary from another’s so I decided to allow ample time to deal with any unexpected issues.
The key article I used to understand the steps required to implement the solution is one written by the Microsoft Premier Field Engineers; CRM Online Document Management with SharePoint Online (Office 365). If you don’t already follow this blog, I encourage you to consider adding it to your list. The articles are packed full of great advice, helpful hints, issue resolution and more.
A couple of things you need to get started:
- CRM Online, you can obtain a trial account if you don’t have an account.
- Office 365, you can obtain a trial account if you don’t have one.
You’ll have two choices with the Office 365 account; Small Business (P1) or Midsize / Enterprise (E3). Ensure you select the E3 type as P1 does not have CRM Online integration capability. Once you’ve completed the sign up and activation steps, you are ready to begin the integration.
- The first step in the process is to download and save the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 List Component for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 to a folder on your hard drive. I created a folder for the list component so it would be easy to find when I needed it.
- The list component will download as an exe file which you can select to run after the download is complete. Run the exe and accept the license terms when the screen appears.
- When you select the Continue button you will be prompted to save the extracted files to a folder. I selected the same folder where I saved the original download.
- You should be able to see the list component file in the directory when the extraction is complete.
Now the fun begins.
- Sign into your Office 365 account and select Team Site from the top navigation menu or select Visit SharePoint Home from the left navigation menu under Team Site:
- Next select Site Actions from the top navigation menu and select Site Settings
- Select Solutions from the Galleries section
- Select anywhere in the Solution page and the Upload button will appear on the Ribbon. The dynamic ribbon is one of the nice features of SharePoint 2010 and many other Microsoft Office and business application products
- Select the Upload button and browse out to the list component file. Select the list component file and select the Open button from the lower right.
- Leave the Overwrite existing file checkbox and select Ok.
- Select the Activate button and select Close
- The SharePoint List component will upload to the SharePoint site. You should see the component listed with a Status of Activated
- Copy your SharePoint URL to notepad or some other document and save it for the next step.
- You can copy the URL from the address bar of Internet Explorer or go back to Site Settings and it will be in the left window under Site Information
At this point you are ready to configure CRM Online to use SharePoint Online as the document repository. It’s now time to login into CRM Online.
- Log into CRM Online and select Settings, Document Management from the left navigation menu and select Document Management Settings
- You can now select the entities that you want to allow for document management or leave the default selections. You should also copy the SharePoint URL into the URL field.
- Select Next and CRM Online will validate the settings to ensure that the SharePoint URL is valid and available.
- If CRM Online is not able to validate the URL, you will receive a message asking you to valid the site or correct the entry.
- If CRM Online is able to validate the URL a dialog window will open asking you to select the Folder Structure
- If you leave the default settings, the folder structure will default to a simple approach; Entity, Record Name, Documents.
- If you select the Based on entity checkbox, the folder structure will be more complex and locating documents from the SharePoint repository could prove more challenging for the end user. I recommend keeping the structure simple but you’ll need to decide which is best for your implementation.
- Select Next
- Select Ok to continue and the document libraries are created
- Once completed you will receive a status message.
- If all entities completed successfully you can select the Finish button. If not, select back and resolve issues as needed.
- Next, go to one of the entities that you selected for document management and open an existing record or create a new record as needed.
- For this example, I opened an Account record and selected documents from the left navigation menu.
- The first time you select Documents from an Entity, you will receive a notification that the folder will be created in the SharePoint site.
- Select Ok to continue
- Once the initial folder is created you will be able to add a new document or take a different action.
At this point you are done with the steps required to integrate the systems. It is now time to get familiar with the new feature. Adding new folders, changing document locations, uploading new documents are just a few of the actions available. I encourage you to explore the various options to gain a comfort level with each. As you will discover, it is very easy to open SharePoint from CRM Online and go back and forth between applications.
Although I cleared my calendar for 4 hours to ensure I had enough time to implement and troubleshoot the solution, it took less than 30 minutes to complete. It actually took me four times longer to write this article than it took to integrate CRM Online with SharePoint online.
Well done, Microsoft, this is about as easy as it gets.