When you are implementing a product that is limited in areas where competitors thrive in, it can be particularly bothersome for the client when they expect the product to meet their requirements out of the box. However, Microsoft CRM and native workflow engine Microsoft Flow can fill in the gaps to evolve an imperfect product to meet its intended use case.

One of our clients inquired whether there was an application to assist them in sending a compliance questionnaire to their vendors in which they could store the answers in their Microsoft CRM environment. While Microsoft’s out of the box questionnaire application “Forms Pro” was the only product for such a solution, there were some concerning restrictions. A single survey had a 100-question limit, it could not be personalized to each vendor, questionnaires couldn’t be sent out repeatedly without typing out the email addresses multiple times, and it was unable to discern responses between vendors with the same name or contact. Also, it was incapable of sending out reminder emails if the questionnaire was not completed, when the response for each survey was stored it did not reference the question number to its corresponding answer. Finally, the responses for the questionnaire could not be printed. At first glance these limitations may seem enough to forego the solution all together. Luckily, Microsoft products are known for fleshing out new capabilities when deployed with its sibling products. 

Microsoft Forms Pro can meet your basic questionnaire needs, however when your use case expands, and customization becomes a necessity, it is paramount to have Microsoft CRM and Flow on your side. There were many moving parts in this implementation that required referencing and sourcing data from CRM and using it with Flows workflow processing capabilities. One of the questions in the compliance questionnaire was intended to validate the address and contact information the compliance department had on record for that specific vendor. This meant that the question had to dynamically source data from the Vendor record in CRM and display it on the questionnaire. Since the client already had CRM implemented, we were able to to create dynamic fields in the questionnaire (1) and use Microsoft Flow to populate them by matching them with the corresponding fields in the Vendor Record (2). 

This is the same way we were able to use the contact information on the Vendor record to send out the questionnaire using the correct email address. With Flow we iterate the through all the Vendor records in CRM every five minutes (3) and look to see if they contain an email address and if the “Send Initial” checkbox is checked (4). If both conditions are met, we then populate all the necessary fields from the Vendor record onto the questionnaire including the email address that is used to send out the questionnaire (5).

The Vendor receives an email with an excerpt in the body describing what the questionnaire is for, further instructions, and a button that they can click that brings them to the questionnaire. Finally, the initial “Send Initial” checkbox is unchecked and the “Initial Sent” check box is checked on the Vendor Contact record showing that the questionnaire has been sent to this vendor (6). We also added check boxes on the Vendor Contact record that interact with separate Flows, in case they wanted to send out reminders to Vendors who haven’t completed the questionnaire.

Since Forms Pro does not have the native ability to print the questionnaire responses, we must look to CRM to view and print the desired results. After a Vendor submits their questionnaire there are multiple forms of data being stored. Each response is assigned a unique ID so you can see which Vendors responded to the questionnaire, the answers and question names regarding each individual response, and an ID number for every question. Unfortunately, the unique ID for the question did not match the actual question number on the questionnaire. To work around this, we created a new ID field on each Question record and assigned it the correct number, which made it easier to discern which answer relates to which question. To get the results, we can create a view in CRM (7) and then export it to Excel (8) so it can be printed out for further use (9). This same process was used for the client to print out the questionnaire with just the questions (10).

While using Microsoft Forms Pro out of the box leaves much to be desired, there is progress on the horizon. The suggested features forum page for the application is chock full of great features that will hopefully be implemented soon. For instance, attaching documents to the questionnaire response is currently being worked on. The next top suggested features to potentially look forward to are email alerts to the form owner when completed, printing the form and the results, and the ability to e-mail user’s responses back to them.

At MIBAR, we have the experience and expertise to set up the entire Microsoft Power Platform including Microsoft Flow, Power BI, and PowerApps for your company. Learn more about Power Platform or contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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