From middle school computer class to sitting at your desk at your current job, Microsoft Word is an application that has played a role in every step of the current generation’s pathway to a professional career. This application is truly a household name, and recognizable by almost everyone. Like many Microsoft Word users, the first thought that comes to mind about this product is, “So what?” The common perception of Word is that outside of entering text onto a page, there truly isn’t much more someone would want to do outside of bolding, highlighting or changing the font color of text. Or who knows, maybe you’ll spice things up by adding an image or table just to make things a bit more exciting. However, if you take the extra step find out how much you can actually accomplish with this tool, you will realize that Word is not as vanilla as it may seem
As seasoned CRM consultants here at MIBAR.net, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is an application that has become an integral part of our daily business. Though we are no strangers to this platform, we find ourselves continually learning about the nuances of functionality that live inside of it. One of our most recent discoveries here at MIBAR.net was how to leverage the out-of-the-box entity called Document Templates. This entity is a place where a user can select between Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel and create or upload a template for any entity in their system. For example, if a user wanted to create a pre-formatted document in Microsoft Word and set it up to display customer data in a uniform way, they would be able to do so via the relationship between Dynamics CRM and Word.
A use case where this process has been directly applicable to my line of work is through the creation of one of these document temples for sales quotes. Normally, a sales quote is a document that one would hope displayed all the same information in the same way from one quote to the next; except for the items on each of the quotes, of course. For these types of transaction documents (i.e. sales quotes, sales orders, invoices, etc.), it is very common that companies find themselves having to go to a third party to generate these types of templates. However, with a tool like Dynamics CRM Document Templates, users are able to generate these documents on their own accord, likely saving them a significant amount of money and time.
So, how is a user able to generate their own document? Well here is your crash course. Document Templates are an entity that comes with every instance of Dynamics CRM, though more times than not, users likely will not include this entity in their site map. The easiest way to access this entity is through the Advanced Find function in CRM. This global search allows you to find a record on any entity in the system with specific criteria you would like to narrow your search with. A user should select Document Templates in the “Look for:” drop-down and then hit the red exclamation point for “Results”.
This will then return the list of all the Document Templates that are currently in your system. Even if you know for certainly you have none, these are still the steps you need to follow. On the top tool bar, you will see a button for a “New Document Template”.
After selecting this button, you will see the options for the two types of templates (Excel and Word), and a drop-down to select the entity you want this template to have a relationship with. Then, at the bottom of the pane there are two buttons “Upload” and “Select Entity” which outline whether you want to upload a template you have already created, or if you want to create a brand-new template.
Upon clicking the “Select Entity” button, you will navigate to a screen that displays every relationship that exists for the entity you are trying to create a document template for. From here, you will want to choose any of the relationships that have relevance to the document being create, seeing as these relationships are ultimately where you are able to select the fields you need. After you have selected all of the relationships you need, hit the “Download Template” button and a Microsoft Word document will be generated for you ready to manipulate.
Now comes the fun part, the formatting. This is the part where you as the user can set up the document for whatever purposed it may be intended for, and with whatever style you’d like to see applied to it. In the example below, I have built a sample sales quote document that outlines what a template can look like as a finished product. On this page you see several different tables, sections and headers that all contain codes separated by “_” characters if applicable. These codes all represent the IDs for fields that come directly through Dynamics CRM, and communicate to CRM what to populate the field with and where on the document template to populate that field.
Once you are done setting up your document, you save your file, and go through the same process as you went through before to create the document template in Dynamics CRM. Instead of clicking the “Select Entity” button, you will then select the “Upload” button. After you submit it, the document template will be set up and ready for use to generate pre-formatted documents that populate with data already entered in Dynamics CRM. So, no there is no need to enter data twice, no need to worry about mismatched data, and no need to employ an expensive third party to generate the documents you may need. The connection between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Word shows that there is truly more than meets the eye for a class program like Microsoft Word, and helps put the power of consistent document generation back in the hands of the user.