A Guide to Business Process Flows with Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM

Business Process Flows allow your business to record information in a consistent way and set up a series of steps that mean each customer interaction is handled in the same way. Customer service is a perfect example of a business flow, which allows a service desk to handle customer issues using identical methods. Another example would be the lead qualification process, allowing for a quick and convenient method of capturing data.

Why should I use business process flows?

Using business process flows provides employees with a quick and easy manual to help them complete their work efficiently and accurately. These flows outline a series of steps set out by the company in order to achieve a specific goal. It is possible to tailor these flows to individual needs, but also in terms of the company hierarchy. A flow for an entry-level employee will look vastly different from that of a supervisor.     

Business process flows follow a pattern of stepping stones that will lead to the required outcome. Visual indicators are used with each step to highlight exactly where the employee is within the process, and where they need to go next. Processes such as these reduce the need for employee training (or re-training) because those new to the system can be guided towards the desired outcome, and to which conclusion should be used. 

When should I use business process flows?

Firstly, it is important to remember that business process flows are not always the best fit for all businesses. Those who require their employees to be more flexible and to think independently on their feet may do better with other processes. A business process flow should only be used when you require your employees to move through identical steps while interacting with a customer.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM includes numerous business process flows that can be used immediately in relation to sales, service, and marketing, should it require minimal or changes.    

What can business process flows do?

Each business process flow is defined as a unique entity with individual processes stored within it. Processes are associated with a data record (such as an Account, Contact, Lead, or Opportunity). With a business process flow, it is possible to create a series of stages, and steps that need to be taken at those stages in a control panel at the top of the page.   

Each stage is likely to include a number of steps needed to be achieved before moving on. These steps all contain a field where information can be recorded. Advancing to the next stage is done by hitting the Next Stage button. It is also possible to create a step, where employees must enter specific data before they can move on to the next stage – a process known as “Stage-gating”  

Different Branches of Business Process Flows

Of course, many businesses do not always follow this kind of linear pattern. One example could be if a customer is looking for a monthly or annual membership. In this case business process flows gives the possibility for a system administrator to use IF/ELSE clauses to progress through the stages depending on the data that was imputed in the previous stage. It also allows for individual branches, such as the monthly or annual membership, to eventually merge into one flow once the required information has been completed.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM configuration UI makes it easy to customise branches within your business and to create single entities or to move them outside the designated area. It is also possible to program your system so that it allows employees to skip a stage, advance forward a stage or collapse the process control bar.   

If a significant change is required, it is possible to swap or alter the existing business process flow for a completely different process, in accordance with the information that has been imputed in previous stages. Through these automated choices we can make Business Process flows more user-friendly and flexible. Rule-based branching and non-linear flows makes this business tool a vital addition to any company.  

Things to remember when designing business process flows with branches:

  • Each process can encompass a maximum of 5 unique entities
  • Each process can use a maximum of 30 stages, while each stage can be broken down into 30 steps.
  • Branches cannot go further than 5 levels deep.
  • Branching rules are dictated by the steps in the stage that come immediately before it.  
  • It is possible to combine multiple conditions in a rule. Either the AND operator or the OR operator can be used, but not both together.
  • When defining a flow, it’s possible to assign an entity-relationship, which must be a 1:N (One-to-Many) entity relationship
  • Multiple active processes can be run on the same data record at the same time.
  • Tiles within the process flow can be rearranged using drag and drop.
  • All peer branches need to merge into a single-stage when merging branches.
  • All the peer branches need to either merge into one single stage or alternatively peer branches can end the process.
  • It is not possible for a peer branch to both end the process and merge with other branches at the same time.   

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