There are many great features in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 November update including: social integration and activity feeds, a unified Office 365 experience, new chart capabilities, enhanced dialogs, and much more.  These new features add to the already powerful CRM system, providing more unity, options, and furthering the Dynamics CRM 2011 experience.  One exclusively notable new feature is the Activity Feed.

The new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Activity Feed allows users of an organization to communicate, collaborate, and update information about a particular record through a mini blog.  This functionality, similar to your Facebook Wall, empowers your company with your own exclusive social network.  You can quickly inquire on important activities that have taken place through short text entries.  These real time feeds save you time by displaying a review of the entity status without requiring you to search through old emails, notes, or other details.  Users can post updates themselves or allow workflows to post automatically based on specific rules.  (Read about workflows) You may also be familiar with Salesfore.com and its similar functionality known as Chatter used in their Customer Relationship Management tool.

Configuration and Set Up
Before you can set up the Activity Feeds in Microsoft Dynamics CRM you must download the solution from the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace. (Visit the Marketplace) You can then import Activity Feeds into your system.

From the Settings section (1) in your navigation pane, select Solutions (2) from under Customization. Then Click Import (3) from the Actions toolbar.

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Search and select the AcivityFeeds.Managed.zip file. For the application to work, you must click the box to enable SDK Plug-ins from the Post Import Actions screen.  Once this is complete, refresh your screens and a ‘What’s New’ option will appear at the top of your screen.

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Configuring your Activity feed for the entities you want to follow is easy.  From the Settings (1) section in your navigation pane, select Activity Feeds Configuration (2) under System.  Then click New (3) from the Actions toolbar.

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From the Post configuration window, enter the exact entity logical name and click Save & Close.  This operation is case sensitive and will present an error if the name is entered wrong or the entity does not exist. (For configuring custom entities, read my post on How to Configure Activity Feeds for Custom Entities) Repeat this step for all entities you want added.  You can also choose to enable the Walls for each type of specific record.

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Once all of your desired entities have been added, select each of them under the Post Configurations tab and publish them by selecting the Customize Tab and clicking All Customizations.

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Using your Activity Feed
You will now be able to view an activity board in the Workplace and Sales areas from the navigation pane.  The Activity Feed will show the most up-to-date activity in your organization relative to the entities and users you are following.  Stay current on company activity by following your co-workers and other users or view updates on specific records that are important to you.  As I stated earlier, your posts can be updated automatically using workflows.  For staffing agencies, your recruiters and sales people can track and follow feeds from Applicants, Job Orders, Associates, etc.  (Learn more about our Microsoft staffing software solution, 1Staff)

You can use the advanced find feature to locate specific records to follow or enter the record itself and click follow.

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