Do you need a custom county field in CRM 2011?

Pedro Innecco posted an article on his blog recently about considerations for customising handling of addresses in Dynamics CRM. This had some great advice clearly based on real-world experience and you should go read it now, then come back here for some more titbits on this topic.

I agree with Pedro’s view that some users get unnecessarily knotted up over labels sometimes because they are creatures of habit rather than purely logical data processing machines (which is probably a good thing most of the time). But if you re-label state as province or canton for their ‘convenience’ and they want to add an Account which is in another country they can get all flustered rather than using common sense.

The choices to make can also depend on the context of the business. If you only really do business in one US state then you might feasibly want to divide up records by the next level of hierarchy for sales territories, or service visits using counties even if they are not used for postal addressing. If your business is nationwide, then it is far less likely that anything below the first level state/region/province would be necessary.

Read more about the best approaches to use for storing state on addresses»

Problem with unresponsive lookup field on CRM 2011 form

Recently had a minor problem with a form in CRM 2011 which I have resolved while trying to fix something else (isn’t that so often the way?).

Problem description / reproduction steps

I created a custom entity in CRM 2011 to use as a joining entity in a manual N:N relationship. In this scenario it was an “Attendance” record to link a Contact to an Event, and enable the business to track the status of the attendance (tentative, confirmed, attended, cancelled) along with relevant dates etc.

To reduce effort on the user’s part I made the primary “description” field on the record auto-filled based on the event and contact name, using jscript web resources. To observe sensible UI practice, I made sure the lookup fields came at the top of the form, then the description which was a result of those, so it should be obvious to the user what to fill in first, then by the time they get to the name field it is already filled in.

A blank new record form is shown below.

Attendance record blank screenshot

So, what went wrong?

When the user creates a new record, they expect to be able to get on with the job of typing in the fields. Although the Event or Contact was automatically filled in if they created the record from the context of the parent record to make life even easier, this still means that sometimes they needed to fill in one or the other field, and that’s where it got strange.

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