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Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Synchronization and Privacy in CRM Systems

Corporations need to consider privacy issues when using synchronization functions in any CRM system.  This is especially true related to syncing contact records.  Any competent salesperson wants to remember certain personal details related to clients – such as an upcoming anniversary, birthday, graduation, names of those in family, friend in common and the list could go on forever related to important personal details.  While capturing these details into the private contact record of a sales person is a boon to cultivating relationships as part of the sales process, allowing these same details to flow into a corporate CRM system is likely undesirable as these details can become available to a large audience.  In some cases allowing this to occur may be against a corporate data policy.  For international corporation there is a need to consider what countries may have “safe harbor” laws that restrict what personal details can be stored in a system that would provide the information to a larger audience (e.g. okay to store what is on a business card, but not anything about a person beyond that).

While there are multiple workarounds to solve this need, in Dynamics CRM 4.0 the Outlook Notes feature can be used as a creative way to capture the personal details and keep them private.  To use this option, do the following:

  1. Create a new Note in your Outlook Notes with the first line being the name of the client contact that you are syncing with CRM.
  2. Open the Outlook Contact record related to the Note that was just created.
  3. In the Outlook Contact record click on the Insert Tab or Menu (depends on your version of Microsoft Outlook).  Click or select the Attach Item option.
  4. Click on the Notes section in the dialog that displays and then select the Note that you created for the specific contact and click OK.
  5. This Note record will now be inserted and accessible in the “Notes” section of the Outlook Contact record.

The process described above can be used prior to a Contact record being Tracked or after it is already being synchronized.  All data in the Contact record will continue to be synchronized as normal – however the Outlook Note attachment will not be synced to CRM.  None of the data in the Note will be loaded into CRM and you are thus provided a means to link the personal data to the Outlook Contact record but keep it private.  Note:  It is always wise to think twice about capturing the personal data of others using any medium.

Dynamics CRM 2011:  I believe this same function is available in CRM 2011.  I have not explored what additional features may have been added in 2011 to enhance this type of function in the next version.  Anyone from Microsoft know the detailed answer to this question?

Credits:  Thanks to Leslie Guffey for investigating different ways that this problem can be solved.  Another great place to find Dynamics CRM insights is on the Customer Effective blog at: http://blog.customereffective.com/blog/

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About Tim Thorpe

Tim has worked with business application implementations at large, multinational corporations since 1992. His experience includes using software like Dynamics CRM to implement enterprise business solutions. Learn more about Tim at http://TimThorpe.org

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