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Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Dynamics CRM for Outlook and VPN – Tips for Road Warriors

When you install the Outlook Client for CRM 4.0 you will notice that there is an icon added to your Windows System Tray (as shown on the right). These flags indicate three CRM conditions:

Gray Flags = CRM Disconnected

Flashing flags = Trying to Connect to CRM

Color Flags = CRM Connected

If you move your mouse over the flag icon it will display the current status of your Outlook connection to the CRM system.

The Outlook Client for CRM application dynamically tries to ensure you have a connection to the CRM system. It will periodically try to connect to the server and the flags will flash gray/color while this connection process runs.

While the dynamic connection between Outlook and CRM is a great feature – it can impact the performance of your desktop. When there is no connection available to the CRM server, the Outlook Client for CRM will for a time continually try to reconnect causing a performance impact.

NOTE: Many users will be fine with the default mode of operation since the reconnect process eventually times out and the performance impact ends. Read on for tips on lessening the performance impact if you find it annoying.

Since many organizations now have Outlook/Exchange email systems that are exposed to the Internet, it is increasingly common for professionals to run Outlook to access email/calendar/contacts with no intention of accessing CRM since most CRM systems are only accessible through a VPN connection. In this case, the CRM application tries to continually connect to the CRM server without success and can cause an annoying performance impact.

By right clicking on the CRM flags you have two options available that can lessen the performance impact of the connection process.

Disable CRM

If connected to a VPN to allow CRM access, the following graphic shows what can be displayed in the Windows System Tray.

CRM Connected: This will be displayed by mousing over the CRM flags.

Disable CRM: This will be displayed by right clicking on the CRM flags. 

To reduce potential performance impact, use the following steps when disconnecting from VPN/CRM usage:

  • When you are ready to disconnect from the VPN, right-click on the CRM flags in the Windows System Tray and click Disable CRM.
  • Disconnect from VPN.
  • Continue to use Outlook as you normally would.

 Enable CRM

When disconnected from CRM the following graphic shows what can be displayed in the Windows System Tray.

CRM Disconnected: This will be displayed by mousing over the CRM flags.

Enable CRM: This will be displayed by right clicking on the CRM flags.

The next time you want to connect to CRM simply use these steps.

  • Connect to your corporate VPN.
  • Right-click on the CRM flags in the Windows System Tray and click Enable CRM.
  • The CRM flags should begin flashing gray/color while the connection is in progress.
  • When the solid color flags display CRM will be available for use.

Dynamics CRM 2011: Thanks to Jerry Weinstock a Microsoft Dynamics CRM MVP at CRM Innovation, LLC for looking into how CRM 2011 handles the connectivity discussed here. Based on Jerry’s discussions within the Microsoft MVP network, a CRM 2011 Outlook client user will experience similar behavior and will benefit from adusting the similar settings.

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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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