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SharePoint integration: Benefits and Traps

SharePoint integration is a native integration of Microsoft 365. This integration allows to incorporate a sub-grid into a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) form to insert documents. The documents are available from the CRM but are stored in SharePoint. The integration is available with Dynamics 365, PowerApps and of course our Membri 365 solution. The basic activation of SharePoint integration is quite simple to set up and has several advantages. However, beware, there are several pitfalls to watch out for.

5 Advantages of SharePoint integration

  1. Centralize information It is possible to attach documents to almost any table. If we take the example of an account. It is possible to consult or create documents attached to it. Users have direct access to documents without having to leave the CRM. Directories can also be synchronized in Windows Explorer, which allows to add documents directly from it.

  2. Facilitate collaborative work between teams As documents are stored in SharePoint, users can take advantage of collaborative features such as co-editing for example.

  3. Facilitate document sharing. SharePoint integration offers document sharing features internally or externally. This sharing is not integrated directly into the CRM but rather into SharePoint. This once again facilitates collaborative work internally or outside the organization.

  4. Use advanced document management functions Using SharePoint allows to keep multiple versions of the document and maintain and update their metadata. Archiving features are also available. These are features that are not available if documents are stored directly in the CRM, such as in notes for example.

  5. Reduce CRM storage space When attachments are stored directly in the CRM (email attachments or added to notes), they are stored in the “File” section of the database. It is common for this database section to fill up quickly, if many emails are synchronized with the CRM. Although the cost of additional data is only $3.24 (CAD) per gigabyte per month, it is ideal to keep the volume under the data limit included in your licenses.

What happens when SharePoint integration is activated?

When SharePoint integration is activated in Dynamics 365 CRM, a Document tab becomes available in the Association of Records section. A document is created in SharePoint only when a user accesses the Document tab.

SharePoint integration

In this tab, the SharePoint grid will be presented. This is where we can create or upload files or directories.

SharePoint integration

These documents are stored on a SharePoint site that was specified during the integration setup. We can access the site by clicking on Open Location and choosing the available location.

SharePoint integration

If documents are added directly in SharePoint, they will immediately become available in the CRM.

By default, the integration will take the main field of the table and add the unique identifier of the record to create the name of the directory.

Basic SharePoint configurations

Document structure

Two configurations for the creation of the automatic structure are possible when activating. Let us take the example of a company named Alpine Ski House with the contact Blaine Cormack.

The structure based on a table:

In this model, child records are placed under the parent’s directory. For example, if we activate the company as the base table of the structure and add documents to a contact, the documents will appear in the company’s directory in the form of Account/Alpine Ski House/Contact/Blaine Cormack 

SharePoint integration

The structure not based on a table:

In this model, there is a directory for all activity tables for documents. If we access the document tab of the company, the information will be stored in Account/ Alpine Ski House, but if we access the document tab of the contact named Blaine Cormack, the documents will be saved in Contact/ Blaine Cormack.

How does the background of this integration work?

When a user clicks on the document tab of a record for the first time, a Document Location record is created. Each record will contain the URL of the directory to SharePoint as well as a link to the parent location. Here is an example of the document locations created according to the structure above.

SharePoint integration

The Document Location records allow to replicate the SharePoint structure in the CRM. This also means that it is possible to link CRM records with any existing SharePoint site, if we can recreate the structure with the records.

Beware, creating a document location manually in the CRM will not create a directory in SharePoint. Other background processes managed by Microsoft take care of this.

The pitfalls of SharePoint integration to avoid:

  1. Name change When you change the name of an account for example (which is the field used for the creation of the directory in SharePoint), the directory is not renamed in SharePoint. You must manually update the name of the directory in SharePoint and then update the document location. It is possible to automate this process.

  2. Display in the CRM By default, in the CRM, the SharePoint grid does not allow to display documents in thumbnail mode. There is a control created by a third party that allows to do it.

  3. Security It is important to understand that the security of the CRM is not linked to the security of SharePoint. It is completely dissociated. If a user does not have the right to see all accounts in the CRM but has access to the SharePoint site, he will be able to see the documents of all accounts from SharePoint. It is possible to do development to synchronize the security of the two products.

  4. Change of relationship (structure) When the integration is configured as being based on a table and there are changes in the relationships (ex: a contact is reassigned to another account) the contact’s directory will not be moved in SharePoint.

  5. Merging of records When records are merged, two document locations now point to the master record. In SharePoint, the two directories continue to exist. This can create confusion in the CRM display as you must alternate between the two locations to see the files. It is possible to set up automations to merge SharePoint directories when merging records.

In summary, SharePoint integration allows for the centralization of information and increases user productivity. However, it is important to keep in mind the issues mentioned above to ensure data integrity and adequate security.

We can help you with SharePoint integration, here is how:

  • Add a link directly on the main page of the record to open the SharePoint directory associated with the record.

  • Automate the creation of a SharePoint directory as soon as a record is created (this offers better flexibility in terms of directory name).

  • Automatically rename directories when the name changes in the CRM.

  • Update the metadata of documents when specific triggers come from the CRM.

  • Automatic transfer of documents stored in the CRM database to SharePoint.

  • Possibility to create custom processes to save documents on several different sites.

Do not hesitate to consult a Microsoft 365 CRM expert to plan the SharePoint integration with Dynamics 365. You will thus benefit from the advantages and avoid the pitfalls that should not be fallen into.

  • More than twenty experts at your service.

  • Over 13 years of experience and certified Microsoft 365 partner

  • With more than 200 client projects completed in Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM service over the last decade, we have developed great expertise in the design and deployment of custom software.


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