Microsoft Dynamics and SharePoint Integration

On-premise Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online both support Microsoft Dynamics and SharePoint Integration, enabling you to enjoy SharePoint’s document management capabilities within Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Ideally, this integration allows you to not only store, but also manage documents from the view of Microsoft Dynamics CRM record on a server running SharePoint, leveraging on SharePoint infrastructure to enable you share, manage and efficiently collaborate.

Microsoft Dynamics and SharePoint Integration

Since the server running SharePoint stores the documents, even users who are not using Microsoft Dynamics CRM can have direct access to the documents on the server, as long as they possess the right privileges on that server running SharePoint. In this write-up, Dynamics CRM shall be used to refer to Microsoft Dynamics CRM and sometimes doc to mean document.

Microsoft SharePoint Server, a collaboration and an efficient content management application, simplifies the way people store, locate and share information. People can collaborate effectively because of the secure access to documents and key information they need to make critical business decisions.

Integration between SharePoint integration and Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows you to:

1. Create, view, upload, and delete documents on a server from within Microsoft Dynamics CRM, provided it is running SharePoint.

2. Make use of the SharePoint document management capabilities within Dynamics CRM, including document check in and out, changing document properties and viewing version history.

The following entities are used to store and properly manage the records in the SharePoint Server location:

SharePointDocumentLocation and SharePointSite.

Server-based Microsoft Dynamics and SharePoint Integration (Online)

Earlier versions of Dynamics CRM online employed a client-to-server strategy to not only authenticate, but also transmit data from Dynamics CRM to SharePoint Online. Dynamics CRM online (particularly Spring ’14) allows administrators to perform server-to-server authentication for easy integration with SharePoint Online.

However, this server-based authentication requires no installation of the Dynamics CRM list component of SharePoint Online’s sandboxed environment. Unfortunately, after enabling server-based SharePoint integration, it is not possible to revert to your previous/former client-based authentication method. Server-based SharePoint integration for Dynamics CRM online can only be enabled using Outlook client or the web.

While developers for the SharePoint integration feature are not exposed to new entities or messages, all the existing entities/messages will continue working as before, as soon as you enable this feature. Earlier, integration between Dynamics and SharePoint required a lot of investment (time and money), often leading to unnecessary complexity and rigidness.

How to Integrate SharePoint

Applies to: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

The two aspects to integration for SharePoint Server

1. Setting up SharePoint integration

The SharePoint environment is set up by a Dynamics CRM system administrator – user with the admin role of SharePoint Site Collection – who the selects the Dynamics CRM entities to enable the doc management feature, specifying the target SharePoint Server. In the process of specifying this target server, the admin also uses the SharePointSite entity to specify the SharePoint Server site URL or the SharePoint Server site collection.

2. Creation and Management of SharePoint document location records

After enabling integration, Dynamics CRM users can create and manage document location records. Creating and managing the document location records can be done using the SharePointDocumentLocation entity. Folders on the server running SharePoint Server for entity records can also be created automatically, but this is only possible through the Dynamics CRM SDK, under certain conditions.

SharePoint Storage Concepts

Using SharePoint Server’s document management capabilities gives you control over the life cycle your organization’s documents, including how they are created, their review, publication, and even disposal and archiving. SharePoint Server utilizes a hierarchical storage model in storing and managing documents. Some of these concepts include Site, Site Collection, Document Folder, and Document Library. These storage objects offer the framework for the ideal content management infrastructure provided by SharePoint Server.

Dynamics CRM list component (specifically for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010)

This is a SharePoint Server solution package file (extension .wsp). It must not only be installed, but also uploaded and activated on the site collection on the target server to enable: Viewing of documents stored on the Server in a Dynamics CRM list view and creation (automatic) of the document locations on the server. Download and install Dynamics CRM List component for this SharePoint Server 2010, available from Microsoft Download Center.

However, installing this component requires you to have the admin privileges of SharePoint site collection on the target server (SharePoint Server 2010). Dynamics CRM List component (particularly for Microsoft’s SharePoint Server 2013) fails to work with SharePoint 2010.

However, it works well with SharePoint Online, SharePoint Server 2013, and SharePoint Foundation 2013. SharePoint integration is often enabled by default after you install Dynamics CRM. For a much richer experience, you may do the following:

  • Install Dynamic CRM List Component for either Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 or -2013.
  • For entities, enable document management by selecting the entities in Dynamics CRM for which you wish to create and manage relevant documents on SharePoint Server
  • Enabling document management for any entity on Dynamics CRM adds a Document link, in the left pane – under the Common group – for all entity records in Dynamics CRM Web app. Use the Document link for creating and managing SharePoint Server location records, specifically for the entity record.
  • Specifying the target SharePoint Server: On the SharePoint Server 2010/13, specify the site collection or URL of a site. It is this URL that is utilized to auto-create document libraries and folders on SharePoint.

Conclusion

SharePoint integration enables you to enjoy document management capabilities within the Dynamics CRM (whether on-premise or Online). You will also be able to store, view and manage documents on a server running SharePoint with respect to Dynamics CRM, as you leverage on SharePoint infrastructure, where you can do the sharing, management and effective collaboration.

The server running SharePoint stores all the documents, allowing even users without Microsoft Dynamics CRM to have direct access to the documents on that server, as long as they have the required privileges to access that particular server running SharePoint. As a collaboration and content management app, Microsoft SharePoint Server has made it easy for people to store, search and find, and even share information. For an organization, Microsoft Dynamics and SharePoint integration has enabled people to have excellent collaboration due to the secure access to documents and key information necessary for making critical business decisions.

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Michael Taylor
Michael is the Lead Author & Editor of DynaMe. DynaMe is a blog focused on cloud based Microsoft Dynamics.
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