One of the major advantages of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is its ability to integrate with other Microsoft product suites such as SharePoint. Proper SharePoint integration can vastly improve the productivity of an office, but it needs to be done the correct way to be effective and secure. Here are a few of the most critical best practices.
1. Carefully Consider Your Folder Hierarchy
Your folder hierarchy needs to be carefully considered for its long-term benefits. Folder permissions "cascade," which means that the folders below a particular folder will have the same permissions. Additionally, the hierarchy should be constructed so that each folder individually doesn't become too large. Developing your folder hierarchy requires a balancing act; you want to make sure that you don't have too many levels of folders but you also want to separate and categorize items appropriately. Setting this up early on will reduce challenges later on. It's always harder to restructure your folder system than to develop it properly from the start.
2. Use Granular Security Controls
As users are added to the system, it's important to restrict their security permissions to what is absolutely essential. This is not only to protect against the malicious actions of employees, but also to reduce risk in the event that their accounts are compromised. The easiest way to control users on this level is to create different types of user and to assign each user a type. Modifying permissions on a per user level is generally not advised because it is more difficult to maintain and track. If you assign users to a type, you can easily change their permissions by modifying the type template itself rather than having to modify them individually.
3. Implement Redundancy and Failover Systems
Every system can potentially be disrupted, whether it's a complex e-commerce site or a simple, small CRM deployment. By implementing redundancy and failover systems, a company can ensure that their CRM and SharePoint servers are always available. When Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint are integrated, a company creates a single system that they are very likely to rely upon for much of their business needs. A redundant system will reduce the possibility of a costly business interruption, while also keeping the system fast and reliable for employees.
4. Teach Proper Password Hygiene
When a Microsoft Dynamics CRM SharePoint integration is created, a single authentication system is used. Not only is this incredibly convenient for the business, but it also makes it easier for employees. Nevertheless, employees need to know exactly how to secure their accounts -- and this begins with proper password hygiene. All employees should be trained (and periodically have their knowledge refreshed) regarding current password standards and how to protect their accounts. They should be aware of what makes a good password a good password and they should know how to keep their mobile devices and desktop machines secure.
5. Always Think About Folder Sizes
The larger your folder sizes, the longer it will take for folders to load and be navigated. There are also upward limits on how many documents can be held in each folder. When deploying your Dynamics CRM SharePoint integration, you should think about how large each folder will have to be and you should take action to limit any extraneous documents. Create a system of folders that is fast and intuitive to traverse rather than focusing on trying to classify each document by a general topic. The more specific you can get regarding your documents the better -- this will also make your system easier to search.
6. Utilize Intelligent Caching
Caching is a method by which documents are stored in a faster area of memory so they can be accessed more easily. There are always documents that are either more recent or more popular. By using the intelligent caching features of both Dynamics and SharePoint, you can reduce your resource usage and make things faster to access. Caching features are available in all Microsoft products and the settings will be found in both Dynamics and SharePoint itself. Don't forget to alter the settings on both sides! A partner can help with the settings that work best for you -- too much caching can actually become detrimental.
7. Create a Message Queueing Model
A message queueing model preserves transmissions both to and from the system. Message queueing is an essential layer between applications and is designed to facilitate integration. If you are integrating SharePoint with Dynamics CRM and other applications as well, queueing will make sure there aren't any conflicts and that the data is running smoothly. This is most important for systems that are complex and that have very important transactions going on, such as e-commerce applications. It's also vital for larger networks and enterprise systems; otherwise it's very easy for there to be system issues.
8. Don't Forget Site Scalability
It's always important to think not only about what you need now but also what you will need in the future. There are upper limits regarding how large a SharePoint site can be. You need to be able to scale your site upwards. Many companies do this by either archiving their old documents periodically or simply starting a new site altogether as needed. You should have a system in place before, not after, you integrate SharePoint into your CRM -- any changes you make to your SharePoint site will affect your MS Dynamics CRM, and vice versa.
9. Automate As Much As Possible
There are many systems that you can automate when integrating Dynamics CRM and SharePoint. The more automation you have, the less you need to maintain your system. At the same time, automation is most effective when it's done for simple tasks. Folders can be created automatically, templates can control newly generated documents, and so forth -- nothing too complex, as that could potentially complicate the data. Automation can be also used for things such as backups, upgrades, updates, and patches, so that the system can maintain itself without requiring direct intervention.
10. Keep Everything Updated and Patched
Speaking of updates and patches, it's necessary to make sure that both Dynamics CRM and SharePoint are updated and patched simultaneously. The systems need to be able to work together, which requires regular updates -- and updates are important not only because they add functionality but also because they improve upon security. Between SharePoint and Dynamics CRM, businesses will host large volumes of important and confidential information. Without regularly updates, this data could be comprised and the business could experience significant disruption.
11. Ensure Proper SQL Server Configuration
The SQL server is the heart and soul of your data. If your SQL server isn't already correctly configured, it could be taking longer to access its data and it could be storing data in unnecessarily large formats, potentially wasting resources. The SQL server configuration is going to have a direct impact on both Dynamics CRM and SharePoint, even if it doesn't outright impact the integration. It's a good idea (and best practice) to carefully review your database structure and make sure that it is well-designed for your needs.
12. Implement Server-Side SharePoint Integration
There are two ways to integrate SharePoint: server-side and lists. Though both of these will work, server-side is both more secure and less resource-intensive. Server-side SharePoint integration will allow single sign on between Dynamics CRM and SharePoint. Lists is more like simply adding a module so that the products can support each other. Server-side SharePoint integration is a little more complex to setup but is the most streamlined method of integration available
13. Classify Content With Content Types
New SharePoint content should always be classified through known content types. This ensures that the data is as useful and accurate as possible -- and it also tells the Dynamics CRM suite how to work with the data as presented. Other third-party applications will also be able to better support documents that are as consistent as possible. Content types are essentially templates that act as an aid to consistency, keeping each item of content to specific requirements.
14. Don't Forget Other Integration
Dynamics CRM SharePoint integration can be further improved with integration to other Microsoft products, such as Outlook. From both Dynamics CRM and SharePoint, documents can be shared and sorted through from Outlook for the purposes of emailing and collaborating. This has additional benefits besides just productivity; it also reduces the amount of file storage needed, as everything will come from a single consolidated database and network for files.
Apart from the above, general Dynamics CRM and SharePoint best practices also apply. Dynamics CRM SharePoint integration is often best handled through the services of a professional and experienced integrator. Working with a partner knowledgeable about Microsoft's offerings will ensure that the above best practices are followed. Contact IES today to learn more.