Create a Staging Area for Dynamics CRM Online Using Custom Forms

The same ability that lets you create custom forms in MS Dynamics CRM Online can also help you create a staging area for development or testing (since the concept of a DEV or TEST environment , other than local VMs or downloading a trial version, doesn’t currently exist.)

In this example, the customer in question uses one main form throughout the organization. Depending on the type of opportunity being created (and through the use of Javascript) certain tabs, sections and fields would hide or appear. This had the tendency to create gaps within the form if particular fields were not needed or certain changes became necessary. (This would also make maintenance of the Javascript burdensome.)

The customer decided to revamp the form and create separate forms for each type of Opportunity (This would be done in stages, based on the Opportunity type.) I decided the best way to do this was to create a form called “DEV Form”, which gave me access to all fields, and let me add/remove info at will without interrupting the user’s current process. Once the form for the particular Opportunity type was completed and tested, I renamed the form, and assigned roles to the appropriate users.

The Benefits Of Using Custom Forms To Create A Staging Area
Building a staging area using custom forms produced several benefits for the client:

  1. Ability to visualize how the form would look before releasing it to their staff.
  2. Ability to test the form and its functionality prior to release.
  3. Ability to schedule the release of the form based on completed staff review.
  4. A cleaner form, without gaps between fields.
  5. A more streamlined approach to the business rules for particular Opportunity types.

In addition, this project benefited me as well by:

  1. Letting me create a working development environment.
  2. Cutting down on the time previously needed to export customizations and import them into my VM.
  3. Eliminating my need to support the Javascript being used.

Of course there are many limitations to this approach, and it might not work for everyone. For larger enterprise deployments, you may want to consider the new functionality that came out with the Polaris release called “Multiple Instances”.  Here are some links that review that option:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh699712.aspx
http://blogs.technet.com/b/lystavlen/archive/2013/03/21/multiple-instances-in-crm-online-whats-the-use-case.aspx

Do you have further questions about using custom forms within Dynamics CRM? Submit your questions below, or click here to contact us today. You can also sign up for our newsletter, which provides insights into Dynamics CRM, Business Intelligence and more.

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