Activity Feeds in Microsoft CRM 2011
My first impression of Activity Feeds was “why is my Wall full of events that I triggered – i.e. things that I already know about – what’s the point of that?” And the post content didn’t read very well either. Together this equated to lots of noise that deterred me from wanting to look at the wall. Damn, I was hoping this would be a nice feature!
Since that first impression I’ve spent a bit more time with the feature and thanks to helpful posts like Richard’s one here I have a better understanding of how we can make it work for us. I’ve ended up reaching the same conclusion as Richard:
Activity Feeds can be of value, so long as you create your own posting rules via workflow and turn off the ones that are included out-of-the-box
Let me take you through it…
I created the following workflow to post to the Account wall every time a new Opportunity is created under the Account:
I then logged in as Gareth Tucker, went to the Account “Recreation Supplies (sample)” and clicked the Follow button on the Account’s Record Wall:
I then logged in as Rambo George and created an Opportunity under that Account:
I wait a few minutes for the workflow to run and then check the Account’s Record Wall and can see the Post:
Note: the post reads a lot better than those created by the out of the box rules supplied by Microsoft
Now, when I check Rambo George’s “What’s New” Wall I don’t see any Post:
This is correct, Rambo is not following the Account. And this is GOOD Rambo does not need to be notified of something he has just done.
Now, I log back in as Gareth Tucker and remember Gareth is following this Account so he wants to know about this Opportunity. The post appears there on Gareth’s “What’s New” wall:
So that’s activity feeds, a potentially useful self service feature for subscribing to CRM event notifications.
The one limitation I am still uncomfortable with though is the business benefit of Activity Feeds is reliant on end user’s choosing to view their wall. Some people prefer email. It’s a shame that when you follow you can’t chose to receive an email notification. I think there’s an ISV opportunity here to develop maybe an email digest solution so that each day users receive an email from CRM with a consolidated post list. Another nice solution would be to incorporate the Wall on a Dashboard to combine the news feed with rich data visualisations. Then I think you have a compelling home page for end users too land on when they launch CRM.
Update 1: check out this post to see how you can easily embed the Activity Feed wall on a Dashboard.
Update 2: here’s an improved approach for writing your workflows that will add hyperlinks into your posts…
Instead of inserting primary attribute fields like Opportunity.Topic insert the new special Post URL(Dynamic) fields now available since Rollup 5. These will give you the same text value but displayed as a hyperlink.
Here’s how it looks in the Workflow designer:
And here’s how the resulting post looks: