Planning for the CRM Online & OneNote Integration

One of the most eagerly anticipated new features in Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 is the integration with OneNote. Many Dynamics CRM users already use OneNote, so having them together and easy access to account or project specific OneNote notebooks should definitely enhance collaboration between team members. Donna Edwards wrote a great step-by-step walkthrough

My recommendation to CRM administrators considering the OneNote integration is that you think through how you want your CRM users to use OneNote. There are several important considerations:

  1. It’s a cloud-only thing. Like with most of Update 1, the OneNote integration is only for CRM Online. It requires the server-based SharePoint integration be enabled with SharePoint Online. If you use CRM on premises, you can’t use it. If you use CRM Online and SharePoint on-premises, you can’t use it. You have to use both CRM Online and SharePoint Online. It takes advantage of the online Microsoft Office capabilities, and as such, only works with SharePoint Online.
  2. OneNote is unstructured data. It is the electronic version of your Trapper Keeper. This is great for brainstorming, collaborating, planning, or taking notes in meetings, but it is not the place to store account profile data or customer phone numbers. Before rolling out the OneNote integration, CRM administrators need to decide what data should be stored in CRM and create structured fields for that data. Users must be trained to properly use the system to ensure that the right information is in CRM.
  3. Users should be trained on OneNote. OneNote is a very approachable application–it is like a physical notebook. But it is also very easy to have a disorganized and bloated notebook if you don’t know what you are doing. Provide training on good OneNote organization and consider providing users with an example or templates of a well designed OneNote notebook.  Microsoft Virtual Academy has some excellent free OneNote training courses.
  4. It’s not in CRM. While OneNote is integrated with CRM Online, it is a loose integration (like the SharePoint document integration). This means that data in the OneNote notebooks will not be searchable from CRM and advanced find. This should shape your strategy for what is structured data in CRM vs. unstructured in OneNote. If you need to see it in a view or from the account form, keep it in CRM.
  5. Consider the impact on security and disaster recovery. Since OneNote notebooks used with CRM will not be stored in CRM, they are not directly covered by the CRM security model. You can restrict other users from accessing the OneNote notebooks if they do not have back-end SharePoint library access; however, if someone has access to the SharePoint document folder associated with the account, they will also have access to the OneNote notebook, even if they do not have access to the record in CRM. For disaster recovery, keep in mind that the OneNote notebooks are not stored in the CRM database. If you get an extract of your CRM Online database, the notebooks will not be in that database extract.

The OneNote integration will be a great enhancement to your team collaboration, but make sure you plan for it appropriately.

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