Whist there is an ongoing trend for ‘channel-shifting’ towards fully electronic communication with our customers, there can often still be a need to Mail Merge and send individual documents.
The ‘bulk Mail Merge’ functionality works pretty well; especially when you drive the process from Outlook and store the end Mail Merge document as an attachment to the note in the activity that you can create (I still think it’s a pity that you can’t store the activity record from the web browser).
However, if you just wanted to do a single Mail Merge and store it in SharePoint (much better than storing it in Activity notes), the process is quite awkward and no one I have worked with likes it.
There are a number of third party add-ins that you can use and we’ve joined that band of companies by using our extensive Dynamics CRM and SharePoint experience to create a much more cost effective offering.
I’ve included some screen shots below to wet your appetite and to give you some insight into a piece of functionality you could code yourselves if you have the time and skill.
Integrated Create Document functionality
The screen shot below shows how we have a web resource integrated into CRM that shows a list of available standard Mail Merge templates. The key here is that we are using Standard Word templates; nothing specific or proprietary. For those of you looking to code this, this is just standard extension coding to CRM.
Document creation and editing
Now here’s the clever bit that really differentiates this functionality. When you select the document, a plugin fires that uses the standard Document Location information in the CRM record to create a document in the required SharePoint library. If follows the same logic as the List Component and will create the folder if needed (this is a really nice feature that allows us to keep all of our Mail Merge documents and uploaded pdfs etc. in the same place).
The substitutions in the document all then occur (as per standard Mail Merge) – we use the XML file that the Word template uses rather than clunky Microsoft Word Macros and, hey presto, the merge document is saved on SharePoint and displayed for editing as per the screenshot below. We even support standard SharePoint versioning so we have the option to open in Read Only or Edit. (The SharePoint below is 2010 but this functionality has also been developed for SharePoint 2013).
We hope that you like the capability that this add-on provides. Our customers certainly do.
If you are interested in more details on how we technically did this or are interested in purchasing the add-on itself, please contact us.