The Outlook integration for CRM can save time on tracking activities from your Outlook client. It allows you to take a email or task or appointment in Outlook and “track” it in CRM which makes a copy of the information into CRM so that its available to CRM users.
Microsoft has made the Outlook add-on particularly confusing because there are two version with similar names. In the MS documentation the newer version of the add-on is called “Dynamics 365 App for Outlook” and the older version is called “Dynamics 365 for Outlook”. Even in some of the documentation its not all that consistent either so I often have to go by the screenshots to tell which is which. Some screenshots are below to help out.
Basic features of both add-ons:
Tracking – this takes a record in Outlook and copies it into a corresponding record in CRM. This is useful to share that an activity took place and the CRM record can then be shared with other CRM users. For example an email can be tracked and assigned to an account so that when another CRM user looks at the account he can see the email in the account timeline. The following items can be tracked: Emails, Appointments, and Contacts. This tracking also supports two-way syncing so that updates made in CRM can be automatically updated in Outlook and vice-versa. So a user can update a meeting appointment in CRM and have it sync back to the Outlook calendar.
Differences of the add-ons:
The older add-on is arguably more robust and has the ability to navigate CRM data like accounts, contacts, opportunities directly in the Outlook app. It had the tracking buttons integrated into the ribbon for the corresponding types.
Instructions for the older add-on are here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/outlook-addin/user-guide/track-outlook-email-by-choosing-button
The newer add-on does not support directly navigating CRM data in an Outlook window but will send you to CRM to view the data. It still supports tracking through clicking on the a “Dynamics 365” button which opens a dialog with options on what to do. Tracking is an option and viewing a tracked record in CRM is also available.
Some instructions for the newer add-on are here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/outlook-app/user/track-message-or-appointment
Which one to choose:
I can only recommend the newer add-on because Microsoft has said that the older version will have support removed at some point in the future. Microsoft had at one time discontinuing support already but rescinded and continued to keep it running due to user feedback. So I’m not aware of an official date that the older version will be discontinued. The newer version offers support for both the full version of Outlook and the web client. Anyone trying to decide between the two should be use the newer version as it is officially the version Microsoft wants people to use.
New Outlook add-in install instructions: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/outlook-app/deploy-dynamics-365-app-for-outlook