A Business Process Flow in Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a tool which is meant to help guide users through a business process in the system. Business process flows are representations of your business processes and are displayed visually in CRM in the form of a heading across the top of an entity form.
A business process flow is composed of Stages, and within each stage there are Steps to complete which are fields. In the business process flow heading, a user can see which stage they are at in the process, and which steps they need to complete before they proceed in the process.
Business process flows enable you to require users to complete certain steps before completing the process and if needed you can also allow users to jump stages. They are available for out-of-the-box entities and even your own custom entities. Additionally, an entity can have many business process flows associated with it. They are highly configurable to fit your organizational needs.
One important thing to remember is that BPFs are not automated processes in CRM. They are meant to be a guide for a user to aid them in completing a process.
Out-of-the-Box Business Process Flow
CRM comes with a few out-of-the-box business process flows:
- Lead to Opportunity Sales Process
- Opportunity Sales Process
- Phone to Case Process
To see a list of your available business process flows, navigate to the Settings area, and click on Processes.
Under Processes, select Business Process Flows.
To introduce you to how business process flows are used, let’s look at the Lead to Opportunity Sales Process business process flow.
Since this process flow’s primary entity is Lead, it begins on the lead entity. When you create a new lead, the process flow bar is displayed at the top of the form.
In some instances, users may feel comfortable working through a business process without using the process flow to guide them. Users can choose to collapse the process flow bar by clicking:
Then, the user can continue to work on the entity form without having the entire process flow bar displayed:
Business process flows are composed of Stages. Here, you can see that the first stage is Qualify and is followed by Develop, Propose, and Close. You can tell which stage is active because it is a goldenrod color, while the rest of the stages are in grey.
Within each stage, there are several steps that users should fill in before moving onto the next stage in the process flow. Some steps my include populating required fields before proceeding to the next step. Required fields in the process flow are independent of the form save.
After filling out the required information, you can click Next Stage to move on and get the next set of steps. However, stages may remain locked if you have not completed necessary fields or actions. For example, in this process you still have to manually Qualify or Disqualify the lead before moving on to the Develop stage.
Once you move on to the next stage, you can see that it is now on a different entity:
The user will continue to move through the stages, completing the steps, until they have completed the process.
Microsoft also has several additional ready-to-use processes that you can add to your CRM. Please refer here for more information: Microsoft Additional Ready-to-Use Processes.
Branching Process Flows
Business Process Flows are used like a recipe to guide users through specific business processes.
In CRM Business Process Flows can be used to model and guide users through even more complex processes and include innovations to make them more user friendly. Just like in previous versions, different process can be available for the same record type and utilized depending on a user’s security role. Let’s take an in-depth look at all the improvements Microsoft has in store for Business Process Flows in CRM:
What if your current business processes aren’t strictly linear. For example, an auto dealer may have different processes depending on if a lead is looking for a used or new car. In previous versions of CRM this would have been difficult, if not impossible, to model. CRM now features improvements to the Business Process Flow allowing a system administrator to use IF/ELSE clauses to advance to different stages depending on the information entered in the previous stage. It is also possible to merge branches into a single flow again.
All of this is easily edited through the configuration UI. You can create a Business Process flow for a single entity or to move throughout different entities. CRM will now allow Business Process Flows to revisit an entity in cross entity Business Process.
Inclusion of OOB programmability options for Business Process Flows was one of the most requested enhancements in previous versions of CRM. Microsoft delivered on this request with the improvements to Business Process Flows in CRM. System Configurators can programmatically update Business Process Flows to do things like collapse the process control bar, advance to the next Stage or skip a stage. It’s even possible to programmatically change the Business Process Flow being used.
The new programmability options are sure to reduce clicks and improve user adoption by making Business Process Flows even more user friendly while the support for rule based branching and non-linear processes will allow more users take advantage of this powerful business process tool.