Immersive Excel Experience! CRM Online (7.1) and Excel Online

Am sure Microsoft Excel experts (that is to say most CRM users) would love not only the seamless integration but also the use of catchy marketing phrase Immersive experience to describe the feature. Export to Excel has been part of CRM from the early versions however, with CRM 2011 came the option to reimport. Now in CRM 2015 (7.1), the integration has been upgraded to open (embed) excel within CRM and provide for reimport every time (no more forget-me-not checkbox for make data available for reimport…).

This feature is currently available only to CRM Online users who have Office 365 license (for excel online). Export to Excel security role privilege is required for a user to use this feature in CRM.There is a nice technet article that describes a sample of use of this feature.

 

What’s new and how it works

  • Unlike Export to Excel, the Open in Excel Online opens the data in an embedded excel within the CRM window. This enables the user to do some quick analysis on the view’s data and return to CRM view OR update the records.
  • The format of the columns is retained as in CRM. So the date fields and numeric fields are readily available for analysis. Microsoft recommends this feature only for ad-hoc analysis like performing some calculations or viewing the information using charts. Changes to the data format could lead to import failure when attempted to save to CRM. If the analysis involves lot of data changes or needs to be shared with someone then it is best to use the Export to Excel feature instead of Excel Online.
  • Updates to the data are also adhere to the data type as defined in CRM. However, updates done in CRM Online are given preference over the updates in Excel Online. So keep saving the data changes in Excel Online frequently else the system will throw an error if any record was updated by someone else using CRM after it has been opened in Excel Online by you. Also note that any charts that have been added during analysis will be ignored when saved to CRM.
  • Open in Excel Online opens all the records in the view into Excel. A subset of records from the view cannot be selected for analysis. However, it honors any search performed on a view and displays only the search results from the view.
  • Number of clicks are reduced and working with excel is more user friendly. This feature now has a button to ‘Save to CRM’ which triggers the import process without the user having to go through it. The status of import can be checked as usual (settings –> Data management –> Imports) and the import job takes some time to complete.

 

Limitations

  • This is currently not available for CRM on-premises users.
  • Open in Excel Online is not available in the Advanced Find results view. You need to save the view and then perform the export from the saved view.
  • Data updated in CRM will not be immediately available in Excel Online. There would a lag of few minutes so plan accordingly..
  • Save As option on the Excel Online file cannot be used. However, you can copy the details on the spreadsheet into another excel file to take it for offline use.
  • There is no option to refresh the data from within Excel.

This feature enables users do some quick data analysis or bulk updates. I hear that it would be further updated in the upcoming release. Look forward to the ability to refresh data and share the analysis.

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