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Accounts and Contacts best practices

  • 1.  Accounts and Contacts best practices

    Posted Sep 19, 2018 05:12 PM

    Can anyone share their Best Practices for Accounts and Contacts in D365? Industry general best practices would be great. 

    We are in the process of developing D365 for Sales and Marketing. We have an internal app for activity tracking and basic opportunity info. In a way, I am competing with this app. The problem with this app is it has some bad contact data. However, the core features of D365 should easily exceed what this app can do. I just need to get people excited about D365 and gain adoption.  We have an executive decision to use D365 for Accounts and Contacts.  Hopefully, this will give us a nudge on adoption and let people start seeing what D365 can do by showing other features. Getting people in the system is key.

    First thing I need to figure out is what are the best practices for Accounts and Contacts. I am picturing there being a push toward a small team or group of users to be the only ones to update contacts. I would hope each sales rep controls their own contacts. I can see a concern around data quality control. These things are why I would like a good list of industry standards to recommend.  

    Thank you, 

    Brant Paquette
    Brookfield WI
    CRMUG Summit - Post

  • 2.  RE: Accounts and Contacts best practices

    Posted Sep 20, 2018 09:55 AM
    Hi Brant,

    The CRM book is a great source of info on CRM best practices.

    Here's an article on Understanding Accounts and Contacts.

    Hope that helps,

    Nathalie Bahramian
    Data Systems Analyst
    Mennonite Economic Development Associates
    Waterloo ON

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  • 3.  RE: Accounts and Contacts best practices

    Posted Sep 20, 2018 10:23 AM
    Edited by Tricia Desso-Cox Sep 20, 2018 10:25 AM
    @Brant Paquette

    There are several things to consider but here are some basic things to get you started.

    1. Consider having a bit of a master data management workshop to decide the importance of things like:
      1. Naming conventions
      2. Abbreviations
      3. Capitalization
      4. etc.
    2. If CRM will be integrated with anything now or in the future there needs to be some decisions around system of record. Will CRM be the master and push data out or will another tool be considered the master record that then updates CRM?
    3. Will you begin with Leads or will everything automatically start as an account and contact?
    4. Are there different types of accounts that you want to track? If so, consider adding an account type field to make reporting/segmentation easier.
    5. Will the records be owned by an individual or a team?
    6. Will you allow users to sync Outlook with CRM to keep records up to date?
    7. Consider only allowing users to deactivate records that they feel are no longer relevant, do not allow them to delete them
    8. Consider things like whether or not you'll allow orphan contacts or not... we advise against this. All contacts should have a parent account record. Unless your industry is more B2C and not B2B.
    9. If you're in an industry where there's high turnover with contacts and they tend to move between accounts, consider whether you want to reassign the existing contact record to their new parent account or whether you will deactivate the contact when they leave the account and create a new contact record under the new account. We typically recommend the former, but there have been instances in the past where it makes sense to deactivate and create a new record.
    10. Take a close look at required fields on both forms - make sure you're asking users to keep the basics up to date but only require other fields if they are really going to have a positive impact on the data those users really want to see.
    Hope these tidbits help to get you started! Please feel free to reach out if we can help further!​

    Tricia Desso-Cox
    Managing Director
    C5 Insight
    Charlotte NC

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  • 4.  RE: Accounts and Contacts best practices

    Posted Sep 20, 2018 10:55 AM
    Edited by Brant Paquette Sep 20, 2018 11:38 AM


    Thank you, Nathalie, I will check out the book.  Tracia thank you for all the information as well.

    1. They did decide on in the past what conventions they wanted to follow on the old data source. Not always followed but they did have the rules.

    2. D365 will be our source of truth.

    3. We might start with a small team to do initial data cleanup. Then I would like to spread it out to all salespeople if possible. I figure who knows their contacts better. Not sure if the team will prefer only certain people updating contacts. 

    Sorry, don't know what I was thinking when I answered this.  The goal is to start with Leads on all Sales to Start. We may even not allow starting with Opportunites right away.  I am thinking with our database cleanup level needed. To have a Yes-No option on if the data has been reviewed/cleaned.  Then show it in reports. I am also thinking about a yes-no option on leads that if yes will update the contact records with the new data. This would be short term likely while we finish data cleanup. I don't want to be removing good data in the long run. Customers in my mind should not start out as Accounts and Contacts but Leads.

    4. Yes, we will at least have Vendor, Partner, Customers and maybe some other options.

    5. Record Ownership, My initial thoughts is the owners of the accounts should be the sales rep in charge of the account. Then have AccessTeams to have controlled sharing if people need help.

    6 Dynamics 365 App for Outlook is our plan currently.  They always wanted to have sync with outlook.

    7. Good point, I agree. I don't think I would allow deleting records in general from most users. Maybe keep that an admin task if needed.

    8. I like that idea.  We generally have businesses customers so we should always have an Account.  However, I do picture we could here or there have a B2C. I like the idea of having an account for those people to go into for grouping since they are rare.

    9. Yes, like this concern.  We are a very high turn over.

    10. I do want to make sure key fields are required and keep it to what is needed.  I might utilize Business Recommended fields and set up some reporting around other fields. To encourage follow-ups on the data.

    Thank you for the points to consider,

    Brant Paquette
    Brookfield WI

    CRMUG Summit - Post

  • 5.  RE: Accounts and Contacts best practices

    Posted Sep 21, 2018 05:17 AM
    Hi there,

    about 9.

    Never ever understand the "contact" entity as an entity that actually represents a real person. It's not intended and it does NOT work like that. A contact is just a contact information TO a person. So when one persons moves from one company to another company you HAVE to deactivate the contact and create a new one? But why you might ask? Because every task, so every communication you did with the contact gets populated to the parent account. So if you move the contact record the another account, ALL communication with that said contact ALSO moves to the new account. So you end up with emails, phonecalls and tasks under the wrong account.

    Have fun!

    Code is poetry and customer is king

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  • 6.  RE: Accounts and Contacts best practices

    Posted Sep 21, 2018 07:06 AM
    To continue with items to consider.   Roy's point about activities is important.  It is confusing to see communications to an individual at one account posted to another account when they move.   On the reverse side, we tracked training sessions the contact attended.  Deactivation and creating a new one required either moving the training session or losing that history.

    Another consideration is also for us, a contact could be associated with more than one account at the same time.  In the healthcare field, one person could be the CFO of a hospital and a Vice President with the health system, as an example.  Out-of-the-box the contact is only associated with one account.   You then need to use connections or some custom entity to create a separate relationship.

    Coming back to Roy's point about a contact is a contact point and not necessarily the person record.  If you need more detail of relationship, consider creating a person record with a relationship(join) to 1 or more contact records.  Training sessions are tied to the person record and not the contact.  The account is still associated with a contact record, but since a person can have multiple contact records, they can then be associated with the multiple accounts.  Each contact can have the unique title with that account (CFO vs VP).

    This system is also not as easily to decide to go that way either.  Typically you don't duplicate email addresses between different contact records and that email address is important when connecting the emails sent.  The email address is in the contact record and not the person record but in my example, the email address is the same for both companies.   Also you may need to designate of the multiple contact records for a single person as the 'primary' record.

    This isn't meant to be more confusing, but just more ideas and thoughts to consider.   This is great that you are putting this time and effort in the design up front.  Most of the time, we are dealing with existing systems and processes to work around.

    Good Luck!   Jeff

    Jeffrey Brandon
    CRM Specialist
    OB Hospitalist Group
    Tampa FL

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  • 7.  RE: Accounts and Contacts best practices

    Posted Sep 24, 2018 03:45 PM
    ​In a lot of the work we do with non-profits and government there is a need to associate a contact with more than one account, or to one account in multiple roles.

    Two examples spring to mind:
    1.  A contact may be representing their company as an intervener in one program, and may be an industry subject matter expert in another program.
    2.  A contact may be a volunteer on a regional committee, and their role on that committee may make them automatically a member of a corresponding national committee  (i.e. chairman of a regional finance committee makes them automatically a member of the national finance committee)

    We typically create a manual many-to-many relationship between contact, account and a custom entity representing committees etc.  On the connecting table (many-to-one from account and committee to a connecting table to one-to-many to contact) we put other information related to the role they play such as position, start and end dates, etc.  We can then expose the connecting entity as a sub grid on account, committee and contact entities.

    A bit unorthodox, but it works.

    Tom Obright
    Principal Consultant
    Sierra Systems

    CRMUG Summit - Post

  • 8.  RE: Accounts and Contacts best practices

    Posted Sep 26, 2018 11:20 AM
    You might want to emphasize items that will solve issues users are experiencing today with their current application.

    • Turn on BING Maps (and show how the address maps immediately)
    • Perhaps add a quick little workflow that allows users to pick one address and copy to all other addresses. 
    • The free version of InsideView's Insights is also fun, for it can pull information from the web from the more popular companies offering the team the ability to update their owned accounts and/or contacts with web information. 
    • If you have three or four pilot user's, they might have an ah-ha moment when looking at What's New, which allows users to see what other users have updated.
    • Watch some of the usability videos, because there are tons of configurations AND you want to pick the ones that fit to your users style of working such as do they tab or use enter when entering data.
    • Configure and turn on duplicate detection
    • Keep required fields to a reasonable number, you don't want to discourage entry
    • For contacts you might want to create a Quick Create Form so that when entering the accounts, you can quickly add a contact


    Anne Stanton

    CRMUG Summit - Post

  • 9.  RE: Accounts and Contacts best practices

    Posted Sep 27, 2018 10:10 AM
    Thank you, everyone, for all the great input.

    Brant Paquette
    Brookfield WI

    CRMUG Summit - Post

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