How to use CRM – the key CRM terms you need to know

We often get so caught up in the power of Dynamics 365 that we forget that a lot of people are intimidated by the software. “How to use CRM” is a question we get all the time. To help answer that we host monthly free webinars and offer free resources in our Learning Academy.

Additionally, we provide how to articles on our blog.

Here are 8 basic terms you need to understand when learning how to use CRM.  Consider this your glossary for success in Dynamics 365.

  1. Entity

An entity is simply a section that comprises a key grouping of data. Below are few of the many entities as seen on the drop-down menu in Dynamics 365.

Note that entities can be customized based on what data best serves your business.

  1. Parent and Child

This relates to how companies are related to each other. Specifically, smaller organizations that are part of a larger, parent company. Dynamics 365 gives users the ability to track that parent-child hierarchy.

Below is a view from the Account entity; we can see that CRMD. is the child of parent CRM Dynamics Ltd.:

Note you can also tell that an account has a parent or child by the flowchart symbol to the left of its name in a view:

  1. Dashboards

A dashboard in Dynamics 365 is like the dashboard in your car — it is a live snapshot of what’s happening at any given moment. It can be set up to show whatever key performance indicators matter most to you. You can have multiple dashboards, each comprised of multiple charts, views, and other components.

Below is an example of a Sales Activity Dashboard that a sales manager might want to use. It shows the sales pipeline vs. sales stage, sales leaderboard, top opportunities and open leads.

  1. Field

A field is simply a box where you enter a piece of data. Below we can see three fields contain data: account name, website, legal name and phone number.

  1. Record

A record is a collection of related fields. Below are three records within the Contacts entity: Alex Ashbel, Alia Thomos, and Angelina Jacobs. Note that each record comprises many fields, including Job Title, Address, etc.  In Dynamics 365, you can click on any record to open it and see all the information (fields) it contains.

  1. Forms

A form is the interface where users interact with Dynamics 365, add data, and move things around. Below is the form visible when the lead Testing Test is opened. Note a form may show much of the information in any given record, but not necessarily all of it.


Views are how you sort and see information.

Below you can see a drop-down menu of available views within the Opportunities entity. Open Opportunities is highlighted—this would be a good view to select to see all open opportunities within the company. Notice directly above that is “My Open Opportunities” which a salesperson might select to see only his or her open opportunities. There are numerous other available views, and views can be customized as well using “Create Personal View,” to always get access to exactly the information needed.

  1. Process bar

The entities in Dynamics CRM offer the option of using what’s known as a process bar. Here is an example of one from the Opportunities entity:

This example features a four-part bar, comprising four steps required to work through an Opportunity: qualify, develop, propose, and close. Each step prompts for different information. Once you’ve gathered all the information at a particular step, you move on to the next step in the bar. In the case above, the user is in the develop stage, which means they’ve already gathered all the information required in the qualify stage. Note the steps are completely customizable, as is the information each one prompts for. The process bar is a great way to build standardized procedures right into your CRM.

Check back soon for more articles and how to use CRM to maximize your Dynamics 365 experience. If you’d like to talk to an expert about how CRM can help your business let us know here.