Q

Is SQL Reporting Services or Microsoft Dynamics Snap better for sending letters?

One reader asks for advice on using Microsoft Dynamics Snap or SQL Reporting Services for sending letters or faxes to customers.

Until I read about Microsoft Dynamics Snap, I was under the impression that the only way to change the layout of a CRM report (a letter to donors, in our case) is to use SQL Reporting Services. We use Microsoft CRM 3.0 to record vehicle donations at our not-for-profit organization. From time to time we need to change the wording and format of the acknowledgement letter to vehicle donors. We have no in-house expertise in SQL Reporting, so to make even small changes we have to hire consultants. Is Microsoft Dynamics Snap a product we could learn to use in-house without consultants?
This is one of the most common tasks that users of CRM need to perform – sending a letter or a fax to a customer.

The Microsoft Dynamics Snap product can also be used to allow users to access CRM data directly out of Microsoft Word. It should be noted, however, that this solution is not supported by Microsoft, and some users that we have supported have had issues implementing and using the Snap add-on. There are several ways to accomplish a mail merge in Microsoft Dynamics CRM:

  • If you are using the Outlook client, you can directly merge data with a Microsoft Word template. Open the contact for whom you wish to send the letter, and select Mail Merge from the Actions menu. This will open Microsoft Word, allow you to select an appropriate document template, and merge the data with the template. You can also perform a mail merge from the list of contacts. In the Outlook client, select the appropriate contacts from the view, and select Mail Merge from the More Actions menu.

  • If you are using the Dynamics CRM Web client, you can export the record (or records) to Microsoft Excel and then use the mail merge functionality in Microsoft Word.

  • You can also purchase a third party add-on solution that supports more advanced integration with Microsoft Word. C360 has a great solution. We have also had several customers like yourself build custom letters in SQL Reporting Services as reports. As you have found, this can be an effective solution if you do not need to make changes to the text of the letter. Most of our customers, however, have opted to leverage the built-in integration with Word in the Outlook client, or a third party add-on solution for the Web product.
  • This was first published in November 2007

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