Avoiding Duplicates with the D365 / CRM Outlook Add-On

Author by Salvatore Montini

When using Outlook with CRM, users often find themselves with many duplicate contact records. These records will sync between CRM and Outlook if they satisfy the sync filter properties. There are a few ways a user can leverage the sync filters to only have the records desired, but planning and standards should be set to ensure data will stay correctly sync’d. By following a few simple rules of thumb, duplicate records can be avoided and make the Outlook sync a better experience for all. 

Rule of Thumb #1: A record will stay in the system it was created if sync is turned off or add-on is uninstalled.
Rule of Thumb #2: Disable/turn off/deactivate ALL sync filters before uninstalling.

Sync Filters:
Out of the box there are filters set for syncing records from Dynamics 365 / CRM to Outlook. With these filters left in the default state, the follow rules can help understand different situations. 
  • Editing in D365 / CRM:  An edit made to a D365 contact will update the Outlook contact the next time D365 and Outlook sync.
  • Editing in Outlook:  An edit made to an Outlook contact will update the D365 contact immediately.
  • Deleting an owned contact in D365 / CRM:  Deleting a contact I own in D365, which has synced to Outlook, will remain in my Outlook.
  • Deleting an Outlook contact: Deleting a contact from Outlook that has been tracked to D365, will remain in D365 but will not sync back to Outlook.
  • Assigning a contact created in D365 / CRM to another user: Assigning a contact created in D365 and that synced to Outlook will remove that contact from Outlook.
  • Assigning a contact created in Outlook to another user:  Assigning a contact created in Outlook that was tracked in D365, will remain in Outlook and changes made in Outlook will change the D365 contact.  Changes in D365 will affect the Outlook contact as well.
Creating Duplicate Contacts:
Before upgrading workstations or uninstalling Outlook, follow these steps in the original Outlook client:
  1. Open the Personal Options settings screen for the CRM plugin
  2. On the Synchronization tab, click Outlook Filters 
  3. Select all the filters, and click Deactivate
  4. Synchronize with CRM, and all synchronized Outlook records will disappear
  5. Set up your new Outlook installation, install the CRM plugin
  6. Follow steps 1-4 again, but confirm the filters are Activated
  7. Now, Outlook is synchronized with CRM with all your expected records, and there will not be duplicates
Duplicate Records come from:
  1. When the CRM for Outlook plugin synchronizes for the first time, it creates synced CRM contacts in Outlook
  2. Outlook is installed on a new workstation or is uninstalled and re-installed on the same workstation 
  3. The new installation of Outlook sees the contact records, but does not know anything about the synchronization, so they turn into normal Outlook contact records
  4. When the CRM for Outlook plugin synchronizes for the first time on the new installation, it creates new synced CRM contacts in Outlook. 
  5. CRM’s Duplicate Detection Rules only apply when synchronizing from Outlook to CRM and not from CRM to Outlook, so it assumes all the contacts are new
  6. Now, Outlook has duplicate contact records for all originally synced CRM contacts: An Outlook copy and a CRM synced copy
What to do if the add-on is already installed:
This is where Rule of Thumb #2 comes in handy. If the Outlook add-on is already uninstalled, it is leaving disconnected contact records in the user's outlook. To avoid duplicating those once the add-on is reinstalled you can delete the contacts out of the Outlook/Exchange account, reinstall the plugin and let them synchronize back down from Dynamics 365 / CRM. This will result in a new set of contacts without duplicates that are connected to the records in D365 / CRM. Be careful when removing these contacts nonetheless, because there might be some personal contacts in the user's Outlook/Exchange that will not come back from a re-sync to D365 / CRM.

In summary, by putting in a little thought before using the D365 / CRM for Outlook add-on can save many hours of headache. When you are unsure about the configuration remember your rules of thumb or refer to this blog.
Author

Salvatore Montini

Systems Engineer

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