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What's up with the two Microsoft Dynamics CRM Products lists?

What's up with the two Microsoft Dynamics CRM Products lists?

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Have you ever noticed that Microsoft Dynamics CRM has two separate Products lists? One Products list appears in the Sales area, and another appears in Settings. If you’re an administrator, have you ever been frustrated by how many clicks it takes to get to the Products list in the Settings area? There’s actually a good reason why there are two Products lists and why they’re each unique.

Because of the multiple relationships and interdependencies among discount lists, unit groups, price lists, and products, as well as the additional permissions necessary to work with items in the Product Catalog, Microsoft Dynamics CRM was designed with two distinct Products lists. The version in Sales is read-only and enables salespeople to see everything in your organization’s Product Catalog. The version in Settings is intended for administrators to create Product Catalog items. By default, it’s not possible to create products directly from within Sales. Similarly, it is not possible to modify the Products list that appears in Sales so that it includes a way to create products. Of course, this means that it’s several extra clicks to get to the Products list within Settings.

If you’re a system administrator or a system customizer, you might be tempted to customize the SiteMap for your implementation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM so that the Products list in the Product Catalog area of Settings also appears in Sales. If you want to do this, the second Products list has a separate URL: "/tools/ProductCatalog/home_product.aspx?DisableCreate=false". This URL would need to be added to your SiteMap in the Sales area, using the information available in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Client Programming Guide at http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa682912.aspx.

Although this would eliminate several extra clicks for users who have permission to create products, for average users who do not have the necessary permissions, I think this could cause unnecessary confusion (with two similar-looking but functionally different Products lists). Non-administrative users who try to create Product Catalog items without the necessary permissions would also see errors.

If you’re thinking about making things easier for your administrative users by adding the “full-featured” Products page from Settings to the Sales area, I’d suggest carefully considering the implications for your day-to-day users. My personal recommendation is that adding a second Products list to Sales might not be worth the potential confusion among your users. Of course, your mileage may vary.

Andrew Becraft

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