Thursday, September 25, 2014

Using Email Templates to Communicate With External Parties

A common requirement for CRM systems is to communicate with non-CRM users as part of a process. In this case, my client’s scenario was regarding Cases where the contribution of a third party was needed. The requirement was to summarize the Case record, attach it to an email and send it off for review and comment by the third party.

The First Thought

My initial thought was an SSRS report. I talked through the solution with the client:

  • We will create the SSRS report for you, summarizing the Case record
  • The user will open the Case and run the report from the record
  • They will then save it to a PDF and attach it to an email
  • Send the email, adding in the recipient

The client was not a fan. There are solutions, such as MyCRM’s ePDF, which would auto-create the pdf but even then the client felt the process was a little awkward.

My Second Attempt

Mulling over the problem for a week, I realised there was a cheaper and simpler approach: email templates. It is quite easy to create an email template summarising the key fields of a record.


The client had renamed Cases to ‘Enquiries’ but you get the idea. I even added a default of ‘Unknown’ on the fields, in case they were blank.

I, again, reviewed the process with the client.

  • Open the Case and add an email
  • Apply the template
  • Remove the customer from the To line and look up the Contact you want to send the record to
  • Send the email

Again, the client was lukewarm. This time it was the replacing of the Customer in the To line which could easily be overlooked. I went back to the drawing board.

Third Time The Charm

Extending the previous solution, I set upon using a Dialog. The dialog could be run from the Case and prompt for the Contact to send the information to. The workflow engine then handled the rest.


In this case the process was:

  • Open the Case
  • Enter additional text in a field called ‘Additional Information For External Reference’ (a multi-line text field on the Case form, which you can see referenced in my screenshot of the email template above)
  • Run the dialog
  • Look up the contact to send the email to
  • Finish the dialog

The client was happy with the process. The text field populated in the second step could be populated by an Update Step in the dialog, rather than on the form, but this was not needed in my case.

Easy to set up, no coding required and very simple to modify in the future if the process needs changing.


Sometimes it takes a client to push back to deliver the best result. So, if you are a user of CRM, do not hesitate to explore the different options with your CRM consultant. There are often a few ways to achieve the same outcome and it is a case of finding the best result for you.

In this case, with a bit of creativity, the final result was cheaper, simpler, more manageable and more intuitive; a win for everyone.

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