E-mail Details of a Custom Entity

I am trying to determine the best way for a CRM user to send the details of a filled out Custom Entity to another person via e-mail.

Here are the key requirements:
- user must be able to send details of the entity (text fields, dates, memo field) as well as some key fields from linked entities (one-to-many Account-to-Custom, many-to-many Contact to Custom) to anyone via e-mail, not just users within CRM or their own domain
- user must be able to send details at time of creation or later on when re-opening note
- prefer that the e-mail is sent via or on behalf of the user who sends so that a Reply to the e-mail will send a response back
- prefer that the user has some way to insert a comment on the e-mail
- prefer that the user can send to multiple recipients
- bonus: user can choose contacts from an Exchange server (guessing that is going to be an expensive / complex piece to develop)

Any thoughts?  I've considered putting a "Mail To" field on the form and using a Workflow or plugin to send the e-mail or possibly constructing an embedded page on the form to handle the work.  Just not sure if that's the most effective way to get this done

Thanks,
Len
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ACTGuruAsked:
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rakeshAgarwalCommented:
have you tried email templates to do the functionality.
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crm_infoCommented:
Hi Len,

You have a long set of requirements, so I'll try to answer how you can accomplish this by breaking your requirments into groups:

* The following requirements can all be met by using standard email templates.  This is an easy-to-implement solution, but it does not include all of your requirements:

- user must be able to send details of the entity (text fields, dates, memo field) via e-mail
- e-mail must be able to be addressed to anyone via e-mail, not just users within CRM or their own domain (user may have to hand-type email addresses that are not users, contacts or leads within CRM, but it can be done)
- user must be able to send details at time of creation or later on when re-opening note (user can send via email template immediately after creating a record, not sure what you mean about when re-opening note)
- prefer that the e-mail is sent via or on behalf of the user who sends so that a Reply to the e-mail will send a response back
- prefer that the user has some way to insert a comment on the e-mail
- prefer that the user can send to multiple recipients (again, can be handled by hand-typing in additional email addresses and/or using the lookup button)

* The following requirements would require special customizations

- user must be able to send details of some key fields from linked entities (one-to-many Account-to-Custom, many-to-many Contact to Custom) - this could be handled via a workflow extension, but not directly within the e-mail merge
- bonus: user can choose contacts from an Exchange server - Would likely require a custom ASPX application to provide an email chooser from Exchange


* One other option that you may want to consider that could meet all of your requirements except for the Exchange Server thing: you could create a custom report that contains all of the information that you need and allow your users to run the report, export it as an attachment, and send it to their targeted recipients.  It's a bit of a manual process, but if you're willing to do the workflow extension required to present related data inside of an email merge, then you'll probably find that it requires about the same amount of work to automate the report process.

Hope some of the above is helpful to you.
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ACTGuruAuthor Commented:
Thanks, that's very helpful.  Sorry for the delay in replying, I've been away for a few days.

If I understand correctly, the first option would allow me to do everything but pick Exchange contacts, so long as I write a workflow to bring in the information from the linked entities.  In other words, write a workflow that whenever that record is updated, go out and copy the desired information from the linked records to a "holding" field so that it can be printed as part of the entity.  Is that correct?  Is that something the built in workflows can do or is this a plugin I'd have to write?

If I did it as a report, is it possible to automate the report process or would the users always have to take the manual steps?

Thanks!
Len
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crm_infoCommented:
I believe your assessment of the first option is correct.  You may not need the workflow, depending on which entities the fields are coming from, you may be able to get all the fields in the template.  Remember that if you want fields from child entities then you will need some kind of a plugin or workflow extension to handle that.

The report option can be automated, but I'm sure you would need to write some code to do it.
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ACTGuruAuthor Commented:
Thanks again - can you be any more specific on the plugin or workflow?  Would I need to use one to copy the fields from the child entities to one or more fields on the main record so that it can be printed on the template?
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crm_infoCommented:
without fully understanding your requirements, what I would envision is a workflow extension that would return all the records from the child entity.  I would call that at the beginning of a workflow.  I would then create the email in the workflow and insert the results of the WF ext into the body of the email.  That way you don't have to store duplicate data anywhere.
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ACTGuruAuthor Commented:
OK - I'm definitely going to have to do some research there to find out more about a workflow extension.  How would the user trigger the workflow to create the e-mail, and would it still open up for them to edit before sending?

Thanks,
Len
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crm_infoCommented:
Check the SDK for some examples of workflow extensions - you may also want to Google it a bit, there are some good ones out there.  Free SDK Download: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=82E632A7-FAF9-41E0-8EC1-A2662AAE9DFB&displaylang=en

Workflows can be triggered by any number of methods.  You'll need to choose the best for your situation.  If these are "user driven" emails that don't necessarily relate to an event (i.e. the creation of a record or changing a field on the record), then you'll probably just want to do an On Demand workflow and train your users to click the Workflow button to get it started.  Otherwise, determine which actions should trigger the email and set the workflow accordingly.
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