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Options for document locations in Dynamics 365

Many companies make the mistake of storing all Dynamics 365 documents to SharePoint across the board. The idea of "We have to store our Dynamics 365 documents in SharePoint" can lead to acceptance problems in the medium and long term. Besides storing the documents in SharePoint, there are other ways to outsource the D365 documents. In this article, we will show you which document types can occur in Dynamics 365 and where you can store the files from Dynamics 365. 

 

Possible outsourcing of Dynamics 365 documents 

There are three ways to save Dynamics 365 documents:  

  1. Attachments
  2. Storing the files to SharePoint 
  3. Storing the files to Azure Blob Storage 
 

1. Attachments:

Attachments is a standard functionality of Dynamics 365, you can attach documents to any record. The documents are directly linked to the record. They can only be accessed by navigating to the record. Attachments comes with some limitations.

2. Offloading the files to SharePoint:

An advanced feature of Attachments is the Document Management feature of Dynamics 365. By enabling the Document Management feature of D365, documents can be stored in SharePoint through the Dynamics 365 user interface. The standard feature of Dynamics 365 can be set up within a few minutes. There are a few points to consider before you activate the feature. 

3. Offloading the files to Azure Blob Storage: 

Dynamics 365 documents can also be offloaded to Azure Blob Storage on demand. Dynamics 365 does not offer the option to store documents in Azure Blob Storage by default. The outsourcing of documents to Azure Blob Storage must be developed individually for each customer situation. 

 

The Ultimate Microsoft Dynamics 365 & SharePoint Integration Guide 2022

  • 4 reasons why integration is inevitable
  • Why Dynamics 365 is not a good platform for document management
  • Why Microsoft's off-the-shelf solution is detrimental to Dynamics 365 and SharePoint integration
  • Everything you absolutely need to know about Microsoft Dynamics 365 document management

BONUS: Checklist for using the standard Dynamics 365 document management feature.

Download Success-Guide now

Journey of an application manager for document management in Dynamics 365 

Step 1: You discover Dynamics 365 Attachments and try to store the documents as attachments.

Step 2: Identify the challenges in storing the files as attachments  and come up with the idea of enabling SharePoint integration through the Document Management feature. 

Step 3: One finds out that the Document Management feature of Dynamics 365 does not meet most of the requirements and will identify that the standard feature of D365 needs to be enhanced through customization.

Step 4: One finds out that there is no added value in storing all documents blanketly in SharePoint.

Step 5: An attempt is made to categorize the documents and to store only those documents in SharePoint that are created through collaboration in teams. In this way, the goal is achieved. Until you find the right way, you lose a lot of time and energy along the way.

Dokument types in Dynamics 365 

Document types in Dynamics 365 can be considered in two main categories.

  1. How are the documents stored?
  2. How are the documents consumed by the end users?

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Document storage types

Dynamics 365 consists of entities. The entities can be considered like tables of a database. A record is like a row on a database table. You can create/instantiate multiple records for one entity.

For example, to be more specific, you can have an account entity in Dynamics 365 and create a record named "Northwind Traders" for the account entity.

  • Entity: Account 
  • Record: Northwind Traders 

In Dynamics 365, due to the system design, documents can occur in two ways.

  1. Files 
  2. Attachments / Appendices 

The filing of a document in Dynamics 365 is always record-based. This means that documents cannot be stored freely. The documents must always be linked to a record.

Dynamics 365 record screenshot

Attachments / Appendices: The Attachments feature is enabled by default in Dynamics 365. This allows you to attach your files to a record. The functionality of the attachments is limited.

Files: Files (including documents) can only be used in Dynamics by enabling the Document Management feature. While enabling the Document Management feature, you select a document location or SharePoint Site Collection. This will store the documents of a record in SharePoint and display them under a record in Dynamics 365.

 

The Ultimate Microsoft Dynamics 365 & SharePoint Integration Guide 2022

  • 4 reasons why integration is inevitable
  • Why Dynamics 365 is not a good platform for document management
  • Why Microsoft's off-the-shelf solution is detrimental to Dynamics 365 and SharePoint integration
  • Everything you absolutely need to know about Microsoft Dynamics 365 document management

BONUS: Checklist for using the standard Dynamics 365 document management feature.

Download Success-Guide now

Types of document consumption 

Document consumption types come in two forms. 

  1. Active or collaborative documents
  2. Static documents

Active documents: It often happens that a document is elaborated by several parties. E.G.: An individualized quote with high amount needs days / weeks until it can be finalized. In this case it is not sufficient to attach a document to a record. Instead, you need a collaboration platform where you can work on the quote with multiple collaborators. We call such documents "Active Documents", which play a role in the collaboration.

Static documents: Compared to active documents, static documents are the output of active documents. A sales team may be working on a quote. At some point, this quote needs to be converted into a PDF and sent to the customer. The PDF files sent to the customer need to be stored in the system for logging purposes. We refer to such files as "static documents". Static documents include emails and email attachments.

Do all static documents need to be stored in SharePoint?

The short answer is "No". Not all static documents need to be stored in SharePoint.

 Page 14

Based on the quantity structure information, the documents can be stored in Dynamics 365. Another storage option is to outsource the documents to Azure Blob Storage. The decision for the document storage location varies depending on the business case.

The Ultimate Microsoft Dynamics 365 & SharePoint Integration Guide 2022

  • 4 reasons why integration is inevitable
  • Why Dynamics 365 is not a good platform for document management
  • Why Microsoft's off-the-shelf solution is detrimental to Dynamics 365 and SharePoint integration
  • Everything you absolutely need to know about Microsoft Dynamics 365 document management

BONUS: Checklist for using the standard Dynamics 365 document management feature.

Download Success-Guide now

Storage of static documents: comparison Dynamics 365 vs. SharePoints vs. Azure Blob Storage

The decision matrix is designed to help you decide about where to store your static documents.

 

Dynamics 365 

SharePoint 

Azure Blob Storage 

Flat document storage

+++ 

+++ 

+++ 

Hierarchical document storage 

- 

+++ 

+ 

Search

+ 

+++ 

- 

Document permission management for the documents

+ 

+++ 

+ 

Navigation 

+ 

+++ 

- 

Central access to the documents like a DMS solution 

- 

+++ 

- 

Storage costs

- 

++ 

+++ 

Keywording the documents

- 

+++ 

- 

Information security such as sensitivity labels 

- 

+++ 

- 

Our recommendation for storing static documents: 

  • If you want to store a small number of documents, Dynamics 365 can be an option as document storage. 
  • If you want to store many documents, and search and information security are not important critertia for you, Azure Blob Storage can be an option for document storage
  • Otherwise, we recommend that you store the documents in SharePoint.

Is staring active documents in SharePoint your preferred solution? 

Then you have made the right decision. The next step is to consider enabling the Standard Document Management  feature of Dynamics 365. Before you enable the feature, take a look at our article on the challenges of using the standard D365 feature. To extend the standard integration between Dynamics 365 and SharePoint, you can use 3rd party integration solutions to save time and reduce the cost of the integration project.

The Ultimate Microsoft Dynamics 365 & SharePoint Integration Guide 2022

  • 4 reasons why integration is inevitable
  • Why Dynamics 365 is not a good platform for document management
  • Why Microsoft's off-the-shelf solution is detrimental to Dynamics 365 and SharePoint integration
  • Everything you absolutely need to know about Microsoft Dynamics 365 document management

BONUS: Checklist for using the standard Dynamics 365 document management feature.

Download Success-Guide now

Conclusion 

There are a total of three options for document storage in Dynamics 365 (Attachments, SharePoint, Azure Blob Storage). Each option has advantages and disadvantages. Especially the use of attachments should be well considered.

In addition to this, there is a Document Management Journey for a Dynamics 365 application owner that includes many pitfalls before you reach your goal. Try reading the Journey several times to make sure the pitfalls do not affect you.  

Further, blanket storage of files in SharePoint is not always the best idea. For this reason, evaluate the terms "Static Documents" and "Active Documents" for your needs.   

If you've decided to store files in SharePoint by enabling the standard Document Management feature, look at the 12 challenges with Dynamics 365 Document Management.

The Ultimate Microsoft Dynamics 365 & SharePoint Integration Guide 2022

  • 4 reasons why integration is inevitable
  • Why Dynamics 365 is not a good platform for document management
  • Why Microsoft's off-the-shelf solution is detrimental to Dynamics 365 and SharePoint integration
  • Everything you absolutely need to know about Microsoft Dynamics 365 document management

 

BONUS: 

Checklist for using the standard Dynamics 365 document management feature.

Download Success-Guide now
 
Sharepoint-Dynamics-SuccessGuide