Dynamics 365 (CE) out of the box integration with SharePoint or Office Groups? Which one is better? It depends!

Difficult choices, unlike red wine, rarely improve with age. Richard N. Haass

There are plenty of blog posts about configuration of Microsoft Dynamics 365 (CE) with SharePoint or Office Groups, this post will focus on the pros and cons of each approach to help you decide when it’s best to use each option. Choosing the wrong integration can cause loss of time and rework, so it’s important you make the correct decision first time.

SharePoint Online

Integration with Dynamics 365 and SharePoint Online is straightforward, documentation can be found here — How to setup

The out of the box documents grid shown in the image below allows you to

  • create and upload documents
  • create new document location
  • open the location where the documents are stored

Multiple location can help you to achieve more advanced scenarios.

Figure 1 — Documents Grid view in Dynamics 365(CE)

(https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/customer-engagement/admin/media/crm-itpro-crmo365tg-crmadddoc.png)

When you navigate to a location SharePoint will open and you will see a page similar to the one below:

Figure 2 — Documents library in SharePoint Online

(https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/customer-engagement/admin/media/crm-itpro-crmo365tg-teamdocshare.png )

This option has been around for long time now and unfortunately not much has evolved. Key feature/limitation is it uses folders to organise documents in SharePoint.

Office Groups

Office groups allow collaboration across organisations leveraging functionality like Shared workspace for email, conversations, files, and events.

Instructions on how to setup Office Groups integration below

Figure 3 — Office groups in Dynamics 365(CE)

Which solution is best? It depends!

Which key questions should you ask to assess which option is best?

Against how many records do you want to store document? If the answer is more than 500k Office groups is not an option for you

Do you want to collaborate with users that don’t have access to Dynamics 365 (CE)? If the answer is yes Office groups is the right choice, if you can cope with the limitations mentioned before

Do you need to set metadata when uploading the documents? None of the options are good for you and the options are 3rd party, bespoke development or maybe a Power App…

Summary: Both options have limitations but shouldn’t be discarded straight away and their value should be measured against the limitations. The best choice of integration depends on your requirements matched against the limitations of each choice. The same choice won’t be the right choice for every project.

The questions above should help you choose the most appropriate solution.

Note: if you want to explore ways to enhance the SharePoint online integration you may want to have a look to my colleague Satya Kar post — Create folder in SharePoint from Dynamics 365

Picture by Luke Phillips from the Capgemini Microsoft team