One of the greatest strengths of Dynamics CRM since its version-3.0 days has been the ability for a user to extend the base application by creating custom (or, user-created) entities that hold information not contained in the base tables. But there exists in CRM a special class of entities collectively called activities (including such entities as appointments, phone calls, and tasks) that have unique properties and functionality not available to custom entities—at least until now. That's where CRM 2011 custom activity types come in!
CRM 2011 allows a user to define his/her own activity type. For example, if we want to conceptualize sale transactions as activities, and report, analyze and view them on a par with the out-of-box CRM activities, we can define our new custom entity as an activity type. In 3.0 and 4.0 this would not have been possible (at least in a supported fashion); in CRM 2011 it is quite easy.
When creating the custom entity, such as "Sale Transaction" below, check the boxes labeled "Define as an activity entity" and "Display in Activity Menus", as shown below. Save, publish, and you're done!
Having defined our custom entity, we can now see it in the Activities tab of the Workplace ribbon toolbar under the pull-down list called "Other Activities":
Since we checked the "Display in Activity Menus" checkbox on our custom entity definition screen, Sale Transaction appears in the pull-down list along with the nine standard activity types when we create a new activity:
The Sale Transaction record itself is structured much like the other activity records. For example, you can regard it to other entity types, set an Actual End date, and mark the activity as complete:
Finally, we see that in the list of a contact's completed activities, the sale transactions appear alongside the other activities with this record.
The ability to create custom entities has for years been a powerful feature of Dynamics CRM. By extending this to include the creation of custom activity types, Microsoft has opened up more possibilities for users to tailor our CRM systems to more closely match our business processes: or, in industry-speak, to have the system "work the way we do".
If you find yourself needing help please reach out to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM experts at PowerObjects.