Business process flows


Applies To: Dynamics CRM 2015

In Microsoft Dynamics CRM, business process flows use the same underlying technology as other processes, but the capabilities that they provide are very different from other features that use processes.

In This Topic

Why use business process flows?

What can business process flows do?

Multiple entities in business process flows

Multiple business process flows are available per entity

Business process flow considerations

Why use business process flows?

Business process flows provide a guide for people to get work done. They provide a streamlined user experience that leads people through the processes their organization has defined for interactions that need to be advanced to a conclusion of some kind. This user experience can be tailored so that people with different security roles can have an experience that best suites the work they do by using Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Use business process flows to define a set of steps for people to follow to take them to a desired outcome. These steps provide a visual indicator that tells people where they are in the business process. Business process flows reduce the need for training because new users don’t have to focus on which entity they should be using. They can let the process guide them. You can configure business process flows to support common sales methodologies that can help your sales groups achieve better results. For service groups, business process flows can help new staff get up-to-speed more quickly and avoid mistakes that could result in unsatisfied customers.

What can business process flows do?

With business process flows, you define a set of stages and steps that are then displayed in a control at the top of the form.

Example business process flow

Each stage contains a group of steps. Each step represents a field where data can be entered. People advance to the next stage by using the Next Stage button. You can make a step required so that people must enter data for the corresponding field before they can proceed to the next stage. This is commonly called ”stage-gating”.

Business process flows appear relatively simple compared to other types of processes because they do not provide any conditional business logic or automation beyond providing the streamlined experience for data entry and controlling entry into stages. However, when you combine them with other processes and customizations, they can play an important role in saving people time, reducing training costs, and increasing user adoption.

Business process flows integrated with other customizations

When you or your user enters data using business process flows, the data changes are also applied to form fields so that any automation provided by business rules or form scripts can be applied immediately. Steps can be added that set values for fields that are not present in the form and these fields will be added to the Xrm.Page object model used for form scripts. Any workflows that are initiated by changes to fields included in a business process flow will be applied when the data in the form is saved. If the automation is applied by a real-time workflow, the changes will be immediately visible to the user when the data in the form is refreshed after the record is saved.

Although the business process flow control in the form does not provide any direct client-side programmability, changes applied by business rules or form scripts are automatically applied to business process flow controls. If you hide a field in a form, that field will also be hidden in the business process flow control. If you set a value by using business rules or form scripts, that value will be set within the business process flow.

System business process flows

Microsoft Dynamics CRM includes the following business process flows. To understand how business process flows work, review these system business process flows:

  • Lead to Opportunity Sales Process

  • Opportunity Sales Process

  • Phone to Case Process

Multiple entities in business process flows

You can use a business process flow for a single entity or span multiple entities. For example, you may have a process that begins with an opportunity, then continues to a quote, an order, and then an invoice, before finally returning to close the opportunity.

You can design business process flows that tie together the records for up to five different entities into a single process so that people using Microsoft Dynamics CRM can focus on the flow of their process rather than on which entity they are working in. They can more easily navigate between related entity records.

Multiple business process flows are available per entity

Not every user in an organization may follow the same process and different conditions may require that a different process be applied. You can have up to 10 active business process flows per entity to provide appropriate processes for different situations.

Control which business process flow will be applied

You can associate business process flows with security roles so that only people with those security roles can see or use them. You can also set the order of the business process flows so that you can control which business process flow will be set by default. This works in the same way that multiple forms for an entity are defined.

When someone creates a new entity record, the list of available activated business process flows is compared to the business processes flows that the person’s security role will show them. The first activated business process flow in that list is the one that will be applied by default. If more than one active business process flow is available, people can chose Switch Process from the command bar to apply a different process. Whenever someone switches processes, the current process stage will be set to the first stage of the newly applied business process flow.

Each record can have only one business process flow at a time. When any user applies a different process, that process is the one that the next user to view the record will see. If someone’s security roles do not allow them to use a specific business process flow, the current business process flow will be visible, but disabled.

Business process flow considerations

You can define business process flows only for those entities that support them. You also need to be aware of the limits for the number of processes, stages, and steps that can be added.

Entities that can use business process flows

Only entities that use the updated forms can use business process flows. This includes custom entities and the following system entities:

  • Account

  • Appointment

  • Campaign

  • Campaign Activity

  • Campaign Response

  • Competitor

  • Contact

  • Email

  • Entitlement

  • Fax

  • Case

  • Invoice

  • Lead

  • Letter

  • Marketing List

  • Opportunity

  • Phone Call

  • Product

  • Price List Item

  • Quote

  • Recurring Appointment

  • Sales Literature

  • Social Activity

  • Order

  • User

  • Task

  • Team

To enable a custom entity for business process flows, select the Business process flows (fields will be created) check box in the entity definition. Note that you can’t undo this action.


If you navigate to the business process flow stage that contains the Social Activity entity and choose the Next Stage button, you’ll see the Create option. When you choose Create, the Social Activity form loads. However, because Social Activity isn’t valid for Create from the CRM application user interface, you won’t be able to save the form and you’ll see the error message: “Unexpected error.”

Maximum number of processes, stages, and steps

To ensure acceptable performance and the usability of the user interface, there are some limitations you need to be aware of when you plan to use business process flows:

  • There can be no more than 10 activated business process flow processes per entity.

  • Each process can contain no more than 30 stages.

  • Multi-entity processes can contain no more than five entities.

See Also

Configure business process flows
Enhance business process flows with branching
Video: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Business Process Overview
Process Enablement with Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Workflow processes

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