What are "Subjects" in CRM, and how do I use them?

I sometimes get questions from clients and partners, and find that the answers would be helpful to a broader CRM audience. Today I received a question about the Subject field on the Sales Literature entity in CRM. Here's the quick rundown I gave on how to make use of Subjects:

Subjects in CRM are a useful way to organize a variety of records, and to provide some ability to tie them together. As you may have found, Sales Literature is categorized by subject, as are KB articles, service cases, and some other items. Subjects are added in the Settings area of CRM, and are created in a hierarchy, a “subject tree.”

In the CRM web client, go to Settings > Subjects. It’s pretty straightforward to add and edit subjects. You will want to give some thought to your subject hierarchy, however. A typical approach would be to build your subject tree by product or service offering. So you might end up with something like this:

+Exchange Server
+From Other Mail App
+Router Installation

(I’m sure you get the idea…)

While you can set Subjects as not required, it will help to use this field if you plan on having a lot of literature and KB articles in CRM down the road. To set the Subject field as “not required” on the Sales Literature form, go to Settings > Customization and open the Sales Literature entity. Click on Attributes and double-click the “Subject” attribute (subjectid). From the Requirement Level dropdown, select “No Constraint”, save and close the attribute, and then, back on the Sales Literature entity form, choose Actions > Publish to make the change live.


Anonymous said...

Good write on this obscure crm concept.

Pius said...

Hi Matt

Two questions concerning „subjects“:

1 > Mostly for a record is more than one subject correct. E.g.: In your blog, you can assign a report to more than one keyword/category. Feasible in MSCRM with „subjects“?

2 > If you make a Advanced Find of a „product“ with the filter criteria „subject“, it would be useful, that all records will be displayed who are assigned to this „subject“ AND also to the underlying „subject“. Actually, in MSCRM you can only assign one subject to a entity. So, the system will find only the records which are exactly assigned to this „subject“ but not also the records in the underlaying „subjects“. Is it possible to customize that?

Matt Wittemann said...

1) As with most items that are available via lookups in CRM 3.0, you can only assign one subject to articles, cases, etc.

2) You can use Advanced Find to look up a product, for example, where the Related subject's Parent Subject Equals your desired top-level subject. So do an Advanced Find on products. Scroll past the product attributes in the first line of your query, and at the bottom will be related items. Choose related Subjects, then set the Parent Subject to your parameter.

Anonymous said...

Great post, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to select more than one subject tree in a single case?

Matt Wittemann said...

Out of the box, it's not possible to select more than one subject, and there's no easy way to create a relationship to them (like 1:N, cases:subjects). To accomplish this would probably require some custom code.

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