10/6/09 Update: A new post with a quick fix is at Quick Fix for Microsoft CRM Leads Notes Tab Notes and Attachments not Converting
Here’s more detail on the situation. You create a Lead record in Microsoft Dynamics CRM and add text and/or attachments to the Notes tab. At some point you then click the “Covert Lead” icon. In the dialog window that opens you choose one or more of the options to create an Account, Contact, or Opportunity. When you view the converted Account, Contact, or Opportunity records and click on the Notes tab there’s nothing there. It looks like anything that was originally in the Lead Notes tab was lost.
So was everything lost? No, it wasn’t lost but it wasn’t moved over either. When converting a Lead stuff in the Notes tab doesn’t get transferred. If you change the Leads View to “Closed Leads” the Lead record and information are still there. If you open a converted Account or Contact and look on the Administration tab there’s a field called Originating Lead which links to the original Lead record.
So is this a configuration problem or technical bug or something? No, to the best of my knowledge it was designed this way and is how it works in all versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM including version 4.0. However, this “feature” only applies to the Notes tab for the Leads entity when converting the Lead. If you create a new Account, Contact, or other entity and add stuff to the Notes tab it keeps the data.
So what can be done about this?
There’s a simple solution with a short answer but I think it’s worth looking at a few related issues first. When I work with companies who’ve previously deployed Microsoft Dynamics CRM and this Leads Notes tab situation comes up I almost always also find that:
- Users are not using the Notes tab correctly as a whole: According to Microsoft’s official training material the Notes tab is intended for general information such as a company overview for Accounts (i.e. Company was founded in 1800 and…) or a bio for Contacts (i.e. Contact attended Harvard and…). But a lot of people are using Notes for entering history such as phone conversations which is not what it’s designed for. Phone conversations and other time-based communications belong in History.
- Users are not using CRM consistently: Meaning, some people are using Notes for recording phone conversations, some are using History, or some really aren’t using CRM much or at all. This user inconsistency causes quite a few problems including poor data integrity, inaccurate Activities Reports, and problems with users not being able to find the right information to help customers.
- No implementation methodology: The one thing these companies all had in common was they didn’t use any CRM methodology for the initial implementation and/or didn’t get assistance from anyone who had Microsoft Dynamics CRM expertise.
While the above points don’t change the Leads/Notes functionality in CRM they highlight an important point. Why wasn’t this issue discussed early on during the implementation Analysis and Training steps so it didn’t become a problem later? Because there were no Analysis and Training steps. There was no implementation methodology and no guidance from someone familiar with the product. They had a company employee install the Dynamics CRM software and told users to start using it. This employee wasn’t aware of the situation. And they shouldn’t be expected to because it’s not their area of expertise.
Okay, so back to what to do now. What are some options?
There are several options for addressing the issue, such as custom development or using the built-in tools, but they all have some sort of constraint or limitation that usually makes them unfeasible. As an example, you normally would just use the built-in tools to delete a Tab but the Notes field is locked. You can move the Notes field but not remove or change it.
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If you’re having some of the other problems I mentioned, such as inconsistent usage or inaccurate report data, this may indicate greater underlying issues that won’t be corrected by making small fixes like hiding stuff. It may be time to re-evaluate your implementation.