Good, Bad and Ugly of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Multi Select Option Sets

In 2017, Microsoft released an update for Dynamics 365 for Sales (previously Dynamics CRM) that brought to life one of the most awaited features: Multi Select Option Sets (MSOS). Hearing about this update still fills me with excitement – at the time, it sounded almost too good to be true. Let me explain: previously, the out-of-box Option Set field type in Dynamics CRM only allowed users to select one option from a pick list. This was restricting, and many times clients had requested that the Option Set field have multi select capabilities. To configure multi select functionality, we would have to create a custom entity just for this field, add all of the options as records, and then utilize lookup fields and sub-grids to display multiple options. Otherwise, we would have to create multiple fields to allow users to pick more than one option. Setting these up took more time than it should and sometimes didn’t always meet our clients’ desires.

Multi Select Option Sets in Dynamics CRM: The Good

MSOS is extremely simple to set up: it is just like setting up the traditional Option Set fields. Once set up, the field works great from a user experience: simply check the checkbox next to the applicable options and the field will then display all selected options on the form separated by semicolons. An added text search feature is also included in the MSOS fields to easily find and select options. Users will also have the ability to “Select All” options and “Clear” selected options with the click of a button.

  • Multi Select Option Set field on a form: users can scroll and select options or search for options by entering text:
  • Selected options are highlighted and added to the area above the field allowing users to quickly remove unwanted options by clicking the “x” next to the option:
  • The selected options will display on the form separated by semicolons:

Multi Select Option Sets in Dynamics CRM: The Bad

After a few weeks of using the Multi Select Option Set field, I began to notice some of the “uglies.” I discovered that the MSOS had limitations when it came down to making customization to a field, including:

  • Business Rules were not available on MSOS fields
  • Workflows were not available on MSOS fields
  • Some JavaScript customizations did not work with MSOS fields as the object model is different than other CRM fields
  • MSOS were not available for plugins
  • Most data migration software did not support the MSOS – any existing MSOS fields did not show up when pulling and mapping to fields for data migration
  • Methods for querying MSOS field values were not provided in the SDK
  • Basically, the Multi Select Option set had limitations that made the previous method for implementing multi select functionality in Dynamics CRM a bit more appealing.

The Future of Dynamics 365 for Sales

Of course, issues are to be expected with new releases of just about any software. The outstanding limitations with the Multi Select Option Set were relayed to Microsoft Support and they ensured that a series of updates would be released in the near future that would resolve these issues.Now, a few months later, a few updates have been implemented that have fixed some of the problems. However, not only does Microsoft need to release updates, but many third party software providers with applications that integrate with Dynamics CRM need to be active in making updates that consider the new Multi Select Option Sets.

MSOS fields are a great new feature of Dynamics 365 for Sales that are easy to use and add significant functionality. Stay tuned for additional releases from Microsoft and third party software providers that will address and fix the remaining issues with the Multi Select Option Set fields.

For more information about Dynamics 365 for Sales and its range of capabilities, contact us.

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