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Managing Security and Information Access

Security Roles and Business Units

As we explained earlier, Microsoft CRM uses a combination of role-based security and object-based security to determine what users can see and do within the deployment. Instead of configuring security for each user one record at a time, you assign security settings and privileges to a security role, and then you assign one or more security roles to a user. Microsoft CRM includes the following 13 predefined security roles:

  1. CEO-Business Manager

    A user who manages the organization at the corporate business level

  2. CSR Manager

    A user who manages customer service activities at the local or team level

  3. Customer Service Representative

    A customer service representative (CSR) at any level

  4. Marketing Manager

    A user who manages marketing activities at the local or team level

  5. Marketing Professional

    A user engaged in marketing activities at any level

  6. Sales Manager

    A user who manages sales activities at the local or team level

  7. Salesperson

    A salesperson at any level

  8. Scheduler

    A user who schedules appointments for services

  9. Schedule Manager

    A user who manages services, required resources, and working hours

  10. System Administrator

    A user who defines and implements the process at any level

  11. System Customizer

    A user who customizes Microsoft CRM records, attributes, relationships, and forms

  12. Vice President of Marketing

    A user who manages marketing activities at the business unit level

  13. Vice President of Sales

    A user who manages the organization at the business unit level

These default security roles include pre-defined rights and privileges typically associated with these roles, allowing you to save time by using them as the starting point for your deployment. You can edit any of the default security roles, except for System Administrator, to fit the needs of your business.

Tip You can also copy the default security roles by clicking Copy Role on the More Actions menu on the grid toolbar. Copying roles and then modifying the copies greatly reduces the setup time required to create new roles.

When you assign multiple security roles to a user, the privileges are combined so that the user can perform the highest-level privilege associated with any of his or her roles. In other words, if you assign two security roles with conflicting security rights, Microsoft CRM grants the user the least-restrictive permission of the two. For example, consider a fictional Vice President of Sales named Connie Watson. Figure 3-5 shows that Connie has two security roles assigned to her: Salesperson and Vice President of Marketing.

Using the Microsoft CRM default security roles, a user with the Salesperson security role cannot create new announcements, but the Vice President of Marketing security role can. Because Microsoft CRM grants the least-restrictive privilege across all of a user's roles, in this example, Connie would be able to create announcements because of her Vice President of Marketing security role.

Important Security roles combine together to grant users all of the privileges for all of their assigned security roles. If one of a user's security roles grants a privilege, that user always possesses that privilege, even if you assign him or her another security role that conflicts with the original privilege.

Security Role Definitions

Before we explain how to modify security roles, let's quickly cover the terminology related to security roles. To view and manage the settings for a security role, browse to Business Unit Settings in the Settings area, and click Security Roles. Then double-click one of the roles listed in the grid. Figure 3-6 shows the Salesperson default security role settings.

The columns in the top table represent entity privileges within Microsoft CRM. Privileges give a user permission to perform an action within Microsoft CRM such as Create, Read, or Write. The bottom table lists additional miscellaneous privileges such as Override Quote Pricing and Override Invoice Pricing. Microsoft CRM divides the privileges of a security role into subsets by creating tabs for the functional areas, such as Marketing, Sales, Service, and so on. Each tab in the security role editor lists different entity privileges and miscellaneous privileges for entities in Microsoft CRM.

The colored circles in the security role settings define the access level for that privilege. Access levels determine how deep or high in the organization business unit hierarchy the user can perform the specified privilege. For example, you could configure access levels for a security role so that a user could delete any record owned by someone in his or her business unit, but only read records owned by a user in a different business unit.

Important The actions that privileges grant to users (such as Create and Delete) do not vary by access level. For example, the Read privilege for the User access level offers the same action (functionality) as the Read privilege with Organization access level. However, the different access levels determine on which records in Microsoft CRM the user can execute the privilege.

Let's explore configuring access levels for a security role in more detail.

Access Levels

As you can see in the key (located at the bottom of Figure 3-6), Microsoft CRM offers five access levels:

  1. None Selected

    Always denies the privilege to the users assigned to the role.

  2. User

    Grants the privilege for records that the user owns, in addition to records explicitly shared with the user and records shared with a team to which the user belongs. We explain sharing records later in this chapter.

  3. Business Unit

    Grants the privilege for records with ownership in the user's business unit.

  4. Parent: Child Business Units

    Grants the privilege for records with ownership in the user's business unit, in addition to records with ownership in a child business unit of the user's business unit.

  5. Organization

    Grants the privilege for all records in the organization, regardless of the business unit hierarchical level to which the object or user belongs.

Note The User, Business Unit, and Parent: Child Business Unit access levels do not apply to some privileges, such as Bulk Edit and Print (found in the Business Management tab under Miscellaneous Privileges), because the concept of user ownership or business units doesn't apply to those privileges. No user or business unit owns Bulk Edit or Print because they're just actions. Therefore, these types of privileges offer only two access levels: None Selected and Organization. In these scenarios, you can think of None Selected as "No" and Organization as "Yes" in regard to whether the user possesses that privilege.

Let's consider an example scenario to illustrate access levels in a real-world context. Figure 3-7 shows five business units, six users, and six Contact records.

We will examine the impact of configuring different access levels for a single privilege (Contact Read) in the context of a fictional user named Gail Erickson. Gail belongs to the Service business unit, which is a child of the Adventure Works Cycle business unit and is also a parent of the Central Region business unit. Each of the Contacts shown is owned by the user record that it is linked to. Table 3-1 shows which Contact records Gail could read for each of the five possible access level configurations.

Table 3-1: Read Privileges for Gail Erickson by Access Level

Read privilege access level for the Contact entity

Bob Gage

Twanna Evans

Cathan Cook

Alice Ciccu

David Jones

Allison Brown















Business Unit







Parent: Child Business Unit














For the Business Unit access level, Microsoft CRM would grant Gail the Read privilege for the Alice Ciccu contact because Ben Burton owns that record and he belongs to the same business unit as Gail. For the Parent: Child Business Unit access level, Microsoft CRM would grant Gail the read privilege for the David Jones and Allison Brown records because the Central Region and Product Team business units are children of the Service business unit that Gail belongs to, and both the David Jones and Allison Brown records are owned by users that belong to these child business units.

As this example illustrates, configuring access levels for a security role requires that you understand and consider the following parameters:

  1. The organization and business unit hierarchy

  2. Record ownership and the business unit to which the record owner belongs

  3. The business unit of the logged-in user

Table 3-2: Privileges Granted Based on Access Level and Record Ownerships

Privilege access level

Record owned by user

Record owned by different user in same business unit

Record owned by user in any child business unit

Record owned by user in any non-child business unit











Business Unit





Parent: Child Business Unit










By now you should have a good understanding of how Microsoft CRM determines whether to grant security privileges to users based on access levels. Now we'll discuss what each of the privileges means and the actions that they allow users to perform in the system.


Privileges define what users can view and do within Microsoft CRM, and you bundle privileges together within a security role definition. Some of the privileges describe actions that users can take against entity records such as delete or create, and other privileges define features in Microsoft CRM such as Mail Merge and Export to Excel. In this section, we will explore:

  1. Entity privileges

  2. Miscellaneous privileges

  3. Privilege impact on application navigation

Entity Privileges

As Figure 3-6 showed, some privileges such as Create, Read, and Write apply to the entities within Microsoft CRM. For each entity type and privilege, you can configure a different access level. The following list describes the actions that each privilege allows:

  1. Create

    Permits the user to add a new record

  2. Read

    Permits the user to view a record

  3. Write

    Permits the user to edit an existing record

  4. Delete

    Permits the user to delete a record

  5. Append

    Permits the user to attach another entity to, or associate another entity with, a parent record

  6. Append To

    Permits the user to attach other entities to, or associate other entities with, the record

  7. Assign

    Permits the user to change a record's owner to a different user

  8. Share

    Permits the user to share a record with another user or team

  9. Enable/Disable

    Permits the user to activate or deactivate records

More Info     Not all of the entity privileges apply to all of the entities in Microsoft CRM. For example, the Share privilege does not apply to any of the entities on the Service Management tab. The Enable/Disable privilege only applies to the Business Unit and User entities.

The Append and Append To actions behave a little differently than the other privileges because you must configure them on two different entities to work correctly. To understand the Append and Append To actions better, consider the analogy of attaching a sticky note to a wall. To configure the sticky note concept using Microsoft CRM security privileges, you would need to assign Append privileges to the sticky note and then configure Append To privileges to the wall. Translating that concept to Microsoft CRM entities, if you want to attach (or append) a Contact to an Account, the user would need Append privileges for the Contact and Append To privileges for the Account record.

Microsoft CRM also allows you to configure entity privileges for any custom entities that you create in your deployment. You can configure all five access levels for each custom entity for all of the entity privileges, except the Enable/Disable action.

Miscellaneous Privileges

In addition to entity privileges, Microsoft CRM includes additional miscellaneous privileges on each tab of the security role editor. The privilege name often provides enough information about what it does, but sometimes the description might leave you guessing. This is especially true for miscellaneous privileges that relate to areas of the application that you might not use often. In the following list, we provide a little more description about what each of the miscellaneous privileges means and, in some cases, where to find the related feature.

  1. Publish E-mail Templates

    Permits the user to make a personal E-mail Template available to the organization. Users can access this feature by browsing to Templates in the Settings section, and opening a personal E-mail Template by double-clicking it. Then they can click Make Template Available to Organization located under the Actions menu.

  2. Override Quote Pricing

    Permits the user to override a quote's calculated price (based on products added to the quote) and manually enter new quote pricing. Users can access the Override Price button when they're editing a Quote Product attached to a Quote.

  3. Override Invoice Pricing

    Permits the user to override an invoice's system-generated price and manually enter new invoice pricing. Users can access the Override Price button when they're editing a Invoice Product attached to an Invoice.

  4. Override Order Pricing

    Permits the user to override an order's system-generated price and manually enter new order pricing. Users can access the Override Price button when they're editing an Order Product attached to an Order.

  5. Publish Articles

    Permits the user to publish unapproved Knowledge Base articles. Users access the Approve (publish) button in the grid toolbar of the Unapproved Article Queue located within the Knowledge Base area.

  6. Assign Role

    Permits the user to add or remove security roles from user records in the Settings section.

  7. Bulk Edit

    Permits the user to edit multiple records at the same time. Users with this privilege can access the feature from an entity's grid toolbar. The bulk edit action does not apply to all entities.

  8. Print

    Permits the user to create a printer-friendly display of a grid. Users with this privilege can access this feature by clicking the Print button on the grid tool bar. You cannot vary this privilege by entity type.

  9. Merge

    Permits the user to merge two records together into a single record. Users with this privilege can access the Merge feature from the grid toolbar.

  10. Go Offline

    Permits a user with the Microsoft CRM laptop client for Outlook installed to work in an offline mode. Working offline creates a local copy of the database on the laptop. Because the user can remove the laptop (with the offline data) from your work premises, the offline option raises a potential security question that you must consider.

  11. CRM Address Book

    Permits a user of the Microsoft CRM clients for Outlook (laptop and desktop) to select CRM records from his or her address book in Outlook.

  12. Update Business Closures

    Permits the user to modify business working hours and closure information. Users access the Business Closures information within the Settings area.

  13. Assign Territory to User

    Permits the user to add or remove users from a sales territory. Users access the Sales Territories information within the Settings area.

  14. Go Mobile

    Permits the user to synchronize Microsoft CRM data with Microsoft Windows Mobile-based devices such as Pocket PCs.

  15. Export to Excel

    Permits the user to export the grid data to Microsoft Office Excel. Users with this privilege access the Export to Excel feature from the grid tool bar.

  16. Mail Merge

    Permits the user to create mailing items such as letters, envelopes, and labels. Users with this privilege can use the Mail Merge feature in the Microsoft CRM client for Outlook (either version) located under the More Actions menu on the grid toolbar for the Lead, Account, and Contact entities.

  17. Sync to Outlook

    Permits a user of either Microsoft CRM client for Outlook to synchronize Microsoft CRM data such as Contacts, Tasks, and Appointments to his or her Outlook file.

  18. Send E-mail as Another User

    Permits the user to select a different user or queue for the From address of an e-mail sent with the Microsoft CRM Send Direct E-mail feature. The Send Direct E-mail button appears on grids only if the user has the following security privileges:

    1. Read and Append privileges on the Activity entity.

    2. Append To privileges for the entity to which the user is sending direct e-mail (such as Contact or Account).

    3. Read privileges on the E-mail Template entity.

  19. Manage Reports

    Permits the user to add, modify, or delete reports.

  20. Search Availability

    Permits the user to search for available times when scheduling a Service activity.

  21. Browse Availability

    Permits the user to view the Service Calendar located in the Service area.

  22. ISV Extensions

    Determines whether Microsoft CRM displays customizations, such as custom menu items and toolbar buttons, from the ISV.config file to the user. Note that this setting applies to all or none of the ISV extensions—you cannot turn on specific ISV extensions by using this setting.

More Info

At the time this book went to press, Microsoft had not yet released the mobile version of Microsoft CRM 3.0 for Pocket PCs and Windows Mobile-based devices. Therefore, we cannot definitively describe how the Go Mobile privilege will behave.

If you're still not sure what a specific privilege does or whether it will do what you want, you can easily test a privilege by enabling it for a security role, saving the role, and then logging on to Microsoft CRM as a user with only that security role. Remember that if your personal account has a System Administrator role, you have organization access level rights for all privileges, so don't log on as a System Administrator to test security privileges. Testing security privileges is a good example of when you might want to impersonate a different user when you log on to Microsoft CRM. We explained earlier in the chapter how you can modify your Internet Explorer security settings so that Microsoft CRM prompts you to enter a user name and password instead of using Integrated Windows authentication.

Note Miscellaneous privileges don't apply to custom entities that you create.

Field-Level Security

You configure privileges and access levels based on entire entity records in Microsoft CRM, not on the individual attributes for each entity. For example, you cannot use security role configurations to specify that users can view a contact's name and phone number but not the social security number or home address. If a user possesses the Read privilege for a Contact record, they can view all of the Contact's attributes displayed on the form.

However, you can take advantage of Microsoft CRM's robust programming model to dynamically hide attributes on a form or disable certain attributes based on the user's security role.

There's one caveat that you should know about when using the form onLoad event to hide attributes on a form: A user could still view the "hidden" data by performing an Advanced Find and adding the hidden column to his or her output result set. Users couldn't edit data with this technique, but they could view all attributes of any entity that they have privileges to read. Users could also potentially view this hidden information by exporting to Excel or running reports that contain this information.

Therefore, using the form onLoad event doesn't really provide true field-level security if you need to hide data from users, but you could restrict users from editing specific attributes on the entity form by using this technique.

Privilege Impact on Application Navigation

Microsoft CRM includes over 100 entities and thousands of features within the Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service areas. However, very few organizations will use all of the entities that Microsoft CRM offers to track and manage their customer data. Consequently, users commonly request to see only the areas of the application that their organization actually uses. For example, if your organization doesn't use the Sales Literature or Invoices entities, your users won't want to see these entities as they navigate through the user interface.

Although it would be technically possible to use the site map to remove some areas of the navigation (Sales Literature and Invoices, in this example), the better solution would be to modify your users' security roles and privileges, which would also change the user interface.

Important You should modify security roles, instead of modifying the site map, to hide areas of Microsoft CRM that your organization does not use. Modifying security roles also allows you to change the display of the entity navigation pane, which is an area of the user interface that you cannot edit by using the site map. Chapter 6, "Relationships and Custom Entities," explains the site map in more detail and discusses when you should modify it.

If you modify a security role and set the access level of the Read privilege for an entity to None Selected, Microsoft CRM automatically removes that entity from the user interface for users with that security role, including the menu bar, the application navigation pane, and the entity record. Most of the thirteen default security roles include an Organization access level for the Read privilege on all of the entities, so the users will see all of the entities in the application navigation. Therefore, we recommend that you change the Read privilege access level to None Selected for any entity that you're not using in your deployment. By doing so, you'll create a streamlined user interface that will help new users learn the system more quickly and let existing users navigate more efficiently.

Tip To see the updated application navigation after you modify a security role, you might have to refresh your Web browser window or restart Outlook.

Figure 3-8 shows the Account record for a user with the default Customer Service Representative security role assigned. Because that role includes the Read privilege for most of the entities, the user can see all of the links in the entity navigation pane, such as Quotes, Orders, Invoices, Marketing Lists, and Campaigns.

In reality, most customer service representatives don't need to see all of this information on an Account record. Instead, let's assume that you want your customer service representatives to see only the information shown in the Details and Service groups. By modifying their security roles and setting the Read privilege to None Selected for the entities that you want to hide, the revised Account form might appear like the one shown in Figure 3-9.

This provides a much cleaner user interface that your users will appreciate. Likewise, you could also revise the Salesperson security roles so that salespeople see only entities that they need to perform their jobs.

Security Role Inheritance

If your deployment includes multiple business units, you should understand how Microsoft CRM inherits security roles within the business unit hierarchy. When you create a new security role in a business unit, Microsoft CRM creates an instance (copy) of that security role for every business unit that is a child of the business unit for which you created the new security role. If you try to edit the security role in one of the child business units, you will see a warning message stating, "Inherited roles cannot be modified or updated." You can edit only the parent security role, and then Microsoft CRM automatically copies your changes to all of the security roles in the child business units. Consider the organization hierarchy of the sample organization Adventure Works Cycle, as shown in Figure 3-10.

If you create a new security role called Director assigned to the Customer Care business unit, Microsoft CRM automatically creates non-editable copies of the Director security role in the Customer Support and OEM Support business units because they're children of the Customer Care business unit. Any changes you make to the Directory security role are automatically propagated to all of the Director security roles in the child business units. If you viewed the security roles for one of the other business units, such as Service or OEM, you would not see the Director security role listed, because the Service and OEM business units are not children of the Customer Care business unit.

Tip When you a create a new security role, Microsoft CRM assigns the security role to the root business unit by default, so make sure that you remember to change the role's business unit by using the business unit look up if you want to create a role in a non-root business unit.

Every user belongs to only one business unit, and you can only assign users security roles from the business unit to which they belong. Therefore, in this example, you could not assign the Director security role to users who belong to any business unit other than Customer Care, Customer Support, and OEM Support. You can view all of the security roles for a single business unit by using the business unit view filter drop-down list to select a specific business unit.

Because Microsoft CRM inherits security roles to children business units, you cannot vary the privileges of a security role to be different for each business unit. However, you can create a varying number of security roles for each business unit within your deployment. The ability to create unique security roles for each business unit gives you great flexibility to create and configure security roles to meet your organization's needs.

Sharing Records

Despite the numerous security options and configuration choices we've already discussed, you will probably encounter scenarios in which users need to share and collaborate on records that the business unit hierarchy does not support. Consider a fictional company called Coho Vineyard & Winery (the root business unit) with two children business units named Vineyard and Winery. Coho Vineyard & Winery CEO Laura Owen (user assigned to root business unit) owns the Woodgrove Bank account. However, the security roles for Gretchen Rivas (assigned to Vineyard business unit) and Heidi Steen (assigned to Winery business unit) do not have the Write privilege for the Account entity. The CEO decides that she wants Gretchen and Heidi to work on a special project related to Woodgrove Bank for which they will need to edit the record. However, Laura doesn't want them to edit any other Account records that she owns other than Woodgrove Bank. This type of security configuration would not be possible with the security configurations we've covered so far. If Laura gave Gretchen and Heidi privileges to edit Account records for the Organization, they would be able to edit any Account, not just the Woodgrove Bank record. Fortunately, Microsoft CRM allows users to share records to accommodate exactly this type of collaboration scenario. Sharing records allows a user to grant privileges for a specific record so that other users can work with the shared record, even though they would not normally have the necessary privileges to do so.

To share records, users must have a security role with the appropriate Share privilege. To set up a share like the Woodgrove Bank example, open the entity record and click Sharing… on the Actions menu of the entity menu bar. On the Share dialog page, select the users that you want to share this record with by clicking Add User/Team. Use the Lookup tool to find the records that you want, and then click OK. Microsoft CRM adds the users to the page, as shown in Figure 3-11.

Next, specify which privileges you want to share with these users. In the Woodgrove Bank example, Laura Owen would select the Read and Write privileges so that Gretchen and Heidi could edit this record. Note that the Delete and Assign privilege check boxes are disabled because Laura doesn't have those privileges for this record, and therefore cannot share them with any other user.

More Info Users can't share a privilege if they do not posses the privilege themselves. For example, a user could not share Delete privileges for a record if he or she did not have the Delete privilege for that record.

With this share in place, Gretchen and Heidi can now read and write just the Woodgrove Bank Account record. Of course, you can revoke a share at any time by simply opening the record and clearing the check boxes for the privileges that you want to revoke.


In our Coho Vineyard & Winery example, it was easy to set up the share because we needed to select only two users. But what if Laura wanted to share the Woodgrove Bank record with 100 users? What if she wanted to share five different records with those same 100 users? It would be a pretty miserable and time-consuming process to manually share records one user at a time in these examples. Fortunately, Microsoft CRM allows you to set up and configure teams of users to expedite the sharing process. By sharing a record with a team instead of individual users, you do not have to manually select user records for each share that you create. Rather, you simply select the team that you want to share with, and all of the users in that team will participate in the share.

You can create and modify teams by browsing to Business Unit Settings in the Settings area and clicking Teams. When you create a team, you specify the Business Unit to which the team belongs, and then you simply add members to the team.

Important Although you assign a team to a business unit, you can add any user in the organization to a team, regardless of his or her business unit. You cannot change a team's business unit once it is created.

If you use a large number of teams, you can configure the security settings so that users only see a subset of all of the teams. To do this, configure the Team entity privilege within a user's security role with an access level appropriate for each team's business unit. For example, if you create a team that belongs to the root business unit but you only grant a security role with a User access level for the team privilege, users with that security role won't see that root business unit team in the user interface unless they personally created that team. This type of configuration allows you to restrict the teams that each user is allowed to view (and share records with) in case you want to hide specific teams (such as executive or financial teams).

Caution Once you create a team, you cannot delete it or disable it. If you no longer want to use a team, all you can do is remove all of its members. Therefore, you should use some discretion when creating teams, or you might end up with a bunch of abandoned teams with no members.

You might wonder if it's possible to have a team own a record, instead of just sharing a record with a team. Unfortunately, you cannot set a team as the owner of a record such as a Lead, Account, or Contact.

Sharing and Inheritance When you share a record with a team or user, child entities of the shared record can inherit the same sharing settings as the parent record. In the Woodgrove Bank example, Gretchen and Heidi could edit the Account record and its related entities, such as Tasks, Phone Calls, and Notes, because they inherit the same share as their parent record.

More Info For shared records (directly shared or inherited), users receive only the shared privileges for the entity if they have at least a User access level for that entity. For example, if Heidi had an Access Level of None Selected for the Activity entity, she would not be able to view activities related to Woodgrove Bank even if someone shared Read privileges with her for that Account record. Likewise, she would need to have at least a User access level for the Account entity to view the Woodgrove Bank account record after Laura shared it with her.

You can configure how Microsoft CRM shares related records by editing the relationship behavior between two entities. For example, you might want Microsoft CRM to inherit sharing with related entities such as Tasks, but not with a different related entity such as Activities.

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