Mail Merge Templates vs. Word Document Templates

With Dynamics CRM 2016, Microsoft took Document Automation to a new level with the introduction of Document templates which greatly simplifies the document generation process. There are two types of document templates that can now be created, Excel Document Templates and Word Document Templates.

Our focus for this blog would be to compare the Word Document Template and Mail Merge Template and highlight some of the differences.

Setup

Setting up Word Document templates requires knowledge of CRM entity relationships. Specifically, the user will need to have an understanding of 1:N, N:1 and N:N relationships for the selected entity in order to properly select the entities that contain the fields that will appear in the document template.

Setting up a Mail Merge Templates is a simpler process since the related entities will be auto populated in a dropdown menu as the following image shows.

 

Document Creation for Multiple Records

The out-of-box functionality to generate a word document using a Word Document Template is limited to one record at a time. This means that the option to create a word document will be unavailable when the user chooses to generate document for more than one record.

There is an alternate way in which multiple word documents can be generated from a Word Document Template. In this case, the word documents will be generated and attached as a note to the records for which the documents were generated. This will require the creation of a CRM Workflow. Follow this link for details on how to accomplish this: https://community.dynamics.com/crm/b/microsoftdynamicscrmandstuff/archive/2016/04/15/generate-word-documents-for-multiple-records

On the other hand, Mail Merge has the capability to generate a single word document for all the selected records.

 

Adding conditional logic to documents

There are instances in which it is desirable to have conditional fields in your generated document. You could for example show two different texts depending on the value of one of the entity fields in your document.

Although this can be achieved using Word Document Templates, it requires a cumbersome workaround and the values against which conditional logic can be applied can only be numbers. An additional step is also necessary after the template is downloaded and opened, which is selecting all text within the document and pressing F9 for the logic to execute. Follow this link to see how this can be accomplished: http://crmtipoftheday.com/2016/08/24/conditional-values-in-word-templates/

On the other hand, this can be easily achieved with Mail Merge Templates as shown in this link: https://support.clio.com/hc/en-us/articles/204459577-Tutorial-Using-Conditional-Text-in-Document-Automation?clio_migration=1

 

Generation Process

Generating Word Document templates is a very simple process. Once you have a record selected or if you are on the record form, you just select Word Templates from the ribbon and then select the template you want to generate for the given record. This will generate the template and make it available for download.

On the other hand, generating mail merge documents requires a few more steps once the word document is downloaded from CRM. These include enabling data by clicking CRM on the Mailings Menu, confirming the list of recipients, making changes to the document if required and then finishing the merge.

 

Summary

If you are looking for 

  1. A very simple process to generate the document.
  2. Generating 1 document for 1 CRM record always.
  3. An ability to generate document for multiple records and attach them as notes.

The new Document Template has got you covered.

If you are looking for

  1. Generating 1 document for 1 or more CRM records.
  2. To leverage the conditional logic as part of your document generation process.

The Mail Merge functionality will come handy if you can adjust a few more additional steps for every document generation.