Who hasn’t been thankful for the form assistant in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 when doing a demo? You could quickly click on any of the records that showed up to fill in the lookups. After all, it didn’t really matter if you added Jane Doe or John Doe as a contact.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 doesn’t have a form assistant anymore, so now are you doomed to use the lookup dialog? Actually there is a much better way than the form assistant and the Lookup dialog and it’s called MRU (Most Recently Used). It just needs a little bit of preparation. CRM 2011 has this new capability that allows you to select a record directly from the lookup field without ever leaving it. The only prerequisite is that you have added the record to the same lookup type before. Here is it how you do it:
Open any form that has a contact lookup and add a contact let’s say Jane Doe using the Lookup dialog or if you know the spelling let auto-resolve take care of it (just press CTRL+K).
Now open another form with a Contact lookup, for example an Opportunity. In this case the lookup is called Customer, which could actually be either a contact or an account. Start typing the letter “J” notice how the MRU pop up gives you “Jane Doe”. You can now either use the keyboard (DOWN ARROW to select and ENTER to add) or the mouse to add it to the lookup field.
If you don’t care which record you are adding in the lookup field you, CRM 2011 lets you bring up the entire list of your most recently used records in alphabetical order. All you need to do is press ALT+DOWN ARROW in the empty (this is important!) lookup field and in case of the Customer lookup you get a list of recently used contacts and accounts, since both are valid entities for this lookup type.
This is much better than the form assistant especially for lookups like customer, where you had only a list of accounts or a list of contact that the time. It’s also has a much better performance, since the MRU items are stored locally and synced with the server only every 20 min or when a session closed.
Btw, the auto-complete feature is also pretty neat and easy to use. Just type a name or the first letter and press CTRL+K. Then click on the red underlined text in the lookup field. The auto-complete pop up gives you a list of all (not just MRU) matching records. Note that this can take a bit longer to load depending on how many records you have in the system.