Skip to Content

Some SAP users love the CRM WebClient user interface, while others… well, don’t love it quite as much. The WebClient is a wonderful tool for CRM power users who work in the system all day, and who need the full breadth of CRM functionality to complete complex tasks. However, for occasional and light users, like sales reps who spend most of their time selling and only use the CRM system to retrieve and update customer information, the WebClient can be overkill.

That’s why SAP has come out with a number of alternatives for occasional and light users who need to access CRM functionality. For example, in 2013 SAP unveiled the Fiori UX, SAP’s next-generation HTML5 user interface that is optimized to run on mobile devices, but which can run on any device including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. You can read my blog about Fiori for CRM here. Similarly, earlier this year in 2014, SAP also came out with Desktop Connection for SAP CRM, which allows users to access CRM functionality directly from office productivity suite tools such as Microsoft Outlook and IBM (Lotus) Notes.

What is Desktop Connection for SAP CRM?

Desktop Connection for SAP CRM is a new offering from SAP that allows you to manage CRM accounts, contacts, emails, tasks, appointments, leads and opportunities from Microsoft Outlook or IBM (Lotus) Notes. Desktop Connection enables users to organize their daily activities and see important CRM data in a familiar application without the need to use the SAP CRM WebClient.

Desktop Connection consists of an add-in for Outlook or Notes that uses oData services to keep data in synch between Outlook or Notes and SAP CRM. Because CRM data is physically downloaded to the user’s Outlook or Notes installation, Desktop Connection can be used both online and offline (although some features are only available online).

Who is iCRM? Is Desktop Connection an SAP solution, or a partner solution?

SAP teamed up with a company named InvisibleCRM (iCRM) to co-develop Desktop Connection for SAP CRM. iCRM is a established company with proven experience in integration enterprise applications with office productivity software. While the solution leverages the InvisibleCRM Synch Platform, it is an SAP solution, offered and maintained solely by SAP.

Does Desktop Connection replace CRM Groupware?

Desktop Connection for SAP CRM is not necessarily designed to replace the SAP CRM Groupware offering. If a customer is already using SAP Client-Based Groupware or SAP Server-Based Groupware, and they are happy with the solution, then they should continue using it. On the other hand, if a customer is having issues with Groupware, particularly with Client-Based Groupware, then they could consider whether Desktop Connection might be a suitable replacement. Customers using Server-Side Groupware could of course also consider migrating to Desktop Connection, but doing so would obviously necessitate moving from a server-side solution to a client-side solution, which introduces provisioning issues.

Of course, if a customer hasn’t implemented any Groupware solution yet, then they should definitely consider Desktop Connection first, as it delivers additional features and capabilities beyond what is provided by either the Client-Based or Server-Based Groupware offerings. For example, Desktop Connection also includes email synchronization capabilities. In addition, the Enterprise Edition of Desktop Connection also supports synchronization of additional CRM business objects such as Leads and Opportunities.

What’s the difference between the Professional Edition and the Enterprise Edition?

The Professional Edition of Desktop Connection for SAP CRM, which was introduced in Q1 of 2014, is included free of charge with a customer’s existing CRM license. The Professional Edition provides support for accounts, contacts, emails, tasks, and appointments.

The Enterprise Edition, which was introduced in Q4 of 2014, contains enhanced capabilities and requires an additional software license. The Enterprise Edition contains all of the capabilities of the Professional Edition, plus some additional features. Perhaps most notably, the Enterprise Edition also supports synchronization of Leads and Opportunities. The Enterprise Edition can also be extended to by customers on a project basis to support additional CRM business objects (Sales Quotations, Sales Orders, Complaints, etc.). Finally, the Enterprise Edition also supports many-to-one relationships between contact persons and accounts, multiple text types, and recurring appointments.

Can Desktop Connection be used offline?

Yes, Desktop Connection can be offline for many scenarios. For example, most objects like contact, accounts, leads and opportunities can be edited offline and then synched up later with the backend CRM server when the user is online. However, some features do require the user to have an online connection. For example, to search for and link an existing CRM Service Order to a new appointment, the user would need to be online in order to connect to the CRM server to search against the Service Orders (as Service Orders are not synchronized with the users Outlook/Notes installation).

What versions of Microsoft Outlook and IBM Notes are supported? Is Office365 supported?

SAP Desktop Connection is compatible with Microsoft Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013 and IBM Notes 8.5 and 9.0. Regarding Microsoft Office 365… Office 365 has two deployment options either using the web access or a locally installed client. Desktop Connection is only compatible with the locally installed Outlook client; Desktop Connection is not compatible with an Exchange 365 server scenario using the Outlook web app. Desktop Connection in conjunction with OutlookWeb Access (OWA), meaning accessing Outlook features with a simple URL, is not supported.

Are there performance issues with downloading all of this CRM data?

SAP provides oData services that allow Desktop Connection to access and update CRM data via periodic synchronization, ensuring changes are synchronized correctly. The initial download is the most data-intensive. After the initial download, Desktop Connection only performs incremental delta downloads, so performance is not generally an issue.

In addition, Desktop Connection provides various options for reducing the size of the initial download. For example, rather than downloading all accounts in the CRM system, Desktop Connection only downloads the accounts that each individual sales rep is responsible for. This can be achieved through a variety of configurable options including using the HR Org Model assignment, territory management, employee responsible partner function, or even via custom logic in a BADI.

How much does it cost? Does it require an additional license?

The basic Professional Edition of Desktop Connection is included free of charge in the customer’s existing CRM license.

The enhanced Enterprise Edition, which contains additional features and capabilities, must be licensed separately. Please contact your account representative for local pricing info.

How to install Desktop Connection?

An Administrator’s Guide for Desktop Connection is available to help walk you through the deployment and installation process. In addition, after the installation is finished, a First-Run Assistant is available to guide you through the basic settings, customization package retrieval, and initial synchronization.

Where to find more info?

You can find several presentations about Desktop Connection for SAP CRM:

Follow me on my blog at http://scn.sap.com/people/john.burton/blog

To report this post you need to login first.

24 Comments

You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.

  1. Fabian Kaiser

    I did not read anything regarding Lotus Notes support in the specification overview only for MS Outlook.

    Do you know if and when there will be a Lotus Notes support?

    (0) 
    1. John Burton Post author

      Hello Fabian,

      I believe that IBM (Lotus) Notes integration is planned for Q1 2015. Let me see if I can get a more exact date for you. I’ll update this comment here when I have more info. Thanks.

      Regards,

      John

      (0) 
  2. Glenn Michaels

    Hi John,

           Nice blog, appreciate you adding the video’s that helps a lot.  Certainly going to make us evaluate this tool to our current Groupware solution.

           Since the video’s mentioned SSO, does this product support SAML?  as groupware only supports X509 certificates & we pretty much use SAML across the board.

    Regards,

    Glenn

    (0) 
    1. John Burton Post author

      Thanks Glenn! You can also have a look at the PowerPoint presentation and some click-through demos on the SAP Service Marketplace in the EHP3 area. There are separate tracks for both the Professional Edition 2.0 and the new Enterprise Edition of Desktop Connection.

      And yes, both SAML and X509 single-sign on (SSO) certificates are supported as mentioned in the presentations available on the SAP Service Marketplace.

      ~ John

      (0) 
  3. Balaji Sridharan

    Hi John,

    We installed the desktop connect professional edition and integrated MS outlook and CRM business activity.

    Our goal is to trigger an outlook meeting request (not an outlook appointment).

    We tried to configure this by creating a CRM business activity and syncing with outlook but does not seem to work.

    We are able to create an outlook appointment but not a meeting request.

    What we envision is the business activity needs to trigger a accept/reject/ reschedule meeting request functionality. Only when the user accepts the meeting request it should sync the outlook calendar / SAP calendar.

    Is this functionality available out-of-box or does it need enhancements to the interface ?

    Regards,

    S.Balaji

    (0) 
    1. John Burton Post author

      Hello Balaji,

      Actually, the use case for Desktop Connection is that users should work in Outlook (rather than CRM). So, for example, if a user creates a meeting request in Outlook for several people and then shares the appointment with SAP CRM, an appointment will be created in CRM with all the invitees listed as involved parties. Unfortunately the solution was not designed for the scenario you describe, which is to create the appointment in CRM and then have it generate a meeting request in Outlook. I hope this helps clarify.

      Warm regards,
      John

      (0) 
    1. John Burton Post author

      Hi Fabien,

      It might be that some customers have integrated MS Office 365 with Server-Side Groupware and/or with CRM Interaction Center and ERMS.

      However, Desktop Connection uses a C# add-in that must be installed on top of a Microsoft Office client. So while this client could also work with an Exchange Server in the cloud (via Office 365), it definitely will not work with a cloud-based web apps; rather the user needs to have Outlook installed on their laptop.

      I hope this helps.

      Regards,

      John

      (0) 
      1. Glenn Michaels

        Hi John,

             Your response me think, if we are using the desktop groupware integration (not the server side), wouldn’t we have the same issue if we had plans to move to MS Office 365 as there would be no Outlook installed on the laptop?  or am I overthinking this.

        Regards,

        Glenn

        (0) 
  4. Krishnendu Laha

    Hello John,

    This is an interesting blog as we are looking for such kind of solution for CRM Sales Order online and offline capabilities, my questions are:

    1. with Enterprise addition ‘extra project’ we can synchronize Sales Order in Outlook, does this extra project goes through a plug-in (OData)? and extra license cost is also involved as top-up?

    2. Is Sales Order creation in Outlook also support pricing which we have in place in System using IPC and BRF+?

    3. Is it going to support all functionality in offline also or limited?

    Could you please answer these questions? Thanks a lot in advance.

    Regards,

    Krish

    (0) 
    1. John Burton Post author

      Hi Krish,

      To be honest, I’m not sure that Desktop Connection would be the best approach for your use case. Desktop Connection is ideal for scenarios like viewing, editing or creatings leads and opportunities. It could probably also be extended to support very simple sales order scenarios. But if you have lots of complex functionality and user exits for complex pricing, configurable products, availability checks, org determination, partner determination, and so, I would not recommend this approach. Probably you would be better suited looking at SAP Fiori UX or another approach.

      Warm regards,

      John

      (0) 
  5. Pratik Gandhi

    Hi John,

    Blog is really very informative.

    I had a question:

    Say client has already set up Email Integration feature of Groupware client based Integration, i.e. Emails from Outlook are seen in “Email Inbox” work centre.

    Can Desktop connection work with Groupware’s Email integration?

    Thanks a lot in advance.

    Regards,

    Pratik

    (0) 
    1. Krishnendu Laha

      Hello Pratik,

      in my view it should work, but as writer of this Blog John can emphasize.

      Desktop connection kind of replacing our old Groupware solution and it is proposed by SAP to customer also.

      Thanks,

      Krish

      (0) 
    2. Glenn Michaels

      Hello Pratik,

         the email inbox does not require groupware installation. That feature is available whether or not desktop or system groupware is installed.

      Regards,

      Glenn

      (0) 
    3. John Burton Post author

      Hi Patrick,

      Elaborating on the answers from Glenn and Krish, Desktop Connection works differently from the way Groupware works. With Desktop Connection the emails are transferred directly to CRM, so the email inbox is not required anymore. So no, you can’t really blend the two solutions in the way you describe. I hope this helps.

      Warm regards,

      John

      (0) 
      1. Pratik Gandhi

        Thank you Krish, Glenn and John for the reply.

        @John, Email Inbox is needed along with Desktop connection as requirement is to transfer the email from CRM Web UI into CRM.

        Thanks & Regards,

        Pratik

        (0) 
  6. Jatin Malhotra

    @John,

    ——————

    This Blog post is from Nov,2014 and in this blog it clearly says that, Desktop Connection is not compatible with Office 365 via Web Access. I would sincerely appreciate a positive answer for the below mentioned questions.

    1.) Will Desktop Connection will be supporting Office 365(2016), via Web Access ? If Yes, then when this will be available?

    2.) Will a Connection to Office 365(2016) can also be established via Ipads? If Yes, then using what?

    3.) To connect to Office 365(2016) via Web Access, s it necessary to have SAP HCI connection? Else, if we have SAP PI in place, then it is also fine?

    Cheers,

    Jatin

    (0) 
    1. John Burton Post author

      Hello Jatin,

      The Desktop Connection solution leverages a C# .Net application that needs to be phsically installed on top of a physical Microsoft Outlook (or IBM Note) installation. For this reason the solution does not work with Office 365 cloud-based Outlook web apps. We don’t forsee this changing unfortunately.

      Regards,

      John

      (0) 
  7. Daniel Beckemeier

    Hello John,

    first of all thank you for your blog entry and for the video.

    We are facing the problem, that our old groupware add-in won’t be supported in MS Office ’16 and so we have to search for an alternative. I think in general ‘Desktop Connection’ is a great approach for us.

    Do you know if there are customers, which are using this ‘Desktop Connection’ in a Citrix-Environment which provides Access to both Outlook and SAP CRM, or if there are any known problems with that?

    I think in 2014 it was only possible to use ‘Desktop Connection’ in Citrix Environments with ‘Published Desktop’-Publishing and not with ‘Shared-Application’-Publishing. Maybe that has changed in the last years?

    Would be great to hear from you!

    Regards,

    Daniel

     

    (0) 
  8. Swati Behl

    Hello,

    Thanks for nice blog!

    I need to understand is it possible to move from the professional edition for Desktop connection for CRM to enterprise edition and buy a license for it ?

    Is there any restricitions on this ?

    Thanks in advance !

    ~Swati

    (0) 

Leave a Reply