Write Workflows to Automate Business Processes

[Applies to: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011]

Business processes are an integral part of any enterprise software application. A business process can be of two types: automated processes that rely solely on communication among applications based on a set of rules, and interactive processes that also rely on people to initiate and run the process, and to make the appropriate decisions during the running of the process.

In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, a process enables you to create and manage your automated and interactive business processes. While the name has been changed to process, the entity that is used to implement a process is still called workflow. A Microsoft Dynamics CRM process provides many out-of-the-box components that business users and administrators can use to model their business processes. Microsoft Dynamics CRM also offers developers a mechanism to extend and customize the standard behavior of processes to achieve the functionality that their business applications require by allowing them to develop custom components.

Processes are built on top of Windows Workflow Foundation 4. For more information, see Windows Workflow Foundation.

A Microsoft Dynamics CRM process is based on the Windows Workflow Foundation programming model. Windows Workflow Foundation provides a runtime engine, a framework, a base library of activities, and default implementations of the runtime services. The Windows Workflow Foundation runtime engine manages process execution, and supports processes that can remain active for extended periods of time. It preserves the state of process execution during computer shutdown and restart.

Using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM SDK, you can do the following:

  • Custom Workflow Activities (all deployments). Create custom workflow activities to extend your workflows by creating an assembly that contains a class derived from one of the Windows Workflow Foundation activities, and then registering the assembly with Microsoft Dynamics CRM to use it as an activity within a process. For more information, see Custom Workflow Activities (Workflow Assemblies) for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

  • Custom XAML Workflows (on-premises deployments only). Create workflows by using the Microsoft Visual Studio workflow designer to visually design workflows without writing code, import the workflow definition (XAML) file into Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and then use the workflow without compiling it. For more information, see Custom XAML Workflows for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.

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