Would you like to get more out of Dynamics 365 search? Sure, you know the basics. Who could argue that ‘Quick Find’ is an invaluable tool for getting to the record(s) you want to work with?
And the same holds true for the ability to enter search criteria into a lookup field. By selecting the appropriate ‘Find’ columns in your ‘Quick Find’ view, you enable your users to search for records based on the contents of one or more columns simultaneously. Very handy way to get more out of Dynamic 365 search. But not always handy enough. I’ve got a couple of suggestions on how to get more bang out of your searches when using Quick Find or a lookup.
Two ‘wild(card)’ and crazy guys will help you get more from Dynamics 365 search
Hopefully you know that you can use ‘wildcards’ when you enter in search criteria. The asterisk (*) can be used as a substitute for one or more characters:
- ABC* will return records where ‘ABC’ is the first 3 characters in the ‘Find’ field(s)
- *ABC will return records where ‘ABC’ is found anywhere in the ‘Find’ field(s)
That’s basic use of the search functionality and gives you the ability to search for one piece of data at a time. But what if you want to search for more than one piece at a time? What if you are trying to search for Products on a Quote, for example, and you need to be able to find an occurrence of data that involves more than one piece of data?
You can do that by using ‘Advanced Find’ or view filters but that won’t help you while you’re in a look up dialog, trying to locate some specific Products. Did you know you can have more than one wildcard at a time in your search criteria?:
- *Shelf*36 will return records where ‘Shelf’ and ‘36’ are both found (in that order) in one or more of the ‘Find’ fields
So, if you are fairly familiar with your data and you know that the Shelf length is always located after the word ‘Shelf’ in the Product Name, for instance, then you can get more specific on your searches. (Another vote for being consistent in your naming and categorization conventions).
That’s an easy trick and that might help you in a number of situations to pare down the results of a look up or a Quick Find – all you need to do is experiment and see where it makes sense based on your data and ‘Find’ columns.
Raising the Stakes
Back to the need to do a look up for a Product on a Quote, many companies find it helpful to categorize their Products into a hierarchy. So, a Product may belong to a ‘Family’ (Autos vs. Trucks), a ‘Class’ (Flatbed vs. Panel Truck) and ‘Line’ (Ford vs. Ram). If you know who the Vendor is for the Product you might want to include that in your search as well.
To do a look up for a fairly narrow group of Products in this Quote scenario, it may be very helpful to be able to search for multiple pieces of data such as “all Products from Vendor A, that are for Ram Flatbed Trucks”. You can do that pretty easily if you’re willing to do a little configuration:
- Determine which existing fields it makes sense to search ‘across’.
- Create a new Text field in Dynamics 365 that is large enough to contain the data in each of the fields from step 1.
- Add the field to your Product form and make it read-only.
- Create a background workflow that automatically populates / updates the Text field with the concatenation of those fields when the Product record is created or any one of those concatenated fields is updated.
- Add the new Text field as a ‘Find’ field in your ‘Quick Find’ view.
Run the workflow in ‘on demand’ mode to update the Text field values – Product might look something like this:
Now, someone who is fairly familiar with the Product hierarchy can ‘construct’ search criteria in a look up that essentially spans multiple fields (Vendor/Family/Class/Line):
- S*shel*freon*3 would return a pretty specific list of products to the look up
Note that the ‘Family’ field above is not the OOB D365 ‘Family’ hierarchy but a custom field.
Taking it a little further, you could add the ‘Family/Class/Line’ field to a Quick View form and insert that onto the Quote Product form so the user gets a visual reminder of the contents and order of the concatenated field to improve their ability to construct future searches.
Something for Everyone
If nothing else, if you didn’t know you could use multiple wildcards in searches, give that a try. For those of you who may have a need to build a search field as above (it doesn’t have to use only hierarchical fields), see if this can help your users get to the data they need faster.
By John Clifton, Application Consultant, Dyn365Pros, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Partner, San Diego, Southern California. Contact us by clicking here.