I frequently receive questions from clients about the differences between the Outlook Integration with Sage CRM and the Exchange Integration. Essentially, the two methods of synching data between Outlook and CRM actually transfer the same data, but they are accomplished two different ways. Here’s a more in-depth look at both.

Outlook Integration – Synching Handled By the Plugin

The classic Outlook Integration was the first of the 2 methods of integration. In fact, it was released years before Sage implemented the Exchange Integration (the other method to integrate your Outlook). A plugin is installed on your desktop Outlook client that handles 5 different features, 4 of which are managed by settings in the CRM user configuration (in CRM, go to Administration > Users > User Configuration). The 5 features are the following:

  • Sync Outlook Tasks
  • Sync Outlook Appointments
  • Sync Outlook Contacts
  • Sync Outlook Deletions
  • File E-mails into CRM from Outlook

The 5th feature, filing e-mails into CRM from Outlook, is a manual process. Users must manually select which e-mail from Outlook they want to file into CRM. This is to prevent thousands of unwanted Outlook e-mails filed automatically into CRM (i.e., newsletters, personal e-mails, spam, etc.).

If the user is using the classic Outlook Integration, he/she must have Outlook open in order for the synching to take place. This is one of the downfalls of the classic Outlook Integration. Another downfall is that the plugin is now only installed on 32-bit machines. The last downfall is that there are more features that could go wrong with this plugin (i.e., all of the features above) as compared to the Exchange Integration.

Exchange Integration – Synching Handled By the Server

As opposed to the classic Outlook Integration, the Exchange Integration synchs directly from the server level, eliminating the requirement that the user must have Outlook open on their local computer in order for the synch to take place. Based on a setting inside of the administration area of CRM (Administration > E-mail and Documents > Exchange Server Integration (after Exchange Integration has been turned on in Administration > System > System Behavior), you can change the sync interval to a specific number of minutes which will restart the synching mechanism for all users/mailboxes that have been turned on—which is also managed inside of CRM.

Some advantages of using the Exchange Integration include having the auto-synch of tasks, appointments, contacts, and deletions. If your computer is turned off, the integration will still synch up with Outlook calendar. Another advantage is that while installing a plugin on the user’s computer is still required, you a) only need to do this on user’s computers who want to file e-mails in addition to having the tasks, appointments, contacts, and deletions synch, and b) the plugin that does get installed is a much smaller plugin because it does not include the calendar synch (hence easier to manage). So, just to be clear

  • Users can have the Exchange Integration on and synch calendars without having to install the plugin—unless that user wants to file e-mails into CRM.
  • Other users, who don’t want the sync turned on, do not have to have anything installed (this is true of the Classic Integration as well).


One Step Further

Lastly, there is a way to have your e-mails filed without having any plugin installed in Outlook and still be able to sync Outlook calendars in CRM – use the Exchange Integration with Advanced E-mail Manager—another feature in Sage CRM. See my next blog article about that, and feel free to contact me with any questions about this!