Multi-Select Option Sets in Dynamics 365 (CRM)

Multi-select option sets in Dynamics 365 CRM can streamline data entry. They allow users to select multiple values for any data that can be captured within an option set.

Creating multi-select option sets is just as easy as creating standard option sets. In this article, I’ll explain how to create them, what they’re good for, and what their limitations are.

Note: There are now 5 different Dynamics 365 apps that serve various CRM needs. In some contexts, you may also see those products referred to as “Customer Engagement” or “CE” apps. Multi-select option sets work the same no matter which of those apps you’re using.

What Are Multi-Select Option Sets Good For?

Multi-select option sets simplify data entry and reporting for certain kinds of data.

Before this functionality was added natively to Dynamics 365, many companies used custom JavaScript on the form. That’s no longer necessary.

For an example, imagine you want to track hobbies for contacts. Previously, without using anything other than standard configuration, you may have had to enter this type of information as a long series of multiple two-option option sets (Yes/No).

Staying with our hobbies example, you would have had to include a separate option set for each possible hobby a contact could have: Bicycling, Motorcycling, Skiing, etc. As this list of hobbies expands, the number of Yes/No fields would become very cumbersome for data entry and reporting.

The multi-select option set solves this problem.

How to Create a Multi-Select Option Set

If you can create fields in your CRM, you likely have the permissions to create option sets. If not, check with your system admin.

  1. Open the solution you would like the new multi-select option set to be a part of.
  2. Expand the entity to add the field to, select ‘Fields’, and ‘New’.
  3. Define the field how you normally would, but make sure to set the Data Type to ‘MultiSelect Option Set.’ Once that is defined, create the values as you would for any option set.
  4. Decide whether or not to use a Global Option Set. These are useful if you are going to apply this option set across multiple entities (contacts, accounts, etc.)
  5. Then save and close.Multi-Select Option Set in Dynamics 365
  6. Add the field to your entity form(s), and publish the customizations.

Now, when working with the multi-select option set, you will be able to select multiple values from that option set. No more clicking on multiple Yes/No fields!

Multi-Select Option Set Values

Limitations of Multi-Select Option Sets

While multi-select option sets do streamline data entry, there are several limitations on them.

  1. Processes/Workflows: Multi-select options sets can be used as trigger events for processes/workflows, but they cannot be updated within the process/workflow logic, nor can they be used in a conditional statement to perform some other branching logic condition.
  2. Business Rules: Multi-select option sets cannot be updated within the business rule logic, nor can they be used in a conditional statement to perform some other branching logic condition. However, your Dynamics Partner or developer may be able to use JavaScript to give you the same functionality, such as exposing or hiding fields based on multi-select option sets.
  3. Import Values for New Records: You can import multi-select field values to existing records, but you can’t import them for new records.
    The workaround is to import your new records without the multi-select field values, and then do a second import to add the multi-select field values.

As long as you do not need to leverage process/workflow or business rules, multi-select option sets are a great feature to use within your Dynamics 365 applications.

To learn more about creating other kinds of fields in Dynamics 365, try these articles:

If you have any questions about creating fields or other aspects of Dynamics 365, please contact us.

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