Managing Accounts with multiple locations in Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be tough to wrap your head around. There are a variety of fields and entities to store address information, with little guidance on what’s correct. But, that’s largely due to the fact that managing multiple addresses really depends on your business needs, and every business is unique!

Addresses are kind of messy in Dynamics CRM, because the out-of-the-box implementation is like the Wild West… Both Accounts and Contacts have fields for two distinct addresses. Accounts can have sub-Accounts, which each have–you guessed it–fields for two distinct addresses.  Furthermore, Accounts, Sub-Accounts and Contacts all have the ability to add “More Addresses,” also referred to as “Customer Addresses” or just plain “Addresses.”

Head spinning yet?

When you’re talking different company addresses, there are pretty much four out-of-the-box options, with pros and cons:

Form-Based

By default, an Account has fields for two distinct addresses. In this case the “default” address is first set of fields (Address 1). This works best if you generally deal with two addresses, e.g., one for billing and one for shipping or something of that nature.

  • Pros – Easy to implement and use; Address type or purpose is definable
  • Cons – Can’t store more than two addresses; Can’t easily report on individual location activity; Tracks mailing addresses only, not really locations

Contact-Based

In this method, you add one parent Account for the HQ address, and ensure associated Contacts have their location address stored in the Contact. In this case the “default” address is the HQ if you’re working on the Account level, or the location if you’re working on the Contact level. This works best for marketing activities since most of that is done on the Contact level, so the “default” address will be correct for mailers, etc. Some sales activity works well with this, too, as Contacts can be selected as Customers on Opportunities, for example.

  • Pros – Easy to implement and use; No confusion over possible “duplicate” Accounts; Contact data is synchronized to Outlook for easy use and access
  • Cons – Can’t easily report on individual location activity; Only works if you have reliable Contacts for locations; Difficulties if a Contact changes companies

Sub-Account-Based

To accomplish this, you simply add one parent Account for the HQ address, and sub-Accounts for each location. In this case, the “default” address is the HQ if you’re working at the parent level, or the location if you’re working on the sub-Account level. This works best for fully independent Accounts like franchises where billing and other activities go to the individual locations (not HQ) but sometimes you may want to report on total activity for the parent.

  • Pros – Clear Account hierarchy; Ability to report by individual location or by parent Account rollup (in CRM 2011 and up)
  • Cons – Contacts below sub-Accounts don’t roll up to parent; Confusion for users if they should pick HQ or specific location when working in CRM

Customer Addresses

For each Account, you can add any number of additional Addresses to the primary record (called “More Addresses” or “Customer Addresses”). In this case, the “default” address is the one listed on the entity record form. This works best when addresses are generally used manually, i.e., a user goes in to look through a list of locations for reference.

  • Pros – Easy to implement and use; No confusion over possible “duplicate” Accounts.
  • Cons – Lots of manual work required to keep records up-to-date; Can’t easily report on individual location activity; No easy way to change “default” address.

Of course, those are just the out-of-the-box options. There are certainly more custom solutions for combining those above, or making them more efficient. Some folks even create new custom entities for locations or use some additional form customizations to allow multiple address selections to be more convenient. It all just depends on how you intend to use the data! Typically, though, you can start with one of the four out-of-the-box options and expand to meet business needs from there. 

Overall, the way you choose to handle Accounts with multiple addresses depends on why you are storing multiple addresses and how you plan to use them. I hope this post can help serve as a starting point for you!

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