Thursday, November 20, 2014

Contact/Outlook Address Sync Issues

There appears to be an issue with syncing the contact address with Outlook under certain circumstances. Specifically this circumstance appears to occur when line 1 and line 3 of the contact address are filled out but line 2 is left blank. In such a situation the following occurs when syncing the contact:

  1. The contact syncs correctly to the corresponding Outlook contact record
  2. Outlook then immediately syncs back to the CRM contact, moving line 3 back to line 2
The following screenshots illustrates this phenomenom visually:

To re-emphasize - this boomerang update effect happens immediately i.e. in the single sync transaction that is initiated from the CRM Outlook contact. The result can be quite perplexing and unsettling as it results in the following set of circumstances:

  1. You notice that an update made on the contact record is continuously reverting 
  2. The audit tells you an end user made the reversal (and it could be any end user - really depends on who performed the syncing action first)
  3. The audit tells you that the reversal happened within mere seconds of the update

The result is a manhunt to find the offending plugin, workflow, third party Outlook add-on that someone is using that might be behind this issue. And of course based on the analysis above all that is a red herring...

I think the reason why this occurs is because Outlook just arranges the address into separate lines rather than separate fields so that when line 2 is missing line 1 and line 3 follow one another making Outlook interpret line 3 as line 2.

I have not seen any literature about this issue although circumstantial evidence points to the fact that this issue has been around for quite some time (i.e. I seem to recall perplexing unexpected Outlook updates fitting the above description that until now I have not been able to put my finger on).

Anyway, I am able to reproduce this issue at will so it's definitely some kind of product defect. 
This issue has been reported to Microsoft and at the moment I don't have a solution to this issue although at a minimum it is comforting to at least know what this issue so it can be avoided and sanity be preserved. 

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