Running multiple business applications is a common practice nowadays, and it is often labor intensive or darn near impossible to make your applications talk to one another. This often leads to an awful lot of open tabs as you perpetually switch between applications updating information, or worse yet data becomes disconnected and disparate.
Microsoft has published their Business Application Platform including Flow, PowerApps and Power BI which are powerful tools that you can use to seamlessly allow your applications to talk to each other. Maybe even more importantly, these applications combine and merge the data from multiple applications, making the most out of your data.
Think of Microsoft Flow as a bridge which connects your applications and performs Actions automatically based on specified Triggers.
There are many out of the box Flow templates, built on applications used daily, which can be consumed. Additionally, you can create your own multi step Flow across several apps using supported Actions and Triggers.
Save time and invest your energy in other areas which require your focus. Let Microsoft Flow handle it, by sending you a notification about something which requires your attention, managing backend processes which up until recently were done manually, handling approvals…just to name a few. All of this can be done from the web, your phone or tablet, or even from your inbox! The functionality afforded by Microsoft Flow works with records stored in SharePoint, Dynamics 365, Tweets and over 100 other applications. The image below is just a small sample of the applications that you can connect with Flow.
Are you juggling two CRM systems because you have an overwhelming amount of data in your existing system, and you do not even know where to begin as you make the transition to Dynamics 365? Data importing aside, is a bigger concern loss of data and/or data integrity? Or do you have salespeople attending events and need a quick and easy process for getting all the data which has been gathered into D365?
Your search is over. Importing data is an important task you will need to perform at one point or another. Whether it be when your Dynamics 365 environment goes live or later when you need to bring in data which has been collected in another application. No matter how you slice it, the need will arise! You can import data into standard and customized fields of out of the box and custom entities in Dynamics 365. Not only that, you can also include related data, such as activities and notes. To assure data integrity, you can enable duplicate detection to prevent importing duplicate records.
A few pointers as you prepare your data for import:
Export data from your existing system in one of the following formats: comma-separated values (.csv), XML Spreadsheet 2003 (.xml), Compressed (.zip) or text files. Or save an Excel file, which has had data entered into it, as a .csv or .xml.
Once you have your raw data ready, the next thing you need to do is to prepare your data import template. There are a handful of ways to create a template for your data import into Dynamics 365.
1. Use Preconceived Templates. Go to Settings > Data Management > Templates for Data Import > Find the template for the entity you want to perform a data import for.
2. Create an Advanced Find Query. Perform an Advanced Find query, add the necessary columns, and then Export to Excel. Once exported replace the existing data with your own data.
3. Use an Existing Entity View. Navigate to the desired entity, select your preferred view, then select Export to Excel from the command bar. Once exported replace the existing data with your own data.
4. Create Your Own Template. In Excel, create your own template by adding column headers, which represent field names.
Once you have the template ready, you can copy and paste your data into the template. Be careful, Dynamics 365 is picky on formatting, make sure you paste as plain text.
Now you are ready to import your data. Go to Settings > Data Management > Imports and from the navigation area choose Import Data.
Browse to the location where you have saved the file, and select Next. On the next screen, confirm that the file is correct and select Next again.
Choose to have the system map the data automatically, the first selection in the list. Conversely, you can also use a Customized Data Map. After making your selection, select Next.
Choose the entity that you are mapping to.
The system will detect the fields. Verify that they match as you intended. For any fields that do not map automatically or are flagged, select the field that you want to map it to, or if needed, create a new field at that time. Once completed, select Next.
Verify the import file again and select Next.
On the next screen make your desired selections. To save the data map you have created, to use in the future, enter a descriptive name in the Data Map Name field shown below. Select Submit to execute the import. You can check the status of the import or view errors by navigating to Settings > Data Management > Imports.
Did you know that there is an auditing feature which comes standard out of the box with Microsoft Dynamics 365? All you need to do is enable and configure it to your needs and going forward all enabled actions will be logged. Auditing allows organizations to easily track high level record changes, granular field level changes, and user log in within the system.
By default, auditing is not turned on in Dynamics 365, so if you are interested in this feature you will need to enable and configure your auditing preferences. D365 provides the flexibility to enable/disable auditing at the organization, entity and attribute levels. It is worth mentioning that to audit at the field level, auditing must be enabled for the organization and the entity.
Enable auditing at the organization level
1. Auditing setup is under the Settings Tile. Click on Auditing and go to Global Audit Settings. To enable auditing, if not ticked already, tick the box Start Auditing.
2. After either ticking the box to start auditing or confirming it is ticked, you will then need to choose specific entity categories that you want to enable auditing for. In this step, you are simply defining the entity clusters, you will still need to enable auditing for each entity you want to audit within the grouping. Do note that as you hover over each group, a tooltip appears which defines the included entities.
Enable auditing at the entity level
To enable auditing at the entity level, go to Settings > Customizations > Customize the System. Expand the Entities tab and select the entity that you want to turn on auditing for.
The Auditing checkbox is unchecked by default for all entities, once checked, you will be prompted that all fields in the entity are enabled for auditing. If you don’t want a field to be audited, you can either disable auditing on a field-by-field basis or mass select fields and edit their audit setting (enabled or disabled).
Check auditing history
Audit history is stored under each record, you can simply open a record in Dynamics 365 and click on the drop down beside the record on the top navigation bar. You will be presented with an “Audit History” where you can view all audited data changes.
You can also access a summary of all audited data by navigating to Settings > Auditing > Audit Summary View.
The ability to retrieve and display the audit history is restricted to users who have certain security privileges: View Audit History and View Audit Summary. There are also privileges specific to partitions: View Audit Partitions and Delete Audit Partitions.
The following list identifies the data and operations that can be audited:
- Create, update, and delete operations on records
- Changes to the shared privileges of a record
- N:N association or disassociation of records
- Changes to security roles
- Audit changes at the entity, attribute, and organization level. For example, enabling audit on an entity
- Deletion of audit logs
- When (date/time) a user accesses Microsoft Dynamics 365, for how long, and from what client
What if your most depended upon customer service rep leaves the company and no one else on the team has the level of knowledge he had on various topics? Or at the most granular level, wouldn’t it be incredibly useful if canned suggestions surfaced when opening a service case for a customer?
There is no reason to spend excess time and money researching and troubleshooting the same (or similar) issues repeatedly. Plan ahead and build a knowledge base which withstands the test of time (and turnover) and is shareable both internally and externally.
Knowledge Articles in Microsoft Dynamics 365 provide the ability to create articles with versioning and translation functions. Building a base of Knowledge Articles allows Customer Service Reps to reference and utilize the information to deliver accurate and consistent information to customers, while following the organization’s processes.
By providing access to the article directly from a Case record, the rep can link the article to the case, thereby documenting its inclusion as a step for resolution. Not only can the rep use the information as an assist to themselves, they can opt to share the article with their customer, who may prefer to “do it themselves.”
Knowledge Articles not only benefit reps, who now have answers at their fingertips, those that administer the articles also have something to gain. Analytics are measured which provide article insights for content managers. A couple key stats are how many views each knowledge article has, and the Cases which have been associated to the article. These statistics allow administrators to not only evaluate which articles provide the most value, but ultimately it may provide intel into where there may be a bigger issue which needs attention.
It is worth mentioning that the topic discussed herein is an updated feature which has gone through a handful of iterations throughout the years with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This most current version introduces some major improvements and enhancements over previous iterations. Do note, that while you can continue to use the legacy Knowledge Base Articles, it is good practice, and a Microsoft recommendation, to transition to the Dynamics 365 Knowledge Articles, as they provide improved capabilities and translation support. Microsoft has confirmed that the legacy Knowledge Base Articles will be deprecated sometime in the near future.
Dynamics 365 Business Rules help organizations achieve automation by performing tasks for users based on predetermined logic. This means less time entering data and more time making key decisions. Business Rules can also be used to enforce behavior by controlling certain field properties. This allows upper management to ensure proper steps are taken daily. If these controls are implemented properly, both the organization and users will see the benefit afforded through the configuration of Business Rules.
Business Rules in Dynamics 365 are a simple way to apply logic to your business data without the need for any code. D365 Business Rules are effective, yet easy to manage. The typical Business Rule follows the “if, then” statement structure and often contains two or more parts. The first part is always a condition statement where you state the condition which will trigger the business rule to take effect. The second part is the action, meaning once the set condition has been met, what action should be performed.
Below is sample Business Rule diagram to illustrate how a typical Business Rule is setup.
As you can see, the condition statement is checking the Estimated Revenue for an opportunity, if the Estimated Revenue exceeds a certain threshold then an account manager must be associated to the opportunity. Simple rules like these can help organizations improve their daily process and grow more effective to achieve their goals.
Business Rules in Dynamics 365 can perform an explicit set of functions against records. Below is a list of the actions and what each does.
- Create Business Recommendations: Provide users a recommendation on suggested next action
- Lock/ Unlock Fields: Lock/Unlock fields to control user input
- Show Error Message: Alert users when certain key information is missing or entered incorrectly
- Set Field Values: Automatically populate fields based on set conditions
- Set Default Value: Enter default value on normal conditions
- Set Field Requirement Levels: Enforce data capture to ensure fields are completed
- Set Visibility: Show and hide fields based on conditions
Now that you know what Business Rules are capable of, why not try creating one for yourself. Checkout our step by step instructional video on how you can setup your own business rules.
Microsoft provides a robust connection between SSRS reports and Dynamics 365, allowing a user to run a report providing a summary of defined records. To create custom reports though, you will need to have a high-level knowledge of SQL/XML, or hire a consultant to build the report for you.
Why not take matters into your own hands and build your reports using out of the box components in Dynamics 365? Dynamics 365 offers both Excel Templates and Word Templates, empowering you to create reports which best suit your business needs, using the application that fits the bill.
Excel and Word templates allow you to create and share templates, so documents always have a consistent look and the necessary details included. Excel and Word templates are easily configured by selecting fields from your starting entity (i.e. Opportunity) to use as dynamic values in both Excel and Word. Not only can you select fields from the entity you began from, you also have the ability to select fields from related entities which have either a 1:N or N:N relationship with the starting entity.
With the help of Excel and Word templates, you can prepare beautifully crafted reports, which include data elements dynamically pulled in from D365. Should needs change, you can always modify and upload the revised template into D365, allowing you and your colleagues to always have the most current templates at your disposal.
Some benefits of using Excel and Word templates:
- One-click away from summary reports
- Flexible formatting
- Save time and money
- Simple to configure
- Ability to use Excel functions to analyze data
- And so much more…
How many products/services do you sell? How many pricing structures do you have for each? Do you offer volume discounts? A no-nonsense, structured approach which can be seamlessly applied (every time and without a second thought) can improve your sales strategy and have everyone on the same page.
The Product Catalog in Dynamics 365 makes it easier for your sales reps to increase their sales by having an authority by which to work when talking to potential customers about products/services offered. The product catalog is a combination of the products themselves, and the underlying pricing mechanism.
Below are the components which form the Product Catalog:
- Families & Products – Products are the items which you sell and product families provide a way to group, classify and categorize products for streamlined product management. Both bundles and individual products can be included in a product family tree.
- Price Lists – Price Lists are product groupings with associated pricing. Sales operation managers can link Dynamics 365 territories to price lists. This directly benefits salespeople by defaulting the appropriate price list to opportunities, quotes, orders and invoices.
- Discount Lists - Discount lists are optional and are used in conjunction with price list items for volume pricing offers.
- Unit Groups - Unit Groups define the quantities by which a product or service is sold. For example, mouse pads may be sold in lots of 50, 100, or 200. Or Services sold by the hour may be grouped by day, week or month.
As you begin configuring your product catalog, add components in the following order: Discount Lists (if needed), Unit Groups, Price Lists, Products. When adding Product, you can define bundles, which allows you to combine multiple products into a group, to be sold as a package. Product relationships can also be defined, allowing for the suggestion of product substitutions; accessory recommendations; highlight cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.
Once the Product Catalog is setup, salespeople will have the ability to select and add products to their Opportunities, Quotes, Orders, and Invoices.
Once a Product Line Item has been added, the User can open the line item and make any necessary modifications that are specific to the Customer they are working with (i.e. modify price per unit or offer a line item discount).
Furthermore, once a line item has been added, a Suggestions hyperlink will display. Clicking the “Suggestions” hyperlink enables the User to pick products suggested for up sell, cross sell, substitution, or as an accessory. The items selected are added as new product line items.
In addition to modifying the individual line items, the Salesperson can apply an overall discount to all product line items added, by dollar amount or percentage.
By recognizing the full potential of the Product Catalog in Dynamics 365, you can promote standardization amongst your sales team, and enable them to be more efficient and informed when speaking to customers and adding product line items to opportunities, quotes, orders, and invoices!
Do you find that the data shown in your Dynamics 365 environment is not reflective of the business data which is relevant to you? There are a variety of out of the box tools in Dynamics 365 which can be used to achieve this vital need. Such tools include Views and Charts which can be brought together into Dashboards to give an overview of data components captured in Dynamics 365.
For Dashboards, Views, and Charts there are two definitive types, Personal and System.
You, and anyone else, who has at least User level access to the system can build their own personal dashboards, views and charts based on their privileges in the system. The system administrator can modify the access level for each action in the security role to control the depth to which people can create, read, write, delete, assign, or share personal views.
All three components are owned by individuals and because of their default User level access, they are visible only to that person or anyone else they choose to share them with.
As a system administrator or system customizer, you can create and edit system dashboards, views or charts. System Views and Charts are viewable by all users who have access to the system, while System Dashboards can have controlled access by associating explicit security roles.
Views define how a list of records for a specific entity are displayed in the application. A variety of views are available to select from right out of the box, and their variance is based on the filtered criteria which has been defined. Click the drop-down arrow next to a view name to reveal the additional views you can select from.
You can create personal views by saving a query that you define by using Advanced Find or by using the Save Filters as New Views and Save Filters to Current View options in the list of views. These options and saved Personal Views are included at the bottom of system views in the application. Do note, that while you can create a new personal view based on a system view, you cannot create a system view based on a personal view.
A System Administrator or System Customizer can create and modify system views by navigating to the organizations solution, and selecting an entity to modify or create a view for. These are viewable by all users who have access to the system.
Want to learn more about creating Personal Views? Check out our blog.
A chart is a graphic representation of data from multiple records of an entity. Charts interact with the views and filters which are currently applied to the active view and a chart is refreshed each time you change your view. So, if viewing My Leads, the chart will depict that information, if you switch the view to All Leads, the Chart will change to reflect the data of the newly selected View.
From a View, refer to the righthand side of the window to expand and collapse the Chart pane. Click the drop-down arrow next to a chart name to reveal the additional charts you can select from.
You can create personal charts by performing a “save as” on an existing chart or create a new chart from scratch. These options are included in the chart toolbar and your saved personal charts will display beneath the system charts. Do note, that while you can create a new personal chart based on a system chart, you cannot create a system chart based on a personal chart.
A System Administrator or System Customizer can create and modify system charts by navigating to the organizations solution, and selecting an entity to modify or create a chart for. These are viewable by all users who have access to the system.
Want to learn more about creating Personal Charts? Check out our blog.
Dashboards are collections of views, charts, web resources, and iFrames, which display key metrics which are vital to your organization. Click the drop-down arrow next to a dashboard name to reveal the additional dashboards you can select from.
A personal dashboard allows you to design a dashboard which is unique to you, displaying the views and/or charts which contain the information which your world revolves around. You can choose from both System and Personal Views and Charts to incorporate into your Dashboard. Create personal dashboards by performing a “save as” on an existing dashboard or create a new dashboard from scratch. These options are included in the dashboard toolbar and your saved personal dashboards will display beneath the system dashboards. Do note, that while you can create a new personal dashboard based on a system dashboard, you cannot create a system dashboard based on a personal dashboard.
A System Administrator or System Customizer can create and modify system dashboards by navigating to the organizations solution, and selecting Dashboards to modify or create a chart for. Unlike Views and Charts, you can control the visibility of Dashboards by selecting a Dashboard and clicking on Enable Security Roles.
Want to learn more about creating Personal Dashboards? Check out our blog.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers the ability to streamline your business process through an often overlooked and underutilized feature called Business Process Flows. Business process flows are displayed visually in Dynamics 365 as a heading across the top of an entity form, and can carry from one entity to another, and can be configured for both out of the box and custom entities. Not only that, you are not limited to a single business process flow; you can configure one or more distinct business process flows, allowing different departments to have a flow unique to their daily requirements.
A business process flow is composed of Stages (highlighted in red below), which contain multiple Steps (highlighted in green below). In the business process flow heading, a user can see which stage they are currently working through (which is indicated by the flag), and the steps they need to complete (what fields need to be filled in) before they can advance to the next stage in the process.
Business process flows enable you to require users to complete certain steps before advancing to the next stage of the process. They also allow for branching logic based on data elements collected which may require a different path. There are a couple out of the box business process flows pre-configured for system entities, but you can modify these and create your own business process flows to meet the particular needs identified for your organization.
Create a Business Process Flow:
1. Go to Settings > Processes to create a new Process
2. Select Business Process Flow for the Category
3. Select the entity you want your business process flow to begin in
4. Click on OK and the system will direct you to a new window where you can set up the details of your business process flow
5. You can drag and drop components and properties from the right side of the window to the canvas on the left side.
The Components tab provides the core items which can be defined for the business process flow
- Stage: allows you to differentiate different major stages of your business process
- Condition: allows you to set up criteria and branching considerations
- Data Step: the fields of the entity you wish to include in a given stage
- Workflow: allows you to trigger a workflow at stage entry or exit
The Properties Tab allows you to define the properties associated to the stage/data step/workflow
- Choose the definable element and the display name
- Choose the elements requirement
- For workflow, choose what the trigger is
6. Save and activate your business process flow once you are done with it, and it will now show up on the associated entity form.
7. Be sure to customize your security roles to provide access to the business process flows as needed.
Navigating Business Process Flows
Each entity in Dynamics 365 can have multiple business process flows and you can switch between them by clicking “Switch Process” while in a record. Doing so will display all business process flows available, based on the user’s security role.
As you proceed through the steps within a given stage, and you have completed all required steps, select the “Next Stage” button on the right of the business process flow to advance to the next stage. Be advised that if you have not completed all required steps, you will be prevented from advancing the flag to the next stage.
Directly beside the “Next Stage” button, there is a timer which displays how long ago you began the process, and each stage also displays the amount of time spent in the given stage. These timers provide useful metrics for calculating KPIs and for business intelligence reporting.
Dynamics 365 is a sophisticated Microsoft business application, it grants the ability to better manage the relationships of your Sales, Customer Service, Field Service and Operation processes. But how can you access your data while you are out in the field, the internet is down or you are not anywhere near your PC? Dynamics 365 for phones and Dynamics 365 for tablets apps are the solution when you're on the go. These apps give you immediate access to accounts, contacts, opportunities, cases, and so much more!
How to get the App:
Go to the app store on your device and download either Dynamics 365 for phones or Dynamics 365 for tablets, depending on the device you are working with. Both phone and tablet users alike will appreciate the new Unified Interface. The Unified Interface provides an optimized viewing and interaction experience, relative to screen size, device, and orientation.
Accessing the App:
Once you have the app installed, open the app on your device, enter your Dynamics 365 URL (web address), and click the arrow to continue. Next you will be prompted for your user name and password. If you are unsure of any of these values, contact your Dynamics 365 administrator.
Once logged in, you will have access to the components which have been configured for mobile within your organizations environment and fit within the parameters of your security role. You will be presented with Dashboards, Records, and Views, and many other features, which you are already familiar with. You will notice a variance in how the screen renders as compared to your PC, the apps presentation is designed to make it more conducive to the condensed screen real estate, without losing any functionality.
To ensure that confidential information does not end up in the wrong hands, it is simple to sign out of the Dynamics 365 app on your device, tap the ellipses, then choose Sign Out.
Do note the following:
- The Windows Phone app for Dynamics 365 (online) version 9.0. was deprecated as of May 22, 2018. The Windows Phone app will no longer be supported for Dynamics 365 (online) version 9.0. Support for the app on Windows tablets and PCs remains unchanged. You can still use the Windows Phone app for Dynamics 365 version 8.2 and earlier. This is only relevant if you are planning to update to Dynamics 365 version 9.0 and have a Windows phone.
- Dynamics 365 has separate mobile apps for Field Service and Operations.
- Microsoft won’t onboard any additional customers to Mobile offline currently, further notice will be released. This does not affect existing customers who already use mobile offline.