How to Customize Dynamics 365 in the UCI

One of the very first things a Dynamics administrator has to navigate when they start using the Unified Client Interface (UCI) is “Where is my settings area?!”.

The answer now depends on whether you want to customize something using the classic interface you’ve always used– or whether you want to wade into the deep waters of the Power Apps interface (which is in preview mode).

The easy answer is that when you open up your model-driven app (such as the default Sales Hub) you can navigate to the personal settings icon and select “Advanced Settings” which opens up a new window/tab and displays the familiar settings area from previous versions.

Now you can start modifying D365 like you always have, but what does the future of D365 customization look and feel like with the UCI? To find that out, you need to bookmark a new URL: https://make.powerapps.com/ to open the Power Apps home page in a new window/tab.

One thing you’ll notice right away is that every time you navigate to a different area or function within the portal, it currently requires you to re-authenticate and it opens a new window/tab (reminiscent of legacy CRM versions). And hopefully this is just a temporary condition of the preview mode.

To begin, you’ll want to make sure that you connect to the right environment/app before you try to edit anything. Env MenuIn the navigation bar, click on your environment menu and select the desired instance.

Menu
Now, you can accomplish a couple of primary things.

You can either select Apps from the left-hand navigation, highlight the app and click “edit” in the command bar above to open the app editor where you can edit components of the app (such as the site map).

Or, you can select data from the menu to access the entities normally (such as Accounts) and get access to all of the forms, views, fields, etc. as you see below.

Entities

Some of the improvements you’ll encounter when you customize D365 in the Power Apps interface (compared to the classic customization experience) include:

Drag and Drop View Editing
When you open up a view in the designer, you can now drag new fields into the view AND drag and drop the columns to re-order them. The days of clicking green directional arrows ten times to move a column from one side of a view to the other are over.
Also, your data is displayed inline with the editor so you can see how it will look/sort/filter before you publish it.
View Edit

Auto Number Field
The Auto Numbering feature was introduced some time ago, but it is not available in the classic UI editor. AutoNumber

Under the text options on the “Add Field” function you’ll see Autonumber at the bottom .

This eliminates the need for code or a third-party tool to use the Dynamics SDK to create custom auto-number fields.

A prefix, starting number, and maximum length can all be easily specified and all of the magic occurs behind the scenes.




Option Sets
Option SetWhile this might not seem too big of a deal, if you’ve ever had to create larger option sets, then the new editor will bring a smile to your face the first few times you use it.

When you select “New option set” from the command bar after selecting ‘Options sets’ under Data (these are the global option sets), the dialog box has been simplified.

Once you click to enter the first value, you can continue typing and hitting enter after every value. There is no longer the need to hit the plus sign with the cursor in the right field to enter a value over and over again.


While this is all still a work-in-progress and things like adding sub-grids to forms is still missing, the new experience is, at a minimum, a great precursor of what’s to come. The embedded Power App Query function also creates some interesting opportunities to expand application functionality.

So, check it out and see what you think. Even if your company hasn’t migrated to the UCI, you should still have the default UCI Apps available to expose within this editing experience for trial purposes.

You may also want to get familiar with the Power Platform Admin Center to gain access to your environment settings and manage things that you often do, such as Email Configuration, Product Catalogs, and Security Roles. It’s just a matter of time before it will become the default experience.

If your organization hasn’t migrated to the Unified Client Interface and is looking for some experience to guide you along the way, please reach out to us and inquire at microsoftdynamics@psclistens.com.

 

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Dynamics 365 Sales Professional Licensing

With the April release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, we were finally introduced to the long awaited “less than full-fledged” sales user license for Dynamics 365. Once upon a time, Microsoft launched its CRM Online product to compete with Salesforce.com and entered the cloud CRM market with a simple approach– one license at one price.
Today, we experience a much more typical Microsoft license model, which is to say that it is complex– and at times gray. Nevertheless, we were told in the fall of 2016 when the standard sales license went from $65 to $95 that there would be a “Business Edition” version following shortly. As we now know, the Business Edition concept was jettisoned and we proceeded to wait 18 months for the fulfillment of this concept.
Welcome, Sales – Professional.
The intent of this write-up isn’t to dwell on the past but rather to highlight some of the key components of the new license type so readers are aware going in and can adequately navigate the decision process.
Before we discuss the user subscription license itself, let’s cover a couple of extremely important considerations regarding the overall subscription components. With Enterprise subscriptions, the organization receives a sandbox instance and a portal instance which are included. For Professional subscriptions this is not so. So, plan accordingly to pay $150/mo. for a sandbox and $500/mo. for a basic portal subscription if you go with a “Professional” instance.

Now we’ll get to the user licenses.

First of all, you can’t mix-and-match Professional sales license capabilities in the same instance as Enterprise license capabilities. What does this mean? Well, it means that the two license types have different capabilities and rights and you can’t use them against the same database. All users will default to the lower rights level. There are cases where a larger organization may have more than one instance, so this situation wouldn’t be irrelevant, but if you’re a one instance organization you are either a Professional org or an Enterprise org.
Ok, now that we have that established, what are the primary differences in the Professional version? Well, they break down into three primary categories– standard features you don’t have access to, additional functionality you don’t get, and limits to customizations. Let’s start with standard features.
This is probably the most confusing category because when it comes to core functionality, there is so much interdependence involved that determining where things unwind can create a little gray area. What we basically advise is that if your process(es) require the use of any of the following, then you need an Enterprise license (or need to consider changing your process).

  • Goals
  • Competitors
  • Territories

There is also growing list of Microsoft authored extensions for D365 for Sales that provide additional value to the subscription and most of those are not included with the Sales Professional license, including:

  • Social Engagement
  • Gamification
  • Voice of the Customer
  • Relationship Intelligence Suite
  • and I will add a bullet to suggest that additional “new stuff” will likely fall here, also

The above list also includes offline sync capability for the mobile apps, as well as PowerApps for Dynamics 365.
Lastly, there are a number of customization capabilities that have limits imposed on them, too. I won’t go into detail on the numbers since you can refer to them in the license guide (see Appendix C), but these include custom entities, business process flows, custom workflows, forms per entity, and custom reports. Another line item in this set is a limit on the number of third-party applications, like North52 or ClickDimensions, that can be installed.
If you’re still stuck after reading through this, and want some guidance on how to approach a new subscription– or transitioning an existing CRM Online subscription, let us know. The water’s a little murky in the deep end of the pool, but we’re seeing plenty of clear water where we’re swimming.

 

Multiple Options to Pick From

With the July 2017 update for Dynamics 365, Microsoft finally introduces a feature that has long been the source of multiple workarounds– everything from custom code to multiple checkboxes to custom entity lookups. All of these were clunky and made reporting difficult.

The feature I’m referring to is the multiple option pick list (or option set or drop down if you prefer). The ability to select multiple values from one field has numerous business cases. What about if one individual has multiple decision making roles in a sales pursuit? How about an event that covers more than one topic? Contacts that you want to include in a workflow? The list gets long quickly.

The new feature makes itself available as a new type of attribute right below the standard option set. You can assign up to 150 values to one and even leverage existing global option sets if you’ve already created them. They can be added to forms and views in all the regular capacities that any other attribute can and are supported in queries for advanced find and FetchXML.

Multi-Select Picklist Image

User experience on a form

The values render as continuous text separated by semi-colons in views.

 

All-in-all, this is one of the most simple, but valuable, feature enhancements to come around in the long history of Dynamics releases. When available, it will send a lot of CRM customizers and admins back to the keyboard to re-architect bloated work around solutions that have been in place up until now.

If you’re looking for new or creative ways to leverage the latest feature enhancements to Dynamics 365 for Sales and Service, contact PSC to collaborate.

What is Dynamics 365?

By now, most people understand that Office 365 is a suite of Microsoft applications they already know and use that are available through a cloud subscription and accessible across most popular devices. So what is Dynamics 365 ?
At its root, Dynamics 365 represents a single cloud environment with a common data set where both Microsoft Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) functionality and Microsoft Customer Relationship Management (CRM) capability co-exist. But Dynamics 365 is so much more than that.
d365-systemTypically, the most common gap left after most CRM implementations has been the gap that occurs when an opportunity is “won” and when the ”won” order shifts from selling to fulfilling and billing. The data hand-off is often clunky, manual, and often non-existent. In other words, sales managers looking at progress to goals for the period do not see “real” order and fulfilled sales information in the CRM system because it doesn’t reside there.
Dynamics 365 (“D365”) shares a common data model where the availability of data between applications is either direct or near-direct. In other words, Dynamics 365 eliminates the need to delay the CRM-to-ERP integration project because, with D365, it’s already done!
This change in Microsoft’s approach to these previously distinct and often customized types of databases enables a consistent, standardized platform that will be easier to deploy, maintain and customize for unique business solutions and processes. It will also enable seamless integration and processes with other applications in the Microsoft cloud stack, including Office 365 with Outlook, Power BI and Cortana for insights and actionable intelligence.
In addition, the D365 product family has been broken down into functional components, so you only need to license and deal with the parts of the sales, marketing, project service and customer/field service process that your job role deals with directly. For instance, if you’re in sales and don’t have direct responsibility for case management, or if you’re in operations, you typically don’t manage marketing campaigns. This results in lower licensing costs for your organization, as well as a role focused, user specific navigation menu out-of-the-box. Users that need access to multiple areas benefit from a significantly reduced “everything” license that gives them the entire suite.
Dynamics 365 is available in two editions: Business for SMBs and Enterprise for large organizations. The Business edition of Dynamics 365 is for organizations with 10-250 employees and includes financials, sales, service, and marketing modules. The Enterprise edition, for deployments with 250 users or more, includes operations, sales, marketing, customer service, project service automation and field service modules. Tiered pricing opportunity by functional application and the new ability to license users by role and team also helps decrease the investment and bumps up the ROI and productivity gains when additional users are added to the system.
microsoftdynamics365businessedition2-2
D365 environments also include a sandbox environment for enhancement, testing, and upgrade preparation work– as well as rich portal capabilities to foster greater engagement with customers, partners, employees or communities.
The D365 cloud environment is hosted on Azure and provides access to all of the other Office 365 and Dynamics-specific tie-ins for additional functionality, such as PowerBI, Graph, Delve, Cortana Intelligence, and more. Mobile apps are also available out-of-box that extend access to the system, so data can be entered by specific users from most any device, at any time, and anywhere, even offline if connectivity is an issue.
Two new apps, PowerApps and Flow are available to help you customize your Dynamics 365 system. PowerApps offers a no-code platform to build custom mobile apps to extend Dynamics 365 functionality. Flow is a new workflow engine that works across all Dynamics 365 apps and even third party tools. Similar to IFTTT, Flow allows users to create automated workflows and tasks between apps and services to get notifications, collect data, sync files and more! Apps like these show how Dynamics 365 has evolved to enable end-to-end insightful business applications realized simply out of customer’s needs.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that only Microsoft has all of the pieces to deliver an intelligent, unified business cloud, and PSC is happy to be able to help our clients and prospects realize its benefits. For more information about updating your CRM to Dynamics 365, check out our CRM HealthCheck session designed to provide recommendations to help you maximize your CRM investment.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Continues Integrated Cloud Strategy

With the announcement this week of Dynamics 365, Microsoft has furthered its foray into the integrated, online app space but added a new licensing concept based on role, rather than products. It will be interesting how this plays out since we will be relying on Microsoft to determine what function(s) are needed generically for, say, a Sales Manager.
I’ve yet to meet two client organizations that had the same definition for almost anything, so predicting that Microsoft can sell role-based licensing to the masses will be an interesting event to see play out.
The Dynamics 365 integrated CRM-ERP offering is likely to be a winner for the SMB (small-medium business) market who typically have the desire for robust integration and workflow but oftentimes lack the human and financial capital to pull it off. Enterprise organizations are already integrating these apps, so the huge obstacle will bpict--opposite-direction-arrows-vector-clipart-librarye getting them to migrate to the cloud– an issue that Microsoft is already fighting mightily. It’s a whale-sized push-pull between Microsoft attempting to marginalize its traditional on-premise hosted licensing model while clients demand to “own” the hosting (for legitimate functional or legacy philosophical reasons).
Dynamics 365 is more than just CRM and ERP, though, as other productivity applications including the Office suite can leverage this concept of a common data model. The eventual key to success will be the depth and sophistication of this integration model. While the concept is great on paper, Microsoft struggles with existing built-in integration, such as CRM and SharePoint, that are there but currently lack the capability of joining the robust-ness of each piece into one, complete model. Getting to the point where all of these tools co-exist in a fully functional, common environment will definitely be a milestone of great proportions for Microsoft.
Slated to launch this fall (which in Microsoft terms means by the end of the year), the pricing model has yet to be released. It’s no mystery anymore, though, that Microsoft is all-in on the cloud. Seeing Dynamics 365 come to fruition and mature into a defacto organizational platform will be an interesting scenario to witness, no doubt.

When Is a View Not a View?

The answer is when it’s a form. Or a Quick View Form to be precise!
I was presented with a challenge recently where a client wanted to present a plethora of contact lookup fields on a form to designate specific, related, defined parties to the entity.
Creating a bunch of lookup fields is child’s play, right? So, when presented with the finished form, the first question was “How do I see the other information related to that person?”. Well, you click this amazing, blue, underlined, hyperlink value and it magically changes the page to show you EVERYTHING you wanted to know about that individual. What more could you want, right?
“Well, we don’t want to leave that page. We just want to see their X-value, and their y-value, and their z-value. Can you just do that?”.
So, the answer is obviously yes, but what is the best way to achieve “yes”? In this case, the best “yes” was leveraging the under-utilized Quick View Form feature.QuickCreateForm

So, what is a quick view form? Quick view forms (QVF) are actually controls that are associated with a lookup field. They allow you, in a limited fashion, to display information on a form from a related entity. They are read-only, however email addresses, phone numbers, and related look-ups are displayed as active hyperlinks.
When I say “in a limited fashion”, I mean that they don’t allow formatting like a sub-grid, you can’t attach security roles to them, and they do some things with indenting and padding that you have to weigh against when looking at you eventual form design.
There are a number of QVF’s present in the out-of-the-box CRM entities. The most robust is for the account.
Account QVF
To create a form, go to your Solution and navigate to the entity in question. Expand the view and select forms and new. The QVF type is one of the options.

EntityMenu QVF
In my case, I edited the account contact card to contain the related fields the client was looking forMy QVF
A couple of caveats on creating these. If you try to edit an existing one, you may find a required field glued to it. In this case, you’ll need to create a new one to not include it. You also only get one column for these– nothing too fancy.
Since you can have many of these on the same form, like I did, the QVF needs to know which lookup field it’s related to so  when you go to add it to the form, you’ll be looking for the specific name of the lookup field you created. In my case, it was Consultant and I was using my edited version of the account contact card QVF.

QVF Properties
Many features in Dynamics CRM are right under our noses and we seem to overlook them as we rush from one familiar thing to another. Take some time to consider where you can use QVF’s and what custom options you might be able to create with them.
For step-by-step information on creating quick view forms, see this technet article.