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Taxonomies have been around for a very long time. In biology, even before technology evolved, taxonomies were defined to group and structure various organisms based on shared characteristics.

Evolving with technology

With the evolution of technology, the approach has been borrowed, and is now used in structuring data and various materials.

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Nowadays the toolbox is getting big and heavy. We have some level of overlap between some of the various platforms joined under the Dynamics 365 name, we leverage various features of Office 365, we integrate with other products like SharePoint and OneDrive. And this is just scratching the surface. I mean, really, look at the “new fave kid on the block”, the Power Platform.

And here’s another one for the non-developer: Microsoft Forms Pro. It’s now in public preview.

002-01-MicrosoftFormsPro

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Had a question today that got me thinking for a moment. Haven’t done any SiteMap tweaking in a long time.

Someone added a new Area to their CRM, using the SiteMap Editor in XrmToolBox. Yet, while all looked somewhat ok, the navigation was not reflecting the changes.

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I am presenting a session at the Power BI User Group in Toronto on leveraging Power BI in the context of Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement.

The sign-up page is available at:

https://www.meetup.com/Toronto-Power-BI-Meetup/events/248779906/

The session takes place on Wednesday, March 28th. There’s still time to register.

Join us for a night of fun and learning!

One common question when embracing Cloud is the ability to have a hybrid scenario. And with Dynamics 365, the question translates into “Is there a hybrid deployment model?”

The short and dry answer is NO. But, there are some aspects to consider that can make it an overall hybrid solution.

Let’s first look at the supported deployment models for Customer Engagement. Read the rest of this entry »

We’ve all done it in the past, where we started tinkering with the navigation, filtering entities based on permissions, removing entire areas from the navigation, and tinkering with user roles and hiding aspects of the platform.

Well, welcome to a new world of apps. What started with mobile, where “there’s an app for that”, now find it’s home in Dynamics 365 CE also. Microsoft gave us the tone, with the Sales and Customer Service apps, and gave us the tools to roam free.

We can now use the very visual App Designer to create our own very specialized apps. And the beauty, it follows the same configurable model as any other configuration on the platform.

NOTE that, while you have the ability to configure new apps in both a solution file or directly in the core solution, you should really try to stick with using solutions.

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With all the focus on the Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement naming, the split into Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 for Customer Service, with or without Marketing, and all the licensing implications and additional functional packages, this is a question that came out of the blue and caught me a little off-guard. While I’m still working on a few on-premise instances, all the licensing discussions lately have been around the online model. As such, maybe I haven’t paid enough attention to versioning for on premise, my bad.

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As we’ve seen in the previous post, getting content from Dynamics 365 for Sales or Service into Power BI is a relatively easy task when leveraging the Content Packs created by the great guys at the Power BI team.

Now, with the content packs in place, let’s go back to our Dynamics 365 instance and bring the data with a nice lipstick on.

First off, you must enable Power BI visualizations.

Go to Settings > Administration. Here open System Settings and on the Reporting tab, enable Power BI visuals.

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With the obvious impact that Power BI brings to data analysis and visualization, Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement stands to benefit from a few pre-packaged features available.

Not only we can bring CRM information onto Power BI, but we can also easily present Power BI elements inside Dynamics 365. So, it’s a win-win situation.

To make things easier for us all, the great guys at Power BI sat down and created two specific Content Packs for Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement. They are the Sales Analytics for Dynamics 365 and the Customer Service Analytics for Dynamics 365.

Sweet, this these content packs in place, a Dynamics power user can start creating their own personal dashboards in CRM and share them with the team. This is where the beauty is, as you don’t need a developer or administrator involved once the content packs are made available.

Of course, you will want to leverage the support of your Power BI specialist to configure and extend the content packs to better fit your business, but once that’s done, Bob’s your Uncle. Read the rest of this entry »

Gone are the days when you had to write scripts to generate a multi-select on a form in CRM. The platform now offers out of the box the MultiSelect Option Set.

You add it just like any other form field, and you define it just like any Option Set.

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What you get for that is a nicely blended in control that allows selecting multiple values.

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You can have a virtually unlimited number of options, with up to 150 options selected. That is quite an unreasonable long list of choices, but it’s good to know that there is a maximum cap on selection. Don’t ever try to use that many though, for obvious usability reasons.

And you can use this control on not only forms, including the main form, and the quick create and quick view forms, but you can also include this control on grids. So, if you add it to an editable grid you get the option to perform a multi-select right in the grid.

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As it stands right now, the CRM and former AX functionality has been wrapped under the Dynamics 365 umbrella. All nice, but with the changes made to the former Dynamics AX to bring it to a modern state, and a cloud model, the old style integrations have to be “adjusted”.

As announced by Microsoft, there is an integration planned, but few month into the new platform, we’re not seeing it just yet.

The roadmap site, at roadmap.dynamics.com is now publishing some details on the expected functionality. The integration is described under the heading “Prospect to cash integration of Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 for Operations”. As you can see, it now all follows the business functionality model familiar to the platforms.

The proposed integration leverages the somewhat recently released Common Data Service. If you still don’t know what that is, see the description HERE.

The idea of this proposed integration is to allow users to start the sales process in Dynamics 365 for Sales, and complete the order fulfillment on Dynamics 365 for Operations. This leverages both platform functionalities for their strengths. Or does it? Let’s look at the details available so far.

Accounts and Contact

For both Accounts and Contact, the plan is to sync these records from Sales to Operations.

Nagging question here being what happens if these records get updated on the Operations side, or simultaneously on both sides? No details yet.

Workaround is to have editable access only on the Sales side, and read-only on the Operations side. As such, financial or operations users must have a Plan 2 license most likely, or possibly get away with a Team Member license for light usage. For additional licensing implications see the licensing guides, as linked to in THIS earlier post.

Product Catalog

This is to be maintained in Operations, and synchronized back into Sales.

Question here is how bundles and packaged offerings for up-sell are going to be handled. An assumption is that these groupings will be created and maintained on the Sales side, which means that a user managing products must use both Sales and Operations for maintaining the product catalog. Or maybe have a team/user maintaining the products in Operations, and another team/user managing bundles and sales artifacts on the Sales side.

Again, licensing implications, as well as additional coordination between the platforms and/or users/teams.

Possibly 3rd party products might actually help here a little? There’s an opportunity.

Quotes

These are actually following the same model as in the previous versions with the integration. Quotes are fully created and managed on the Sales side.

One could argue why even synchronize them into Operations, but this is in line with the old model where you could jump to the former AX either at the Quote or the Order level. See the next paragraph on Orders.

Orders

Now it looks like the recommendation is to proceed all the way to the order generation in the Sales module, and then sync to Operations at the Order level. This should be ok for most situations.

Invoices

Invoices are to be generated and processed, as expected, on the Operation side. No issues here. They are to be synchronized back to Sales for visibility, so I would see the Invoice records as a complete read-only on the Sales side. The financials implications of changing an invoice can not really be handled on the Sales side to begin with, so there is no real reason to have these records editable on the Sales side.

Conclusion

While this puts us on the right path, somewhat, it is far from ideal for the following reasons:

Licensing implications could possibly require users to hold a more expensive license to be able to handle a complete business flow along with related needs.

This only covers a standard sales process. As soon as you step outside of this model, the amount of work involved could easily become similar to simply starting from scratch. This is just an assumption right now, we’ll see.

While leveraging the Common Data Service has it’s advantages, including the use of Flow and Power Apps, you now have data in flow in 3 places that must stay in sync. This brings up the next point.

Real-time or near-real-time possible issues. As discussed in Accounts and Contact, if you don’t lock the data on one side to be read-only, simultaneous updates to the same record, in Sales, Operations, etc. applications, could potentially result in unexpected results and overwrites. A robust solution with proper record locking on one side when edited on the other side becomes essential. The roadmap description does not hint to any of this. This is potentially the biggest problem here.

In the “Fast implementation” heading of the article, one work sticks out: templates. This begs the question: is this really going to be a production ready option? Or are we back to the “template” integration options available with the old versions, which almost all the times needed to be extended? Or maybe 3rd party solutions fill-in the gap? There’s an opportunity for 3rd party vendors here too.

Until additional details become clear, let’s look at this as what it’s described to be. A possible scenario, that is. A “template”.

Enjoy!

I’ve just done recently an install on-premise where I’ve encountered a number of issues. One of them is the following error message:

Action.Microsoft.Crm.Setup.Common.InstallWindowsSearchAction failed.

The service cannot be started, either because it is disabled or because it has no enabled devices associated with it. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x80070422)

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The message is pretty explicit, in that a service is not started. Turns out, after a little investigation, that for some reason the SQL Server Service as well as the SQL Server Agent Service are off. This could be the result of a failed SQL update I just got previously, or some other issue. Simply setting these services to Automatic and starting them allows the installation to proceed further with no issue.

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No, you do not have to restart the installation, just make sure the services are running properly.

Smooth sailing afterward.

Enjoy!

Microsoft Business Solutions MVP

Check out my course [Video]

Configuring and Extending Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement

Configuring and Extending Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement

Check out my course [Video]

Getting Started with Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement

Reviewed Book

Implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations

Implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations

Reviewed Book

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Extensions Cookbook

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Extensions Cookbook

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Customization - Second Edition

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Customization - Second Edition

Check out my Book

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customization Essentials

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customization Essentials

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Scripting Cookbook

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Scripting Cookbook

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011: Dashboards Cookbook

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011: Dashboards Cookbook

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