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Preview features are constantly being added to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and as old ones roll into full features, new ones take their place. As such, this is one of the areas I like to keep an eye on to see what’s coming.

We enable preview features by navigating in our Dynamics CRM instance to Settings > Administration > System Settings. Find the Previews tab and check the “I have read an agreed to the license terms” checkbox, as seen below.

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Once you have that enabled, you can start selecting the features you want to enable. I’m going to focus now on the Organization Insights Preview feature. The feature description is available at

https://technet.microsoft.com/library/mt703628.aspx

In a nutshell, this is a new dashboard that allows us to get insights into the key CRM metrics for your organization. This feature was added as a preview with Dynamics CRM Online 2016 Update 1.

Like all preview features, this might not be complete, fully functional, and is not meant to production use. With that in mind, there is no real risk in adding a new dashboard to the organization, if used sparingly and only by the administrators of the organization.

With the feature enabled, go into any of the modules to the Dashboards section and find in the dropdown the Organization Insights Dashboard. Once selected, you are presented with a screen similar to the one below.

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As you can see, it’s a standard layout with 6 sections, just like the default dashboard. You can find this dashboard now in the organization listing of dashboards, as you can open it in edit mode. But this is where the similarities end.

The six charts displayed are not editable. First indication on the difference is the way they render, with a JavaScript fly out when hovering over elements that’s quite different from the standard dashboard experience. I would expect that this the result of the feature being in preview, and it will be aligned with the rest of the system.

You can create new dashboards, or edit this existing dashboard. You can change the order of the elements, remove them and re-add them by clicking on a section and selecting from the toolbar the Organization Insights button or the new icon, as seen below.

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So, if you remove one chart, not all is lost. You can re-add it, just not as a regular chart (that’s where I looked first).

Looking at the individual charts, we have the ability to filter the data by the time intervals provided of 2 hours, 48 hours and 30 days. Nothing in between for now.

Interesting enough, each chart has a help link at the top right in the form of a question mark in a blue circle. They all lead to the same TechNet help article located at:

https://technet.microsoft.com/library/mt703628.aspx

There you’ll find a description of each chart, as well as a description of the data aggregation intervals for each time filter criteria.

The default selection for time interval filtering is set at 2 hours (2H). Even if you try to change it when creating or editing the dashboard, once you publish it defaults back to 2H.

Likes:

  • I like how the fly-outs are bordered with the same color border as the element highlighted. This makes it so much easier to read.
  • I like the rendering and responsiveness of these new charts.
  • I like the ability to select the loopback (time filter) period.

Looking forward to:

  • Ability to customize the charts and create new ones. You are really limited to 6 out of the box right now.
  • Ability to customize the Lookback. It would be nice to not only change the lookback intervals, but default specific lookbacks per chart.
  • Remove the link to help. This is fine for a preview feature, I hope it’ll be removable once ready for production, especially since all point to the same article.
  • Refreshing it defaults you back to 2H lookback. This is really annoying.

We’ve always had to resort to all kind of tweaks to generate any kind of administrative dashboard. This is a good step in the right direction. Once this feature is completed, this kind of dashboard would be invaluable in a command and control center monitoring the environment. Throw it on a screen on the wall and have almost real-time data.

Enjoy!

 

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