Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement

UUI Email

Microsoft have finally included the Email functionality within the new UUI in Dynamics 365 customer Engagement. They have also treated us to something delicious which is the new HTML designer! This is just a very quick video to show off some of the basics.

A couple of things about the new Dynamics 365 CE UUI

As many of you are aware Microsoft released Version 9 for Dynamics 365 customer engagement. One of the primary features was the new Unified User Interface (UUI) which originally was going to be just for business edition, but that also seems to have changed / re branded / disappeared. No worries there, we get the new web refresh and UUI in the enterprise release! FAB!!!

All good and well but there are a few things you need to be made aware of if you are looking to implement version 9, especially if its primarily for the new UUI. Firstly, I need to give a shout out to some of the team that have been testing this with me: Rob DawsonMatt Webb & Jason Almeida… Thanks for having a crack at this with me… I bet we find more interesting little Easter eggs 🙂

One thing I need to make very clear is that the UUI and the WEB REFRESH are 2 very different interfaces. The Web refresh is the same browser interface that has just had a bit of a coat of paint to remove a lot of the white space. It does look a lot cleaner and “fresher”. Below is an example of my contact record in the web refresh. (Yes you can totally colour brand the subgrid headers)

The UUI is the new unified interface that has been generated with the platform refresh and will provide the same user experience across mobile, tablet, Outlook, web and Unified Service Desk access. This is going to be the preferred interface in the future and it more intuitive which is really going to promote user adoption. The controls are a lot more user friendly and are reliant on the new Custom Control Framework (CCF).

In my experience, the new UUI presented a few challenges during testing. I thought it may be useful to bring up these gaps before you decide to upgrade only to use the UUI. This all being said, the testing has all been undertaken on trial environments and have all been tested across different browsers. The different APPS enabled for UUI were also tested. It also doesn’t mean that you will experience these within the web refresh interface.

Email Activity Creation

Other than from within the Outlook interface I have not yet found a way to send an email from the new UUI. The attempts to send the emails were made directly from the time line on the account and contact forms where the actual email activity option is missing from the list. I also attempted from the quick create for activities from the top nav bar, where the option exists but nothing happens when you select it. You can click the little email shortcut on the right hand of the account or contact, but that will simply utilise the built-in email available on your device.

Advanced Find

I was unable to conduct any Advanced Find within the new UUI. This is a real core function within Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement. I can utilise the categorised and relevance search functionality.

Quick Create

A number of the quick create buttons on the top nav bar don’t seem to work. I can create core records from the quick create “+” icon but not from the other 2 icons.

Some other stuff…

There are a couple of other little gotchas in the UUI that you may want to look out for such as:

  • No ability to bulk delete (Probably safer this way)
  • Quick create doesn’t work with custom entities.
  • A few issues with the CCF (Certain controls giving a couple of issues) which definitely deserves a separate post.
  • Outlook client is a little clunky but seems to have a lot of potential though.

 

This being said, the new UUI is looking GOOD and working well for where it is in the release cycle. I feel as if this is fantastic functionality from Microsoft and as the platform gets updated these little kinks will get ironed out and worked out. The experience is definitely A LOT better than the web refresh. The interface is a lot cleaner and it flows better/ It feels as if information is more readily available to users in a more interactive manner.

 

As we discover things, I’ll keep posting. I’m sure there is loads of amazing functionality buried in there!

WHats New in Dynamics 365 (CRM) V9

Whats New in Dynamics 365 (CRM) V9

RIGHT, SO, I figured I’d write the obligatory “Whats New” post in preview of the looming release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 V9. This post focuses on the CRM modules within Dynamics 365. There are so many features I couldn’t possibly cover all of them in one post. I also didn’t want to write a “Top X (5 #JustSaying) Features of Dynamics 365 V9”, because, well, I would have picked a random number like 8.658 and I also really like them all! 


I tend to waffle a bit about how amazing stuff is, so you may just get bored… This is why I included pictures and headings, so you can skim read and absorb the awesome 🙂 That being said, here are some of the features I think are really important to both business & Technical users. Please note that because these features are still effectively in Preview, the functionality released may change or vary, purely depending on Microsoft.

1. THE UNIFIED UI

YES, ONE UI TO RULE THEM ALL, in a manner of speaking! Microsoft Dynamics 365 promotes a new fresh look and feel in the form of a user interface that crosses desktop and mobile devices. The new UI will promote a single, familiar user experience and is designed to be responsive relevant to the device you are working from. This UUI, for this release, is only relevant to Business Edition. The UUI will be rolled out at a later stage for Enterprise Edition. Basically… it just looks EPIC!


2. The Web Refresh

Worry not enterprise users of Dynamics 365 (Most of the UK), you have not been left out. Thankfully Microsoft have decided to give the web client a refresh. Basically, this will promote user adoption and just create a better experience for users. All that ugly white space is no longer and the forms look a lot more structured with boarders, properly wrapped text and headers that fit. below is an example of one of the forms:

3. MULTI-SELECT

If I were to tell you that this has been a long awaited piece of functionality, i feel as if I wouldn’t be articulating just how long the Dynamics world have been waiting for this. when I read the PowerPoint headings I did it in “Movie Voice” because I was so excited : “A New Attribute Type, A New UI Control…. applicable to existing and new optionsets… MULTI-SELECT“. Nice and easy to config and the best part is we don’t have to use a million workarounds. Respect Microsoft!

4. Enhancements to the App Designer

As we know, in the Dynamics 365 release, Microsoft embedded “App Designer” functionality which allowed admins / customisers the ability to consolidate functionality relevant to a specific business role / function into an App. NOW, this has been enhanced to allow for proper App welcome screens to be generated with help / guidance information readily available to the user. #IncreasingUserAdoption. Apps can also be generated based on an existing solution. both of these features promoting better packaging of an App!

5. Security Enhancements

Microsoft have added made some much needed updates to the security functionality in Dynamics 365. We now have the ability to setup Max Timeout & Inactivity Timeout settings for sessions. I’ve been asked loads of times about how we achieve this and now there is finally an easy way to respond!

6. Organisational Insights

The organisational insights functionality has been massively extended for the V9 release. 

Organisational insights will provide system admins with better insight into organisations the usage of Dynamics 365. this is INCREDIBLY useful for loads of reasons. Now we will have the ability to understand exactly which entities are mostly being used and by which users. This is an extremely simple way of managing the licenses required by your organisation. Other activities can be managed such as API Calls, logins, Reads and more.

7. Data Export Service

SO, how many of you have had issues using the OData service with Power BI. ESPECIALLY the joys of referencing a load of optionsets and getting those values into power BI. Now, using the data export service, we can export data into an Azure SQL DB and easily reference it without the hassle of sifting through hundreds of fields and converting the information to something legible. THIS is VERY useful!



There are loads of other features that are relevant such as Customer Insights, Linkedin Connector (Personal favorite), Resource Scheduling, Virtual Entities and much more. I’ll be covering these subjects off in separate posts due to the detailed nature of the functionality (Esp. Customer Insights). 


Personally, I feel as if Microsoft have really put in a lot of investment into Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the product has just evolved so much since its inception. More and more businesses are recognising that Dynamics 365 can add massive amounts of value to their organisations when implemented, extended and managed correctly.


As usual, if you have any questions please feel free to get hold of me and I’ll do my level best to respond and help out.

Dynamics CRM Deployment Models Vs. Drinking a Beer

Dynamics CRM Deployment Models Vs. Drinking a Beer


Recently I have been involved in various RFPs that have involved multiple elements of complexity and have required extensive research and thought regarding answers that we provided.In every single RFP questions regarding deployment models and architecture are always asked. Which is better? CRM on Prem. or cloud? What will work best for us? Please explain the differences between all the deployment models…Now before I start explaining Dynamics CRM

deployment models and diving into
architectures, I would like to state that after these types of very strenuous RFP processes, I generally like to unwind in a pub and give my poor brain a rest. After several beers I’m generally churning information and coming up with bright ideas for blog articles, along with texting the wife to let her know that I’m most likely going to be late.

This exact idea stemmed from one of these pub visits. I was reminded of a conversation I had had with a work colleague years ago in South Africa. I ran it past my current kung-foo master of sales, Mr. Stuart “No Code” Cassie, who has since collaborated with me on such concepts as comparing drinking beer to Dynamics CRM deployment models. So for those of you with a sense of humour, I encourage you to read on.

When asked deployment model related questions by people with a lesser understanding of Dynamics CRM, it’s always a bit tough to get them excited about how it all works. In order to relay this message in a creative and understandable manner, the 4 brilliant booze based comparative scenarios have been generated:

On Premise:

Like drinking beer at your own pub, which is a free house. You are responsible for choosing the beer, keeping it cold and for serving the beer. If you run out of beer, it’s your fault. Sometimes you will want to repair a fridge or stock up beer late at night, but your supplier will not be available. You may also require a beer at a random hour…. Choose your landlord carefully!!

Dynamics CRM On Premises deployments require an internal infrastructure that will support the solution that you have selected. Your internal IT department will be responsible for maintaining this infrastructure and making sure all works correctly all the time. If anything breaks that is out of their control, your supplier will need to help you resolve the issues.

Partner Hosted:

Like drinking beer at someone else’s’ pub, on a tab. They are responsible for keeping the beer cold and for the beer stock. But you choose the type of beer you want to drink from their long list, and if you decide that if you want some pork scratching’s and ready salted crisps, they will get some for you and add it to the tab. If you don’t want to drink beer any more, you can leave… but you still have to pay your tab. If a fridge breaks or beer runs out, they are responsible for making sure all is in order.

Dynamics CRM partner hosted deployments are hosted within the partners internal hosting infrastructure. The partner will be responsible for maintaining the infrastructure and service as well as supplying any extra components that may be needed.

Cloud (Online):

Like drinking beer directly from a pub located in the brewery grounds of your choice, but you pay per beer OR you can have a tab! You can leave when you feel like it. The beer is ALWAYS cold and it never runs out. You can have as much beer as you want! Service is normally really great… If the beer stops for any reason, they will apologise and provide some free beer to make it up to you 🙂

Hosting Dynamics CRM in the Microsoft Cloud guarantees great service, no internal infrastructure requirements and the ability to add or remove components based on requirements. This is a monthly investment and more simple to implement than any other deployment model.

Private Cloud:

Like drinking beer in a private box owned by the brewery at the Rugby or football – service is top notch, beer is always available in any quantity you choose but don’t expect much change left in your pocket at the end of the day

Private cloud deployments rely on Azure virtual servers hosted in the cloud. These are dedicated servers that contain only software and functionality relevant to your deployment. These types of deployments guarantee great service because they are hosted in the Microsoft cloud. They offer excellent flexibility and the ability to manage, to an extent, your own environments.

Whether you are installing Dynamics CRM or deciding on a pub, all options have their pros and their cons regardless of what you choose. Some customers are more focused on saving money whereas other customers are more focused on private, internally manageable solutions.

As you can see from the above descriptions, drinking beer can be equated to Dynamics CRM deployment models. I hope that this has both enlightened you and given you a bit of a laugh… it certainly was interesting to write. Thanks to Stuart for your vital input 🙂