Scheduling a record was not something achieved without some thought using workflows in Dynamics 365 CE. Mostly the ‘Bulk Delete’ trick was used where scheduled Bulk Delete of records (normally to remove legacy data) would act as the trigger for your custom workflow, effectively creating a scheduling system. Still, this doesn’t feel exactly clean and this functionality was not something that can be achieved logically from the workflow designer. This has since changed with Microsoft Flow.
Having a business system that gives actionable insights is important, allowing staff to be able to take information and turn it into useful knowledge relevant to their goals and mission within the business. This mission often involves interacting with customers. In an era of self-service, it’s not all the time the interactions are outbound, and customer interactions can come through via portals, landing pages, surveys and completing feedback forms in any length of time that is not guaranteed. The interactions can result in a, broadly categorised, positive, negative or indifferent experience for the customer. Given not everything is always going so positively with customers, wouldn’t it be amazing to know the general sentiment a customer has from the currently related interactions? This way, users can be alerted if a customer’s average sentiment changes to negative, or before you contact a customer you know if a recent interaction has made them less than impressed, giving you the opportunity to change their impression for the better.
A challenge in Microsoft Flow is to obtain specific data from a collection of objects (Like Dynamics 365 records) and use some data from those records within a single HTTP request. Why not make multiple HTTP requests within the ‘Apply Each’ loop I hear you ask? Well my friend, because there could be 100 records or more, that’s 100 hits to an endpoint which is really unnecessary, time-consuming and prone to error. Best Practice is, if the scenario allows it, to send as few requests as possible.
One of the weaknesses of traditional workflows within Dynamics 365 is their inability to natively iterate over child records. Great news! Microsoft Flow allows you to be able to iterate over child records and pass in query string parameters allowing you to limit the returned collection. It achieves this using OData syntax. Trust me though, even if you have never used OData syntax before, with a bit of trial and error you’ll pick it up in no time. Check out this post for a very quick start to iterating over child entities using Microsoft Flow.
It is absolutely amazing how many things Microsoft Flow can do. One of the most useful actions I have come across is making HTTP requests that integrate with Dynamics 365. Using Flow to make HTTP requests to external services allows for you to create loosely coupled integrations very easily. Once the solution feature is released in October 2018, it will also be easy to maintain. This post will show you how to make a simple HTTP request to one of the Cognitive Service API’s in response to a trigger within Dynamics 365.
Microsoft Forms is a service that allows for the creation of a basic form quickly and easily. Forms are no longer in preview just for educational organisations and are now in preview for everybody with a valid Office 365 Licence, which means we can now look at how this service can fit into the Dynamics 365 stack of technologies as it offers an alternative to other services such as those that are designed to create Landing Pages within Dynamics 365, or produce Surveys, essentially any sort of fast data collection or submitting you want the user to do. (There’s always positives and negatives of course which need to be weighed up with what you want out of the service you choose)
Organisations often request what is called a ‘Customer 360’ view within their CRM systems. This is unfortunately a term which has become overused, misused and actually quite misleading. Feel free to listen to why in one of my YouTube videos (this one) but in short, human beings are not owls, and we cannot consume a large amount of information at any one time.
One of my favourite things about Microsoft Dynamics 365 is that it includes a fantastic xRM platform that enables users to leverage what it can already do but also extend the out of the box system and build alongside and on top of it. With every release since 2013 there has been a huge expansion to the out of the box functionality.
It is fairly regular that you will be navigating the internet to then come across a pop up on the side of your screen asking you if you require assistance. This live support functionality is designed to capture needs right as they happen or very shortly after so if your having a problem, such as not being able to find what your looking for, you can ask immediately without having to email a support ticket and then wait and manage the response.
The release of Dynamics 365 at the end of last year saw some new features available for public preview. One of the features in preview is the Cognitive Services integration, currently available in the US. The Cognitive Services APIs are a group of APIs that span across different categories such as vision or text analytics. A large number of them have a Machine Learning component where a model will be created and then adjusted over time based on the data that it feeds upon, however not all of them require this and instead perform computation without having the ‘learning’ ability.
Over the past month I did a video series which was intended to be a ‘Sales 101’ style experience, so for those who are being introduced to the amazing world of Microsoft Dynamics, they can use the videos as a learning companion to get to grips with the basics of the Sales functionality.
I definitely didn’t intend for them to be that long, but then the difficultly lies in the detail – I needed to go into more detail in some areas, so that reflects more in the Lead to Invoice videos for example, compared to the Sales Literature material.
I’ve linked all of the videos below (with #1 being linked above in the post also) I hope they are useful and if you have any questions, please put them in the comments below!
Sales 101 #1 – Accounts, Contacts and the Product Catalog in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Sales 101 #2 – Lead to Invoice in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Sales 101 #3 – Goals and Connections in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Sales 101 #4 – Sales Literature and Activities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
The CRM 2016 Update 1 release is now available for new Microsoft Dynamics CRM subscriptions or trials. It will also soon be available for existing organisations via the office 365 management portal via ‘Updates’ on the CRM menu. If you have not already, even if you are waiting for an update to be scheduled, I’d recommend you set up a new trial here to experience and play around with the new features of the latest update, because they are super exciting!
There is quite a lot of literature regarding creating Word Templates around now, I touched upon it in my previous post, and the infographic here on twitter. When was I was recently researching a separate blog post, I came across a way to create a Word Template using an out of the box Action and a simple Workflow. From playing around with this, I’ve thought about loads of ideas and solutions that could utilise this functionality and how it can be extended to create things like auto-generated scheduled emails (which are unavailable in CRM Online as they are on Premise), things like Goal leader-board updates and things like that. I’ll be working on some of these in the future and they will feature in some posts coming soon.