There is a large chance that you will have seen the news surrounding the future of CRM Online and the way Microsoft is taking this, which is all surrounding a product called Dynamics 365. Dynamics 365 will include CRM, but also a few other applications as well, including what has been referred to as the ‘Common Data Model’ which is the foundation for the intergration and interoperability between those applications. More information can be found here about that, but i’d also recommend you check out the linked blogs by MVP’s Scott and Jukka first to get a good overview.

What is this project? What  is the motivation?

This post’s intention is to introduce what is called the ‘Dynamics 365 Community Schema Project’ so you might be wondering where the ‘Community Schema’ comes into this picture, right? The project is the product of optimism of ‘there being a better way’ from what is a very common problem in CRM Projects. That problem being where time is spent on every project customising the Account and Contact records (and more!) to ‘fit’ the requirements for the customer that you are working with. Those requirements can be based on industry, features or even both. The project aims to be able to create features, which are suggested and created by the community, so that common requirements of businesses (or part of) are already created for you and it is those features that can be based on industry specific (e.g. Financial) or they can be more generic (e.g. Social Media).

How can you help? How can you contribute?

This is positioned as a community project that everyone can contribute to, we need your experience and enthusiasm and there are many ways you can contribute to the project. To get started, go to the project page on GitHub here and you can submit issues. Issues can be something you think will be useful to be added into the schema or even you can post questions and thoughts surrounding the problem area. From a time perspective this is a very quick process. If you want to take this further and work on a feature, you can follow the process below:

CommunitySchema_ProcessMap

The time you commit to the project is completely up to you and is flexible. Some features can be small, and in fact it is recommended if you have something big in mind so it can be broken it down into separate parts making it easier for you.

The Schema Extractor Tool

Scott has built a custom tool for the project which extracts the XML and relationship information out of your system for you, so it makes contributing to the  project even easier. These ‘artifacts’ that can be utilised as part of the project can then be the XML (as the core information) and documentation surrounding what the feature is.

To use the tool, download the tool itself and a ‘How To’ guide at the main home page for the project  here.

More information?

An expanded site via Github has been created to give you some more insight into the project and the plans for the future. We are aligning this project closely with CRMUG, not only because its a fantastic organisation which values community contribution and insight, but because it really has that community ethic and is a fantastic platform to introduce this to.

Scott and I will be presenting an introduction roundtable session for the project at the November CRMUG Session on 23rd November 2016 at the Microsoft Reading HQ Campus. More information in the link above! This is a free event where food is provided and you get to meet and discuss CRM with lots of friendly and like minded people. Register now!

Will there be more community events?

There are more community events planned, especially surrounding CRMUG and also Skype events. Keep an eye on twitter and also on the main home page for the  latest information.

There will also be the opportunity for other CRMUG Chapter meetings outside of the UK to be able to run sessions surrounding the project!

Finally, there will be a first release presented at the CRMUG Summit 2017 which is currently in planning, so watch this space!

I hope you are as excited as we are! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or ask us on twitter! We look forward to hearing from you!