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!

This post is going to be very similar to previous posts for 2015 Update 1 and 2016 where the aim is to give you a summary of the latest features but actually go beyond that to also offer some direction and information onto how to actually use them to get started with making use of that functionality.

There are some items this post will not cover which are listed below:

  • Portal Functionality – This is not available yet and is planned for release soon. The idea is you will be able to add portal subscriptions via the Office 365 portal.
  • Recommended Products using Azure Machine Learning – This is currently in preview and I hope to cover this in later  posts
  • Recommended Articles using Azure Machine Learning – This is currently in preview and I hope to cover this in later  posts

Lets take a look at what the new release brings!

Tailored Help – Sometimes known as Learning Path and Guided Help

Tailored Help has been introduced which is in the top right corner of the application. This used to simply be a question mark and link to the CRM Training & Help center (which is really good by the way) but now it opens a side bar to the right of your screen and you can search in line within the application.

Question Mark Speech Bubble - Top right corner of the browser

Question Mark Speech Bubble – Found in the top right corner of the browser

The tailored help is an out of the box feature that allows users to access to the help menu within the CRM application, be able to give contextual help based on where they are in the application but also recommendations based on their role within CRM. It goes beyond that to also offer some guided walkthroughs of specific tasks which actually ‘play’ within your application to show the user actually how to do particular tasks. It achieves this by displaying information as ‘pop out’ windows on areas of the screen that you click forward on to and in some cases, complete the recommended action to continue (such as click  ‘New’).

The current release provides standard assistance with out of the box features within the sales and service but the idea is to be able to expand on this in future updates so that it is customisable. This is fantastic for new users to gain insight into how to use the application from an interface point of view but also the out of the box functionality, but when it can be expanded to contain custom help, this also means custom solutions will be able to have ‘in application assistance’ too.

Guided Help - literal walkthroughs on how to perform certain tasks

Guided Help – literal walkthroughs on how to perform certain tasks

So how do I get started?

Within an instance of CRM 2016 Update 1, click the icon in the top right hand corner of the screen (the question mark in the speech bubble shown in the screenshot earlier) to expand the guided help. You can then see ‘Guided Tasks’ menu to begin a guided task experience or you can check out the other learning materials and even search the help and training site from within the CRM Application. (Which is very good and would recommend. It has some good documentation if your looking to  learn or do specific tasks).

SLAs enabled for Custom Entities and some Standard Entities

SLA enhancements have been around for a while. SLAs, or service level agreements, are generally something associated to customer service, however the latest update brings about the functionality to be able to use the SLA entity (enhanced types only), on custom entities and an expanded range of out of the box entities.

The CRM 2016 Update added the functionality of being able to add SLAs directly to Cases without needing Entitlements (you need to add the field as it is not added by default – see the screenshot below) therefore being able to add SLA’s to custom entities expands the reach of this functionality very much. The result is that solutions can take advantage of things like the timer functionality where it may be required for other types of functionality beyond ‘service level’ such as timesheet entry or if a solution that perhaps gamifies tasks or task completion in the system by timing things.

Add the SLA field to the Case Form that is available by default.

Add the SLA field to the Case Form that is available by default. This enables you to set SLAs for cases without using Entitlements

Lets take a step back and actually take a look at what you can do with SLAs. SLA’s allow you to define associated SLA items which form part of the criteria for meeting the agreement. This is a key point as it is about meeting a set criteria for something to then happen within the system as you then set actions based on the success or failure of that criteria. The actions available are quite broad, including send an email, update a record, create a record, assign a record or change a status. This can also be applied to warning notifications as well, which can be set at specific times when the criteria has not yet been met.

Lets look at some further examples. An invoice having a deadline on it to be submitted or specific data entered is a valid example that can take advantage of the SLA functionality, being reminded when it is close to a ‘deadline’ (set within the record of course). You can even use the reminder functionality to your advantage, similar to a scheduled workflow where a quote almost being out of date and reminding the sales person to chase this up if it is still at a particular status and no action has been made.

Okay, I now know the amazingness that is SLAs. How do I get started with using the new SLA functionality?

  • Select a custom entity, and go to the entity definition within the solution – select the ‘Enable for SLA’ checkbox under the ‘Communication & Collaboration’ Heading
Enable an Entity for SLAs by going to the Entity definition under the solution and selecting the checkbox

Enable an Entity for SLAs by going to the Entity definition under the solution and selecting the checkbox

  • Now we want to create an SLA. Go to the Settings, Service Management area and select Service Level Agreements and select New, or you can always go to advanced find, search on SLA’s and hit results and click ‘Create new SLA’ on the ribbon. Either way, a popup should appear asking you which entity you wish to create this for. Select your custom entity. (Case should also be on the list). (You can also go via a solution or the default solution and scroll near the bottom to ‘SLAs’ and click ‘New’)
Creating a new SLA - A new dialog box asks which entity you want to create it for.

Creating a new SLA – A new dialog box asks which entity you want to create it for.

  • You now have a blank SLA to complete and get started with. This will be based on your own custom fields, but lets say you select ‘Created On’ from the Applicable From, which is when you want the SLA time calculation to ‘begin’ from. SLA type remains as ‘Enhanced’ for other entity types other than a Case so this cannot be changed. Save the record.
  • Now add an SLA Item under the SLA Details subgrid. Click the plus icon and name and save the record. Now we can add some detail. You need to set Applicable When – when do you want the SLA to apply? What criteria do you want the record in question to fall into? Because this is enhanced, you need to include an SLA KPI field – yours is very likely to be blank with no option to select as one doesn’t exist. Why do you need to do this? Because the enhanced SLAs work by using the SLA KPI extension and using this lookup field to populate an instance of an SLA every time the creation criteria is met so that the related information about the SLA can be stored somewhere. (To make a SLA KPI field, you simply need to make a lookup field pointing to the SLA KPI entity on the entity your working with).
  • The next stage is to define some success criteria – this is the avoidance of failure. Lets take the invoice example above, the success criteria would be the Invoice status is set to ‘Submitted’ and so, the timer is stopped. This goes in tandem with defining SLA item Failure below – what constitutes as a failure in your example? From the Record being ‘Created’, this is a set of amount of time based on the options available in the drop down ‘Failure After’ field that it is determined if the SLA was not met.. The same applies for your Success criteria, if the action for the set criteria is met, then the Success criteria is invoked, if the time elapses before this happens the failure criteria is invoked. Warning criteria is available as a certain time also.

A working example:

A specific example could be expanding the Account to include a countdown timer to complete a credit check – this isn’t the most perfect solution but as an illustrative example of the above functionality, it works fine.

1. Navigate to the Account entity configuration area and enable the entity for SLAs – this creates an SLA lookup automatically for you

2. Whilst still within the entity configuration area, click on the Form and create a new field called ‘Credit Check Completed For’ which  is a date time (must include time) and also a new field called Credit Check KPI (or whatever you want) which is a lookup field to the SLA KPI entity. This lookup is automatically populated if your SLA is selected to retain all the detail for your SLA ‘instance’ of that specific record – SLAs don’t always apply in every occasion. Add another field which is a boolean ‘Credit Check Completed’ to ask as our success criteria. Add all fields to your form.

Breakdown of Fields required

Breakdown of Fields required

3. Whilst your on the form, lets add a timer control in the ‘Insert’ tab of the ribbon. Set the Failure Time Field to your Credit Check Completed For and your Success Condition to Credit Check Completed is Yes.

Add the Timer Control on the Ribbon

Add the Timer Control on the Ribbon

Timer Setup - The Credit Check Completed FOR field is the failure time field and Success is when Credit Check Completed equals Yes

Timer Setup – The Credit Check Completed FOR field is the failure time field and Success is when Credit Check Completed equals Yes

4. Now go to the Service Management Area and select Service Level Agreements, create a new one. Keep the Applicable from to ‘Created On’ and simply add a Name to the record to Save it.

SLA_Setup

SLA Setup

5. Now open up the  lines and name the record, and set the SLA KPI option to your field you created above (the lookup to SLA KPI Instance) and set the Applicable When criteria to Created On Contains Data’ and Success Criteria to something you can easily check/test – your Credit Check Completed Field should do perfectly.

Your all done!

SLA being used on the Account entity with the Timer functionality. KPI is auto populated on creation - Simply add the name, when the credit check should be completed FOR and the applicable SLA

SLA being used on the Account entity with the Timer functionality. KPI is auto populated on creation – Simply add the name, when the credit check should be completed FOR and the applicable SLA

Customer Field available available as a new Field Type

A common frustration in previous versions was where a ‘Customer’ field that appeared on many out of the box entities, such as the Case entity, was not available to be created as a Field Type on other entities and if you needed to create a lookup field that referenced two types of entity, it would normally have to met with some complicated JavaScript. In the latest CRM 2016 Update 1 release, this requirement has been part met in being able to replicate the ‘Customer’ type field which references an Account and Contact entity. Whilst it doesn’t go as far as other standard entities or reach to custom entities, this will certainly remove the need to use scripting to meet the requirement on custom entities where you want to point to both types of entity.

How do I get started?

  • Go to the customisations area of CRM, either the form or the field section of the entity you want to add the field to and Create a New Field.
Field definition for the new type (at the bottom of the list) called 'Customer'. You can see the relationship name configuration below for Account and Contact.

Field definition for the new type (at the bottom of the list) called ‘Customer’. You can see the relationship name configuration below for Account and Contact.

  • Under ‘Type’ you will see a new Field Type of ‘Customer’ select this and you simply then name and place your field and it does it’s magic in the form.
The 'Customer' field type in action - 'Person' is able to be set to both an Account and a Contact

The ‘Customer’ field type in action – ‘Person’ is able to be set to both an Account and a Contact

Project Service

One of the most exciting pieces of functionality in the latest release was the capabilities to be able to manage projects using CRM and not have to customise it as an XRM solution (like here). As part of this post, I have also written a post ‘Introduction to Project Service in CRM 2016 Update 1’ to get you started with this module. It isn’t the whole functionality, and is in fact quite light, even though it’s quite lengthy. The size of the solution is immense & there really is no ‘rushing into’ project service as there is quite a bit of set up to do, but once you have done that set up and got a basic level of understanding of the scope and related entities, you should find getting to grips with the solution less daunting.

Project Service Solution - A Quote having Project detail information based on the cost price to a company and the sale price to a client.

Project Service Solution – A Quote having Project detail information based on the cost price to a company and the sale price to a client.

How do I get started?

First, read the blog post here

You can install this solution by navigating to the administration section of the Office 365 Portal and go to CRM, then an icon under your environment called ‘Solutions’. You will find Project Service in this section, you need to install it after reading and agreeing (if you do, of course) the terms and conditions.

Adding in the 'Project Service Trail' solution to your tenant

Adding in the ‘Project Service Trail’ solution to your tenant

There is in fact a separate learning portal for both the Project and Field Service tools here – you can sign up using the code MicrosoftPVS – it gives you access to both solutions, not just the Field Service. Sign up, get an email and complete your registration and you will have access to four huge training resources for both solutions – I would recommend you use these, along with the CRM Training and Help, to get up to speed (The in application help has lots of links to this if you search ‘Project’ that I couldn’t find in the normal website) This is all after you have read the blog post of course! 🙂

Field Service

Similar to Project Service, Field Service has been a highly anticipated add-on module to the latest release that actually has been around since the 2016 release in the ‘Field One’ solutions that can be installed. Field Service provides standalone functionality but also additional capabilities to Project Service which focus on information to resources out in the field, inventory management and deployment of those resources in the field, along with completion of the work and moving on to what is next with efficiency in mind. Whilst different to the Project Service element, they both actually tie in quite nicely with each-other and both solutions are often demoed together.

Field Service - Schedule Board

Field Service – Schedule Board

How can I get started?

Install the solution – similar to the project service, instead it is called ‘Trial of Field Service’ and like before, accept the terms and conditions once read (If you do!).

Similar to the above note, I’d recommend signing up to the separate learning portal and watching the videos (There are three) regarding Field One and it’s functionality. Similarly with the Project Service, CRM Help and Training, accessed in line within the CRM Application by typing ‘Field Service’ in the search bar, has some amazing resources to help you get started. I plan to do a post on Field Service in the near future.

Interactive Service Hub Enhancements

Interactive Service Hub Form

Interactive Service Hub Form

The Interactive Service Hub was introduced in the CRM 2016 update the end of last year and for the most part, looks to be an interesting addition to the standard functionality. The latest release brings about some code capability enhancements as well as some functional updates.

From the code perspective, you can now do a lot more things using client side scripting using grid objects, focusing, getting information such a IDs and States and also open forms. This gives more reach to customise the Interactive Service Hub beyond the standard functionality using development methods.

Functionally, you no longer have to remember the URL for the Interactive Service Hub and this is now available via the Settings section of the site map.

Settings > Application now has a link to the Interactive Service Hub

Settings > Application now has a link to the Interactive Service Hub

There are also a whole other raft of functional improvements:

  • SLAs can now be applied within the ISH
  • Timer Control is now available within the ISH
  • Merge Control can be done through ISH
  • IFrames and Web Resources can now be added to forms
  • Lookup fields can be configured to include filtered records “e.g Show only my records”
  • Enhanced Language Filtering

How can I get started?

More in depth information about the client changes and  documentation surrounding that information can be found here 

In regards to functionality, much of the this is available already in CRM application itself and you are likely to already be familiar with it. You simply need to configure it for your Interactive Service Hub Forms e.g. add the Timer control and the fields that relate to your SLA to the specific Interactive Forms for your entity. See below for screenshots on those configuration options.

Filtering Record Lookups

Filtering Record Lookups via the lookup field option within the form

Merging Cases is now available when you select two Cases on the Case view

Merging Cases is now available when you select two Cases on the Case view

By accessing the Interactive Service Form - you can open this and click the Insert tab on the ribbon to see the Timer, Web Resource and IFrame Options for you to add into the form.

By accessing the Interactive Service Form – you can open this and click the Insert tab on the ribbon to see the Timer, Web Resource and IFrame Options for you to add into the form.

Mobile Enhancements

One of the biggest enhancements to Mobile is the offline experience is now available with the application. You can access records, update them and add new ones as opposed to previously only being able to create ‘Drafts’ and also not having access to information from within CRM. Offline experience is available for mobile users providing you have at least 5 Professional Online licences or 1 Enterprise Online Licence. I’m not sure if Microsoft have changed the model, but I was under the impression the minimum purchase was 5 for CRM Online Users anyway.

You can only use this functionality on subscribed licences, so no testing on trails are available and you will still have access to the previous draft functionality is you don’t configure the new offline setup.

This works by using Azure to sync between the mobile local store and an Azure Cloud SQL Database periodically.

How can I get started?

You set this up within the CRM Web application itself, and there is a full guide here. Please do note that you cannot do this on trial accounts.

Power BI Embedded Dashboards

Power BI is really exciting functionality and is actually quite fun to use. You can make some fantastic dashboards within the Power BI application and the range of datasets that it supports is amazing, going well beyond CRM. If you have yet to try Power BI, you can trial an Office E5 Subscription, similar to CRM Online, within the same environment so you can give it a go. I did do a post a while back how to set this and One Note Integration up, but its actually pretty simple now and you just need to go to the store, and find the E5 subscription and simply click on ‘Try Now’ and follow the process through, which is relatively quick. (You do not need to put any extra details or your card details in)

The latest release has expanded the Power BI functionality and linked it with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Dashboards. Sounds like a match made in heaven right? Its actually really simple to do and try and looks amazing.

An example of a Power BI Dashboard from within CRM using the Service Dataset

An example of a Power BI Dashboard from within CRM using the Service Dataset

How can I get started?

  • You can try this functionality using a CRM Trial and a Power BI Trial – as suggested above, you need to ensure your running an Office 365 account with both set up as trials.
  • Once you have done this, Open Power BI by going to the grid in the top left on the portal.
Depending on where you are with setting a new trial up, setting up the dataset is done from this screen and clicking the 'Plus' icon circled

Depending on where you are with setting a new trial up, setting up the dataset is done from this screen and clicking the ‘Plus’ icon circled

 

Depending on where you are with setting a new trial up, setting up the dataset is done from this screen and clicking 'Get' on 'My Organisation' under 'Content  Pack Library'

Depending on where you are with setting a new trial up, setting up the dataset is done from this screen and clicking ‘Get’ on ‘My Organisation’ under ‘Content Pack Library’

 

  • On the stacked menu on the side of the screen, click the plus (+) icon next to ‘Datasets’ and/or select ‘Content Pack Library’ > My Organisation > Get
  • This will open a screen which looks pretty blank, go to the Services Tab
If you get this screen, click Services

If you get this screen, click Services

  • Get started by using the pre-made content packs from your instance of CRM by clicking ‘Get’
Under services, scroll a bit down until you come across two options for Microsoft Dynamics CRM - select one (in this example, Sales is selected)

Under services, scroll a bit down until you come across two options for Microsoft Dynamics CRM – select one (in this example, Sales is selected)

  • Enter your URL only of your organisation and for ‘Authenticion method’ Select oAuth2 – you will be asked to sign in using your Office 365 details.
Enter your URL details only and any further contextual information it requires

Enter your URL details only and any further contextual information it requires

  • Thats almost it! Go to the CRM Application,  Settings > Admin and Open System Settings.
Almost ready - now go back to CRM and go to Settings, Reporting tab and enable Power BI Tile enbedding

Almost ready – now go back to CRM and go to Settings, Reporting tab and enable Power BI Tile enbedding

  • Click the Reporting Tab and Select ‘Allow Power BI Tile Embedding’ to Yes. (It is no by default)
  • Now go to create a new Dashboard, you have the Power BI Tile available!
Now go and create a Dashboard as normal and you will see a new option - 'Power BI Tile'

Now go and create a Dashboard as normal and you will see a new option – ‘Power BI Tile’

Entity Feedback

A piece of new functionality has been added called ‘Feedback’ to entities that allow you to add feedback to any entity by rating them on a number scale.

This is particularly useful in a customer service scenario as customers can rate their experience of support. However feedback doesn’t have to be external – you could encourage your users to rate other types of records too – e.g. Team members can rate how well they thought an Order was completed or perhaps Campaigns can be rated based on the number of responses or how well or difficult even they were to execute. It really is a matter of perspective here, you might think that the feedback is for gratification but the example with the Campaigns is a perfectly valid use for the functionality too as to use it as a learning curve to increase your processes based on satisfaction of the team.

You can also hook this functionality into portals as well so that you can leverage existing functionality and you simply only have to create a front end to it within the portal.

Once you have added your feedback, based on the Min and Max rating you enter and your actual rating score, it creates a ‘Normalised Rating’ between 0-1 so all rating is calculated/viewed on an equal level. This means you don’t have to define any criteria for scoring and those giving feedback can score on their own model, and also if you did want to use a defined model this can be enforced without having to remove or redefine a standard one.

The 'Feedback' extension is available via the related entities once activated

The ‘Feedback’ extension is available via the related entities once activated

How do I get started?

  • You need to enable the entity you wish to enable for feedback via the entity configuration area.
Enable an Entity for Feedback

Enable an Entity for Feedback

Note: Once you enable an entity for Feedback, you cannot change it back.

  • Once this is completed, simply navigate to the entity and go to the related area of the record using the downward chevron next to the name of the record on the navigation bar and select ‘Feedback’
  • Create a New Feedback record and complete it.
Create New Feedback for your entity record

Create New Feedback for your entity record

The idea is you can extend this further by adding a Sub Grid to the entity and also consolidate the Feedback ratings into rollup fields if you wish – You can also make Dashboards or visualisations based on the data to help drive improvement and change within the system and even your business processes. Information such as ‘Who is providing the best service based on feedback?’ can be achieved this way.

Categorise Records

A new feature available is being able to categorise entities to add an extra reporting dimension across your entire organisation, parts of it or even just an isolated part of functionality within CRM. I see this as a global reporting method.

This is managed using a new entity called ‘Category’ available in the Service Management via the Settings Area. This is not to be confused with Subjects..

How do I get started?

You simply make your parent and children (children can only be associated to one parent) and you add a Lookup field on your chosen entity to point to the Category entity. This is set up by default for Knowledge Base Articles.

You then select, within the form, which category that record belongs to. This will then be available to be used as queries using Views, Dashboards and numerous reporting methods to add a new dimension to your data.

The new 'Categories' area within the Service Management Section

The new ‘Categories’ area within the Service Management Section

 

An example using Categories in the lookup of a form

An example using Categories in the lookup of a form

 

 

Those are the core features available in the latest release – if you want some more information on what’s new, read up all about it here.

Any questions,  please put them in the comments & I’ll do my best to assist!