Common Data Service for Apps, Dynamics 365 for Talent and Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations, The integration story with the new Power platform from Microsoft

In some of my earlier posts, I discussed briefly about the testing I did for the first version of Common Data Service to integrate Dynamics 365 for Sales and Finance & Operations. That was primarily for syncing customer accounts and all associated information. Microsoft also ships several data integration templates out of the box for this, which covers pretty much all key entities in the Prospect to Cash scenario.

Today, we will take another deeper look at the Dynamics 365 integration story using the overall Power platform which contains the power of Common Data Service(CDS 2.0), Microsoft Power Apps, Flow and Power BI. We will learn about the new version of Common Data Service, which is referred to as CDS for Apps (CDS 2.0) and we will test an integration between Dynamics 365 For Talent and Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations.

Create the Power platform environment (CDS For Apps environment): The first step here is to make sure we have a correct environment created and setup under Power platform environments. For this testing and demonstration, I have created a new environment specifically for the D365 Talent to Finance and Operations integration. This environment is where the D365 for Talent app will surface the data and this environment will also host all the associated Powerapps, CDS, flow etc.

Create the Talent project in LCS and link the project to the CDS environment and Provision the Talent environment: Now that I have the Power platform environment setup, I will go ahead and create the D365 Talent project in Lifecycle services and then will provision the D365 Talent environment that I need for this testing. To do this, login to Life cycle services (LCS) and create a new project.

We will now need to link this LCS project to the new power platform environment we created above. Navigate to the Talent app management tile and click Add button.

You will notice the environment we created in the Power platform admin center will appear here.

I will mark the “Include demo data” checkbox, so that my Talent environment will have some prepopulated demo data that i can use for my testing.

The new D365 Talent environment should be provisioned now with Demo data and you should see the status of the environment as “Deployed”. Now, let us access the newly deployed Talent environment to make sure if we are able to access the required components of Talent successfully.

Click on the Log on to Talent link in the Talent App Management area. I now have the D365 Talent environment successfully deployed and ready for my testing.

After this deployment, You will also notice that these Talent solutions will appear under the Solutions tab of the Powerapps environment and the data from the Talent environment syncs in real time with the CDS. This means all the components of the D365 Talent solution where deployed into the CDS environment.

Talent Solutions deployed in PowerApps environment

You can also see that the demo data i got in my D365 Talent app has already surfaced in the CDS entities.

Note: All the data created in D365 for Talent will surface in Common Data Service automatically and we will use that for integrating with D365 F&O.

On the other side, I have already deployed my D365 for finance and operations environment and that is ready for the integration with D365 for Talent.

Configure the Connection Set in Power platform admin center: The next step for us is to configure the Connection set, which basically defines the 2 environments/applications and their respective organizations/entities for data mapping and integration. In this case, I have created the Connection Set, which contains my D365 Finance and Operations environment and the CDS 2.0 environment.

We will leverage the out of the Data integration project templates which Microsoft ships already to configured our data integrator project. To configure the data integrator project, go to Power Platform Admin center and create the data integration project.

As you can see in the screenshot above, under this data integration project, I have selected the Connection set i configured above and I have also used a data integration template called Core HR, which is provided by Microsoft already.

If we go into the tasks of the integration project, you will notice that for each of the tasks, the source and destination data fields are already predefined in the template. If you want, you can modify the mappings based on your needs, or you can even extend the integration by creating your own tasks to integrate additional entities.

We now have all the environments and the integration configurations we need to have in place. Let us go ahead and create some data in the Core HR App of D365 Talent and we will then run the integration project manually for this demonstration. Ideally, i can have the integration to execute automatically periodically.

Note: I am not using the ATTRACT or ONBOARD apps of Talent in this demonstration/testing, but if you use those, the data from both of those applications surface directly in CDS 2.0 (Common Data Service) and the Core HR app syncs in almost real time with CDS 2.0 to sync those data (Data such as Jobs, Applicants, new hires etc.).

I have created a job named “D365 Tech Architect” in Talent as shown in screenshot below.

Now, let us run the Data integration project manually under the Power platform admin center and verify if the data syncs correctly to D365 Finance and Operations.

You can monitor the status of the execution of this under the Execution history tab.

As soon as the New job record was created in D365 Talent, it surfaced in the CDS Job entity.

The data integration project execution has now finished. We will go check in D365 F&O and see if the new job record got created. As you can see the new job record now exists in D365 F&O automatically.

Note: You can think of the end to end integration story between D365 Talent and D365 F&O, where you will start all the way from attracting the talent (Recruitment) then continuing to Onboarding, hiring in D365 for Talent, and finally have the employee and related data created automatically in D365 F&O.

When you use the Attract and Onboard apps of D365 Talent, they surface/store the data by default to the Common Data Service (CDS 2.0). The Core HR app f Talent the n automatically syncs the Attract/Onboard data from CDS. The sync is almost real time. Then when your Data integration project runs in PowerApps, the data from CDS will sync to D365 Fin and Ops.

As a concluding note for this post, I will say, “The Microsoft Power platform now looks ready for prime time and it is time for us to encourage our customers to start leveraging these and innovate, and think what they can do with these tools to digitize their business processes and improve process efficiencies. There are new features that Microsoft is introducing every month for this platform to make it more and more capable and to enable customers to be able to extend and integrate their Dynamics 365 and other business apps apps in low code, no code fashion.

That’s it for today’s post!! More to come.”

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Add and manage custom data fields without requiring code development in Dynamics 365 for Talent, Finance and Operations

In almost every implementation of business applications (ERP specifically), we often hear customers asking to add new custom data fields across various forms of the application, for them to be able to track additional data for their business needs. Sometimes, these custom data fields may involve certain level of custom business logic too, and sometimes these would just be straightforward data fields, meant for additional data tracking with no additional custom logic.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 allows you add and manage custom data fields across a wide range of forms and tables, without requiring any coding or development effort. In today’s post we will review this new feature. I am using Dynamics 365 for Talent to demonstrate this, but the same functionality is available in Finance & Operations as well as the Retail Management applications.

NOTE: In Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, this feature is available in Platform Update 13.

How to add a custom data field on a form:

Let us say I as an end user of the system want to add 2 custom data fields on the Employee master.

Data Field 1 “Is Exempt” : I need this to be a checkbox to indicate if an employee in Exempt or non-exempt.

Data Field 2  “Employee group:” I need to group my employee’s in a very custom way, so i need this field. This will be a pick list(Dropdown type field).

Dynamics 365 let’s you add the custom fields using the “Form Personalization” functionality. To add the new custom field, navigate to the form where you want to add the custom field and click OPTIONS > Personalize this form. In my case, I am on the Employees form.

Personalize this form

On the Personalization pane, select Insert > Field.

Insert Fields

Select the area of the form where you want to add the new field and you will see the new Insert fields dialog opening up. This lets you chose any additional existing data fields you want to add to the form. But this also lets you add a new custom data field.

Create new field

Next, you need to select the table where you want to add this new custom field. Note that only forms/tables that are allowed for adding custom fields will be visible here (You can see most common tables available here).

Additionally note that, you will only see the tables which are included as a data source on the Employee master already. The table names here are more easy to read rather than being robotic names, which makes it easy for an end user to deal with this.

I will add my first custom field, which is the “Is exempt checkbox“.

Create Custom Field

Enter a Name prefix for your data field. It might be a best practice to follow a common pattern for all custom fields. System then creates the field name automatically.

Select the field Type, which is Checkbox in my case.

Enter a front end display label, which the user or everyone will see this field as.

Finally enter the Help text, which will tell more information about this data field to an end user.

Now i will go ahead and add my second data field “Employee group”, which is a picklist.

Create Custom Field2

I added the 2 custom field on the employees form just like that. I will now click Save to see my changes. On the next screen, just click the Insert button.

We will now see these 2 new fields in action on the Employee details page and we can start using these. How cool is that!!!

Fields in action

Custom Field help text

Can I share custom fields with others? 

Yes, you can !!! If you or others of your organization creates a custom field on a form, they can share it with other users (All or specific subset of users). There are 2 ways you can do it.

The best way is to have your system administrator manage this. Under System Administration > Personalization menu, they can select specific use(s) by their security role or simply for All users, and then either ‘Select an existing personalization to apply for those users”, or they can also import a personalization file for those user(s).Admin PersonalizationThe other option is for you to simply export your personalization  and share it with specific users and have them import those on to their view.

Export Personalization1

Export Personalization

How a system administrator manage the custom fields centrally at one place:

Yes !! A user with System administrator privileges, can see and manage ALL the custom fields added by everyone in the system , all at one place under System Administration > Setup > Custom fields page. Here , you can Edit the Label, Help text or even the length of text fields. You can also add new values for Picklist type fields at any time.

Note that you cannot change the Fieldname, Field type.

Lets say i want change the label of the “Is Exempt” field to “Is Salaried employee” and i want to add a new value to the Employee group field.

Edit Custom Field 1.

Edit Custom Field 2.

If I now go back to my employee details form, You will see the changes reflected there.

Edit Custom Field applied

Can I delete a custom field if I don’t need it anymore? 

This is highly unlikely, but there  may be instances where you decide not to use a custom data field anymore for some reason. If you decide to do so, you system admin can delete the custom field and all the associated data and the field will be deleted from the database and you cannot recover it. Something you should think before doing 🙂

Delete Custom Field

Custom Field Delete Message

How can I add a custom field to a data entity?

When you introduce custom data fields on tables/forms, it is highly likely that you want to expose those fields and use them in Data uploads, edit in excel etc. The Custom fields feature supports this scenario. After you have added custom fields, your admin can enable those on selected data entities Under System Administration > Setup > Custom fields.

Add Custom fields to data entities

How about multi-language support for custom fields?

Dynamics 365 supports multi-country, multi language requirements. When you add custom fields for your needs, you can enable additional language support for those as well.

Lanuage Support1png

What a neat feature!!! This is something a lot of users and customers have been looking for. Hope this feature will continue to improve.

Regards,

Sandeep