Vendor Prepayments and Revenue recognition of fixed price projects in Dynamics 365 For Operations

Hello, Good to be back here on the blog !!! Jumping straight into topic here today about a new addition of a feature for vendor prepayments in relation with fixed price project revenue recognition !! Issuing large amounts of prepayments to vendors is often a common business requirement for large scale, long term fixed price projects, which involves a […]

via Vendor Prepayments and Revenue Recognition For Fixed Price projects in Dynamics 365 For Operations — Microsoft Dynamics AX Blog

Cloud, Hybrid, On-Premise Deployment Options for Dynamics 365 For Operations, Your business application, Your choice, You control !!

Microsoft Dynamics 365 For Operations is a modern HTML 5,  cloud based, intelligent, true SaaS ERP application built and run in the Microsoft Cloud, accessible anytime anywhere in any device, enables customers to run their end to end business operations. Since it’s launch as New Dynamics AX (AX 7) back in February 2016 till the most recent release back in November 2016, it has seen tremendous success and customer adoption, where more and more customers are willing to move their business operations management into the cloud.

With all the positive buzz around cloud, there has also been a lot of anxiety in the Customer, Partner and Technical community of Dynamics 365 and Dynamics AX regarding availability of a fully On-Premise or even a Hybrid deployment option. While more and more customers are realizing the benefit of moving their business to a fully cloud based true SaaS ERP, there some customers who are still reluctant and are not sure how their cloud ERP journey will look like, while some other customers are limited and controlled by regulatory requirements, enterprise standards, regulatory data security and privacy requirements, geographical constraints etc., and they do not feel comfortable running their operations on a public cloud environment. Microsoft kept a close watch on these scenarios and finally listened to the crowd. Kudos to Microsoft !!!

Back in Summit 2016 held at Tampa Florida, Microsoft announced their intentions and plans of a Hybrid cloud deployment option for Dynamics 365 For Operations. The true meaning of a hybrid cloud deployment is that “Customers will be able to run their business processes and transactions in an environment that are supported by Local application services and their business data will be stored locally on either Customer’s or their partner’s data center, instead of the public cloud (Microsoft Azure), while allowing them to connect and replicate their data and environment to the Microsoft Cloud  to take full advantage of the power of Microsoft cloud for automatic updates, business intelligence, financials reporting, telemetry, artificial intelligence, Cognitive services, Customer insights, PowerApps, Flow and more such surrounding apps and services.

In Summer 2017, Microsoft plans to roll out this Hybrid cloud deployment options which will be called as “Cloud and Edge’. The business process and transactions will be allowed to run at the edges with business data getting stored locally, this will be referred as “My Workplace”. The central Cloud node (Microsoft cloud) will provide a single view of the business across distributed “My Workplaces” with the power of Microsoft cloud, utilizing it’s surrounding apps and services. With this, Customers will get the best of both the worlds, Cloud and On-premise !

This week (on 2/23/2017), Microsoft announced the next chapter is this journey, “The option of a fully On-premise Dynamics 365 For Operations environment”. What this means is, Customers will be able to run business processes and transactions in their local data centers and store business data in their own or their partner’s data center, without the replication and connection of business data into the Microsoft Cloud. Good news is, Customer can simply chose to turn ON or OFF the cloud synchronization of their business data to Microsoft Cloud.  This obviously means that Customers who chose not to replicate business data into the Microsoft Cloud will NOT be able to use the Power of Microsoft cloud such as Machine learning, telemetry, embedded BI and more. This deployment option will be called as “Local Business Data” option and will be available during Q2 of 2017

In the Local Business Data deployment scenario, The application servers and the SQL servers will run on Customer’s own data center, however, they will still need to use Lifecycle Services (LCS) in Microsoft Cloud, for managing their deployment, implementation and monitoring.

Image/table below shows the side by side comparison of the different deployment scenarios.

d365-opr-deployment-scenarios

Image Source: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Official Blog

Stay tuned for more details on this topic at the D365 Technical Conference in Seattle next Month.

Sri Srinivasan, General Manager of Microsoft Dynamics 365 For Operations at Microsoft announced this in a blog post on 23rd Feb, where he provided additional details on licensing options and availability for these deployment options. You can refer the detail of his blog post at the URL below.

https://community.dynamics.com/b/msftdynamicsblog/archive/2017/02/23/the-right-cloud-option-for-your-business

Regards,

Sandeep

Dynamics 365 For Operations Tip: Now you can use Position based hierarchies in all workflows

Using a Reporting manager hierarchy for routing workflow documents has always been possible in Microsoft Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 For Operations. This worked great in cases where you were required to route all of an employee’s workflow documents, such as timesheets, expense reports, purchase requisitions and more, to the manager they report to.

Now in Dynamics 365 For Operations, you can use Custom configured position hierarchies to route workflow documents. So, let’s say  you have a scenario where you need to route timesheets of an employee to the reporting manager, but route the expense reports to a manager they report to in a specific project hierarchy, you can configure this in Dynamics 365 For Operations ! Let’s see how?

 On the Position Hierarchy Types, you can select the workflows which can use the selected position Hierarchy for outing documents. For example, in the screenshot below notice that the Matrix based hierarchy can be used by the expense report – USMF and Timesheet workflow.

position-heirarchy-workflow

NOTE: Note that a workflow can use only one custom hierarchy.

Additionally, you will notice that, on the workflow setup form, you can now view and manage the associated configurable hierarchies.

manage-hierarchy

On the workflow setup/configuration, you can select the steps to be assigned to a Configurable hierarchy. See screenshot below.

workflow-setup

So, when an employee submits their expense report/timesheet, this workflow setup is going to look for the Matrix Position Hierarchy and assign the workflow document to the worker to whom the employee reports in the Matrix hierarchy instead of the managerial hierarchy.

phierarchy

matrix-workflow

Small, but useful enhancement !! Hope this quick tip is useful.

Meet the All new Dynamics 365 Home page, the new home for all your Business Apps

When the New Dynamics AX/AX 7 was launched back in February this year, it introduced a whole new way of how we interact with Dynamics AX. While that was maturing and users and community were learning to get comfortable with it, Microsoft announced Dynamics 365 at WPC, with the intent of combining the Cloud CRM and ERP offerings under one unified platform called Dynamics 365 and produce the next generation of intelligent cloud business apps. Dynamics 365 is now released and is publicly available for purchase by customers.

Starting 1st NOV, 2016, when you login to you Office 365 home page, you should notice the new Dynamics 365 app on your Office home page. Along with this, you should also see the other surrounding apps such as Flow and PowerApps, as those are now publicly available for use.

office-home-apps

So with this, it is very evident that Microsoft wants to this to be a default landing page. default landing page, from where you can literally launch any application or cloud service that your organization is subscribed to or those which are Free to use. For example, from this Office home page, you can launch Dynamics 365 (Your business applications), Power BI (Your business intelligence app), Flow, powerApps (event automation apps), or even any of the Office apps. Eventually Microsoft will make all these apps work seamlessly with each other, without the users having to notice any significant differences in front end.

We have already started seeing this, where Dynamics 365 talks seamlessly with Office 365 allowing you to interact with Dynamics 365 data from within Outlook. You can also use Flow and PowerApps to build powerful events automation in Dynamics 365. Dynamics 365 already has Office 365 apps and Power BI at it’s core and works very well with these apps too.

In today’s quick post, let us see and experience how the new Dynamics 365 home page looks like.

After you have logged in to Office 365 HERE, select Dynamics 365 app to launch it.

You will then notice the screen below opening up, which is the Brand New HOME page for Dynamics 365, business applications.

d365-home

On this HOME page, you can see all the business apps you are subscribed to under Dynamics 365. For example, if your organization has subscribed to the Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 for Operations apps, then those 2 will appear here on the Apps pane.

apps

You can also launch them from the apps pane on the left hand side. You can obviously access the direct URLs for those apps separately using a web browser, but Dynamics 365 Home is the new way of interacting with all these apps, from one central location.

apps-d365

In the upcoming releases, there will certainly be more and more out of the box integrations between these apps and the UI across these apps will be very unified, so that user cannot really notice any difference when they switch between apps. These apps will also exchange data seamlessly and talk to each other (There already many scenarios of data exchange between Dynamics 365 For sales and Operations apps on the first release that came out on NOV 1st). This obviously achieves Microsoft’s primarily goal of launching Dynamics 365, which is to combine the CRM and ERP offerings under one unified cloud service, so that customers and users can take optimum advantage of these to streamline their sales, marketing and operations, get high returns on investment, at a much lesser cost.

On this Dynamics 365 home screen, you can also see a way to directly launch the Dynamics 365 Appsource, which is the new platform for all 3rd party cloud apps, that are built for Dynamics 365. These are typically add-on solutions from partners and ISVs for addressing specific business needs for various industry verticals.

appsource

appsource-landing-page

One example of such an app in the Appsource is AXIO For Professional Services, from SBS Group, which offers purpose built solutions for advanced contracts and revenue management.

axio-proserv

Last, but not the least, you can also see the Apps that are shared with you from Microsoft PowerApps, which means you can launch the apps from within this. To get an idea what PowerApps is and what it can do for you, you can ready my earlier post HERE.

I wish Microsoft will make this new HOME page for Dynamics 365 to be more informative in the upcoming releases, where it can show user/role specific Power BI dashboards for business insights, predictive recommendations (Artificial intelligence) etc., right on this Dynamics 365 home page, before even user launches a specific app to see the corresponding BI and dashboards or information.

Till next time!!! A lot to digest and learn.

Project Services Automation(PSA) in Dynamics 365, What options are available and what is best for you!

With literally 1 week to go for Dynamics 365 to launch officially, I am sure most of the customers and prospects are anxious and keen to explore more on this and find out what is right for them, which services they should chose within Dynamics 365 to drive the Digital transformation of their organization.

psa-dynamics-365

First thing first! Dynamics 365 is a fully Cloud based SaaS service and has various services/solutions offered under it. You can refer to my earlier post for a brief explanation on what each of these services are and what they really mean. In today’s post, we will discuss on what is the story of Project Service Automation/Professional Service Automation (PSA) in Dynamics 365, what options does customers have for  PSA in Dynamics 365 and which option may work best for their organization.

There are 2 primary options/services for Professional/Project Services Automation in Dynamics 365.

OPTION 1: A Fully integrated PSA solution within Dynamics 365 for Operations.(This was Previously know as New Dynamics AX/AX 7)

  • This is the fully integrated Enterprise ERP solution that supports both project operational and financial automations, all within one solution.
  • Project operational processes such as project management, project accounting, end to end project procurement and end to end project sales & distribution are fully supported in this.
  • For those who are familiar with Dynamics 365 for Operation (Known as New Dynamics AX earlier), this is really the Project Management and Accounting module and it’s built in integration with the other modules of AX.
  • Traditionally customers always had to build integrate Dynamics AX with Dynamics CRM if they wanted to establish the seamless flow of customer and project data from Lead to Project delivery. With Dynamics 365, the built in integration of Dynamics 365 for Operations and Dynamics 365 For Sales/Marketing is already off to a great start and will only improve significantly in future.

OPTION 2: Dynamics 365 For Project Service Automation service/solution, Stand alone solution which can be integrated with Dynamics Financials or any other financials solutions

  • A purpose built, specific solution for stand alone project service automation.
  • This  supports key project service processes such as project management, resourcing, project execution and billing up to some extent (Not Advanced Billing).
  • For those familiar with Dynamics CRM Online, this is basically Project Service Module of Dynamics CRM online, now improved with Dynamics 365.
  • Since this solution was built in traditionally within Dynamics CRM online, the Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation probably integrates more seamlessly with Dynamics 365 for Sales in current state.

The table below shows a high level comparison of the key features of Project Service Automation (PSA) solutions between Option 1 and Option 2 mentioned above.

project-service-comparision

With that said, let us now understand what an organization should really consider while choosing between these 2 options for professional/project service automation solutions in Dynamics 365.

We can think of various deciding factors that can play a role in choosing one of these solutions, however I will mention some of the common factors that I think are crucial to be able to chose between these 2 solutions.

You should chose the fully integrated Project Service Automation solution, i.e. Dynamics 365 for Operation if,

  1. Your organization’s strategy is to have one unified ERP system to manage projects end to end, along with Financials and Operations (Procurement and Supply chain), all in the same application.
  2. Your organization’s focus is more on having coverage of features and business processes in areas such as Project management, project procurement, project supply chain, project financials accounting and human capital management, all in one application.
  3. Your organization is decently large in size and has project based operations with focus on project based distribution/engineering/project based manufacturing.
  4. Your organization is a Hi-tech consulting and service provider/AV integrator having the need to fully streamline the project financials and the complex project/contract revenue recognition, all in one integrated ERP.
  5. You are professional services organization and you have complex billing and accounting requirements for your projects.

You should chose the stand alone Project Service Automation solution of Dynamics 365 if,

  1. Your current financials system (Dynamics or non-Dynamics) works fairly well and is well set for the organization and you are not really looking to revamp the financials and accounting processes of your organization. You can chose the Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation and integrate it with your current financials system.
  2. Your organization is keen on deploying a specific, purpose built, targeted solution to solve issues related to Project services only (Project management, time and expense, billing etc.). You can deploy Stand alone Project Service automation and integrate with your existing financials solution.
  3. Your organization is in the Small to Medium in size and does not have very complex project management and accounting needs. In this case, you will probably be better off choosing Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation and Dynamics 365 for Financials.

I would like to reiterate, the above analysis is just my opinion and what I think are some of the key factors differentiating the 2 key Project Service Automation solution options in Dynamics 365. I am sure we all can count on several other factors and probably argue several alternate possibilities. Feel free to comment or contact me if you would like to discuss.

Regards,

Sandeep

 

Microsoft Unveils the Next chapter of Dynamics Cloud Business Apps, Dynamics 365

With the launch date now getting near(1st November 2016), Microsoft unveiled the First look and shared more information regarding Dynamics 365, the next generation intelligent business apps in the cloud. Right now, there are obviously a lot of excitement, questions, confusions, concerns among existing customer and user base of the legacy On premise applications (GP, SL, NAV & AX) as well as prospective customers and the partner community. All of us probably are wondering how our investments is Microsoft Dynamics is going to shape up in the new Dynamics Cloud era .

In this post today, let us understand and decode some of the key facts about Dynamics 365, that were unveiled and discussed in Summit 2016 held at Tampa, FL.

d365intro

Microsoft unveiled the First Look of the next generation cloud business apps, all under one unified platform called Microsoft Dynamics 365. Below are some of the key take away from the first look.

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the next generation of intelligent business applications that enable organizations to grow, evolve and transform. These applications unify CRM and ERP capabilities by delivering new purpose-built applications that work seamlessly together to help manage specific business functions across Sales, Customer Service, Operations, Financials, Field Service, Project Service Automation, Marketing, and Customer Insights.

  • This perfectly aligns the Dynamics business segment with the Cloud First, Mobile first strategy of Microsoft and puts the Dynamics platform and business applications in the forefront of the Cloud and mobile innovation by Microsoft. This means customers will see faster and continuous innovations in the business applications and will get feature updates frequently, and get capabilities connected to the entire breadth of Microsoft Cloud apps such as Office 365, Azure, Cortana Intelligence Suite, Power BI, PowerApps, Flow, IoT, Machine Learning and more.

dynamics-cloud

  • Dynamics 365 integrates the Dynamics CRM and ERP products into one unified Cloud Service and delivers end to end business application functionality as a SaaS service in the Cloud. These apps can be consumed separately and together based on your needs. So you pay only for what you use.

unified-cloud-service

  • Let us  now understand what each of these business apps really  are under Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 For Sales: It is the Sales component/module of Dynamics CRM Online.

Dynamics 365 For Customer Service: It is the Customer Service/module component of Dynamics CRM Online.

Dynamics 365 For Field Service : This is the Field Service component/Module of Dynamics CRM Online.

Dynamics 365 For Project Service Automation: This is the Project Service component/module of Dynamics CRM Online.

Dynamics 365 For Marketing: Microsoft recently announced that it fully will integrate Adobe Marketing cloud with Dynamics 365 and make it the preferrable marketing app for Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 For Operations: This is the New Dynamics AX (AX 7) ERP that we all are familiar with. This is where most of the customers/prospects might get confused. The name “Dynamics 365 For Operations” misleads a little bit. This business app  is really  targeted for the enterprise customers and obviously includes full advanced Financials functionality as well of AX 7. With this app, customers do NOT need to buy other Financials apps such as “Dynamics 365 for Financials”. “Dynamics 365 for Operations has everything you need to manage your Operations, including Core Financials. Hopefully Microsoft will rename this app to “Dynamics 365 For Operations & Financials” at some point :).

Dynamics 365 For Financials: This is the new Financials app of Dynamics 365(Earlier known as Project Madeira) and is primarily targeted for SMB customers in most cases. This does not include any of the advanced Operations functionality such as Manufacturing, E-commerce(Retail), advanced supply chain etc.   When we say, this is targeted more for the SMB customers, we might argue whether Microsoft thinks that SMBs do not have “Operations” ? Of course some of them do and Microsoft is probably thinking those customers should chose Dynamics 365 For Operations app instead of the Financials app. We will have to wait and see how this shapes up.

  • Dynamics 365  provides a unified user experience across all different apps and seamless transition. So you don’t have to spend more time navigating between systems. These apps are also seamlessly integrated to exchange data and play nicely with each other. For example when a Sales rep creates a Sales order from a confirmed sales quotation in the Dynamics 365 for Sales app, it will create the Sales Order automatically in the Dynamics 365 for Operations app. Very powerful. I am excited to test more scenarios and how the data flow looks between these apps !

ui

ui-apps

  • A brand new HOME page showing you a view of all apps you own under Dynamics 365 and a direct access to Microsoft Appsource. Appsource is where you can go explore more purpose-built industry solutions(Apps) built by various Microsoft partners. When you discover new business apps, you can also see partners that are capable of implementing those apps.

home-page

And Probably a new LOGO for Dynamics ? The Dynamics platform is most certainly getting a new logo which may look something like below.

d365-logo-small

  • Power BI is embedded throughout the Dynamics 365 experience. As a result, you will get business insights for each of your business areas at one central dashboard page, still powered by Power BI.

powerbithroughout

  • Dynamics 365 is inherently MOBILE with full offline mode support! (For Windows, android and iOS). This is probably one of the biggest feature update of Dynamics platform. With Dynamics 365, Customers can have mobile apps (Several Out of the box) and can create apps literally for any area/App. You can check my earlier post HERE to learn more about the mobile apps framework of Dynamics  365 for Operations (Dynamics AX).

mobile-screens2

mobile-screens1

  •  Integration of Dynamics 365 and Office 365 Better than ever before. Traditional On-premise business apps (NAV, AX, SL etc) always had integrations with Office 365 and could exchange data with Microsoft word, excel outlook. But the scenarios and capabilities were somewhat limited. With Dynamics 365, the integration goes to a whole new level and provides users a full-blown integration. For example, you can drill into the details of a customer record of Dynamics 365 from within your Outlook email and even see further details such as associated sales opportunities, and launch the Dynamics 365 for Sales app/Other apps from within the email. Sleek !! A lot to explore and learn.

office-integration

  • Artificial Intelligence in Dynamics 365. Microsoft and other big companies like Google, Amazon and more are betting their future on Artificial intelligence. With Artificial intelligence built-in in Dynamics 365, you can now get product recommendations, have your office 365 data(Such as email communications and more) automatically populated into Dynamics 365 Sales or even get proactive automated personal sales assistance with warnings and recommendations when needed . This certainly involves a good learning curve for me and understand what are various things we can do with it.

ai

ai-1

  • New SaaS service called “Dynamics 365 for Customer Insights announced under Dynamics 365. This app/service is built on top of core Azure and Cortana Intelligent data services and it can connect to your Dynamics 365 data and literally any other data source, to help you build a 360 view of your customer and better understand and engage with your customers in real-time.

customer-insights

Question: Do customers need to pay to use this Service ? I do not know and we will need to wait and watch.

  • What will happen to the existing customers using AX 2009 or AX 2012 On-premise versions: There is no immediate impact for these customers. Microsoft will continue to support AX 2009 until 2018 and AX 2012 for even longer time(2021, Find more info on my earlier post). There may also be feature updates released for AX 2012. However, Microsoft also revealed upgrade plans for existing customers. You can learn more in detail at the blog post by MSDynamicsWorld.com HERE.

Long story short, customers using AX 2009 can start evaluating their upgrade options with assisted upgrade tool for AX 2009. These tools are in preview now and when released, it will have the capabilities to do the heavy lifting for you for the upgrade. I assume, while the tool can help these customers to a great deal, there will still be good amount of work that needs to be done to make these upgrades successful.

For Customers using AX 2012, the upgrade path will be comparatively easier given the fact that schema and underlying business logic of AX 2012 and AX 7 are pretty much same. The upgrade assisting tools for AX 2012 may be available around March of 2017. Need to wait and watch.

  • More news on Common Data Model and surrounding Apps: Many of us probably know what is the Common data model and the role it has to play in the new Dynamics era. CDM basically is intended to surface data that is stored within Dynamics 365 across all the different business apps (Sales, Marketing, Operations etc.) into a set of data entities that can model the data between these different apps. It can also connect to entities outside Dynamics 365 such as Office 365 and more. As Microsoft clarified further in AXUG conference, think of CDM as a parallel data repository and will sync with Dynamics AX and other database of different business apps of Dynamics 365.Then services like Microsoft PowerApps and Microsoft Flow can use this to create powerful events automation and business apps connecting multiple applications and services.

cdm

  • What is coming in Dynamics 365 For Operations and it’s roadmap: There are a whole lot of new features and capabilities coming to the Dynamics 365 for Operations(Dynamics AX 7) app in the fall release (November 2016). Below are some of the key features that you will see in the fall release.

Courtesy : MS Dynamics World News

feature

Hope this was a good summary of Dynamics 365 announcements at Summit this year. We all have  a long way to go and learn the cool new features and services and be ready to sail through the cloud era.

Best,

Sandeep

Dynamics AX is now supported in Microsoft Flow for events/Tasks automation in Dynamics 365

With Dynamics 365, realizing the true power of the intelligent cloud platform is going to be possible very soon for customers. Along with Dynamics CRM Online(For Sales/Project Services), CRM Online/Adobe Marketing cloud (For Marketing) and Dynamics AX (For Operations), some of the other significant components of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 cloud are the surrounding apps, such as the Microsoft PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, Power BI, Office 365 and more.

Making use of all of these surrounding intelligent business apps in the cloud, for automating data or events in CRM Online (Sales) or in Dynamics AX (For operational data) can prove really beneficial and open up new possibilities.

Interacting with Dynamics AX is now supported in Microsoft Flow in the September release of Flow.

So let us say if I were to create a flow where I want to create/Update a customer automatically in Dynamics AX, when a Customer is created/updated in Dynamics CRM Online, Or “Create a contact record in Dynamics AX when a contact is created in Common Data Model” and more scenarios like this, I can create my Flow to do it automatically now !!

You can refer to my earlier post on Microsoft Flow for step by step guidelines on to create and setup the flow (Create Powerful event automation in Dynamics 365). For this post, I just wanted highlight the fact that Dynamics AX is now supported in Microsoft Flow for events automation.

For example, first step of my flow is ‘When an Employee record is created in Common Data Model”.

 flow-step1

The Action is to Create a new employee record in Dynamics AX. You can see in the screenshot below that various actions for Dynamics AX are already available in Microsoft Flow.

flow-step-22

flow-step-2

AS the intention of this post was just to highlight that Dynamics AX is now supported in Microsoft Flow under the Dynamics 365 umbrella, I am not explaining the process end to end. You can explore it more and try your own scenarios to interact between different applications and create powerful event/task automations.

Regards,

Sandeep

Microsoft Dynamics 365-Enterprise Edition will be available as the Enterprise ERP cloud Starting November 1st, 2016

Hey Folks,

Check out the below update regarding Dynamics 365 in Customer source.

https://mbs.microsoft.com/customersource/northamerica/AX/news-events/news/Dyn365ax

Some Key Points:

  1. Dynamics 365 – Enterprise Edition will be available as the Enterprise cloud ERP starting 1st November, 2016.
  2. Microsoft Dynamics AX (AX 7) will become the Operations application for Enterprises within Dynamics 365(Enterprise Edition)
  3. Ongoing updates to the cloud ERP service will be releases, like any other Microsoft Service gets updates.
  4. Along with the Microsoft Dynamics AX (AX 7), Check out some of the other significant offerings in Dynamics 365Enterprise edition. which are Dynamics CRM online, Common Data Model, Microsoft PowerApps, Microsoft Flow etc. and evaluate what they could mean to you.
  5. With Dynamics 365, customers will have the option to either adopt the cloud , or for customers willing run the ERP in their own data centers, they will have the option of a Hybrid cloud deployment (Important Note: The availability of the Hybrid cloud is still TBD and dates are yet to be confirmed by Microsoft). Good news is, customers willing to run their operations in their own data centers will still have the power to connect to the cloud services such as PowerApps, Flow, Power BI, IoT and more.
  6. Mainstream support for Dynamics AX 2009 available till April 2018.
  7. Mainstream support for Dynamics AX 2012 R3 available till April 2021.

Regards,

Sandeep

Create powerful tasks/process automation using Common Data Model and Microsoft Flow in Dynamics 365

In my last post on “Making sense of Common Data Model and Microsoft PowerApps in Dynamics 365“, i explained in detail how you can use the Microsoft Common Data Model and PowerApps to create powerful business apps for your organization.

Along with the Common Data Model and Microsoft PowerApps, another significant component of Dynamics 365 is the new cloud based event automation service from Microsoft called as “Microsoft Flow”. Microsoft flow is basically an task/process/event  automation service, that allows to execute certain event (Such as sending an email notification, Creating a new record, saving/sharing files and more) when another event happens (Such as a new record is added to Common data model, a record is modified, a new person follows you on twitter and more).

Flow & CDM

You can learn more about Microsoft Flow Here.

In today’s post, we will see how you can take advantage of Microsoft Flow and automate several events between Common Data Model and other components of Dynamics 365 which are Dynamics CRM, Dynamics AX ERP, Project Madeira and others. In the current release of Microsoft Flow, only Dynamics CRM online is available for event automation, but when Dynamics 365 releases in future, you will start seeing other components such as Dynamics AX, Project Madeira and more.

In this walk through, i would have liked more to show how we can automate the process of “Creating a new Opportunity record in Dynamics CRM online, when a new opportunity record is added into the Common data model”. But I am having an intermittent issue connecting my CRM sandbox environment to Microsoft Flow. So, i will alter the flow a little bit and will send an email notification instead to myself, when a new opportunity record is added in the common data model.

With that said, let us go ahead and create this flow. Follow the steps below.

  • Login tot Microsoft Flow using your Office 365 credentials at the below URL. https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/.
  • At this point, you can create your flow from  a template or create it from blank. I will create the flow from blank.

Create Flow from Blank

  • The next step is to set the initial trigger which will kick off the event (Which in this case is sending an email notification). So i will select the trigger “Common Data Model – Object is created”. Notice that you have several triggers from Microsoft applications and services, as well as for several 3rd party apps. This list of triggers ois going to grow over the period of time adding more capabilities.

Select Object CDM

  • Now I need to select my database name in the common data model. I have already configured my database in common data model and will consume the same in this walk through. After selecting the database, i will also need to select the Entity name, which is “Opportunity” in this case, since i want to create my flow using this.

Entity Name and Database

  • We will now setup the Next step by clicking the New Step button. Notice that you will see various options here such as “Add an action”, “Add a condition”, “Add a loop” and more. In this case, i will select Add an action.

Add new step

  • My preferred action if my CRM Sandbox environment did not have the issue would have been to add the new opportunity record in it. You can see in screenshot below that i have highlighted the action.

Action CRM Online

Since my CRM environment has the intermittent issue and i cannot connect it to my flow, i will use another action, which is to send an email notification to myself informing that a new opportunity record is added to the CDM.

Action O365 Send Email

  • The next step is to specify the email ID, subject and the body of the email notification. Screenshot below shows how you can set these up. Notice that you can make the email notification more detailed by adding the data fields in real time from the Opportunity entity into the email notification. For this walk through i will just use the basic one. You can even click the Advanced options to make the email notification more sophisticated with attachments, Cc, Bcc etc.

E-Mail Details

  • At this point, you can add as many steps/conditions/actions/loops as you want based on your flow’s requirement. In this case since the flow i wanted to created, i will provide a title for the flow and click Create flow and then click Done.

Save Flow

  • That is it! Our flow is now ready and we will now go see this in effect. To do this, we will open the Common Data Model and add a new Opportunity record in the Opportunity master. There are multiple ways of inserting the data into CDM, I will do this by connecting to my CDM database and opening the Opportunity entity in Excel and publish the new record from Excel back to the CDM.

Open CDM in Excel

Publish Opp to CDM

  • As soon as I click Publish and the record gets created in CDM, I got the email notification as per the setup we did in the flow. If I had my desired action setup, then it would have created a new opportunity record in Dynamics CRM online.

\Email Notification

This blog post was intended just to give you an idea of what is possible using the Common Data Model, Microsoft Flow and other components of Dynamics 365. When Microsoft Flow evolves with time and Dynamics 365 launches with more features, you can create various purpose built flows to automate tasks and processes of your organization in the ERP in real time. Stay tuned for more features, and discussions. Till next time !!!!

Sandeep

Making sense of the Common Data Model and Microsoft PowerApps in Dynamics 365

When Microsoft Dynamics 365 was announced a few weeks ago, the Common Data Model and other Microsoft productivity services such as PowerApps and Microsoft Flow were a significant part of this, along with the unified offering of Dynamics CRM and Dynamics ERP cloud services under this umbrella. The solution stack diagram below for Dynamics 365 depicts the positioning of these various  elements in Dynamics 365.

Dyn 365 Solution Stack

In my earlier post I mentioned about the release of the public preview of the Common Data Model last week. Now that the public preview of the Common Data Model is available, let us try to make sense of these together and see what are the possibilities using the CDM and Microsoft PowerApps.

In today’s post, we will create a simple example mobile app using Microsoft PowerApps and the Common Data Model database.

Log in to Microsoft PowerApps at the URL https://powerapps.microsoft.com. You can use the PowerApps web version to create your apps. But the best way to do this is to download the app from Windows store .

PowerApps Windows Store

In this post, I will use the windows store app to create this sample mobile app.

Launch PowerApps and click New tab to select the data source. While you can use various data sources such as Dynamics CRM online, excel file stored in the cloud, online storage such as OneDrive or Google Drive, in this case we will use the Common Data Model as the data source for this app.

Data Source

 On the next screen, select the entity that you want to use in this app and click Connect button. For this sample app, we will use the Sales Order entity and build a simple app to interact with Sales orders (Simple actions such as view sales orders, edit or even create a new order).

Sales Order Entity

At this point, PowerApps will consume the Sales Order entity data and create the sample app with some default screens automatically, which you can adjust and change to make it look the way you want it. The auto creation feature comes in handy, as you do not need to create the app from scratch.

Connect and Create App

Now that the default screens of the app are created, let us try to edit those a little bit to make them look more complete. The first screen is a Sales Order overview screen that shows the list of sales orders.

  • Rename the screen to call it as “Sales Orders Overview”.

Rename Screen

  • Next, lets establish the links to some of the data fields to show the sales order overview data. In this case, we will show the customer name, Sales order number, order status and the sales order total amount. To do this, select each data field and select the data field for each field on the right hand panel.

Relate Data Fields

  • You will now notice that the first overview screen of the app looks more complete with meaningful data and you also have basic actions such as searching a sales order, or even sorting them. You can also select a different layout for this screen at this point if you want by selecting from various readily available templates.

Screen1

  • Let us now move on to the next screen, which will load up when user select or taps on a specific sales order record on the first screen. Let us call the next screen as the Sales order details screen. Follow the same approach to make edits to this screen. For example, we will add a few data fields and change the layout a little bit.
  • In this screen, you can click on the “eye” mark to add or remove fields and then click Advanced option to chose data fields relation, or even rename a specific data field. For this demonstration, I have added simple data fields such as Order ID, Name, address, payment terms, shipping method, order date and tax, discount amounts of the order. At the end of this your screen should look something like below. You can also change the layout of this page, like you did for the first screen.

 

Screen 2

  • Moving on to the 3rd screen of the app, let us make it the Edit screen for the sales order. When user clicks on the Edit button on screen 2, this screen will load up. Follow the same instructions above to complete the design of this page. You screen should look something like below.

Screen 3

  • You can then explore the various tabs on the top to change different aspects of the app. For example you can add a new screen, change the color and theme of the app, add a new data source(such as the Sale Order line table if you want show order lines on this app), add a background image for the app, or even add new controls to the app such as a new button, a text field, charts  and more.

Additional options

  • Now that all the screens we intended are designed, let us preview the app by clicking the preview button and you will notice that you can interact with the app in various ways. For example on the first screen when we select a specific sales order record, it will navigate to the details page. (Note: I have changed the theme of the app before previewing it.)

Preview

Preview 2

  • Finally we will save the app (you can save it in the cloud or in your local computer) and then share it for consumption by others. Notice that you can specify with whom you want to share this app and what level of permission you want to give them while sharing the app.

Share

Below screenshot shows how this mobile app looked on my smartphone after I shared it and launched it on my Android phone.

Mobile Apps

This was just a very simple demonstration of the possibilities and what you can do with the Common Data Model and productivity tools such as PowerApps or Microsoft flow. The CDM is in preview now, but when it releases this fall, you will see a lot more data entities and much more capabilities of designing powerful business apps  in the cloud for your organization.

That is it for today’s post and I will share more as details emerge and as I learn more. :). Hope you all will keep exploring more on this. Till next time!!

Regards,

Sandeep