Microsoft PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, SharePoint and Dynamics 365 working together, No coding required!!

All of you who attended the Microsoft Inspire and Las Vegas this year and the Microsoft Business Sumit at Seattle, would have heard a lot about the Microsoft Power platform. All the surrounding apps and services in Dynamics 365, such as Microsoft PowerApps, Flow, PowerBI, CDS etc. now are referred as the new Power platform.

In today’s blog post, we will see how all these powerful services puts the real power in the hands of the super-users of the systems and enables them to create seamless business process automation between applications such as Office 365, Microsoft SharePoint, Dynamics 365 and others, without requiring to write a single line of code.

The Scenario and the requirement:

  1. IT team of an organization uses Microsoft SharePoint(Office 365) for tracking company equipment loaned to it’s employees and for managing them. They use a SharePoint list for tracking these loaned equipment.
  2. Let us say the HR team of the organization wants to have visibility into the details of the equipments which are loaned to the employees, within the ERP system of the organization, which is Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations in this case.
  3. Also, let’s say there is also a requirement, where the HR team wants to be able to edit or add new loaned equipments for employees, from within Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations ERP application.
  4. Finally, when they are done with adding new loaned equipment for employees from within the ERP, they want an email notification to be sent to certain parties.

How do we do this?

The First component of the whole scenario is the SharePoint list that IT team uses to process and keep track of loaned equipment to the company’s employees. So just create a very simple Share point list with some¬† basic data fields as shown in screenshot below.

I am not explaining the details of how to create the SharePoint list. All of us know it ūüôā

Loaned Equipments Sharepoint

The Second component of the scenario is building the ability for the HR team to be able to see the details of these loaned equipment for each employee from within the ERP, which is Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations(Referred as D365F&O from here on).

Let’s build this.

D365F&O provides the ability to embed Microsoft PowerApps into the forms directly and we will leverage PowerApps to extend the User interface of D365F&O, without requiring us to code and customize a new forms and underlying business logic. So we will first build a PowerApp from the SharePoint list we have for loaned equipment tracking.

To create the app, you can either initiate the App creation directly from within the SharePoint list, or you can just create a blank PowerApp within PowerApps online and the Connect to data and select the SharePoint list and list. Both will do the same thing for you.

App from Sharepoint

Screenshot below shows the app I have built from my SharePoint list. I am using the 3 default screens, Browse, Details and the Edit screen.

PowerApps screens

Since we need the HR team members to be able to see the loaned equipment details for respective employees, we will need to establish the context relationship between D365F&O and the PowerApp and the SharePoint list. In this case, I will use the Unique  Personnel number/Employee ID field of D365F&O to build this relationship.

When the PowerApp launches and starts within D365F&O, we need D365F&O to pass the Personnel number of the selected employee record to the PowerApp, so that it can look for the corresponding loaned equipments for that employee and show the results. To accomplish this, we will use the standard formula on the On Start action of the PowerApp’s main Browse screen. See screenshot below.

The formula to use on the On Start action of the PowerApp:¬† If(!IsBlank(Param(“EntityId”)), Set(FinOpsInput, Param(“EntityId”)), Set(FinOpsInput,””))

Note: FinOpsInput here is the global variable that PowerApp will use to receive the input data from D365F&O. The above formula is just a standard formula and you can use it as it is. You can name the global variable whatever you want.

OnStart Formula

Next, we will need to tell the PowerApp how to filter the data from the SharePoint list, based on the context /input data it receives from D365F&O. The input field in my case is the Personnel number of the employee. To do this, you can just use the simple Filter function of PowerApps on the BrowseGallery of the app. This filter will take the FinOpsInput global variable as the criteria. See the screenshot below.

Filter Items1

 

The next component of this requirement is, sending the email notification when an asset is added by HR team from within D365F&O into the SharePoint list. We will leverage Microsoft Flow for this. You can simply build the flow directly from the SharePoint list and the flow will be just basic, where it will send an email to one or more persons after a new item has been added to the loaned equipment list. Screenshot below shows the flow i have built for this.

FlowFrom List

Flow email

The Final component is embedding our PowerApp into the Employees form in D365F&O. This is very straight-forward. Just go to the Employees form and click on the Insert a PowerApp button. You can insert PowerApp on other locations of the form such as under a fast tab, or even as an action pane menu button. On the next screen,  you can enter a name/label for the app, and then specify the App ID of your PowerApp (You can get the App ID from the app details within Powerapps online). Lastly, you will select the input data field that you want to pass into the app. The screenshot below shows this setup i have done.

Insert A powerapp

Insert A powerapp2

With that, we have now built all the main components for accomplishing our requirement. Let us see this in action now.

The IT team has the SharePoint list for the loaned equipment tracking and i am not demonstrating how they will use it. It is just standard SharePoint functionality. I have loaded some data already to show in this demo. As you can see in screenshot below, the list has 2 Equipments loaned to Aaron, 1 to Adam and 1 to Adriana.

FlowFrom List

The real fun starts here. Now the HR team logs into D365F&O and navigates to Human Resources > Employees.

They can see the Loaned Equipments PowerApp button right there.

Launch PowerApp

When clicked, the PowerApp will launch and show the loaned equipments list for the employee record they have selected. In this case they have selected Aaron Con, so they see the equipments loaned to him..

Aaron Equipment

They can click on an asset to see the further details. All of this data is coming in real time from the SharePoint list.

Aaron Equipment detail

When they want to see the Equipments for another employee, they will select the employee and the PowerApp will show the respective Equipments. To prove this, I selected Adam Carter and you can see the Equipments for him now.

Adam Equipment detail

Now, let us say there is a scenario, where HR wants to update some comments on an existing equipment record or they want to create a new equipment record for Adam Carter from within D365F&O. We will see how they can do this and how the PowerApp will write the data back to the SharePoint list.

Selecting Adam’s worker record, the HR person clicks the New button on the PowerApp.

Add new equipment

Then they fill in the required details of the equipment. Let us say they want to add a new Samsung monitor for Adam.

Add new equipment1

After they successfully add the new equipment, the data will sync back to the SharePoint list via the PowerApp and it can be seen on the PowerApp after refreshing the list.

Record added to SP

RecordAdded for Adam

Finally, when the record has been added to the SharePoint list, my flow will trigger and send the email notification to required persons. I am not able to demonstrate this here since there are some data policies setup on the tenant that is blocking my flow, but it is very straight-forward. You can refer to my earlier blog post on Microsoft flow to know how this works.

So, with literally no coding required, we were able to leverage the Microsoft Power platform (Powerapps, Flow) and we connected data between SharePoint and Dynamics 365 and were able to see relations based data between the 2 systems. THIS IS VERY POWERFUL indeed !!!

I just made up this sample scenario for my post,but think of the possibilities with these. You can extend D365F&O functionality and automate business processes around everything. What if,

  • You can create a Smart Bot using Microsoft QnA Service maker, use PowerApps to connect to the QnA service using Custom API and custom connector and build a PowerApp for the Q&A interaction with users. You can then embed this PowerApp in D365F&O (For example on the Vendor self-service portal) to make it easy for vendors to get answers to their questions in a bot chat interface. (Got to test this out at some point :))
  • You can create a PowerApp to create shipping labels and pass the delivery address from D365F&O to the app to generate shipping label ?
  • You can have tracking number of sales orders and build a PowerApp to build a package tracker. (Microsoft uses this for demo purposes)
  • You can create a PowerApp to create product labels, QR codes and pass Product ID from D365F&O to generate that.
  • And many more….

That’s it for today’s post. Till next time…

-Sandeep

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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 ūüôā

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

Dynamics 365 For Talent Management, What does it offer ? How does it help your Organization to attract the best talent !!

Microsoft Dynamics 365 For Talent is a best of breed talent management cloud solution from Microsoft which has been available for a few months now and several customers are already underway adopting this new solution. In one of my posts earlier, I provided a sneak peak into this solution and described the key components/modules. In this post today, let us understand this solution in little bit more depth, discuss some buying options and also we will dive deep into the “Attract” experience of Talent specifically.

Talent Overview

Dynamics 365 For Talent has 3 core modules. They are follows.

  1. Attract (To attract talent, so that you can hire the right people)
  2. Onboard (To onboard employees, so that you can set them up for success)
  3. Core HR Operations (To drive HR operational efficiency and manage day to day HR activities.

What are the buying options for Dynamics 365 For Talent?

Well, Microsoft has made this part really flexible and allows customers to chose what, how and when they need it. Below are some additional details.

The Dynamics 365 Best Value Plan: If you have chosen or implementing Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations – Enterprise edition and you subscribed for the Dynamics 365 Plan(Best value Plan), then you get access to Dynamics 365 for Talent by default, along with other best in class enterprise apps such as sales, marketing, finance & operations, retail and more.

Unified Operations Plan: If you have subscribed to this plan, you have access to Dynamics 365 for Finance & operations(Enterprise edition), Retail and Dynamics 365 for Talent by default.

The above 2 plans are best for customers who are looking for more comprehensive implementation of ERP, CRM and Talent management apps and have chosen Dynamics 365 to be their all in one business application platform.

Dynamics 365 for Talent Best value Plan: Dynamics 365 For Talent offer’s it’s own Best value plan. This plan includes all the 3 components of Talent management which are “Attract”, “Onboard” and “Core HR”. This allows you to start implementing Dynamics 365 for Talent management for all your Talent and HR requirements and then optionally integrate it with your other business apps that you may be using for project, finance and operations management.

Modular Apps Plan: Dynamics 365 for Talent platform is even more flexible and allows you to subscribe only to the specific “Attract” and Onboard” experiences of Talent, so that you can use those for all your talent recruitment needs, and then optionally integrate it with other core HR and Payroll management or finance and operations app that you may have implemented.

These are really great ways to start with what you need first and then grow and adopt more apps for specific operations as the need arises.

Click Here for details on pricing, licensing etc.

In this post today, let us dive deep into some of the functionalities of the “Talent Attract app/experience” of Dynamics 365 for Talent.

Talent Management always begins with having the required Job openings of your organization defined clearly. Below screenshot shows how the landing page of the “Attract” experience of Talent looks. This shows All the Jobs (Active and Closed) of your organization. You can create new jobs and specify if you are a Hiring Manager or Recruiter and you can import jobs from an Excel file just by dragging and dropping the file.

Attract Home Page

Now, lets see what goes underneath a job and what settings does it contain. When you create a job, you can define additional job settings such as a detailed job description, Job location details and also a reference to an external job posting on most popular job posting portals such as¬† “Linked In“, “Indeed” and “Monster“. See screenshots below.

Job Setting 1

Job Setting 2

You can very easily create your Hiring team, which can include an Hiring manager, one more interviewer, a recruiter etc. You can chose people from your organization (If you have Office 365 it is even easier).

Hiring Team for Job

With job defined and setup now, let us how you would manage applicants on this job. Since each job listing can be linked to an external job posting on LinkedIn/Indeed/Monster, you would imagine that job applications from those portals can be directly converted to applicants of the job in Attract experience of Dynamics 365 for Talent (Not able to test this since I don’t have a subscription for those portals). However, you can add applicants manually or add several applicants at once, by simply dragging and dropping an excel file containing the applicant details.

When adding applicants, you can link their linked in profile directly into the applicant profile and it will pull information from LinkedIn right into Talent app. When Microsoft acquired LinkedIn a few months ago, we all wondered why this ? Well, this is one of the many benefits and outcomes we are going to see in near future.

Let us say John Doe is applying for the Creative Director job at your organization. I have linked my LinkedIn profile to John’s applicant profile, to be able to test it.
Applicant Add

Now that we added John Doe as an applicant, Dynamics 365 automatically sends John an email notification notifying him that his job application has been received by SBS Group, so that John stays in loop in the proceedings of the job application. Additionally, John can simply sign up to Dynamics 365 for Talent using his LinkedIn credentials and stay up to date with the proceedings.

Applicant First EmailThe candidate can simply sign up into Dynamics 365 as a candidate using their LinkedIn credential.

With that said, let us move on to Screening John and take the process through that experience. At the Application level, I can upload Resume/Cover Letter etc. by simply dragging and dropping files and I can see candidates resume right within Talent with the power of Office 365 integration.

Application

John Doe, the applicant for Creative Director job now moves to the Screening stage. You will notice that Dynamics 365 is able to pull John’s LinkedIn profile data right into Talent. The Recruiter/Hiring manager can enter any Notes and then Request the candidate for availability by selecting some date proposals.

Screening1

With the power of Dynamics 365, the Candidate is kept in loop with automatic email notifications and gets to see this availability request on his/her smartphone and he is also able to review the details and respond to the request with his/her preferred date.

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As you can see, John confirmed that November 17th works best for him, the Hiring Manager or the Recruiter can now login to Dynamics 365 and see that date and use that to confirm the interview.

Candidate Confirmed Date

The recruiter can now easily select the interviewers from the Hiring Team or even add other participants and then Invite the team to schedule the interview.

Invite Team

The recruiter can select additional date proposals for the interviewers and also indicate the Candidate’s preferred/confirmed date. They can also chose to include an online meeting, which in turn would include details of a Skype for business meeting details or Microsoft Team meeting info automatically into the meeting request. This leverages the power of integration with Office 365.

Set Interview Details

With the power of Office 365 integration out of the box with Dynamics 365, the Recruiter will also be able to too look into calendar availabilities of the Interview team right within Dynamics 365. The interviewers will get notified automatically via email and the candidate will also be updated.

Office 365 integration

Interviewer Email

 

The hiring team members and individuals can then login to Dynamics 365 to submit their feedback in real time and mention strengths and weaknesses of the candidate.

Feedback

At the end of this process, when the candidate is finalized and ready to be hired, you can go to the Prepare offer experience to create and send offer to the candidate. Note that the “Offer” functionality/experience of Talent is still in Preview and I am not able to reveal much about it at this point. But as you can imagine, you will use this experience to do everything that goes into preparing and communicating with a candidate regarding offer.

Offer

Onboard Start

Let us stop at this for this post.

In the next post, we will use the Onboard experience of Dynamics 365 for Talent to onboard John and evaluate how that experience looks like.

Till then, happy Talent management ūüôā

 

 

Common Data Services (CDS), Data Integrator and Dynamics 365, What will you do?

In my post on “My favorite features from the July 2017 update of Dynamics 365 For Finance & Operations“, I highlighted the availability of the Prospect to Cash integration scenarios between Dynamics 365 For Sales and Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations.

The out of the box¬†integration¬†is probably one of the best things that can¬† happen to an ERP and CRM platform, where we will now depart from the traditional way of writing custom integrations every time, to be able to¬†connect CRM and ERP systems. With the power of “Common Data Service(CDS) and the new “Data Integrator” feature now available, the integration of Dynamics 365 for Sales (CRM) and Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations (ERP) is now possible right out of the box in Dynamics 365, with no or not much custom integration needed.

In this post, let us decode some of these new features and terminologies into simple definitions, so that we all can better understand what these are, how they work and what benefits these will bring on to the table for partners and customers.

Common Data Services: The ultimate purpose of Digital transformation initiatives and implementing business applications for an organization is to be able to drive and produce actionable data and then democratize the data for key users to make more sense out of those data from all areas of the business. You can then use the data to create BI dashboards/reports using Power BI or configure business apps using Microsoft PowerApps and share it with others in the business as needed.

At the core, Common Data Services is a Microsoft Azure based Cloud data storage service that allows to surface data from multiple applications (Such as Dynamics 365, Office 365, and other similar¬†Azure or Non-Azure based¬†services), and make them all available at one central¬†place. The data model in the Common Data Services is referred to as the “Common Data Model” that basically contains several out of the box data entities. These entities then contain¬† the required set of data fields to store the data.¬†Some examples of these data entities are “Customers”, Accounts, Contacts, ERP Sales Orders etc. When you create a new environment in CDS, you will see the readily available entities that you can take advantage of, or you can create your own entities as you need.¬†You can¬† also modify the standard entities of CDS to be able to store data specific to your business.

Screenshot below shows some standard entities of the CDS and specific data fields of one of the entities.

Common Data Service Entities

Accounts Entoty

Data Integrator: With that high level overview of what is Common Data Service, let’s understand what is the Data Integrator. The Data Integrator is a new feature of the Common Data Services, that lets you build an end to end view of your business data by making Dynamics 365 data available in Common Data Service. It enables you to connect multiple business applications such as “Dynamics 365 for Sales” and “Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations”, by surfacing data from the source app to CDS and then passing it over from CDS to the target app automatically.

This is done through a set of Connection definitions and Connection sets, which are eventually used in the data integrator projects. Connections basically stores the active directory credentials for your target app/system. Connection sets primarily stores the organization mapping info(For example the Legal entities of D365 For Finance & Operations app and Sales Unit/organization of D365 for Sales). We will discuss more about the specifics of the Connections and Connection sets in a future post.

The data that is synchronized to CDS by Data Integrator is currently Read-Only and will not be editable. You can use the CDS data to sync that to other business apps or to create business applications using Microsoft Power Apps and CDS SDK.

Customers can create Data Integration projects by themselves from scratch or use existing templates provided by Microsoft and then set those data integration projects to run on a recurring basis to sync data into the CDS flow the data between multiple applications.

Screenshot below shows some data integration templates that are already available to pass data between Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations. These templates seems to be supporting the Prospect to Cash scenario between D365 For Sales and D365 For Finance and Operations, where you can pass Customers/Accounts data from Sales to Operations , pass Products/Items data from Operations app to the Sales app, or pass Sales quotation data from Sales to Operations(Still in preview) via the Common data Services.

Note: I have not configured my D365 For Sales environment yet, so I am not able to test the full experience yet, but it is very obvious how this feature is architected and how the data flow will happen between the apps. I will be able to test this soon, when the environment is ready in coming weeks.

Data Flow Overview via CDS

Data Flow Overview via CDS

Connection Set

Data Integrator

PowerApps and CDS: If you do not know already, think of PowerApps as the front end interface for interacting with the data in your database (which in this case will be the Common Data Services or any other supported services). The configurable data integrator feature of the CDS is the first step towards integrating the Dynamics 365 apps (Such as D365 For Sales and D365 For Finance and Operations). Down the line, all the apps under Dynamics 365 such as D365 for Project Service Automation, D365 for Field Service etc., will be supported for this integration, where we will be able to sync data between all these different purpose built apps using the CDS as the staging database.

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Think about it ! Once your data is available in CDS via the Data integrator from multiple applications, Power users of your organization can write business apps (Mobile or tablet based) using this data and PowerApps and extend the business processes more with this. I explained some of my initial observation about PowerApps and CDS in my earlier post here. In future, Microsoft will surely make it easier by providing more and more out of the box data integration templates for more data integration scenarios and will automate the data sync to CDS automatically at some point, so that the data will be readily available in CDS any time for you to consume and use.

What is next: For customers who have the Plan 2 or Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations subscription, they have access to Common Data Services and the Data integrator feature right now. Go and explore what you will do with it!!

I will share some real time testing experience of the Prospect to Cash integration scenarios between D365 Sales and D365 Operations with the Data Integrator, Connections, Connection sets etc., once I have my environment for D365 For Sales configured and after I have fully tested it.

Till then, stay tuned, stay current !!

Dynamics 365 For Talent, game changing cloud app for end to end HCM and Talent Management from Microsoft

The date for the general availability for Dynamics 365 For Talent is nearing !! The Technical Preview is out now and you can get your hands on it to realize the tremendous potential and capabilities this new app brings out of the box, to help manage the end to end Human Capital Management (HCM) and Talent management functions of your organization.

D365 For Talent Tech Previewq

I have been evaluating this upcoming app for sometime now and I did play around the Technical Preview environment also. I would like to share some of my observations and how I think it will benefit for customers who already have subscribed to Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition and customers who are evaluating Dynamics 365 for their organization.

Note: In this post, I don’t intent to go deep into exploring features and functionality. I will do that later in future posts after General availability.

Take a quick look at the video below to get an idea of what Dynamics 365 For Talent can do for you.

Here are some of the key points.

  • First thing first ! Dynamics 365 For Talent is a cloud only,¬†true SaaS offering from Microsoft under the Dynamics 365 platform, and it¬†focuses only on core Human Capital Management and Talent Management aspects of an organization. This app is not customizable(as you would expect in other Dynamics 365 apps such as Operations), but it¬†is certainly extensible, to meet customer’s specific needs.
  • Breaking Free from Core Finance and Operations app was a good idea: Many of us may have the question “Why a separate dedicated cloud app for HCM only, when¬†Dynamics 365 For Operations app natively supported a fully integrated HR Module with a lot of native HCM and some talent management capabilities already?”. Well, from my perspective, it was a very bold and good move from Microsoft to break free the HCM component from within core finance and operations app, but still keep them both integrated. HCM and Talent management is key to every organization of any size and having all core¬†HCM and Talent management functions within the Operations app was kind of limiting the scope of all the enhancements, that one can make in the HCM areas. It was also a lot of crowded core HR related sensitive employee data within the Operations app and it made customers spend time to deal with building¬†stringent security configurations to hide these sensitive data.

People Hub

  • The road is now paved to innovate faster and compete with other industry leaders in cloud¬†HCM apps: The separate app for Talent management under Dynamics 365 platform¬†will enable organizations to subscribe and use just the Talent app and also use it in conjunction Finance and Operations, based on what the needs are. This will also enable Microsoft to make this a full fledged HCM/Talent management app by adding new innovation focused specifically on¬†HCM and¬†be able to compete with other ¬†industry leaders . We are already seeing the innovations with the deep LinkedIn integration for Talent attraction and onboarding.
  • Best in class Talent attraction and hiring experience with LinkedIn integration out of the box: With deep integration to LinkedIn, Dynamics 365 for Talent will set itself apart and ahead of the game, when it comes to HCM and Talent Management. It is certainly poised to provide the best talent hunting and hiring experience for your organization. How many companies do you know today that does not rely on Linked to look and hunt for the best talent? So, with the deep integration with Dynamics 365, it will be your one stop shop for all aspects of attracting and retaining top talent. This will be the game changer.

LinkedIn

  • Key HCM related analytics and dashboards are readily available. Microsoft PowerBI being the backbone, Dynamics 365 For Talent also provides various prebuilt PowerBI content packs for all sort of analytics and dashboards you will expect. All out of the box!

Talent People Metrics

Talent Workplace Demographics

  • Extensions and Integrations:¬† Having Dynamics 365 For Talent as a standalone app and not providing any integrations out of the box with ERP (Finance and Operations apps) will not make much sense. Come fall release later this year, we should start seeing out of the box integration of Dynamics 365 for Talent with Dynamics 365 for Operations app, where all necessary¬†core workers related data¬†needed for managing operations and finance will flow from Talent to Operations app. Let us stay tuned on this.

Integrations

  • 3rd Party Integrations: Not only integrations within Dynamics platform, but this will also make it easier to integrate with external ATS, Payroll Providers and background check providers.
  • Licensing and Subscriptions: Since this is in Technical Preview now, no licensing details are out yet from Microsoft. But we should be fairly assume that Customers who have subscribed to the Enterprise Plan 2 of Dynamics 365 should get access to Dynamics 365 For Talent by default. Stay tuned for more updates on this.
  • What will happen to Customers who have invested in the Core HCM functionality of HCM module in Dynamics 365 For Operations or AX 2012 R3: While we need to wait to see more details around this, it surely looks like many of the core HCM functionality will move away from Dynamics 365 For Operations to Dynamics 365 For Talent in coming releases. I believe the customers who have used the built in HCM module of Dynamics 365 For Operations should be able to migrate most/all of their data to Talent and take advantage of the integration with Operations when it comes out in the Fall or later release. Customers using the HCM module functionalities of AX 2012 R3, can take advantage of the out of the box integration with Talent, ¬†which will come out in coming months and they can move their HCM functions¬† to Dynamics 365 For Talent. Alternately, they can continue to use the AX 2012 R3 features until they are ready to move to the Cloud fully.

Exciting times ahead for HCM and Talent Management in Dynamics 365. Customers and prospective customers, stay tuned !!

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