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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talent Solutions deployed in PowerApps environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public preview of Common Data Model, a Core component of Dynamics 365 is now available

When Microsoft Dynamics 365 was announced last month at WPC 2016, the Common Data Model was one of the core components of this new Cloud business solution offerings from Microsoft. I also explained in brief about the Common Data Model and the role it plays in Dynamics 365, in my earlier post.

CDM

Yesterday (8th August 2016), Microsoft announced the Public Preview of the Common Data Model and it’s integration with Microsoft Flow and PowerApps, which are  new cloud services from Microsoft ,that creates automated workflows between apps and services (such as collecting and creating data, synchronizing files or even getting notifications) and creating intelligent business apps respectively. Refer to the blog post below.

https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/flow-and-common-data-model/

The Common Data Model and what you can do with it using Microsoft Flow, Power Apps, Power BI and more for your CRM and ERP (Dynamics AX / Project Madeira) data are very promising.

You can start exploring the Common Data Model and start thinking of apps and flows that you can build using this.

To see and explore some the entities of the CDM, log in to Microsoft Power apps at https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us. You can use your Office365 credentials for this.

Expand the Manage Tab > Entities. If you are doing it for the first time, click Create my database button. You will now be able to see several out of the box entities such as Customers, Employees, Contractors, Products and more (As you know them in Dynamics AX already). In this I have already created my database for the CDM which looks as shown in screenshot below.

 Power Apps CDM

For instance, you can select the Employee, Customer or Products entity and see all the data fields that are part of it. You can further open them in excel and play around the demo data (Contoso) using Power Apps office add in (Very similar to the Dynamics Add in we all are used to in the New Dynamics AX

Entity Details

As an example, I have opened the Customer master in Excel and you can see we have the familiar Contoso data in it 🙂

Open in Excel

Just a beginning !! keep exploring and stay tuned for future posts.

Regards,

Sandeep

SBS Group to Co-host Dynamics 365 Webcast with MSDynamicsWorld.com — The SBS Group Blog

The webcast will discuss the impact of Dynamics 365 on the Dynamics reseller community. EDISON, NJ (PRWEB) AUGUST 08, 2016 SBS Group, a leading information technology services and consulting firm, has announced they will be co-hosting a webcast with MSDynamicsWorld.com. The webcast will occur on Thursday, Aug. 18 at 12 p.m. The webcast, entitled “Dynamics […]

via SBS Group to Co-host Dynamics 365 Webcast with MSDynamicsWorld.com — The SBS Group Blog

Microsoft Dynamics 365, What you need to know

Most of us must have heard a lot and read a number of blog posts already about the newest member of the Microsoft Dynamics family, “Dynamics 365“. Those who followed the WPC updates on the web or those attended the event in Toronto this year must already know a lot of details of this by now.

This is the first blog post on my new blog which will be dedicated and tailored for Microsoft Dynamics 365 going forward. In this first post, we will summarize some of the key aspects of Dynamics 365 that you need to know for now.

What is Dynamics 365 :

Dynamics 365

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the next generation of business apps in the cloud from Microsoft. It is intended to bring together the best of Dynamics ERP and Dynamics CRM, cloud offerings into one consolidated cloud service. In other words, it is a new umbrella which will consolidate the Microsoft CRM and ERP cloud applications and provide specific purpose built apps for each of your business areas (Both for SMB and Enterprise Customers) along with the best of Microsoft Productivity apps (Office 365) and Business Intelligence/Analytics, IoT and power of Azure.

In more technical terms, Dynamics 365 aims at providing a new consistent application platform and a common data model with several standard business entities and  that partners can leverage to build innovative business process and industry specific solutions using Dynamics 365, office 365, Power BI, Microsoft flow, Power Apps and more. The benefit that customers will get out this is, their users will not have to switch or change between multiple applications and still get everything (Data, Process), all at one place.

Solutions stack in Dynamics 365:

Dyn 365 Solution Stack

As depicted in the above solution stack diagram, you can clearly see that Dynamics 365 is fully a cloud only solution and is built on the Microsoft Azure stack. Dynamics 365 will provide a new application platform and common data model which will span across other cloud apps like Microsoft PowerApps, Power BI, Microsoft Flow etc., along with Office 365.

Two of the major components in this solution stack are the CRM and Finance/Operations. Dynamics CRM will primarily cater Sales & Marketing, Customer Service aspects. Optionally Field Service as well as Project Service (Professional Service Automation) can also be used by customers.

For the Financials and Operations area, the New Dynamics AX (AX 7) will be the backbone for the Enterprise edition of Dynamics 365 which is targeted for the Enterprise customers. Project Madeira (Code name) will be the backbone for the Business Edition of Dynamics 365, which is targeted for the SMB customers.

Power BI and Cortona Analytics Suite (Which are widely used applications already) will be the business intelligence platform for Dynamics 365.

Finally, there will be third party business applications extensions/add-on solutions by partners for industry specific solutions or functionality enhancements. (For example you can see SBS Group’s Add-on solution in screenshot below). These apps will be available for consumption in an entirely new platform called “App Source”. We will debrief App Source further in the post below.

Dyn 365 SBS

What versions are available for Dynamics 365:

As of the revealing so far, Dynamics 365 will be available in 2 editions. (This information is subjected to change when Dynamics 365 releases this fall)

The Enterprise edition is targeted for Enterprise customers and will come with full blown Dynamics CRM and Dynamics AX will be the ERP for operation. The Business edition is targeted for SMB customers and it will have a future sales and marketing solution (May be a lightweight Dynamics CRM online ?) with Project Madeira for financials.

Dyn 365 Editions

Licensing options of Dynamics 365:

Even though solid information about this is not yet available, the future licensing model is pretty obvious. Apps, Plans and Team members will be the new building blocks of Dynamics 365 licensing.

Refer the post at the URL below to know more on what Microsoft revealed at WPC 2016 about this.

http://msdynamicsworld.com/story/microsoft-dynamics-365-licensing-details-clarify-future-ax-crm-and-project-madeira

Introduction to Appsource, A modern way to discover and provision solutions:

App Source

App Source is the new “app store” where business customers and prospects can find and buy solutions for any of the Microsoft technologies. This is the platform for Partners to publish their industry specific solutions for Microsoft Dynamics AX, Project Madeira, office 365, Power BI etc.

As an example, you can see AXIO For Professional Services, an ERP solution powered by Dynamics AX and is tailored and built for Professional Services firm.

AXIO

How much is it going to cost you:

Details of pricing are not yet fully available, but customers will have better flexibility for pricing for sure. They will be able to buy in the traditional approach where they can license Dynamics 365 by application (Operations, Sales, Field Service etc.). They will also be to license Dynamics 365 by user role.

You can see some additional details on the blog post at URL below.

http://msdynamicsworld.com/story/microsoft-dynamics-365-licensing-details-clarify-future-ax-crm-and-project-madeira

Stay tuned for more details.

When will it be publicly available:

Even though there is no solid information on this yet, I guess it may be during the OCT – NOV 2016 time frame. Stay tuned for more updates on this soon.

What it means for existing customers:

For customers who are already using Dynamics CRM online and the New Dynamics AX, Microsoft says it should be a seamless transition. For customers on earlier versions, there will need to be a transition path. I am not very clear on the complete transition path right now, but more details to follow as details emerges.

On Premise Vs Cloud:

Dynamics 365 is a cloud service and will not be available on premise. Microsoft will continue to innovate and support the on premise Dynamics CRM, AX, NAV, SL and GP solutions and may offer connectors if any customers want to use a hybrid of on premise and some of the cloud solutions. You can find more on what the engineering leads have to say about this at the blog post below.

https://community.dynamics.com/b/msftdynamicsblog/archive/2016/07/06/insights-from-the-engineering-leaders-behind-microsoft-dynamics-365-and-microsoft-Appsource

Regards,

Sandeep