10 Tips to Adapt & Thrive in Uncertain Times with Dynamics 365

Stay Safe, Stay Agile

Throughout our 27-year history, Preact has consistently promoted the use of technology to help organisations grow. During periods of economic downturn and uncertainty, we have responded with solutions when priorities have focused on business continuity.

As Covid-19 (Coronavirus) continues to impact people and organisations worldwide, we are all adapting to unprecedented, rapidly changing conditions where business continuity is again an imperative.

If your organisation has already invested in Microsoft Dynamics 365, we trust you will take comfort from the flexibility of the product and platform in helping you react and adapt.

Fresh opportunities may now exist where this technology can help you respond to critical business change resulting from the Covid-19 outbreak. This may include handling new challenges to support customers and ensuring normal operations where staff are increasingly distributed due to greater remote working.

Also, some Dynamics 365 action items may have slipped down your 'to-do' list but now need to be elevated as part of your immediate continuity arrangements. In contrast, other actions, events or projects may have been postponed which creates an opportunity to address Dynamics 365 updates which were previously parked.

In this post, we've shared a series of Dynamics 365 related tips to help your business remain agile in face of this challenge.

1. Connect Dynamics 365 with Microsoft Teams

The rapid rise in remote working due to self-isolation and the potential closure of schools and offices has seen a surge in adoption of Microsoft Teams as workforces strive to remain connected and collaborate effectively. By connecting MS Teams with Dynamics 365, users are provided with a new interface to access Dynamics data. This includes pinning Dynamics records and views to Teams channels so updates can be made in Teams alongside its chat and collaborations features.

Learn more about how Dynamics 365 links to MS Teams, watch our demonstration, and reach out if you need any assistance configuring this integration, or deploying Teams.

2. Adapt Your Reporting with Power BI

When teams are increasingly distributed, access to real-time, reliable reporting is crucial for timely and informed decision-making. Through Power BI charts and visualisations, users can stay connected to the key metrics that matter most to them - wherever they work.

If you haven't previously built a Power BI dashboard, or even if your organisation is actively using this, recent changes to working patterns may prompt the need to revisit your reporting requirements. For example, this may include additional reports to assist service managers in monitoring trends in case resolution as more staff operate remotely.

Read more about Power BI and contact us if you need any help or advice to create Power BI dashboards that data from Dynamics 365.

3. Integrate Your Customer Communications Platform

Rapidly evolving arrangements in response to the spread of Covid-19 highlights the value of communication technology that enables the broadcast of timely messages to keep customers updated.

Dynamics 365 enables audiences to be quickly defined through lists and views, but an embedded or integrated marketing automation add-on will deliver wider advantages. Once emails or SMS messages are crafted, these can be quickly distributed to the target audience and a copy of the message, together with recipient actions, will be tracked to the contact record.

You may still be using Excel lists to handle these processes but ClickDimensions, dotDigital or Dynamics 365 Marketing will save significant time and improve message personalisation.

4. Centralise Knowledge Resources

Through Dynamics 365 knowledge capabilities, trusted answers and proven solutions can be curated to answer frequent questions or issues. With easy reference to this content in one place, staff are able to quickly respond by sharing consistent information and guidance.

Increased remote working may produce new challenges for service agents and other teams if they lack in-person guidance and experience to respond to common scenarios. From a simple Q&A post, to detailed instructions that can be shared with customers, the Dynamics 365 knowledge feature helps ensure clear and consistent messaging.

5. Online Self-Servicing

Integrated web portals are a great way to extend Dynamics 365 by sharing selective data with customers and other external users and enable them to make service requests.

Portals can reduce the pressure on teams, especially during periods of reduced resourcing. This can include enabling customers to find answers themselves by searching knowledge posts online, and checking, or even updating, their account information.

Learn more about web portals and how Preact implement these for our clients. Please get in touch if you want to discuss implementing a new portal.

6. Review Guided Processes

Some business processes may come under pressure as work patterns, external demands and resources change. For Dynamics 365 guided flows that handle routine processes across leads, cases, applications and other routine tasks, some tweaks may now be appropriate. In some instances, this may justify customisation to handle new scenarios that require more advanced features such as branching logic. In other situations, it may be appropriate to simplify some steps to provide a faster and smooth experience for end users.

7. Optimise the Unified Interface

If you've recently moved over to the Dynamics 365 unified interface, how effectively are you using these new capabilities? For example, have you been able to improve the appearance of forms, implement new controls that simplify data entry, embed Power BI dashboards or deploy streamlined apps?

Some recent solutions for the Unified Interface that we've shared have included a record tagging control and a last activities display to help identify neglected contacts. These are just a couple of examples to illustrate the massive scope of enhancements which can be quickly made to improve data quality, increased adoption and greater customer engagement through the new UI.

Reach out if you need help customising the Unified Interface, or if you've yet to transition from the deprecated web client.

8. Leverage New Features from the April Release

The next release wave for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform rolls out from 1 April. This contains many new capabilities which may support your immediate priorities. Several of the new features will not be enabled by default while others may require additional work to configure. We recommend registering for the early access preview, if you haven't already, to make sure you are ready once this is generally available and be aware of potentially impactful changes.

Read our summary of what's new in the April release wave and ideas for which new features and changes to test in preview.

9. Prepare for Team Member Enforcement

As your business navigates the Covid-19 crisis, avoiding disruption to the accessibility of your CRM system will be critical. If you are subscribed with the Dynamics 365 Team Member SKU you should be aware technical licence enforcement is set to be turned on for existing customers from 30 June* (1 April for new customers).

* 1 APRIL UPDATE - Microsoft has now extended this deadline from 30th June to 31st December 2020

The impact of this enforcement will vary depending upon current usage scenarios. For instances where users are currently exceeding the entitlements of the Team Member licences this may prove significant if users are prevented from accessing subsequently gated apps and restricted features.

Read our post about this upcoming change, including how to identify non-conformant Team Member users. Please contact us if you need any assistance to check and review your Dynamics licensing.

10. Accelerate Your Digital Transformation

Increased remote working, and potentially operating with fewer resources, increases the need to replace any processes in your business which remain stubbornly analogue. Often run in Excel or paper-based, these are resource intensive and could undermine efforts during periods of upheaval.

Potentially, some of these processes could be better handled in Dynamics 365 but also consider Power Apps.  This enables web and mobile apps to be quickly built as no / low-code solutions that will handle specific work streams. Data is connected and stored in the same common data service used by Dynamics 365 and Office 365 to avoid cliff edges with other applications.

Contact us if you want to know more about Power Apps and how to digitally transform more of your processes through the Power Platform.

Next Steps?

There is no doubt that businesses face an immediate period of uncertainty. But we believe it is important to remember that this will pass, and we remain confident that UK businesses will come through this challenging time stronger than ever. Preact remains committed to supporting its clients and helping them use Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform to navigate this difficult time and seize new opportunities that will arise in both the short and longer term.

Please contact us if you want to know more, or to discuss your requirements with one of our consultants.

Stay safe and stay home as much as you are able to, and keep washing your hands. 

Warm regards and best wishes from the Preact team.