Introducing Playbook Activity Templates for Dynamics 365

The v9.1 Dynamics 365 update introduces a new Playbooks feature and in this post we've summarised how this can be used.

  1. Playbooks are designed to enforce a series of defined activities that should be triggered in the event of specific scenario, or within the context of a process.
  2. The Playbooks capability is currently only available in the Dynamics 365 for Sales app.
  3. This feature is only available within the Unified Interface, it can't be deployed using the classic web interface.
  4. As an activity series that users should follow, each Playbook represents a set of best practices that users should follow to reach a successful outcome.
  5. A frequently cited sales scenario could be the departure of a senior decision maker, or the main account contact leaving an organisation. In another instance, Playbook activities could detail contract renewal steps. 
  6. To get started, security roles for Playbook Manager and Playbook User will first need to be assigned.
  7. Before creating a Playbook template, individual categories must be created which describe the issue or event.
  8. To configure a new template, Playbook Managers will define the name, associate a Playbook category and select which entity types this refers to. 
  9. In the v9.1 release, Playbooks can be applied to Lead, Opportunity, Quote, Order and Invoice entities only. This feature isn't currently available for custom entities.
  10. Template settings also include a 'Track Progress' yes / no switch. This is crucial in determining how activities should be associated. Activities can only be set regarding a single record and selecting 'Yes' will set regarding the Playbook Template, while 'No' will set activities regarding the lead, opportunities, quote, order or invoice record each Playbook is applied to.

    While grouping all Playbook activities to a template could be beneficial for reporting, choosing not to track progress will be more helpful to end users. That's because within an activity list view, Playbook generated activities with progress tracked will reference the Playbook Template rather than the business record:
    In this example, the user can click through to the Playbook record to see which opportunity this is regarding but from the task list this isn't immediately clear.  

    In contrast, toggling 'do not track progress' means that activities are set regarding the business record. In this example an opportunity is clearly shown in the to-do list enabling users to clearly see which record this is regarding:
  11. Finally, within the Playbook template define each activity that will be scheduled when a Playbook is triggered. These can be set as a task, appointment or phone call:
  12. It's important to note that these are a separate entity from regular activities. A crucial difference is that Playbook Activities are scheduled for a date relative to when a Playbook is launched rather than fixed dates. For example, one Playbook Activity within a series could be set with a due date 1 day after the Playbook is launched while another activity within the same template could be scheduled 5 days later. Further activities options include priority levels, description and duration.

    You may be wondering if additional fields can be set on these resulting activities and this post demonstrates how a sales stage option set field can be added to a task record using a Playbook Activity Attribute record.

  13. Once each Playbook Activity has been defined, the Playbook Template can be published. This will enable users to launch a Playbook from the command bar on selected entities before selecting the appropriate template.
  14. Upon launching a Playbook Template, the associated activities will be assigned to this user. 
  15. The above process would be contingent on a user remembering to launch a Playbook at the appropriate time, and selecting the correct template.

    However, greater enforcement of Playbook Activities can be achieved by triggering an automatic launch within a business process flow. For example, this post shares an example of a series of Playbook Activities being scheduled automatically when a Playbook Template is triggered upon a stage change when a lead is qualified to an opportunity. By triggering activity records that will appear in a users to-do list as part of a sales processes, Playbooks offer the prospect of providing an added control to reduce the risk of users forgetting to carry out important actions.

If you want to know more about how to configure and use this new feature please get in touch!


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