Microsoft Dynamics 365 Usage Trends in 2018

Looking back at the first half of 2018 it is interesting to observe some trends in the type of Dynamics requirements that our clients are addressing using their managed service.

Through a managed service our clients allocate inclusive hours to make continual improvements to their system.

This involves our technicians responding to requests by carrying out tasks that increase performance and enhance the value of Dynamics 365. These jobs include customising existing processes, configuring new functions and carrying out further implementation phases.

Frequent requirements include customising record forms, configuring process flows, pre-upgrade code checks, improving the user experience with updated forms and views, and handling data migrations.

However, in 2018 we are also seeing demand for help across a broader range of requirements. In this post we've highlighted some of the trends we are seeing which we hope provides you with some ideas and inspiration do more with your own Dynamics 365 system.

GDPR

The GDPR has been a big driver of change in 2018 and while this regulation is now in force we continue to respond to requirements to help our clients demonstrate compliance.

Frequent GDPR related requirements we are working on include:

  • Configuring consent tracking in Dynamics 365
  • Building double opt-in processes using ClickDimensions
  • Updating user security roles
  • Technical advice to safeguard data using other Microsoft technology solutions including multi-factor authentication
  • Bulk deletion jobs for data no longer needed
  • Anonymising records as an alternative to bulk delete - e.g. clear contact detail but retain associated opportunity data
  • Pseudonymise records to change identifying personal data - this can be run as a scheduled job e.g. based on last contact date
  • Data enrichment through bulk updates
  • Customising record forms including field level security

Power BI

With many Dynamics 365 customers relying on Power BI to overhaul their reporting processes and gain new insights from CRM data we continue to see a rise in these requirements.

In addition to helping clients get started by connecting Power BI with Dynamics, we are helping many sites who've deployed Power BI during the last couple of years by configuring additional charts and applying new capabilities that Microsoft has recently added.

In many instances our Power BI work will cover:

  • Initial Power BI requirements scoping
  • Build of required reports and dashboards
  • Training key users
  • Building a data refresh processes

If you aren't already using Power BI with Dynamics 365, catch our recent presentation to see what you are missing out on.

Web Portals

Since Microsoft included entitlement to deploy an integrated web portal as part of the Dynamics 365 subscription there has been growing demand to implement these solutions.

Customer portals are by far the most popular but the partner or community portal templates will be a better fit in some instances.

In addition to enabling service issues to be logged, checking cases and using integrated knowledge, we are also publishing custom entities through portals and enabling edits of selective contact data to be written back to Dynamics 365 from the portal UI. 

Web portals enable businesses to quickly extend self-service capabilities and on several occasions clients have told us that promoting this resource has been an crucial factor in helping them win new contracts. 

A managed service subscription has proved an ideal fit for completing a portal implementation as this tends to be a requirement for customers already using Dynamics.  In most instances, we complete this build in a fixed number of hours to include initial portal scoping, documentation, a review process and project management.

If you aren't currently using your portal entitlement, watch demonstration to find out more about these benefits.

Unified Client Interface (UCI)

D365 v9 saw the arrival of Microsoft's UCI which introduces a responsive interface that is consistent across browsers and devices.

In this initial release, several important gaps were evident compared to the classic desktop web interface so most Dynamics customers took a swerve on deploying the UCI for their latest update.

However, the UCI is the future and will be the primary interface for all D365 apps. Eventually all sites will need to migrate to this (we don't know when) and we are seeing a clear trend in recent months where CRM admins are using their managed service hours to explore the new user experience as part of their preparations. 

With Microsoft Dynamics 365 now moving to a continuous deployment policy, continual updates are resulting in more and more capabilities from the classic web UX being moved over to the UCI. With the next major release scheduled for October by then we may have reached parity. Once that point is reached there will be a compelling reason to deploy UCI so why not begin planning now?

Automated Approvals

As part of Microsoft's Power Platform, Microsoft Flow is an increasingly popular solution to connect apps and streamline processes in Dynamics 365.

Many of the Flows that we've helped clients with involve automated approvals.

Unlike a regular CRM workflow which requires the person approving to be a Dynamics user, and logged into the system, Microsoft Flow enables actions to be approved via email, push notifications or within the Flow mobile app.

As an example, to protect data quality in the event of spurious web forms that would otherwise be automatically written to Dynamics, a Flow could be configured to enforce an approval control. This would enable users to review recent form posts and confirm if these entries should be added to Dynamics 365, for example as a lead or other record type. 

Aside from Microsoft Flow, this year has also seen us work on more requirements to configure approval processes within Dynamics 365 for processes including field service work orders and sales orders.

Azure Attachment Manager

As more data is stored in Dynamics 365, so cloud storage costs increase. Emails and attachments typically take up most capacity but we've helped many of clients significantly lower their storage expenses by migrating to Azure Blob storage with a new Attachment Manager solution.

D365 notes and attachments for any standard or custom entity are then stored using Azure Blob rather than the Dynamics tenant and they can be retrieved on-demand with a single click.

In addition to pay-as-you-go pricing to cover the storage capacity that is needed, Azure Blob storage is priced at a much lower rate compared to storing attachments in the CRM database.

By allocating just a few hours of managed service time, we've been able delight many clients by saving money on their cloud storage costs.

Engagement Calls

With the many Dynamics product changes during the last few years it is great to see that an increasing number of our clients are finding value in scheduling regular calls with our managed service team. Through these calls they are able to increase their CRM expertise and get a steer on the future direction of their system.

In these sessions, often involving a combination of CRM admins, project leaders and super users, we'll discuss their recent experiences, make recommendation to address new requirements, offer advice on proposed changes, demonstrate how new features can be applied and share insight. 

Rescoping

Our managed service reflects that Dynamics 365 should always be in a state of evolution. As we've highlighted in this post, changes will be made on a continual basis and often these individual items will be completed in just a few hours.

For sites that have used Dynamics for several years we seeing a rise is organisations looking to re-scope their project. 

This is an opportunity to set new expectations for the business outcomes that need to be achieved through Dynamics 365 and this may involve extending the system to a new team.

In some cases, we have worked with clients to add field service capabilities to their Dynamics environment, while other requirements have included a new integration or configuring project management functions within Dynamics.

These requirement require more discussion and input than we'd cover in our engagement calls so a formal scoping process it will ensure that all stakeholders are involved and the requirement is understood by all parties before we document our proposed solution.

These are just some of the requirements we've responded to demonstrating how our Dynamics 365 clients are using their managed service in 2018. If you already have a managed service hopefully we've provided a useful source of ideas to help you plan further work to your system so please get in touch to discuss further.


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