Best Practices for Activity Management in Office 365 and Dynamics 365

Many of our clients ask us how best to handle the various activities available within the Dynamics 365 suite, especially with the crossover to Office 365. While there are no “set in stone” rules, we have put together some best practices suggestions, based on the functionality available within different programs.

So, the question is… What gets handled where?

EMAIL GETS HANDLED IN OUTLOOK

Outlook, as you can imagine, has far more email tools available than what you will find within Dynamics 365.  While the latest version of Dynamics 365 does include the ability to add Email Signatures to system emails, there is still no comparison to the many millions of tools Outlook offers.

If you set your options correctly in Outlook, you can still access all the special Dynamics 365 fields you need.

TASKS GET HANDLED IN OUTLOOK

Outlook has the best task management tools, such as the ability to set a reminder, ability to record time/mileage/billing info, and a task bar that shows right next to your email. And with the ability to use “Set Regarding” to attach a task to Dynamics 365, this is a win-win situation.

(Need to know more about “Set Regarding” feature? See this blog; Creating a New Record From Your Outlook Inbox.)

APPOINTMENTS GET HANDLED IN OUTLOOK

Okay, I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, and it’s still true that Outlook has the best tools for managing appointments. With advancements in the latest versions of Dynamics 365, even recurring appointments can be tracked in Dynamics 365 using the “Set Regarding” feature.

Working within Outlook, you still have access to all of your Dynamics 365 contacts, as well as special fields from those contact records. Because you’re in Outlook, you have access to your special plug-ins such as Skype for Business. You also have calendar access within your organization to help schedule those time-consuming meetings that everyone loves.

PHONE CALLS GET HANDLED IN DYNAMICS 365

Here’s where Dynamics 365 really starts to shine. Dynamics 365 gives you quick and easy access to a phone call record that has all the fields you need:

  • Is the call outgoing or incoming?
  • Did you leave a voicemail?
  • Is there a follow-up necessary?

If you have your Skype for Business connected to your Dynamics 365 implementation, then you can simply click someone’s phone number and these steps happen automatically:

  • A new phone call record is created, marked as outgoing, with the Contact’s name in the recipient box.
  • A new Skype for Business call is opened, with the Contact’s phone number ready to dial.

For people who love efficiency, Skype for Business is a must-have integration!

INFORMATION UPDATES GET HANDLED…….WELL…….

Information updates are all handled within Dynamics 365. The question is where to put the info so that it gets the most visibility.

Updates to an Account or Contact’s email/phone/address information, that will go in Dynamics 365 directly onto the Account/Contact form.

If it’s a Status update, and you want everyone who is interested in that Account/Contact to see the info, then use POSTS to save the info. Anyone who is “following” that Contact record will see the information. Also, shows on the Dashboard feed.

Temporary information that will only be relevant for a short period of time should be stored in NOTES. The more notes that are added, the further down you’ll have to scroll to find the info. Notes are not easily searchable, nor can they be reported on, and they don’t roll up to the parent record. This format is only good for temporary information, not for information that will need to be easily found at a later date.

If it’s info about action being taken, use TASKS. Task records can be searched, can be reported upon, and they do roll up to the parent record. This automatically gives them better visibility throughout the entire system. The more tasks you enter into Dynamics 365, the more ammunition you can take to your yearly review, to prove to your boss that you really are working hard!

What does it mean for a record to roll up to the parent record?

Let’s talk about the Bird and the Bees… Notice how when 2 of your friends get together and have children, you can see the attributes of the parents in the children? Same thing happens in Dynamics 365.

Account records are the top “parent” record. A contact is a “child” record of an Account record. Opportunities and Cases are “child” records of either an Account or a Contact (or both).

What this means in practical terms is that the “parent” record will show all the activities from the “child” records. This is the reason we suggest attaching emails to the lowest “child” record possible so that it’s visible on both the child record and the parent record.

EXAMPLE: Let’s say you have an email that is attached to Dynamics 365 (using Set Regarding) to an Opportunity record. You can open that Opportunity record and see that email. You can also open the Account associated with that Opportunity and see that email. The reason? Because the Opportunity is a “child” record of the Account’s “parent” record, and that email is rolling up to the “parent” record.

 

HOW/WHEN SHOULD I USE CERTAIN ACTIVITY FEATURES?

EMAIL

When you’re in Outlook and you want to track a message in Dynamics 365, use the “Set Regarding” feature instead of just clicking “Track.” When you use Track alone, you save the email with any contact record that Dynamics 365 can match to any email address in your outgoing email. However, using the Set Regarding does all that PLUS it gives you the ability to attach the email to a different type of record (such as an Opportunity, a Lead, a Case, or a custom entity).

Reminder: always attach the email to the “child” record, knowing that it will roll up to the “parent” record. (See the previous section for clarification.)

MARKETING

Campaigns allow you to manage multiple activities across a spectrum of time, as well as track any responses from the campaign (so you can gauge effectiveness). Want to advertise your monthly special by sending a postcard, followed by an email, followed by a phone call? One Dynamics 365 campaign can coordinate that entire effort, as well as tracking administrative activities and tracking costs.

PERSONAL OPTIONS (FROM WITHIN OUTLOOK)

  

REPORTING ON ACTIVITIES

Reports that come “out of the box” with Dynamics 365 give you loads of info.

  • Filter by activity type
  • Filter by MINE or ALL or TEAM
  • Filter by Status (Open or Closed)
  • Example View: All of MY TEAM’S Closed Activities in this fiscal period

You can also use Views and Charts together to create some really brilliant dashboards or track specific events.

CONCLUSION

There are multiple ways of handling all of these activities. Your best practice is to determine which program has the built-in functionality to give you the most tools possible, then use the integration links Dynamics 365 provides to make it all work together.


Watch Dynamics 365 in action! See how Dynamics 365 can help your business operate more efficiently and effectively.

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Dynamics 365 Questions, Answers, and More Questions

The launch of Dynamics 365 by Microsoft in late 2016 drove a lot of excitement, anticipation and even apprehension within the Microsoft Dynamics reseller channel and customer community.  Some were quite positive and others less so.  One feeling shared by nearly everyone involved was:  Confusion.

Some products were going away completely.  Others became foundational elements to new offerings.  Some didn’t change at all, but their future became suspect.  Even Microsoft employees were confused.  And I’m not referring to the retail assistant working the Microsoft Surface kiosk at the mall.  I spoke with 20-year Microsoft veterans whose current position were focused on Microsoft Dynamics and even they were confused.

And why not?  New products.  New product groupings.  New license models.  New deployment models.  New reseller programs.  New prices.  New database architecture.  New reporting tools.  Man! My first look at pricing included a 70+ slide PowerPoint deck that was wall to wall content.  I attended multiple online meetings where things were explained (those that could be explained…many kinks still needed to be worked out and some decisions weren’t finalized).

Eventually, and with the help of the team at SBS Group, I sorted things out.  The new product groupings, naming and license models started to make sense to me.  I found myself wondering why they hadn’t done this sooner.  Today, most of us who make our living in the Microsoft Dynamics Ecosystem have made friends with Dynamics 365 and the potential it provides our customers.  Apprehension has been replaced by enthusiasm and eagerness to innovate.

Did we forget about you?

After I figured out Dynamics 365, I started to assume that everyone had.  My introductions to the offering became more succinct and my focus centered around the big ideas, like: Common Data Services, PowerBI and the almighty Cloud. These are important, but often it is in answering the most simple questions that provides the best foundation for learning.

Below are a few questions I hear again and again:

What is the difference between Dynamics 365 for Operations and Dynamics 365 Financials?

Dynamics 365 has two editions, Enterprise and Business editions. The Enterprise edition is optimized for 250+ employees and includes the capabilities of Dynamics CRM Online and Dynamics AX products that existed in market pre Q4CY16. The Business edition is optimized for 10-250 employees and includes Dynamics 365 for Financials. Business edition and is not inclusive of Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV or Dynamics SL.

What is the difference between Dynamics 365 Enterprise Plan 1 and Plan 2?

Enterprise Edition Plan 1 gives you the flexibility to work with any app functionality. Plan 1 includes flexibility to use Dynamics 365 for Sales, Dynamics 365 for Field Service, Dynamics 365 for Customer Service, Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation, and full PowerApps P2. Licensing becomes simpler because all Plan 1 business application rights are included.

Licensing for Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition Plan 1

Enterprise Edition Plan 2 Plan 2 includes access to Plan 1 functionality plus Dynamics 365 for Operations.

Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition Plan 2 Overview

Why would I need Plan 2?

Plan 2 adds Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations to the Enterprise edition of Dynamics 365. Dynamics 365 for Operations provides cloud-based ERP designed to help your entire enterprise work smarter with connected systems—including financials, demand planning, supply chain management, project management, project accounting, human resource management, retail, and much more.

Where did CRM go?

CRM is alive and well, but is packaged differently since the release of Dynamics 365 Enterprise and Business Editions.  Dynamics 365 delivers the full spectrum of CRM through five individual apps— Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service Automation, and Marketing —that work seamlessly together. So you can implement just what your business needs now, and add others as those needs grow.

In fact, if you are a current Dynamics CRM Online customer you’ll find that converting to Dynamics 365 will require considerable thought.  There is no direct relationship between the previous structure and the new structure.  Instead of levels (essential, basic and professional), you’re now providing access to users based on their job function. In the end, it is a better fit all around but reaching out to your partner or Indirect CSP for help will make life much easier.

If Office 365 is part of Dynamics 365, do I get a discount if I already use Office 365?

No.  They are meant to work together, but there are many options for subscribing to Office 365 so these are separate decisions.  Office 365 is a collection of online services designed to work together to provide enterprise-grade, anywhere access to email, file sharing, and online meetings. Office 365 includes features that allow administrators to add users, manage passwords and licenses, and much more. Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) takes advantage of the Office 365 administration features to simplify user management. Dynamics 365 (online) users are created and managed in the Office 365 admin center.

A Dynamics 365 (online) subscription doesn’t include Office 365 applications such as Exchange Online or SharePoint Online. You can significantly enhance your company’s online, collaborative experience by integrating Office 365 applications with your Dynamics 365 (online) subscription. However, that requires a separate purchase.

Is Dynamics AX still for sale?

Microsoft has recently extended the mainstream support date of AX 2012 R3 to October 2021. This is perfect for companies who have recently implemented AX 2012 R3 and those requiring more time to migrate to AX7 and Microsoft Azure.

Dynamics 365 for Operations will be available to purchase on-premise starting in June 2017 and a preview will begin in April.  The special caveat to remaining on premise is as follows:  The on-premise data will not benefit from Microsoft’s intelligence capabilities of embedded analytics, machine learning, or other capabilities available to cloud subscribers.

Why are there Dynamics 365 PSA and Dynamics 365 Operations PSA solutions.

We get this question often and have written a blog post just on this topic.  Check it out here “When is Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation (PSA) the right fit?”

In a nutshell, it just depends on your business model and the complexity of your project management and project accounting needs.  Companies with more complex project accounting or regulatory requirements are almost always going to opt for project management built around ERP (Dynamics 365 for Operations).  When project management is less complex, but bid management and early cycle scoping are more important, then the Dynamics 365 PSA solution may be a better fit.

What is Microsoft AppSource?

Microsoft AppSource is the equivalent to whatever app library is available on your phone.  When you are looking to add functionality to your mobile device, you click on the Microsoft “Store”, Apple “App Store” or Android’s “Google Play”.  You search, learn, try and ultimate purchase or subscribe online.  AppSource is similar, but for users of Microsoft’s B2B solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365. 

“Microsoft AppSource provides a modern discovery and provisioning system for these solutions. For customers, Microsoft AppSource is your destination to easily find and evaluate the apps from Microsoft and our partners that drive your business. For ISVs, Microsoft AppSource is your destination to market line-of-business (LoB) SaaS apps to business users. Drive discoverability and usage of your apps within an existing global network of business customers through co-marketing opportunities, lead generation and the support of Microsoft’s worldwide ecosystem and sales force. Harness Azure’s leading, secure and intelligent cloud services platform and tools to deliver differentiated apps to customers.”

More Dynamics 365 Questions – Send’em my way!

Obviously, there is no way to answer everyone’s questions in a single blog post…but I would love to give it a shot.  If you have questions about Dynamics 365 or would like to explore new ideas, please feel free to reply to this post.  If I can’t answer your question, you can bet that someone on our team can.

Best regards,

Robbie Morrison
Chief Solution Strategist, SBS Group

About Robbie
Robbie Morrison has spent nearly 20 years helping customers build and deploy elegant technology and business solutions.  From start-ups to enterprise-class organizations worldwide, his knowledge of the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem and products helps SBS Group customers maximize ROI on technology investments.  Robbie

Today, Robbie serves SBS Group customers in his role as Chief Solution Strategist where he provides thought leadership and manages the development of B2B solutions.  Robbie received his MBA from the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/robbiemorrison

Listening In: Ted Kempf and Robbie Morrison discuss Dynamics 365 for Professional Services Firms (32min;12/2016)

It’s time to listen.

A quick google search will turn up websites, brochures, infographics and blogs galore on Dynamics 365.  There is certainly no shortage of digital content on Microsoft’s newest cloud solution for business, but nothing beats a conversation between serious professionals.  If you want to truly understand the value Dynamics 365 can bring to your firm, then listen in on this podcast with Ted Kempf (Director of Service Industries at Microsoft) and Robbie Morrison (VP Enterprise Solutions at SBS Group).

 

About the speakers:

Ted Kemp, Director Professional Services Industry Solutions for MicrosoftOur expert panel will include Ted Kempf, Director of Service Industries at Microsoft.  Prior to joining Microsoft, Ted held senior Industry leadership positions with Deltek, Oracle and Peoplesoft. He also spent 5 years as principal analyst for Gartner.

The panrobbie-morrison-sbs-group-dynamics-365el also includes Robbie Morrison, Vice president of Enterprise Solutions for SBS Group.  Robbie is a well-recognized leader in the Microsoft community, having both owned and held leadership positions with some of the most successful Dynamics consultancies in the US market.

How do I know if I’m in a Professional Services Firm?

The professional services sector is typically defined as firms that provide accounting, advertising and marketing, architectural, consulting, engineering, IT, legal, and scientific research services.  There are others, but the common denominator is projects and billable services.  Our company provides both projects and support services to companies interested in implementing Microsoft technology so we would be considered a professional services firm ourselves.  Check out a list of industries we service here.

Having a regular flow of projects and delivering them efficiently almost always makes or breaks a professional services firm of any size. Large firms struggle less with resource balancing and are often able to offer wider ranges of services to meet the needs of major clients. Smaller and mid-market firms typically compete by offering unique expertise or focusing in specific regions. The US industry is highly fragmented: the 50 largest firms account for less than 20% of revenue.

IT services generate about 20% of the total revenue in the professional services sector, followed by architectural and engineering services, legal services and consulting services that make up around 15% each.  Accounting services,  scientific research and specialized design account for another 25%.

Law firms, banking, insurance and a variety of other companies may provide services to businesses, but are less tethered to projects.  Special needs in these segments often require different technologies and process models.

Topics Covered in this Dynamics 365 Podcast:

In just 30 minutes, Robbie and Ted cover a wide range of topics as they explore the business value of Dynamics 365 for Operations when implemented with SBS AXIO for Professional Services. They discuss their own experiences with these solutions in 2016 and share customer stories that provide “in the trenches” perspective you just can’t get in a brochure.

  • How is Dynamics 365 for Operations performing in the Professional Services sector?
  • How are customers responding to PowerApps, Flow, PowerBI, Azure IoT and Cortana Intelligence?
  • What is the CDM (common data model) being discussed with regards to Dynamics 365?
  • How do these solutions help firms better manage contracts? Recurring revenue management? Subscription billing? Project Accounting?
  • How does it work for sales, service, project management, operations and marketing?
  • How quickly can a solution be implemented?
  • What is “AppSource” and how is that a benefit to customers?
  • Do these solutions offer advantages in mobility? Are they secure?
  • How is Dynamics 365 performing against competitors like NetSuite or SalesForce.com?
  • What advice can you offer to Professional Services companies reviewing new ERP, CRM or other productivity solutions?

ch-join-podcast-01

Click below to listen in on the Podcast with Ted and Robbie

 

More on Dynamics 365 for Professional Services firms?

This is the first of several posts that will be published in 2017 to help potential buyers understand the potential benefits of a Dynamics 365 solution.  We’ll bring you podcasts from Microsoft employees, partners and customers and you can listen in on those that are closest to home for you.

If you are part of the Microsoft ecosystem and would be interested in participating in our series, please reach out to Robbie Morrison directly or use the contact form on this site to contact our marketing team.

Microsoft Shuffles Dynamics Events – Where Should Dynamics Users Go?

Almost every month now, it seems like Microsoft has another major announcement or change for their business solution customers. The latest announcement has to do with Microsoft’s calendar of events like Convergence, Envision and Ignite. In a blog post written by Chris Capossela, EVP & CMO of Microsoft, on December 7th, Microsoft announced that there will be three significant changes:

  • First, we are bringing our annual Microsoft Build conference to Seattle — the “cloud city” — from May 10-12, 2017. Once again, developers can hear from Microsoft engineering leaders and learn about the latest tools and technologies to boost creativity and productivity. Look for information about Microsoft Build 2017 at http://build.microsoft.com.
  • Next, we are renaming the Worldwide Partner Conference to Microsoft Inspire, which will be held July 9-13 in Washington, D.C. This new name reflects how Microsoft and our partner community inspire each other to innovate and deliver powerful new solutions to customers. Registration for Microsoft Inspire is now open — learn more at https://inspire.microsoft.com/.
  • And finally, we are shifting Microsoft Envision, our event for business leaders previously planned for February, to become part of Microsoft Ignite Sept. 25-29. The partnership between business and IT leaders has never been more important, so Microsoft Ignite will now cater to both audiences and help foster collaboration between the two. We’ll have more details to share in the coming months.Read more at http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2016/12/07/microsoft-2017-event-line/#lYcTbjPrSGRBeSg9.99

These changes are quite significant when you factor in that Envision was brand new and was held for the first time in April 2016. Additionally, Envision replaced a beloved event, Convergence, which Dynamics Partners and users are still upset about losing.

microsoft dynamics events

(Photo: LinkedIn)

The Evolution of Attending Dynamics Events

When these events started, especially events tailored towards users and Dynamics partners, the goal was to “do business”. This was before the times of online marketing, so these events were a major part of each stakeholder’s schedule. It was an opportunity for users to learn about new technologies all in one central location – and purchase whatever solutions they decided to implement.

As time wore on, online marketing, websites and social media decreased the mileage between new technology solutions and users’ fingertips. Users no longer needed to attend an event to learn about a new solution. As such, these Dynamics events became more like networking opportunities where users could meet with their Dynamics partner and Microsoft technology leaders to discuss processes and trends. Partners adjusted by attending these events mostly for brand recognition and validation as well as getting in front of their customers and potential prospects.

Now, these events seem like they change almost every year as Microsoft tries to find the right balance and mix of events which target all their stakeholders. This leaves users and partners searching for answers on where to turn to for technology insight and Dynamics developments.

microsoft dynamics events

Where Do These Changes Leave Dynamics Users?

It has been a wild ride for Microsoft Dynamics users this year. First, there was the announcement of Envision replacing Convergence. Then there was the announcement of Project Madeira which then became Microsoft Dynamics 365. Finally, there was the wait to find out exactly what Dynamics 365 was going to be.

With all these changes, Microsoft must have seen this as an opportunity to tinker with and formalize their event schedule for 2017. However, where does this leave users? Where can they turn to learn more about the latest Dynamics happenings and trainings?

Well, there are a few places for them to go.

SBS Group Blog

Users can follow the SBS Group Blog – The Blog Spot (shameless plug…) for the latest Dynamics news. Our array of bloggers cover everything from Dynamics 365 to Dynamics CRM, GP, SL and NAV as well as other Microsoft happenings.

Microsoft Ignite

It sounds like Microsoft Ignite will become the place for businesses to get their Dynamics news and training. This is a conference that is held in September and used to be primarily for IT professionals. By combining Envision (for businesses/users) and Ignite, Microsoft signals that there is an ever-closing gap between the two and that in this new age technology world coordination between the two is vital.

Dynamics User Group Summit

My sneaky suspicion is that the Dynamics Communities User Group Summit will become the go-to event for Microsoft Dynamics users and business leaders. This year Microsoft had a major presence at the normally “independent” event by unveiling Microsoft Dynamics 365 in incredible fashion. My thought is that Microsoft will have a major thumbprint on these events in the future. The User Group Summit allows Microsoft to release information and maintain contact with users without having to put on the event themselves. This set up allocates less of their resources and frees them up to focus on their larger events for business leaders and IT developers – which in turn creates better products and services for their users!

How to Install Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 for Office Outlook Add-in

In this blog, Talina Galloway, SBS Group’s CRM team lead, outlines how to uninstall your old version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Microsoft Office Outlook, and install the latest 2016 version.

Step One: Uninstall the old Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Microsoft Office Outlook add-in

Applies to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Microsoft Office Outlook, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 for Microsoft Office Outlook & Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 for Microsoft Office Outlook

Go to the Control Panel and select Uninstall a program.

Windows 10

Open the Control Panel by pressing  & X and selecting it from the list.

 photo CRM 2016 Outlook 01_zpskisj1bx2.png

Windows 8

Open the Control Panel by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you’re using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering Control Panel in the search box, and then tapping or clicking Control Panel.

Windows 7

Open the Control Panel by clicking the Start Button. Click Control Panel on the right-hand side of the window that appears.


From the list, select Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Microsoft Office outlook and/or Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for Microsoft Office outlook and click Uninstall on the list.

Wait until the uninstall has completed.

Step Two: Download the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 for Microsoft Outlook application

First, verify what version of Microsoft Outlook you have installed.

Outlook 2013 and newer

Click File in Outlook, then select Office Account, and finally click About Outlook under Product Information.

Outlook 2010

Select Help

Once you arrive at the appropriate page based on your version of Outlook, look for 64-bit or 32-bit included with the outlook version information near the top of the About Microsoft Outlook dialog (2013 or newer) or under About Microsoft Outlook (2010).

Examples

Once you have verified which version of Outlook you are using, go to the Microsoft Download Center and download the appropriate version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 for Microsoft Office Outlook installer.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=50370

Click the Download Button next to Select Language.

Once you have clicked download, the following 2 choices will be available. Click the Checkbox that matches the version of Outlook you are using and the Next Button in the lower right of the screen.

Important Note: The version of your operating system has no bearing on this selection. Even if your Windows is 64-bit, if your Outlook is only 32-bit, select the 32-bit version of the software to download.

Step Three: Install your Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 for Microsoft Office Outlook software

Go to the location you saved the download file. Double-click the file.

Follow the onscreen instructions.

Step Four: Configure your organization

When asked to configure your organization, select CRM Online.

If you have an on-premises installation, enter the URL where you log into the Web client.

Enter your User Name and Password.

Wait until the installation finishes. Easy!

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