Do you find that the data shown in your Dynamics 365 environment is not reflective of the business data which is relevant to you? There are a variety of out of the box tools in Dynamics 365 which can be used to achieve this vital need. Such tools include Views and Charts which can be brought together into Dashboards to give an overview of data components captured in Dynamics 365.
For Dashboards, Views, and Charts there are two definitive types, Personal and System.
You, and anyone else, who has at least User level access to the system can build their own personal dashboards, views and charts based on their privileges in the system. The system administrator can modify the access level for each action in the security role to control the depth to which people can create, read, write, delete, assign, or share personal views.
All three components are owned by individuals and because of their default User level access, they are visible only to that person or anyone else they choose to share them with.
As a system administrator or system customizer, you can create and edit system dashboards, views or charts. System Views and Charts are viewable by all users who have access to the system, while System Dashboards can have controlled access by associating explicit security roles.
Views define how a list of records for a specific entity are displayed in the application. A variety of views are available to select from right out of the box, and their variance is based on the filtered criteria which has been defined. Click the drop-down arrow next to a view name to reveal the additional views you can select from.
You can create personal views by saving a query that you define by using Advanced Find or by using the Save Filters as New Views and Save Filters to Current View options in the list of views. These options and saved Personal Views are included at the bottom of system views in the application. Do note, that while you can create a new personal view based on a system view, you cannot create a system view based on a personal view.
A System Administrator or System Customizer can create and modify system views by navigating to the organizations solution, and selecting an entity to modify or create a view for. These are viewable by all users who have access to the system.
Want to learn more about creating Personal Views? Check out our blog.
A chart is a graphic representation of data from multiple records of an entity. Charts interact with the views and filters which are currently applied to the active view and a chart is refreshed each time you change your view. So, if viewing My Leads, the chart will depict that information, if you switch the view to All Leads, the Chart will change to reflect the data of the newly selected View.
From a View, refer to the righthand side of the window to expand and collapse the Chart pane. Click the drop-down arrow next to a chart name to reveal the additional charts you can select from.
You can create personal charts by performing a “save as” on an existing chart or create a new chart from scratch. These options are included in the chart toolbar and your saved personal charts will display beneath the system charts. Do note, that while you can create a new personal chart based on a system chart, you cannot create a system chart based on a personal chart.
A System Administrator or System Customizer can create and modify system charts by navigating to the organizations solution, and selecting an entity to modify or create a chart for. These are viewable by all users who have access to the system.
Want to learn more about creating Personal Charts? Check out our blog.
Dashboards are collections of views, charts, web resources, and iFrames, which display key metrics which are vital to your organization. Click the drop-down arrow next to a dashboard name to reveal the additional dashboards you can select from.
A personal dashboard allows you to design a dashboard which is unique to you, displaying the views and/or charts which contain the information which your world revolves around. You can choose from both System and Personal Views and Charts to incorporate into your Dashboard. Create personal dashboards by performing a “save as” on an existing dashboard or create a new dashboard from scratch. These options are included in the dashboard toolbar and your saved personal dashboards will display beneath the system dashboards. Do note, that while you can create a new personal dashboard based on a system dashboard, you cannot create a system dashboard based on a personal dashboard.
A System Administrator or System Customizer can create and modify system dashboards by navigating to the organizations solution, and selecting Dashboards to modify or create a chart for. Unlike Views and Charts, you can control the visibility of Dashboards by selecting a Dashboard and clicking on Enable Security Roles.
Want to learn more about creating Personal Dashboards? Check out our blog.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 offers the ability to streamline your business process through an often overlooked and underutilized feature called Business Process Flows. Business process flows are displayed visually in Dynamics 365 as a heading across the top of an entity form, and can carry from one entity to another, and can be configured for both out of the box and custom entities. Not only that, you are not limited to a single business process flow; you can configure one or more distinct business process flows, allowing different departments to have a flow unique to their daily requirements.
A business process flow is composed of Stages (highlighted in red below), which contain multiple Steps (highlighted in green below). In the business process flow heading, a user can see which stage they are currently working through (which is indicated by the flag), and the steps they need to complete (what fields need to be filled in) before they can advance to the next stage in the process.
Business process flows enable you to require users to complete certain steps before advancing to the next stage of the process. They also allow for branching logic based on data elements collected which may require a different path. There are a couple out of the box business process flows pre-configured for system entities, but you can modify these and create your own business process flows to meet the particular needs identified for your organization.
Create a Business Process Flow:
1. Go to Settings > Processes to create a new Process
2. Select Business Process Flow for the Category
3. Select the entity you want your business process flow to begin in
4. Click on OK and the system will direct you to a new window where you can set up the details of your business process flow
5. You can drag and drop components and properties from the right side of the window to the canvas on the left side.
The Components tab provides the core items which can be defined for the business process flow
- Stage: allows you to differentiate different major stages of your business process
- Condition: allows you to set up criteria and branching considerations
- Data Step: the fields of the entity you wish to include in a given stage
- Workflow: allows you to trigger a workflow at stage entry or exit
The Properties Tab allows you to define the properties associated to the stage/data step/workflow
- Choose the definable element and the display name
- Choose the elements requirement
- For workflow, choose what the trigger is
6. Save and activate your business process flow once you are done with it, and it will now show up on the associated entity form.
7. Be sure to customize your security roles to provide access to the business process flows as needed.
Navigating Business Process Flows
Each entity in Dynamics 365 can have multiple business process flows and you can switch between them by clicking “Switch Process” while in a record. Doing so will display all business process flows available, based on the user’s security role.
As you proceed through the steps within a given stage, and you have completed all required steps, select the “Next Stage” button on the right of the business process flow to advance to the next stage. Be advised that if you have not completed all required steps, you will be prevented from advancing the flag to the next stage.
Directly beside the “Next Stage” button, there is a timer which displays how long ago you began the process, and each stage also displays the amount of time spent in the given stage. These timers provide useful metrics for calculating KPIs and for business intelligence reporting.
Dynamics 365 is a sophisticated Microsoft business application, it grants the ability to better manage the relationships of your Sales, Customer Service, Field Service and Operation processes. But how can you access your data while you are out in the field, the internet is down or you are not anywhere near your PC? Dynamics 365 for phones and Dynamics 365 for tablets apps are the solution when you're on the go. These apps give you immediate access to accounts, contacts, opportunities, cases, and so much more!
How to get the App:
Go to the app store on your device and download either Dynamics 365 for phones or Dynamics 365 for tablets, depending on the device you are working with. Both phone and tablet users alike will appreciate the new Unified Interface. The Unified Interface provides an optimized viewing and interaction experience, relative to screen size, device, and orientation.
Accessing the App:
Once you have the app installed, open the app on your device, enter your Dynamics 365 URL (web address), and click the arrow to continue. Next you will be prompted for your user name and password. If you are unsure of any of these values, contact your Dynamics 365 administrator.
Once logged in, you will have access to the components which have been configured for mobile within your organizations environment and fit within the parameters of your security role. You will be presented with Dashboards, Records, and Views, and many other features, which you are already familiar with. You will notice a variance in how the screen renders as compared to your PC, the apps presentation is designed to make it more conducive to the condensed screen real estate, without losing any functionality.
To ensure that confidential information does not end up in the wrong hands, it is simple to sign out of the Dynamics 365 app on your device, tap the ellipses, then choose Sign Out.
Do note the following:
- The Windows Phone app for Dynamics 365 (online) version 9.0. was deprecated as of May 22, 2018. The Windows Phone app will no longer be supported for Dynamics 365 (online) version 9.0. Support for the app on Windows tablets and PCs remains unchanged. You can still use the Windows Phone app for Dynamics 365 version 8.2 and earlier. This is only relevant if you are planning to update to Dynamics 365 version 9.0 and have a Windows phone.
- Dynamics 365 has separate mobile apps for Field Service and Operations.
- Microsoft won’t onboard any additional customers to Mobile offline currently, further notice will be released. This does not affect existing customers who already use mobile offline.
Analyze Dynamics 365 data to gauge performance. Recognize trends. Mass edit thousands of records. Share data with someone that is not a D365 User. These business requirements and so much more can be accomplished when you export your data to Excel or Excel Online from Dynamics 365. Plus extracting a large number of records is a non-issue because you can export up to 100,000 records in a single export file.
The Export to Excel feature has proven to be a vital asset in the D365 application over the years due its ease of use, and its obvious connection to Excel. With the continued enhancements in Dynamics 365, and the technology which can be integrated with the application, you can certainly do so much of your data analysis without ever leaving the environment, thereby reducing the need to export your data. Fact is though, so many have come to know, love and depend upon the tools and functions in Excel which bring data to life, thereby making the Export to Excel feature a much-coveted feature still.
Besides the need to extract data for data analysis, the Export to Excel feature carries another extremely valuable purpose. What if you have a query of 10,000 Account records, for example, and want to update the Industry field on all of them to the same value? Sure, you could select a maximum of 250 records per page and mass edit them. But consider this, 10,000 divided by 250, you would need to repeat the process 40 times. And let’s be realistic, out of the 10,000 records, chances are slim you would be modifying the Industry field value to the exact same value for all.
By leveraging the export to Excel function, not only can you view thousands of rows of data at once, you can also update all of them at once too. Data is exported in the same format as you see in your View, so text remains text, numbers remain numbers, and dates remain dates. The cell format in Excel may change for some formatting types, so you will need to be aware of this and be sure to update the affected rows accordingly.
Make any necessary changes in the exported file, and then import the file back into Dynamics 365. Just like that, your 10,000 Account records have been updated in a fraction of the time, and you have significantly reduced the risk of making an error.
Below is a rundown of the export options:
- Static Worksheet: The exported data will not change, what you export is what you get every time the file is opened. This mode of export is most commonly used when data needs to be shared with a non D365 User or when a mass number of records need to be modified
- Dynamic Worksheet: Data contained in the export file will dynamically update based upon changes made in D365 each time the file is opened or refreshed. This mode of export is most commonly used to maintain a file on your local machine allowing you to surface the most up-to-date information without having to access D365. Do note that the file can only be opened and viewed by a D365 user, and the Dynamics 365 for Outlook Client must be installed to refresh data
- Dynamic PivotTable: Similar to the Dynamic Worksheet with the added benefit of viewing your Dynamics 365 data in an Excel PivotTable, allowing you to see patterns and trends in data.
- Excel Online: When you export to Excel Online, the data appears just as it would as if opened in the desktop version. From Excel Online you can quickly manipulate data and push it back into D365 with the click of a button. Another value-add is you can perform ad-hoc analysis on the data, and although you cannot save it back to D365, you can save as a new file for future analysis/reference.
The data export function, enables you to easily manage your data, maintain data integrity, reduce workload and save time!
Creating views and charts are a meaningful way to analyze and visualize your data, but they often live in multiple entities in Dynamics 365, and truth be told, you probably overlook or do not use them to their fullest potential. Custom dashboards in D365 give you the ability to pull together a variety of views and charts into one place, providing you a single stopping point to easily view metrics which span multiple entities.
Dashboards can be made up of views, charts, web resources and iFrames, allowing you to build your own collection of business intelligence metrics.
There are two types of Dashboards which can be created, system dashboards and personal dashboards. System Dashboards are created by a System Administrator or System Customizer, and are available to everyone in the organization. Personal Dashboards are those that a User can create for themselves, and are only viewable by that User (or Users they “share” the Dashboard with), and what this blog will focus on.
Creating a Personal Dashboard
You can create a personal dashboard by going to the dashboard area of Dynamics 365, and selecting an existing Dashboard and performing a “Save As” or create a new one. You are presented with layout choices, select one and click Create.
Define a Name for your dashboard and then select any of the components to begin working within it. A blue outline will identify the current component that you are working within.
You can either click on one of the icons within the component to choose the type of data to display or you can use the navigation buttons at the top of the screen. When adding a chart, you will configure the view that you wish to have represent your chosen chart.
Once you have chosen the data you want represented, you can rearrange the components and resize them, allowing the display to be visually pleasing to you.
To rearrange the components, click the component header and drag it to an empty area on the dashboard or to the area of an existing component. When you drag a component over other components, a red line appears on top of the components to display where the component will be placed, moving the existing component down.
To change the height or width of a component, select the component, click the appropriate button in the navigation area or click on the ellipses for additional options. The height increases or decreases by three rows. The width increases or decreases by one column.
To remove a component, choose it and select Remove.
Once you are done configuring your dashboard, select Save and then Close. Your newly created dashboard will now appear in the drop-down of available dashboards.
Leave the spreadsheets to your data analysts, and appreciate the effectiveness that charts provide. Dynamics 365 comes with a handful of charts out-of-the-box which you can pair with corresponding views to surface data visually. Like most companies, you likely have unique measures which the standard charts do not account for. That is where the flexibility and ease of creating your own charts in D365 shines. Dynamics 365 provides a variety of chart types allowing you to create column, bar, pie, funnel, and many more chart types, to fulfill your business needs.
Charts interact with the view which is chosen, and the data reflected in the chart is refreshed when you toggle between views. So, if viewing My Opportunities, the chart will depict that information, if you switch the view to All Opportunities, the Chart will change to reflect the data of the newly selected View. Similarly, you can switch Charts to display the View data in another way.
There are two types of Charts which can be created, system charts and personal charts. System Charts are created by a System Administrator or System Customizer, and are available to everyone in the organization. Personal Charts are those that a User can create for themselves, and are only viewable by that User (or Users they “share” the chart with), and what this blog will focus on.
Creating a Personal Chart
To create a chart, navigate to the entity (Accounts, Contacts, Leads, Opportunities…) for which you want to create a chart and choose the view which best demonstrates the data you want to visualize. Click the charts pane to expand this section.
You can either create a chart based on an existing one by clicking on the disk and performing a “Save As” or you can create a new one by clicking the plus symbol.
Specify what you want to display in the chart. Indicate the field and aggregate option for which you want displayed for the Series axis. Then select a field for your Category axis. You can create a chart with either multiple series or multiple categories, but not multiples of both.
Click on the chart icon to select the type of chart you want to create.
If you want to apply any specific filters, you can utilize Top and Bottom Rules. This allows you to only show the top or bottom values for your query. For example, display the top 3 Accounts by Estimated Revenue.
The chart is automatically named based on the fields you chose for the series, category axes, and top/bottom filter, but you can re-name the chart to a value of your choosing. Save when done. Click the “x” to return to the chart selector.
Your personal chart(s) will be displayed at the bottom of the chart selector.
The records you store in Dynamics 365 typically share some association with other records of the same type. Whether it be leads owned by a specific user, accounts of the same relationship type, contacts located in a specific city, opportunities created in last “X” days. The list is endless and limitless. With a little planning, you can create Views which automatically filter records for you based on the criteria you set.
So, what are Views in D365?
Views display all the records of a specific entity type in your D365 environment. Out-of-the-box you are provided with a variety views, but you can add to these, creating custom views which are significant to you. Clicking the drop-down arrow next to a view name reveals all the views you have at your disposal.
There are two types of Views which can be created, system views and personal views. System Views are created by a System Administrator or System Customizer, and are available to everyone in the organization. Personal Views are those that a User can create for themselves, and are only viewable by that User (or Users they “share” the view with), and what this blog will focus on.
Creating a Personal View
The creation of a personal view affords you the ability to configure the following attributes:
- The filters which need to be applied, thereby restricting the records that appear
- The columns you want displayed and their width
- The sort order of the listed records
You can create personal views by saving a query that you define by using Advanced Find or by using the Save Filters as New Views and Save Filters to Current View options in the list of views. These options and saved Personal Views are included at the bottom of system views in the application.
To create a personal view, either choose Create Personal View at the bottom of the view list or select the Advanced Find icon in your navigation bar.
In either case the Advanced Find window will open, and you can begin a search on any record type. In the Look for dropdown, select the entity you want to perform the query on, and then you can either use an existing view and edit the conditions by performing a “Save As” or you can create a new view by selecting New.
Filter: In the select area, choose the fields you want to perform the search on, the query operator (equals, contains, begins with...), and the data value. Repeat these steps for each condition of your query.
All conditions are processed as an AND statement. In the graphic above based on how the data has been entered, the results will only display an Account that is in all three states and has open opportunities. This query will return zero results because an account cannot be located in 3 different states. To display results of Accounts that are in CA, TX, or NY you will need to process as an OR statement. Select the arrow next to each of the field names that you want to include as an OR statement, and choose Select Row. Then in the navigation bar, select Group OR.
Select Results in the ribbon to view the results.
Customizing Columns: From the query screen, select Edit Columns in the ribbon.
To add columns, select Add Columns, and make your selections. Then select OK.
To move the columns from left to right, select a column and use the arrows to move the column to the desired position.
To adjust the width of a column, you can either double click the column or select the column and choose Change Properties.
Configure Sorting: Select Configure Sorting to choose your sort column(s) and the sort direction, ascending or descending.
If you have added a column in error, or just decide you do not want the column in the view, select the column and choose Remove.
When you are done configuring the view, click OK. From the query screen, select Save or Save As in the ribbon and enter a Name/Description, then select Save.
After a quick refresh, when you navigate back to the entity you created the view for, you will find it at the bottom of the View list.
Wouldn’t it simplify things if you could go to one record and see everything you need to see? Ever find yourself heading into a meeting, and wish you could quickly “ramp up” on all interactions with the Customer? Getting the total picture in one place, enabling you to see every touchpoint, this is the benefit that sub-grids afford you.
One of the great things about Dynamics 365 is that it allows you to customize entity forms to display the information most relevant to your business. You will quickly find that providing your users with the ability to see, at a glance, a subset of related records when viewing a lead, contact or account record provides immeasurable value.
For example, your salespeople may benefit from seeing all tasks related to an account directly on the account record. Instead of having to navigate to a separate page or running an advanced find query, you can easily set this up by adding a task sub-grid to the account form.
To add a sub-grid to your account form, open the D365 form editor directly from the account record’s ribbon menu or by opening the general customizations menu, navigating to the account entity forms, and selecting the account main form.
Once you’re in the form editor, select the section that you want to add the sub-grid to, switch to the form editor’s Insert tab, and click the Sub-Grid button.
This will open the sub-grid properties window. The most important part of this window is the data source section, in which you select the records that are to be included in the sub-grid.
In the screenshot below I selected to populate the sub-grid with the account’s related task records, but you can choose any of the account’s related entities. In the data source section, you can also specify the default view that will be used to populate this sub-grid, while the additional options section lets you choose any additional views which will be available, as well as whether or a not a search bar will be included.
When you are satisfied with your settings, click the OK button to insert the sub-grid on your account form. Now, all you need to do is click the Save and Publish buttons in the form editor to confirm the changes to the form. Once this has been completed, you will see the sub-grid displayed on account records.
Isn’t it maddening to fill out the same fields, with the same info, when creating a child record directly from its parent form? Well -- Stop Doing It! Let the system fill out those fields automatically for you, instead of eating up your own time on it!
One of the “quiet” features of Dynamics 365, that will significantly save you time and protect data integrity, is Field Mapping. The purpose of field mapping is to copy certain values (e.g. address fields) from a record to an associated record (e.g. a contact created from an account)
The following details how simple it is to create field mapping relationships.
In Customizations, locate the Account Entity, and go to the “1:N Relationships” node.
Locate the relationship which you want to carry values over (in this case, Account to Contact).
In the relationship editor window, click on Mappings.
Select the field to be mapped from the SOURCE entity, which is the entity you are starting from (Account). Then select the field for your TARGET entity, which is the destination entity (Contact), that you want auto completed. Click OK once you are satisfied with your mapping. Repeat this step for each field you want to create a mapped relationship for.
There are a couple things to be mindful of with field mapping: The Data Type must be the same for both the Source and Target fields (e.g. Option Set to Option Set, Whole Number to Whole Number) and the destination field length should not exceed the source field length. Also be aware that this is a mapping upon record creation, updating values in the source record will not update the target record and updating values in the target record will not update the source record. For example, updating an address in accounts will not update the address in contacts. There are other ways to achieve those requirements, but we will save that for another blog.