I have never thought that how my skills (combination of lead auditor and lead implementor of ISO 27001:2013 and Dynamics 365 Consultant) can be more useful to organizations in not just saving their businesses but help them grow during crisis.

It is no surprise that during the world crisis of Covid-19 businesses struggled to grow. No brainer, organizations aren’t prepared for pandemic like situations. Severe cyber-attacks like phishing, spoofing, impersonations, malware infections etc… has added cherry on the cake in making it worse for companies. As per the report by PwC, 47% of the organizations are unclear of the definition of crisis and 57% companies are having outdated business continuity plan.

I did the risk assessment of a leading scientific equipment manufacturer in the USA where I have been already doing Dynamics 365 CE implementation.  During the assessment, I discovered that there are security controls that are missing within the organization that are leading to problems like

  • Revenue leakage as they are missing strong process and procedures related that do not comply with Information Security Systems. This has been costing them nearly USD 200K to USD 300K per month.
  • Productivity. Nearly 40% of the productivity was affected because of loosely coupled processes within Sales, Service, and Marketing divisions.
  • Prone to cyber-attacks. Nearly 45% of the workforce were affected as they are receiving a lot of spam emails, malware infections in their Exchange, and OneDrive for Business.

Because of the above reasons, which they have never explored there has been questions around technology and platforms. There have been questions

  1. If the right platform has been implemented?
  2. Why invest in technology that leads to business and financial loss?
  3. Why not start saving money during crisis by keeping the projects on hold?

Next million-dollar challenge for me was how to enable organization recover and resilient?

Here is what I did…

90 days revival target plan

Setup 90 days plan for the company to recover and be resilient to stop revenue leakage to USD 0, enhance productivity by 20% and reduce cyber-attacks to zero.

Enhance customer experience

Enabling the entire organization to stay business focussed by prioritizing the relationship with their existing customers. It was more from extended time commitment than infusing large cost in the technology.

  • Implementation of eCommerce platform (NopCommerce) and integration with Dynamics 365 CE lead to order process.
  • Omni channel interaction for improved customer service using Teams
  •  Proactive with Dynamics 365 Marketing using customer journeys to provide sufficient information to customers at right time based on their touch points

Manage and secure access

Implementing policies and procedures as per the security control framework of ISO 27001:2013 and then enforcing it through Microsoft 365 Security. Remote work is the new normal, being productive without compromising security, we implemented Zero Trust Security.

  • Remote access to apps. Eliminating the complexity of VPNbased access to provide the tools employees need with strong security and high performance. Single sign-on with Azure AD. Azure Conditional Access coupled with Multi-factor Authentication (MFA).
  • Manage devices and apps. From traditional corporate PCs to mobile devices connecting through the cloud, modern solutions unify security and management to simplify support for the remote workforce. Microsoft End Point Manager using Intune and System Centre Configuration Manager.
  • Protection of data. Empower users to access business critical data without increasing security risk. Using Microsoft Information Protection with Cloud App Security and Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP).

Some of the tips that came handy from Microsoft Security handbook.

Stay on top of customer service

Responding to changes in real time that connects with the customer at every touchpoint, increasing customer satisfaction through rapid, accurate case resolution. Provide around-the-clock personalized service through virtual agents, trained to respond to simple high-volume requests and gently guide customers to the right solution.

Customer engagement, retention through digital selling

During Covid-19, there is an inability for sales organization to meet and engage customer through face to face. As a result, sellers and customers may have difficulty visualizing products and services and understanding how best to engage with one another during the crisis. Building a remote sales organization that can digitally connect with customers ensures you are engaging prospects and customers in a timely and safe manner. Using Microsoft Bookings, Teams for video conference meetings, Microsoft Forms Pro for Surveys helped to meet customers digitally.

Migrating to a real-time, secure e-commerce experience using NopCommerce that delivers a personalized, seamless buying experience across all channels, further building customer confidence and trust. Bringing products to life with 3D models that demonstrate solutions. Layering on always-on virtual agents to answer routine questions, and create lines of personalized communications that target audience and gather relevant feedback.

ABC: Always be careful

These COVID-created challenges are unprecedented, making it vital that company’s approach business with a readiness to innovate. Unlocking the potential of the data and derived AI-driven insights that integrated within the existing processes. Data helped forecast fluctuations and stay ahead of changing customer demands and reveal trends that are used to rapidly adapt new business models, like “buy online with curbside pickup,” that build confidence and trust.

As we moved closer to the end of 90 days plan, we realized that we are better together, and we could actually

  • Stop the revenue leakage and increase the revenue by 30%.
  • Productivity increased by nearly 37%.
  • More secured walls with zero trust security. While there have been security threat attempts but none of them can tailgate with Microsoft security and hence 0% security breach.

Source: https://neilparkhurst.com/2020/06/11/omnichannel-for-customer-service-teams-integration/

We can now use Microsoft Teams as a channel with Omnichannel for Customer Service. I can see many applications for this, not least for an internal help desk who needs to offer support to users across their organisation.

The video below will explain how to configure the Teams channel. You can also use the link below to access Microsoft’s documentation on configuring Microsoft Teams to work with Omnichannel.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/omnichannel/administrator/configure-microsoft-teams

Omnichannel for customer service Teams channel

Solution Health Hub allows you to get a better picture of the state of your environment and detect issues with your Dynamics 365 environment. The Solution Health Hub runs rules within an instance to validate the environment’s configuration, which might change over time through natural system operations. Some of the rules are specific to Sales, Marketing, Field Service, IoT and Document Management and you can run the rules on demand when you encounter an issue. Some rules automatically trigger when solutions are installed or updated by Microsoft. It is recommended that you run health check to early detect the potential issues to continue BAU (Business as usual).

Here are a few common issues the Solution Health Hub detects:

  • If critical Marketing workflows are deactivated
  • If critical Field Service processes are deactivated
  • If processes that will cause an upgrade to fail are assigned to disabled users
  • Customized web resources that will later lead to runtime issues

Previously I encountered error during an upgrade of Field Service where Solution Health Hub could have helped to identify the blockage issues. See my previous blog here.

Recently, I faced the following issue when I was working on Marketing forms in Dynamics 365 Marketing. Because, this is a unique error to which we have no clue, we end up creating Microsoft Support ticket which would take its own SLA to identify, research and resolve.

Guess what, I was able to resolve this issue by myself within 5 min. I just saved a huge amount of time. Here is what I did.

  1. Navigate to Dynamics 365/Solution Health Hub
  • Click on Analysis Jobs/+New/Select Marketing rule set/Click OK. There are already in-built rules designed for health analysis for various modules as mentioned above. You can create your own if you need.
  • Once it runs, you will get the following screen with analysis results. It will clearly highlights if there is any issue. Select the record and click Resolve.
  • Your issues will be resolved within fraction of seconds.

Dynamics 365 Marketing is a marketing-automation application that helps turn prospects into business relationships. The app is easy to use, works seamlessly with Dynamics 365 Sales, and has built-in business intelligence. However, there are some real-world challenges which are yet to be solved by Dynamics 365 marketing. One of the such desired feature is “Drip marketing campaign

What is drip marketing?

Drip marketing is a communication strategy that sends, or “drips,” a pre-written set of messages to customers or prospects over time. These messages often take the form of email marketing.

Drip marketing is not supported by Dynamics 365 Marketing as a standard feature.

There are ISVs like Click Dimensions which are built on top of Dynamics 365 platform and supports to build customer journeys to enable drip marketing. Because, it is an ISV that clearly means an additional money on licenses, maintenance and support.

The other way is a workaround using Dynamics 365 Marketing. I have one of my customer who wants to do drip marketing and has the following problem statement.

” Customers navigate to website and fill out the form where they show their interest in different products to purchase as listed on the web form. Upon submitting their interest through web form, it creates lead in Dynamics 365 CE. As soon as the lead gets created, contact enters in to customer journey of Dynamics 365 Marketing. Customer journey then sends email based the product interest shown by the lead. Marketing email contains tailored content w.r.t different product.”

This clearly is a drip marketing scenario.

Drip marketing automation in Dynamics 365 Marketing

Below is how could achieve drip marketing in Dynamics 365 Marketing.

  • Created product fields on Lead entity that would store Dynamic content based on the product.
  • Created Marketing emails in Dynamics 365 Marketing that would have Dynamic content from products mentioned on lead
    • If a product interest shown is equal to “Yes”, then dynamic content will be pulled in the Marketing email.
  • Created multiple segments as per the order in which the customer journey has to send the emails. For example,
    • Segmentation A – Query where potential customer has shown interest in any product. This will be used to send a welcome email.
    • Segmentation B – Query where potential customer has shown interest in specific product. This will be used to send the targeted dynamic content.
  • Once the segmentation is done, the next task is to pull up these segments in to customer journey. Created customer journey and pulled required segments as shown below. Microsoft recommends having one segment per customer journey.

Now if you observe, I have placed multiple schedulers in this customer journey and that is the key as the this along with segmentation would play a significant role in drip marketing. These scheduler will trigger emails after waiting for certain time period. For example,

  1. First scheduler will wait for 24 hours to send the first welcome email.
  2. After the welcome email has been received by contact. Scheduler from second segment will become active as the wait time of it is 48 hours. So customer would receive another email in next 24 hours of first email.
  3. After the second email, third scheduler will become active as the wait time is 72 hours. Hence customer would receive email after 48 hours of second email based on the product interest they have selected.
  4. And so on…..

At some point if you want customer to step out of customer journey let’s say if an opportunity is won or lead is qualified. You can place a suppression segment in to customer journey so that if customer purchases from you, they won’t receive further emails from customer journey.

This is how you can achieve drip marketing automation.

Microsoft is moving very fast towards power platform, that means business applications are app based and users use what they consume. Microsoft has recently changed the licensing model which lets organizations to purchase licenses based on the app they want to use. A few important questions arise…

  • How to licence with base and attach licenses when there are same functionalities spread across the platform? For example, Purchase orders can be created from Accounts payable as well as Procurement and sourcing.
  • How to license when you have custom security roles that does not match with standard roles within applications?

Below are some highlighted steps that can be kept handy to do licensing.

Security role and user Subscription License (SL)

  • When you assign Security Roles to users, you then know what user SL those users require.
  • Customers can assign multiple Security Roles to one user, in which case the highest user SL type required covers all the user rights.
  • Financial reporting Designers require a Finance USL and Financial reporting Viewers require a Team Member USL
  • Admin rights apply across Finance, Supply Chain Management, and Commerce applications. For example, if you have a Finance license, you have the admin rights for Finance, as well as Supply Chain Management, and Commerce applications.
  • Activity and Team Members use rights are included in the full user licenses and those rights are cross-application. A Finance user has Activity level access to Supply Chain Management and Commerce and Team Members level access to those workloads.

Base and Attach license

  • Full user SL needs to be licensed with base license.
  • Base license of users can be derived on what menu item is user accessing and where it is present.
  • If a user is accessing menu items that are present exclusively in both Finance and SCM, then user needs to be licensed with base + attach
FinanceAccounts payable Accounts receivable Budgeting Cash and bank management Cost accounting Expense management Financial reporting Fixed assets General ledger and Financial reporting Project management and accounting Public sectorIf user is accessing any menu item under the defined modules, and user has SL type as “Operations” then user would need Finance base.
SCMAsset management Cost accounting Cost management Inventory management Master planning Procurement and sourcing Product information management Production control Sales and marketing Service management Transportation management Warehouse managementIf user is accessing any menu item under the defined modules, and user has SL type as “Operations” then user would need SCM base.

Security role and their related menu items

How to check license type of security role including custom security roles?

  • Users having Access license type as “Operations” will require either Finance base or SCM base depending on menu items defined in above steps
  • Users having Access license type as “Team members” only will require Team members license
  • Users having Access license type as “Activity” only will require Activity license

You can use license estimator too

Custom security roles and its licensing

  • When customizing, it is important to remember that the license required is determined by the highest-level Menu Item to which that individual has access.

Custom security roles scenarios

Assigning Multiple Roles to a Single User

The straightforward way to customize which actions a specific employee may perform in applications is by assigning multiple roles to that employee. For example, an employee could be assigned both the Customer Service Rep and the Field Technician roles and could therefore perform actions associated with both roles. In this case, the employee would still only need a single user SL. Since the Customer Service Rep role is designated at a higher user type level (full user SL) than the Field Technician role (Team Members), the employee would only need the Finance, Supply Chain Management, Commerce, or Human Resources user SL to perform actions associated with both roles.

Changing Menu Items Associated with a Role

Another way to customize what actions users may perform is by changing which Menu Items are associated with a role. For example, if a customer wants everyone who is assigned the Field Technician role to be able to also approve posting of service orders (which is designated as a Finance, Supply Chain Management, Commerce, or Human Resources user SL level action), then they can customize the role to include the “Approve posting of service order” Menu Item. Because the required SL is determined by the highest-level action the user may perform, all users assigned to the Field Technician role would then require a full user SL.

Changing Menu Items Associated with an Individual

Further, customers may assign specific actions to specific users. Following the example above if the customer has 20 employees assigned to the Field Technician role and wants to allow only five of those employees the ability to approve posting of service orders, they may assign the “posting of service order” Menu Item to those five individuals. Those five individuals would then require a full user SL, while the remaining 15 employees assigned to the Field Technician role would require the Team Members user SL.

A lot of customers are now getting emails to upgrade their Project Service Automation (PSA) and Field Service (FS). Since early 2019, Microsoft has communicated Field Service (online) and Project Service Automation end of life for web-client based versions of these applications (v6/7 for Field Service and v1/2 for Project Service Automation). As of March 1st, customers running these versions have been unsupported.

 In addition, it is critical that all customers on earlier versions of FS v8 or PSA v3 upgraded to the latest. Microsoft have begun to push automatic updates:

  • For FS, customers on 8.8.6 and higher have begun to receive automatic updates.
  • For PSA, customers on 3.10.2 and higher have begun to receive these auto-updates, as well.

A lot of customers are not eligible for automatic upgrades because customers are on earlier version of PSA and FS. Hence customers need to perform upgrades by their global administrators between late June 2020 to November 2020. Here is how you need to initiate your upgrade.

Step 1: Copy your PRODUCTION to SANDBOX

Copy PRODUCTION environment to SANDBOX to ensure you have the same copy of the environment. It is always better to perform these upgrades over the weekend so that no transactions are created in the system and you can roll back if need to in case there is a failure of the upgrade before the beginning of the week.

Step 2: Ensure that processes related to PSA, FS and Unified Resource Scheduling (URS) are activated.

  1. Navigate to Settings/Customizations/Customize the system
  • Click on Processes and filter out with Managed processes and ensure that all the processes related to PSA, FS and URS are activated.

Step 3: Initiate upgrade of PSA

It is better the initiate the upgrade of PSA before you upgrade FS. No technical reason but it has been observed that FS fails sometimes.

  1. Navigate to admin center of Dynamics 365
  • Select environment and click solutions.
  • Find out Project Service Automation and click Upgrade.

Step 4: Upgrade failed. Activate processes again

You might encounter that upgrade has failed for no reasons. And because you don’t have any technical grounds that why the upgrade has failed, you might end up creating ticket to Microsoft which will have its own due course to get things resolved. A simple step to get this done on your own is to REPEAT STEP 2 and STEP 3 and you will notice that this time, PSA is upgraded successfully.

Step 4: Initiate upgrade of FS

  1. Find out Field Service and Click Upgrade
  • Field Service upgraded successfully

Step 5: Test functionalities

Test out your major processes and functionalities if they are performing as expected.

Step 6: Upgrade your PRODUCTION environment

Follow Step 1 to Step 5 to perform upgrade on Production environment.

This has never been so exciting for me yet again, Microsoft has moved one step ahead in making the planet successful amidst global pandemic of COVID-19. Microsoft has organized a business application virtual launch event to announce the upcoming new features. Additionally, it has launched ready to use emergency response sample solution for situations like global pandemic COVID-19.

Whilst, the complete list of features set can be explored Dynamics 365 and Power Platform 2020 release wave 1 plan, some of the highlights of the new capabilities are mentioned here.

Seamless B2C and B2B customer journeys across sales, marketing, and service

With customer data platform (CDP), and a bundle of third party data connections, you now can enrich customer’s data and profile in real-time. Organizations can take stronger, real-quick, rational business decisions by unlocking the out of box AI templates for churn, customer lifetime value, and next best action recommendations, as well as enable deeper insights with Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics.

With new features set, Microsoft has something for everyone. Unlock the potential of advanced AI-powered predictive sales forecasting and a new sales acceleration hub for inside sellers. Integration and collaboration are key. Using Microsoft Forms Pro, Marketers can enhance campaigns with more personalized and sophisticated email messages, integrated surveys, and aggregated data and segments from Customer Insights. Besides, service centers benefit from centralized scheduling capabilities for dispatchers to schedule technicians and new omnichannel capabilities to reach customers on their preferred channels.

Seamless omnichannel retail experiences

With new Dynamics 365 Commerce, that delivers an end to end retail solution that helps organizations deliver personalized, omnichannel experiences through advanced e-commerce capabilities, intelligent product recommendations, and enhanced clienteling.

Intelligent and proactive solutions for supply chain management

Connecting back-office applications with front end scenarios and giving more real-time visibility of inventory stocks in your warehouses by delivering predictive insights and intelligence from AI, IoT, and mixed reality to your organization across planning, production, inventory, warehouse, transportation management, and asset management.

A lot of out-of-the-box IoT capabilities that leverages Azure IoT Hub to connect signals from mission-critical assets with business transaction data. This enables manufacturers to improve uptime, throughput, and quality by proactively managing shop floor and equipment operations with a real-time view of their entire production and stock.

Awesome, the feature is, Supply Chain Management now integrates with Dynamics 365 Field Service to help reduce downtime of geographically dispersed mission-critical assets by automating field service operations, as well as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides to train your workforce faster, more effectively, and in some cases, more safely using mixed reality learning experiences.

New ways to analyze, act and automate using Power Platform

Power Apps is one of the first low-code no-code platforms that makes it possible for everyone to build mixed reality applications. Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Power Automate will help organizations and its business users to configure and automate a lot of legacy app and business processes using UI based capabilities.

With hundreds of millions of augmented reality capable mobile devices in the hands of business users, every Power Apps maker will be able to leverage the power of mixed reality to extend their apps with the ease of drag-and-drop development. With these new capabilities, makers can start to digitize workflows in physical space in new and innovative ways.

To learn more watch out Microsoft Business Application Virtual Launch event by clicking here

Source: Blog of James Phillips

Image result for Warehouse inventory

Reservation of inventory items is a very strong feature in Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations. Besides saving a lot of manual activity, it takes care of inventory transactions in various possible scenarios. Though, it is a very strong feature and hence it needs to be used carefully and cautiously as it can gets tricky sometimes.

What do you do if you have limited physical available quantity and you have reserved against a customer of class b and then customer of class A places the sales order which needs to be fulfilled or urgent basis? Would you un-reserve the quantities from first order and reserve against second? In this post, I will describe multiple scenarios of using reservations (multiple or automatic). Keep on reading!

Introduction

The evolution of a product from invention, to sales-ready, to eventual end-of-life is simple at its surface. However, this process becomes dramatically more complex when considering all the moving pieces, approvals, inventories, production needs, marketing efforts, profitability, and more. Multiply this complexity by every new product a company seeks to produce, and product lifecycle management (PLM) functionality becomes a must-have for any company in the business of managing one or more production processes.

As the word “lifecycle” might imply, there are natural stages products go through during the course of their production lifetime which influence the many moving pieces referenced above. Since a product’s stage has varying implications on other parts of a business, it’s important to have a tool to manage the process like Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations brings up the features of product life-cycle management which can manage the process well. Let’s see how. Below is the scenario, I would like to cover. Keep on reading!