Create PDF documents from Dynamics 365

Generate PDF Doc from Dynamics 365

Document generation is required at many steps within Dynamics 365 processes – ideally to keep a record of a state of a record or to share with users – internal/ external.

Some common ways to generate documents was via Document templates, SSRS reports and Mail merge [ soon to be deprecated]

SSRS Report generator: Within the ambit of Dynamics, this is the only tool that allows generation of documents in multiple formats. Though involving multiple clicks from the end-user, it gets the required output.

However, even if a basic document is needed to be generated via SSRS, the task of building, correcting and deploying a SSRS report using data from dynamics is not a task for the Business user. Requests always needed to be routed via the development team and many a time takes up multiple iterations to get a perfect document out.

The bottom-line: While popular, SSRS is a Report generator tool and is an overkill if used for document generation

Document templates: This continues to be the most popular mode of document generation on Dynamics. Basic templates can be quickly created, and a single click can publish the data and download the file. While one issue of “no document generator” was resolved, another problem was identified.

Using templates, the downloaded file format is only available as a Word file – a format good for editing, but not for sharing. The user still needed to use a pdf converter offline and then share or save a non-editable copy

One of the most sought-after features on User Voice was the request for a PDF document generator from within the application

While no timeline was set for this release on the app, various ISV’s offered their own custom solutions, which could output documents in different formats.

So, on one side was the OOB solutions which involved multiple steps from the users end to generate the document and on the other were the  3rd party add-ons which though involved investment could do the same job in a couple of clicks.

PDF generation with 9.x

Finally, with the major 9.x release and the move to the app model, Microsoft released the PDF generation feature on the Sales app [but only on the Quote record for now!]

While it’s the document templates that are selectable for output as pdf, the navigation has been made easier.

Rather than navigating to the template and then having a button for pdf output, Microsoft has separated the Word Template buttons and the PDF buttons

2 new PDF buttons (‘Create PDF’ & ‘Email as PDF’) available on the Ribbon directly. Clicking on the dropdown lists down all Word Templates published to be available on the entity.

Create & Email PDF

These buttons do exactly what they say.

Create PDF: Automatically creates a PDF document for the selected Document Template and opens it up within the browser on the screen.
Email as PDF: Opens up a draft Email record with From, To, Subject & Regarding fields auto-populated, and the PDF document attached.

Users can manually make the necessary changes to the Email and send.

Steps to enable the PDF features

The feature while currently available only for UCI, is disabled by default
To enable PDF generation on the  Quote entity, browse to ‘App Settings’ area within ‘Sales Hub’
Within this area, under ‘Sales Administration’, you should find the ‘PDF Generation’ setting.
Set it to ‘Enabled’

Note: In some CRM instances the location may slightly differ based on the sitemap customizations.

Enable PDF Feature

While at the moment, the PDF generation feature seems to be limited only for the Quote entity, we can be sure to see this on the other entities soon!

The Future of Project Based Services from Dynamics 365

Planner, Project Service Automation, Projects, Finance, and Operations – the Final Vision

The 2019 release wave 2 investments have been focused on providing modular offerings where capabilities across Microsoft Project, Project Service Automation, and Finance and Operations service industries are to complement each other in a seamless fashion when combined and provide a simple go-to-market story that is easily consumable.

The service industries module in Finance and Operations is especially strong in project accounting, with revenue recognition and customer-facing invoicing that leverage date-effective exchange rates and a rich sales tax.

At some point in 2020/21 support for PSA, 3.x clients will get withdrawn and clients will have to transition to Project Online on CDS and Sales Extensions for Project.

For individuals and teams working together on tasks, the Planner will last as the beginning point. The Planner is not a component of the new Project service but the Planner will be added into the new Project service. The Planner Plans will also be present in Project Home, Roadmap, and for reporting across all work.

Work in Progress

In preparation of this vision, changes have been happening across the 3 main applications – Projects, Project Service and Finance and Operations

Users will be able to have access across the 3 applications and based on the Source of Information, be able to work on it or read information updated from other apps.

Impact on Project Service and the Upcoming PSA features

In Q1 2020, MS will replace PSA’s Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Gantt, and task scheduling capabilities by leveraging these from the new Project service experience.

Once the new integrated experience is available, there is an announcement expected which will define a new way of acquiring the capabilities encapsulated in the current PSA offering.

The PSA subscription will take place by a mixture of Project Online subscriptions and a Dynamics 365 subscription.

Upcoming PSA features

Extending the new Project Service and Dynamics Sales Extensions for Project with the Project Financials capabilities in Dynamics 365 Finance will provide a comprehensive offering for project-based organizations.

This initiative will center around combining the existing capabilities in Project Service Automation and Dynamics 365 Finance to complete the business processes for projects.

  • Ability to set up split-billing for project contracts
  • Ability to set up not-to-exceed limits for project contracts and quotes and enforce them during invoicing
  • Ability to set up billing and chargeability options for work breakdown structure (WBS) tasks
  • Support for retainers on project contracts
  • Point-of-origin-based project operations

project based services

Dynamics Sales Extension for Projects

The 2019 release wave 2 will construct on the new project service and will bring the Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation ability with Microsoft Project in a single experience.

This will incorporate abilities such as bookings, sales, pricing, costing, time and expense capture, and approvals and project actuals. These abilities will be packaged as a solution representing Dynamics Sales Extension for Projects.

Importing Multi-Select Picklist Data in Dynamics 365

Multi-select picklist was one of the most requested features in the Dynamics community and was introduced in Dynamics 365 from ver. 9.0

The issue

Although introduced, importing multi-select picklist data can be a problem using the CRM Import Tool. Below is the sample csv file with a multi-select column named ‘Hobbies’.

Multi-Select Picklist data

Although it as 2 distinct values in the ‘Hobbies’ column (data in the multi-select field is available in the field separated by a semicolon), the CRM Import Tool does not consider the same. Refer screenshot below.

map fields dynamics 365

Importing the above will result in CRM automatically creating a new option set value called ‘Running; Swimming’ which is not the intended purpose.

The good news

The CRM Import Tool supports both CREATE and UPDATE of records. Although the tool does not support multi-select picklist data during record creation, it does support multi-select picklist data during the update of records.

Workaround steps

  • On the CSV file which you plan to import (for record creation) add a new column (e.g.: Unique Id) and populate it with a sequential number value.unique id dynamics 365

 

 

  • Create a similar field in CRM (datatype: whole number) on the entity.
    While mapping the columns during Data Import ensure the map the ‘Unique ID’ column with the newly created field.
    Do the map the Multi-select field. (We will be handling this after the import)
  • Now proceed with the Import. Once successfully importedyou should have all the records created in CRM with the ‘Unique ID’ field.
  • Include the ‘Unique ID’ field and the Multi-select field in a new view and sort it based on the ‘Unique ID’. Now export the view to Excel as a ‘Static worksheet’.
  • You now have 2 files:
    • Original import file
    • Exported data file from CRM
  • Ensure that the data in both files have been sorted by the Unique ID field. Carefully copy the multi-select column data from the original file and paste it over the multi-select column on the file exported from CRM. (Do not overwrite the header column)
  • Simply import back the updated file using the CRM Import Tool. CRM will identify it as an updated job and update back all the records in CRM with the multi-select values.

Alternatively, you could even use the ‘Open in Excel Online’ feature to do the same.

Limitations of Multi Select pick Lists

  1. The default value for a multi-select picklist cannot be set from within Customizations; however, you could use custom code approach to set a default value.
  2. You could define any number of options for a multi-select picklist, however, only a maximum 150 options can be selected for a multi-select picklist field
  3. Although multi-select picklist is available as a ‘Trigger’ for workflows, it cannot be used within a ‘Check Condition’ on a Step.
  4. Bulk-Edit does not support multi-select picklist fields.
  5. If you plan to use the CRM SDK to create/update multi-select picklist values, ensure that you are using the ver. 9 or above of the SDK assemblies.

More details on how to interact with multi-select picklist via CRM SDK here

 

 

Microsoft PSA License Changes

Dynamics PSA has seen an enormous adoption and development in the past 2-3 years when it was launched. With some major releases integrating the app with the CDN services and releasing impressive UI changes, PSA has hit some high points with an adoption 

While PSA as a stand-alone SKU, provides an end-to-end project management solution, when used as a part of the Customer Engagement plan, becomes the critical Delivery link between Sales and Invoicing. 

The Customer engagement Plan comprises of Project Service, Field Service, Customer Service, and Sales – it’s a suite of apps.  

Today, using just the Customer Engagement Plan license, an organization can work the entire length of the sales cycle through to invoice generation. There are a smooth collaboration and handover between the sales team, the project team, and Accounts within PSA.

This license plan may see another change soon.

Microsoft has finally made an announcement – albeit, not a detailed one, on how it is planning to “restructure” the dynamics PSA License – putting an end to at least some strong rumors floating around the web that Microsoft plans to remove Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation from the business applications portfolio and license it differently.

PSA is not going away but Microsoft is about to decouple the whole Planner and Task scheduling functionality from PSA and move it directly to the new Project Service

In Q1 2020, we will replace PSA’s Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Gantt, and task scheduling capabilities by leveraging these from the new Project service experience. This will provide a truly differentiated and world-class experience, bringing the best of Microsoft Project and PSA capabilities together into a seamless offering

While we will have to wait until Microsoft reveals some more, I feel, that the Project Manager, managing Tasks and schedules, will be the one most adversely affected. This seamless process of Quote to Invoice will now have the key Project management piece of tasks and schedule removed. 

Soon, there will not be any project scheduling experience in Dynamics part of the offering on the product, that experience will entirely come from the Project Online license.

  • While Microsoft has promised that the combined SKU of Project Online + Dynamics will be priced comparably to the current full PSA license we will have to wait for another quarter before we have clarity on these.
     
  • Apart from the Analytics and Integration with Dynamics 365 apps, Approving of Time and Expenses and Task and Resource Scheduling were the 2 main actionable sections in PSA.  If that is now an opt-in and priced higher, customers would lose the core benefit of the app. So while MS may restructure the background processes and replace the existing ones with the mature Project services, they will most likely price it the same, so that existing and Potential PSA users don’t have to re-strategize their application bundles
  • The decoupled licenses, if priced higher, may benefit those Organizations who have not been using the complex Schedule Board and the nascent task scheduling. Now they would pay less and only pay for what they use.
  • The Announcement does not clearly mention if there will be some functional and transitional changes for existing PSA users from an application perspective. It may be a hurdle to cross for Partners and customers if there is one.
     
  • Project managers managing Large projects probably did retain their Project Online License alongside PSA and integrated it in some ways with it. They should continue to use Projects. There seems to be deeper integration with Dynamics coming our way in the upcoming releases.

Reference: https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/dynamics365/bdm/2019/05/22/the-future-of-dynamics-365-for-project-service-automation-psa/ 

Steps to enable Multi-Language for Portal

1) Enable the required language on the Dynamics CRM instance

The user would need to have ‘System Customizer’ OR ‘System Administrator’ role to perform the action below

Go to Settings -> Administration -> Languages

Select the desired language to be installed and hit the ‘Apply’ button

In the screenshot below ‘Spanish’ language has been enabled.

Note: This action can take time depending on the number of languages selected and is ideally recommended to be performed during non-peak hours.Lag-setting

2) Within your Dynamics CRM instance go to Portals -> Websites and open the required website record which needs to be enabled for multi-language.

3) Click on the ‘+’ button next to the ‘Supported Languages’ sub-grid to add a new ‘Website Language’ record.

2

4) On the ‘Website Language’ form set the below fields and save the record.

Portal Language: Newly added language in #1 above

Publishing State: Published

3

Note: This action would automatically generate new records (related to newly provisioned language)  for all the language enabled OOB Portal records, however, it won’t have the translated values. The translation would need to be done manually.

E.g.: There will now be 2 records for each ‘content snippet’ record. Open these records (related to the newly provisioned language)  and update the values with the translated text. Do the same for all the other required entities.

4

5) The language menu should now be available on the Portal. Changing the language on the Portal would automatically refresh the portal with the translated values.

5

Microsoft CSP Pain Points Lead Partner To Develop Partner-Facing Solution

Recent press coverage and article from Scott Bekker at Redmond channel partner details a conversation with Ismail Nalwala and the value of Work 365 as a solution for CSP partners. Whether you are direct or indirect Work 365 can help partners run an efficient cloud business as described by Rosalyn Arntzen from Amaxra.

Being Customer Zero On Dynamics 365 – A Microsoft Partners Perspective

Digital Transformation and Customer Experience are two areas that are on top of mind for executives and CIOs everywhere. Dynamics 365 is one of those applications that is at the center of Digital Transformation for Microsoft and its partners. Being a Microsoft partner is not an exclusive club. It’s a challenging marketplace with tight margins and innovation happening rapidly both at Microsoft and with partners. However, there are some perks of being a partner like receiving the Internal Use Rights (IURs) to some of the best technology products like Office 365 and Dynamics 365. The idea is that Partners need to be customer zero, use the products to be able to sell the products. Dynamics 365 formerly Dynamics CRM or CRM online, is one of those products which can be used to run your entire business! As we released Work 365 for Partners I was recounting our journey– which involved us trying to make the most use of the application to keep us relevant and stay ahead. In reflecting back, we were Digitally Transforming while attempting to deliver great Customer Experience.

As a Microsoft Partner, we had access to early versions of Dynamics CRM. Today we are using Dynamics CRM in every function of our business but it wasn’t always like that. I wanted to share in this article our own journey to see if I can relate this back to other partners who are thinking of where to start or get feedback from those that are ahead of us on what we could be doing.

We started with the Sales module to have a contact management system in place in late 2010. We went from Contacts to Opportunity Tracking and then onward with implementing one thing after the other and eventually getting the whole company to use the system from Sales, Service, Delivery to Accounting. As a Dynamics app developer, we needed a way to deliver and manage Work 365 licenses. The manual license delivery and trial processes were time-consuming and error-prone. Once we built this license delivery mechanism in Dynamics CRM, our system was no longer just a data repository but more of a provisioning and business critical application. The graphic below depicts the different functional pieces we implemented over the years to digitize our business.

Work-365-csp-platform

After we implemented a piece of functionality we would then continue with the rounds of

  • Tweaking and adding fields and forms
  • Setting up notifications and workflow automation
  • Fixing and managing permissions

The most important thing for us was the more functional areas we added the more user adoption we had and the greater the ROI. We started to see the complete 360Degree of our customers and provide better customer experiences with every new service and functional line. We integrated 3rd Party Partner applications like ClickDimensions for marketing Automation, Xperido for document generation, DocuSign for signature and contract management. And every year we had to work with the inevitable upgrade cycles with new feature and compatibility.

Our approach to Digital Transformation was not to invent a Digital strategy but to digitize our current strategy. As a Microsoft CSP, we needed a way to keep up with the growth, provide great service, differentiate ourselves and keep our costs low. We used the Netflix model which I will discuss specifics in a separate article. Our strategy was:

  1. Create differentiated products and services
  2. Streamline our service offering and our systems to manage the cost
  3. Provide multiple service channels to customers including self-service

To that effect, we leveraged our experience of developing apps for Dynamics, e-commerce and Dynamics 365 configuration to create Work 365 to manage our CSP and customer-facing services.

Back to the Beginning

Our biggest learning along with our Digital transformation journey as a Microsoft CSP partner:

CRM implementations are never done and you must work at it endlessly to improve and fine-tune the processes.

Leverage the IURs and create application density to realize the investment. Application density happens by implementing connected processes in one system where users across different functions have efficiency gains from access to data, reduced training costs and process automation.

Don’t worry about developing a digital strategy- but more importantly digitize your current strategy. Be the customer zero in using the Cloud services and products so that you can train the teams and serve it up to your own customers.

Please share your thoughts about how you use your application IURs, tackle Digital transformation and provide exceptional customer experience.

About the author
Ismail Nalwala
CEO

Click on the link to view the original post – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/being-customer-zero-dynamics-365-microsoft-partners-ismail-nalwala/

Custom Icons for List View in Dynamics 365

Visualization is always helpful when it comes to identifying and highlight the set of data. With the new feature provided by Microsoft in Dynamics 365, it is possible to display list views with Icons or any kind of graphical representation to make the desired data stand out.

Here are the steps to follow.

In my example, I want to display indicators for active accounts list according to their membership statuses in Green (Current), Grey (Dropped) and Blue (Prospective).Therefore, the things which we need are:

Step1:

First, we will need some images to store in Web Resources for icons. I have used 16*16 pixel .png format images. So, I have used three images and stored them in the Web Resources in my Solution.

list view in microsoft dynamics 365

You can see here that the images are in PNG format and you can choose to give any name for the images.

Step2:

We will also need an Option Set to display the indicators based on options selected for the record, the indicator will get displayed. Here I am using OOB Status Reason field in which I have added options as Current, Dropped, and Prospect. You can use any other option set as well.

Step3:

Very important JavaScript Web Resource to store the code containing the business logic.

Here is the code. You can use this code to implement the solution.

list view code solution in microsoft dynamics 365

Note:

1.       The status code used in the script is the schema name of the column where I want to display the icons.

status code

You can see here that I have used default Status Reason field so I have used statuscode to retrieve the value of the column. You can use the schema name of the options set you are using.

status code 1

2.       In the script below.

status code 3

a.       1 is the value for Active status in the option set.

b.       imageName is schema name of the image.

active status in microsoft dynamics

Step4:

Link the JavaScript to the columns in the View, by clicking on Change Property option.

microsoft dynamics membership status

column properties in microsoft dynamics 365

Step5:

Save the view and Publish Customizations.

Step6:

Go back to view and you will see the icons

list view icons in microsoft dynamics 365

We need to make few considerations here:

There are a few things to consider before diving in:

1.       This only works on a standard grid. It does not work on the newly introduced Editable Grid.

2.       Icons can only be displayed on the Web Interface. The Outlook and Mobile Apps will not display the icon.

3. Tooltips can be defined for multiple languages/locale ID (LCID). In this example, I’ve set Canadian English (LCID 4105) as the default and included Canadian French (LCID 3084) as the alternative. More Locale ID values can be found here.

How to Setup Search Topics in Dynamics 365 Social Engagement Tool

The Social Engagement tool is a fantastic social interaction tool for sales, marketing and customer service professionals who want to proactively engage with their audience and customers on social media. It collects data from various sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube and relevant blogs. The visual reports help you spot emerging trends from people’s comments, whether positive, negative, or neutral. It can even read emoticons and emoji’s =)

Why Social Engagement?

Every business needs to build their brand presence and reputation in the market and to create that social media is a very good platform. There are stand-alone tools out there to help analyze your activity against success measures and objectives. They look at metrics such as clicks, shares, likes, most popular posts and so on. Ideally, you’d use a tool that maximizes existing activities to boost ROI by:

  • analyzing trends in customer sentiment
  • improving existing product lines or creating new products and services
  • creating sales lead in your Dynamics 365 system
  • automatically creating support cases for any complaints posted online

social engagement tool gives all the above features to analyze data and take proper action on it.

To collect that information from various sources user, must set up the search topics inside the search setup section.  At least one active search topic is required to acquire social data. There are different categories present in the search setup like competitor, accounts, contact, lead, campaign, & products. the user can also add their own category. Search topic gives the filtered data related to sources and different rules which user provide to it.

Steps involved to set up Search Topic:

1.    Find out the sources

Social Engagement covers multiple sources where you can track public posts, and publish messages and replies. All sources can be filtered in Analytics for an up-close look at your data. Find out what is covered by using the following available sources.

a.    Blogs

b.    Facebook

c.     Twitter

d.    LinkedIn

e.    News

f.      Reddit

g.    Videos

2.    Create Search topics

You can add search topic names that contain up to 35 characters. The search topic names are only for your reference; they aren’t included in the actual search. Search topic names are like titles for your search topics so you can quickly relate to and use or reuse them.

Microsoft Social Engagement

1.    Add a rule to the search topic

Social Engagement supports the following search rules. You need to be a Social Engagement Administrator or Power Analyst to create or modify search topics.

a.     Keyword rule

b.    Facebook page rule

c.     Twitter rule

d.    Instagram rule

e.     Private message rule

f.      Custom sources rule

g.    YouTube rule

h.    LinkedIn page rule

Microsoft Social Engagement 2

2.    Refine your search rules to find relevant content

Analyze your results and optimize your search queries regularly to make sure you get the most relevant data. Your searches may return posts that are irrelevant in the context you are looking for.

Microsoft Social Engagement 3

3.    Manage your post quota

Keep track of the number of posts that result from your search topics and count toward your solution’s post quota. Your solution is priced based on the number of posts you can acquire per month.

These are the steps which help a user to setup search topic and engage with your customer.

Advantages of Social Engagement Tool

  • A major advantage is this tool is the part of Dynamics 365 and it allows us to create lead or cases directly from social posts
  • Collect all relevant data from various social sources like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.
  • We can track competitor’s social activities
  • What is being shared and communicated by whom, and when?
  • We can find who is the big influencer in our industry
  • We can engage with our customers, fans & Critics through social media

And many more……

How Users Can Take Dynamics 365 On-the-Go with Mobile Devices

One of the best features of Dynamics 365 is its portability. With administrator support, users can access work from anywhere with smartphone and tablet options, making it an ideal platform for an increasingly mobile world.

The Advantages of the Dynamics 365 Mobile Platform

Today’s employees are connected, working in offices, on job sites, from home, and on the road. By implementing the Dynamics 365 mobile platform, users have the ability to do their work wherever they need to be. This is particularly important for people in the following situations:

  • Sales professionals who need the ability to create quotes or proposals during off-site client meetings
  • Remote workers who need access from their preferred devices
  • Employees who travel frequently for business and need to check in from smartphones or tablets on the road
  • Executives who need to stay connected at all times

Working with Your Administrator to Set Up Dynamics 365 for Mobile

Setting up Dynamics 365 for phones and tablets requires administrator assistance to configure the correct privileges for your account. You should work with an admin before attempting to set up your Dynamics 365 platform on mobile. Then follow the steps below:

  1. Make sure you have a supported device. You can view Microsoft’s list of supported devices here.
  2. Install the app from your preferred app store. There are options for phones and tablets on Android, Apple, and Windows devices.
  3. Once you have sufficient privileges from your administrator to access Dynamics 365, you may need to work with him or her to gain the level of security access you need for your work. Customer Data is limited based on security and entity settings.

What Administrators Need to Know About Customization Options for Mobile Dynamics 365

The ability to design once and deploy everywhere is a big advantage with Dynamics 365. Customizations to the main Dynamics 365 platform are automatically optimized and then applied to mobile apps for convenient functionality. The following are additional customizations for mobile:

  • Form customizations: Forms are already optimized for the mobile user experience, but additional customizations can be made to eliminate fields, sections, or entire tabs to allow users to focus on the most relevant data (for instance, the contact’s primary information).
  • Entity customizations: All custom entities can be enabled on Dynamics 365 for phones and tablets.
  • Visual controls customization: Users can enter data faster using visual controls in Dynamics 365 for mobile devices. Sliders, switches, star ratings, video embedding, and calendar controls are all available options that can create a sleeker experience.

Whether you’re a Dynamics 365 user or administrator, getting comfortable with Dynamics 365 mobile functionality is an important way to help your company take the next step in CRM optimization. To learn more about Dynamics 365 and implementing mobile options as part of your digital transformation, contact us today!