Customize Dynamics CRM to suit any task
Dynamics CRM is a highly flexible relational database, which can be tailored to provide a deep and intuitive experience.
Out-of-the-box, CRM provides a framework for associating Contacts to Accounts, but this framework can be extended to manage just about anything, from properties, vehicle fleets, or standardized project to-do lists.
While the application has evolved over the years, the beginnings are based in Customer Relations Management. A more recent term for the application is "xRM", which means "Anything Relations Management", representing the flexibility of the system.
We are experienced in transforming CRM into systems for Property Management, Support Ticket Management, Project Management, and Risk Assessments.
A good form should be intuitive, so that users can easily input data, while also being robust enough to provide users with informative tools to gain insights and awareness of different aspects of a record. Forms are typically a balance between clarity and utility.
We typically get started with a new client by 'digitizing' a paper form — creating a digital version of an existing form or business process. This form is usually identified through a need to manage a specific realm of data.
Forms are the focal point for data management in Dynamics 365. How forms are designed typically depends on how the form will be used by the users.
Do the users want to input data in the field, using their mobile phones? Or will data entry be a more deliberate and focused process, to be engaged with at a desk work space? The circumstances of the form's use will determine how the form can be designed, and limit or encourage different ways of use.
They can be designed for the default Dynamics 365 web browser application, or for the mobile on tablets and phones. The goal is to make something that fits into how users currently work, but also brings them forward into the future of data management.
In the context of Dynamics 365, relationships means the associations between different records. For instance, what Account (company) a Contact is in.
The Dynamics 365 platform contains a robust 'relationships management' core feature, which enables users to associate specific records with others, according to defined relationship paths created during development. For instance, you may associate a given Contact (person) with a Project, by putting that Contact into a custom field titled "Contractor". Setting this association might bring additional key fields across, such as that contractor's rate, their previous projects done with your organization, or any other potentially relevant information as you define.
Relationships represent the links between information — one piece of data may relate to others. Relationships also serve as quick links between records, allowing users to instantly travel to an associated piece of information.
The CRM "Notes" feature allows users to attach messages to records, and even add quick links by using the '@' prefix, such as by typing '@User' or '@Account'.
Notes will show up on each referred-to record.
Relationships tie into Charts, where field values can be compared against each other to perform analytics. Charts in Dynamics 365 are provided out-of-the-box as "self-service analytics", where any user can construct their own charts relatively easily directly through the Dynamics 365 interface, using the information they have permissions to. System charts can also be created, and even deployed onto forms.
Self-service charts are useful for user bench-marking, or assessing trends across records. Charts are more useful when the records contain consistent and multi-purposed data.
Dynamics 365 also features a 'relational insights' artificial intelligence, which uses associated records to attempt prediction of other field values. For instance, if most 'Buildings' in a given 'City' have a certain value, it would predict a similar value for new buildings.
Dynamics supports both manual, automatic, and semi-automatic processes. Manual processes are called 'business process flows', and are displayed at the top of a form to help guide users to fill in high-priority data step-by-step. Automatic processes can happen in the background, such as the deployment of certain records or even functions outside of CRM, such as scheduling meeting invitations or reminders.
Automation is often customized to fill data in using deductive logic, and reduce the amount of tedium that the users need to perform. Workflows can be run either in the background, automatically triggering according to specific criteria, or else available as an 'On-demand workflow', available to be run by certain users on a certain record type.
Timers can be set to send reminders, or even execute data retention policies by clearing data after time has passed.
'Business Rules' can be set to lock, clear, calculate, show, or hide some fields when other fields are set to certain values or ranges. For instance, if a given record is associated to a specific User or Contact, then the primary record can be modified in any of the aforementioned ways. Business Rules take effect immediately as a field is changed.
'Business Process Flows' are the mid-point between automatic and manual processes, where the system can be built to recommend or guide users through defined paths. Each path can have a different array of required fields.
'Business Process Flows' can route records into branching stages, with different field requirements.
As you might expect, processes are probably the deepest aspect of Dynamics, where there is the most room for companies to develop and grow. Manual processes are excellent for training and quality assurance, while semi-automatic and automatic processes can be excellent tools to help you do more with less time.
Dynamics 365 has deep security options to protect records, fields, and field content. It is used by governments around the world to manage data. These can be customized to fit specific security requirements, such as data retention plans or role-based security. Field security can even be set up to hide sensitive fields within a record, such as SIN numbers, which may be required by certain processes but not relevant to most users.
Audit logs can be optionally enabled on any field or record type, to track who changed a record, what that record was before, and what it was modified to.
Permissions can be optionally organized by roles, each having different levels of access to specific record types. Field security can also be customized to hide certain fields unless a user is part of a specific team.
Adding security to a Dynamics 365 deployment not only helps keep data secure, but it is also used to trim down the interface to simplify it for users. By limiting the number of entities that are accessible to each team to just those which they work with day-to-day, users can have a clearer environment with less 'noise'.
Dynamics 365 Online stores its data for Canadian clients in Toronto and Quebec City, ensuring that Canadians' data never leaves Canada.
Microsoft is a trusted brand, and its Azure cloud servers have measured availability of 99.99%. Dynamics 365 is hosted in through Azure, and in our years of working with these products, we have not experienced an outage from Microsoft-hosted servers.
Dynamics 365 exports and imports record data as Excel tables, providing simple migration into and out of the system.
An advantage of putting data into a computer system is that analytics can then be more easily performed. Putting data into a system like Dynamics 365 allows you to measure data to gain insights about how your business might be improved. Dynamics makes analytics easy, by providing self-service analytics directly to users, as well as by using a 'Common Data' format that can be directly utilized by reporting products such as Power BI.
Dynamics CRM portals can extend portions of your database to the public web, allowing authenticated or non-authenticated users to add, view, and edit specified records within your database. Public users can even fill in and self-manage web forms to create records in Dynamics 365, complete with CAPTCHA anti-bot technology.
By translating addresses to GPS coordinates, you can build a table of records with latitude and longitude defined. From there, you can embed a Bing Maps app to a Dynamics form, and display each record's location. Possible applications of this might be for real estate, location research, assessing the spread of activities, or visualizing the location of assets or contacts.
The latest version of Dynamics is fully-compatible with phone and tablet out-of-the-box. The exact same forms available on PCs are automatically re-shaped for use on mobile devices. In addition, forms can be customized to provide an alternate mobile version if needed.
The Dynamics 365 tablet interface works horizontally, with users swiping to view additional field sections. Forms can be configured to make especially good use of this mechanic.
Dynamics 365 Online can be set up with mobile-offline sync, which stores records of defined types (within the user's access) to the local device, allowing them to make changes, and then synchronize those changes when they next go online.
With an online Dynamics 365 environment, users can access and manage records from anywhere.