Dynamics 365 Review: A CRM Team’s Perspective

Posted By

Here at BDO IT Solutions, we have implemented Microsoft solutions for many years and are very excited about Microsoft Dynamics 365. It sounds like Nirvana! Fully integrated Marketing, Sales, Services, Field Service, Project Automation, Portals, Financials, and more! Sounds too good to be true – or does it? In order to evaluate the solution as a whole, we created a Dynamics 365 Review Team to evaluate the solution from different perspectives of expertise.

Here are some first impressions of Dynamics 365 from our BDO CRM Consultants.

Mike Gardiner’s Dynamics 365 Review: Licensing

“My name is Mike Gardiner and I have worked with Microsoft technology solutions for over 20 years. I have been digging into Dynamics 365 to see what really changed in terms of the technology. From my review, it really looks like this is going to be a very granular transition. If you bought Dynamics 365 today and you wanted the sales and marketing capabilities along with enterprise level financials, you would end up using CRM Online and Dynamics AX 7.0 in the cloud. There would be no physical technology difference in the previous world when you acquired these separately.

What interests me most are all of the changes to the branding and licensing. As we work with clients to help them select the right software licensing in the new Dynamics 365 world, we need to match the functionality the client requires to the capabilities within each new user license. We find that in order to offer our clients the best solution, the right approach is a hybrid deployment. We currently see many situations where we propose OnPremise ERP (in Azure) with CRM Online. I would suggest that we are looking at about a two-year transition before there will be a solid offering of Dynamics 365 that does not require some aspect of Azure or OnPremise.

What we are doing is working with our clients now, but we are remembering to keep the future in mind. We also need to consider the long-term game so when Dynamics 365 matures, we can provide our clients a full transition to the cloud.

This being said, with all the work, reading, and research I have done so far and the way Dynamics 365 is presented, we are really looking forward to a full suite of business functionality, with a common data model. Conceptually this sounds really great and simplifies access to all your relevant data.”

Chuck Harris’ Dynamics 365 Review: CRM Online Functionality

“My name is Chuck Harris and I am a marketing specialist focused on helping our customers implement Dynamics 365 to empower their marketing and sales departments to do more with technology. With the current release of Dynamics 365, the CRM Online functionality overall is pretty much the same. With CRM Online you get new features all the time and even as I write this, new things are being added. That said, this is not specific to Dynamics 365 but was a benefit of CRM Online all along.

What I find interesting is the difference to the module-based licensing and the introduction of the low-cost Team user license. In the old world, a user who had access to Dynamics CRM pretty much had everything. There were some light users, but again they were very broad in usage. What is great about the new role-based licensing is that sales people are able to get only the module they need, Sales, without licensing the entire platform. The module purchased now controls security, meaning if you only buy Sales, you will not see Service even as an administrator.

There is also a team member user that opens up Dynamics CRM to people who previously had no access. Its low price point creates an environment where all team members can be Dynamics CRM users and consume data.

Personally, in helping my clients, I like being able to offer the option to only purchase what the individual really needs. We have already seen where the Team user functionality has really empowered our clients to enable more people with technology.”

Dom Stadel’s Dynamics 365 Review: Project Services Capabilities

“My name is Dom Stadel and I have implemented ERP and CRM solutions for over 20 years. My specialty is in Professional Service Automation. I have worked with many customers to implement Professional Services Automation (PSA). Most recently, I have been working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Dynamics ERP, both Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

In the past eight months, and since the announcement of Dynamics 365 and Microsoft’s announcement of the Project Service Automation Application, Microsoft has continually surprised me with every update released. With the first release of the Project Services capabilities, while it was fully functional, there were a few nice-to-have items that were missing. In the latest release, Microsoft listened and this is what they answered with:

  • Project Resources do not have to be just people, they can also be equipment, rooms, or anything that requires scheduling within a project and time can be booked against these.
  • MS Project Integration was also added.
  • Integrated scheduling with Field Service Automation is another huge change that brings together the resourcing for both project and field work, eliminating the need to toggle between two schedules to find the right resource!”

Cerrie Allan’s Dynamics 365 Review: PowerApps

“My name is Cerrie Allan and I have been a CRM Developer for seven years. I was excited about learning more about PowerApps. PowerApps allows you to create mobile apps. You are able to connect to cloud services such as Office 365, Dynamics CRM, Dropbox and OneDrive and OnPremise systems including SharePoint, SQL Server, Oracle databases, and SAP. I was tasked with creating a couple of apps that our clients required so I could understand the benefits and limitations of PowerApps.

  • The first app I designed allowed the user to review their receipt and add a tip at their discretion and then provided signature capture capabilities. The connection for this app was an OnPremise SQL server.
  • The second app, for an HVAC company, allowed their service personnel to review work orders in the field and also provide signature capture capabilities. The connection for this app was Microsft Dynamics CRM.

My understanding of PowerApps is that it is targeted at power users in companies and it allows them to quickly and easily create mobile apps to share internally. My experience creating these apps was that it was not so quick or easy even though I am a developer. I felt there was a pretty big learning curve to understanding the intricacies and specific functions of PowerApps. I was able to successfully create most of the functionality for these two apps but in the end, I ran into major roadblocks in actually deploying them.

The first issue was that PowerApps is not able to save an image from the pen input control to a SQL database. This functionality is in the PowerApps roadmap but even after contacting their support team they could not give me a definitive time frame that this functionality would be available. Another issue I ran into was that PowerApps does not currently support connections to Microsoft Dynamics CRM that is based in Canada. That would be any URL’s that contains crm3. They did say that it could be available in a couple of months. For apps that you would like to create for Dynamics CRM, a major limitation is relating to lookup fields. Any “lookup” field from Dynamics CRM that you add to your PowerApps will only show the GUID and not the name. This is entirely not user-friendly.

My experience was not entirely negative as I enjoyed the finished look and feel of the PowerApps I created. I was impressed with the ease of deploying the apps on a mobile device. It took only a couple of minutes to install the app and after that, I was able to see all of the apps I had built and run them on my phone without issues. Overall, I am excited about PowerApps and am sure it will end up being valuable to us and our clients.”

For more insight from our experts on the benefits of Dynamics 365 from a CRM perspective, listen to Eamon O’Toole on the MSDynamicsWorld.com podcast.

Please reach out to our BDO team directly if you have questions and stay tuned for our next blog.


BDO eBook - The Cloud Changes the Game

There are times in the course of your business when you have the opportunity to dramatically accelerate growth and improve day-to-day efficiencies. Recognizing