Ask the Consultant – Insights for Building Dynamics 365 Solutions

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Ask the Consultant – Insights for Building Dynamics 365 Solutions

We had the opportunity to sit down with one of our experienced consultants to discuss their insights and best practices for working with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.

They have a deep knowledge of building software solutions across Microsoft products and beyond, and we wanted to share their expertise in working on projects and overcoming challenges they’ve faced.

As an experienced consultant, what do you like most about working on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform?

I appreciate the flexibility of the platform. In the past, I’ve worked with products that had rigid requirements, making it difficult to customise solutions without resorting to entirely separate customisations and technologies. With Dynamics 365, you can often solve problems using out-of-the-box features or by customising with tools like Power Automate, which I particularly enjoy.

What used to be very complicated is now much easier. Implementations are achievable within a more reasonable time frame. Previously, you might need 20 days to develop a solution, but with Microsoft Dynamics and Power Platform, this time has significantly decreased. I don’t have to rely on specialist developers to create software that I can now do myself. This is a significant advantage as it reduces the required number of people involved and allows for quicker delivery of solutions.

What are some best practices for customising Dynamics 365 to ensure it remains scalable and maintainable?

My first recommendation is to use standard functionality where possible. If a feature exists that can meet the requirement, it’s best to use it. Microsoft maintains these features and ensures they are considered in future updates. We try to minimise hard coding and prefer Power Automate. If you can create a workflow or use a low-code/no-code solution, it’s better than creating heavily coded plugins that will require changes by a developer if the core Dynamics product changes.

Ultimately, everything is a trade-off. You might get exactly what you want by spending 50 days on development, but you might achieve 95% of the functionality with a couple of days of configuration using out-of-the-box features. This approach saves time and allows us to work on other areas of the project with the client. Balancing custom development and leveraging core functionality is much easier with Dynamics because of its flexibility and the tools it offers.

In your experience, what are some of the biggest challenges businesses face when undertaking a project? What advice would you give to overcome these hurdles?

Truly understanding the requirements can be quite challenging. We often receive extensive requirement documents from clients, detailing every need from different parts of the business. This can be initially overwhelming to understand and implement, but we know what strategies to use to overcome this.

To mitigate this, we start small with a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). Focus on the core features needed for production, with a view to building on them later. This approach prevents us from getting swamped with massive configuration requirements and allows for phased development. Begin by delivering the core feature, then build out other processes in future development phases.

A clearly defined MVP requires buy-in from both the partner and the client. We communicate this approach from the initial conversations so that everyone is on board by the time the project starts. This method ensures that the project remains manageable and allows for adjustments based on feedback and evolving needs.

Can you recommend strategies to ensure Dynamics 365 data quality and maintain data integrity?

Use standard features like duplicate detection rules to keep your data tidy and prevent incorrect records from being used in processes. Automation tools, including Power Automate, JavaScript, and business rules, can enforce field-level validations to ensure that data is entered correctly.

It’s important to provide quality training to the users so they understand how to enter data. We also don’t want users creating empty records with minimal data. So, we set required fields and recommended field flags as well to help mitigate empty records.

Another consideration is that if you have exchange sync enabled, you should review the option to create contact records within CRM for unrecognised email addresses automatically. The default behaviour is to create a new contact if you were to track an email from a contact that doesn’t already have an email address in the system.  Over time, you will likely end up with thousands of empty contact records that are just names and email addresses because of tracking behaviour. Many people don’t realise this happens, so unless there is a specific business requirement, I will turn this off at the organisation level.

What are your best practices for implementing and managing security roles in Dynamics 365?

It’s best practice to create new roles for a new implementation based on existing ones. For instance, we often clone the standard salesperson role and tweak it. It’s also good to keep the number of roles to a minimum to maintain manageability. We prefer designing around a core role concept, setting a baseline of permissions that everyone needs.

Ninety per cent of the time, we will clone the salesperson role because it includes necessary system settings. Assign roles to teams where possible so users inherit roles through team membership, keeping access and permissions consistent and practical to manage. This approach simplifies the management of permissions and ensures consistency across the organisation.

How do you manage the deployment process to minimise disruption and ensure a smooth transition?

Each project is different, but key principles and best practices apply. Communication with our clients is crucial to tailor the deployment to their specific needs. Have a robust deployment plan in advance of the go-live date and ensure it is thoroughly tested. Deployment plans can be complex, with multiple steps, so it’s essential to know exactly what you’re doing, the correct order of tasks, and how long each task will take.

We aim to minimise the impact on our customers and end users and continue testing the rollout. Data import or migration can be incredibly complicated, so understanding the sequence of tasks, such as when to turn off the old system, is vital. Always have a rollback plan in case the deployment encounters issues. This plan allows you to revert to the previous state if an external factor impacts the initial rollout.

Require a Dynamics 365 Consultant for your solution?

We hope you found our consultant’s insights valuable. If you’re looking to maximise your use of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform or implement a new solution, contact us today to see how our expertise can help your business achieve its goals. Let’s work together to create flexible, scalable, and effective solutions tailored to your needs.

 

June 26, 2024

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Dan Norris - Communications Manager ServerSys

Daniel Norris

Daniel Norris is the communications manager for ServerSys. His role is to bring you the latest updates, tips, news and guides on Dynamics 365.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with us at hello@serversys.com

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