Getting Started with Dynamics 365 PowerApps

Today, the business world relies heavily on mobile technology. We don’t just work from cubicles, offices and desktop computers; we work from subways and taxis, coffee shops, and basically anywhere that we are. We have the luxury of being able to tackle nearly any work-related task from our phones.

It’s not unheard of, however, that some business tasks still have to be done on computers. Mobile apps for business tasks have lagged behind. Those apps that do exist have not always been as comprehensive or accessible as desktop solutions.

Microsoft saw this issue and presented a remedy: Microsoft PowerApps, which is part of Microsoft Dynamics 365.

But what is PowerApps? Essentially, it’s a simple way for the average person to create the apps they, specifically, need, while leveraging the rich and diverse data sets that are provided with the Dynamics 365 Business and Enterprise Editions.

Developers and other employees alike can quickly create the apps they need with data they already have, be it on-premises or cloud-based.

PowerApps will appear within the app menu of Office 365. Upon logging in for the first time, users will be met with a couple things. In addition to a popup window explaining, in the simplest of terms, what PowerApps can do, there will be several short videos and images showing the user how to go about getting started. In the bottom left corner of the screen, there is a New app button. Click this button, then choose one of the two options that appear: PowerApps Studio for Windows or PowerApps Studio for web. If you aren’t running Windows 8 or 10, you’ll want to choose the web version.

If you’ve chosen PowerApps for Windows, click Get when the page appears, then click Launch once PowerApps has downloaded. If you’ve chosen the web version, you can skip that step.

Within the New tab, choose to either start with your data, or start with a blank canvas or template. For this example, we’ll start with existing data. Click Phone layout for the desired data connection.

Choose the desired dataset from the list that appears

Choose the desired table, then click Connect

The page that appears will allow you to design the app; you’ll choose what order you want data to appear, whether or not to include images, and more. After designing the app, you can share it with any desired individuals.

Don’t think you’re stuck because you don’t have an app that does what you need; PowerApps makes it not only possible, but easy, to create the apps you need in just a few minutes.

Please feel free to reach out to us if you need help with PowerApps or have additional questions.

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Microsoft Dynamics 365 Release

Today (11/1/2016) marks the first Microsoft Dynamics 365 release – specifically, the initial release of Dynamics 365 Business Edition in the US and Canada (initially consisting of Dynamics 365 for Financials), and the release of Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition worldwide. In 2017, not only will additional Dynamics 365 apps come out (for Sales and Marketing for the Business edition), but Dynamics 365 for Financials will be released in an additional four countries. This bold set of applications together are being billed as nothing less than a “Digital Transformation” of businesses of all sizes.

In short, Dynamics 365 helps you automate and streamline your business processes as comprehensively as you like. It is the only cloud-based solution that tackles your customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) needs in one place, along with Office 365, using a “Common Data Model” (CDM). Whether you need tools for sales, customer service, operations, financials, field service, project service automation, or marketing, Dynamics 365 has an app. Today’s release provides the first day of general availability for most of those solutions. The value proposition here is that businesses of all sizes can choose just what they need and pay for those tools to get started, and then grow into a wider set of functions as required.

For small business, today is the first day that Dynamics 365 Business is available, which, at the moment, consists of the “Financials” app.  The Business edition is intended for small businesses with between 10 and 250 employees (although there is no minimum seat count), and allows for simplified accounting and business management. Dynamics 365 for Financials was previously in preview in the US and Canada as Microsoft Project Madeira, and in terms of functionality, it is based on Microsoft Dynamics NAV. It provides contact management and financials for small business with features such as Quotes, Orders, Invoices as well as accounting functions.

NOTE: since Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will no longer be available, and Microsoft recognizes that this will leave a gap for small businesses until the Sales app becomes available, they have agreed to offer the Dynamics 365 Sales, Enterprise edition (this is the “Sales” app that most closely resembles the CRM Sales Module as we now know it) at a reduced-priced for a limited time. Specifically, this app contains the Sales Module entities, such as Leads, Opportunity, Contacts, Accounts, etc. as well as some of the Marketing Module entities, such as campaigns and quick campaigns. The price is $40/user, there is no minimum seat count, but there is a 15 seat maximum. This offer will be available from December 1, 2016 until June 30th, 2017, or until the Dynamics 365 for Sales, Business Edition is released – whichever comes first. Finally, a company who purchases this app now will be eligible to also purchase the $5/user/mo “Team Member” subscription, which provides what amounts to read-only data across the Common Data Model (for now, Leads, Opps, Contacts, Accounts, and other entities available in the Sales app.)

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition is intended for larger organizations (over 250 employees), and is, essentially, a combination of Dynamics AX and CRM, using a CDM. It will eventually make use of Adobe Marketing Cloud suite, the result of a recent partnership with Adobe. The use of the Adobe Marketing Cloud suite differs from the Business edition, which will use Dynamics 365 for Marketing starting in 2017. What is now known as “Microsoft Dynamics Marketing” will no longer be available.

Since change can be stressful, Microsoft has lessened the burden by providing an Assisted Setup & Tasks section on the homepage of Dynamics 365, as well as the offer described above. There is a Getting Started tour to give you an introduction to the application, and then there are access points to create a trial company, import existing company data (vendors, customers, etc.), and set up sales tax, email, and more.

Keep an eye out for instructional posts and videos from xRM to get you started using Dynamics 365,and please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions.

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