How can I work out the time spent in each stage of a business process?

Business Problem: I want to know how long is spent in my business process by stage and by user how can I achieve this with no code?

The solution is actually quite simple if you are the latest release of Dynamics 365. The key to the solution is the fact that Dynamics now maintains the active stage and active start time for instance of a business process flow.

When you create a business process flow, a new entity is created to maintain the instances of the business process flow. So each time you start an opportunity, a business process record is created for the business process that is running that maintains the start time, active stage and status of that process. Thus when you switch process the previous process flow state is maintained.

So with this knowledge you now have a record that records the relationship to the business process and to the record it was initiated from.

Back to the problem. What I need is an entity to store the start and end time for each stage and a workflow that creates the record each time the stage changes. Simple as follows:

  1. Create a new entity, in my case I used an activity entity called Stage Duration. I used an activity entity, as it already has all of the fields that I need to record the stage duration i.e. Regarding, actual start, actual end, and subject. The one field that I did create is Stage duration, which is a decimal and is a calculated field. The calculation works out the difference between Actual End and Actual Start.
  2. Stage Duration
  3. Once I have published the entity I now need to create a workflow to fire each time the active stage changes for the business process that I want to monitor.
  4. Create a new process – workflow, select the newly created entity that corresponds to the business process that you want to monitor.
  5. Set the workflow to run on creation and when the active stage field changes.
  6. Now add action to create the stage duration activity, populate the subject with something like Stage: <<Active Stage>>, populate the actual start with the “Active Stage start time”, update the owner to the owner of the related record and set the regarding to the related record.
  7. Stage duration workflow 2
  8. Now add a wait step to wait until the active stage start time is not equal to the new activity creates actual start time.
  9. Then add the step to update the actual end time to that of the Active stage started on. (this is now the next stage started on time thus the end of the previous stage)
  10. That is it you now have a workflow that triggers at the start of the process and again each time the active stage is changed. That will record the start, end and duration of stage per process stage and user.
  11. Here is the workflow example below:
  12. Stage duration workflow 1
  13. Now each time I change the process a new activity is created as below:
  14. Opportunity stage
  15. Stage duration record
  16. This allows me to create charts as follows, i.e. by stage average time, and by user by stage average time.
  17. Stage reporting

 

The possibilities are now endless to the types of things I can do i.e. alert if a stage has not changed after a given time period, alert if average time is over norm, create a nice dashboard to show exceptions or enable me to identify focus stages to work on.

Creating Apps in Dynamics 365

I want to create a new App that only shows my Stakeholder Managers what they need to see, how do I do this with no code? It is easy with the App Designer.

For an overview of how you do this there are some great articles that can be found on the Dynamics Help and Training guide.

The following table shows the steps you’ll take to create an app, taken from the training guide found here https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/crm-customer-center/design-custom-business-apps-by-using-the-app-designer.aspx.

Step Description Related topics
Define app properties. Create or edit an app
Define navigation for an app using the site map designer. Create a site map for an app
Apps are composed of components like dashboards, entities, business process flows, forms, views, and charts. Include the required ones in your app by using the app designer. Add or edit app components
Check your app for any required components you haven’t added. Validate an app
Make the app available for use. Publish an app
Give users access to the apps you created by using security roles. Manage access to apps with security roles

The Dynamics 365 App Paradigm

A new feature of Dynamics 365 is the ability to create “Apps”. An app is a set of related features and functions that are used to deliver an outcome for a user. team or function I.e. Field Service App for field resources, Sales App for sales managers and sales reps to engage with customers.

The app paradigm enables customers to define quickly and cleanly a new interface for different users in the organisation to utilise. Its the ability to limit what a user sees in a controlled configurable manner. It will enable ISVs to deliver a controlled experience for the intended user.

In previous versions of Dynamics, you worked with a single app view I.e. sales, service and marketing. To control what a user could see you needed to manipulate the site map and it could get quite messy! The new App designer makes it very easy to personalise the experience for business users.

So what can I do with the App designer in the first release of Dynamics 365?

  • Define the sitemap elements
  • Define which Dashboards are displayed
  • Define the business process flows that can be utilised
  • Define the Entities to be included
  • Define which forms are to be consumed
  • Define the Views that will be available
  • Define which charts should be displayed

All in all pretty comprehensive ability to control what a user can see.

Customers expect great service, deliver it with Field services for Dynamics

What do your customers remember you by? Your last delivery.

Building long lasting trusting relationships around a solid reputation of delivery is paramount into today’s services economy. With many providers delivering similar services your customer experience needs to be distinct and consistent across every client interaction. As an organisation the level of transparency and collaboration both internally and externally has escalated to the point people expect it, they expect to be involved, they expect to collaborate, they expect to be online, they expect to be able to do it anywhere, and they expect it to be simple. Delivering great field services is all about delivering to time, to expectations while managing a great relationship, so why should it not be embedded into a Customer Relationship Management solution?

The focus of Field Services

Field Services powered by Microsoft Dynamics CRM, focusses on the after care service of delivering products and services. How do I maintain the relationships and grow the experience post the sale? Delivering exceptional after care service is not an easy task, but if you focus on the following then you will be on the right path:

  • Exceed Customer Expectations – focus on developing a robust process around resource skills, scheduling and prioritizing of effort. Delivering great experiences is about turning up on time, with the right resource, tools to complete the job the first time.
  • Empower the Service Delivery team – enable you service delivery team with the right tools to deliver great service. Provide them the tools to enable them to keep you updated on the progress of the job and expected completion time. The more information that you have regarding the progress of service delivery will enable you to ensure your meeting the first point delivering exceptional experiences.
  • Template the approach – drive consistency within the delivery approach, create templates that can be followed and repeated. Templates enables service to be delivered consistently every time with the assurance to customers that whoever turns up will deliver the same experience and service.
  • Uncover Insights – through capturing the delivery in a consistent manner, drives up the quality of data that you can run analytics on, uncovering key insights. Insights enable you to focus your delivery team on the right KPIs to drive up customer satisfaction and experience.
  • Visibility of schedules – the ability to schedule efficiently and have wide visibility of resources, their schedules and location enables you to deliver to your customer’s expectation. A schedule boards importance is being able to present the relevant information in the most efficient manner to meet the end users need. Thus it is important to be able to define different views of the data to support the scheduling delivery team. You may need to look by product, by region, by fault, by location, the more flexible the board can be the more customer focused experiences you can deliver.
  • Billing – Effective billing is essential for great service delivery. Being consistent with the way you bill and how you bill drives great customer experiences and provides the customer with confidence in the service that you are delivering. Thus having the ability to automate the billing process and charge appropriately by the customer is critical in the success of any service delivery operation. 

 

Introducing Field Services for Dynamics CRM

Field Service is an end-to-end solution that extends Microsoft Dynamics CRM to provide a single system of customer engagement for after care and service delivery teams. Through the common user interface of Dynamics CRM and Office 365, you service delivery team can excel at what they do best, delivering exceptional customer service.

Field services for Dynamics CRM delivers: 

  • Service Agreement. Field Service agreements enable you as a business to sell and manage consistent offerings. Service agreements enable you to bundle recurring jobs, the preferred resources, at the agreed rate and billed on agreed schedule. Service agreements form the foundation of great service delivery.
  • Case Management. Case management enables you to log a call, manage the activity related to the call, within the right Service Level Agreement and generate work orders as and when required. Case management is the backbone to managing after care service excellence. It provides the mechanisms to drive insights that drive performance and efficiencies. Coupled with Knowledge management, self-serve and team management, makes Case management a very comprehensive solution.
  • Resource management. Resource information includes the skills and proficiencies of your workforce. You can view and filter resources based on skills and availability, so you can assign the right people to the right jobs.
  • Time and expenses. The job costs can be recorded within the system by the service delivery user and presented to the customer at the end of the job. Sophisticated product and service pricing can be managed within the familiar product management of Dynamics CRM.
  • Work Order Management. Work orders can be created and scheduled according to the request be via an agreement or ad-hoc call. Work orders can be associated existing customer assets and service plans to drive the correct resolution of the incident type. The scheduling board provides clear visibility of the jobs that are scheduled, the unscheduled jobs and the availability of the resources to deliver

Remove the project data silo from your business with project services for Dynamics CRM Online

What do your customers remember you by? Your last delivery.

Building long lasting trusting relationships around a solid reputation of delivery is paramount into today’s services economy. With many providers delivering similar services your customer experience needs to be distinct and consistent across every client interaction. As an organisation the level of transparency and collaboration both internally and externally has escalated to the point people expect it, they expect to be involved, they expect to collaborate, they expect to be online, they expect to be able to do it anywhere, and they expect it to be simple. Delivering projects is all about the relationships and team collaboration so why should it not be embedded into a Customer Relationship Management solution?

Process maturity as published by SPI Research for Microsoft on 2016 Professional Services Maturity talks about moving organisations from Project Heroic and Functional Excellence to Portfolio and Collaborative Excellence, the move away from individual project heroes leads to significant performance improvements and increase in average EBITDA compared to organisations that are less mature. To be able to progress on the maturity lifecycle you require systems that are embedded into the process, systems that remove silos of data, that enable greater collaboration amongst teams both internal and external

The focus of Project Services

Project Services for Dynamics CRM focusses are removing the project data silos by embedding deep project services capabilities into Dynamics CRM. This focus of Project Services is on three core operational excellence factors:

  • Deepen customer and employee engagement – focus on building credibility through collaborative project planning, estimation and expectations setting. Provide confidence in project success through proven processes and a responsive engagement model. Then deliver predictable on-time and on budget projects with process automation and transparency. 2015 Miller Heiman Global Sales Best Practices study states that 94% of world class organisations collaborate across all departments to close large deals, as opposed to only 43% across all organisations.
  • Empower Professionals – at the end of the day it is the quality of your professionals that deliver excellent customer engagement and customer experiences. The focus here is ensuring consistency and process excellence to drive up the maturity lifecycle. Through a single system view, you can facilitate transparency with comprehensive views of skills and their relationship to project requirements, ensuring the right resource with the right skills is assigned to work. Inevitably, driving more realistic attainment of on-time and on-budget projects. You can enhance productivity through providing collaboration tools via Office 365 groups, project team sites and tools like visual studio online. By empowering the employee to find projects to maintain skills, to collaborate amongst the team increases loyalty through visible interaction, recognition and skills development.
  • Optimise Growth – 2016 SPI Professional Services Maturity Benchmark states organisations using an integrated project-based solution with CRM are 44% more profitable than those using neither. Coordinating a firm wide approach to prioritizing client and pursuit management using team collaboration in consistent ways helps to deliver successful projects. Monitoring and managing overall status and having that visible to the professionals is critical in ensuring that real time visibility of project status. The more people are aware then the more they care and focus on delivering successful project outcomes. Using the built in metrics in Project Services and PowerBI reporting tools facilitates timely decision making enabling the business to adapt and change accordingly before it is too late.

Introducing Project Services for Dynamics CRM

Project Service is an end-to-end solution that extends Microsoft Dynamics CRM to provide a single system of customer engagement for project sales, resourcing, delivery and billing.

Microsoft_Dynamics_CRM_Online_Project_Service_cycle

Through Office 365 integration collaboration becomes second nature and automated, notes can be shared using OneNote, documents worked on by multiple people seamlessly and shared with the team both internally and externally.

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If you’d like to know more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM project service and how we can help your organisation to deliver project excellence and move along the project lifecycle, we’d love to talk to you. Find out more and download a datasheet here.

An Overview of Project services

Project services for Dynamics CRM has been released in the CRM Online Spring release. Project services will enable all aspects of a project to be managed in CRM from Pre sales opportunity management through to project planning, delivery and billing.

Project services will be delivered under an add on license to a CRM Online Basic or Professional sku. When trialing Dynamics CRM Online you will be able to load as a solution a trial of Project services.

The core capabilities of Project Services are:

  • Opportunity Management
    • Estimate, quote, and contract work, Plan and assign resources and Enable team collaboration
    • This great feature allows for a project quote to be created off the back of a work break down structure definition. As pre sales you will be create a draft project, start from a project template and adapt for the specific needs of the opportunity. Once the plan has been approved you can import in the project lines in to the quote and summarise the details by role or phase. Using the new word template functionality you will then be able to create a nice looking word document for your quote / statement of work.
  • Project-based contracts
    • Project contracts relate quotes and orders to project plans, financial estimates, labour pricing, and billing arrangements, like time and materials or fixed price. The contract highlights key metrics, including profitability and feasibility.
  • Project planning
    • Visual project planning and estimation includes predecessors, automatic task scheduling, and views of sales and cost information for time and expenses. You can use the resulting plan in quotes and project contracts.
    • WBSpic
  • Resource management
    • Resource information includes the skills and proficiencies of your workforce. You can view and filter resources based on skills and availability, so you can assign the right people to the right projects. You can also track resource utilization and forecasting metrics.
    • Resourcing of projects can be performed by a centralized user role or by the project manager depending on your organisation needs.
    • Resource Availability screenshot
    • ResourceAvailability
    • Resource Utilisation screenshot
    • Resource Utilisation
  • Time and expenses
    • Capture time, expense, and progress data for real-time insights and accurate invoicing
    • Team members can use the web or mobile apps to record time and expenses for multiple projects. Managers can easily approve new entries while understanding the financial implications of the newly-approved items.
    • Screenshot of the time recording grid view
    • timerecording
  • Project billing
    • Project invoices reflect the terms of the contract and the approved work and expenses. The financial impact of project work, including costs, unbilled revenue, and invoices, is recorded for use in analytics and integration into financial systems.

What’s new in the CRM 2016 Spring Release

Dynamics CRM 2016 Online SP1 has been released and again its another big release for Dynamics with a lot of new capabilities being added. The focus has been heavily on expanding the service and mobile capabilities of Dynamics CRM

In this blog I will summarise some of the changes and values that they bring you as a business:

Mobile:

  • The big news here is that it has gone Offline, you can now define the rules for offline access via the new administration settings area in Dynamics. Some caveats to be aware of, its only available to organisations that have 5 or more professional licenses or 1 enterprise license, the licenses do need to be assigned to users for mobile offline to be engaged, it is not available for trial or sandbox environment, and any changes to a user security privileges will not take effect for offline until after the next synchronization.
  • Data for the offline users is stored in a separate SQL Azure Database and for offline access stored on the device in a local database. It is important if you are going to use CRM Mobile Offline that you utilize tools like Intune to manage the devices connecting for security of local data. iOS and Android mobile applications can now be managed in Intune MAM without enrolling the device.
  • For more information on setting up Mobile offline see Offline User Guide
  • Other mobile enhancements include the ability for service reps to manage Knowledge base articles
  • For sales professionals to manage quotes, orders and invoices via mobile
  • Improved start up performance after admin changes
  • Ability to set-up mobile device conditional access – You configure conditions for CRM access at the Azure Active Directory group level. For example, you might want to set up conditions that require multi-factor authentication for mobile users accessing CRM when they’re not at work—or maybe you want to require it at all times. You can also set up conditions that require the user’s mobile device to be compliant with your policies before the user can access CRM.

Productivity:

As with every release a high degree of focus is placed on productivity as with this release. The following improvements have been made:

  • Collaboration with Office Groups – Office groups can now be reconnected to other records in CRM.
    • Notification of deleted groups within CRM to allow you to reconnect to another group
    • Project team members are automatically added to a group
  • Email signatures – you can now define signatures for users and queues for web client emails
  • Inline Help – Learning path is a new guided user experience tailored to roles in the organisation. The first release will see the content pre canned for some of the new features, we hope in future releases this will be opened up for configuration so that we can create personalized content for a releases

Service

Service has seen some major enhancements with the release of Project and Field Services as core components of Dynamics CRM Online. These new features are licensed as an add on to a Basic license so are not included in the base license.

  • Project Services – manage project based sales, includes:
    • Estimate, quote, and contract work
    • Plan and assign resources
    • Enable team collaboration
    • Capture time, expense, and progress data for real-time insights and accurate invoicing
    • Project based contracts
    • Project planning
    • Resource management
    • Time and expenses
    • Project billing
    • Watch the video at Project services YouTube video
  • Manage your Field service workflows
    • Field service, the recent FieldOne acquisition has now been fully embedded and enhanced for Dynamics CRM.
    • Field service is an end-to-end solution that delivers advanced scheduling, inventory tracking, and asset management for service depots and highly mobile, in-field specialists who need to fulfill work orders and provide preventive maintenance across multiple sites under complex service agreements.
  • Create SLAs for any entity
    • With this release you can now easily create SLAs for a select few system entities and all custom entities. For example you could create an SLA for a Lead first response in, conversion SLA. Lots of possibilities for SLA configuration.
    • The following system entities are included:
      • All activity entities (such as Email, Task, and Appointment) except recurring appointments
      • Account
      • Contact
      • Invoice
      • Opportunity
      • Quote
      • Lead
      • Order
    • For more information on SLA configuration see My post on SLA set-up and SLA Help guide
  • Interactive service hub enhancements
    • Apply service level agreements (SLAs) for Case and custom entities. This functionality is the same whether you use the web client or the interactive service hub.
    • Track progress of SLA KPIs with the timer control.
    • Remove redundancies between similar cases by merging them into a single case.
    • Access forms and dashboards easily using keyboard navigation

Analytics Features

  • New Service Content Pack includes several key indicators such as cases created, cases resolved, satisfaction percentage, top agent leaders, and most used and viewed KB articles.
  • Improved Sales Manager Content Pack includes OData (Open Data Protocol) version 4.0 support.
  • The ability to embed Power BI tiles directly into CRM user dashboards. This allows you to launch an interactive report from Power BI tiles directly from a CRM user dashboard, without having to switch to the Power BI service.

Portals

Self service portals will be released slightly after the general release of Dynamics CRM Online and will include a set of preconfigured portals that can be deployed utilizing the Adxstudio recent acquisition capability. The following portals will be made available and will utilize Azure services:

  • Custom portal. The custom portal is a basic portal that contains flows and pages common to all portals. It includes basic support content as well as custom applications to meet the specific support needs of different organizations, including login/authentication features and contact pages.
  • Customer Self-Service portal. Lets customers access self-service knowledge and support resources, increasing customer satisfaction, reducing call center volumes, and ultimately allowing service agents to focus their efforts on issues of greatest impact.
  • Employee Self-Service portal. Creates an efficient and well-informed workforce by streamlining common tasks and empowering every employee with a definitive source of knowledge. Employee self-service is now available worldwide using CRM and portal capabilities, and is available in all CRM Online markets.
  • Community portal. Enables peer-to-peer interactions between experts in the community, subject matter experts within an organization, and internal and external users. Communities organically grow the catalog of available knowledge from knowledge base articles, forums, and blogs. Participants can provide feedback through rating and comments features. Contributors can also receive alerts on content revisions and workflow updates.
  • Partner portal. Create an environment for interacting with your partners and collaborating on sales opportunities to provide products and services based on your customers’ needs.

Unified Service Desk Enhancements

A number of improvements were made to the Unified service desk these include:

  • Interactive service hub integration. The interactive service hub can now be integrated with Unified Service Desk so users can open and control interactive service hub pages inside Unified Service Desk.
  • Windows Update. Unified Service Desk also supports Windows Update now. Windows Update is an easy and free way to help keep Microsoft applications (like the Unified Service Desk client) safer and running smoothly. Just turn it on, and you’ll get the latest security and other important updates from Microsoft automatically, or you can choose to apply updates manually.
  • Demo packages. New demo packages include samples for new Unified Service Desk environments, upgrading existing Unified Service Desk environments, interactive service hub integration, and Dynamics CRM 2013 or later web client.
  • Telemetry. You can now help improve Unified Service Desk by sending usage data to Microsoft anonymously.

Company News

  • The Company news and timeline solution lets users see the latest and most important news from Bing news on their mobile devices. News articles are organized by time (Today, This Week, Last Week) and contain the headline, date/time, and source of the news article. Important events are detected and categorized, including management changes, earnings releases, new offerings, cost cutting, growth, legal issues, acquisitions, and partnerships.You can use a new custom control to add and configure a news feed for the mobile apps.

Hybrid server-side sync (CRM on premises to Exchange Online)

  • You can use server-side synchronization to automatically synchronize email, tasks, appointments, and contacts between CRM and Microsoft Exchange. Now you can do a reverse-hybrid scenario by connecting CRM on-premises with Exchange Online. This means you can now use server-side synchronization for all four connection scenarios:
  • Serversidesync CRM 2016SP1

CRM APP for Outlook available for CRM On Premise

  • The CRM APP introduced in the CRM Online 2016 release is now available for CRM ON Premise. The following table defines the versions and functions available:
    Read email Compose email
    Outlook on the web (OWA) on all major desktop browsers Yes Yes
    Outlook 2013 Yes No
    Outlook 2016 Yes Yes
    Outlook for Mac Yes No

 

Customer Field

  • The customer field is a special field you find on some custom entities that let you select an account or contact record as the customer. In the new release you will be add a new field as a type of Customer to your system entities.
  • This feature will be available slightly after the general release of CRM