All that you need to know about MS Dynamics 365

What is MS Dynamics 365?  

MS Dynamics 365 is a business application platform which is a combination of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), along with a suite of productivity applications and Artificial Intelligence tools, operating in the cloud and on-premise. It is available in two editions- Business and Enterprise.  

By combining the advantages of both CRM and ERP with the suite of applications available at Microsoft, users can get a view of transactions by customers, including records, behaviors, preferences, inventory, shipping, orders- all of which are immensely helpful to take critical business decisions. Its integration with various products makes MS Dynamics 365 much more attractive.   

Watch this short video featuring Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft talking about how Microsoft Dynamics 365 has been helping organizations to digitally transform the way they run and manage their business.   

Key benefits of Dynamics 365

All-In-One Business Management Solution

Microsoft Dynamics 365 brings together all the features of a modern ERP and CRM solution, allowing you to manage all your business units and processes including manufacturing, supply chain, retail, finance, sales, marketing, services, project management, and human resources, in one place. It helps both SMBs and large business enterprises to digitally transform and modernize their business by bringing together people, data, and processes.

Better Operational Efficiency

By standardizing and streamlining business processes, MS Dynamics 365 improves operational efficiency. It enables businesses to automate operations and processes which will allow your workers to concentrate on core activities instead of having to repeat mundane tasks. 

Infused Artificial Intelligence

Dynamics 365 suite of applications comes infused with Artificial Intelligence (AI) allowing users to easily solve problems and make data-driven decisions with the help of intelligent tools.  

Easy Customization

Without any additional development, businesses can use MS Dynamics 365 without having to resort to anything else. Everything can be customized according to the needs of the customers.  

Deep Integrations

Dynamics 365 and Business Central are deeply integrated with Microsoft Outlook, Office, and other Microsoft productivity tools. This allows users to work smartly without having to switch between multiple applications.

Targeted Campaigns

When the right marketing brains are not there, your campaigns can end up being shoddy with money going down the drain. Your customers need to be informed, educated and persuaded to buy your product. MS Dynamics 365 has a marketing automation tool that simplifies marketing-based activities like building leads, creating client lists, measuring results, etc. By doing all of this, it helps you reach the right clients.  

Power BI & Dynamics CRM

Using the power of SQL server reporting that Dynamics CRM offers, you can create intelligent reports. The reports are possible because Dynamics 365 integrates smoothly with SQL servers.  

Competitive Pricing

With the help of bundling and role-based licensing, the pricing is also attractive when compared with its competitors like Salesforce, SAP, and Oracle.  Visit the Dynamics 365 Pricing Page to know the monthly subscription-based price of Dynamics 365 applications.

A brief history of Microsoft Dynamics ERP

When personal computers were becoming the rage those days, many developers understood that there was a business opportunity in creating PC based accounting software space. These were the accounting systems that hit the market- Axapta, Navision, Great Plains and Solomon. In the beginning of 2000s, Microsoft bought these four applications as it wanted to get into the business applications market.

Microsoft rebranded all of these applications so that they could be a part of the Dynamics fold. Axapta became Dynamics AX, Great Plains became Dynamics GP, Navision became Dynamics NAV, and Solomon became Dynamics SL.

A part of the Microsoft Dynamics family, MS Dynamics AX is an enterprise resource planning product for software companies. It was developed as a collaboration between IBM and Danish Damgaard Data as IBM Axapta.

Well, we all know that MS Dynamics 365 has a multitude of CRM and ERP apps that are available on the cloud and on-premise, along with a bunch of supporting and integratable services.

Dynamics AX is an enterprise resource planning software that manages the back-end operations of businesses. It covers areas like financial management, retail and e-commerce, project management, inventory management, service management, human resources, business intelligence, warehouse management, distribution, manufacturing and some sales and marketing capabilities too.

When it was launched in 2003, the Dynamics suite was made up of five products- Dynamics NAV, GP and SL, all of which were ERP software and Dynamics CRM, Microsoft’s Customer Relationship Management software.

In 2016, Microsoft renamed its Dynamics suite by including the CRM and ERP products in a single umbrella- Dynamics 365. After this, Dynamics GP and Dynamics SL became separate products.

Dynamics AX became Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. Dynamics NAV was rebranded as Dynamics 365 Business Central and Dynamics CRM became Dynamics 365 for Sales. The functionality of the apps was offered as a smaller software that businesses can choose if they want.

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations was exclusively released to meet the requirements of enterprise business organizations. They even released an additional version called Dynamics 365 for Retail.

Microsoft Dynamics has grown to be one of the most used ERP tools in the market and is known to have helped many organizations work efficiently. Microsoft has NAV for the small and mid-market cloud ERP market while Dynamics AX is for the upper mid-market and upper market cloud world. The core architecture of NAV and AX runs without a hiccup in the cloud and it can even be run completely in a browser.

What does Dynamics 365 suite of applications include?

MS Dynamics 365 integrates powerful CRM and ERP capabilities to provide businesses with applications that will improve their productivity. The Microsoft Dynamics 365 suite includes the following applications.

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations

Relying heavily on Dynamics AX, it features everything an organization requires to plan and analyze its financial and operational processes. By its ability to work in tandem with financial management and operational processes, it is useful especially for companies in fleet management, retail and professional services.

It is packed with financial management tools, including accounts payable, budgeting, asset management, general ledger, accounts receivable, intelligent analysis and reporting features.

Dynamics 365 for Customer Service

It offers multi-channel tools that help businesses to engage their customers, self-service portals, tools for community engagement, and customer service executives. It empowers its clients to provide personalized customer service which is something that everyone expects these days.

Customer service agents are provided with the necessary tools to make their interactions with customers as fruitful as possible. Thanks to a centralized interface, agents can create cases, record customer interactions, and offer them solutions based on the previous call’s notes. With a variety of information available in an instant, you are making the life of your customer easy as much as you are making it easy for your salesperson with Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 Business Central

It includes applications that have functionalities for supply chain management, warehousing, financial management, project management, budget management, and sales and customer service. It provides an easy to understand interface where you can access all your finances. Find out more about Business Central Product Capabilities here.

Dynamics 365 for Sales

It allows businesses to manage their end-to-end sales operations, from lead generation, pipeline management to reporting, and account management. All the leads are available at a single place which makes it easy to make quick decisions. The salespeople can collect information easily, automate routine tasks, compare the status of other leads, etc.

Since salespeople will be able to understand more about the client through a single point of view, it will give insights that can help them upsell and cross-sell the products. With the help of lead scoring, the salespeople will know which are the leads that are closest to buying from you.

Dynamics 365 for Field Service

Salespeople should be equipped with the tools to conduct meetings, pass information, and persuade customers to buy without having to go to the office to collect materials. The Field Service app enables to automate the scheduling of resources, optimizes routes for maximum efficiency.

The app provides a central repository where materials required to help the customer are available- files, documentation, training materials, etc. Using the app itself, work orders can be generated, and assets, inventory, and equipment can be managed in real-time.

Dynamics 365 for Talent

The Talent app is made to manage your human resources with the least friction. Dynamics 365 for Talent’s roadmap can be listed down into five steps: Attract, Onboard, Engage, Learn, and Optimize. After LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft, its 650 million users’ data will also be a part of Dynamics 365.

The objective of this app is to find, recruit, and make the best talent to stay with the company for a long time. Companies that invest in taking care of its employees will be rewarded big time because employees will be loyal when they know that they will be taken care of.

Dynamics 365 for Retail

The Retail functionality takes care of both back-end and front-end operations in a retail store. It assists retail organizations in delivering their products across a myriad of channels. It does all of this while ensuring that the inventory never runs out of products, and organizes their merchandising efforts.

No matter what kind of store it is ecommerce or a physical store, it helps them optimize the store and ensures there is a sturdy infrastructure that helps the retail store to run smoothly. It manages discounts, promotions, and loyalty programs.

Take a look at the Dynamics 365 Key Product Capabilities page to view the other features included in Dynamics 365suite of products that can help your business make great leaps.

What are the key features of Dynamics 365?

Listed here are some of the key features offered by Dynamics365 that support a positive impact on Microsoft customers. 

Mobile capabilities 

A new mobile workspace has been created in Dynamics 365 that gives more mobile-friendly user experience with optimized color, layouts, and content. This helps in making the information presentable and the users can track content, leads and prospect, contacts, and the activities without much scrolling through the mobile-friendly interface. It also allows the managers to receive real-time customer service alerts and provides a complete overview of sales channels. 

Sales insights

Dynamics 365 offers the ability to provide complete information, although it is available only online. The relationship insights feature helps in the analysis of larger data, tracks, and records from the CRM which emphasizes trends and opportunities for the development of customer accounts. The analytical algorithms offered by Dynamics 365 helps in better user interactions with the customers and receiving the most relevant information. In turn, it provides suggestions or recommended actions. The new relationship insights feature helps in better analytics and data tracking and assist users through the daily prioritization and communication with the customers, with action tools such as reminders of the upcoming activities, suggestions for inactive contacts, email alerts on awaiting replies and keeping control of your opportunities 

App modules

Dynamics 365 has one of the best new features – the app modules and the expansion of the capabilities to use apps within the Dynamic 365. The app modules allow the users to create a set of apps or business process flows to be used without limitations throughout the platform. 

  1. The app module features the drag and drop option that enables users to create highly targeted apps. This avoids the use of add-in and plugin and does not require writing any code to create a new application.
  1. Apps are not limited to a single site map or page, instead, users can use them throughout the platform. This offers flexibility and functionality of previous versions of Dynamics 365.

Email integration with Outlook 365

Dynamics 365 enables the CRM to integrate fully with Microsoft Outlook with the email management software. This allows access to all the information that is linked to the specific contact you send an email to. The application also helps in access the email templates and display attachment such as recipient lists, related records, and new records that are important for your sales activities. The new app will remain on the right side of the user screen This helps the users to be more efficient by integrating CRM within their email application. Dynamics 365 also supports the outlook on a variety of platforms such as Windows, Outlook Web Application, and Mac.

Customer service dashboard

 Dynamics 365 customer service dashboard allows accessing the urgent cases and the status of requests made. It provides an overview of the customer experience, the next step to be taken and the most obvious method of improvement action plant to be done.

Relevance search option

The new and improved feature of Dynamics 365 is the relevance search that helps in enables the user to find the matches for any key phrases or keyword based on its relevance, through all the records, contact, templates, and stored opportunities. This saves the amount of time in searching by using the database searches with a powerful and intelligent search engine to find the information efficiently and faster.

This feature allows the users to access the data that representative might not know as existed and hence may be more pertinent than the one that they were initially searching. This is because Dynamics 365 supports more than just one team.

Visual process designer

Visual process designer is an excellent drag and drops design system in Dynamics 365 which allows users to

  1. Create business process rules and task flows. 
  1. It gives timers, suggestion bubbles, and the skill for users to directly work on the task flows. 
  1. This new Dynamics 365 feature also contains an export to image capability that enables users to create a visual representation of the process flows.

Activity log and connections to CRM

Another key feature of Dynamics 365 is the activity log which records and holds all the connections and actions that are carried out. This new feature is added based on the fact that the CRM contains a lot of sensible information. The activity log can be integrated with other security systems like Microsoft OMS and Splunk to prevent invasion and hoax in the CRM.

Site map designer

Another convenient and key feature of Dynamics 365 is the Site Map Designer. The site map designer allows users to create and edit site maps without help from a developer or designer. The Site Map Designer provides users to create multiple site maps though easy to use drag and drop tool. The user would control their pages; customize the size according to personal business preference. Needless to say, the features listed here are just a few of all the features offered by Dynamic 365. Just some of them are picked up here as they stand out for their analytic and intelligence features.

How is MS Dynamics 365 integrated with other Microsoft applications?

It is critical for many business organizations who turned Microsoft Dynamics 365 as their technology pillar, to integrate the system with other applications and platforms when the need arises. From system digitalization to new product launches and capturing new markets, the need for quick and seamless integration that supports your business is crucial. One of the key features of MS Dynamics 365 is its easy integration with other Microsoft applications and other ERP systems which don’t require extensive configuration. Have a look at the major impact on the productivity and performance of your business solution by integrating these useful applications with Dynamics 365 system.

Microsoft Outlook

Integrating Outlook with MS Dynamics 365 will improve flexibility and scalability to the business operations while streamlining the processes and policies.

  • Single location accessibility is provided for all the emails, customer information, and sales activities from both Dynamics and Outlook.
  • Tasks can be created and all the records of Dynamics 365 can be accessed from Outlook application.
  • Automatic synchronization of contacts between Outlook and Dynamics which in turn eradicate manual data entry and data duplication or loss.
  • Calendar synchronization is another advantage that enables the perfect activity organization wherein users can view, create, and edit all Dynamic data in Outlook and vice-versa.
  • The activity list can be created for email responses and automatically schedule them as tasks.

Microsoft Office

Working in different applications each day is tiring and unproductive. Dynamics 365 integration with MS Office makes it a lot easier to improve collaboration, communication, and productivity in the workplace.

  • Teams can work daily with SharePoint to share documents and resources from a common portal reducing further delays as everyone can work simultaneously on a given document.
  • Collaboration and visibility are improved by tracking notes of leads and opportunities which are accessible to all team members through OneNote.
  • Editing of CRM views and lists can be done in a few clicks with the help of Excel Online and modifications will be immediately reflected in Dynamics 365.
  • Synchronize all contacts, appointments, tasks, target dates, and customer communications in one place by the integration of Exchange with Dynamics 365.
  • With the Yammer integration, a common platform for all conversations, and the latest happenings is set up when you are working with several other individuals and teams.

Power BI

In this era of data-driven technologies, evaluating the critical business, customer, and competitor data is essential for efficient decision making and business success. Integration of Power BI into Dynamics 365 enables easy delivery of real-time data across various departments.

  • Real-time reports are generated and can be accessed from anywhere at any time.
  • Personalized dashboards for each user or each department of the organization to keep track of the data and use them interactively on several devices.
  • Data analysis is possible to generate insights on improving performance and user satisfaction. Also, visualize the data using Power View for better understanding.
  • Leverage the Direct Query technology to generate reports on large volumes of data.

Microsoft Teams

Integration of Microsoft Teams with Dynamics 365 which was introduced in April 2019, helps to connect sales records to MS Teams channels without leaving the Dynamics 365 application. Productivity and efficiency are increased as users can easily work with model-driven apps and share files directly from Teams.

  • Accessibility to Common Data Service records is possible by adding Dynamics 365 tab into Microsoft Teams channel.
  • Double-handling of information will be reduced significantly as changes can be recorded instantly through teams and it will be automatically updated in Dynamics 365.
  • Real-time information can be gained by checking in customers, opportunities, and cases for decision making.
  • Being able to see the data rapidly across the system, improves visibility for staff and managers for efficient working. 

6 Factors to consider while deciding if MS Dynamics 365 suits your business

1. Business scalability

Every business organization irrespective of its size desires a technology solution that is easy to use, customizable, scalable, and cost-effective. The capability to accommodate rising resource demand gracefully, without compromising on quality is much needed in any proposed application before its introduction into the business system. Whatever deployment option you settle on, MS Dynamics 365 is fully equipped to scale up to your desired capacity. However, as good and as inviting it is to scale up, it is always advisable to evaluate the business requirements and environments before deciding on the deployment.

When your business is small and it has to earn to grow, Dynamics 365 Business Central is an ideal choice to scale up quickly and pull back when certain risks do not pay off.

2. Flexibility

Flexibility in multiple spheres including deployment, pricing, and operational management is noteworthy with Dynamics 365 business solution.

According to your business requirement, you can either go for on-premise, partner-hosted, or cloud-based deployment. It offers simple, transparent purchase subscriptions by role so that you only pay for what each user needs with predictable monthly billing. It is highly customizable with wherein users can select apps, Microsoft-approved extensions, and plugins that they need and build a tailored solution suited for their requirements. MS Dynamics 365 with its cloud-based nature provides flexible accessibility too. Since the users need is an internet connection, your team can access and get things done anytime and anywhere.

3. Data security

The security and integrity of your business data are safe with MS Dynamics 365 being all its product infrastructure off-site. It features robust security and access controls for apps and data including the physical datacenter, network connectivity, service hosting platform, and administrator access built into the cloud services.

The security model also safeguards your data integrity and privacy as you have full control over the data that users have access to. Since Microsoft data centers are located all around the world, your data will be secure and fully compliant with local laws.

4. Integration with other applications

MS Dynamics 365 is made more desirable with its capability of easy integration with other Microsoft applications as well as third party web-portals, BI applications, and ERP systems. With a host of APIs from Microsoft, the integration is made easy and seamless. This makes it easier to post and update content and deliver a better customer experience.

This compatibility allows a single platform to complete all tasks and transactions for a business enterprise that already rely on other apps. It can be integrated efficiently with a myriad of host applications including SharePoint, Office 365, Power BI, Outlook, WordPress, and more. It doesn’t require extensive configuration but can be easily accomplished with integrators and add-ons.

5. Business insights

If you need a holistic view of your business processes, sales performance, and customer insights with data visualizations, MS Dynamics 365 is all equipped to provide you with informed, data-driven decision-making tools. Embrace a data-driven culture with actionable insights and real-time reporting using native dashboards, Power BI visualizations, and embedded AI capabilities.

6. Customer experience

Dynamics 365 uses a process-driven user interface to manage individual data presenting a personalized human connection. This in turn enhances the social engagement for a better understanding of customers to react based on their trend to provide personalized solutions.

Sales, marketing, and customer service apps are connected to a single platform of related information providing the customers with consistent and unified business experience.

How to get Dynamics 365 implemented?

Once you have decided to move ahead with Microsoft Dynamics 365, the next important question is - how to get it implemented? Keep in mind that though the product is the same, each partner may follow its own implementation methodology which they have tried and tested over the years. While some follow a complete onsite deployment model, many others who have embraced remote capabilities offer Dynamics 365 remote implementation or even combine onsite + remote model where the initial discussions, user requirements and process evaluation happens on-site and deployment happens from remote. Choose a model which best suits your process, working style, budget and timeline.

Let’s see the new updates

There is not much difference between switching to Dynamics 365 from a different Microsoft system or another ERP. This shows that it is almost the same. We can say that it is bad luck that the developments that have been tailored to the system cannot be transferred to the new one directly. For this, it will have to be redesigned in the form of specific Flow and PowerApps which will then gather the information. 

For the benefit, this device is much simpler and faster than the previous version. AX users might also find it interesting that they can carry over the Microsoft maintenance contract if they switch to Dynamics 365. This way, you save on additional negotiations and reduce the total cost.

Team building and leadership

For a successful implementation of Microsoft Dynamics, you need a strong team with powerful leaders in your team.

Implementing a new CRM and ERP is not an easy task. Even if you are migrating from old one to new, you still need a good team on your side to manage your customers and keep them satisfied with service. All the members of your team should have proper knowledge about the project and they should have a proper understanding of the various business processes from sales to marketing and from finance to IT. The project manager should be confident and should be able to manage the good contacts between the two parties and make the deal successful.

All the required planning

Planning is the first and most important step behind the implementation of any successful projects. There should be a proper plan on how to simplify the process and makes it easy and user friendly. Every team member should have a clear picture of the Microsoft Dynamics implementation path and its customizations.

Evaluation of existing systems

Most of the time Dynamic 365 implementation fails and the most common reason behind that might be outdated or partially integrated application suites and in-house programs built on extinct programming languages. However Dynamic 365 is a cloud-based system and it gets updated automatically. Implementation of ERP makes your business ready for future opportunities and helps in giving standard  IT solutions.

Take a look at the requirements

Before you implement Dynamic 365 to your business, you must go through all the instructions and functions of Dynamic 365. As we know that Dynamic 365 automatically updates itself to the latest version. On every update, Microsoft adds some new features and functions to Dynamic 365. So you may find some functions that perfectly fit your business requirements and customers' needs. While in some other cases you might need to add some custom components to fit your requirements.

Upgradation

If you are currently using GP, AX or Dynamics NAV (formerly Navision), you can opt for an up-gradation to Business Central or Dynamics 365, leveraging on your current investments. Along with tons of functional enhancements, it offers you a fully-integrated solution in the cloud which allows you to access the application from anywhere or any mobile device.

Onsite or remote implementation

You can get MS Dynamics 365 deployed on the conventional onsite model or a remote implementation model. For many years, the onsite ERP implementation methodology was preferred by organizations across the world. However, things have drastically changed with the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic which hassled to a paradigm shifting the way businesses run and operate. Today, remote implementation is the new norm, where assessment, deployment, training, and support happens online. It’s cost-effective too. Make sure that you evaluate both the methodologies and its benefits before you decide on how to get Dynamics 365 implemented in your organization.

As a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Partner in the USA, Profizient helps you get the most of your Dynamics 365 investments. Connect with our experts today to know how we can help you change the way you run your business and improve productivity with AI-infused D365 applications.