News: Software Improvements to D365 & Teams

A Review of Microsoft 2020 Release wave 2

Authors: FormusPro Technical Team | Formus Professional Software | July 2020

FormusPro Microsoft Wave Updates

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Our Microsoft Wave updates give you a summary of the original Microsoft documents

  • Inform you of new or improved features
  • A heads-up on any tricky bits you may have to navigate
  • Include advise on how to mitigate any hidden nasties (where possible).

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Microsoft Release Wave 2 Review

Apps included in this review:

D365 Field Service

D365 Sales

D365 Customer Service

Microsoft Teams

Earlier this year Microsoft announced the details of the first wave of 2020 upgrades and changes to its business software platforms.

Upcoming software improvements in 2020 Microsoft release wave 2

We produced a review of Microsoft's Release Wave 1 document back in February.

Now we take a look at the highlights announced in the second half of Microsoft's full Release Wave 2 plan.

The compilation of these new capabilities will be available for early access on August 3rd 2020 with the production deployments commencing on October 1st 2020.

As always there are some pretty exciting additions and improvements to the Dynamics platform.  This article aims to review what we think some of the highlights are in each area.

We would always recommend that you fully read the release plan to fully understand how it might affect your current system.  Getting early access is also something we would recommend for trying out these new features and test that there are no adverse effects before it gets rolled out to your live environment.  Where possible get your users involved to see and experience the improvements.  Get them excited about an update and remove any surprise or trepidation.

Dynamics 365 Updates 2020

Note: CE is still sometimes referred to by clients as Dynamics CRM. Customer Engagement (CE) is the overarching name for the collective set of applications Microsoft has been reworking for the last few years and is made up of: D365 for Sales, D365 for Customer Service, D365 for Project Service Automation, D365 for Field Service, Microsoft Social Engagement and Microsoft PowerApps.

highlights: D365 Field Service

Whilst Field Service offers a great solution for any organisation in the field service industry there were still a few elements you would typically expect in a field service solution that required customisation to achieve.  Here are some of the changes we think might be game changers to increase adoption of Dynamics Field Service in the UK:

Field Service Inspections

Inspections are a big part of any field service engineers job to make sure everything is covered and provide every with piece of mind that the right checks have been done.

You will now be able to create inspections and associate them with work orders.  The engineer can then complete these inspections on the mobile app and results can be used for further analysis or action.

Screen grab of fire extinguisher inspection page in Dynamics 365 Field Service

Scheduling Optimisation

There are improvements to try and increase automation and reduce time spent in scheduling.  These changes include embedded optimisation in the schedule board which will automatically schedule resources and requirements based on business goals.  Work duration can now be automatically predicted based on factors such as resource performance, incident type, location, time of year etc. Also, resource matching has been improved to better take account of resource skills and reserving capacity for skills that will be needed for emergency jobs.

Technician Time Tracking

Field service can now automatically capture time for work orders based on booking timestamps, you can also adopt manual time capture or setup your own custom time capture mechanisms to understand how long your technicians are spending on a job.  Benefits include better understanding of efficiency and more accurate costings.

Connected Field Service on D365 mobile app

If you are utilising Microsoft’s Internet of Things and Connected Field Service offering you will know how useful it can be.  It provides you the ability to monitor the equipment that you maintain and understand its performance and better predict when maintenance is required.  Connected Field Service is now coming to a mobile app which allows engineers to view equipment data history and diagnostics allowing them to make informed intelligent decisions.

Other Enhancements

  • Work order completion surveys using Microsoft Forms Pro
  • Enhanced Work Hours Calendar for Resources
  • Predictive Technician Travel Time
  • Group calls on Remote Assist
  • Improved Service Metrics

highlights: D365 Sales

Improved Duplicate Detection experience

Duplicate detection is vital in the battle to maintain clean and quality data.  Currently when Dynamics suggests a possible duplicate it does require a bit of investigation by the user and can be confusing what to do to deal with the potential issue.

The new changes allow you to see more context about the records which saves investigation time and there is now a merge button where you can effectively deal with the duplication on the fly.  This can only help to improve efficiency and accuracy.

Screen grab of example of duplicate entry in Dynamics 365 for sales

Note: Once these changes are released, to get the improved duplicate detection and merge experiences there will be a new administration setting that will need to be switched on. Get in touch if you need help with this.

Enhanced PDF capabilities

It is often preferred to send your customers a non-editable PDF as opposed to a more open Word document.  These new changes will allow you to save and share PDF files based on your word templates.  This can now be done on custom entities and not just the quote entity.

The interface to export a PDF has improved as well allowing you to select which template you want to use, preview it, download it, email it, or save to SharePoint.

Screen grab of opportunity page in Dynamics 365 for sales

Note: To have the ability to export PDFs in an entity you will need to enable it in Productivity Tools within General Settings.  We are more than happy to help you do this if needed.

A more productive Email experience

The email experience is continually improving within Dynamics.  In this release, you can now better interact with email activities in your timeline, allowing you to view, update and reply without losing the context of the record you are in.

Another very welcome improvement is around email attachments.  You can now attach and manage multiple files at once, something we often take for granted in dedicated email software but struggled within Dynamics.

highlights: D365 Customer Service

Configure your Timeline

The timeline is such a big part of case management and informing agents about your customer and case’s history.  Now within form design, we will be able to configure certain elements about the timeline such as expanding records by default, add or remove which activity items can be added from the timeline and the ability to hide things such as status tags and “what you’ve missed”.

Multi-session Customer Service App

In the new multisession app, agents will be able to manage multiple cases simultaneously and manage email and activities all with losing the context of the case.  This will save time in navigating to and from cases and increase productivity.

A new pane will also be available with improved AI-based suggestions for similar cases and knowledge articles.

Improved Email Experience

Similarly to the Sales area of Dynamics, Customer Service will benefit from an improved email experience.  You can now better interact with email activities in your timeline, allowing you to view, update and reply without losing the context of the record you are in.

Another very welcome improvement is around email attachments.  You can now attach and manage multiple files at once, something we often take for granted in dedicated email software but struggled within Dynamics.

Omnichannel Enhancements

Omnichannel has several useful enhancements including:

  • Post conversation surveys using FormusPro
  • See customer’s previous chats within the live chat window
  • Allow agents to personalise quick replies and sound notifications
  • Embed the omnichannel chat widget into your mobile apps

Microsoft Teams Updates 2020

Although not part of the Dynamics 365 release wave 2, I wanted to raise awareness for some of the interesting changes coming to Microsoft Teams.  In the current situation we all find ourselves in, remote collaboration is more important then ever.

This article gives a good summary of what’s coming.

The changes look to be improving the meeting experience and making people feel more connected.

The change that will pique most people’s interest is the ‘Together mode’.  It uses AI segmentation to make your meeting attendees look like they are sat across the table from you or sat in a shared classroom.

Man wearing headphones sitting at a table with two women

For a complete list of new capabilities in this release, please check out the Microsoft pages on Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform 2020 release wave 2 plans.