Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a cloud ERP and CRM enterprise platform for organizations announced by Microsoft in July 2016.
They built it for maximum flexibility and extensibility enabling organizations to run all aspects of their business end to end in the Cloud, hybrid and local (On-premise) deployment models. It includes apps to help simplify data management for business processes and apps.
Common Data Model (CDM)
By bringing together information from across the full suite of Dynamics 365 apps, and enabling data to be shared with other platforms, the Common Data Model and its various services provide Dynamics 365 users with some of key advantages like centralization of data, ability to build apps and workflows without the need for coding experience, integration with other services right out of the box and access to deeper analytical services.
Traditionally, enterprise software has been built on a layer of complicated databases.
Without being able to share and understand the same data easily, each system or data integration project requires a custom implementation, which require repeated effort, consume a lot of time and can cost a lot of money.
The Common Data Model is a standard and extensible collection of schemas (entities, attributes, relationships) that represents business concepts and activities with well-defined semantics, to facilitate data interoperability.
With CDM the Microsoft’s partners are enabled by the standardization and consistency of the database schema.
They can build applications and customizations with confidence that their solutions can be deployed and used across Microsoft’s entire customer base.
Figure 1 – Overview Common Data Model (CDM)
Apps and modules
Figure 2 – Apps and modules overview
Dynamics 365 unifies capabilities by delivering new purpose-built applications to manage specific business functions, including Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service Automation, Finance and Operations, Retail and Talent.
Designed to be personalized, deliver deeper insights and adapt to business needs.
These applications help businesses accelerate digital transformation to meet the changing needs of customers and capture the new business opportunities.
Dynamics 365 for Sales allows users to manage their sales processes from beginning to end, from lead generation and pipeline management, to account management and reporting.
The app centralizes all an organization’s sales leads into one place, helps collect data, and automates areas of the cycle.
It can automatically score, qualify, and assign leads, and provides real-time analysis at every stage of the process.
The app can also issue intelligent, automated reminders and actions to keep leads moving through the pipeline, and make sure no customer falls through the cracks.
Dynamics 365 for Marketing give companies the tools they need to generate and foster more leads, by aligning their sales and marketing strategies, and automating many of their marketing processes.
The app able to create, run, and manage multi-channel campaigns and events, as well as scrutinize the effectiveness of their efforts with in-depth analytics.
It supports communications across platforms such as email, web landing pages, webinars, calls, in-person events, and social media.
The app’s native intelligence allows business to effectively target the right customers for their communications with dynamic list segmentation, lead scoring models, and automated insights for tracking lead engagement.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 offer a mixture of assisted service management, and self-service opportunities such as customer portals and peer-to-peer support, Customer Service provides agents with the tools and resources they need to add value to their customer interactions through a centralized interface.
It enables agents to create cases, record all customer interactions, and solve queries through the customer’s preferred channel.
Agents are always clued up on customer case histories and preferences and can offer accurate information on company policy and entitlements.
Performance metrics can be easily overseen and managed through reports and dashboards, so organizations can monitor the consistent service across the board.
Dynamics 365 for Field Service deliver in the field access to necessary resources, and clear channels of communication with on-site workers, contractors, and customers.
The records are aligned with Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service apps, so being in the field doesn’t mean working in the dark. The app enables users to automate the scheduling, assignment of resources and optimize routes to maximize efficiency.
It also provides a central, accessible repository for resources such as manuals, documentation and training materials.
Work orders can be generated, managed and re-ordered in real-time through customer portals, customer services cases, or emails, and many types of sources.
Field Service is highly mobile-friendly, with mobile and tablet apps available across Android, iOS, and Windows devices.
Project Service Automation
Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation ties together all aspects of project delivery, looping in other crucial aspects of the business such as salespeople.
It is an app built to covers the entire span of the project lifecycle, centralizing teams and offering features to optimize opportunity management, project planning, resource management, time and expensing, team collaboration, customer billing and collection.
The app also includes analytical dashboards to help businesses further improve their processes.
Finance and Operations
Finance and Operations features everything an organization needs to manage, plan, and analyze its financial and operational processes.
It covers massive areas of business processes and operations with in-depth financial management tools to help users control every aspect of their ins and outs, as well as intelligent analysis and reporting features to gather actionable insights.
The app helps oversee, analyze, and optimize supply chain and warehousing operations, with capabilities including cost management, inventory management, procurement and sourcing, product information management, and transportation and warehouse management.
It also helps streamline and automate processes throughout the supply chain, from picking to delivery.
Dynamics 365 for Retail contains features to manage both front and back-end retail operations.
Designed as an all-encompassing solution for retailers, it helps organizations deliver their products across multiple channels while efficiently managing their inventory, organize their merchandising efforts, and meet customer demand.
The app optimizes processes across the board, from enabling retailers to build a robust and personalized online store, to managing discounts, promotions, and loyalty programs.
Sale services are all available across a wide range of devices like real-time inventory reports, employee schedules, customer order histories.
In-built AI capabilities enables companies to predict and capitalize on new opportunities by analyzing business data and customer buying trends. Gain valuable insights that will help you understand how your customers shop and what you need to do in order to close the next sale.
Talent was first made available in July 2017 and was designed to be the headquarters for human resource management, helping its users manage and engage with their employees throughout their entire working journey.
The app not only helps users find, hire and set up new employees, it also allows managers to better guide and support their employees’ professional development, by offering a channel for continuous feedback, performance tracking rewards, and clear pathways to progression.
Talent can automate routine HR tasks, help minimize compliance risk, and improve planning through tracking and analyzing core operations. It helps you retain exceptional employees by enabling professional growth and helping to set their career paths.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central
In 2018, Microsoft unveiled Dynamics 365 Business Central. It is a cloud-based end-to-end business management solution, targeted at organizations with fewer than 250 employees and particularly suited for the wholesale industry.
Business Central includes functionalities for financial management, warehousing and supply chain management, sales and customer service, and project and budget management.
Dynamics 365 licensing and pricing
Finding the suitable license for Microsoft Dynamics 365 products can be very confusing, it collects many different applications under one uniform name, which makes it sometimes hard to differentiate.
The applications can be divided into two major areas – ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management).
Full Users, as the name suggests, get full access to all features. Examples of full users are sales people, customer service representatives, finance employees, controllers and supply chain managers. These users have also been referred to in the past as Professional users or Power Users.
Additional users often represent a large percentage of users in an organization and may consume data or reports from line of business systems, complete light tasks like time or expense entry and HR record updates or be heavier users of the system, but not require full user capabilities.
Team Member users license, a lighter option for those users that don’t require full access to all functions, allows users to view and analyze data within the apps, along with the ability to carry out some minor tasks such as time entries. More info about dynamics 365 licensing and plans can be found here.
With Dynamics 365 for Business Central, the license names are slightly different. There are still Team Member licenses available, as well as Essential Users, who get access to the majority of features, and Professional Users, who can access everything available to Essential users, plus the app’s manufacturing and service order management modules.
More info about Business Central licensing and price can be found here.
Figure 3 – Users Types Dynamics 365
Figure 4 – Dynamics 365 Plan Overview