Your 2020 CRM to do list: Unified Interface & Team Members

In this article, Xpedition’s John Odell outlines two changes essential to Microsoft Dynamics 365 users need to be aware of in 2020.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 and its related technologies continue to evolve and improve apace. We will cover some of the exciting new capabilities in future articles, but here, we are focusing on two impactful changes to Microsoft Dynamics 365 ‘CRM’ for 2020.
Both the Unified Interface and restrictions on what functionality Team Members can access have been around for a while now, but in 2020 the Unified Interface is set to become mandatory and Team Member limitations will be ‘enforced’ for the first time.

This article, originally published on 12 February 2020, has been updated to reflect changes Microsoft have made to deadlines as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A Brief Note on Names

Microsoft no longer use the name ‘CRM’, preferring instead to Dynamics 365 Sales; Dynamics 365 Customer Service; Dynamics 365 Marketing; Dynamics 365 Project Service; Dynamics 365 Field Service.

The name ‘Customer Engagement’ was briefly in play, but this has been dropped. Although Dynamics 365 CRM isn’t the official name, it’s the one we all recognise and use in conversation.

Unified Interface

Microsoft began introducing the Unified Interface in 2018, replacing separate web and mobile interfaces with one ‘responsive’ design that would work on big screen, small screens and mobile screens. It means Microsoft only have to maintain one interface and, as it is more modern and responsive, the Unified Interface is faster and better from an accessibility point of view.

The previous interface is referred to as the ‘classic’ interface (which might be overstating its aesthetic qualities, but you get the point).

As of the Wave 2 2020 update, due in October, the Dynamics 365 CRM classic interface will be retired and the Unified Interface will be mandatory. This won’t happen to everyone on 1st October, it will depend on when your update is scheduled. Also, Microsoft have decided to not enforce the move to Unified Interface until December 2020.

So, if you are still relying on the classic interface then you need to rapidly put plans in place to transition to the Unified Interface.

The impact of this will depend on the complexity of your Dynamics 365 CRM and how you use it. The forms and views you are using will translate to the Unified Interface (so you don’t need to recreate them). However, the layout and style has changed, so some forms might need tweaking. Some form-based scripting and special functionality might need to be revisited.

There are also new capabilities that you can start to take advantage of.

Although it isn’t a huge change, you will still need to consider how you communicate this to your users, some of whom might need a little bit of training and orientation on the Unified Interface. The more notice and support you can provide to your users, the better.

Team Members

The Team Member licence for Dynamics 365 provides terrific value, enabling ‘light users’ to access all of your CRM on a read-only basis, along with some ‘write’ access for a fraction of the cost of a full user licence.

Team Members can see everything (that you let them, with access based on their role and security permissions), view reports, create and edit Contacts, track their emails and appointments and update up to 15 custom entities (record types that have been created specifically for your CRM). But they cannot create or edit Accounts, or update records in the Sales or Customer Service processes. For less than 10% of a full licence, that is a pretty powerful proposition and helps to drive wider CRM access and adoption within an organisation.

Up until now, the limitations on the Team Members have not been enforced by the system, but this is set to change. That change was originally due for April 2020, but as an existing customer, you now have until the end of January 2021. New customers will see this enforcement take effect from day one.

Once this comes into effect, your Team Members will no longer be able to accidentally update records that they shouldn’t, plus they will have specific ‘apps’ to use (Sales Team Member; Customer Service Team Member; Project Resource Hub) – still the same Unified Interface, just a different area with its own navigation for Team Members.

The impact of this change will depend on your Team Members’ needs and how they use CRM, the Team Members apps may need some additional configuration. And as with the Unified Interface update, providing support and training is advisable. Although this is now some time away, it is still a good idea to start planning for it.

If you need help evaluating the impact of these changes and assistance when planning on how to handle them, contact Xpedition today. We’d be delighted to provide guidance and advice.

Outlook add-in

Since this article was originally published, Microsoft has also announced the ‘deprecation’ (forced retirement of and end of support for) the Outlook Add-in. This is the old Outlook / CRM integration, based on old COM technology and is well past its time. Microsoft has tried to kill it off before, but u-turned after a very vocal backlash. This time it looks like they mean it.

The good news here is that there is a much better, modern, reliable and flexible alternative in the Outlook Web App. This is better in every way than its predecessor, with our favourite features being that it works on mobile and in the Outlook web client, plus it doesn’t cause Outlook to crash on a semi-regular basis.

If you need help evaluating the impact of these changes and assistance when planning on how to handle them, contact Xpedition or your Account Manager.

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