MB2-716 (Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customization and Configuration) – Collaboration

As I prepare for my MB2-716 exam I’m producing a series of blog posts that collectively should help others revising for the MB2-716 Certification (Microsoft Dynamics 365 customization and Configuration). This time I will look at collaboration. I have already covered SharePoint and OneDrive when I reviewed document management but you will notice that OneNote and Office 365 Groups are also specifically mentioned in the skills measured statement. So in this post I will expand on those.


Let’s first review the subject of OneNote integration.

I guess your first question might be, what is OneNote? OneNote, as the name suggests is a product for taking notes. Notes can be simple items of text but could also involve screen shots, audio or even video that relate to whatever subject is being covered. Meaning that OneNote offers a much richer interface than that available with standard note taking. OneNote also supports co-authoring, allowing multiple people to collaborate on a single “document”. OneNote has a variety of clients you can install locally, run on-line and even as apps on mobile devices.

OneNote uses a concept of notebooks, each notebook can have sections and pages, Just like a real notebook!

OneNote also has a concept of section groups but this is currently not supported by the CRM integration. Meaning you should just use sections and pages when integrating with CRM.

From the social pane in CRM it is possible to open OneNote notebooks in the context of the currently selected record. You can then create and collaborate on OneNote documents using any of the supported clients.

OneNote integration uses SharePoint to store the notebooks. Because of this OneNote integration options can be found in the document management area of settings in CRM.

Don’t forget OneNotes uses SharePoint, so you need to enable that before using OneNote. This is because your OneNote notebooks will reside in SharePoint to make them accessible to all users.

Prior to enabling OneNote integration each entity requiring the OneNote functionality must also already be enabled for SharePoint. You then simply use the OneNote Integration option to select the required entities.

An alternative approach to enable OneNote integration is to navigate to the entity in customizations and enable in the communication & collaboration section.

Initially when you open an account (or any entity) that hasn’t had any custom notes created you will see a view something like the one shown below. Clicking on the “Untitled” option will open a OneNote and allow you to begin editing.

As sections are added into the OneNote notebook they will show in the navigation within the social pane in CRM.

Note: The level shown in the social pane is section. Within that section multiple pages may exist, to view the pages you’d need to open the section in OneNote.

Clicking on the section headings will open that section in OneNote Online. (As shown below.)

One “strange” thing to be aware of is the way section names do (and don’t) change. When a new notebook is opened it will contain one section with the name set top “untitled”. Clicking on this heading will load the notebook. If you rename the untitled section in OneNote online this change is not reflected back in the CRM social pane. To rename sections it is best to open them using the full OneNote desktop application. However adding new sections in OneNote online does correctly create the sections in the social pane.

If you remove a CRM record the associated OneNote notebook will not be removed from SharePoint. If this needs to be removed it will need to be manually deleted from SharePoint.

By default, CRM will create a separate document location and a separate OneNote notebook for each record viewed.

As with SharePoint integration you need to be aware that CRM access and SharePoint access (and therefore OneNote) are not directly linked. Permissions will need to be granted in the CRM security model and SharePoint independently. You need to ensure users have access to both CRM and SharePoint.

It is also worth understanding that SharePoint and OneNote configuration does not form part of the CRM solution. When moving from development to production environments any configuration will need to be repeated in both environments.

Office 365 Groups

The next piece in the collaboration jigsaw is Office 365 Groups.

With Office 365 Groups, you can collaborate with people across your company … even if they aren’t Dynamics CRM users. Office 365 Groups provide a single location to share documents, conversations, meetings, and more. They offer shared workspaces for email, conversations, files and even calendar events.

Enabling Office 365 Groups

Before installing Office 365 Groups you will need; an Office 365 subscription that includes Exchange Online and SharePoint Online.

Then Office 365 Groups can be installed as a managed solution, with CRM online this is available in the administration center for CRM

Having clicked the install button and accepted the license agreement you will need to wait whilst the install happens. It doesn’t take long!

After the install process has completed you will find a new option for Office 365 Groups in the settings area of Dynamics 365.

Before looking at how to configure Office 365 Groups, a word about security. You will need to ensure that all users needing this feature have a role with the ISV Extensions option enabled. You can see below that this is found in the customization tab of each security role.

Once installed Office 365 Groups can be configured from the settings area of CRM.

The list of possible entities for Office 365 Groups is limited to a defined set of system entities. Including account, contact, lead, case etc. Plus, any custom entities you create.

Notice that I also have an auto create option available, but selecting that may result in a warning that auto create is not recommended!

Having selected the entities, you wish to enable Office 365 Groups for the “Publish All” button is used to enable them for groups.

Note, this is the same as doing a publish all from the customizations area of CRM. Meaning that any unpublished customizations would be made live at the same time. (So watch for that!)

Using Office 365 Groups

Once Office 365 Groups has been enabled you can navigate to the Office 365 Groups option on the entity and from there start a group. Or connect to an existing one. Below you can see that I have opened an opportunity. I have then navigated to the Office 365 Groups option.

As I have yet to define any Office 365 Groups, I selected the create option. This results in the message shown below.

After a short pause a group will be created. You are now able to manage a group calendar, engage in conversations, share documents and access a OneNote notebook directly from this page.

Also this group can be accessed directly from Outlook online. Meaning all of this information can be shared with user who do not have access to CRM. This is very important from a collaboration point of view.

Below you can see that I have shown an Office 365 Group I have created on one of my opportunities. Here you can see that we can view a group calendar, conversation history, OneNote notebook, documents etc. (Directly in Dynamics 365.)

Any groups created can be seen and administered in the admin center of Office 365. It is important to be aware that additional groups could exist here that are not related to CRM.

If the group is removed in Office 365, CRM would not be aware of that change and would continue to search for the old location. Also, as with SharePoint and OneNote removing a CRM record will not remove the Office 365 Group.

Office 365 Groups can do more! Opening the group directly in Office 365 Groups gives additional functionality such as Planner and Connectors. (Connectors allows us to connect this group to other services such as Twitter, Trello etc.) I suggest you experiment with Office 365 Groups to gain a wider understanding of its capabilities. In this post I have only scratched the surface as for the MB2-716 exam your focus would be in integration with Dynamics 365.

I hope this post has been useful for your prep for MB2-716. As always I strongly suggest you don’t rely on theory, the more hands on time you have with the product the better.

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