As I revised for the MB2-715 exam (Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Online Deployment) I am creating blog posts detailing all aspects of my revision. I hope these posts will aid anyone who is also revising for this exam. In this posts I will review integration with Office 365 Groups.
The skills measured statement for the integration section of the exam is shown below. You can see that we need to know about many technologies associated with Dynamics 365, including Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive, Yammer etc. This time I am going to review the integration with Microsoft Office 365 Groups.
Office 365 Groups is all about collaboration, it works with Office 365 to allow teammates to collaborate. This might be whilst writing a document, creating a spreadsheet, working on project plans or maybe progressing an opportunity in Dynamics 365.
With Office 365 Groups, you can collaborate with people across your company … even if they aren’t Dynamics 365 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 Dynamics 365 online this is available in the administration center.
SharePoint integration with Dynamics 365 will need to be enabled to support viewing of documents held within an Office 365 Group.
Within Office 365 Admin portal select the Dynamics 365 admin center, Here you can select the required instance. And click on the “Solutions” icon to review the solutions available for that instance. One of which will be Office 365 Groups.
Below you can see that list of managed solutions available to me. One of which is Office 365 Groups. Notice that its status is “Not installed” and that when I select the solution I have an “INSTALL” icon.
The install process couldn’t be much simpler! Just click install, accept the terms of service and then wait for a few minutes whilst the application installs. It really doesn’t take long!
Once installed Office 365 Groups can be configured from the settings area of Dynamics 365.
Within Office 365 Groups you can then enter the entity / entities that you want to enable for Office 365 Groups. You can see below that I have added my account and opportunity entities.
The auto-create option can be optionally selected to automatically create a new group when a new record is created. (And is therefore not recommended on entities that have large data volumes!)
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.
Having selected the entities, you wish to include for Office 365 Groups 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. 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 for an entity you can navigate to the Office 365 Groups option.
You will then be able to create a new group to connect to an existing one. (If auto-create has been selected then a group will be created as soon as the option is selected, otherwise the dialog shown below will be presented to the user.)
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 or your Outlook desktop application. Meaning all of this information can be shared with user who do not have access to Dynamics 365. This is very important from a collaboration point of view.
You might be wondering, when would you use conversations in Office 365 Groups rather than Yammer. Or documents in Groups rather than the standard SharePoint integration. Or an appointment in a group calendar rather than an appointment in Dynamics 365. Or an Office 365 Group notebook rather than OneNote integration with Dynamics 365. The answer to this question might not be straight forward and will vary depending on the requirements of a particular organization. I must admit this confused me initially! So below I will try to cover each element of Office 365 Groups and how it relates to Dynamics 365.
First let me remind you that Office 365 Groups are designed for collaboration with teams of people. Some of those people may not be Dynamics 365 users. Also people may join or leave a group. These facts are important when we consider who can do what!
Let’s consider documents ….. beyond groups documents in Dynamics 365 can be uploaded directly into SharePoint. These are then available to all. Alternatively users can upload documents using OneDrive for business, these are private to the creating user unless manually shared.
With Office Groups when you upload a file it goes into the groups OneDrive for business page. It is automatically shared with all members of the group. When new members are added to the group all documents are automatically shared with them.
Within the documents option in Dynamics 365 you can see documents held in OneDrive for Business, SharePoint and the Office 365 Group’s OneDrive. This is illustrated in the screen shot below.
Red box: These are documents uploaded into OneDrive. These are only accessible by the document owner and people the owner shared them with.
Green box: These are documents in the shared documents area used by Office Groups. These would be accessible by all members of the group.
Yellow box: These are documents uploaded into SharePoint and are accessible by all users.
OneNote integration with Dynamics 365 creates a OneNote notebook in SharePoint. This is available to all users. And is seen in the social pane of Dynamics 365.
The OneNote created within office 365 Groups is not seen in the social pane of Dynamics 365. You open it via Groups. And like documents the OneNote is shared with everyone who is a member of the group.
Meaning it would be possible to have two OneNotes for a Dynamics 365 record. One shared with everyone and visible in the social pane. And a second shared only with the members of the associated group and accessible via Office 365 Groups.
We have three options available for conversations / posts! Firstly the native activity posts system available by default in Dynamics 365. Secondly we have an option to replace this with Yammer.
Conversations in Groups are in addition to the native activity posts or Yammer. They do not show in the social pane and are therefore not a direct replacement for these options.
Conversations in Office 365 Groups are however (as you’d expect) within the team that makes up the group. These can be accessed from within Dynamics 365 (via opening the group) or from Outlook. Below you can see that I can access conversations directly in Outlook. And of course I could also access the group calendar, files and Notebook in Outlook!
Events / meetings entered into the Office 365 Group calendar are visible by all members of the group. Either in the group or directly in Outlook. Group meetings are useful as they help all member of the group coordinate their schedules, as everyone in the group automatically sees each meeting.
You should note that appointments created in the group calendar are not automatically tracked as appointment activities in “CRM”. However you can see them in Dynamics 365 from the Office 365 Group.
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 Dynamics 365.
If the group is removed in Office 365, Dynamics 365 would not be aware of that change and would continue to search for the old location. Also, as with SharePoint and OneNote removing a Dynamics 365 record will not remove the Office 365 Group.
I hope this post has given a fairly comprehensive overview for Office 365 Groups. And in doing so shown how to manage workspace collaboration with Office 365 Groups, as you’ll need to know this for your MB2-715 exam. As always getting some hands on time will be really useful.