As I revised for the MB2-718 exam (Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service) I’m 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 post I will continue to explain the concepts connected with the section headed “Install and configure Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server”.
I n this post I am going to cover the section of the skills measured statement shown below;
Compared to the rest of the material in the exam this section “feels” quite different to me! Its focus isn’t purely customer service and raises topics you’d possibly export to see in a deployment exam. But these skills are mentioned and therefore we need to be prepared for questions. I don’t know what questions you might actually face! So please be aware that these notes will give you an introduction to each topic mentioned. You may benefit from digger deeper!
If you register for a trial version of Dynamics 365 it will come pre-populated with sample data. But instances created in a live Office 365 tenant will not contain this data, it is however possible to install the sample data if required. Below tou can see that you can access the “Sample Data” option from Settings / Data Management in Dynamics 365.
Selecting the sample data option, with no sample data installed, will give the following message. Simply click “Install Sample Data” and continue.
What happened next (in background) is a number of data import jobs are created and started automatically. These import many entities, including contacts, accounts, cases, leads etc.
After just a few seconds the data import jobs will have inserted all of the required data. However what-if you want to quickly remove the data? Below you can see that selecting the sample data option a second time presents a remove option.
We don’t all speak the same language! When installing Dynamics 365 you can select a base language. But what-if you work for a global organisation and require multiple languages. Maybe, for example, your company operates across Europe and user need to access the same system in English, French, Spanish etc etc. Enabling multiple languages is simply a task of installing the required language packs and then users setting which is their prefereed language in their user settings. Below you can see that language packs can be accessed from the “Languages” option found in Settings / Administration area of Dynamics 365.
For users to use a language pack the system administrator must first enable that language. You can see below that I have used the Languages option and then selected Dutch and French. To enable these I would then simply click “Apply”.
Now when users access their personal options they will be able to select their preferred langrage in the languages tab. Notice that the user interface and help are two different options. Also notice that my base language is “English” and this can’t be changed. The base language will be decided when you first install Dynamics 365 and is not an option that can be altered.
Having changes my preferred langage to Dutch you can see that my system suddenly looks quite different.
Email Router / Server Synchronization
The Email Router and server synchronization options are both mentioned in the skills measured statement. As I described in my introduction I don’t know what questions will come up! I will give an overview of these two options here and try to compare them. But the subject of email integration with Dynamics is quite a large one and I encourage you to research deeper into this subject as part of your preparation.
Firstly you need to be aware that Microsoft Dynamics does not include an email system! Emails resides in either Exchange or a pop3/smtp server. Meaning mulitple email platforms are supported but as the skills measured statement only specifically mentions Exchange I will focus on that.
Dynamics 365 integrates with Exchange using one of the two following options;
- Server-side synchronization – Recommended approach
- CRM client for outlook
Previous versions of Microsoft CRM included the email router option which is now deprecated. The email router was a piece of software that would be installed on a local “server”. This then communicated with Exchange and Dynamics 365. Prior to Server-side sync supporting mixed deployments (e.g. online Dynamics 365 & on premise Exchange) the email router was the preferred option for email integration in these circumstances. You might need to be aware that the email router only synchronized emails. Whilst server-side sync also covers contacts, appointments and tasks.
Server-side synchronization provides a centrally managed solution, but is still part of the Dynamics 365 application and is therefore managed in the web browser. (With no need to install any additional software.)
Server-side sync is centrally managed via the web application.
Server-side sync is easy to configure, it can synchronize with Exchange online with minimal configuration. And can also synchronize with Exchange on-premise.
There are also ongoing maintenance advantages as it provides error reporting directly in the Dynamics 365 application through alerts.
Server-side sync is not limited to emails. It can also synchronize appointments, contacts and tasks.
Server-side synchronization (with Microsoft Dynamics 365) supports the following additional features;
- Email folder tracking
- Removes the need for Outlook add-in to synchronize records. Although you can still use the outlook client to track records manually.
- App for Outlook, server-side sync allows the use of the app for outlook. In which you can track emails via Outlook web client (mobile) or Microsoft Outlook (desktop).
I blogged about email integration in greater detail when I revised for the deployment exam (MB2-715), you can view that post here.
SharePoint integration with Dynamics 365 supports the storing and management of documents in SharePoint document libraries, allowing them to be “surfaced up” directly in the context of Dynamics 365 records. This allows users to quickly find documents related to an entity without having to search a potentially massive SharePoint repository.
One advantage of this approach is that access to the SharePoint isn’t limited to Dynamics 365 users. As the documents are available via Dynamics 365 or directly in SharePoint. Meaning, for example, you could have a sales proposal held in Dynamics 365 against an opportunity. This proposal documents can be reviewed and amended by anyone with SharePoint access, even if they don’t have a Dynamics 365 license.
Another advantage of using SharePoint is that the documents do not consume storage space from the Dynamics 365 tenant. Document files can be large and the storage provided by the Dynamics 365 subscriptions is limited!
SharePoint integration is controlled from the document management option in Dynamics 365, that you will find within the settings area.
Use the document management settings option to define the location of your sharepoint site and the entities that will require the documents option.
After entering the url of the SharePoint site the site will be validated and then an enable option will allow completion of the process.
There are two folder structures possible. The default will be to create a separate folder in the for each record. An alternative is to make the folder structure entity based. With either Account or Contact as the base entity.
For example, making the folder structure based on the account would create a parent folder for the account and then sub folders for each entity related to the account. (This is commonly how I define my document management settings!)
Having selected the required document management settings a SharePoint document library will be created.
I blogged in greater detail about SharePoint as I revised for the deployment exam (MB2-715), you can find that post here.
SSRS Data Connector
SSRS is mentioned in the skills measured statement, so I will briefly mention it here. Personally I would normally assume this to be an advanced developer topic! Let me stress, I don’t know the questions. But I am hoping / assuming we need to be aware of SSRS but the exam probably isn’t going to test our development skills in actually creating reports.
SSRS stands for “SQL Server Reporting Services”. It can be used to create custom reports.
The SSRS reports use FetchXML to get the Dynamics 365 data. FetchXML is the proprietary query language we use to get data from Dynamics 365. It avoids us needing to build SQL queries. One tip with FetchXML is that we can use advanced find to generate the FetchXML and then edit as required.
To develop reports using SSRS you will need to install the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Report Authoring Extension. You will find this on Microsoft’s website here. It allows us to create reports using SSRS with Visual Studio.
Once the SSRS connector has been installed we can create a reporting services project in Visual Studio. This can be used to build an rdl file. (rdl = Reporting definition language)
Having built the rdl report it can be imported into Dynamics 365 solutions and run directly within Dynamics.
I hope I have given you a good introduction to the topics mentioned in the section of the MB2-718 skills measured headed “Install and configure Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server”. As always I am going to suggest gaining some hands on experience of the topics mentioned should be an essential part of your preparation. Enjoy.