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 explain charts as mentioned in the skills measured statement under the heading “Performance Service Management Analysis”.
In this post I will begin to cover charts. The related skills measured statement is shown below;
This section of the exam seems to cover quite a few concepts! Included dashboards, goals, advanced find, editable grids, reports and exporting data to Excel. This is a pretty lengthy list of topics! These collectively form the key tools available to us to extract and report on service data. Why is this important?? Well, any service organization needs to report on its historic performance to understand when it is doing help and importantly where it can improve.
In this post I will focus on charts.
In October 2017 a new version of Dynamics 365 became available v9.0. The MB2-718 exam pre-dates this version of Dynamics 365, therefore everything I describe here is based on the previous Dynamics 365 version. (v8.2)
Charts give a graphical representation from any view for a specific record type. For example, we could view a chart of cases by priority for the view “My Active Cases”. We can however also use the same chart to view case priority from other views, such as “All Active Cases”.
The charts in Dynamics 365 are not just a static representation of the data, as we can use them to filter data and drill into it as required.
We have two types of charts in Dynamics 365, personal and system. Personal charts can be created and shared by general users of the application. Whilst system charts are created by system administrators / customizers and form part of your overall solution. Additionally Dynamics 365 ships with a number of predefined charts. For example, on cases we can plot them by agent, trend, priority etc etc.
There are two types of charts. Personal and system.
- Can be created by users. (With correct security privileges.)
- Are initially only visible to the user who created them.
- Personal charts can be shared with other users or teams.
- Can be included in personal dashboards. (not system dashboards)
- Visible to all users.
- Out of the box CRM contains several examples of system charts.
- Developers, with customizer or systems administrator roles, can create new system charts.
- Can be included in solutions.
- Can be included in personal and system dashboards.
Typically most users will be granted access to maintain and share personal charts but this ability can be restricted using a security role setting.
Multiple chart types exist in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, via the chart designer interface users can create the following types of chart;
- Bar – Shows data in horizontal columns.
- Column – Shows data in vertical columns.
- Pie – shows data as slices of a pie. Useful for show numerical proportions of data. (Such as % sales by sales territory)
- Funnel – Shows values as progressively decreasing proportions amounting to 100 percent in total. (Often used to represent a sales pipeline.)
- Area – used to show cumulative totals over time.
- Line – Shows individual points on the chart joined by a line, useful when looking for trends over time.
Column, Bar and Area charts can show stacked data for comparison purposes.
As shown below you can click on segment of a chart, then you have the ability to further filter on any field. Clicking the blue arrow will drill into the chart can represent the data in any one of the five chart types available in the filter. (Bar, Column, Funnel, Line and Pie.)
It is also possible to export the XML of the chart, edit it and re-import. This process allows other chart types to be created, including;
In addition to changing the chart type in the XML other parameters such as colour, labels and drawing style can be customized.
with system charts we can create two more chart types! Tag and doughnut. These chart types apply to entities which are enabled for use in the interactive service hub (ISH) and show in the ISH dashboards. You can see these highlighted in the screen shot below.
Charts can be single series or multi-series. A multi-series chart can represent data using two chart types, one laid over the other. For example, a column and line in a single chart. Below you can see a sample chart showing the number of resolved cases per day as a count and additionally showing the average time spent on each case.
Column, area and line charts can all be combined in multi-series charts. This is not possible on some chart types such as funnel and pie. Also bar charts can only be associated with other bar charts.
Another variation of a multi-series chart is a stacked chart, these apply to column and bar charts. Stacked charts are useful when comparing data. Charts can be shown as standard stacked charts or 100% stacked charts. The difference being that the stacked chart shows the actual values whilst the 100% stacked chart represents the data in terms of a proportion. The chart below is an example of a 100% stacked chart. The chart tells me that 50% of the cases created in July 2017 where high priority. It doesn’t tell me how many cases that was! 100% stacked charts are useful when comparing the relative performance in one period to another.
When plotting charts, it is possible to limit the data returned using options to show top “n” or bottom “n” rows. For example, the chart below shows my top 5 opportunities by estimated revenue.
Personal charts are created in the chart designer. (As shown below) Options within the chart designer allow us to define the chart type, limit the rows included, stack the chart, add a series etc.
Tip: As charts are graphical your best way to learn about their capabilities is with some hands on experience.
Once the personal chart is saved we can use the chart designer menu to edit the chart, delete the chart, share it with other users / teams. It is also here that we can import and export charts.
The share option can be used to share personal charts with user or teams. It is also possible to govern the access level each person is given. You could opt to only allow them to read the chart. Or you can add in write, delete, assign and share privileges as required. Keep in mind that when you share a chart only the chart is shared not the underlying data. Meaning the security model is preserved.
Later you may add charts to dashboards and share out those dashboards. It is important to also be aware that the chart would need to be shared separately. Sharing the dashboard does not automatically share the charts and views on the dashboard.
When we export a chart the xml used to render the chart is exported. An example of the XML for a chart is shown below.
FYI: I doubt you’ll to understand the coding detail of this xml for your MB2-718 exam but it is still worth researching! I have written several blog posts on this subject that you can access here.
Having the XML like this is really useful. We can, for example change the command that says “” to “”. If the chart is then imported back into the system, it will change to be a 3D chart.
Another use of the export option is to export a personal chart that can then be imported as a system chart. I often initially create my charts as personal charts and then import them as system charts only once I’m completely happy with their layout. Creation of system charts is done either in default solution using the customization option or from your solution.
Below I have shown the customization screen for system charts. Notice that under each entity we have a charts option. And within that I can see all of the system charts available to users. I can edit existing charts or create new ones from here. Alternatively, I could import a chart created as a personal chart.
Charts are a useful tool to aggregate / group data. Giving the capability to show an average, count, max, min or sum of a value.
When producing a chart containing a date field we can group the data by day, week, month, quarter, year, fiscal period and fiscal year.
In this post I hope I have covered the key concepts you’ll need to understand around charts. In my next post I will build on this information and review dashboards.