I am creating a series of blog posts that collectively are designed to help anyone preparing for the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Core exam. (aka MB-200) In this post I will look at concepts around charts.
In the skills measured statement (shown below) under the heading “manage user experience design”, you will see a reference to charts.
Charts can be essential to help us monitor sales performance, service levels etc etc. They can be displayed on forms, views and dashboards within Dynamics 365. Therefore, when taking the MB 200 exam, you will need to understand charts and dashboards. (I will cover dashboards in another post!)
There are two types of charts. Personal and system.
- Can be created by any user. (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.)
Until fairly recently we could not create personal charts within the new Unified Interface. But the April 2019 release provided this capability.
- Visible to all users. (Or at least all users who have access to an app that includes the system chart!)
- Out of the box Dynamics 365 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.
Below you can see that the ability to maintain user charts is controlled by a security role setting. It is therefore possible to enable (and disable) the creation of charts for specific users. It maybe (for example) that you want your sales manager to be able to create charts but field sales people or tele sales agents may only be allowed to consume charts. (And not create new ones.)
Multiple chart types exist within Microsoft Dynamics CRM, via the chart designer interface users can create the following types of chart;
- Column – Shows data in vertical columns.
- Bar – Shows data in horizontal columns.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Tag – useful allow filtering of grouped data.
- Doughnut – ideal for show the split of data.
Charts maybe shown on dashboards and forms. You can also use the “Show Chart” button whilst working with views.
You can then select which chart to view, expand the chart pane and access other options. (Such as the ability to create new charts.)
The chart below shows a typical example of a sales pipeline shown in a funnel chart.
Tip: As shown below you can click on segment of a chart, then you have the ability to further filter on any field. Having selected a “drill down by field”, clicking on a chart type will show a new visualization. (Available charts types include … Bar, Column, Funnel, Line, Pie, area, doughnut and tag.)
It is also possible to export the XML of the chart, edit it and re-import. You could edit the XML to control parameters such as chart types, colour, labels, drawing style etc etc.
Note: The customization of charts using XML is “probably” beyond the scope of the MB 200 exam. But knowing they can be exported, changed and then re-imported as either a personal chart or a system chart maybe important.
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 a sum of estimated revenue with a line showing the average revenue. This is not possible on some chart types such as funnel and pie!
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.
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. You can access the chart designer using either the edit option (on an existing chart) or by using the New option to create a new chart from scratch.
Users cannot edit a system chart. But they could use the “save as” option to create a copy. That copy can then be amended as a personal chart.
Options within the chart designer allow us to select the chart type, limit the rows included, stack the chart, add a series etc. As part of your revision I strongly suggest you experiment with the chart designer to gain a full understanding of how to create various chart types.
Once the personal chart is saved we can use the “…” menu to edit the chart, share it with other users / teams or assign it to be owned by another user. 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.
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.
Tip: As charts are graphical your best way to learn about their capabilities is with some hands-on experience. (I always like to stress that your best revision technique is to actually use Dynamics 365! )
If you are only familiar with charts within the classic web interface I would suggest you experiment in the newer Unified Client. As the main functionality is the same but you may find some minor differences that are worth learning about! For example we now have the ability to create tag and doughnut charts as personal charts. (shown below.)
Creating System Charts
It is possible to create system charts from make.powerapps.com.
The process for creating / amending a system chart is actually very similar to working with a personal chart.
First you will need to open your entity in either the default solution or by adding the entity into your own solution. (I will cover solutions in a later post!) Next you navigate to the charts option and either add a new chart to edit an existing one. Below, you can see that I have added the contact entity into my solution. (Randomly called “Neil’s POC Stuff”!) I can now access the charts option and use the add chart option to create a new chart.
Note: We also have available the classic interface for customizations. (You can access this using the “Switch to classic option”. I will however try to stick with the newer experience we have within make.powerapps.com.
You can see below that the chart designer within maker.powerapps.com is essentially the same as when we created a personal chart.
Once you have created a system chart you will need to remember to publish your changes before it becomes visible to users.
A note about Apps maybe important here! Although I will cover apps in more detail in a later post.
Model driven Apps are essentially a collections of entities and other assets. Typically we’ll create an app that contains all of the features needed for a group of users. For example, your sales team may access all of the sales entities from the Sales Hub app.
Dynamics 365 is made up of multiple model driven apps. Often an app will include all charts for a given entity. But if after creating a new system, chart is does not show then a likely reason is because the app does not include all charts!
Below you can see the list of entities within my Sales Hub app. Many entities include All charts. But on my contact entity you can see how we can select just the specific charts users of the sales hub will see.
I hope this post has given a feel for the concepts connected with charts that you’ll need to understand for the MB 200 certification. As always I strongly encourage you to get as much hands on experience of actually using / creating charts as possible. Enjoy.