I am creating a series of blog posts that collectively are designed to help anyone preparing for the Microsoft Power Platform + Dynamics 365 Core exam. (aka MB-200) In this post I will look at concepts around data management.
There is a section of the MB-200 skills measured statement which mentions data, we have a section of the exam headed “Manage entities and data”. Within this section there is a further heading of “Manage data”. Here we can see the need to be aware of how to complete several tasks including bulk deletion of duplicate detection.
Data management options allow you to define duplicate detection rules, import data, manage bulk deletion jobs etc. In the following notes I will provide a summary of each of these features.
You can access the data management options from the settings area of the Power Platform admin center. (https://admin.powerplatform.microsoft.com/)
It is also possible to access some or all of the data management options from advanced settings (although I recommend you use the power platform admin center as that will provide a more modern UI experience.);
The available options include;
- Add ready-to-use business processes
- Auto numbering
- Automatic record creation policies
- Bulk deletion
- Data import wizard
- Data maps
- Duplicate detection jobs
- Duplicate detection rules
- Duplicate detection settings
- Export field translations
- Import field translations
- Sample data
- Data Encryption
In the rest of this post I will provide a summary of each of these features. I strongly recommend that as part of your revision you try each one out for yourself. (Do not rely on theory alone when preparing for the MB 200 exam!)
Add Ready-to-Use Business Processes
Another option “add ready-to-use business processes” allows the expansion of the number of business processes that are available out of the box. It might be that you create all of your processes from scratch or it might be this option is used to give templates or starting points for business processes with the system. Running this option on my trial Dynamics 365 online environment created the following business processes. Notice that they have all been added in a draft status and would need to be activated before being used.
The announcements option allows you to create companywide announcements.
I should flag that announcements are a deprecated feature so we should assume they will be removed from the product at some point in the future. I have only mentioned the announcement feature here for completeness!
The auto-numbering option allows you to control how certain out of the box auto number fields behave.
The entities enabled for this style of auto numbering include contracts, cases, quotes, orders, invoices, campaigns, articles, categories and knowledge articles.
You can control the length of the suffix to be applied and the prefix. (The suffix can be 4,5 or 6 characters long.)
Automatic Record Creation Policies
The automatic record creation policies option allows you to maintain details of an record creation rules.
There maybe several use cases for record creation rules. But one common example might be to create a case whenever an email is received onto a particular email queue.
Each rule will monitor a particular activity type and queue. You can then specify multiple rules to define how to create or update records when an activity “arrives”.
Tip: You can find out more information about record creation rules here.
Bulk Record Deletion
Bulk record deletion is an option I use very often in Dynamics 365! Using the standard interface you can delete individual records or all those selected in a view. As a view can only contain a maximum of 250 rows then bulk deletion is useful when you need to remove larger data volumes. It is also possible to schedule deletion jobs.
The concept of bulk deletions is also very useful for managing the size of your database. Maybe you don’t need disqualified leads that are older than a certain amount or maybe you want to delete any notes with large attachments after a period of time. Jobs can be created to complete this type of task that might be very beneficial in controlling the growth of your CDS instance.
Bulk delete jobs are created using a wizard. You first define a selection criteria. Below you can see an example, in which I am looking for all emails more than 6 months.
Once you have selected the criteria you can opt to run the job immediately, schedule it and also define a frequency in terms of “n” days.
Imports & Data Import Wizard
A key feature is the ability to import data from other systems. The import option lest you see the status of current imports and to review an audit of past imports. The data maps option allows you to create data maps to make importing data easier.
The data imports and data imports wizard option actually both load the same screen! You can access the data import wizard from the imports option.
You can also view the status of your imports. Opening the import jobs allows you to view any errors!
When we import data the details can be stored as a data map. This is a useful option if the import needs to be repeated multiple times, as any mapping of columns can be saved and re-used.
Duplicate Detection Settings, Duplicate Detection Rules and Duplicate Detection Jobs
These three duplicate detection options let you define rules that are run as records are created in the Dynamics 365 database. These help you spot and resolve duplicates at source. Duplicate detection jobs are an option that uses these rules to review the current data to help identify potential duplicates in the existing data.
We first define the duplicate detect settings. These are global settings to decide when to enable detection. Options include;
- When a record is created or updated
- When Dynamics 365 for Outlook goes from offline to online
- During data imports
By default all of these options are enabled.
Tip: Under normal circumstances maybe you will leave all of these options enabled. But whilst migrating large data volumes there maybe some advantage in disabling duplicate detection. (But if you disable it, don’t forget to re-enable!)
Duplicate detection rules allow us to define what constitutes a duplicate. Several rules will exist out of the box and you can create more or amend these as required. Notice that each rule will have a status of published or unpublished. Meaning you could selectively enable / disable individual rules if required. (For example, if your marketing team was due to import tens of thousands of leads you might want to opt to disable just lead duplicate detection during this process.)
You can see a simple example below that will be triggered if two accounts have the same name. (This is an out of the box rule called “Accounts with the same Account Name”.
Tip: Each rule will require publishing to make it take effect. And you will need to “unpublish” the rule to make changes.
Notice that rules can exclude inactive records as required. And also be case-sensitive.
Once the detect rule has been created, if a user creates a potential duplicate a warning message will be given. Clicking save would continue with the creation of the duplicate, or clicking cancel will allow them to make any required changes.
We can also configure and run duplicate detection jobs to create a list of possible duplicates. The process of creating a duplicate detection job is made really simple by a duplicate detection wizard. The steps involve selecting an entity, filtering the records to be checked and then deciding when to run the job.
Firstly you create a new duplicate detection job and define the records to be checked. Below you can see I have selected all accounts.
Having selected the records for our duplicate detection job we can define how it will run. It may be a one off job or we can use the “run this job after every” option to define a frequency. Plus trigger sending an email when the job completes.
You can now submit the job, it will run in background at the time / frequency you selected.
Once the duplicate detection job has completed we can use its “view duplicates” option to review any potential issues. Selecting each of the duplicate records we can see a list of potential duplicates. And then take required action. Such as deleting, deactivating or merging the duplicate.
Export Field Translations and Import Field Translations
These options can be used to export and import localised language translations for field and entity names in Dynamics 365. To use these options you will need to have installed appropriate language packs first.
Note: You can also export / import translations for your product names and properties.
I have created a post which explains the translation process in detail. You can view that post here.
One useful option in data management is the option to enable and disable sample data. It is really handy when testing or demonstrating a solution to be able to use this option to quickly create a sample dataset to work with.
Tip: If the sample data is already installed you will get a message flagging this. And an option to remove it!
Microsoft Dynamics 365 uses standard Microsoft SQL Server cell level encryption for a set of default entity attributes that contain sensitive information, such as user names and email passwords.
This feature can help organizations meet FIPS 140-2 compliance.
For Microsoft Dynamics 365 (online) and Dynamics 365 (on-premises), all new and upgraded organizations use data encryption by default. Data encryption can’t be turned off.
Tip: The Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2 (FIPS 140-2) is an information technology security accreditation program for validating that the cryptographic modules produced by private sector companies meet well-defined security standards.) You read about FIPS compliance here.
I have covered loads of important features in this post, all at a high level! Your learning and prep for MB 200 will be greatly aided by experimenting with these features. Enjoy.