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Understanding Dynamics 365 and Office 365 Admin Roles

Managing Dynamics 365 instances

If you run Microsoft Dynamics 365 (formerly Dynamics CRM) in the Microsoft cloud, you need to understand how your Dynamics instances relate to Office 365 and choose which of your administrators receives which roles and permissions to manage Dynamics 365.

In on premises deployments, your network administrator would create and delete user accounts.  The Dynamics 365 admin would then assign permissions to users in Dynamics 365.

This post explains three administrator roles:

  • Office 365 Global Administrator
  • Dynamics 365 System Administrator
  • Dynamics 365 Service Administrator

You may think that the Dynamics 365 system administrator would have power to do all the actions needed to manage Dynamics 365, but this is not the case. What's different in Microsoft cloud deployments is that licenses and user accounts are managed in Office 365 by an Office 365 Global Administrator.  This role is analogous to a network administrator for an on premises deployment.  The Global Administrator is the only role to create new user accounts and assign subscription licenses for Dynamics 365 (and other Office 365 apps such as Skype, Power BI and SharePoint).    The Global Administrator can also assign other admin roles, and is automatically a Dynamics 365 system administrator.  You can have more than one person assigned as Office 365 Global Administrator.

The Dynamics 365 system administrator may assign roles and permissions to the Dynamics 365 user within an instance of Dynamics 365.  The Dynamics 365 system administrator also controls all the settings in Dynamics 365.

In 2017, Microsoft introduced a new administrator role called Dynamics 365 Service Administrator to Office 365.  This is a customized administrator role with fewer permissions than the Global Administrator.  It may be configured at the app level.

Dynamics 365 Service Administrator
Office 365 role / featureBackup & restoreSandbox copyConfigure new instancesManage an instanceAdd Dynamics 365 licensesApprove Dynamics 365 emails1Access support requestsAccess Service healthAccess Message center
Office 365 global adminYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Exchange adminn/an/an/an/an/aNon/aYesYes
Office 365 service adminNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYes
Office 365 userNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Dynamics 365 service adminYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYes


The Dynamics 365 service administrator can manage Dynamics 365 instances, such as performing backup and restore, copy and reset actions.  These actions are often used to promote development instances to test or production.  

The service administrator may open and view support tickets with Microsoft and view the service dashboard and message center.  

Before you go live with Dynamics 365, be sure that your users, help desk and administrators understand their roles, how they can communicate, and when and how to get help from Microsoft. 

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