Skip to main content

Microsoft Dynamics 365: So Many Apps, So Little Time

I have been working with Microsoft Dynamics 365 since it was called Dynamics CRM.  The product was so successful that Microsoft took what was once three CRM products in one (sales, marketing, and customer service) and broke it into separate solutions along with introducing new apps including Field Service and Project Service.  Microsoft also brought its preferred accounting products Dynamics AX and NAV into the cloud Dynamics 365 world.

I have written in other posts about each of these apps and how to understand pricing the individual apps and bundles.  This blog post is not to complain about how the products have been renamed, sliced and diced into new offerings.

My topic today is how the proliferation of cloud offerings, even from a single vendor such as Microsoft, has created a need for more business analysis to determine which subscriptions, apps and features you should include in your implementation.  When you add the ability to integrate cloud services from other vendors such as Salesforce or Dropbox, the analysis is even more necessary and complicated.

Let's start by assuming that my client is using Dynamics 365 for tracking sales.  If the marketing department decides it wants to do more marketing automation, they can choose from third party products such as ClickDimensions or Adobe Marketing Cloud or the new Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing from Microsoft which replaces the discontinued Microsoft Dynamics Marketing (yes, those are two different products).  If the main marketing focus is social marketing, other products may come into play such as Hubspot and Marketo.  The choice of a marketing product depends on many factors as well as architectural choices.  Should sales and marketing have separate contact lists?  Should they be replicated from sales to marketing, or passed from marketing to sales as leads become qualified?  Does the value of having both sales and marketing data in Dynamics 365 outweigh better features from products chosen separately that have their own databases? Which department owns the data and how are differences reconciled?

Marketing automation has produced hundreds of cloud software solutions, and they are not based on the same business assumptions about what marketing automation is.  Perhaps this area is the most complex to analyze, but similar complexity exists for portals and document management.

Microsoft offers Dynamics Portal to expose Dynamics 365 data to users without subscriptions or the use of the Dynamics 365 user interface.  This is often the least expensive portal option because it is included in some popular subscription bundles.  But what about customers that already have another web content management system?  Depending on the scenario, they could use Microsoft Flow to send and receive data from Dynamics using web forms.  Customers who are using Adobe Experience Manager can also use Adobe's integration with Dynamics 365 to connect their portal to Dynamics data.

For Dynamics file storage and document management, the most obvious choice for Microsoft loyalists is SharePoint.  Office 365 customers already own SharePoint, Dynamics 365 integrates with SharePoint to store documents attached to CRM records, and millions of users are familiar with SharePoint.  But Microsoft also offers native storage of documents as attachments to CRM notes, as well as Azure blob storage which is the least expensive of these three storage options.

So with the wealth of cloud options come a greater number of choices.  Don't scrimp on spending the time to analyze your options from all vendors to arrive at the best solution for your business needs.

Popular posts from this blog

Key Concepts for Microsoft Dynamics 365: Tenant, Instance, App and Solution

To understand Microsoft Dynamics 365 (formerly Dynamics CRM), you need to learn some new terms and concepts that may be a bit different from what you know from databases and solutions that are hosted on premises. This post introduces some of the key terms and how these concepts are important for planning your implementation. While Dynamics 365 is available on premises, it is most commonly deployed on the Microsoft cloud.  This blog post discusses only cloud implementations. Microsoft has multiple clouds such as commercial and government community clouds. We start with a Microsoft tenant .  A tenant is the account you create in the Microsoft Online Services environment (such as Office 365) when you sign up for a subscription. A tenant contains uniquely identified domains, users, security groups, and subscriptions.  Your tenant has a domain name of such as  User accounts belong to a tenant, and subscriptions are assigned to user accoun

Replacing Microsoft InfoPath with Power Apps

Source: Microsoft has offered a number of forms automation products over the years, and the most long running was InfoPath which was released as part of Office 2003.  InfoPath is a powerful and flexible product that stores user data in XML while offering form features such as rules, data validation, scripting, and integration with SharePoint.  The popularity of SharePoint resulted in many organizations standardizing on InfoPath for forms, especially internal forms which are hosted on an intranet such as employee reviews, leave and payment requests, and human resources forms. Microsoft has discontinued InfoPath, with mainstream support ending July 13th, 2021, and extended support ending July 14th, 2026. Microsoft has named Power Apps as the successor to InfoPath .  Power Apps has much in common with InfoPath.  Both products include integration with SharePoint.  Both are geared toward the citizen developer and do not require advan

Power Apps Portal: The Successor to Microsoft Dynamics Portal

In case you have been reviewing Microsoft's new pricing for its Dynamics products which was released this month and have been unable to find Dynamics Portal, it has been rebranded as Power Apps Portal and shifted to the Power Apps side of the Microsoft product family. Rebranding the portal product underscores the importance of app scenarios involving external users such as customers and suppliers.  It also provides a simpler interface than Dynamics 365 for occasional users. The new portal pricing is based on the number of unique users who log into the portal each month (for authenticated users) and on the number of page views for anonymous users.  "A login provides an external authenticated user access to a single portal for up to 24 hours. Multiple logins during the 24-hour period count as 1 billable login. Internal users can be licensed either by the PowerApps per app or per users plans, or a qualifying Dynamics 365 subscription." Pricing starts at $200/mo