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Showing posts from 2020

Building a Team for a Dynamics 365 (formerly CRM) Implementation

For most organizations, implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 (formerly Dynamics CRM) is a team effort.  The size and composition of the team will depend on the scope of the implementation, the timetable, and related efforts such as data migration and integrations. 

Here are the roles that my company InfoStrat typically sees for a medium-sized implementation project:

Project Manager. The PM and the technical lead are the most critical roles on the project.  A large project may also include a deputy project manager to cover when the PM is not available.  Prior experience with Dynamics 365 is valuable to understand how an off-the-shelf implementation is different from a custom software development project.  Most of our projects follow an Agile development methodology, so this post assumes Agile in describing the roles of the team members.  Technical Lead.  The tech lead is the senior technical team member and provides technical direction to the team.  Prior Dynamics 365 implementation is …

InfoStrat Grants Manager Plus Overview

Grants Manager Plus is one of InfoStrat's most popular software solutions. We developed Grants Manager Plus to help grantor organizations streamline their grant processes.We've built Grant Management Solutions for public sector since the late 1990s.  We developed Stimulus 360 for Microsoft in 2009 to help state and local government track stimulus funding.  Grants Manager Plus was introduced in 2010.  The solution is based on Microsoft Dynamics 365, the product formerly called Dynamics CRM.   InfoStrat maintains Grants Manager Plus to take advantage of new features in Dynamics 365 as well as follow our product roadmap of new grant features. 
The overarching goal of Grants Manager Plus is to capture the entire grant life cycle, starting with establishing funding sources, accepting applications, online review, scoring, award, and post-award reporting all the way to close out. Grants Manager Plus provides a portal user interface for grantees to interact with the system as well as a…

Elaborating Dynamics 365 Requirements

When implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 (formerly Dynamics CRM), one of the early steps in the process is to elaborate requirements so they can be mapped to Dynamics features or to configurations or customizations needed to fulfill the requirements.

Many customer requirements start off as rather vague, and require further investigation before they can be the solid basis of the project.  Let's take a look at some CRM requirements and how to explore them.

Requirement: Ability to identify and assign roles to office staff members
Analysis Questions

Who are the users of the system?What user roles will be needed?Should all users of the same user role have the same access to all records? Or does access depend on the organizational hierarchy or record ownership?Who will administer your Dynamics users?What about external users?  Is this covered in another requirement?
Requirement: Track all customers Analysis Questions Who are customers?  Individuals (Contacts) or organizations (Accounts)?…

Dynamics 365 Upgrades: Migration, Refactoring and Rewriting

Microsoft, like other cloud software providers, ensures that you will be using the latest version of software such as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics 365.  Enhancements are continuously released and major upgrades take place more frequently than they did when most organizations ran their software on their own servers.

Many of InfoStrat's government clients are at last moving their Dynamics 365 (formerly Dynamics CRM) solutions to the Microsoft cloud.  Moving them offers many choices for customers about their approach.  Here are some alternatives:

Lift and shift. Some organizations want to move their workloads to the cloud and decommission their servers and on premises computing facilities.  The least ambitious approach is to move from on premises hardware or virtual servers to cloud servers.  If you are already running virtual servers, the move is less dramatic.  If not, this effort will allow you to re-architect your server infrastructure and consider cloud service such as SQL …

Replacing Microsoft InfoPath with Power Apps

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 advanced developer skills in order to accomplish many functions.  Both…

Plug-and-Play Grant Management Software

Today I received an email inquiry regarding InfoStrat's Grants Manager Plus solution. The customer was looking for a plug-and-play grant management system.  I assume this meant that the system would require little configuration or customization.

I am not aware of any grant management system which could be called plug-and-play.  The reason is that a grantor usually has a number of business rules that they want the grant management system to automate, such as these:

Eligibility determination for applicants.  Grant applications are often restricted to certain organizations or individuals, and the system should capture the eligibility rules and limit the number of applications which will not be eligible.Application forms. Many grant application forms are lengthy and may include branching or conditional fields.  Application review processes. The review process can vary from one program to another.  It may require multiple review steps and be handled by individuals or committees.Payment…

InfoStrat Internal Training Topics

This week my company InfoStrat hosted internal training delivered by our consultants to share what they have recently learned in our software development and devops specialties.

We are going to turn many of these into blog posts on the InfoStrat TechBlog.  Here is our list of topics:

Project Management StandardizationCreating Virtual Assiat Bot with Dynamics 365 ConnectionUnderstanding Logic AppsMigrating File Attachments to SharePoint with FlowCommunication Skills and Online CollaborationTelephony Integration with Dynamics - Robo-dialing and Text MessagesUpdating Records by Fetch in Dynamics / Power AppsCanvas AppsUX Usability Enhancements for SharePoint ListsSQL Server ETL Techniques and Automation ApproachesIntro to .NET Core for .NET Developers It's great to be part of a company where we share so much innovation with one another.  Many came away from the sessions with new ideas for future projects.