A few days ago, Microsoft confirmed the 2020 release cadence for its Dynamics 365 brand of software. Like last year, Microsoft will release two “waves” of features targeting April and September, respectively. That confirmation also contained details about the upcoming features in the “Wave one” release, which is currently scheduled to be generally available on April 1st, 2020. We have explored this list of features and are excited to highlight 5 new ones that we can’t wait to get our hands on. This list is explicitly focused on the Sales, Customer service, and Field service modules. In this article, we are also excluding the new AI enhancements, which we will be reviewing and discussing as we get closer to the Wave 1 release.
1 - Improved Forecasting
Dynamics 365 for Sales has a significant number of powerful forecasting features, but one of its current weaknesses is that it lacks the ability (without the customization) to create the more sophisticated forecasting models that many businesses use today. The latest release includes several features that expand the functionality and flexibility of the forecasting feature-set and overcomes some of these obstacles. Once we get our hands on these changes in the coming weeks, look forward to a more in-depth article around these new forecasting features.
Custom Forecast Models
The first of these new features is the ability to customize the overall forecasting model. You can now create multiple forecast variants based upon your specific requirements. This includes the ability to use advanced filtering to limit the opportunities included in a forecast. Additionally, you can specify the security model for a forecast model to restrict specific models from one or more users or groups.
Manual Forecast Adjustments
When forecasting, we often need to account for variables or issues that can’t be quantified or accounted for in a particular forecasting model. With the upcoming release, we will be able to make manual adjustments to our forecasts to consider these variables. This will allow users to make more accurate predictions based upon those variables.
2 - Enhanced product selection for Opportunities
For years, we have had many users complain that adding products, adjusting prices, and viewing product details is a complicated process when interacting with an opportunity. There are many clicks required to add even one product line to an opportunity. Adding multiple product lines to an opportunity was often a painful process. With the 2020 Wave 1 release, it appears Microsoft has greatly enhanced this feature-set. As you can see in the screenshots below, adding multiple opportunity product lines is significantly streamlined and more intuitive.
3 - Enhanced activity view
Wave 1 is to include several enhancements to the activity view. One of the features we are most excited about is the inclusion of a visual Calendar based upon the currently selected view. Additionally, it appears Microsoft has added filtering and sorting functionality to better narrow down to a specific set of activities. They have also added a Kanban view, which I will discuss further in the article with item number 4.
4 - Kanban Board Functionality
Users of software like Microsoft Planner, JIRA, or Microsoft DevOps are probably familiar with the concept of a Kanban board. For the uninitiated, a Kanban Board is a visual way to “…depict work at various stages of a process using cards to represent work items and columns to represent each stage of the process. Cards are moved from left to right to show progress and to help coordinate teams performing the work. A Kanban board may be divided into horizontal "swimlanes" representing different kinds of work or different teams performing the work.” (Kanban Board, n.d.)
In wave 1, Kanban functionality appears in several locations, and we are excited to try it out. The first area that they have added Kanban functionality is with Opportunities. The new functionality will allow you to visually look at Opportunities in different stages and manually move them around.
The second area where we see this new functionality is within activities. This new functionality appears to allow us to move activities between different activity statuses. This could be a handy feature for closing out large groups of activities.
5 - Case Management Enhancements
Several small features have been added to Case management that we are excited about! Here is a summary of just a few.
Configurable case resolution
For years, our clients had wanted to customize the window that appeared when a Case was closed. This window has continued to remain unchanged and unmodifiable since its inception. Upon this release, we will now have the ability to add fields, add data validation, and any other form customization that would be available to a regular form.
The pre-release documentation doesn’t provide much in the way of a visual preview for this new feature but does describe a simple change that should reduce the clicks required to use queues. The change will allow you to view queue details on the same page as the queue without having to open it. This should reduce the overall number of clicks end-users will make while navigating a queue.
Rich text notes and Timeline control changes
This last feature is located under the Customer Service section of the release notes, but assuming it enhances the timeline control itself and not specifically the control associated with cases, this set of enhancements will be a welcome usability enhancement.
- Create rich text notes that provide detail about the case and enable formatting for emphasis and readability.
- Perform keyword search filter to display matching records quickly
- Identify closed or completed activities visually.
(Microsoft Corp., 2020)
Final thoughts and honorable mentions
As we were reviewing these features, we were able to find one more feature that I will note as an honorable mention. This new change was in the Power Apps section of the release notes and describes how the “Save” and “Save & Close” buttons will now always be available in the toolbar on the edit form for all records. No more clicking on the save button at the bottom right of the screen!
In the coming weeks, we look forward to getting our hands on these changes, and as mentioned previously, we will be providing a more in-depth look into these new enhancements. Let us know if you have any questions!
- Kanban Board. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanban_board
- Microsoft Corp. (2020, 1 12). Customize forecast models. Retrieved from Microsoft Documentation: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365-release-plan/2020wave1/dynamics365-sales/customize-forecast-models
- Microsoft Corp. (2020, 1 5). Enhanced experience for adding products. Retrieved from Microsoft Documentation: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365-release-plan/2020wave1/dynamics365-sales/enhanced-experience-adding-products
- Microsoft Corp. (2020, 1 8). Improve and adjust forecast accuracy. Retrieved from Microsoft Documentation: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365-release-plan/2020wave1/dynamics365-sales/improve-adjust-forecast-accuracy
- Microsoft Corp. (2020, 1 8). Managing activities with ease. Retrieved from Microsoft Documentation: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365-release-plan/2020wave1/dynamics365-sales/manage-activities-ease
- Microsoft Corp. (2020, 1 12). Rich text notes and keyword search in the timeline. Retrieved from Microsoft Documentation: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365-release-plan/2020wave1/dynamics365-customer-service/rich-text-notes-keyword-search-timeline
- Microsoft Corp. (2020, 1 8). Save is always visible in the command bar on edit forms. Retrieved from Microsoft Documentation: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-platform-release-plan/2020wave1/microsoft-powerapps/save-always-visible-command-bar-edit-forms
- Microsoft Corp. (2020, 1 8). Work with opportunities in the Kanban view. Retrieved from Microsoft Documentation: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365-release-plan/2020wave1/dynamics365-sales/work-opportunities-kanban-view