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Microsoft Dynamics 365 Review

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Your business’ performance depends greatly on the kind of management software that you choose. If you are considering Microsoft Dynamics as your CRM and ERP solution, then you need to know what to expect. This review will give you an all-round preview of the different products it offers and how they perform different tasks.

What is Microsoft Dynamics?

Before you choose to take on this product, it is important to know what is Microsoft Dynamics? Understanding what it is can enable a business to determine if they need it or not. Well, it is an enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management app used by thousands of companies across America and the globe to manage their interactions with clients and keep an eye on the sales process among other customer and enterprise tasks.

With Microsoft Dynamics, a user can collect information about every customer touchpoint, be it an email requesting more information about a product, a phone call confirming interest in a face-to-face meeting, letters and so much more. Using three broad modules, users can build Extended CRM applications.

Customer relationships using it is not restricted to buyer and seller relationships, they can extend to services like education where the CRM is used to manage student services or within an organization where workers can be managed using a custom-built one.

Understanding Microsoft CRM and Microsoft ERP

CRM and ERP are similar but they perform different roles. You may already know that CRM stands for Customer Relationship Manager while ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. From this, you may already have an idea of what each of them does within the Microsoft Dynamics Application.

Microsoft CRM deals with storage and recording of all information connected to customer interactions. This information is used by marketing teams to understand the customer and their needs. It may also be used by sales teams and other teams within a business that need to understand the customer.

Microsoft ERP is made up of tools intended to help initiate processes that minimize costs and maximize profits. These tools are mainly for internal processes within a business and can be used by everyone, right from the employees to the company executive.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM

Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM is the apple that did not fall far from its parent, Microsoft, which has imposed itself as a leader in IT and software. They are always willing to experiment and improve their technology until it satisfies the user’s needs. This technology helps businesses to manage data related to prospects and leads. If your business is trying to improve the way it tracks sales prospects, automate communication and retrieve important insights about customer characteristics, then it needs this CRM. Most businesses both large and small need a CRM.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP

ERPs are more suited for large corporations with several divisions. In most cases, such businesses have a hard time managing the different branches, teams, offices, and departments. Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP provides the tools that can improve the processes within the organization that will ensure it is profitable. With the ERP modules, a business can reduce expenditure and increase sales.

Below are the common products that most businesses use. Note that these are referred to as modules. Some of them fall into customer relationship management tools and others are enterprise resource planning tools.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Human Resources

For businesses that would like to hire and retain top talent, this is an application that makes it easier to do that. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Human Resources module handles everything HR, right from the hiring process to retirement and everything in between. The features provided are aimed at giving HR managers the power to identify talent, get the best performance out of them, and improve the overall management of employees and their activities. It also enables self-service for employees. Some of the capabilities it provides your business include:

  • Create detailed employee profiles with data that includes skills, education, interest, and accomplishments.
  • Equip managers with updated employee performance data so they can optimize impact.
  • Organize leave and absence reports to avoid confusion.
  • Give employees the power to manage their daily tasks.
  • Handle payroll management and budgeting.
  • Expand recruitment fields to include platforms like LinkedIn.
  • Make decisions based on analytics that are unbiased.

Getting started with this module is very simple. If you are already using other Microsoft 365 modules, you can easily integrate them and enjoy flexible HR management. Many businesses are happy with the infrastructure savings they can make when using this cloud-based solution.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance

This module adds modernization to the finance process of any business. Whether it is a local internet-based company or a global corporation, the tools Microsoft Dynamics 365 finance offers will enable prompt data-driven decision-making. The user has real-time oversight of different performance indicators that enable accurate forecasting while improving profitability.

The agility of the module is boosted by the inclusion of smart technology. In just a few steps, automation can be achieved in the process of running a business’s finances. Machine learning allows the software to handle multiple reporting for various enterprises in different regions.

Dynamics 365 can adapt to changing requirements without the user having to code new configurations. Key features of finance include:

  • Budgeting and control for various expenses.
  • Report configuration and management.
  • Automated bank reconciliation.
  • Global form creation to meet various requirements.
  • Automated exchange rate integration.

In short, this module helps to manage different financial aspects of a business and adds speed and flexibility to the process for better productivity.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing

Use this module to drive data-driven marketing. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing module has tools intended to give users insight into marketing information like product popularity, target preferences as well as trends among many other statistics. You can also use it to automate marketing drives such as email campaigns, social interactions along with ordinary marketing drives.

It integrates with sales applications to identify and nurture leads based on marketing information obtained from activities like email marketing campaigns. Key features include:

  • No-code design for marketing communication.
  • Event-driven marketing automation.
  • Content editing for emails, landing pages, and forms.
  • Seamless integration with third-party applications.
  • Real-time market analytics.

Use this module to target prospects using multiple channels. With a better understanding of the market, a company can make spot-on sales decisions.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Service

This module is designed to help businesses give their customers tailored services with more automation options. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Service has multiple service channels and they integrate seamlessly with other applications to improve the services provided and save the business owner additional labor costs.

Customer care agents can easily respond to customer inquiries because they are equipped with all the information they need to give quick and efficient answers. With a feature like case management, a user can set up a process to manage cases, starting with case creation and moving on to assignment and resolution. Other features include:

  • Setting service level agreements and entitlement for case resolution.
  • Templates to standardize service communication.
  • Knowledge management where customer care agents can retrieve answers to inquiries.
  • Customer self-service portals.

There are many more features to help a business provide professional services to its customers.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales

The sales module is the most used of Microsoft CRM modules. It contains a number of CRM features to help businesses manage the different aspects of selling. With the insights they gain access to, businesses can focus on the right prospects and customize engagements with these prospects. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales is not just about selling but building meaningful relationships.

Teams also have access to marketing and service interactions and not just the sales aspect. Salespersons can be equipped with all the information they need to make pitches, engage a lead and close a sell. Its key features are:

  • Contact Management
  • Marketing automation
  • Contract management
  • Quote and order management
  • Sales automation
  • Third-party integration

Organization is important for a successful sale. The Sales module puts everything needed to do that in front of the user.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Management

Handling a project doesn’t have to start from scratch. With this module, you have most of the general groundwork for management of a project. It can be used to prioritize tasks and ensure that teams are working within the timelines to meet the goals in time. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Management is equipped with features that enable managers handle different kinds of projects and always remain in control of progress made.

One of the features many people appreciate is the quick creation of project quotations. Different prices can be sourced from existing records or known rates like taxes and bank charges that are easy to establish. The final quote is put together through automation. Other features comprise:

  • Business insights provided by AI.
  • Time and expense tracking.
  • Invoicing.
  • Project reporting.
  • Integration with other Microsoft teams.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce

This is a module intended to enhance retail performance. A business can improve its brand and keep loyal customers by personalizing the digital experience. There is a wide range of channels to choose from and each channel is efficiently managed separately, although the user gets coordinated information from all of them. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce is equipped with tools that produce captivating storefronts. A user can handle tasks like inventory, pricing, promotions, and content within this module. Its key features include:

  • E-commerce management.
  • Order management.
  • Commerce architecture.
  • Finance management.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management

Use this product to transition into proactive supply chain operations. It is equipped with predictive insights which give a business the ability to plan better. It is effective for use in managing production, inventory, quality of products, and transportation among other operations.

Its purpose is to enable businesses involved in production to have an agile manufacture and distribution process. With a lot of unexpected changes in business today, having a tool like this can prepare you for any challenge within the supply chain. Some of its features are:

  • Management of automated manufacturing processes.
  • Machine learning inventory to manage warehouses.
  • Maintenance reporting and management.
  • Delivery management.

Is Microsoft Dynamics 365 Helpful?

Business growth is a constant concern for most businesses. To attain this, different leaders as well as team members within an organization need to keep an eye on several aspects of the business. Microsoft Dynamics 365 helps the concerned persons within a business to connect with their data and integrate intelligent solutions to drive growth and development. It is useful for connecting people, processes, and data.

With automation as one of the drivers of efficiency, having the modules that Dynamics 365 offers is helpful when your business implements automation at different levels. The mobile capabilities as well fit into the modern way of doing business since so many processes can be carried out on the go using a mobile phone. In short, it helps businesses carry out processes faster, better, and at a lower cost.

In Conclusion

There are a lot of features fitted into Microsoft Dynamics and any business would be able to find something useful. However, it doesn’t hurt to carry out a comparison with other business development tools to see if it is the best fit for your business.

If you’ve just discovered us, we’re excited. Try Windward Hub (integrates with Microsoft Dynamics) for free and take it for a spin. Start automating contracts, agreements, quotes, proposals and more in just a few clicks starting today.

Tags Start & End

Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

Appendix B

.NET code for multi-page image output

Appendix A

Java code for multi-page image output

Data Bin Search

The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

Shrink to Fit

This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

Time Zone Conversion

A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

Image Output Format

New image output formats added.

PostScript Output Format

PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

Reorganized Ribbon

The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

XPath 2.0 as Data Source

Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

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SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

  • The look and feel was improved
  • Stored Procedure Wizard
  • Improved Exceptions pane

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Tag Editor/Tag Selector

Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

  • Color Coding of Keywords
  • TypeAhead
  • Evaluate is now "Preview"

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Rename a Datasource

All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

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Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

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Tag Tree

Displays of all the tags in the template, structured as they are placed in the template. This provides a simple & intuitive way to see the structure of your template. Also provides the capability to go to any tag and/or see the properties of any tag.

Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

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Support for Google Application Engine Integration

The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

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Additional Refinement for HTML Output

  • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
  • Better handling of template header and footer images
  • Better handling for background images and colors

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Redesigned PDF Output Support

This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

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PowerPoint Support

Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

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Tags are Color Coded

Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

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Increased Performance

Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

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Advanced Image Properties

Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

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Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

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Version 13 New Data Sources

Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

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Generate Code

The Generate Code tool in the designer allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables. Simply copy this code and paste into your application's code in the appropriate place. You now have Windward integrated into your application.

You only need to do this once. You do not do this for each template. Instead, where it has explicit files for the template and output, change that to parameters you pass to this code. Same for the parameters passed to Windward. This example uses explicit values to show you what to substitute in where.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

Any pivot tables in an XLSX template are carried over to the XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will have pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

This makes creating an XLSX workbook with pivot tables trivial.

Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, or the properties in the parent.

You set to retain when you don't want the child template's styling to change when imported. You set to use the parent when you want the styling of the imported template to match the styling in the parent.

Any explicit styling is always retained. This only impacts styling set by styles.

Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

Specify Font Substitution

If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

If you need this - it's essential. And if you don't need it, it's irrelevant.

Windward enables you to build a document by applying multiple datasources to the template simultaneously. When Windward is merging the data into a template, it processes the template by handling each tag in order, and each tag pulls from different datasources. (As opposed to processing all of one datasource, then processing the next.)

This allows the select tag to use data from another datasource in its select. For example, if you are pulling customer information from one data source, you can then pull data from the sales datasource using the customer ID of the customer presently processing to pull the sales information for that customer. If you're interested in patching together your data from multiple datasources, read this post on our blog.

Written by:_
Genesis Abel

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