Comparing Dynamics 365 Outlook App to Dynamics 365 Outlook Client

By Brian Dewulf, CRM Practice Director

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM (now D365) Outlook client has long been a staple of most CRM implementations.  The client provides the ability to access CRM directly from Outlook. It also allows for synchronization of data between Outlook and CRM.  The Outlook client does have some drawbacks.  It requires the full version of Microsoft Outlook. It is an application which must be installed on every client computer.  It tends to get disconnected from CRM, often leading to the need for technical support calls.  It also only works when Outlook is open.  This becomes an issue when you have workflows that are sending emails on behalf of a user.  If that user is on vacation, and their PC is shut down, those workflow emails won’t be sent until the user logs back into Outlook.

To overcome these issues, Microsoft released the Outlook app.  The app has been around for a few years now, but some recent enhancements have finally made it a valid replacement for the Outlook client.  Here are some of the main reasons that I recommend using the Outlook app instead of the Outlook client.

  1. The Outlook app supports Outlook (full client), Outlook Web Access (OWA) and Outlook mobile.  The Outlook client only works with the full Outlook client.
  2. The Outlook app is pushed out to the client directly from within D365.  There is no need to manually touch every client computer.  Pushing the client to a user once will provide the Outlook app functionality to all supported platforms that the user may access.
  3. The app does not require the user to be logged into Outlook to work.  Synchronization of Outlook data happens server-side. No need to worry about those workflow emails not getting delivered.
  4. The Outlook app provides an easy method to create appointments, phone calls, and tasks that are associated with D365 records.
  5. When an Outlook item is tracked to D365, the contact card for the D365 record is displayed, providing basic information about that record.

There are a couple of drawbacks to the app.  First, server-side synchronization with Exchange is required.  If your environment does not support server-side synchronization you will not be able to use the app.  Second, the app does not provide an interface to navigate D365.  You would need to access CRM using a browser or one of the mobile apps.  Below are some screen shots of the app and how it is configured in D365. We also have a video walkthrough of the app on our YouTube channel.

Clicking the D365 icon, highlighted in yellow, will open the Dynamics 365 pane.  Clicking the plus sign icon, also in yellow, in the regarding box provides the ability to create a new task, appointment, or phone call for that D365 record.

The screenshot below displays the results of clicking the create phone call option.

This screenshot shows an appointment:

In D365, click on Settings, Dynamics 365 App for Outlook to manage the app.  Users who have been configured with server-side synch will show up in the list of available users.

Click here to view a walkthrough of the Dynamics 365 App for Outlook.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the Transition to Dynamics 365

By Brian Dewulf, CRM Practice Manager

Many of you may have already heard about Dynamics 365, the next generation of business applications from Microsoft. If you are like us, you probably have many questions about how this transition will affect your current CRM implementation. As InterDyn BMI’s CRM Practice Manager, I will do my best to answer common questions about this transition and also talk about some of the new features that will be available in this upcoming release.

How will the transition to Microsoft Dynamics 365 affect my current Microsoft Dynamics CRM system?

The answer to that question depends on whether you are running Dynamics CRM on-premises or Dynamics CRM Online.  For those of you currently running an on-premises version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the short answer is, you don’t have to do anything.  You can continue to run your existing version of CRM on-premises for as long as you like.  Those of you using Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will need to transition to one of the new Dynamics 365 licensing plans when you current CRM Online agreement expires.  Most CRM Online subscriptions renew annually.  The renewal date is based on when you first signed up for CRM Online.  Your BMI account manager will be able to assist you with this transition.

How do the Dynamics 365 licensing plans differ from Dynamics CRM Online?

Dynamics CRM Online licensing offered several different license options.  Customers could choose between Enterprise, Professional, Basic, Essential, and Self-Service licenses.  Until the recent addition of the field service and project service modules, these licenses gave users differing levels of access to the Sales, Marketing and Customer Service modules. Those are the modules which have traditionally been part of the core CRM functionality.  Two different versions of Dynamics 365 will be available. Dynamics 365 Enterprise becomes available for purchase on November 1, 2016.   Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition includes the traditional core CRM functionality, including the field and project service modules.  In Dynamics 365 these CRM modules are now referred to as “apps”.  These apps can be purchased individually or as part of a plan.  If you only need traditional CRM sales and marketing functionality you could purchase just the Dynamics 365 Sales app.  If you need the traditional CRM service functionality you can purchase the Dynamics 365 Customer Service app.   Also available is the Dynamics 365 Operations app.  This app has traditionally been know as Microsoft Dynamics AX.  It offers a wide range of enterprise resource planning functionality.  Customers requiring access to more than one app have the ability to choose between two different plans. Plan 1 includes all of the traditional CRM functionality, including field and project service.  Plan 2 includes everything in Plan 1, plus Dynamics 365 Operations.  All of these apps and plans have 2 types of licenses, as opposed to the 5 licenses available previously.  For users who only need minimal access to the system, for things like knowledge sharing and BI access, customers can purchase the team member license.  Users who need more than this light access, will require a full license.

What are the benefits of transitioning to Dynamics 365?

  • The primary benefit of transitioning to Dynamics 365 is access to all of the latest features available in this new release. Here is a list of just a few of the new features:
  • Enhancements to the project service module including an integration with Microsoft Project client software
  • An all new business process flow and business rule visual designer with drag-and-drop functionality
  • The ability to launch workflows from business process flows
  • All new editable grid functionality which allows the user to perform inline editing of records in both the web and mobile clients
  • New Email Engagement functionality which allows you to see when your email has been opened, a link has been clicked, an attachment viewed or a reply received
  • The ability to set a reminder to follow-up if you don’t receive a reply or if the email is not opened
  • Relationship Insights analyzes your CRM and Exchange data to provide actionable knowledge about the strength of your customer relationships
  • Enhancements to the CRM App for Outlook including improved performance and support for on-line to on-line, on-prem to on-prem, and hybrid scenarios
  • Native integration between Dynamics 365 Enterprise CRM and Operations apps
  • Microsoft PowerApps and FLOW are new tools designed to allow customer to create “no-code” applications which can connect to multiple data sources, including Microsoft Dynamics 365

InterDyn BMI would be happy to answer any other questions that you may have regarding your specific situation.  Please reach out to your account manager or contact me directly by email: brian.dewulf@interdynbmi.com.