How to Get Started with Microsoft Dynamics 365

Post Date: 07/18/2018
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You probably noticed the new Dynamics 365 links showing up throughout Office 365 over the last year and started wondering, “What is Dynamics? What benefits does it offer? How can I get started?”

Microsoft just unleashed an impressive array of updates across the entire Dynamics 365 product line with hundreds of new features. The focus areas of the release include new business applications, new intelligence, and new platform capabilities.

What’s the Difference in Using Dynamics 365 or SharePoint to Build Apps?

This seems to be a question I get more and more from clients, students and friends in the SharePoint community. The important thing to remember is that the two can both be useful in different situations.

SharePoint is a world-class platform for collaborating, communicating, and storing content. It’s perfect if you need to customize your intranet or build out modern applications to allow your teams to communicate.

Dynamics is a world-class platform for Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Entity Relationship Management (xRM) and Entity Resource Planning (ERP). It’s more useful for streamlining business operations, customer engagement, client portals or modern employee self-service.

How Dynamics 365 Moves Your Business Forward with Digital Transformation

Businesses are constantly growing and adopting technology to better collaborate, communicate and digitally transform their business model. These businesses will inevitably discover the value of engaging with people across applications and platforms.

James Phillips, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Business Applications Group, recently introduced a modernized digital feedback loop for Dynamics 365 at the Business Forward event in Amsterdam. The feedback loop’s main purpose is to illustrate how Dynamics 365 can empower employees, transform products, and engage customers.

The Loop and the new features surrounding it are all part of the recent Spring 2018 Release. This rollout should enable businesses to adapt solutions to their own digital transformation model.

Credit: Microsoft

Business Application Platform

I like to tell clients to manage their content and communication in Office 365 and SharePoint but manage their business in Dynamics 365. The Dynamics team worked hard to make sure that it integrates with all Office 365 services, and it shows. Incorporating the platform into your workflow can be a valuable asset in efficiently running your business.

One way to quickly realize the platform’s potential is to explore the new Business Apps model. Business applications are consistently evolving along with the needs of businesses. We continuously need to measure, act and automate, and the Business Applications Platform provides the tools for us to do so.

Credit: Microsoft

Dynamics 365 has joined SharePoint in updating its UI to be more in line with modern programming frameworks and patterns. The new Unified UI allows customizers and developers to use JavaScript skills to create compelling user experiences and seamlessly integrate with the various web API’s available in the Microsoft Cloud. The recent spring update brought new versions of PowerApps, Common Data Service for Apps, Common Data Service for Analytics, Flow and Power BI.

Three Steps for Getting Started

Dynamics is made up of several modular applications and many SKU’s. Such a wide array of options can be a bit confusing for new users. With that in mind, here are three easy steps to get you up and running in no time.

Procure a Dynamics 365 Trial or Production Subscription

There are two options for starting a trial subscription to Dynamics 365. You can either (1) Add a trial to your existing Office 365 instance or (2) Create a new stand-alone instance for testing and/or development. To add the subscription to your existing instance simply go to, select the app you want to try, enter your work email and phone number then click “Get Started.” If you want a new and separate instance, click on the “Sign up here” link in the upper right.

Import People from Outlook

Once your Dynamics 365 subscription is live you can import contacts from any platform or format. However, I recommend importing contacts from Outlook if you’re just getting started. To do this, first make sure that you’ve set up your account names ahead of time. You can then go into Outlook and use the “Add Contacts” wizard to start importing.

After you have imported your contact data and are comfortable using the CRM capabilities, you can begin exploring how to customize the platform and build business apps!

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Inaugural Microsoft Business Applications Summit July 22-24

A great place to learn best patterns and approaches to designing Business Apps is at the newly-announced inaugural Microsoft Business Applications Summit. The summit will showcase the collection of business intelligence, applications, and platform offerings.

There will be something for everyone in the community: customer sessions for business leaders who want to understand what’s possible, engineering-led technical sessions for practitioners who want to dive deep, and “What’s Coming?” sessions for those who want to get a jump start on the newest features.

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