Tailor Dynamics 365 for your Business using Custom Apps

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Have you ever opened the menu in Dynamics 365 and been overwhelmed with deciding where to navigate among the seemingly endless sea of record types? Navigation in Dynamics 365 can be difficult and time consuming – especially for new employees or those working on secondary devices like laptops, tablets, or phones. By deploying custom apps in the Unified Interface in Dynamics 365, you can build tailored business roles that help your users quickly access the data they need in the system and nothing else.

What is the Unified Interface?

The Unified Interface is an enhancement for Dynamics 365 that delivers a more focused experience for users. This is not a new Dynamics 365; the Unified Interface is a layer on top of the original web application that accesses the exact same forms and data you are currently using. Custom apps in the Unified Interface have a modern feel some updated features and are adaptive to differing screen sizes on phones and tablets.

What is Microsoft's plan for the Unified Interface? 

The Unified Interface was introduced with Dynamics 365 v9 as a means for developers to quickly create Dynamics 365 apps to offer users the same end-experience across all devices. This interface is the future for Dynamics 365 and since its introduction Microsoft has been slowly transitioning users with each version release. The legacy web application will ultimately be replaced with the Unified Interface, although Microsoft has not yet set a hard date. Recently, Microsoft has given Dynamics 365 administrators the ability to lock users out of the legacy view and force users to use the Unified Interface apps exclusively. Thus if you are currently using Dynamics 365, it is not a matter of if, but rather of when the Unified Interface will be applied.

What are custom apps?

One of the greatest benefits of this direction from Microsoft is that apps are fully customizable for a more user-friendly experience. Custom apps can be created using the App Designer that is built-in to Dynamics 365; using the App Designer you can compose an app by selecting and configuring record types for a defined business process. Thus custom apps can be created that tailor to specific business roles. For example, if you have a help desk currently in place you can provide help desk employees access only to the areas they require to do their jobs. A help desk app may include access to records such as Accounts, Contacts, Cases, and Queues, while at the same time such as Leads and Opportunities. Configurations like this create a more focused experience for users and streamlines training new employees on Dynamics 365.

Why deploy custom apps?

Your business may have different departments with a structured hierarchy of managers, supervisors, ect. These different business roles typically utilize the Dynamics 365 web application for widely different tasks, so why would everyone use the same base application? The beauty of custom apps is that an app can be built for every role. And the best part is there is no limit to the number of custom applications you can create!

Custom apps make navigation in Dynamics 365 a breeze. Users can utilize the left-hand navigation panel to quickly access areas and records within the app. Record types can be organized further by grouping them within discrete sections in the side panel. You will also find individual records are easier to navigate thanks to tabs now being displayed from left to right at the top of the page rather than top-to bottom in the classic web app.

In addition to easier navigation, you will also find some notable feature enhancements in Unified Interface apps such as an updated timeline and reference panel. In the updated timeline users can view all activities such as emails, notes and posts in one place. This timeline has been enhanced by providing users the ability to filter activities by time and date. In addition, the reference panel has been updated to consolidate data related to a record in one area on the form so that users do not have to leave the record to look up related information. The panel saves space on the form because it can render multiple of related data in one section, allowing users to toggle between the different tables using tabs. These enhancements create forms with a neat layout and can increase productivity by reducing the time needed to look up related records/activities.

How can I test drive apps in the Unified Interface?

If you have Dynamics 365 v9, then unified apps for each application are already available for you to try out! For example, Microsoft has already configured out-of-the box Unified Interface apps for both Sales and Customer Service; these are “Sales Hub” and “Customer Service Hub” respectfully. To access the apps, click on the “Dynamics 365” drop-down menu and choose “Sales Hub” for Sales or “Customer Service Hub” for Customer Service. If you do not currently have Dynamics 365, see below for information to set up a free trial.

How do I create a custom app for Dynamics 365?

Some technical skills are required to build, configure, and test custom apps in the Unified Interface. To start building an app it is useful to first define the business role/process for the app and determine which records/configurations to include. The next step is to build and configure the app using the App Designer. The final step is to test the app in the Unified Interface.

Custom app configurations and testing can be the most challenging as not all customizations or 3rd party plugins will translate to the Unified Interface. For example, any custom JavaScript that is applied to your forms may have to be updated to function correctly. As the Unified Interface is Microsoft’s future for Dynamics 365, you will inevitably want to start your transition early to take advantage of custom apps to streamline your business and verify any customizations you have applied to Dynamics 365 function correctly in the Unified Interface.

Why should I use a Microsoft partner to assist with building custom apps?

Perhaps you do not have the technical skills to customize and build custom apps in the Unified Interface for Dynamics 365. Or maybe you do have the skills, but your time would be better spent elsewhere. Instead of navigating this new territory on your own, you can work with Microsoft Dynamics 365 partners to aid in this transition.

As a Microsoft partner, we have been actively assisting clients in building custom apps and transitioning them to the Unified Interface. Our customers reap the benefits of working with Dynamics 365 experts because we are aware of the current issues and unsupported customizations in the Unified Interface. If desired, we also offer training and continuing support for Dynamics 365. Let Syvantis help you tailor Dynamics 365 for your business needs using customs apps in the Unified Interface!

Sign up for a free 60 minute consultation for developing custom apps in Dynamics 365 with a Svyantis consultant here.

By Syvantis Technologies, Inc. www.syvantis.com

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