Microsoft Dynamics 365 2020 Wave 2

Microsoft release two major biannual updates for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Online.  The first is in April and the second, Release Wave 2; reached General Availability in October 2020 meaning it is now being rolled out to Dynamics 365 Organisations between October 2020 and March 2021.

The release guide is a massive 546 pages! This covers the entire Microsoft Dynamics platform which Includes modules for Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Finance and Operations, Customer Voice, Industry Specific Accelerators, the Power Platform and much more.  In this blog we’ll highlight some of our favourite changes but you can download the full guide here:



New Email Editor

The recently introduced rich email composing experience, which was previously only supported

while composing emails has been expanded to support actions like view, update, and reply from the

timeline section.  This also includes a new interface for attaching files inline and the ability to select multiple files


PDF Generation

In previous versions, users had to generate a Word document and then convert to a PDF.  In the latest release these can now be created, previewed, exported and emailed direct from Dynamics with minimal clicks. It is also now possible to automatically generate and send documents via workflow and APIs which is a commonly requested feature.


Improved Duplicate Detection

A new user interface that shows more information about why a record has been flagged as a duplicate and more options for how to merge the record and its subordinates.


Customer Service

As with the Sales Module, Improvements have been made to the email experience in Dynamics.  There have also been enhancements made to Omnichannel for Customer Service.  Agents can now engage in multiple sessions simultaneously.  Additional options for integration with Microsoft Bot Framework and mobile applications.


Finance and Operations

Process Automation for Common Processes such as Credit and Collections.  For example, automatically send an email or letter to chase payment after due date.

Intelligent Cashflow Forecasting which allow you to schedule the calculation of cash flow forecasts to help ensure that cash forecasts are generated at the most optimum time.




Industry Accelerators

Not for Profit

New Humanitarian logistics module which enables organisations to better manage and understand inventory levels, manage goods and services procurement, warehousing, distribution, inventory reconciliation, and donor and funder reporting.

Enhancements to Volunteer Management and Disaster relief, disaster preparedness, and field services features.


Financial Services

New functionality for Loans and Mortgages to enable Loan Officers and Mortgage Consultants to collaborate with the bank throughout the loan process.

Wealth Management – New experience and customisations to support Wealth Advisors engage with their clients and make recommendations on investments and financial planning.


Power Platform

New features for the Power Platform.  Examples are Microsoft Teams Integration for Power Virtual Agents.  New AI capabilities for Power Automate and Power Apps including Receipt Scanning, AI Templates and the ability to add text translations for over 70 languages in the AI Builder.



How to email Word Documents as a PDF in a single click

I was reminded of this tip earlier this week, how to add a button to the Word quick access toolbar to email word documents as PDFs in a single click – useful when sending out Quotes and Proposals to customers.


This post talks you through adding “E-mail as a PDF Attachment” to your word quick access toolbar:


To add, click on the dropdown arrow in word, and choose “More Commands”


In the dialog box under “Choose commands from” change it from “Popular” to “File Tab”

You will then see “Email as PDF Attachment”, Double Click or use “Add >>” to add to the box on the right and click OK.


You should then have the option on your Quick Access toolbar at the top of the screen.  Clicking the icon will open a new email and, generate the document as a PDF and attach it – all in one click!


Do you have any other time saving tips like this?   Let me know!



Bahrain TechWeek 2019 – Delivering a Digital Future

Last month we hosted “Delivering a Digital Future” at FinTech Bay in Bahrain as part of Bahrain’s TechWeek.  There was a great turnout including many banks and financial institutions from across Bahrain.



We were joined by special guests, Sh. Mohammed Al-Khalifa of Bahrain EDB, Alistair Sergeant, CEO of Purple Consultancy and AbdelKarim Abu Jaber from Microsoft. Our speakers outlined the digital landscape in Bahrain and across the Middle East and how the EDB were facilitating Digital Transformation. Alistair gave great advice on how to tackle Digital Transformation and provided case studies from other financial services institutions. Microsoft outlined into how their products can help.


Myself and our CTO, Dylan provided a demo of our Banking Accelerator which is built on Dynamics 365 but weaves in other elements of the Microsoft platform to provide an all-encompassing solution. We demonstrated AI, Customer Onboarding, Customer 360° View, Loan Applications and Mobile Approvals. We finished off by inviting our colleague Jordan to demonstrate a Power BI Dashboard over a Teams Video call, live from the UK.



The final part of our event was a Q&A session with a lively discussion around the challenges faced by financial organisations across the region and how to address them.


We thank Bahrain EDB and our speakers for making the event possible.  We are already looking forward to our next event due in early 2020!



How ready are you ready to deliver a digital future? Take our quick 5 question survey to find out!


Dynamics 365 Non-interactive users

If you have integrations with Dynamics 365 you can create a non-interactive user account.  This is a free licence type which can be used for integrating with Dynamics 365 but cannot access the UI.

To configure this you need to give the user a D365 licence, set them as “Non-Interactive” in D365 and then remove the licence.

  1. Give the user a licence in the Office 365/PowerApps Portal  (Sometimes the user takes a few minutes to sync)
  2. Log into Dynamics 365
  3. Navigate to Advanced Settings -> Security -> Users
  4. Open the user’s record, scroll to the bottom of the page/select the Administration Tab and change the user’s Access Mode to “Non-Interactive”

You should then be able to remove the Dynamics licence from the account in the Office 365/PowerApps Portal.

More information at


There is a limit of 5 non-interactive user licences per instance.

Update 17/3/2021:  This limit appears to have been increased to 7 users. We tested in a demo tenant and when trying to add an 8th non-interactive user received the following error:

“Your organization has reached its maximum number of non-interactive users. To mark this account as non-interactive, mark another user account as interactive or deactivate a user account.”



Dynamics 365 redirecting to login screen

I recently came across a problem in a trial where Dynamics 365 kept opening a new tab at the login screen.

I spotted in the URL that it was trying to redirect to which is a problem I have blogged about before.

To resolve, go to the settings cog (top right) and click Advanced Settings.  Navigate to Administration and open System Settings.

In system settings, Scroll down to “Set custom Help URL” and change “Enable Learning Path” to No


Settings and Customisations in Dynamics 365 v9.1

Where are Settings and Customization in the latest version of Dynamics 365 v9.1?

In version 9, Microsoft introduced the new Unified UI, a new look and feel for Dynamics 365.  It was still possible to navigate to the “Classic” UI by switching to the Dynamics 365 – custom app.  With 9.1, this app has been removed!

Beginning in 9.1, to navigate to Customisation, Settings etc, click on the settings cog at the top-right of the screen and select “Advanced Settings”

Dynamics 365 April 19 Release notes

Today, the Dynamics 365 April ’19 release notes have been published, these document what’s new in the latest version of Dynamics 365.

You can find the release notes here


My favourite feature so far is Dynamics 365 Remote Assist using Hololens.  Check out the video below

Workflow [guid] does not exist when importing a solution.

Trying to import an unmanaged solution into a Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 On Premise instance.  I received the message Workflow {5125476c-7889-e611-8177-0050569c5846} does not exist, processtrigger With Id = 5925476c-7889-e611-8177-0050569c5846 Does Not Exist.

After hunting for a workflow rule that didn’t exist for a while, I discovered CRM classifies Workflows as Business Rules

When is a workflow not a workflow? When it's a Business Rule

I changed the scope of the Business Rule from a single form to “All Forms” as defined in which resolved the issue.

Dynamics 365 Online vs On Premise Comparison

One of the key differentiators of Microsoft Dynamics CRM vs its competitors is the choice of delivery.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM is available in three delivery models.

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online (Hosted by Microsoft)
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM On-Premise
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner Hosted


This post outlines the key points for consideration between Dynamics CRM Online and CRM On-Premise. For the purposes of this post, Dynamics CRM Partner Hosted is considered the same as CRM On-Premise, the difference being that the deployment is published to the internet and the infrastructure looked after by a hosting partner.


Core Application

At a high level, the underlying application is the same delivered both online and on-premise.  With the advent of Dynamics 365 however, there are different subscription packages which build on this model that are only available online.  Examples of online only functions are Project Service Automation, Field Service, Voice of the Customer (Surveys) and Microsoft Flow Integration.



On-Premise – you are responsible for maintaining and securing the underlying infrastructure.  Often, there is a delay while new hardware is provisioned.

CRM Online – this is managed by Microsoft, reducing your IT infrastructure and maintenance costs.  Microsoft actively monitor the security of the platform. To get started, simply visit the Office 365 portal and spin up a new instance of CRM.


Backups and DR

Within Dynamics CRM Online, data is automatically replicated in each server, in different racks within the data centre and across different data centres (for example in Europe, data is replicated to the Dublin and Amsterdam Data Centres) thus providing geo-redundancy. There would have a high price tag to achieve this level of redundancy in an on-premise environment.

With CRM On-Premise you are in control of your own backup strategy so can back-up as often as required.  With CRM Online, Microsoft provide a nightly backup which you can restore through the CRM Online portal.  You can also create up to three custom backups as required.



CRM Online is delivered over the internet so performance may be affected by a poor internet connection.  CRM On-premise is typically installed locally so connectivity not an issue but performance can be affected by server resources and configuration.



Microsoft delivers new functionality to the cloud first.  There are currently two major updates released a year for CRM Online.  This reduces the amount of changes between versions so decreases the complexity of upgrade projects.  Microsoft will only permit you to be one version behind, so you may need to do smaller upgrade projects more frequently.

With CRM On-premise, you have complete control over the upgrade schedule and applying patches.



When Dynamics CRM Online first came out, there were great limitations in the customisation available as any custom code was running in a shared environment.  In recent versions, Microsoft have introduced sandboxing which isolates one customers code from another, this means the majority of custom code will now run and increases extensibility.  With CRM Online, you can only add 300 custom entities (tables), There is no practical limit with On-Premise; it is limited only by the capacity of your instance of SQL Server.

With CRM On-Premise, you have direct access to the SQL database (note: NEVER make direct updates to the CRM database as this will void your warranty with Microsoft). You can run T-SQL queries and write SSRS reports against the CRM filtered views in On-Premise CRM.

With CRM Online, you have no access to the back end.  CRM allows you to use FetchXML queries for querying and writing SSRS reports, but these are not as powerful as SQL queries.



It is not possible to take an On-premise database and restore it to CRM Online.  Typically, the system is rebuilt (although if the on-premise environment is a similar version to Online, it is possible to transfer customisations) but data must be migrated using a 3rd party migration tool.

Note – since I first wrote this article, Microsoft have released FastTrack, a service designed to help users migrate to the cloud.  This is only available to organisations with  150+ D365 Enterprise licences.

For migrations from Online to On Premise, a case can be raised with Microsoft to request a copy of a CRM Online instance and restore the SQL database backup on an CRM On-premise server.



CRM Online is a SaaS (Software as a Service) Model.  You pay a monthly fee based on the number of users you require. If you require additional users, you simply purchase more licences and your monthly cost goes up. Reduce users, and your licensing cost goes down. The product is designed to scale with you as you grow removing the hardware scalability headache. It is classed as Operational Expenditure.

CRM On Premise requires an initial outlay of hardware and licences plus an ongoing maintenance fee (Software Assurance).  This model requires Capital Expenditure.


Storage Space

CRM On-premise storage is only limited by your hardware (and SQL licensing). CRM Online comes with 10Gb of storage space with an additional 5Gb being provided for each additional 20 users added to the system.  There is a cost for additional storage space.  This means if you are using email tracking extensively, storage costs can increase rapidly. This can be managed in some degree by storing external documents in SharePoint Online and using the native CRM/SharePoint integration as SharePoint storage costs are lower than CRM storage.


Comparison Overview

Capability CRM Online CRM On Premises
Cost Model Monthly Subscription (OpEx) Large initial capital investment (CapEx)
Data Securely stored in Microsoft data centre Complete ownership and control over data
Database Access Access only via CRM API / report connectors. Full access.
SSRS Reporting FetchXML, T-SQL from locally replicated reporting server FetchXML or T-SQL
Storage Space 10GB (plus 2.5GB for every 20 licences) Limited to the amount of storage available on your server
Administration Minimal internal administration required, Technical infrastructure managed by Microsoft Requires in-house or partner maintenance
Deployment Quick to deploy Longer deployment
Hardware No hardware required Use existing hardware or will need to purchase additional servers
Maintenance Costs No maintenance costs Requires servers to be maintained and upgraded
Uptime Reliant on connectivity but 99.9% financially-back SLA from Microsoft Do not rely on internet connectivity or external factors to access CRM
Updates Office 365 admin approves the upgrade before it is installed, update rollups applied automatically Minor releases can be held back for on-premise until the next major release – minimising number of updates
Release cycle Two releases per year. Spring release functionality exclusive to CRM Online, so new functionality available online first. Fall release released to both CRM Online and On Premises, includes the functionality released in the Spring release.
Mobility Phone & Tablet App Apps available but CRM must be published externally via ADFS
Resilience High site resilience achieved through redundancy Dependent on hardware – expensive to purchase redundant server for backup
Workflows / dialogues 200 Unlimited
Custom Entities 300 Unlimited
Direct server access No Yes
Migrating CRM Online customers can migrate On Premises at any time. SQL database provided to client at scheduled time that can be imported to an On-Premises deployment. CRM On Premises customers can migrate to CRM Online and entity customisation can be imported; however, on premises database cannot be moved to Online data centre, so a data migration is required.
Sandbox environments CRM Online provides non-production environments as part of your subscription that can be used for dev/test/UAT. The number of organisations received depends on the number of users. Non-production environments can be installed, depending on local server availability.
Exchange Synchronisation CRM for Outlook, Email Router, or Server Synchronisation (if using Exchange Online/O365) CRM for Outlook, Email Router, or Server Synchronisation (if using Exchange on premise)
SharePoint Integration Server-Side with SharePoint Online Client-side integration
Inside View (Insights) Included Additional cost
Social Engagement Included Additional cost
Project Service Automation Online Only Not available
Field Service Online Only Not Available
Power BI Yes No

Further reading

Microsoft have a good guide here

ClickDimensions certification

Having taken the ClickDimensions training and associated exam, I am now ClickDimensions certified!

ClickDimensions fully integrates with Dynamics 365 to extend the marketing capabilities.  The main features are:

  • Email Marketing
  • Web Intelligence and Analytics
  • Web-to Lead Forms
  • Landing Pages
  • Surveys
  • Campaign Automation
  • Subscription Management
  • Event Management
  • Lead Scoring
  • Reporting
  • Social Marketing