Prior to the Wave 1 2020 release, the allocation of charges capability was available only on the Purchasing side of the F&O processes. In today’s blogpost, we’ll review the Current State process and share some exciting news about Future State process.
To review the current state, in the event you have a shared cost (charge) across multiple lines of a purchase order, F&O will perform the calculations required to allocate those charges accordingly to each line. Below, we have a simple 3-line PO.
We’ve added a header level charge for freight of $500. Accomplish this by selecting Purchase > Charges > Maintain charges > New.
These charges, however, need to be moved to the line level in order to process the purchase order through receipt and/or invoice.
To do so, click Purchase > Charges > Allocate charges.
On the allocation screen, you can select to allocate by: 1) Net amount, 2) Quantity, or 3) Per line.
You also have the option to further filter by All lines, Positive or Negative lines, and Received or Stocked quantities.
Here, we’ve selected by Net amount. Click Allocate.
Now, navigate to the line level and view charges by highlighting the desired line and then Financials > Charges > Maintain charges.
You will see the power of the allocation function and how each line now has the appropriately calculated amount.
To run through the math in our example, our total Net amount for all 3 lines was $2,246.26.
Line 1 had a Net Amount of $250: ($250/$2,246.26 = .11129611*$500 = $55.65)
Line 2: ($180/$2,246.26 = .0801332*$500 = $40.07)
Line 3: ($1,816.26/$2,246.26 = .80857069*$500 = $404.28)
Imagine a scenario with a shared cost among 10-100+ lines. You can easily see the advantages of allocation!
Current State for Sales Orders does not have this functionality. You simply can add header level charges or add line level charges, but F&O will not assist in any calculations or allocations from the header to line process. Instead, this is all a manual process.
Sales Orders also do not force header level charges to the line, as costs on the Sales Order do not impact inventory costs and hence don’t require the allocation. The confirmation shows how F&O simply consolidates the charges (the example below has a $500 header freight charge and $25 freight charge on line 2). Additionally, another drawback is with header level charges, if there are any partial billings that occur, the first bill takes the entire sum of the header charge, given there is no line level allocation. There could be arguments both ways as to the benefits and drawbacks of such a scenario.
The best advantage, however, of the allocation of charges is the ability to spread a cost across multiple lines. Imagine if you have a header charge that applies to 100 lines. To have to manually calculate those line level charges can obviously create a process that is less than desirable. And even outside of the calculation, to have to manually add the charge to each line? Even more efficiency losses!
But now, with Wave Release 2020, Future State will have the allocation of charges move to the Sales side as well and users can enjoy this functionality throughout F&O. Hooray!
Fall Back Behavior of Dynamic Values in CRM Workflows
Workflows are an integral part of CRM to automate user actions like creating and updating records, sending emails, and more. In today’s post, we’ll be describing a Fall Back Behavior of Dynamic Values in CRM workflows that is rarely discussed but can be observed when we have a requirement where we might need to design a workflow with multiple dynamic values as inputs. Consider the scenario below:
A customer service team sends out notification emails to a respective region’s manager when a case is resolved in their region. Here we can have multiple regions and based on region selected we need to pick up the email addresses of the region managers. And each region can have multiple managers.
To meet our requirement, we would create a workflow on case entity that will send out the email to region managers when case is resolved. The region managers’ email addresses will be added in the To field of the email and will be picked up from the related entity, Regions. When we go to Form Assistant on the right side of the workflow designer, we can have up to 4 region managers’ email addresses for one region and we need to notify all of them.
We start selecting each manager’s email field on Region entity from the form assistant and all of our selected Manager email fields should populate in the To section of the Email form; however, when the workflow is triggered the email will not be sent out to all email addresses in the Manager fields. Instead, the workflow will send the email to the first field in which it finds a value that is not null and stop reading other fields in the To section. It goes through each field in the order it was selected under Form Assistant (you can change this order using the green arrows on the right side).
If our workflow finds no data in all 4 Manager email fields specified in the To section, it will fall back to the default value, which we can specify under Form Assistant.
With the above fall back behavior of Dynamic fields in workflow, how do we make sure our workflow picks up the value from each manager’s email field and sends the email to every field that has an email address rather than stopping on the first field where it finds a not null value? To make sure all email addresses are picked up by the workflow, we need to add each manager’s email field individually from the Form Assistant and place it in the To section.
Select manager email field 1 and click <OK>.
Now select manager email 2 field and click <OK>.
Notice the difference between the two scenarios – when fall back behavior is observed and when not – from the way fields are added in the To section:
Fall back behavior: Fields are separated with a semicolon, indicating CRM will read the entire string of fields as one until it finds the first not null field rather than looking ahead.
No fall back behavior: Fields are separated without semicolons, indicating each field added will be read and picked up individually, regardless of whether the previous field was not null or null.
With this fall back behavior of dynamic fields in mind, we will be better suited to make sure our workflows behave as we expect.
Dynamics 365 – SharePoint Integration
If you have both a Dynamics 365 v9.0 online instance and an online SharePoint instance, you are able to configure these two online tools to work together. This blog will help you through the process.
First, navigate to Settings > Document Management. (Note that your screen may look slightly different, but the options should be the same.)
Next, click on the option for Enable Server-Based SharePoint Integration, as shown below.
A screen similar to the one below will open. On the first page, select Online, and press Next.
On the next page, enter the URL for your SharePoint site in the URL box, and click Next.
The system will verify the SharePoint instance, and that it can be connected to your Dynamics 365.
Setting up SharePoint to Receive Documents
Before you can send documents to SharePoint, you need to set up SharePoint to receive those documents. This means telling SharePoint which entities we will want to connect between SharePoint and Dynamics 365.
To start, click on Document Management Settings to set up your entities in SharePoint.
For each entity you select, a folder structure will be set up in SharePoint for that entity. A list of your entities will appear in the pane. Select all of the entities you want to appear in your SharePoint.
You will also enter in the URL for your SharePoint site again, so it can confirm which SharePoint instance it is creating in.
On the next page, it will confirm your SharePoint, and ask which Entity you want to base the structure on. In our example, we have chosen Account.
When you click Next, another pop-up will appear, letting you know it is creating the folder structure in SharePoint, and that it may take a few minutes (depending on how many entities you are setting up).
The next page will show the progress made for each entity, and when it’s done it will show you which entities were set up successfully, and which could not be made. This process can be done again if you want to add new entities, but taking entities out is far more difficult.
Your SharePoint instance should now be structured to receive documents from these entities.
Making sure the Documents Tab is Set Up
Our next step is to set up the new Documents tab on our forms. To do this, go to a record of an Entity for which you just set up a SharePoint structure.
The integration system is usually very good about setting up the Documents tab automatically, but just in case, click on the Form to edit the form of this entity to make sure the tab is there.
Once the Form Editor is open, click on Navigate. If Documents is in the right-hand pane, drag it over to the appropriate section in the left-hand pane. In our example, the integration system did its job, and set up the Documents Tab on its own in the Common section.
Press Save, press Publish, and close the Form Editor.
Next, we will look at the carat to the right of the record name at the top of the screen. Click on this, and it will bring up your Navigation tabs.
Here is our Documents tab. Click on it.
From here, you can UPLOAD files from your record directly to SharePoint. You should be able to click on OPEN LOCATION to be brought right to your SharePoint instance.
This will take you to your SharePoint instance and the location of the file. From here, depending on your settings, you should be able to download, edit, or upload other files.
Hopefully, this helps you manage and integrate your own instances of Dynamics 365 and SharePoint. Happy D365’ing!
Capturing Data at Opportunity Close
Many organizations we work with have been seeking the ability to capture additional data at the time that an Opportunity is closed. Previously, that ability has not been easily available out of the box. In today’s blog, we’ll walk you through how it can be done.
In order to utilize this functionality, follow the steps below to create a new Quick CreateForm, to which you can add default and custom fields that will allow your organization to capture the data relevant to the close of your Opportunity. Additionally, you can add script to customize the experience even further, if needed. Check it out…
1. To enable the customizing of the close opportunity form, first open the Customizations section of Dynamics 365.
2. Click Advanced Settings.
3. Navigate to Settings > System > Administration.
4. Open System Settings.
5. On the Sales tab, scroll down and click Yes in the Customize close opportunity form field.
6. Then navigate to the Opportunity Close entity’s Forms customization screen – Settings > Solutions – and open the solution you would like to work within. Make sure to add the Opportunity Close entity if it is not already in the solution.
7. Create a new Quick Create Form.
8. Add any existing or custom fields needed to capture the relevant data your organization needs.
Use SQL to Query Data from CDS and Dynamics 365 CE
Have you ever wanted to use T-SQL to query Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CE) or CDS data from a cloud-hosted environment, without having to replicate your data using the Data Export Service (DES) or some other replication solution? Of course you have! With the upcoming 2020 release Wave 1, Microsoft is rolling out this capability to all of us eager CRM data nerds. There are some steps involved to set things up, and we will go over those today.
First, a brief look at the long sought-after endgame here: writing and executing a SQL query against a live CDS environment! There are other ways we could connect to this new endpoint besides a query in SQL Server Management Studio (like via .NET C#), however, SSMS allows for easy validation of the feature setup.
Prerequisites and Caveats
1. Your CDS environment version MUST be 188.8.131.5237 or higher. This is needed to enable the feature on the backend. At time of writing, this feature is still in Preview, so take that into account when considering whether to use this in your production environments. To easily determine the version of your current CDS environment, login to it, click the Settings gear in the upper-right corner, and click About. If you’re unsure why you’re on a specific version, it is often helpful to check the Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE release train documentation for information on when to expect version availability in your region.
2. You will need a way to modify your OrgDBOrgSettings feature flags. This is typically done with the Microsoft OrgDBOrgSettings Tool (select CRM2016-Tools-KB4046795-ENU-amd64.exe for the download), but can be done in various other ways as well, like the excellent OrgDBOrgSettings managed solution from Sean McNellis which has also been updated to support this new feature flag, which is ultimately what was used here.
3. The Microsoft documentation states you’ll need SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) version 18.4 or greater to be able to connect to the CDS database, and you should ideally go with that recommendation. That said, we’ve been able to connect successfully from SSMS version 17.9.1.
4. This is only for querying data from a CDS database (read-only). You will not be able to use it to do inserts or updates.
5. Security: Note that your read security permissions in CRM carry over to SQL – if you do not have read-access for the Account entity for example, you cannot query it from the CDS SQL endpoint.
Setup in 3 Steps
1. Verify the current version of your CDS environment as mentioned in the prerequisites. Once you have verified that your CDS environment is on version 184.108.40.20637 or later, you can proceed. If you’re not yet on that version or later, turn back now because you will not be able to enable this feature.
If you don’t have this version or newer available for your CDS environment, check the Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE release train documentation for information on when to expect version availability in your region.
2. Next, you’ll need to enable the Tabular Data Stream (TDS) endpoint for CDS for your environment. This can be done via the OrgDBOrgSettings Tool from Microsoft, the OrgDBOrgSettings managed solution from Sean McNellis, both of which currently support editing this new feature flag (you can find links to these in the prerequisites section). The feature flag we need to enable is called ‘EnableTDSEndpoint’.
Using the OrgDBOrgSettings Tool: there’s a great write-up from Microsoft on how to do this, however, we would consistently hit this error when trying to run the final step, as have others in the community: ‘Error occurred in OrgDBOrgSettings and the error details are GDS resource provider is unable to get instances for tenantId:…’.
To get around this error, the OrgDBOrgSettings managed solution was used instead. Simply install the managed solution and open the solution configuration page. You will see a full list of the Org DB settings you can change – look for the one named EnableTDSEndpoint.
Click the Add link for the EnableTDSEndpoint row, then click Edit, and set the value to be true and click Update. The result should be a row that looks like this:
3. Now you should be able to connect to your environment from SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS)!
As stated in the prerequisites, you will need to have SSMS version 18.4 or later to connect to a CDS database.
To connect, simply place your org URL in the Server Name field, and add ‘,5558’ to the end. So, if your org URL is dancat.crm.dynamics.com, your connection Server Name field should be dancat.crm.dynamics.com,5558.
Set your Authentication drop-down to be ‘Azure Active Directory – Password’. Currently this is the only way you can connect to a CDS database from SSMS – you will not be able to use Windows Authentication or SQL Authentication. Enter your User name and Password, and click Connect.
Note: If you get the following error shown below: “Login failed: TDS protocol endpoint is disabled for this organization…”, you need to revisit step 2, as your EnableTDSEndpoint flag is not set correctly.
Querying the CDS Database
If you’ve done your setup correctly, when you connect to the org via SSMS (step 3 above), you should see the org DB appear on the left in the Object Explorer. For those unfamiliar, you can expand the top-level org URL, then expand the Databases section, wherein you can see your CDS database. If you expand the Tables folder in there, you can see your CDS entity tables, just as if you were connected to an on-premises CRM SQL database!
Per Microsoft, the following operations are supported (but there are more that do function outside this list): SELECT, UNION, JOIN, FILTER, batch operations, and aggregate operations like COUNT() and MIN() or MAX(). The limitation that FetchXML has for a max of 50,000 aggregate rows is gone when we use T-SQL here as well, which is great! As mentioned before, this is a read-only database, so any operation that would need write permissions to the database will not work.
Here’s a simply query, and the expected result:
case when a.accountnumber is not null then 1
when a.accountnumber is null then 0
end as test_case
from dbo.account a (nolock)
One would expect that T-SQL queries should perform much better and faster than their FetchXML counterparts when it comes to querying from CDS, as we should be circumventing entire process of a FetchXML query being translated to a T-SQL query on the backend.
To test this, we loaded 100,000 rows into the Account table of our CDS environment, with only a few fields of data populated as a simple performance test. To test FetchXML query performance against a large set of records, we used version 1.2019.12.1 of the FetchXML Builder add-on for the XrmToolBox application. For the T-SQL query performance, SSMS version 18.5.
Test 1: Query 3 Attributes for all Accounts
Results (mean of 5 test runs for each query):
FetchXML: 16.97 seconds T-SQL: 5.17 seconds Average Improvement: 11.8 seconds
Test 2: Query 10 Attributes for all Accounts with a Join to Users
Results (mean of 5 test runs for each query):
FetchXML: 44.62 seconds T-SQL: 83.51 seconds Average Improvement: -38.89 seconds
What do these results mean? Well, first of all, we must remember that this test is being run on a trial org in the India region due to current feature availability. That means the org will not have the same kind of resource allocation that a production environment would, so we would expect more complex queries to perform faster than they are performing here in a real-world situation. Other entity tables would perform differently than the ‘heavier’ Account entity as well. The inflection point where the number of columns began to make the Account T-SQL query slower than the FetchXML query was at 6 columns. Doing a query of all Accounts and all Columns (bad query, good load test) will hit the 2-minute timeout every time in this environment. Your mileage may absolutely vary here, so you’ll want to performance test your own specific use-cases in your environment to confirm which path may be better for now. It is likely that with the GA release of this feature and continued developments, most if not all queries against the CDS SQL endpoint should be faster than FetchXML.
This is very new feature (in Preview still at time of writing), so there are currently several limitations you need to consider before using this solution. Here is our list of currently known or discovered limitations with this feature:
Not every table from the CDS environment is usable with this feature. Tables like audit and plugintracelog are not available for querying here. A pleasant surprise for anyone who has used the Data Export Service to replicate a CDS database to Azure SQL will note that the dbo.activitypointer entity is present in this new CDS DB query feature, even though it is not supported for DES.
Not every attribute from the CDS environment tables is usable with this feature. Per Microsoft documentation, data types of binary, image, ntext, sql_variant, varbinary, virtual, HierarchyId, managedproperty, file, xml, partylist, and timestamp are not usable within a CDS SQL query at this time. Perhaps the most notable one from that list is ntext. Without support for ntext, you will not see data for Multiple Line of Text fields in your queries. In fact, the system appears to be working a bit oddly as of now – if you were to look at the native Account entity, you can see it has a Description field which would be a SQL data type of ntext. In the expanded Columns list for the dbo.account entity in SSMS, it doesn’t show the Description field… that makes sense, right? Except if you do a SELECT description FROM dbo.account then it returns the column, but with NULL data regardless of what is really in the field.
Some syntax just doesn’t work yet. Unaliased queries behave oddly in the CDS SQL query feature – if we were to run this query, it works:
from dbo.systemuser s (nolock)
left join dbo.account a (nolock) on s.systemuserid = a.ownerid
However, if we run this query without aliases, it fails:
from dbo.systemuser (nolock)
left join dbo.account (nolock) on dbo.systemuser.systemuserid= dbo.account.ownerid
Common Table Expressions (CTE) are not supported yet. This is a big one, but one we’d expect to see added to the functionality eventually due to how valuable CTEs can be for CRM data.
Possible Security/Other Implications for Retrieve and RetrieveMultiple usage. From our testing, if you can login to CRM, you can connect to the read-only CDS SQL database. Your security permissions carry over to CDS SQL for the most part, in that if you can’t read entity records in the CRM UI, you won’t be able to read them from the CDS SQL endpoint. There’s a slight gap, however, which shouldn’t affect many implementations, but it is important for some with regard to data security – if you have logic that fires on Retrieve or RetrieveMultiple, that logic WILL NOT FIRE when the same data is queried from the CDS SQL endpoint as of now.
For example, if a user has read-access to an entity, but that entity has a synchronous plug-in running on RetrieveMultiple of that entity to blank-out the return payload, a user could get around that with the CDS SQL connection as of now. There are theories on a new message type that a plug-in could tie into in order to have similar interception logic on a T-SQL query for an entity, however, that has not yet been documented or confirmed at this time.
There may be a way to block CDS SQL endpoint use for specific users via security roles, however, that has not been identified or documented yet.
The 2-minute timeout is still a thing! Under default conditions, the CDS SQL endpoint will not tolerate long-running queries. If a T-SQL query runs longer than 120 seconds, whether due to malformed queries or environment limitations, the query will fail with the error message: “The request channel timed out while waiting for a reply after 00:02:00. Increase the timeout value passed to the call to Request or increase the SendTimeout value on the Binding. The time allotted to this operation may have been a portion of a longer timeout.” Take this into consideration when using the CDS SQL endpoint, and as with other queries, make them as conservatively as you can, remembering that a CRM query that runs for 1 minute normally may take 2 minutes or more under different load conditions.
You’ll be reconnecting in SSMS relatively often. This may be a good security feature ultimately, but SSMS will disconnect you from the CDS SQL endpoint if there’s inactivity for what appears to be 10 minutes. This may be configurable, but that is unknown at this time.
The CDS SQL endpoint is a feature many of us have been waiting for since the inception of CRM being in the cloud back in the days when we referred to the product simply as CRM Online. Now with Dynamics 365 CE/CDS, this feature is most welcome, and while it has certain limitations currently, we expect many of those limitations to be resolved as the product feature matures. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions – we’re glad to help!
Collaborate Remotely with Microsoft’s Remote Assist Technology
The ability to collaborate remotely has never been more important than it is today. Whether it’s coworkers on two different continents or teammates who used to sit in the same office, our new reality is that collaboration and teamwork must be accomplished remotely. In this new normal, businesses around the globe are relying on Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Remote Assist technology to collaborate effectively.
This is the first in a two-part blog series exploring what Remote Assist can do for organizations like yours. In today’s post, we’ll take a high-level look at what Remote Assist is and how it can advance the capabilities of your field service operation. In next week’s second installment, we’ll explore Remote Assist in action within Dynamics 365 Field Service.
Delivering top-notch service in a time of closed facilities and restricted personnel interactions has become a growing challenge. As field service providers adopt to changing dispatch rules and regulations, technicians will rely heavily on collaboration, knowledge share, and remote technology.
With technology such as Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, companies are empowering technicians and inspectors to collaborate with onsite employees to evaluate, document, and solve problems in real-time while limiting on-site interactions. Importantly, when using Dynamics 365 Field Service with Dynamics 365 Remote Assist Mobile, all capabilities are available and fully functional on mobile phones, including:
One-to-one video calls
Capture and annotate still snapshots
Connect to remote collaborators on Microsoft Teams (desktop and mobile) – share and receive files, photos, and video to quickly troubleshoot problems together
Capture session history through call recording
Switching to voice-only calls in low bandwidth scenarios
Automatically post call logs and files to a Dynamics 365 Field Service work order
This technology is literally transforming how service in the field is conducted. And when your technicians use Remote Assist Mobile on their mobile devices, they may find they have easier physical access to confined or hard-to-reach spaces. Additionally, because your technicians are already familiar with their own mobile devices, they will find that the app is easy to use, intuitive, and connects easily with other mobile apps that are part of your company workflows.
Dynamics 365 Remote Assist Mobile is available on Android phones and tablets with ARCore enabled and on iOS iPhones and iPads with ARKit enabled. In other words, it works for pretty much everyone!
Usage of electricity is no longer on the rise. In fact, it’s now going down, and with government regulations around zero emissions and zero carbon footprint, usage is expected to continue spiraling down. Energy Efficiency programs providing more efficient appliances – as well as a more energy-conscious consumer mindset – will push the demand further down. And on top of everything else, electricity as a commodity product has always had margins and high churn rates. Each Utility provider needs to keep all of this in mind when strategizing for future growth and continued success in the industry.
Mature Energy Service Providers understand all of these industry truths and are beginning to move from just being energy rate providers to energy service providers. Today, they invoice by services, not kWh because they view the consumer as a customer, not a rate payer. In other words, it involves more than simply looking for new revenue opportunities – it means a true shift in how the customer is perceived throughout the company: it’s crucial to view them as long-term customers who desire a trusting relationship with their Utilities provider.
To be that trusted partner, here are a few new services that Utilities providers are considering:
Home Services provider
Home Protection Plan provider
Energy Efficiency Program provider
Low energy producer
Distribution system optimizer
Energy services supplier for Commercial and Industrial communities (also known as theC&I community)
Because today’s consumers expect more out of Utilities providers, including real-time access to more on-demand information and services to help them save money and help the environment, many Utility companies are now providing power usage audits, home services plans, and energy efficiency plans; upgrading consumers to smart meters; and sharing efficiency best practices in monthly newsletters. Leveraging Microsoft Dynamics 365 with PowerObjects can enable Energy Service Providers to deliver services and experiences to businesses and customers, across connected devices, insight, and intelligent action. Think of it this way: you can provide a true customer-centric journey in which energy is simply an underlying commodity cost for the service.
Client Spotlight: E4E Relief Meets COVID-19 Challenges Head on
These days, most of what we see and hear on an hourly basis is bad news. Well, we’d like to change that, even if only for a few minutes. Hopefully, this uplifting story of a nonprofit called E4E Relief – a PowerObjects client – and the work they are doing for their clients during this global crisis can be a bright spot in your day. We know it’s an inspiration for us at PowerObjects, and we’re truly honored to be helping E4E Relief support their clients and employees around the globe, now more than ever…
We’ve all heard the phrase “living paycheck to paycheck,” but do we stop to think about what it really means? Many households earn just enough money in their paychecks to carry them through until they get their next paycheck – a week, two weeks, or a month later. For these families, the stress is compacted when there is any unexpected expense resulting from a disaster or hardship that is often out of their control. Nevertheless, it’s the reality for many of us, especially right now as we navigate life in this pandemic.
But what do those of us living paycheck to paycheck actually do when a real disaster strikes? Let’s set aside the emergency tows and occasional broken bones and instead consider truly dire emergencies. For example, what about the cost of an emergency two-night stay in a hotel following a domestic abuse incident? Or all of the expenses related to tornado damage that aren’t covered by insurance? Well, it’s for crises like these – and many more – that programs like Employee Relief Funds exist.
Also known as an Employee Assistance Fund or Employee Crisis Fund, an Employee Relief Fund is a program offered by many employers to help their employees cope with unexpected hardships or disasters that place undue financial stress on them and their families. This type of program empowers compassionate businesses to support their workforces financially – above and beyond those weekly paychecks – during individual crises big and small.
Quite often, Employee Relief Funds are operated by a third-party partner that manages the business’s ongoing contributions to the fund and creates the operating mechanisms to run the programs. These partners are responsible for reviewing the applications for relief that are submitted by a company’s employees and then making the difficult case-by-case grant determinations. Outsourcing this to a trusted partner ensures employee confidentiality and protects the company and its employees from any potential bias, favoritism, or conflict of interest in the decision-making process. Employee Relief Fund providers operate as non-profits because the grants from their programs are governed by the Internal Revenue Code as charitable and a well-defined set of guidelines that these groups are set up to manage.
One of the very best of these non-profit third-party partners in the Employee Relief Fund space is E4E Relief. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, E4E Relief has a diverse client base, including many Fortune 100 and 500 businesses, and manages millions in grants for these clients. PowerObjects has been the proud technology partner of E4E Relief for nearly two years. We implemented our custom PortalBuilder solution that sits on top of Dynamics 365 that allows E4E to quickly and easily spin up a new branded employee relief program portal. “Quite literally, our investment in D365 through PowerObjects has transformed our business and our ability to provide relief to thousands of people in crisis,” states Holly Welch Stubbing, CEO of E4E Relief. “The technology has enabled our Business Continuity Plan to operate in this environment and the automation of our reporting for customers is simply the best on the market.” It’s an innovative solution that we at PowerObjects are very proud of – in the case of E4E Relief and its applicants, it provides an excellent applicant experience and creates efficiency for a non-profit firm doing really important work.
And speaking of really important work… consider the unexpected hardships associated with a global pandemic that is impacting millions of people who become critically ill and putting millions out of work. COVID-19 is indeed the source of financial hardships on an unprecedented global level, meaning that Employee Relief Fund programs are beginning to see hundreds of thousands of applications for assistance. By mid-March, in fact, daily applications received by the companies with whom E4E Relief works increased by as much as 11,000% – practically overnight.
One of the promises E4E Relief makes to its clients is “we will scale to meet our clients’ and their employees' needs in times of personal and large-scale crises.” COVID-19 certainly qualifies as a large-scale crisis, so it is critically important that E4E Relief find a way to quickly scale to meet this staggering increase in applications for relief.
Fortunately, the PowerObjects team supporting the innovative portal technology has a tremendous working relationship with the E4E Relief team. The two teams treat each other like family, in fact, so when COVID-19 emerged as a global crisis of the magnitude that has the potential to simply overrun and overwhelm technology infrastructures (see your state’s unemployment office, for example), PowerObjects’ entire E4E Relief team dropped everything and immediately jumped in to help. “Thank goodness we had a lot of experience navigating solution delivery with Power Objects because the closely connected relationship has made it possible for us to get a lot of work done in a very short amount of time to provide needed relief,” says Linda Terrell, Vice President & Director, IT and Operations. “I’m really grateful.”
From developers and solution architects to senior members of leadership, it was all hands on deck to bolster the behind-the-scenes technology that runs these portals.
The collective team worked long hours in the final weeks of March – coding well into the nights and over the weekends to quickly beef up E4E Relief’s technology infrastructure to ensure they can continue handling a volume of requests that is crippling other providers in the channel. Times of crisis can truly bring out the best in all of – as individuals, as businesses, and as partnerships, we pull together to pull through.
As Oscar Sadder, Deputy General Manager at PowerObjects and the leader of the team that designed and built the transformational PortalBuilder, said: “E4E Relief allows businesses to have and maintain corporate responsibility during this tumultuous crisis, so to be on the front lines with them, ensuring that they have and maintain the portals and technology infrastructure to keep hundreds of Employee Relief Funds operational is truly gratifying. I’m honored and humbled to be working so closely with a company that is literally making life-and-death differences in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people during this deadly pandemic.”
And speaking of literally making life-and-death differences, click here for a recent article about the new Brave of Heart Fund, a $100M fund E4E Relief is administering to support the families of healthcare workers who lose their lives to COVID-19. It is an incredible effort by many to respond generously on behalf of the frontline heroes in this pandemic.
Well, that’s our story. You know the truth is, if you wade through and past all the bad news, there are so many heartwarming stories out there right now. Hopefully, you found this to be one of them – we know it is for us. It really is a privilege to be able to contribute in meaningful ways. PowerObjects may not be able to sew masks or build ventilators, but it sure feels good to know there are other ways to make a difference.
Please stay home and stay healthy. This too shall pass.
Adoption and Sustainment by PowerObjects [VIDEO]
Education is one of our four pillars at PowerObjects and one of the branches within that pillar focuses on adoption and sustainment. Watch this video to learn how our Adoption and Sustainment team helps clients with product training, process training, and change management.
Streamlining Citizen Engagement with an Advanced Omnichannel Strategy
Government organisations are constantly trying to improve engagement with their citizens. Opening the lines of communication from every angle and device is critical in making sure citizens feel comfortable contacting you. This type of engagement allows for a relationship built on trust.
The tricky part is, not everyone likes to engage with you in the same way, making it very tricky to meet everyone’s preference.
Omnichannel is not a new buzzword term, but it is gaining importance in our virtual world. Check out these latest (and greatest) examples of omnichannel service at its best!
2.Internet of Things (IoT) – When organisations connect the devices they own with IoT, it can act as a proactive and innovative channel for service. It enables the ability to monitor issues, send alerts, automate service tickets and allow for proactive service.
3.SMS – SMS is often used as a channel for one-way marketing communications to consumers, but it also makes for a great customer service channel. Customers like using SMS because it’s convenient and eliminates the need to call in to a service center and wait in a queue for a simple question or to check on the status of a work order.
4. Email – Email is in the top two of service channels used by consumers across all age groups. It’s also a channel that commonly goes wrong when an organisation lacks an effective omni-channel platform and strategy. Emails might be answered by multiple agents who may provide conflicting or incorrect information, which is a very frustrating experience. As one of the most popular channels used by consumers, it’s critical to get it right.
5.ChatBot – With the growth of messaging applications, chatbots are rapidly becoming the biggest trend for the chat channel. Chatbots are great for customer service because they can handle basic requests and answer common questions. Consumers are increasingly looking for 24/7 service and chatbots can handle after-hours enquiries.
6.Social Media – The growth in the social media channel has steadied, but it’s still an important channel for customers who are either unhappy and want their voices heard or loyal and desire engagement and sharing.
Omnichannel Customer Service is a new interface within Dynamics 365 Customer Service, currently including Chat, SMS and Facebook Messenger. The next Release Wave 1 will have many other connectors, including WhatsApp, Twitter and Teams.
When you are deciding on what business solution will work best and scale to your business needs, evaluating the support options available to you should be at the tippy top of your list.
When we speak of support, we aren’t limiting it to “when you have a problem, we swoop in and save you.” Sure, it does involve that, but it really is so much more.
PowerObjects’ Lifecycle Support offerings assist and guide you along every step of the way to ensure your Microsoft Dynamics 365 solution is working in the best possible way for your business. We have five options that scale with your business size and needs…
Pay as you Go provides Standard and Enterprise support plans billed in 15-minute increments based on time and materials consumed.
Application Support Management is designed for large enterprise organizations with complex Dynamics 365 deployments.
Dedicated Support Engineer is a time-and-materials engagement based on prepaid blocks of 100 hours at standard billable rates.
PowerSuccess – which offers three tiers of support – is a service-as-a-subscription approach that provides access to a dedicated support team.
As a trusted Microsoft Partner, PowerObjects is a Cloud Solution Provider (CSP). Not only can we manage your cloud migration project through our Online Accelerator program, but we can procure and maintain your Microsoft Cloud licensing, as well.
Managing the support you receive from PowerObjects is also a breeze through our PowerCare Portal. You can submit new support requess and check stats of existing requests with 24/7 accessibility and visibility.
Support IS a big deal, and we here at PowerObjects take it seriously. Learn more about our offerings at www.powerobjects.com/support/ and remember us when you need a Partner that supports you now and years down the road.
Metro Bank Strives for Continuous Innovation
Metro Bank are the UK’s first new High Street Bank in more than 150 years. They are less than ten years old but have quickly emerged as a major player in the UK’s banking industry. Metro Bank have been running Microsoft Dynamics for more than seven years. Through an ongoing partnership with PowerObjects, Metro Bank upgraded to a newer version of Microsoft Dynamics 365, unlocking a new world of features that were not yet available in the version they had been running. The upgrade also ensured they are on the evergreen roadmap with Microsoft. Watch this video to learn how Metro Bank is working towards continuous innovation and customer service success with Microsoft Dynamics 365!