Getting to Know Microsoft Teams

Today I wanted to gain a better understanding of Microsoft Teams.  Teams is a feature of Office 365 that is currently in preview and it is really quite easy to setup.

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Microsoft Teams is a robust application that is built on the Office 365 Groups service but includes significantly more features than Office 365 Groups.  For example, Team includes chat capability via Skype, Delve, Microsoft Graph, integration with PowerBI, the ability to integrate common cloud applications, bot assisted intelligence, leverages Exchange connector service and the list goes on.  Obviously, I am not going to cover everything Microsoft Team has to offer but I do plan to walk you through the set up and give you enough information to begin using, exploring and sharing this application with your organization.

Let’s walk through the setup.  The first thing you need to do is enable the preview feature by logging into Office 365 as a Global Admin, select Settings and Service & Add-ins.

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Scroll down to Teams and select and open

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Toggle the off switch to On and walk through the available setting to ensure they are set appropriately for your organizational needs.

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For example, under Messaging, I selected to allow adding animated images to conversations.  You also have options like employing bots as agents of help, setting Content Rating and more.

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When completed, simply close the Teams window, return to the Office 365 Admin area and you ready to begin using Microsoft Teams.

To create your first team, log into Teams.Microsoft.com with your Office 365 account .  If this is your first time logging in, you will see a wizard experience that walks you through creating your first team.  If you previously created a team and want to create a new Team, then you can select the Create Team option from the lower left.

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After selecting the Start button, a window will appear where you can give the Team a name and description.

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From here, select the Next button, the Team will get created and you can add members to it.  To add a member, simply begin typing the member name and a list of options will appear.

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You simply select the user you would like to add and it will populate in the list of members.  Continue through this process until you’ve added all the members to the team,  select the Add button, and select Done to complete the setup. 

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You can also use the Skip button if you prefer to add members later.

This all takes just a few minutes and after selecting the Done button your team is created and you are ready to get started.

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There are several features that come with Teams to include an option to download a desktop application.  I thought I would try that out to gain a feel for the experience as compared to online so I selected the download button.

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After selecting the download option, I chose to Run the .exe rather than Save and run from the saved file.  

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After a few seconds the Team Loading screen appeared, followed by a login page.

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I logged in with my Office 365 credentials and the desktop application opened.  As you can see it looks almost identical to the Online application and the download option has changed to display an option to check out or get the mobile apps.

 

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One of the first features you’ll notice is the ability to add files.  As you can see the files are uploaded to a SharePoint site created for the Team.  You’ll notice that you have options that we’ve come to expect from applications that use SharePoint as a document repository. 

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Teams uses the Office 365 SharePoint site and creates a site for each team.  You can also create Notes to share which creates and uses OneNote which is also saved to SharePoint.

When you are in Outlook, you’ll notice that Team displays under the Groups area the same as Office 365 Groups.  Depending on the features you selected, you’ll be able to generate conversations which are saved to the group and send as email to group members to include Emoji’s, images, attachments, etc..

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So we know we can do all the typical things we’ve seen in Office 365 groups, let’s take a look at some of the other features. 

In addition to Conversations, Files, Calendar and Notebook, you’ll notice a + button on the top toolbar.  When you select that button, you’ll see additional applications that you can add to the Team. 

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In this example, I’ll add Planner.  Planner provides the ability to create tasks for the Team to help keep people on track and the Team organized.

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As you can see, I gave the new plan a name and now I’m going to select Save.  If I want to let people know that I’ve added Planner, I can select the option to “Post to the channel about this tab”.  Once completed, Planner is added as a new Tab to the list and I can begin using it to distribute tasks to the team.

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Another very useful feature of Team is the ability to add Channels to a Team.  This can be very handy if you have different projects, initiatives or issues that you want to manage but the team remains the same across all those channels.  For example, I could create an IT Team and under that team have multiple channels for new technology initiatives that we plan to implement in the company.  Its easy to add a new Channel.  Simply right click the Team and you will see a list of available options.

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One of those options is to Add a Channel.  When I select the option, a window appears that allows me to provide a name and description for my Channel.

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Once completed, select the Add button. Now I’ve created a new Channel under my Team with all the features of the Team for managing the New Initiative leveraging the team members of the original team.

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One final feature I wanted to share is to encourage you to select the Chat option from the left navigation menu.  When you do, you’ll notice that T-Bot is ready to help.  From here you can ask questions, check out Help, FAQ, watch videos and, in general, learn just about anything you want to about the Microsoft Team application.

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After you’ve completed your Team setup, you can access Teams from Outlook under the Groups section.

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I don’t know about you but I’m pretty excited and ready to share this with my organization so we can begin use of this full featured collaboration app.

Cheers

Additional Resources

Microsoft Team Product

Satya Nadella Introduces Microsoft Office Teams

Microsoft Teams: Step-by-step intro for using, enabling and managing the experience

Introducing Microsoft Teams (in Preview)

Deploy and Manage Microsoft Teams

TechNet Community Additions

Today I noticed a section at the bottom of some TechNet Article pages.  The section is labeled Community Additions.  I hadn’t noticed this in the past but I can’t say that it wasn’t available.  In any event, I noticed it today and wanted to share my discovery with the community.

 

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I thought I would test this out to understand and share the experience.  Here is what I discovered.

When you select the Add button it takes you to a page where you can enter a title and content for you contribution.

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Even though this is a test, I selected the submit button.  Please note, I did this so you can learn from me experience.  I do not encourage you to test the process.

After selecting Submit, I was taken back to the page where I started.  When I refreshed the page, my post appeared under Community Additions with an edit link.

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I selected the Edit link and discovered that I could edit content and submit but I was not able to find a delete button.  I plan to use the “Is this Page Helpful” option at the bottom of the page to submit a request to have this post deleted and provide an option for authors to delete their community contributions in the future.

I’ll look forward to seeing your community contributions to these great TechNet articles going forward.

Cheers

CRM Online Portal Trial – Step by Step Installation

Recently I obtained a trial portal to add to my CRM Online trial organization.  I thought I would share the process with you in the event you would like to try it out.  Note, this is the process at the time of this writing.  This process could change at any time.

The first step is to create a CRM Online trial, complete the setup and sign in.  Next, make a request for a Portal trial.  You can do that by selecting this link and completing the information on the page.  You’ll receive a follow-up email after you complete the sign-up request.

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If your trial request is accepted, you’ll receive an email with an activate link.  Select the Activate button, and you’ll be taken to a page where you can choose to add the Portal to your existing trial [CRM Online] or create a new one.  Select Add Existing, if you have a trial or New if not.  If you accidently select New, not to worry as you’ll have the option on the page to sign into an existing CRM Online trial or create a new one.

Note:  At the time of this writing, you must select Add Existing for the Portal Trial to work as expected. 

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I signed in with my existing trial.  You’ll be asked to confirm your order by selecting the Add button and on the order receipt page the Continue button. 

Tip:  If the order receipt includes a message to assign the users a license you can ignore that as it is not required  (see below)  

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After selecting Continue, you’ll be taken to your Office 365 Home page.  If not, log into Office 365 and select CRM from the Admin Centers on the left navigation menu and you’ll be taken to your CRM Instance. 

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Highlight the instance you want to work with and select applications from the top navigation menu.  In this example I have only one instance so it was automatically selected for me.

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On the Applications tab you will see the Portal Add-on.  If you don’t see the Portal Add-on then something didn’t go as expected during the setup process.  You’ll need to go back and check your request for a Portal or open a support ticket for assistance. 

Select the Manage button to begin the initial Portal setup.

Tip: Note the status of the Portal is NotConfigured

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On the next page you will enter information regarding the portal configuration. 

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Here is where you will give your portal a Name, Portal URL (enter the value you want for the URL and the portal will confirm if it is available or not), select your Portal Audience and the type of portal to be deployed.  In this example, the Portal Audience is customer and Portal to be deployed is Community.  Select the Submit button, at the bottom of the page, and select accept for the Terms of Service window dialog

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The configuration will begin and might take a few minutes to complete.  Stay on the screen until completion. 

After completion you will be asked to log back into Office 365.  At this point, you will be asked to give the Portal Add-on permissions that are required for the application to run.  Select Accept

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The Portal Add-on is now working through the final stages of configuration and setup.  Give it the necessary time to complete.

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Tip: If you select Portal Details, it will take you back to the screen where you entered your initial portal configuration information.  If you select Submit again, it will display a message that the URL is already in use.

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You can check on the status by returning to Office 365, Admin Center, CRM, select the CRM instance then select the Applications button, select Manage and you should see a link to your Portal URL.  If you don’t see it, give it some additional time to complete the configuration and check back. 

Note:  Your Portal URL should be in the following format: https:<nameYouProvided>.microsoftcrmportals.com

That’s it; you’re now ready to begin configuring your Portal for others to access.  Below are a couple of resources to help you get started with the Microsoft Dynamics Portal solution.

Configure a CRM Portal

Administrator’s Guide to portal capabilities for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Cheers

Have you tried these Solutions?

There is so much available in Dynamics CRM that it can be challenging to keep up.  Since features are coming at us so quickly and we are all incredibly busy, it is easy to miss things or not be aware of what is available.  Given that and in an effort to bring you quick read articles, I thought it might be helpful to post shorter but informative information.   Today’s post is one of those.

For those that are not aware, there is a significant list of solutions that you can install when creating a Dynamics CRM Online trial.  It is important to note that some of the solutions are only available in the US data center.  To view the list,  you can fire up a CRM online trial.  I generally select the Self-Start Trial option but you can select either option depending on your familiarization with the product.

After setting up your trial, log into the online Office 365 using your new user name and password and select Admin from the top left hand corner.

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Select CRM from the left navigation menu.

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Select the instance you want to update and select the Manage Solutions icon.

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Here is the list of solutions currently available in my CRM Online trial instance.

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Installing each one is a simple click of the button.  Select the solution you want to install and select the Install icon.

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Once all selected options are installed you can begin configuring it and learning about the solutions.  You should be able to find all the information you need on the Customer Center, Technet and MSDN.  Here are a few but very useful tips for navigating Technet.

Cheers

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Task Flow

A task flow is a new business flow process available in CRM 2016 Online.  It is currently in preview so you have to enable the preview option for your organization.  A task flow allows you to guide users through a certain task or set of tasks that have a particular objective.  In the example I’m going to cover in this post, we are going to create a record in CRM and associate it with another record.  This doesn’t seem like a big task to complete but for a new user who is unfamiliar with CRM and the process, it is not always easy to remember exactly where to begin the process to include remembering which record to open first to ensure ease of relating the needed records, where to go on the record to create the related record, etc.  The task flow makes this process easy as it removes all questions and allows the user to move rapidly through a process that could otherwise be more challenging to complete.

In this example, I will walk you through the creation of a task flow and completing it after it is moved into production.

First enable the entity for Business Process Flows

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Select Process from Settings and select new and give your process a name.  When you select Business Process Flow as the Category, a new option will appear, “Run process as a business flow (Classic) or Run process as a task flow (Mobile Only.  Select task flow (Mobile Only).  Select the Entity you want to use for the Task flow and modify the schema name field if desired. 

Note: Task Flows are available for Preview at the time of this writing.   They are not solution aware so you will not be able to export them from a solution and import into a new environment.  However, if you have a custom publisher, you should create the Task Flow from within a solution that uses your publisher to ensure the desired prefix is used.

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Select Ok and the Task Flow designer will open

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Expand Details to see and update additional information if desired.

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Here you can add a description, change the Task Flow name and you should set the Image.  If you would like to use a custom image, select the Set Image option on the right under Category and upload an image.  Otherwise you can use the default image.

The next step is to begin adding fields to the Task Flow.  Under the headers Label, Source, Field, you’ll want to add each field that you want the user to complete.  At a minimum, ensure you add all required fields to this area.

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If you know the field name you can begin typing it and select it when it appears in the dropdown.

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Tip:  Fields displayed for selection include all entity fields not just those on the form.  It is helpful to have a record open so you can select and order only those fields you want the user to complete.  Additionally, JavaScript works in Task Flows so ensure you add the fields that interact with scripts. 

After you’ve added all the fields and you are done with the Task Flow process simply activate the process and it will be available for testing in the mobile application.  You can launch the Task Flow from any screen in the mobile application by selecting the icon in the lower left hand corner.

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All available Task Flow processes will appear so the user can select the desired process.

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You simply select the Task Flow desired and the process begins. 

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In the first step you can choose to update an existing record or create a new record by selecting the New button from the bottom of the Task Flow.

In this example we will update an existing record.  The first thing you’ll need to do is lookup the record.  You can do that by typing the name of the record needed and the list automatically begins displaying records that meet that criteria.  You can also use a wildcard at the beginning of the phrase to pull back records that contain a value.  The wildcard symbol is the percent sigh % as you will see in the example below.

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You can select the record you want to update and it will load displaying the fields available for update. 

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After completing all the fields, you simply select Done.

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If you need to create a new record rather than updating an existing one, you simply select the new button at the bottom of the page when the process initially opens.

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After selection, a new record form will open.

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After entering data into the fields, simply select save and you will be taken to a page where you can review your entries and either select Save if you are satisfied with your work or Cancel and start over.

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If you select Save, a new page will open that allows you to review your work.  Here you can select Done if satisfied or Cancel and start over. 

There are several things I like about the Task Flow process.  One significant advantage is that using the ability to more quickly complete work that involves multiple entities.  For example, if you users need to create records related to other records and you want to ensure those records are easy and fast to create then this is a good fit.  Another advantage is for onboarding new staff and quickly getting them up to speed with performing their daily work. 

I also like that the UI has a pleasantly simple yet sophisticated design.  There are some impressive features.  One example that I liked is the way date fields display.  Rather than the typical calendar selection, you can select from each date part individually or display all three at the same time depending on what you need to change.  There is also a clear field option.

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Although there are some limitations, as compared to dialogs, I think this is a great starting point and I’m confident that Microsoft is going to continue to invest in the feature.  I’ve already starting adding suggestions to Microsoft Connect for future feature considerations and I encourage you to do the same.  For example, I would love to see dialog and guided help features rolled into the Task Flow.  I think having the ability to prompt, obtain a response and take action based on the response will take this feature to the next level.  Of course, it will also be great to make this available in the browser rather than just the mobile application as well.  It’s easy to see how dialog and guided help features could be rolled into this in future releases.  With those changes I can see how the Task Flow could quickly replace dialogs in CRM.  I’m not saying that is the direction Microsoft will take but this could become a very powerful and productive tool in the not too distant future.  I’m excited to see the direction Microsoft takes with this in the future.

Give the new Task Flow feature a try and share your experience.  I’ll be interested in knowing your thoughts.  Ensure you give your feedback to Microsoft as there is a good chance that your feature requests could make it into the final release once the preview period is complete.

Cheers

Additional items available in the Task Flow process include the ability to branch, add a custom image, insert multiple pages, add business rules, supports “intelligent” search features, and business rules.  Currently, users can launch a Task Flow from the mobile application only.

Helpful Resources

What are task flows and how do they compare to other tools in Dynamics CRM?

Preview feature: Create a New Task Flow

Creating and Customizing Task Flows

Microsoft MVP Virtual Conference

I was pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the first ever Microsoft MVP Virtual Conference.  For those of you not able to attend, we had a panel of four Microsoft MVP’s to include Alex Fagundes, Chris Cognetta, Shan McArthur and me.  Of course, the topic was the latest release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

The panel provided a strong mix of both functional and technical areas of expertise.  We discussed and provided clarity regarding things like the new CRM naming convention, update navigation menus, ability to update themes, email tracking flexibility, mobile, transactions at the SDK level, upsert capability, plug-in logging, Microsoft update rollup strategy and how to leverage it to your advantage, and more.

For those of you that missed the session but want to hear what the MVP’s have to share about the new CRM 2015 features, take some time to view the video on Channel 9 and hear what the MVP’s have to say about the 2015 Spring release.

Dynamics CRM MVP’s – Ask the Experts

Check it out and leave comments to let us know what you would like to learn more about in the coming months.  We love your feedback and will take it into consideration for future plans.

Cheers

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Record Update Enhancement

After watching a video or two about the Dynamics CRM Record Update enhancements, I decided to try out the new features.  The enhancements make updating records in CRM much easier and more seamless so I wanted to share the information with you.  I wrote an article that was posted on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Team Blog. 

Check it out when you have a few minutes then try out the new feature and let me know what you think.

Cheers