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How Microsoft selected a Power Platform architecture to manage our customer implementations process

Microsoft on Microsoft Success Story

In this post, the Operations team in the Microsoft Business Applications Group describes the solution architecture they selected using Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform for FastTrack Solution Architects to manage thousands of customer engagements.

 

BUSINESS SCENARIO

Dynamics 365 customer implementations managed by FastTrack teams (read about the program details here) require more than just a framework of best practices.  Successful implementations require deployment guidance and tooling to make every solution architect managing an implementation the best of the best at their craft.  With thousands of customer implementations and deployments in the pipeline, the Dynamics 365 FastTrack team requires a solution to plan, execute, review, and manage customer engagements.

Architectural needs for this solution fall into four major scenarios:

  • Planning – scheduling meetings, selecting topics to include from a knowledgebase, and customizing selected topics and scenarios to fit the customer’s scenarios
  • Execution – capturing notes during meetings along with other documents and other materials used or generated during meetings
  • Compilation – editing notes, documenting issues and risks that can be managed as part of the ongoing engagement
  • Reporting – generating a report for customers and partners summarizing findings

Offline support is important for some of these scenarios in environments with limited or no connectivity.

 

FUNCTIONAL NEEDS

Our selection of technologies for this solution was based on Connectivity and Functional Needs for each of these scenarios:

Scenario Connectivity Functional Needs
Planning Offline support desired, online-only OK for now
  • Schedule events in Outlook
  • Associate reviews to FastTrack engagements
  • Browse and select from complex Knowledgebase schema
Execution Offline support required
  • Rapid note capture
  • Attach PowerPoint decks, OneNote, Word documents, and images of whiteboards or other handwriting
Compilation Offline support highly desirable
  • Browse and select from complex KB schema
  • Create issues and risks
  • Rich text editing
Reporting Online-only OK Store reports along with assets referenced above

 

SELECTION

Our decision: leverage model-driven Apps  with Power Apps component framework controls  and the Dynamics 365 App for Outlook for this app.

We’re leveraging the Dynamics 365 for phones and tablets app to meet offline requirements.

With Power Apps component framework controls, we are able to improve on the default model-driven app user experience in several ways:

  • tree controls enable our solution architects to navigate through a complex knowledge base schema with fewer clicks and windows
  • lookups as combo boxes enables us to provide a simple experience to associate existing Common Data Service (CDS) records along with the ability to update the options available by app admins with no additional development
  • rich text editor with spell-check helps our knowledge base authors produce quality content

We’re utilizing Microsoft Teams integration with model-driven apps in Dynamics 365 for document management requirements. Going this route also gives us stronger ties between our engagement management experience and Teams collaboration capabilities.

With the Dynamics 365 App for Outlook, solution architects can track customer meetings and reviews directly from their Outlook calendars with no double entry required.

We’re utilizing Microsoft Power Automate flows for notifications, background updates, and generating project review reports for partners and customers with the Word Online (Business) connector.

Microsoft Power BI Reports and Dashboards running on top of CDS enables our FastTrack leadership team to manage across all their engagements effectively.

Lastly, model-driven apps give us all kinds of Dynamics 365 goodness for no additional effort such as advanced find, personal and shared views, very low code development, robust solution management, multi-user development, and much more.

 

SOLUTION ARCHITECTURE

Conclusion

Selecting this architecture positions us to provide a rich, streamlined, offline-ready experience while leveraging the high productivity of building model apps. If you are looking to satisfy a similar set of requirements, we hope this helps.

Stay tuned for a follow-up to this post regarding the implementation and lessons learned.