Monthly Archives: January 2018

The right questions to ask when designing a security model in Dynamics 365

Where to start when it comes to security in Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement?
In this post I will help you ask and hopefully answer the key questions that arise when you design a security model.
I will also provide important warnings to consider and I will give you a simple method on how to lay down on paper the foundations of your security model and its business rules.

Dynamics 365 Security Design

What type of owner for your records?

It’s a crucial question. As I mentioned in my last article dedicated to the security context, the owner of a record defines the record’s position in the hierarchy of business units, and to which user or team it is linked to.

A user?

This means that the record belongs to the business unit of its owning user.

This is the default behavior in CRM, but is it always for the best?
Pay attention to scenarios where users are cross-departments and could work on records that can be functionally linked to different business units.
Example: I am part of the global management of a firm and as such, I sit on top of the hierarchy. At the same time, I work on an opportunity that is functionally related to the “Analytics – France” business unit. How to make sure that users belonging to that business unit also see my opportunity, if it is technically linked to a business unit above them (mine), and if they can only see opportunities that belong to their business unit? (You’are allowed to draw!)

A team?

Teams can become quite handy when it comes to dispatching data in the right place in the hierarchy of business units.
This also lets you manage independently how you dispatch users between business units (and this might not be even necessary!)

On the other hand, choosing to assign data to teams requires a bit of consideration on how to (possibly) automate these assignments, depending on business rules.
Example: when an opportunity is related to the “Business Apps – France” business unit (through a custom lookup), then assign the opportunity to the default owning team that is configured on this business unit.

A few good questions you should ask…

Beyond the classic “who should do what?”

  • Where to dispatch my users? Sometimes it is not even necessary to dispatch them in business units, especially if your security model is based on teams.
  • Where to dispatch my data? That’s the critical point

Don’t forget!

  • Who can see notes?
    Be careful with received ideas!
    Note security is not inherited from the entity it is attached to.
    They also have an owner and should not be forgotten in your security model. Otherwise you might have a surprise one day if a user makes an advanced find.
  • Who can see activity feeds publication?
    Just like for notes, visibility on publications does not depend on the visibility of records they are attached to.
    In fact, the Publication entity does not have an owner… everybody can see all of them, provided they have at least a read privilege on the entity.
  • Can we distinguish the rights on different types of activities?
    It is not possible to have different privileges on different types of activities.
    The security of an email, appointment or task should be handled in a single way.
  • What is the impact for the Outlook synchronization if my activities belong to teams?
    Be careful with Outlook default filters. They are often based on the owner.
    You should review each type of activity individually and update your organization’s default filters accordingly, for example with this great tool by Tangy Touzard: Sync Filter Manager.
  • How to manage security for a record that can be assigned to anybody in the organization?
    For example, a task can be assigned to different people, or a case can be handled by multiple users in their life-cycle.
    You should carefully review the path and life-cycle of your records, and make sure that they remain visible to the right users during their processing.

Warning: designing and implementing a security model can take time!

We rarely plan enough time to handle complex security models, thinking that it’s “just” configuration.

Security can require quite some work:

  • Automatic creation and configuration of owning teams
    Especially if your model is complex, with a large number of business units that evolve in time.
    Keep in mind that teams also need a security role in order to own records!
  • Automatic assignment of records based on business rules
  • Automatic configuration of users based on their profile

Document your model and create a data security inventory 

Create a spreadsheet with the entities that you use in your projet, their type of owner, and how the owner should be determined.

For example:

Entity Owner Business rule to identify the owner
Contact Team Depending on the contact’s country:

  • Contact > Country > Country’s owning team
Lead User The user who creates the lead (default behavior)
Account Not relevant, as in this model all users should see all accounts
Opportunity Team Depending on the managing department of the opportunity

  • Opportunity > Department > Department’s owning team
Note User / Team It depends:

  • If the note is attached to a contact or opportunity, then the note should be assigned to the same owner as the contact or opportunity
  • If the note is attached to another kind of entity, then the owner should be its creator.
Product Organization N/A
Price List Organization N/A

Dynamics 365 Security: context, context, context!

Have I mentioned how important the context is?

Whenever you address a security question in Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement, there are always two contexts that you must take into consideration: the data context and the user context.

LockThe data context: it is provided by the record’s owner but also (and it’s very important), by the Business Unit of its owner (whether it is a user or a team).

The user context: his or her Business Unit as well as his or her different security roles. Whether those roles are assigned directly to the user, or to the teams he or she belongs to. The respective context (especially Business Unit) of these various roles is crucial.

How should you configure your user rights?

There are several ways, but you mainly have two options to configure the rights of users in Dynamics 365:

  • With security roles that are directly assigned to them.
    …and that apply in the context of the user’s Business Unit.
  • With security roles that are assigned to teams they belong to.
    …and that apply in the context of the team’s Business Unit.

It is of course possible (and sometimes necessary) to mix and match the two options, with both roles that are directly assigned to the user and others that are assigned to teams he or she belongs to:

Team or User security role

How to know the context of a security role?

Well, that’s an easy one: it’s written on it when you assign it!
A security role’s access level is only defined by the context of the user or team to which it is assigned:
Security Role and Context

Why should you assign at least one security role directly to a user instead of relying solely on team-based security?

It is recommended that even with a security model based on roles that are assigned to teams, users should have at least one security role directly assigned to them. It is mandatory if you want your users to be able to access personal CRM options, formats, languages, or have default forms, personal views, personal charts and personal dashboards (because they would need to be the owner of them, as it can’t be a team).

Base security role

You should also know that if you want users to be owner of records that only them should see, a security role containing a “read” privilege with a “user” access level, assigned to a team the user belongs to would not work. That would mean that the team can be the owner of the record, not the user belonging to the team.

Yes, security roles are additive… but be careful, they are additive in their respective context!

Security roles apply exclusively in the context of the user or team they are assigned to (and so in the context of the Business Unit of the user or team)


 Security Roles Cumulation
It is a misconception to think that because a user is part of a team, they can benefit from the team’s security role in their own user context. In fact, they benefit from each security role, but in their respective contexts.
Security Roles Accumulation
Stay tuned for more hands-on examples!

CRM Trends for 2018

It’s now been years since CRM solutions don’t restrain themselves to traditional customer relationship management processes. This broadening of their functional scope has even led editors to rename their solutions. CRM solutions have become cloud-based powerful, scalable and extensible platforms that can welcome a great deal of new business objects and processes. While these processes are still customer-oriented (or partner, employee, citizen, patient, student… depending on what is tracked within them) they go well beyond basic follow-up of a sales or service process.

New customer expectations have encouraged CRM editors to deeply transform their solutions. Modern CRM solutions must  meet two crucial needs: to be customer-centric, and to offer an optimal and smart User Experience (UX).

Customer-centric so that customer experience and engagement are the beating heart of the application. Consumers expect more and more from organizations: they expect proactiveness, intelligence, and no more barriers between departments who must speak with a single voice. And this is the very least! Today, each detail and attention that is added at touch points between the customer and the organization contribute to making a unique customer experience. These details and attentions have become major competitive advantages. Emotion is now the currency of experience, but it is crucial to respect intimacy and not be intrusive when providing these emotions.

User Experience because to remain competitive, organizations must do more with less. Applications must effectively guide users by being more intelligent, intuitive and simple. Expectations in terms of productivity and operational efficiency are higher than ever. Users expect great tools to achieve their business goals, and the tasks they perform must be of high value.

So what are the trends for 2018?


Social Selling and LinkedIn integration

Social Selling

Salespeople already use LinkedIn to forge ties with existing relations and to find new potential customers. CRM solutions are now also connected with LinkedIn. On top of helping to target the right people and companies, they make intelligent leads suggestions depending on organisations’ needs.

To start the conversion and engage with new leads, LinkedIn also suggests icebreakers (relations in common, shared interests, societies…). To continue the work as a team, leads can be imported into CRM and go further within the sales funnel.

Targeted ad campaigns on LinkedIn can also push interested leads directly into CRM. They can be automatically qualified based on the rules that have been defined, and teams can pick up from there and collaborate on the opportunity.

IoT and connected field service

Dynamics 365 Field Service

The Internet of Things and connected objects are a huge opportunity for consumers and companies. Maintenance activities can be optimized, failures can be anticipated, and reactivity to incidents can be strongly increased. Management platforms for connected objects are now mature and are integrated with CRM solutions for customer service and field service.

When a failure is detected on a connected object, a case can be created in CRM. Next, the customer can receive a notification, and an available technician can automatically be assigned a work order on his or her mobile phone, in order to take action. All of this is done in a smart way: depending on the task required skills, the customer’s preferences, availability and distance.

With connected field service, companies can broaden their offering with new services. They also improve customer experience and satisfaction while optimizing resource use at the same time. And all of this within a single platform.

Big Data, Data Science and Machine Learning at the service of customer insights and a complete and smart 360° view

The volume and diversity of data related to customer is constantly increasing. Beyond a basic transaction history, organizations now track marketing interactions, clicks, web or mobile navigation, online but also offline behaviors, on their own platforms or on social networks… They also receive large amounts of data coming from connected objects. Traditional databases cannot handle such volume of information and variety of formats, but Big Data solutions are here to take over.

Of course, the idea is not to store all these information within the CRM database, but instead to have the possibility to cross-reference them, detect patterns and identify models. Setting up analysis models help organizations define relevant indicators for the business: consumption trends, anomalies (are you losing your customer?), potential additional business, forecasts, and in the end, smarter Next Best Actions to suggest to their teams. These KPIs and Next Best Actions can reside (or be displayed) in CRM, as they are useful to users.

Modern Big Data and analytics solutions have become more simple and they can be put in the hands of business users. These tools can enable them to define advanced marketing segmentation, cross multiple data source, and perform smart predictive matching between a social network username, a website visitor, and a customer record sitting in the CRM database. This profile matching is a big challenge today for organizations, even though they are crucial to define and follow an end-to-end customer journey and offer a complete 360° view.

IA, Chatbots and Intelligent Automation 

Customers can engage with organizations thanks to chatbots deployed on their websites, mobile applications, Facebook pages, or via SMS. Chatbots can leverage multiple data sources (including CRM of course), and the idea is to handle part of the customers’ requests with Artificial Intelligence: fixing an appointment, following up with a request, suggesting a solution to a problem from the Knowledge Base, opening and qualifying new cases…

Smart services can automate similar recurring tasks. For example, a robot can make a first analysis of the picture of a damage before creating a case. Text-recognition technologies (OCR) can also be used to scan sales orders and create associated guarantee contracts in CRM.

In addition, CRM users can be pushed smart action cards that help them go through their work day, directly from their dashboards or from their mobile application. Action cards can be pushed for diverse topics: an email in their inbox that has been identified as urgent based on keywords, an opportunity closing soon, or a customer with no activity for too long…

Portals to open CRM data to a broader audience and customers

Customer Portal

A large part of customer requests can be handled without any interaction with your teams. How? By providing customers with an access to their data (contact details, deliveries, orders, requests, invoices…)

When creating a new request, customers can be automatically suggested relevant Knowledge Base articles and avoid low added value interactions with customer service.


On May 25th 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be unilaterally enforced. Companies of 28 European Union countries will have to be compliant, as this will deeply change how personal data will have to handled. Will your CRM be ready?

Advanced integration of CRM with Digital Marketing solutions

It’s all about bridging the gap between marketing and sales teams. Digital Marketing and CRM solutions are often distinct, especially the ones that can handle large entreprise scenarios, but they are increasingly better connected and integrated. Marketing teams can identify and define lead scoring models within a marketing automation tool, and those leads can be sent to CRM to be qualified by a salesperson as soon as they reach a certain score.

Marketing automation workflows can be defined to leverage data coming from marketing campaigns, social networks, websites as well as CRM. Cross-referencing these data allow to refine customer segmentations and as a result to better personalize customer experience on websites, applications or even in stores.

Data driven organizations and empowered users
Empowered Users

Even after putting the best reports at the service of users, their needs will continue to change, and always have to be treated urgently.

With modern BI tools, users can create their own reports and dashboards with simple self-service data visualization tools. These tools not only let users access CRM data, but they can also connect to many other sources that can be mixed in order to create more relevant cross-applications KPIs.

Users can then share their reports and dashboards with other users and teams within the organization. Whether they are embedded within CRM solutions or whether they sit in dedicated applications, reporting and analytics options are now at the hand of users who can easily create their own dashboards, reports, document templates, and formatted spreadsheets.

An increasing variety of business processes handled in CRM tools

CRM solutions keep getting enhanced with new modules. These modules go beyond traditional sales and services, or industry verticals. In fact, the new business applications that get integrated in CRM cover processes that were often managed in separate software. The similarity between them and traditional CRM processes is that they revolve around the customer. The goal is to achieve better experience as well as a complete 360° view within a single platform.

With Field Service, organizations can increase customer satisfaction and optimize resources with intelligent scheduling, mobile support, and remote asset monitoring. Project service automation is dedicated to projects and resources management, in order to increase productivity and by bringing people, processes, and automation technology together through a unified experience.

Transforming and realizing results by empowering teams

By broadening their functional scope and by being increasingly integrated, modern CRM solutions question the current distribution of business processes across the Information System applications. CRM solutions are more than ever a crucial cornerstone of any transformation strategy.

This article was first published on my LinkedIn profile (in French).