How to Manage Phone Calls in the Unified Interface

Timeline - Create a New Record

How to Manage Phone Calls in the Unified Interface

Dynamics 365 is constantly improving the interactive experience for the sales professional. As a result, there have been some changes in the Dynamics 365 regarding the behavior of Phone Calls. In previous versions, Phone Call records were always marked as “Completed” when they were saved and closed. But, that wasn’t the desired outcome if a user was scheduling a future Phone Call. So, this blog will make a recommendation on how to manage Phone Calls in the Unified Interface.

Phone Calls in the Unified Interface

Phone Call functionality in the current release of Dynamics 365 is now enhanced. However, there is still some need for improvement when it comes to the Phone Call Quick Create form. I will explain by showing you the difference between the Phone Call Main form and the Phone Call Quick Create form.

Phone Call Main Form

Create a New Phone Call

The Phone Call Main form provides several out of the box options in the command bar. If you are creating a new Phone Call, you will see the following commands at the top of the form:

  • Save – saves the Phone Call record and keeps the form open
  • Mark Complete – saves the Phone Call record as “Completed”, inactivates the record and closes the form
  • Save & Close – saves the Phone Call record as “Open” and closes the form

Manage Phone Calls in the Unified Interface Main Form

Modify an Existing Phone Call

If you want to modify an existing open Phone Call record, the Main form offers several different options. In this case, you will see the following commands at the top of the form:

  • Save – saves the Phone Call record and keeps the form open
  • Mark Complete – saves the Phone Call record as “Completed”, inactivates the record and closes the form
  • Save & Close – saves the Phone Call record, keeps it “Open” and closes the form

Manage Phone Calls in the Unified Interface Main Form - Modify

  • Close Phone Call – this command will display a pop up window that gives you two options:
    • Close as “Completed”
      • The State drop down value defaults to “Completed”
      • The Status drop down value defaults to “Made” – you can modify it to “Received”
      • Clicking on the Close button – saves the Phone Call record as “Completed” and inactivates the record

Phone Call Close as Completed

    • Close as “Canceled”
      • The State drop down value can be modified to “Canceled”
      • Clicking on the Close button – saves the Phone Call record as “Canceled” and inactivates the record

Phone Call Close as Canceled


Phone Call Quick Create Form

Most people would agree that the Quick Create (particularly for the Activity entities) is the preferred method for adding records. The Quick Create saves clicks and time. It seems to work well and fits into most users’ processes.

If you enable the Quick Create form for the Phone Call entity, the system will render the Phone Call Quick Create form:

  • when creating a Phone Call from a related entity Timeline (many of the fields are prepopulated from the related entity, including the “Regarding”)
  • when creating a Phone Call from the “+” icon in the toolbar at the top of the screen

The Quick Create form is generated for new Phone Call records only. This form is not rendered by the system when modifying an existing Phone Call record.

The Phone Call Quick Create form provides some different out of the box options compared to the Main form. If you are creating a new Phone Call, you will see the following commands at the bottom of the form:

  • Save & Close – saves the Phone Call record as “Open” and closes the form
  • Save & Create New – saves the Phone Call record as “Open” and refreshes the Quick Create form ready for the user to add another new Phone Call

Manage Phone Calls in the Unified Interface Main Form Quick Create Form

So, what is the Problem with the Quick Create Form?

Note that the Quick Create does not provide an option to “Mark Complete”. This to me is a big flaw in the otherwise very useful form. Don’t you agree that many users record Phone Calls after they make the calls? Based on that assumption, I have a workaround that will work for most Dynamics 365 users. You can create a workflow that takes the Due date into consideration:

  • A Phone Call record created without the Due date populated is assumed to be a “Completed” Phone Call
  • A Phone Call record created with the Due date populated is assumed to be a future “Open” Phone Call

If your users agree to the above, you can write a simple workflow like the one below. This workflow is triggered by the create of a new Phone Call record.

Phone Call workflow

This workflow is intended to support the Quick Create form. But, the logic still applies when creating a Phone Call from the Main form. However, there is one caveat with using the Main form. If the user enters a Due date but then selects “Mark Complete”, the system will mark the Phone Call as completed. As a result, if your users want to also use the Main form to create Phone Call records, they should be instructed to always use the “Save & Close” option. This will keep the outcome consistent between the Main form and Quick Create form.

Tips on How to Manage Opportunities in the Unified Interface

Record Navigation Panel 2

Tips on How to Manage Opportunities in the Unified Interface

I am a Dynamics 365 citizen developer consultant supporting multiple clients in all kinds of industries. Most of the business applications we develop are sales apps including, of course, opportunities. Our users dictate how they want their opportunity process and forms designed. However, we still like to offer some recommendations on how to manage their opportunities in the Unified Interface.

Record Navigation Panel

One of the Unified Interface features that I think is awesome is the record navigation panel. In previous versions of Dynamics 365, a user would click on a record link from a view and the record would open in a form. They would have to go back to the view to click on and open another record of interest. The record navigation panel is a feature of the Unified Interface that can be easy to miss. After clicking on a record from an entity view, select the little right arrow icon at the top of the form  Record Navigation icon  . This will open the record navigation panel, displaying the entity view you just came from. Now the user can select and open other records directly from the record navigation panel. In addition, as the user opens various records, the system will keep the entity form on the same form tab.

Record Navigation Panel

Note that the record navigation panel above is displaying opportunity records with the associated Estimated Revenue. This is because the Estimated Revenue field is the first non-key field column in this view. This view is sorted by the Estimated Revenue in descending order, showing the opportunities with the highest Estimated Revenue at the top.

Record Navigation Panel 2

The screenshot above shows the record navigation panel displaying opportunity records with the associated business process Active Stage. Again, this is because the Active Stage field is the first non-key field column in this particular view. This view is sorted by the Active Stage in descending order, showing the opportunities that are nearest to closing at the top. Depending on your users’ requirements, various views can be created to support the way they want to monitor their open opportunities.

The Opportunity Form and Assistant

Microsoft recently updated Dynamics 365 instances with 2020 Release Wave 1. Included in this release is the Sales Insights (free) version. There are multiple components of Sales Insights, but the one I’d like to highlight here is Assistant (previously Relationship Assistant). The Assistant uses AI to keep an eye on your actions and communications. This results in helping you stay on top of your opportunities with insight “cards”. Cards are displayed prominently throughout the application. (For more detail, see Use assistant to guide customer communications.)

Manage Opportunities in the Unified Interface with Assistant

For opportunities, the Assistant can provide insight into advancing your opportunity. The Assistant section may be on the opportunity form by default. If not, it should be added to a prominent position on the form. The Assistant card displayed above is notifying the opportunity owner that the Estimated Close Date for this opportunity is approaching. As stated previously, these cards are available out of the box for free with Dynamics 365 Sales. An administrator can configure insight cards such as task due today, close date has passed, or email contains a new stakeholder.

Pin the Business Process Flow Stage Flyout

Most Dynamics users have processes in mind that their sales team should follow to improve results.  You can map their specific sales processes into the opportunity Business Process Flow (BPF).  A BPF is a guided process map, like a wizard that moves their sales team from one stage of the sales process to the next. A citizen developer can configure the steps required to reflect the standard sales process.

The Unified Interface saved some screen real estate by removing the constant display of the BPF steps seen in previous versions. Now, you need to click the process stage in the BPF bar to see the steps for that stage in a flyout window. You also have the option to pin the flyout window to your form by clicking on the icon in the upper right corner. (See the results of pinning the stage flyout in the Putting It All Together section below.) The fly-out window remains in place if you switch to a different record. If you click on a different process stage, the flyout window will update automatically with the appropriate steps. If you close the fly-out window, it will remain closed on subsequent records until you decide to pin it again.

Pin the Stage Flyout

A Few Other Opportunity Tips

A few years ago, Microsoft redesigned the way entity records were associated with Business Process Flows. The active process stage used to be an out of the box field on, for example, the opportunity record. As most of you already know, this is no longer the case. Instead, each Business Process Flow is represented by it’s own BPF entity. Now, the active process stage of an opportunity is stored on the related BPF entity record. Therefore, you cannot display the active process stage value on opportunity forms or in opportunity views.

As a workaround, I recommend adding some custom fields to the opportunity entity record. All of these custom fields can be updated in one workflow that is triggered by the change in the Active Stage field on the related BPF entity record.

Active Stage

I suggest adding a custom Active Stage field to the opportunity entity record. You can make this field a text field or an option set field. The workflow can set the value of this custom field based on the value of the Active Stage field on the related BPF record. This custom field can be added to views and charts to identify where your opportunities are in the selling process. It is also a good idea to prefix the Active Stage name with a number. This will enable appropriate sorting in views and charts. If you make it an option set, you can assign various colors to each value to enhance any charts.

Pipeline Phase

I have also modified this workflow to update the out of the box Pipeline Phase text field. The Pipeline Phase field is used in various out of the box views and charts. If you modify the out of the box opportunity BPF stages, you should consider updating the Pipeline Phase field as well to keep it in sync.


Another recommendation is to have this workflow update the opportunity Probability field based on the current Active Stage value. The out of the box Probability field is a text field. Modify the workflow to update this Probability field based on percentages agreed upon by your users. The further along the opportunity is in the BPF, the higher the probability that this opportunity will result in some new business.

Weighted Estimated Revenue

The out of the box Estimated Revenue is certainly an important field to prioritize open opportunities. However, a custom Weighted Estimated Revenue field adds a new dimension. It factors in the probability that an opportunity will close as won. A Weighted Estimated Revenue field can be easily added as a calculated field (Estimated Revenue * Probability). To do this, you will need to add an additional custom decimal number Probability field. Again, this same workflow can set this decimal number Probability field value.

Putting It All Together

Manage Opportunities in Unified Interface

In summary, the features of the Unified Interface make it easy to monitor and prioritize your open opportunities. As described in another blog, the interactive dashboard is a nice data visualization tool for an overview of your opportunities. But when you need to dig in and work those opportunities, take advantage of the Unified Interface features discussed in this blog to do that. With the workstation configuration above, in one view, you can see:

  • The collapsed Dynamics 365 site map navigation menu on the far left
  • The open opportunities record navigation panel that allows you to select and display different opportunity records
  • The opportunity BPF bar with the active stage identified by the red target icon
  • The opportunity form with all the form tabs available (Summary, Opportunity Details, etc.)
  • The pinned BPF stage flyout on the far right that includes how long the opportunity has been active in the BPF and how long it’s been active in the current process stage

I hope this blog gives you and your users some ideas on how to enhance their experience with managing opportunities in Dynamics 365.

Insider Spotlight on Scanning a Business Card to Dynamics 365

Insider Spotlight on Scanning a Business Card to Dynamics 365

Scanning a business card to Dynamics 365 to directly create a Contact or Lead is a much awaited piece of functionality. When you collect a business card at a meeting or conference, the information on the card can now be captured. This can be done quickly and efficiently with the new feature. In this blog, detailed steps required for this to work will be explained.

Scanning a Business Card to Dynamics 365 License and Permissions

The first thing to know is that the Dynamics 365 scanning a business card functionality is only available in the Unified Interface.  The Microsoft guide details the steps to take in the setup.

The first step is to go to the Sales Hub, Overview area and choose to manage the Business Card Scan.

Dynamics 365 Scanning a Business Card Configuration

Turn the setting on for the organization. Scanning a Business Card Setting Turned On

We recently set the Scan Business Card functionality for a client. While we were testing the functionality, the following error was received.

Scanning a Business Card Error









The issue was with the user license. A user needs to have a Sales Enterprise license to use this functionality!

Below is a screen shot from the 2020 Dynamics 365 Licensing Guide. 10 Scans/user/month is included with a Sales Enterprise License.

Scanning a Business Card in Dynamics 365 Licensing Document

Update: after adding the professional license for the user, the scan business card functionality still did not function. We needed to call MS support to allocate the AI builder units. This is a process that only happens once a week and we added the license mid-week.

Using the Quick Create Form to Add a Contact or a Lead

The Quick Create form can be used on a desktop or the mobile app to capture the image of a business card. The fields from the business card are mapped to fields on a Contact or a Lead.

Scan Business Card on Contact Quick Create

If you’re using the Dynamics 365 Sales app on a desktop, the business card picture file should be selected.

If you are using a mobile phone or other mobile device, use the mobile phone camera to capture the business card picture.

First name, last name, account name, job title, email and address information will be automatically populated from the business card image.

Modifying the Fields Included on the Business Card Capture.

You are able to modify the fields that are captured from the Scan Business card functionality. Go to the Controls tab of the Business card area field properties of the  Contact/Lead Quick Create form. The captured fields are defined.

Control Configuration of Business Card Scanner on Contact Quick Create

If you would like to capture the Company Name from the business card; you can do that. However, you would need to capture that field in a text field and not in the Parent Account lookup field on the Contact record. The Parent account lookup field can then be populated manually from the text field.

Custom Text Field to Capture Company Name

Saving the Business Card Image in Dynamics 365

The image can be saved on the Contact record. The setting for allowing that capability is described here.

The image of the business card is saved in a section/tab of the form when this setting is turned on.

Business Card Image Saved on Contact form


As described above, the scanning a business card to Dynamics 365 is functionality that greatly enhances the productivity for Sales users of Dynamics 365.  The free version of Sales Insights is also included with this license and is detailed in SyncraTec’s Insider Spotlight on Using Dynamics 365 Sales Insights blog.


How to Find Related Background Processes in the Unified Interface


How to Find Related Background Processes in the Unified Interface

Unified Interface – What’s missing?

Many of us have been configuring model-driven apps using the Unified Interface for quite some time. Of course, there are lots of nice improvements with the new interface. However, there are some classic interface capabilities that didn’t make the transition. At least, not yet. You have probably noticed a few yourself. Why can’t we have a 2 column section on a form? It drives me crazy to have State and Zip Code on two separate lines when it makes more sense and saves screen real estate to have them next to each other. What happened to being able to apply custom Themes to add a background color to form section labels? Not supported yet. But the one I want to focus on in this blog is the ability to navigate, from an entity form, to the related background processes from executed workflows.

Related Background Processes from an Entity Form

When I get a call from a user and need to troubleshoot a problem, I listen to the user’s interpretation of what went wrong. Then I immediately attempt to trace the record history. I look at the Audit History and the related background processes from executed workflows. The first time I tried to view the related background processes in the Unified Interface, they were missing. I guessed that the form wasn’t configured to display them. But, I was wrong. The form had background processes listed under the Processes header in the navigation pane.

Opportunity Navigation

I started to google this and discovered that this is a known issue with the Unified Interface. A CRM Tip of the Day described a workaround to the problem. But, it didn’t work for me and didn’t work for several other people based on the comments. Who knows – a Microsoft update may have broken that solution. And, now that we are all being transitioned to the Unified Interface by the 12/01/2020 target date, we won’t be able to fall back on the classic interface to do our troubleshooting.




So, how do you access those Background Processes?

Power Platform Admin Center

I really hope Microsoft enables the navigation to related Background Processes on Unified Interface entity forms in the near future. But until then, I have a workaround that is acceptable considering that you hopefully don’t have to do this very often! Go to your Power Platform admin center – Select the “…” across from the Environment you are troubleshooting and click on “Settings.”


Background Processes are System Jobs

From the Settings page, click on the down arrow next to “Audit and logs.” From that drop down list, you will see “System jobs” – click on that. It should be noted that his solution is dependent on enabling the retention of System Jobs. To do that, be sure that you uncheck the “Automatically delete completed workflow jobs (to save disk space)” checkbox in your background workflows. System Jobs take up storage space, but the Microsoft data storage model is changing for the better.


From the System Jobs page, first change the View to be “All Workflow Jobs.” Then go to the far right and click on the filter funnel icon. This enables column header filtering. Click on the little down arrow next to the Regarding column header and select “Filter by specific Regarding…”

All Workflow Jobs

Select the appropriate entity in the “Look for” drop down. I was troubleshooting a specific Opportunity record, so I selected Opportunity. The Opportunity I was troubleshooting is a closed Opportunity. So, in the “Look in” drop down, I changed the default view to All Opportunities. I entered my search criteria and clicked on the magnifying glass icon. Two Opportunity records appeared in the list. I checked the specific Opportunity record I was trouble shooting, clicked on the Select button, and finally clicked on the Add button.

Regarding Lookup

A Familiar View of the Background Processes

This resulted in a complete list of Background Processes related to the record I was troubleshooting. It is basically the same view you would’ve seen from the entity form.

Final All Workflow Jobs

This solution is not as convenient as clicking on the related background process records from an entity form, but it gets the job done. More importantly, it will hopefully provide what you need to resolve the issue!

Energize Your Emails with the Dynamics 365 Enhanced Email Experience

Email Rich Text

The Dynamics 365 Enhanced Email Experience

Dynamics 365 Enhanced Email Experience is a major improvement for composing emails. In this blog, I’m going to highlight the details behind the new and improved components of the 2020 Release Wave 1 Enhanced Email Experience.  This feature is available in model-driven apps in the Unified Interface. It must be configured by the system administrator.

Let’s see how this enhancement can facilitate multi-tasking and increase your productivity. To get started, from an entity Timeline, click on the “+” and select “Email”. (Note: Composing an email from the Timeline is the only way to get to the new enhanced email experience.)

Timeline New Email


Enhanced Email Experience – Non-blocking “Compose” Window

The first noticeable change with the enhanced email experience is the  non-blocking window that opens. It allows you to compose your draft email with the context of the entity record you are working on. You can leave the window “normalized”, which allows you to view relevant content at a glance while you compose your email. By clicking on the icons in the upper right corner, you have options to “minimize” or “maximize” the form . For example, below is a New Email form from an Opportunity record. The non-blocking window gives you access to the relevant Opportunity content and related entity content. The “Compose” draft email window will stay open as you navigate to related entities. This feature facilitates the ability to copy and paste pertinent information into your email body. In addition, you can have multiple active draft emails open simultaneously.

New Email - No Text


Enhanced Email Experience – Rich Text Editor

To access all of the rich text editing options, click on the double arrow in the upper right corner of the email body section. These rich text options will allow you to make your message more meaningful and eye-catching. Instead of listing all of the rich text components, I created a draft email that demonstrates most of what is available:

Email Rich Text

Email Rich Text 2


Enhanced Email Experience – Email Template Selection

Select Email Template



Email templates are available by selecting the “Insert Template” button at the top of the “Compose” form. This includes out of the box templates and custom templates. In the example on the left, my email had a contact and an account in the “To:” field. The enhanced email experience prompts you to select the record you want a template for. Because I selected the contact, Mary Admin, the system displays a list of templates associated with the contact entity.




The screenshot below displays the window of all the available email templates. In this case, they are all out of the box email templates. As the user clicks on them, they can be previewed on the right side. If you select the blue down arrow, you see a description of the email template along with the date it was created and who created it. From here, an email template can be selected and applied to the email you are composing. If configured as such, entity record fields will be automatically mapped to the email body.

Email Template Preview

Dynamics 365 Enhanced Email Experience – Email Signatures and Attachments

You can further customize your email by adding a saved signature. Simply select the “Insert Signature” button at the top of the “Compose” form. A window pops open that allows you to search for the signature you want to include. The “Attach File” command button is used to attach documents and other files. You won’t see the “Attach File” button until the email has been saved at least one time. The steps to attach a file are the same as they were in previous releases.


Final Steps

Minimized Emails

The screenshot on the left shows two minimized draft emails. They appear like this in the lower left corner of your screen. You can click on the icons to “normalize” their view or “maximize” their view.

After you have finished composing your draft email and you are ready to send it, select “Save” at the top of the form one more time. You actually won’t see a “Send” button until the email has been saved at least one time. However, you don’t have to send it. You can “Save & Close” the draft email to send at another time.

Setting up the Dynamics 365 Enhanced Email Experience

The system admin can configure the enhanced email experience from the Sales Hub App Settings area. However, this will enable the enhanced email experience in all of your model-driven apps. Note that the system admin can also go to the legacy web client Settings area. The Microsoft web page provides the detailed step by step instructions. Here is a link – Link to Microsoft Documentation.