Newsletter - April 2021
1 - Gems from the GMs
Tips, topics & tidbits from our Top Dogs!
Director - Customer Engagement & Collaboration
General Manager - Dynamics 365 CE
Hi everyone, and welcome to the first edition of our Dynamics 365 Newsletter for 2021. It’s been such a hectic start to 2021 that we are already scratching our heads wondering what happened to summer, but what an exciting way to start the year. Our teams have been working on some amazing solutions for our customers already, and we’re busily preparing for the raft of enhancements scheduled in the coming April release.
New investment partner speeds up growth
Fusion5 attracts private equity investment from Waterman, further powering our rapid growth, strengthening our position in market, and expanding the range of solutions and services available to our customers. Read the full story.
Strengthening our Microsoft stack with Business Central
And in the spirit of growth, Fusion5 is excited to announce the addition of Dynamics 365 Business Central to our total customer offering. As of 1 March, the team from Topaz Solutions have become part of the wider Fusion5 team. Read the full story.
Get ready for the next big Dynamics 365 Release!
Every year, Microsoft releases two major updates to its online version of Dynamics 365. The notes relating to these release can be up to 600 pages long! For those on Fusion5's 'Release Cycle Assessment' module (part of our Supercharge Programme), our technical team will analyse any customisations in your solution, identifying if they will be compatible with the latest release, and resolving 'hitches' before they become issues. We also do the work to understand the full release, then advise you on the latest features and improvements that can bring you the greatest benefit! Saving you time, stress, and headaches! Want to know more?
So as you can see, the rolling stone is gathering no moss here at Fusion5, and we’re as thankful as ever for your support and custom as we continue to expand and bring more relevant products into our portfolio, and resources on the ground, to drive your business forward in the age of digital transformation. Enjoy the rest of the long days while they last.
Kristy Brown and Paul Griffin
2 - Going from Good to Great
Why we now offer Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central
Aimed at small and medium sized businesses (typically with up to 500 employees), Dynamics 365 Business Central allows you to bring your sales, service, ﬁnance and operations teams together in a single cloud based solution.
Fusion5 has bolstered its Dynamics 365 practice through the acquisition of Topaz Solutions, a notable specialist in both Business Central and Navision who already support over 40 businesses on these platforms.
Our CEO, Rebecca Tohill, had this to say about the acquisition:
“Business Central fits nicely into the Fusion5 portfolio of applications. It will offer a choice for those customers who are committed to a wholly Microsoft environment but are not of a size or scale to adopt Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations. We will also be able to introduce our new team to businesses who already use Navision or Business Central and who are keen to experience Fusion5’s highly regarded support and service model”.
Kristy Brown, Director of Customer Engagement and Collaboration at Fusion5 said:
“The acquisition of Topaz now means Fusion5 has a truly end-to-end Microsoft Dynamics 365 offer for any size of business. Business Central now boasts over 160,000 customers globally and the platform continues to outperform expectations in the Microsoft Business Applications suite.”
Business Central is proving to be very well suitedto the Australia and New Zealand business climate. Contact your Service Delivery Manager if you’d like to learn more.
3 - Securing Success with Dynamics 365
Real Customer Stories
At Fusion5, nothing inspires us more than celebrating the success of clients who have turned potential into reality.
This month we have two new and inspiring video success stories to share with you.
Giltrap Group Holdings
In 1966 Colin Giltrap opened his ﬁrst dealership. Today, the Giltrap Group are importers, retailers and distributors of 18 of the world’s best automotive brands.
Watch the video to discover how Giltrap power their end-to-end operation and get a single view using Microsoft Dynamics 365 - implemented and supported by Fusion5.
N3 Buying Group
N3 uses scale to bring better prices to the 15,000+ members of its buying group. They’ve sourced the very best that New Zealand has to oﬀer across hundreds of categories.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 from Fusion5 is used across sales, marketing and commercial divisions of the business, enabling a single view of each and every supplier and client.
4 - Important Dates - Microsoft Dynamics Release Wave 1
27 Jan 2021
Release plan documents and videos are now available for you to find out all the different features and capabilities soon coming to Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.
1 Feb 2021
1 April 2021
Microsoft will begin rolling out features. Some are rolled out automatically to users where it makes sense (e.g., Search) while others must be enabled by an admin. Not everything is deployed in one day; features will roll out across months, during after-hours maintenance windows. This is also April Fool’s Day so let’s see how we go.
5 - Stuff your IT Team needs to know - now!
Deprecated features are ones Microsoft intends to remove in future. Microsoft provides plenty of warning time for you to plan and prepare before this happens.
2021 is a big year, with many changes announced in October 2019. Due to COVID-19, Microsoft has also delayed the rollout of some deprecations to give everyone breathing space.
What do you need to do?
Are you using TEAM MEMBER licenses with a custom model-driven app?
Talk to us or raise an iHelp.
Microsoft will be enforcing limits on Team Member licenses accessing custom apps. This will affect your users' access.Microsoft has temporarily lifted enforcement (scheduled from 31st Jan 2021) to give companies more time.
Are you using the Microsoft Labs Attachment Extractor that’s soon to be deprecated?
Talk to us, as a matter of urgency.
This tool is going to be unsupported from the 30th of June 2021 and this has ramifications for your file storage volumes and licensing. If you have historically used this tool to move files to Blob storage then an alternative approach needs to be planned.
Are you using Dynamics 365 storage and non-production instances?
Be aware the storage model and costs are changing.
The new model is broken into data, file and log storage capacities. Talk to us about what this may mean to you.
Are you using Internet Explorer 11?
Collaborate and listen: Microsoft's back with a new transition… the Microsoft Edge browser.
Microsoft is officially ending support for the Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform by using Internet Explorer 11 as of August 2021. Move to Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome for immediate improvements in quality of life.
Are you using low-density headers?
Prepare to use high-density headers instead.
Any current form that is configured to be “low-density” will be automatically updated to render in a high-density with flyout mode in a model driven app. To meet the October 2021 deadline, you will need to update your forms to use the new, improved format: Configure header density
Are you presenting important info in form footers?
Plan for an alternative approach come October 2021.
Form footers in model-driven app won't be supported from October 2021. This is because the footer does not meet the Microsoft Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 compliance for accessibility. Microsoft always evaluates the user’s experience to ensure they provide a modern experience that improves usability, support accessibility requirements, and improves discoverability for highly used fields and controls on a page.
Are you using the Dynamics 365 App for Windows?
Plan to move your users to the Office 365 homepage, in a web browser (not Internet Explorer, see above).
After April 1, 2021, the app will be removed from the Microsoft Store, and it will not be supported. Microsoft recommends that you start using your web browser to run your applications. If you have been using Dynamics 365 home (https://home.dynamics.com), this will be removed by April 1, 2021 and replaced with https://www.office.com/apps.
Are you extending Dynamics AX2012 using Visual Studio?
Ensure your on at the Visual Studio 2017 or later.
If you are extending your Dynamics AX 2012 application and need to use the X++ extensions, the minimum version of Visual Studio is Visual Studio 2017, effective date 28 January 2021.
Do you use the Finance & Operations "Batch job to handle SQL index defragmentation"?
This will be replaced and performed by Microsoft services.
Are you using Azure and wanting a clearer view of your consumption?
This is coming. Talk to us.
6 - What's New?
Power to the People!
Microsoft have announced a raft of improvements to make it easier to collaborate, especially for home based workers. Look out for the following update to Meetings, Webinars, Chat and Collaboration, over the coming weeks and months.
Meetings - NEW dynamic, together and gallery views
Microsoft are adding a new View Switcher to Teams, so you can choose what you want to focus during a meeting. Dynamic View means that Teams will optimise the layout depending on who is speaking, who is presenting and who turns their camera on and oﬀ. You can set it and forget it; Teams will always auto-optimise the layout.
Together mode gives you a more intimate and more natural view of your colleagues. Gallery at Top puts all video feeds near the top of the screen making it easier to have a natural eye gaze with others. Finally Focus Mode hides all video, allowing users to focus on shared content and avoid distractions.
Meetings - Presenter Mode
You can use Presenter mode to step up the production level of your presentations and customise how your video feed and content appear to your audience.
• The ﬁrst mode, Standout, shows your video feed as a silhouette in front of the shared content.
• Reporter places content as a visual aid above your shoulder just like a news story.
• Side-by-side displays your video feed next to your content.
Powerpoint Live in Microsoft Teams
Now available and rolling out to Oﬃce 365 tenants globally
PowerPoint Live in Teams gives presenters control and conﬁdence, while providing a more interactive and inclusive experience to your audience. As a presenter, you can now lead meetings with a single view of your notes, slides, meeting chat, and participants. Attendees can also personalise their experience by navigating the content at their own pace or using the screen reader to consume content, allowing people with vision disabilities to follow along with the presentation more easily.
Live Reactions in Microsoft Teams Meetings
All attendees can now use emojis to react during a meeting. These reactions help promote inclusivity in meetings and keep things upbeat and interactive.
Webinars - Attendee registration and email conﬁrmations
Launching April 2021
With the Webinar option, setting up and running webinars will be just as easy as meetings in Teams. You will be able to easily add a custom attendee registration page to your meeting or webinar to manage attendance before and after any engagement. Following registration, attendees automatically receive an email conﬁrmation for a simple join experience.
1,000-person interactive webinars with moderation control Beginning this month, Microsoft Teams supports interactive meetings and webinars for up to 1,000 attendees, including rich presentation options, live reactions, and moderation controls to disable chat, audio, and video for the attendees of the event.
20,000-person view-only broadcasts
Once your webinar grows to over 1,000 attendees, Teams will seamlessly scale to accommodate a 10,000-person view-only broadcast experience, including host moderation control that automatically disables attendees’ audio and video to prevent accidental presentation interruptions. And during this time of increased remote work, take advantage of even larger 20,000-person broadcasts through the end of this year.
Webinars - Attendee Reporting
Launching April 2021 with additional reporting capability available next quarter
Following your webinar, you can use reporting to understand attendee participation such as who attended and how long they participated. Download an attendee report to review or use data to produce your own custom reports.
These new capabilities will be available in Microsoft 365 E3/E5, Microsoft 365 A3/A5 and Microsoft 365 Government G3/G5 plans. Additionally, Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Microsoft 365 Business Premium plans will include all the features above for 300 attendees.
Chat and Collaboration - Microsoft Teams Connect
Available today in private preview with full rollout later this year
Teams Connect makes it easy to share channels with anyone, internal or external to your organisation. The shared channel will appear within an individual’s primary Teams tenant alongside other teams and channels, making it easy for everyone to access it in their workﬂow. In the shared workspace, you can leverage Teams’ rich collaboration capabilities: chat, meet, call, share and co-author documents in real-time. Admins have access to granular controls, allowing their organisation to stay in control of how external users access data and information.
7 - What's New for Business Intelligence Professionals?
Since the last newsletter, Power BI has added a bunch of new features that include some long-awaited changes. Without further ado, here are some of the updates from December to February:
8 - What's new in Dynamics for Sales, Marketing & Service Gurus?
A completely new search experience is being rolled out, powerful like everyday search engines. It searches geography, misspellings, and abbreviations, and gives more user-friendly views of recent records used or potential search matches.
It provides suggested results as you type, and "quick actions" you can take without leaving the results page. This helps users find information more quickly:
Preview Search Results Screen
The preview of a completely new mobile app has been released for you to play with.
Built on the Power Apps platform, the app brings a user-centric design approach: what does a sales user need to do on the road, and how can we make this easier?
This is a first preview, so not for Production use. However, it's worth your while trying the preview on a test or trial instance. Talk to us if you'd like to try this out.
The app has an exciting roadmap of features coming, including:
Personalising content within your email campaigns lets you reduce overall volume / frequency while providing more relevant content to each customer - more targeted and timely emails to increase engagement and reduce opt-outs.
Dynamics 365 makes it easier to personalise content segments in your email templates using simple If-Then-style criteria.
No need for integrating telephony platforms in the future?
This new Customer Service feature was previewed at Microsoft's Ignite online conference. Voice support via Azure Communication Services will provide direct outbound dialling, call recording, call transcripts and real-time sentiment analysis.
"In 2021 release wave 1, we're bringing together voice, SMS, and digital messaging channels as well as an intelligent interactive voice response (IVR) powered by Power Virtual Agents, real-time voice intelligence, insights across all channels, and speech-based self-service and intelligent skills-based routing." Read more here
Prepare for and run a great online event Teams webinar / event, using Dynamics 365 Marketing for segmentation, invitation and registration management.
Growing integration of Dynamics 365 Marketing and Teams enables you to run the event setup and execution in Marketing - including segmenting and inviting your audience. Now, data on your attendees’ presence and engagement can also power your follow-up communications.
You can also gain far greater visibility of attendance and engagement in your Teams-hosted webinars and events.
Customer Voice is a great option for both web forms and long-form surveys. With end customers now having the ability to pause a survey and resume later, Customer Voice opens up completely new form/survey options for gathering data.
You can soon use Dynamics 365 to send not only SMS messages, but also Push Notifications to your mobile apps. This lets you use Dynamics 365 to engage customers with timely offers and communications through your company's mobile app installed on their phone - including in wider multi-channel campaigns.
WARNING: This may just change your weekley sales team meetings!
The new experience will provide improved visibility of CRM sales pipelines and let teams review all their opportunities together, then drill into specific deals in a more clear and understandable way. Inbuilt AI will also add meaningful insights on relationship engagement.
9 - What's New in Dynamics for Finance and Operations Masters?
Multiple improvements have been included in this release including the ability to allow existing products to use engineering change management features, data sharing across legal entities and readiness checks.
In this wave release, the asset management module now includes functionality to support companies billing their customers for the maintenance performed, tracking the health of their assets, their state and usage based on IoT signals, and optimising execution plans for maintenance work orders, where the worker can establish rules for grouping work order lines under a single work order. The new release also allows for the creation of planned maintenance work orders based on set values using the asset counter.
A new warehouse management mobile application has been released to improve overall warehouse operations efficiency. The app includes new, fresh, intuitive, and contemporary design that is based on the feedback provided by broad worker population from various industries.
Edge scale units in warehouse operations. With this feature companies are now able to execute critical warehousing processes without interruption, including situations where an internet connection is occasionally unstable. Companies now can deploy edge scale units on custom hardware or in the cloud. Overall, this enhancement significantly improves warehouse operations performance and allows the warehouses to remain operational during a connectivity failure, maintenance outage, and other events that might disrupt operations.
In addition to the above features, there are many enhancements added to the warehouse management solution which improve warehouse operations efficiency.
This release comes with a new manufacturing execution app that improves worker efficiency of the production shopfloor. The app has a modern interface and supports both process and discrete manufacturers processes. Additional capability allows workers to create asset maintenance requests and uses embedded Power BI analytics to visualise IoT sensor signals and data from other processes.
The Inventory Visibility Add-in is a microservice that enables organisations to manage global on-hand inventory. With this feature, external systems can query Inventory Visibility to retrieve a list of available inventory quantities based on various dimensions. This service comes with an easy-to-use RESTful API that enables painless integration with ancillary systems. Inventory Visibility is built on Microsoft Dataverse, which provides extensibility using Power Apps applications and Power BI analytics.
Landed costs is a new module that was previously sold as an ISV solution for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Supply Chain management. This module was acquired by Microsoft and has now become a part of the standard solution. This module covers system gaps around inbound transportation management and introduces new enhancements that allow the tracking of each segment of the goods-in transit journey from its beginning at the supplier's warehouse and continuing to the shipping dock, through the freight forwarder, to a landing dock and freight company, and eventually to the destination warehouse.
Global Inventory Accounting Add-in provides a solution that enables organisations to perform inventory accounting using multiple costing ledgers, multiple currencies and in multiple valuations. It will bring most of the benefit to international organisations enabling them to comply with multiple accounting standards as well as internal management accounting.
This release focuses on introducing material requirements planning II (MRP II) capabilities in the Planning Optimization Add-in, including infinite scheduling. MRP II helps planners at manufacturing companies control their production schedule and determine delivery lead times. This release also brings improvements to Planning Optimization to leverage input from purchase requisitions and tiered demand forecast models, and to give planners more flexibility in controlling both lead time buffers and the planning horizon.
10 - How Covid-19 has impacted Accounts Payable
Accounts Payable is traditionally the most broken of all financial processes, with many companies not wanting to prioritise or invest in this area. Previously it’s been acceptable, and somewhat manageable to run day-to-day operations manually. However the impact of COVID-19, with work being conducted remotely, has caused foundations to shake and organisations still relying on manual processes are now facing an uphill battle maintaining their normal operations.
Relying on paper invoices during periods of lockdown creates major issues in running business as usual. Disruptions due to staff working remotely, in addition to postal service delays, can cause invoice processing times to blow out considerably. This negatively impacts the whole supply chain- disrupting supply and ultimately sales.
Automating Accounts Payable reduces this snowball effect, by providing real-time transparency into the AP process. With information at their fingertips, wherever they may be working, AP staff can better respond to supplier inquiries. In addition, minimizing the time spent on reactive tasks, frees up time for AP staff to focus on more strategic and value adding tasks.
Factors such as greater financial pressures and disruption to usual routines during the pandemic have resulted in an increase in fraud and compliance issues across Australia and New Zealand. With more employees working offsite, using their personal computers in a relaxed environment, there are more opportunities to bypass controls that would otherwise be in place.
The New Zealand Government has acknowledged this risk by increasing the Serious Fraud Office's annual budget for 2020/21 by more than double – from $12.7 million to $25 million.
ExFlow’s ability to automatically match business numbers (ABN/GST numbers) and bank account details on invoices with existing vendor details can prevent fake invoices from being processed.
While working remotely was a welcomed relief from the daily grind by many, Julian Bolleter, co-director of the Australian Urban Design Research Centre, said in an article on ABC news: “I think we won’t be the same again and people will adapt to this new way of working.”
This arguably irreversible cultural shift towards working from home emphasises the importance of digitizing business processes and automating manual tasks for the long-term. Companies embracing innovation and technology through digitized business processes will continue to see benefits post the height of the pandemic, as a new hybrid working environment emerges.
Fusion5 has helped many customers resolve their AP Automation challenges with solutions such as ExFlow, a Microsoft Dynamics built-in solution for AP Automation with over 100 customers across Australia and New Zealand, and ApprovalPlus, a technology agnostic Procure to Pay and AP Automation solution.
Contact your Account Manager to for an initial conversation or to book a demo.
11 - Meet the team!
Could you tell us about your career background?
I have been working with Dynamics for the last 12 years - since the wild days of CRM 4. Before that I was a .NET developer, building software for the Education and Health sectors. Going back to the early days of my career, I was a Tax Investigator and also worked in mental health. Over the years my career has drifted through a number of industries, but I am happy where it has ended up!
What are some of your career highlights?
I have been lucky enough to work on some great projects. They have had very different highlights:
Labour Hire Licensing System (Brisbane)
The Labour Hire Licensing System is designed to combat the poor working conditions that some backpackers had to endure in outback Queensland. It was a complex compliance and investigation system put together in a few months, but it had a big effect. Often waking up at 3am to catch the first flight to Brisbane was painful, but it was worth it.
Body Donor System (University of Melbourne)
This system manages people who donate their bodies to teaching, and also manages the bodies themselves. Working on this project gave me access to a fascinating part of the University of Melbourne, and a look inside an essential part of training for the next generation of medical practitioners. This was a very unique data modelling challenge, with complex and sensitive communication requirements. It is also a great example of how flexible Dynamics 365 can be!
Majid Al Futtaim (Dubai)
MAF is a provider of entire shopping malls, cinema chains, and retail and leisure outlet chains in the Middle East. I was sent to Dubai for a few months to help with some of their projects. This was the first time I had worked overseas for more than a few days. Although the work was interesting, living day-to-day in a different culture was the highlight.
What interested you in this role?
I have known a number of my co-workers for a long time, and I have always thought "Wouldn't it be great if we could all work together one day?". When I found out they were all working at Fusion5, I was interested. But most importantly, Fusion5 has a work culture that I can relate to.
Finally, tell us what you like to get up to in your spare time?
Like a lot of us, I am still cautiously recovering from COVID-19 Lockdown - I have forgotten what it is like to go out! I have just survived working through a home renovation, which has taken up the last few months. I do play guitar at home most nights, and I play with other musicians whenever I can (although it's hard to find adults who are an intermediate level like me...).
I hope to see more of Australia now we have a (little) more freedom ...
Lindi could you tell us about your career background?
I have worked across various industries for the last 29 years. My very first job started out about 2 years before that, when I was still in school, where I spent my holidays working in a research lab, testing coal quality in very high temperature ovens.
I always knew I wanted to work in something that has to do with technology. My dad always had the latest and greatest computers and he always had to have it first, so we pretty much grew up with technology even before it was a “thing”.
A good part of the first years of my career was spent working for a large Internet Service Provider in South Africa, where I was first introduced to customer relationship databases, which eventually led me on to working as a Functional Consultant in the Dynamics 365 space for the last 12+ years.
I have been on both sides of the table, starting out as the customer, working for WWF in South Africa, where we implemented Dynamics CRM 4.0. From there I moved over to the Consulting side where I worked for my first Microsoft Partner in South Africa. I find that having been the customer first, gives me a different perspective of what user buy-in looks like, than what it looks like from a Consulting point of view.
Dynamics 365 is what I am passionate about. This is what makes me want to get up and go to work in the morning. I especially am very fond of anything-Marketing-and-CRM and have as a result quite a bit of experience doing marketing implementations. I find it very creative at best!
I am an entrepreneur at heart with a very strong sense of ownership of every task I take on and deliverance of quality products and service at all times. Before I moved to New Zealand, I started a consulting business in South Africa in 2014 focusing on Dynamics CRM consulting and marketing automation services. What started out as a freelance setup quickly turned into a successful, high-in-demand small business. When the business developed into its own autonomous entity, I started exploring opportunities to pursue further professional challenges and broaden my horizons which led me to a move across the world to New Zealand where I have worked as a Senior Functional Consultant for the past 3 years. Best decision ever!
What are some of your career highlights?
Helping users work smarter, not harder, through the solutions we implement for them is an absolute career-high for me every single time. I also love teaching. Seeing people grow in their careers through skill transfer and upskilling is very satisfying for me.
Lindi what are you looking to bring to Fusion5?
I like to believe I have good people skills and always try to put myself in the end user’s shoes first. They are the important stakeholders whose buy-in has a huge impact on whether an implementation is successful or not.
I hope that my 29 years work experience and my last 13 years CRM experience also counts for something. 😉
Finally, tell us what you like to get up to in your spare time?
I spend most of my time with my family at home. My husband and I love to entertain and spend a lot of time with our friends. I love being outdoors but can also easily be a couch potato if given half a chance! I love reading and one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2021 is to try to read at least one interesting non-fiction book per month.
The rest of the time I will stick to reading my usual sci-fi, supernatural, mystery, crime thrillers. Some of my favourite authors are Dean Koontz, Karen Slaughter, Matthew Riley, John Grisham, Patricia Cornwell. I bought a camera during lockdown 1.0 and still learning to work this thing properly so I can hopefully start taking good pictures. Currently obsessed with the moon.