With SaaS products like Dynamics 365, getting the process of running a free trial right is crucial for the commercial success of products. This is why you may have seen Microsoft also perform a lot of changes into the process how you’ve been able to spin up trials of CRM Online instances, nowadays known as Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement. Or “Dynamics 365 for X”, with the “X” being an App like Sales, Customer Service, Field Service or Project Service.
This App model is one of the reasons why the seemingly simple process of provisioning a new cloud database to host your CRM trial data has turned into a bit of a beast recently. It’s no longer a one-size-fits-all offering, rather Microsoft is trying to tailor the trial experience based on the business process that is most relevant for the potential customer. The intentions are good, but the results can lead to a lot of confusion when dealing with an inherently complex platform like XRM where users never follow just a single track through a few predetermined use cases. Here’s a few notes on what I recently learned about how the trials currently work.
If you’ve been working with Dynamics 365 recently, either by deploying it for customers, managing your internal instances or studying to become a certified Dynamics 365 professional, you’ve probably encountered this selection:
Here you get an option to select either one of the Apps, go for the full suite of “all of these”, or if you’re really paying close attention, skipping the App selection by ticking the box “none of these, don’t customize my organization”. Today when I was in need of setting up a new trial to test the Sales related features specifically, I opted to install the Sales App via this provisioning screen.
After a short while, I was able to access this new trial instance. That in itself can of course be a challenge, since there’s no guarantee that the Office 365 App launcher or the home.dynamics.com screen will refresh to show you the link to the Dynamics 365 instance. Knowing the direct URL of the instance picker (https://port.crm4.dynamics.com/G/Instances/InstancePicker.aspx in EMEA) speeds up this process, and soon I was faced with the Sales specific clean app list. My Finnish language “Myynti” app for the legacy web UI was there, as was the less elegantly named “Sales-keskus” hybrid of English/Finnish, which of course points to the Sales Hub based on Unified Interface.
Since I needed to do some solution installation here, the first thing I had to do was to promote myself to the Admin role. That’s something you’d never need to do outside of the trial experience, as being the user who provisioned the Dynamics 365 instance you’d most likely have sufficient roles in the Office 365 administration side to see the admin menus directly here. But these are trials we’re talking about and the whole point of the tailored experience is that you DON’T see things that are not relevant to you, because that’s a scary UX for people not familiar with the platform.
Now that I had the power to configure the instance to my liking, I proceeded to first checking out the default UI on the account form. Here I noticed that actually my nice’n clean Sales UX was cluttered with stuff that I didn’t ask for. Taken from the English UI here, you’ll notice that the account form tab actually has sections for Project Price Lists, Field Service and Scheduling. Not to mention the related records navigation that was at least 20 items long. Where did my sleek Unified Interface “Sales Hub” go?
When going to the Solutions menu, it’s obvious where these items are coming from. The “Sales trial” in fact contains in total 16 solutions, which is equivalent to choosing the “all of them” option on the trial setup screen. It’s all here, even though you didn’t ask for it: Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service and their accompanying trial customizations. No, none of these will actually show up as installed solutions for the instance if you view them via the Dynamics 365 Admin Center. The same laws of physics obviously don’t apply for trial instances as they would for actual production or sandbox instances. [Read more…]