Microsoft Bookings and Microsoft Graph

One common feedback we get when implementing Dynamics 365 is the ability to handle appointments and booking. There are many very good 3’rd party solutions, but did you know that Microsoft have an easy to use booking system that works online and integrated with Outlook. It’s called Microsoft Bookings, and is worth taking a small look at especially if you have the need of booking your customers for appointments and simple services. Microsoft Bookings provides online and mobile apps that make appointment scheduling simple and efficient for small businesses and their customers. Any small business that provides service on an appointment basis, such as auto repair shops, hair salons, and law firms, can benefit from having their bookings managed so as to free up time for the more important task to grow their business. Microsoft Bookings is available to businesses that have an Office 365 Business Premium subscription.

Here is a small live demo for you my friends: https://outlook.office365.com/owa/calendar/DXCCommerce1@dxccommerce.onmicrosoft.com/bookings/

The first page an online customer arrives at is the following screen, that can be published on Facebook or any social media sites. Here I choose to order my haircut from my favorite hairdresser. (Full manual is available here)

 

When booking I will get a confirmation email, and the booking coordinator will also get an email. The booking is also available on my phone:

 

On the back-office side, Microsoft have created a simplified view of managing and setting up your bookings:

Here you manage the calendar, customers and staff.

Here is the calendar for a specific day showing all appointments and bookings for today. Drag and drop of appointments between staff and dates is of course possible.

You can also manage you staff.

And the services you offer and map them towards your staff.

 

If you are a functional person, then just stop reading here, because here comes the good part: There is a complete API interface your you to integrate towards booking. (See also this link) Connecting this towards Dynamics 365 or commerce apps can be done by a developer, and makes it possible to expose booking services to POS, call-center and with tight integration to your Dynamics 365 solution.

Check out Microsoft Booking and Microsoft Bookings API in Microsoft Graph.

Here are some sample pictures on how to access the Booking system using Microsoft Graph. First, here I list all the booking sites listed in my tenant:

Pay attention to the fact that it returns and “id”, that identifies my booking on a specific store. If I now queries for bookings at the ID like this:

https://graph.microsoft.com/beta/bookingBusinesses/DXCCommerce1@dxccommerce.onmicrosoft.com/appointments (You will not get access to this link, but you are welcome to click it )

I get the following, where the service is listing up all bookings posted into Microsoft Bookings. A consent through the azure portal must be setup. And the great thing is that is actually is a two-way service. I can post bookings in.

BOOM! Take that! We now have a complete interface towards all services that Microsoft Graph can expose and can let us integrate on a completely new level.

If I wanted, I can now connect my bookings to any planning engine that would add more value to the service. Like picking me up in a golden limo-cab when I book my hairdressing hour. The possibilities are endless. Also remember that this is not restricted to bookings, but all services that azure may provide. We in the Dynamics partner community have just scratched the surface of the possibilities that Microsoft now provide.

Happy DAX’ing friends.

Dynamics 365 Branding and Commerce (Preview) Firsthand experience

PS! Remember to read the last lines in this blogpost

As I hope you have seen in your never-ending twitter/news feed is that Microsoft again adding lot’s of new apps and features to Dynamics 365. Microsoft are delivering on the communicated vision of Dynamics 365. We now have apps where we have a holistic approach to business processes. To solve business requirements users will be using a combination of apps that works natively together. We see how the entire solution is being connected, and further split up into specific areas. In the old days when we had large ERP suites, and we sold functional modules. We are now implementing connected apps that enable business processes per user. If anyone wonder what the “new” hashtag is, it is easy: “#MSDyn365“, and get used to it. We no longer a need to put things into additional silo’s to explain the legacy, and to succeed we must embrace and deliver the right combination of apps that solves the business requirements per business process.

One of the most exiting news in the current wave 2 release is the delivery of Dynamics 365 Commerce(preview). I have been privileged to validate and try of this solution the last days. My current experience is that: This Rock’s! Microsoft finally can deliver a complete suite to give a true omnichannel experience. One interesting finding is that Microsoft will rebrand their “Dynamics 365 for Retail” offering to “Dynamics 365 Commerce”. Why? Because what is now being offered extends the binderies of the traditional retail solutions. As seen in the following figure you can get a complete integrated end-to-end system. And this is not just for retailers, but for all companies that want to digitalize their processes and offer true omnichannel can benefit of this.

1 : Picture from Microsoft presentations

To try out this new solution, you can request a preview. You ask for a preview here. When/if accepted you will receive an email from Microsoft containing instruction on how to deploy this preview. This guide is also available her and it is important that the guide is followed very carefully. To complete the guide, you need to get some assistance from you Azure AD tenant administrator. Also, the preview is currently only deployable to US Azure datacenters, and this put’s some latency into the commerce experience.

One interesting thing with the commerce, is that even though this is a tier-1 environment, you get the possibility to deploy RCSU and the e-Commerce Server. The data set is basically standard Dynamics 365 for Retail, where the configuration key for retail essential enabled. So we can showcase that the Dynamics 365 Commerce also can be delivered as a standalone app or be extended with the finance and supply chain management apps.

The preview commerce solution is what you expect an e-commerce solution to be:

The back-end editor for the editor is easy to use, and it is easy configure your

To get a full understanding of the solution also head over to Microsoft DOC’s to learn more : https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/commerce/

But I’ll do something better for you; You can check-out the preview solution yourself right now: https://d365commerceus2ecom-eval.commerce.dynamics.com/DXCCommerce (I expect that the site will be available for a only few days, so hurry)

If you want to buy something use Card number: 4111-1111-1111-1111, Expiration: 10/20, CVV: 737 . Also remember that this is a US-based Azure Datacenter and NOT a production grade scaled system.

Happy DAXing and DXCuLater!

D365 Retail – Buzz Alert !

THIS IS COOL !
Microsoft is launching several new product lines for retailers.

Dynamics 365 Commerce

Empower your business to create exceptional, insightful shopping experiences for every customer with Dynamics 365 Commerce—built on our proven Dynamics 365 Retail solution.

https://dynamics.microsoft.com/en-us/commerce/overview/

Microsoft Connected Store

Empower retailers with real-time observational data to improve in-store performance. From customer movement to the status of products and store devices, Dynamics 365 Connected Store will provide a better understanding of your retail space. (Check out the video)

https://dynamics.microsoft.com/en-us/ai/connected-store/

 

 

D365F&O, Lots of new high value content on DOC’s

The Microsoft Dynamics team have been quite buzzy after the vacation producing a lot of valuable content to Dynamics 365. I would like to highlight some of the latest additions that is worth checking out and to share in the Dynamics 365 ecosystem. Just this year alone, 714 articles have been published, and just the last 2 months close to 300 articles are made available. With this amount of information, I do get questions if there are some hidden gems on docs. And here some of them are:

1. Learning catalog

There are now more tailored learning paths towards customers and partners, with references to free, self-paced online learning path, Tech-talks, and formal instructor-led training. Here you will find articles, videos, and all you need to start learning Dynamics 365.

2. Test recorder and Regression suite automation tool for Retail Cloud POS

Now we can start creating regression testing on Retail POS. Cool stuff, and in my mind where we actual see the true value of regression testing. Retail is Detail, and this delivers quality.

3. Master planning setup wizard

Setting up master planning involves taking many decisions and here you can read how this is done in 10.0.5.

4. One Version service updates FAQ

This page answers a lot of question on the One Version strategy, and what this means for you. At many customers I see that extensive, time-consuming and costly testing processes are being manually executed each time Microsoft is releasing a new monthly updated. Why? I do not see the need to perform full testing on all modules on a monthly basis. Yes, it is a fact that nobody releases flawless code. (Even not Microsoft), but if you follow the procedures and guidelines from Microsoft, the monthly updates should be safe to deploy. There are several release rings and programs in place ensuing that quality is in place at GA. (General Available). Please align to the release cadence updates, and focus on your essential core processes. If you find painful bugs, report them asap.

5. Environment planning

I have seen several projects where the focus is to save costs on implementation environments. This page explains a lot on Microsoft’s take on this. My simple advice is use Tier-1/One box for development on a cloud hosted CSP subscription, and the rest of the environments as Tier-2 or higher (my recommendation is to have 2 additional Tier-2 environments for larger projects). The benefit to use self-service processes is priceless. Also keep in mind that Azure costs are very cheep compared to consultancy hours trying to maintain and manually transfer databases between environments. Also take a look at the great Denis Trunin’s blogpost on development VM’s performance.

6. Business events overview

This is the future and start adopting this feature into your business processes. This is also a key enabler for working closer with the Dynamics Power platform.

7. Regulatory updates

Here you find localized information for your country, and how to comply to specific local requirements. This is being updated very often.

8. Unified product experience

Do you want to keep the products from D365F&O synced with D365Sales ? This article explains how to achieve a near real time bi-directional integration with CDS. Great stuff also explaining dual write capabilities.

9. Adyen payment processing with omnichannel experience

Payment connector is far more versatile than just for retail. Also check out the FAQ.

10. Asset management

Great stuff on the horizon. Keep track of your stuff

11. Franchising

No longer in the official 2019 Wave 2 release. So, we must keep waiting for this in the future.

 

Take care, and

DXC you later

 

 

Analyzing Cloud POS performance in Dynamics 365 for Retail

It is a constant requirement that systems retailers are directly interacting with should be Bigger, Better, Faster, Stronger (BBFS). In this blog post, I will dig into how the POS performance can be analyzed to better understand the transactional performance of the Dynamics 365 POS. What I’m specially interested in is how perceived performance is towards actual. What we think is good performance is relative to the observer. The average reaction time for humans is 250 ms to a visual stimulus, but newer studies shows that we can identify visual stimulus down to 13 ms. Your screen has a refresh rate of 17 ms. As time is relevant and the expected performance is close to real-time, this can sometimes lead to performance expectations that is actual irrelevant towards what is wanted to be achieved. We as humans cannot go beyond 250 ms visual response time, so this is important to keep in mind.

As you can see in the following video, 4 items is scanned and then a quick cash payment is done. The total time taken to complete this example transaction in CPOS is approx. 5 s.

But as you can see on the screen, there is a lot happening, and when the user interface is being redrawn. I wanted to go deeper to understand exactly what is happening when scanning. More specifically on what’s happening when adding the sales lines in the POS.

As the CPOS is a 100% web based application, we can use Google Chrome to take a deeper look into exactly what is happening. By pressing the F12(Or CTRL-Shift-I), you get up the developers tools.

Then start the recording (CTRL-E), add a line in POS, and stop the recording. Then you will see:

1. CPU load, Activity bars, Network calls
2. The actual animation on the POS display each millisecond
3. Exactly how long calls to the Retail Server is taking.
4. The entire REST-call stack being executed on the CPOS client.

Here you see an example where I added one line to the POS basket, and this resulted in 2 calls to the retail server.

If we look at one of the calls happening:

ScanResults() (*.dynamics.com/Commerce/ScanResults(‘07100’)?$expand=Customer&api-version=7.3) – This scans the product/item barcode and sends it to the retail server. In google development tool, we can analyze exactly what is taking place on this call. Here we see that the total time was 559.54 ms but the actual waiting time for the RSSU to respond is 263,69 ms(Waiting TTFB). The browser is waiting for the first byte of a response. TTFB stands for Time-To-First-Byte. This timing includes 1 round trip of latency and the time the server took to prepare the response.) I have measured the network latency to this Tier-2 with RCSU system to be 40 ms.

If I scan the item again, we see that the caching of DNS etc kick’s in the TTFB lowers to 132,80 ms.


As you can see you can really go deeeep, and analyze all what is happening, from client execution to server execution, without any debugging tools. Down to the milliseconds, and better understand the performance. The profile created can be exported and imported for deeper analysis. We can see that there are many factors that influence performance, from network delay’s to form refresh. Microsoft could have the pleasure of shaving milliseconds of the animations, server calls and J-scripts, but this is an ongoing investment from and R&D perspective.

My honest opinion is that the Cloud based Dynamics 365 for Retail POS is performing good. Network elements and the speed of light is a fundamental restriction. The use of animations also seams to affect how performance is perceived, but it does not affect the general performance and usability. Legacy system that is on-prem have the benefit of not having latency, but the cloud solution brings so many other positive elements. If you choose MPOS instead, these tools are not available and you can use fiddler for analysis. But a small tip is to have a CPOS client available when performance testing, as this also will affect MPOS.

Bigger, Better, Faster, Stronger !

Retail statement trickle feed (public preview)

Retail statements are one of the most important (and complex) processes a retailer have. It’s where the retail sales and transactions are being transformed to become physical and financial transactions so you can see the sales in finance and in inventory. Retail statement calculation and posting have been covered many times in my blog posts and Microsoft have a large set’s of article on doc’s on the matter. The amount of transactions retail statements calculates and post is to my knowledge THE most complex and intense feature and business process in the entire Dynamics 365 solution. Imagen that every sale, in every store is being processed. For larger retailers Dynamics 365 for Retail are processing millions of transactions daily. This area really put’s computational pressure in the systems and is also one of the areas where Microsoft is investing heavily.

Since the start of D365 there have been done hundreds of improvements on retail statement posting, and the next “big thing” is Retail Statement trickle feed. One of the pain’s in today’s solution is a significantly delay between the when the retail sales have been conducted, and when the inventory transactions have been financially posted. And in short, when the inventory transaction gets a financial status like “Sold”. Why is this important? Because the inventory transactions define on-hand values, as again it defines how the master planning/replenishment is calculated. We want this to be as accurate and up to date as possible. Any delays in having accurate on-hand influences planned purchase orders. Also the ability to spread out the processing of transactions through the day will reduce the amount of “spikes” in the Azure SQL load, making the nightly timeslot more open for other high intensive transaction processing tasks.

Another critical benefit of trickle feed is the decoupling of transactional statements and financial statements. Now you can post transactional statements without even posting a financial statement, and the other way around. Together with the increase of posting frequency that produce small bundles of transactional statements, it will address the main reason for the compounding effect that prevents a series of statement from being posted due to a single invalid transaction. Right now, the only validation that impact financial statements is that all retail transactions for a given shift must be present in HQ in order for a financial statement to be posted. However the transactions don’t need to be successfully posted for a financial statement to be posted.

There is also a new aggregation strategy, where unnamed transactions are always aggregated and named(customers) transactions are never aggregated. There is no more option available to turn aggregation on or off.

Microsoft have made the following improvements to the statement posting process:

  1. Deprecate the “inventory job” that creates temporary reservations.
  2. Create a new job that will, at a predefined schedule, create sales orders, invoice them, and create, post, and apply payments for all the transactions that are synchronized to the HQ at that point of time. In addition, it will also create any ledger journals that need to be created for discounts, gift cards, and so on.
  3. The statement document that gets created at the end of the day will only be used to calculate and post any counting variances.

To enable the new preview (10.0.5) trickle feed solution you have to enable the Retail Statement (trickle feed) – preview configuration key. Also remember to disable the other retail statements configuration keys, and that you don’t have any open statements when doing this.

When finally released (GA) I hope that the new the new feature management is used for enabling this.

When this is done, you will see a set of new menu items. Under the menu \Retail\Retail IT\POS Posting.

The sequence of these batch jobs is to be able to financially post most of the transactions, and the financial statement posting will only be used to calculate and post any counting variances. There is no need to run the “Post inventory” job anymore. But in reality, there is a decoupling, and the transactional statement and financial statement can post independently if the other have not been posted. The only actual requirement is that the P-job have fetched the retail transactions from the retail channel database.

If we look into the Retail Statement form, we now have the possibility to manually create transaction posting and financial reconciliation (That in the essence is the financial statement).

When creating a “Transactional posting”, we see that the form is a bit changed compared how it was before. There a no lines related to payments.

When posting the transactional statement, the following steps are performed:

When calculating and posting a financial statement, you see the more traditional statement posting screen, where you have the payment lines:

The steps in the posting is the following:

The summary of this, is that Dynamics 365 will with trickle feed support a much faster updating frequency to get proper on-hand values and scalability. Since the transaction statement will be running more frequently it also means that there will be less retail statement posting in the evening/night. The transactions will be smaller and therefore also easier to post. But there are a few things to keep in mind. If you trickle feed too often, you will miss out on the transaction aggregation on the unnamed transactions, and will have to process more sales order invoicing per day. This can again slightly increase the load in your system.

This feature will also increase scaling of the system, as posting of transactions can be better load balancing among multiple AOS-batch services. I also have a feeling that there will be more features in this area to come, that will further enable close to real-time master planning, inventory services, and close to real-time power-BI reporting.

 

Next on customers wish list is a super-duper-fast invoicing service of sales orders(retail), as this still is the most resource demanding task in the processing of retail transactions. It is also in the roadmap the ability for the store manager to perform and generate the financial statement when a shift is closing in POS.  The financial statement in HQ in this case will post whatever the financial statement generated in POS defines, breaking the requirement of having all transactions uploaded to HQ db. And beyond this Microsoft is as always improving general performance by working close with customers and partners. We see that the data distribution and different usage of retail statements require different indexes and Microsoft invests heavily in improving how queries are executed.

 

Great work to the Microsoft team working on the retail statement processing.

 

Here is a small joke for all of you that don’t care about retail statement posting

 

 

D365: Search for code with Agent Ransack

When supporting customer’s we often can get small fragments of information on an issue, like a form is not performing as expected, or an error message. The procedure is then often to log into LCS and find traces of the issue. Often we end up with a query that is the source of the issue. But to better understand and analyze how to fix the issue we often need to find exactly in the source code where the query is executed. By also being more exact and precise towards Microsoft support you also get quicker response.

Searching through the code in Visual Studio can be time consuming, and the built in Cross reference is not always updated, but there is an alternative I can recommend. Agent Ransack is a free file searching utility that quickly can scan most D365 source code (the *.XML files placed in K:\AosService\PackagesLocalDirectory\).

Let’s say I see in the LCS that the current query is what I need to find out from here it is executed.

From the query I can then search for the text “Join RetailEODTransactionTable”, and I get 25 results, and even where the exact table is not specified as

I can then open the file in explorer and then validate to see if I need to go into Visual Studio for further analysis.

This speed up the process of finding the source code that you are looking for. It is free and download it from https://www.mythicsoft.com/agentransack/ and install it in you development environment.

 

Take care Daxer’s.