Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain and Power Platform

As a solution architect working with Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain, I work with many different clients in many different businesses.  Over my career, I have worked with many different tools to meet client's specific business needs.  Many times this would include working with an ISV and other times it might include custom development.  As Microsoft continues to develop functionality and connectivity with the Power Platform, we are able to meet many client specific needs by using the Power Platform.  As a matter of fact, when I recently completed the MB-300 - Microsoft Dynamics 365 - Core Finance and Operations exam, I was surprised how many questions related to the Power Platform.

In this post I will take a quick look at the components of the Power Platform, and in future posts I will dive into examples and tips and tricks of using these applications along with Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain.


Power BI was the first application from the Power Platform and it has been integrated closely with Dynamics 365 since the beginning.  Power BI is the business analytics service that aims to provide interactive visualizations and business intelligence capabilities with a simple interface designed for users to create their own reports and dashboards.  Power BI is embedded in D365 in various workspaces and performance reports.  Also many users have used either the entity store or bring your own database along with Power BI to analyze the data from D365.  I have posted many other blogs on Power BI and I have been working with it since the beginning.  It is a great tool.  To learn more, you can go to www.powerbi.com.






Power Apps is possibly the most powerful piece of the Power Platform, and probably the hardest one to completely define.  Microsoft defines Power Apps as a suite of apps, services, connectors and data platform that provides a rapid application development environment to build custom apps for your business needs.  I have heard some people describe Power Apps as simply rebranding of Dynamics CRM, and while some of that is true when talking about model driven apps and DataVerse.  However, Microsoft has added to the functionality and usability.  In addition, there are canvas apps, which allow users to create their own applications with their own form design and look and feel.  These applications can connect to data from many sources through the connectors included with Power Apps.  Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain has recently added functionality to embed Power Apps right inside of the application.  This allows organizations to quickly integrate other applications with D365 or control additional business processes that are not standard in D365.  It really seems the sky is the limit with Power Apps.  In future post, I will discuss how I including Power Apps in our D365 presentations to answer business specific needs of many of our clients.  To learn more, you can go to www.powerapps.com.

     



Power Automate helps bring the pieces of the Power Platform together.  It is a service that helps users create automated workflows between applications.  It can be used to synchronize files, get notifications, collect data, manage approvals and more.  Power Automate was originally known as Flow, and the steps or processing in Power Automate are still called flows.  Power Automate also works with many connectors to various applications.  It not only connects to the data, but it connects to business processes.  For example, a flow can start based on a record being added, changed or deleted in the source system.  Flows can also start on a scheduled recurrence, for example to monitor key dates in an application.  Microsoft includes many templates with Power Automate, so it is very easy to get started, by seeing all of the different examples that are provided.  D365 recently added the ability to see and create your flows from the options ribbon on most windows.  




Power Virtual Agents is the most recent addition to the Power Platform family, and I will be honest, when I first saw it, I was not sure how it would really apply to working with D365.  Power Virtual Agents lets users create powerful chatbots that can answer questions posed by customer, employees, visitors to your website or service.  I will be honest, it is a pretty fun and easy tool to play with.  You can create a trial account very easily at https://powervirtualagents.microsoft.com/. There are some sample questions and answers already set up, and you can start creating new topics quickly.  However, to really make a useful bot, you need to start setting up actions and use Power Automate to connect to the source of the "answers" and return those answers to the bot.  As I mentioned, at first I just did not see the use of the bot, because I was thinking about the annoying little bots that pop up on websites, asking if I need help, but as I did more research, I found out there are other ways to deploy the bot.  For example, it can be deployed inside of teams.  So in a future post, I will show how I created a "sales assistant bot" that runs in teams and it can get customer information like address, phone number, balance and aging information quickly for a sales person that is not even logged into D365.




In summary, there is a lot included with the Power Platform and there are a lot of integration points with Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain.  While it might not be as easy as some of the documentation and marketing material make it sound, it is certainly a set of tools that power users can use to address specific business issues.  In upcoming posts, I will get deeper into each tool and use examples to show the true power.  I will also share some of the issues I have encountered and some of the tricks I have used to work through them.

If you have any questions or scenarios you would like me to cover, please do not hesitate to comment on this post.  Be sure to subscribe to my blog, so you do not miss any of the future posts.





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