Podcast Review: Learning more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 Human Resources

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Microsoft published 2020 release wave 1 plans for both Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform, with many updates touching the Human Resources (formerly Talent) and Marketing apps. Microsoft MVP Malin Donoso Martnes joined the MSDW podcast to share her perspectives on both apps and the changes to the product line in recent years.

Making sense of the changes

Martnes pays close attention to the details of new releases, but said that many of the features in the latest release wave aren’t relevant to her home market of Norway.

A lot of the leave and absence rules are very specific to each country. I’ve talked to HR departments all across Scandinavia and differences in what you could register in the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish markets. Some things you were obligated to register  [in one country] that you couldn’t do in other countries, and there are even bigger differences between the US and Norway.  I know with Finance and Supply Chain Management, they have a lot of country-specific rules in the Finance section. I’m looking forward to when HR is there.

To meet some of the locale-specific needs, she encouraged partners in Norway to develop Power Automate flows to handle requirements like the long-term leave policies that often involve specific checks and approvals at specific times (like with a physician), but so far there are have been no takers on the suggestion.

Malin also clarified that for a long time, not every entity in HR has been in the Common Data Service (CDS). That’s set to change by September, 2020.

A lot of companies are still using the HR module in Finance and Operations, which is now split into either Finance or Supply Chain Operations. Moving forward the new stuff will come in HR and won’t be developed on the ERP side. The modules will still be there, but you will need to have the connectors and do projects, accounting and hours in Finance.

With all of the changes afoot, Martnes talks frequently with Finnish Microsoft MVP Antti Pajunen. The two MVPs differ in their areas of focus, with Pajunen paying a lot of attention to Project Service Automation and Field Service. In both, information on an employee’s competencies is badly needed, yet that information is housed only in HR. Fortunately, with increasingly interoperability among elements of the Microsoft stack and with Power BI making sense of things at a higher level, a more complete view of the business is now possible.

Recently, Martnes has begun to apply her background in marketing to learning about D365 Marketing. Back in the early 2010s, Microsoft acquired MarketingPilot, but, in her view, the results were disastrous. She said that she is excited for the roll out of new Marketing app’s event management capabilities, such as drag and drop features or ways to embed into a CMS form. But she also notes that some emerging features are difficult to tease apart:

[Microsoft] always use extremely fancy wording and describe [features] in a high-level way. When I write about the release notes I try to write in plain understandable English. It takes some time and I am not completely sure that I understand it fully. [One example is] context rich emails triggered by business transactions like payments. How do you do it? I know some people have been asking for quick send [wherein] you have a template and just say with this contact quick send them an email with this template. [Microsoft] specifically says ‘triggered by business transactions’. Is that connected to your ERP system or Sales? Is that retail or in sales or customer service? It could be a lot of things. It sounds fancy.

Other new features come as a surprise, such as export to Excel, which many users—including Martnes—had guessed was already an option in the product.

Building a career and keeping up with updates

Martnes graduated in 2007 after studying marketing, but as a new graduate struggled to find work directly in the marketing field. Instead, she ended up working in related areas like sales, customer service and event management. Then in 2014, she was approached by two different recruiters asking if she would consider working as a consultant. She made the switch, quickly learning how to conduct Dynamics CRM customer implementations.

I took the plunge and thought if this isn’t it I could always go back. I love it and I think it’s great. I do Sales, Customer Service, Marketing, Human Resource and Power Platform. No day is the same.

She took a break for a year to care for a new baby but returned to find a radically different product than she was familiar with.

When I came back, it was no longer called CRM. I wasn’t in the CRM department. Now it Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement. I’ve never felt so stupid before or after. There are so many new things coming out and everything’s just different and I had missed so many releases. I really needed to learn it all over again. In 2017 I came back in August and became an MVP in July, 2019.

I know there are so many people with questions. Feel free to send them to me. I love to write a blog post about something somebody asked me about. There are incredible and amazing people out there sharing their knowledge.

Martnes encouraged other users to stay up to date with upcoming events. For example, she plans to attend an upcoming user group event at Microsoft’s office in Oslo on February 5th as well as the Scottish Summit February 29th.