Difficulty adopting Unified Interface early in Dynamics 365?

What is the purpose of being human and alive without doing new things? John Sulston

Adopting new technology early comes with risk, caused by untested/unfinished functionality. This is a trait of Agile where the focus is on getting valuable user feedback. I prefer to wait for a second release, in case any major issues are found in the initial release. A company will typically tweak hardware or software, which is when I’ll make my purchase.

However, there are several positives when using an unfinished product after its initial release. You get ahead of the competition and have an early opportunity to take advantage of new features, which may help your business perform more efficiently.

With some products you have the ability to influence where a product is heading. This happens when consumers use the product, which enables them to suggest features that are useful to them and the product team gains user feedback based on real life scenarios. Sadly, the latter doesn’t apply to Dynamics 365.

How does this tie into early adoption of Unified Interface? When Dynamics v9 was released in July 2017, it came packaged with a new interface known as “Unified Interface” which aims to provide a better user experience when working with Dynamics. It’s based on a design you would typically associate with the mobile apps of today. The reason for this is to provide a consistent experience across devices. The design is vibrant, eye catching and focused due to less screen clutter. To find out more, click this link.

Navigate to the new app screen through Settings, My Apps, Create new App, where you can enable an app for Unified Interface by setting the ‘Client’ to Unified Interface as shown in the screenshot below.

Enabling an App for Unified Interface

We tried implementing Unified Interface as a proof of concept for our client. It allowed for quick initial development of functionality against the base requirements.

Key features that we’ve been accustomed to and taken for granted weren’t part of the initial release for Unified Interface:

· Advanced Find

· Run a report

· Share a record

· Search for a user record

· Create a personal view

The most baffling exclusion from Unified Interface, for me at least, was Advanced Find. Every client I’ve worked with understands how powerful Advanced Find is when querying Dynamics and it’s one of the most loved features. Recently, I even had a user in a training session burst out with “Wow!” when I was demonstrating this feature.

October release

We now know what’s included in the October release for Dynamics 365, in which all the above-mentioned features are back, plus more. Prior to the release I saw a preview of Advanced Find and I found it hard to see what’s changed. It appears to just link to the same interface for Advanced Find that’s been there since 2013, making it harder to understand its exclusion from the original release of Unified Interface.

Version 9 and specifically Unified Interface came before it was ready for full adoption by clients. I felt frustrated not being able to deliver a basic system with Unified Interface due our requirements being so dependent on missing features. As a result, we took a decision that the proof of concept wouldn’t work for us and thus we would revert to the Web Client interface, which didn’t impact delivery.

The proof of concept enabled us to validate whether Unified Interface would work for this solution. Anything developed for Unified Interface should (in theory) automatically work in the Web Client, thus negating any extra time spent by resources not working towards the end solution.

Should you adopt early?

It’s difficult to judge whether you can adopt early without knowing the requirements, which was a difficulty we faced as a team. It’s only as they develop that you gain full understanding of what’s possible. Trying new technology or features to validate your base requirements comes with risk due to the outcomes never being guaranteed.

New technology/features increase productivity if used correctly, help businesses meet their goals. To remain ahead of competitors, you need to adopt early, taking advantage of new technology.

Older versions of technology are supported for a limited time and the Unified Interface will become the standard in the future. Another benefit to adopting early is employee satisfaction. A report showed “employees who work in fully-enabled digital workplaces where new workplace technologies are in widespread use — are 51 percent more likely to have strong job satisfaction and 43 percent more likely to be positive about their work-life balance than ‘Digital Laggards’” (a term coined to mean those who are last to adopt digital technology). A proof of concept allowed me to develop my understanding of new features sooner.

Conclusion

We should strive to drive change by adopting early so we can challenge the way in which we work and continue to push the boundaries.

If you’re thinking of attempting early adoption, ensure the benefits outweigh the risk. A proof of concept is a great way of doing this with little commitment. Some companies are risk adverse, it’s important you encourage a change in mindset and stick with it. Change doesn’t happen overnight but if you are not improving, you are falling behind.