Friday, March 27, 2020

Covid19 - Corona Virus Info Bot - Power Virtual Agent

The Covid19 / Corona Virus pandemic has created major concerns for people all over the world. I hope everyone is safe and taking precaution by staying at home. This blog is to about how to create a Covid19 Safety Info Bot using Microsoft Power Virtual Agent.

The problem - Currently governments at National / State / County / City / Town and Health Care organizations are all trying to provide the information to their citizens. There is a ton of critical information that needs to be provided. People are given a phone # to call which is managed by Call Centers. The Call Centers personnel are having a crisis where the staff have to take risks, travel and be in the call center offices to respond to the callers. Also the volume of call is causing delays and chaos to the people.

Solution -
There are many ways to provide the information to the people. One powerful and simple solution option is to create a Power Virtual Agent Bot and add the same to the Government or Commercial organization Website portal.

The link for the sample bot I have created is here - (available upto April 19th, 2020)

Corona Virus Info Bot - Sample

Solution details - Here are the steps I took to create the Power Virtual Agent Sample Corona Virus Bot -

1. Create a Power Apps environment - You will need an environment in Power Apps. You may already have a Power Apps account or need to create a new account. You can also create a trial for Power apps at or

New Power Apps environment 

Once the environment is created with a database you are ready to go with Power Virtual Agents.

2. Set-up a Power Virtual Agent bot - Go to You can log in with the same above Power Apps account. Create a new Bot and attach the Bot to the Power Apps environment.

3. Once the Bot is created you need to create the Topics. Adding Topics allows you Bot to answer specific questions based on trigger phrases and provide correct messages.


Refer the below topic details and trigger phrases to protect from Corona Virus
Protect from Corona Virus - Topic and Trigger phrases

You can also see the Topic and message on the authoring canvas

Authoring Canvas

4. You can also customize your greeting - the info that the Bot will provide to the customer
Customized Greeting
5. Once you have the Bot configured you can test the Corona Virus Bot and than publish it.

Test and Publish Bot

You can embed the Bot in your website or portal. Here is the sample website for the above Covid19 - Corona Virus Bot which will be available online upto April 19th 2020 for testing.

Hope this info helps you to create your own Bot and add it to the organization website. Please let me know if you need any help in creating and configuring the Bot. Thanks for reading. Stay at home and be safe for now.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Managing Non Conformance with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management

“Each manufacturer is required to establish and maintain procedures to control product that does not confirm to specific requirements” (21 CFR 820.90). Nonconforming can be a Product or a Process that does not meets its specifications. A nonconforming process can lead to a nonconforming product. This blog discusses how Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management can help manufacturers in managing Non conformance.

Non Conformance business process
Why manage Non Conformance – In addition to the regulatory requirements there are many benefits -
  1. Improved safety of manufactured products
  2. Manage product recalls
  3. Better process equals more effective products
  4. Gain consumer confidence with product reliability
AI and data analytics can also be used on the data collected for predicting and preventing future errors. The business process in Microsoft Dynamics 365 SCM is shown above and discussed step by step here -

1. Product fails quality – This could be during the incoming product inspection or during the manufacturing production process that a product can fail quality testing. It can also be a return of a product from Customer due to product failure.
2. The QA tester will than create the Non Conformance for the Quality Order. The benefit of creating from a Quality Order is that it has all the necessary details (like Vendor, Purchase Order and Batch #). 

Create Non conformance

3. Approve and print Non Conformance Tag – The Tester can than approve and print the Tag and attach to the product. This becomes a visual indicator on the product itself. Tester will move the product/s to a caged or locked area along with other non conforming products.
1.     4. Review & identify corrections – The product engineer will review the non conformance and identify corrections. Also assign the correction to the worker. Power automate can be used to notify the worker of the task.
The assigned worker completes the corrections. The product engineer can than write the justification for the disposition of the items (using Notes) and closes the Non conformance.

5.      Reporting and analytics – This can be used to for management review of non conformance. Some of the reports that can benefit are - 
  • Vendors with recurring # of non conforming products – to improve vendor performance
  • Products with highest # of non conformance – to improve process results
  • Corrections most applied – to re-design the production process
I hope the above helps you to understand and manage the non conformance process using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management. Let me know how you are managing your current product or process Non Conformance.

Mihir Shah
(originally published by Mihir Shah as a linked in article on 11-23-2019)

Friday, August 30, 2019

Supplier Quality Management with Dynamics 365 F&O - part-1 Vendor On-boarding

"In the manufacturing world anything can be outsourced except accountability" (1). Manufacturing enterprise have to adhere to regulatory and statutory guidelines as set by various global organizations like FDA or EU. Manufacturers are responsible and accountable for managing their entire supply chain.  This requires ensuring managing product compliance and safety standards from raw material sourcing to customer service processes. Vendors form a vital part of the supply chain process. This blog is focused on how to enable Supplier Quality Management (SQM) process with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations (F&O).

SQM can be broadly classified into 3 areas -
1. Selection and on-boarding
2. Collaboration
3. Risk analysis / scorecard

In this blog we will discuss Supplier or Vendor selection and on-boarding process using Microsoft Dynamics 365 F&O.

Firms have to set-up processes to ensure that their prospective vendor partners are identified and evaluated based on a set enterprise wide criteria with proper due diligence. This could be a manual process in which a questionnaire is sent to the vendor prospect and based on the data provided the vendors are evaluated by Supplier Quality Management personnel.
The supplier may have to go through a denied trade list verification check for export regulations. The Vendor has to provide several documents such as quality certifications and financial stability. The Vendors are also evaluated based on stringent industry compliance requirements for example the source of minerals and other raw materials are not from a conflicting nation.

The above vendor evaluation and selection manual processes can be automated and enhanced using Vendor on-boarding process with Microsoft Dynamics 365 F&O as shown -
Vendor On-boarding process 

The steps are detailed below -
1. The purchasing / buyer user will create a prospective vendor registration request record in Dynamics 365. This will have the Vendor company and contact details with email.
Prospective Vendor Registration Request
The user will submit the Vendor prospect for an initial trade approval. The status changes from new to user requested.

2. Most enterprises will need to ensure that the Vendor prospect is not on a denied trade party list. This check and verification will need to be done before going further in the on-boarding process.
If approved the Vendor contact record is created in Azure AD B2C. (for more details on setting up Azure AD B2C with Dynamics F&O refer (2))

Security roles assigned to external user

An external user record is also created in Microsoft Dynamics 365 F&O with an external user limited security role. (for more details on setting up Azure AD B2C with Dynamics F&O refer (2))
An email is also sent to the Vendor contact to log into the Microsoft Dynamics 365 F&O.
The request status changes to user invited.

3. Once the Vendor contact logs into the system they have to change their password and are given access to the Vendor questionnaire. The questionnaire asks for the basic information of the Vendor. We can also create our own questionnaire for getting more detailed information in order to complete evaluation. Once the Vendor contact completes the questionnaire a task can be created for the Supplier Quality Management (SQM) team to start the evaluation process.  The record status changes to "registration in progress".

4. The SQM team can do the evaluation and can ask for more information such as certifications and other records as needed further by email. Once evaluation is complete they can accept or reject the Vendor prospect. The record status changes to user accepted or rejected accordingly.

5. If accepted the Vendor and Vendor contact record are created in Microsoft Dynamics 365 F&O. A request can be sent to Accounts Payable to now set-up the Vendor payment details as necessary.

The entire process is now digitized and records can be maintained for future audit purposes. This also helps in getting multiple approvals for on-boarding the Vendor.

Things to note -
1. The questionnaire is not as flexible as one would hope it to be. In the future it may be possible to use the enriched Microsoft Flow for creating the same.
2. It is currently not possible for the prospective Vendor contact to provide attachment along with the questionnaire.
3. The Vendor record once approved and created may also have been granted access to Vendor collaboration. This needs to be verified and access removed if not required to be given.
4. If the Vendor is rejected the system will remove the access from Microsoft Dynamics 365. In addition steps needs to be taken to remove the Vendor prospect record and also delete in Azure AD B2C.

Hope the above is useful and you can digitize the Vendor on-boarding process using Microsoft Dynamics 365 F&O. I will write more about Vendor evaluation and collaboration in my future blogs on Supplier Quality Management. Thanks for reading.

Mihir Shah

(1) - Ref - SQM on
(2) -

Friday, July 12, 2019

Digital Transformation in Manufacturing using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations

Technology has enabled digital transformation for many industries. The transformation impact has been more evident in services and service related firms. We have seen the evolution of new business models (example - Uber, Bitcoin) or new delivery and consumption channels (example - Netflix). Manufacturing firms have been typically lagging in the innovation, adoption and execution of digital transformation.

Microsoft provides cloud business apps like Dynamics 365, and Azure services to enable digital transformation like, Azure messaging service along with the Power Platform apps (Microsoft Flow, Power Apps and Power BI). They have largely been implemented and coupled with Dynamics 365 customer engagement - for Sales, Service and Marketing business applications. With the upcoming release wave 2, Fall 2019, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations will now be enabled to connect with Microsoft Flow, Power Apps and Power BI (the Power Platform) and Azure services. This will be the enabler and driving force in leading digital transformation in manufacturing firms using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations.
  1. Integrations - In a multi-cloud and multi-app world it is essential for business apps to be able to talk and share information with each other. This requires a cloud based integration services capability like Azure messaging service. It also requires the ability to collect and store vast amount of data from multiple applications - a cloud data warehouse like Azure Data lake. The new release with data feeds feature will enable near real time export of data from Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations to both Azure messaging service and Azure Data lake.
  2. Business events & Microsoft Flow - Business events is a great new feature that enables external systems to receive notifications from Dynamics 365 F&O. The business event can send data to Azure service bus or be a trigger for Microsoft flow. This opens new opportunities to drive an outside processes based on events happening within D365 F&O. Some of the use cases for business events are -
  • Customer or Vendor on boarding - On boarding a new customer or vendor has been a manual business process - which may require getting the necessary business qualification details, evaluation and manager approval. When a customer or vendor is created a business event can be triggered that will enable the necessary flow actions for sending a questionnaire, verifying business information and triggering approvals.
  • Sales Order or Purchase Order confirmation - When a Sales order is entered or a PO confirmed by vendor a business event is triggered. Various external processes needs to be enabled based on the Sales Order or Purchase Order entry and confirmations. This can be the picking and shipping process at an external warehouse to order planning and preparation for transportation, arrival and production. This can be enabled using Microsoft flow.
  • Financial period end closing process automation - Every finance team follows a certain process for their quarterly or year end closing. The business events can be triggered on completion of a particular task and the team can be informed to start the next task using Microsoft flow. Also once the new period is opened the AP / AR team can be alerted to enable them to start entering data for the new period.
3. Power Apps and Common Data Service with F&O - The wave 2 release will enable dual write capability for Finance and Operations data to be in Common Data Service near real time. "This will allow businesses to exchange near real-time data seamlessly in a synchronous bidirectional fashion, beyond application boundaries" thus provide users a "One Dynamics 365" experience. This is to be released in phases with Phase-1 for Customers, Vendors and Products data and Phase-2 for the inventory and financial transactional data.
I can imagine the possibilities of creating power apps for F&O users and sharing the data with customer engagement. Add to it the ability to use PowerApps Control Framework (PCF) with F&O data would be amazingly useful for businesses.

4. AI insights- The above integration features now enabled to design and implement new AI capabilities. This now enables the Finance and Operations data to be integrated with data from other business apps in Azure Data lake and be able to get actionable AI insights to drive business transformation. Power BI data flows can now be enabled with the data in Azure data lake to generate insights using AI models. It will be possible to bring in the PowerBI custom visuals directly into Dynamics 365 F&O. In addition Azure IOT data can be coupled with Dynamics 365 F&O data to get more insights.

This all may still feel like a dream but it is becoming a reality and coming to your F&O apps very soon. The future of digital transformation for manufacturing and distribution firms using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations is now turning bright and glamorous. It is great to be part of an exciting future. 

In my next D365 F&O blog I will write more about the new Supply Chain management capabilities in Wave 2 release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations. Till then do let me know how you plan to transform your manufacturing operations using the upcoming new features.

Mihir Shah @mihircrm

reference - Upcoming release wave 2 Finance and Operations features -

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Smart City - powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365 - Part-1

This is part-1 of my blog about Smart City - powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365 and describes the need for making our cities smarter. (for the purpose of this blog a citizen is anyone who lives, visits or needs services in the city)

Why Smart City?

Population growth  - I grew up in Mumbai (Bombay, India) and saw first hand the rapid growth in population, transportation, pollution and social-economic development challenges faced by a city for providing sustainable living for its citizens.   As the global urbanization movement continues it is projected that 68% of the world population (1) will be in living in urban areas by 2050 - an estimated increase by 2.5 billion or @80+ million people will be moving to cities and urban areas every year worldwide. The city senior population is also increasing and this requires more attention to provide elder care and support services.  Increasing population puts a strain on the City resources and the implicit demand for citizen services cannot be met with the existing governance and maintenance services model.  

Need to make cities smarter

Competition - As cities look for tax revenue gains they are competing with other cities to attract large corporations (think Amazon HQ2) to set-up HQ offices and thus improve the quality of life for the current and future citizens. A city which does not have plans to modernize its systems and services may not be attractive to the corporate firms to invest their money. 

Aging infrastructure and systems - Most of the cities have old infrastructure. The transportation trains, roads, bridges and tunnels needs to be upgraded. They were not planned to manage the current growth and will fail to sustain the future growing demands.  Many of the city systems are also old and in need of upgrade or replacement. 

City challenges

Citizen expectations - Lets now think from the citizens point of view. The citizen today is more educated, knowledgeable  and aware of their rights.  They expect the same or better services from the City government which they are used to get from the commercial or private sector. They also want more engagement and involvement in the city government activities. They are demanding for transparency and accountability in the entire process of how their tax dollars are being utilized. The citizens wants to live in a well protected and safe environment. A self aware citizenry is expecting the city government to provide a better future for its citizens.

Higher expectations

City governments currently operate a silo'ed business model. They are made up of multiple agency's and departments. Each may have its own systems of records and they do not share their information by default design. The city governments have to comply to various federal and state laws such as - HIPAA, CJIS, PCI, GDPR, IRS and many others. Additionally city governments have to provide services to its citizens who speak multiple languages and may be visiting the city. This demand provides opportunities as well as challenges and needs to be managed. 

With increasing population, growing demands and aging infrastructure & systems it is imperative for City governments to look for long term sustainable solution. Smart City can provide the optimal solution for city governments to provide a better quality of life for its citizens. 

In my next blog I will write about how Microsoft Dynamics 365 with Azure IOT can power a Smart City solution. Please let me know what challenges are faced by your city and the solutions that are planned or implemented.  

Mihir Shah


Friday, April 5, 2019

Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service Insights - April 2019

This blog is continuation on the AI for Dynamics 365 series. Earlier I had written about Dynamics 365 AI for Sales, this blog focuses on Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service Insights.

Microsoft with its April 2019 release is introducing many new AI apps. The Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service Insights app is currently in public preview and will be in General Availability soon.

Why Customer Service Insights ?

Enterprise Clients over the past 2 decades have put their focus on providing and improving their customer service. A good customer service experience can help to improve the image, quality and value of the Brand. Call Centers were created and industry specific technology systems were put in place to enable the CSR agents to manage the growth in customer service requests. 

Over the past few years the # of channels for customer service have increased with the customer demanding attention on the go 24 hours from any device. As the service calls, emails, chats and tweets have exponentially grown so has the data collected by the different Customer Service apps.

It has become more difficult to detect and predict trends in product and service issues and take pro active actions to correct and improve. That is where Customer Service Insights plays a key role in helping organizations improve and manage customer service.

KPI Summary dashboard
To get access to the Customer Service insights you can log in here -
It comes with a Sample dataset and you can also connect to your Dynamics 365 environment using Settings > Workspace.
Customer Service Insights brings in all the relevant data from the Dynamics 365 environment and generates insights using AI. For example the Case are automatically grouped into Topics. The visuals are using PowerBI which enables to select data in one chart and see the corresponding data in other charts. It also has the ability to export data from each visual.

There are currently 4 dashboard. Each dashboard can be filtered using - Time period, Product, Channel, Business Unit and Team.
I will briefly discuss the intelligence surfaced in the charts within the dashboards.

1. KPI Summary - This dashboard gives an over view of the Customer Service performance. The Case Volume driver chart shows the Topics which are the main current drivers for customer service requests. Also the Emerging Topics identify the cases which are growing fast and on which the agents may need to be provided additional support.
The red and blue arrow shows the trend (- or +) in each KPI.

2. New Cases - dashboard gives you more details on the popular and emerging topics for the new cases as well as case priority and timing. The timing chart may help in identifying time trends and staffing the CSR's. It also shows the different channels from which the case originate.

New Cases
3. Customer Satisfaction - This provides the topics that are driving the CSAT and also breakdown by Channel. It also shows the - or + impact on CSAT of each Topic.
4. Resolution - The resolution dashboard provides the Topics that are impacting and driving the resolution time. It also shows the performance of agents by resolution time and escalations. This helps in agents training and performance improvement.


Some things of note -
1. Currently it only ingests data from Dynamics 365 and in the future other apps data like SalesForce and ServiceNow may be added.
2. You can tweak / cleanse the subject field to better align the topics
3. Field mapping is possible
4. We do not have the capability to configure the AI model.

I hope this gives you a flavor of the Customer Service Insights and please do let me know your views and experiences. Keep reading.

Mihir Shah

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Whats New in April 19' update - Omni Channel Engagement Hub

This blog is part-1 of a series of blog on what I find is new and interesting in the April-19 update of Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement.
Microsoft has provided a list of updated and new features in the April 2019 update release notes. I had written earlier about the Sales AI capabilities in Dynamics 365. This blog focus is on Customer Service and specifically the very new upcoming feature called Omni Channel Engagement Hub.

As the medium of social network is increasing, customers are demanding to communicate, connect and get response from organizations on any channel and from any device / location / time. This has challenged organizations big and small leading to a new breed of apps that help connecting with customers on non-traditional channels.

The challenge here is to integrate the new communication channels with existing Enterprise systems of engagement.

Microsoft has taken cognizance of this phenomenon and has introduced the Omni Channel Engagement Hub, which is a cloud based service to enable organizations to instantly connect and engage with their customers via channels like Live Chat and SMS. And there is an Dynamics 365 app, which helps Customer Service Agents to respond and engage with customers using those channels.

Agents can utilize the omni-channel Engagement Hub via Dynamics 365 online using the Unified Interface or by using Unified Service Desk (USD)

USD has the integration to the existing telephony system for Call Center operations. As the channels are new and not limited to just phone calls, it will now become a Contact Center operation.

There is built in dashboard for Supervisors to track and monitor the contact center productivity KPI's, Additionally Supervisors can consult and assist customer service agents in issue resolution.

With the April-19 release organization will be able to create their own chat bots which will be part of the Customer Service Virtual Agents using Microsoft Bot Framework.

The Omni Channel Hub integrates with D365 Customer Service Virtual Agent (Chat Bots). CS Virtual Agent will allow routing incoming chat requests to Virtual Agents (Chat Bots) in case of peak loads. If there is a necessity for escalation the discussion can be routed to a human agent with all prior details about the chat with customer.

Virtual Agent (Chat Bot)

So to give you a better idea for above - Consider a scenario
A bank is using Dynamics 365 Customer Service with the Omni Channel Engagement Hub and Virtual Agents (Chat Bots) it has created.
If a customer wants any information they can search the knowledge base as self service.
If they need further help they will be able to have a chat with the customer service virtual agent - the Chat Bot. Chat bot will use the data from Knowledge Articles created from similar cases to provide the information needed. If additional help is needed the discussion can be routed to a human agents queue giving the customer a seamless experience.

Routing of Chat 
I hope you are as excited as I am to get my hands on creating chat bots in Dynamics 365 without any code and transforming the customer experience. This is currently scheduled to be available in preview @ April 19'. We may just need to wait till it is out of preview and general available. Till than keep reading.

Mihir Shah