Dynamics 365 Customisation and Configuration Best Practices
Written By Prateek
Last Updated: May 10, 2024
April 8, 2024

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Whenever we talk about Dynamics 365 customisation, we’re usually referring to making specific tweaks and adjustments to tailor the CRM to a company’s unique needs. This might involve writing some custom code or using tools to build additional features.

On the other side, configuring means using the features that come straight out of the box and adapting them to fit your business requirements without needing to dive into coding.

Think of configuration as using the tools already available within the CRM platform to make about 90% of the changes you need. It’s like using a simple drag-and-drop interface where what you see is what you get. 

Microsoft Dynamics 365, for example, offers a great Integrated Development Environment that gives you a lot of control to tweak and test system changes.

Now, when it comes to development, that’s a bit more involved. It’s for those bigger changes and extra functionality you might want to add to really enhance your business processes. This could involve writing custom code for more complex needs, like specific user interface behaviours or server-side computations.

While modern CRMs are getting so good at configuration that you rarely need to do much development, there are still times when it’s necessary to meet special requirements.

Overall, a CRM is like a toolkit that can be customised, configured, and even developed further to integrate with other systems and improve its functionality. And that’s where platforms like Microsoft Dynamics 365 really shine.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Configuration Capabilities

Using configuration to operate and manage a CRM is crucial. Essentially, configuration is all about organising and controlling the system’s framework. 

In Microsoft Dynamics 365, it’s vital for enhancing the user interface, adjusting field settings, ensuring security, implementing business rules, and utilising various features and options. The beauty of it is that you can achieve all this without any custom programming; it’s all about configuring settings.

With Dynamics 365, organisations can seamlessly shape their business processes by leveraging the array of configuration capabilities available to tailor the system to their specific needs. 

For instance, configuration in Dynamics 365 covers a range of tasks such as:

  • Making changes to the database and fields
  • Adjusting forms, validations, and views
  • Setting up workflows, Business Process Flows (BPF), dashboards, and reports
  • Managing security settings
  • Creating calculated fields and templates

Moreover, configuring can be carried out by a Microsoft Gold Partner using tools like:

  • Internal Customisation Tool:

This tool within Dynamics 365 is highly recommended for administrators and IT professionals. It allows them to tweak and update the database, business rules, user interface (UI), and manage settings using a controlled edit-publish workbench. For instance, adjusting security levels or creating roles and assigning privileges to users can be easily done using this tool, aligning with best practices for Dynamics 365.

  • Release in Solution Packages:

Releasing changes in solution packages bundles them together for controlled deployment across different environments. These packages document modifications, making it easier for developers to track changes and connect them to specific tasks or stories. This method ensures consistency across environments, minimises errors during import, and streamlines the deployment process.

  • Codeless Tool Set:

Dynamics 365 offers a range of codeless tools for customisation, including features for integration with various systems and data sources. These tools are pre-configured and ready to use, eliminating the need for writing code. By utilising data integration tools or connectors, users can easily share and connect data without the risk of integration failures.

  • Preview and Publish Modes:

The customisation tool set includes preview and publish modes for reviewing changes before and after implementation. Preview mode allows users to see the impact of a change before making it live. Dynamics 365 customisations are automatically published when new items are created or existing items are deleted, ensuring changes are reflected across the system.

  • Release Solutions Iteratively:

Adopting an iterative approach to releasing solutions is ideal for CRM deployment. By implementing changes in smaller increments, employees can adapt and learn gradually. This approach also allows for easier identification and resolution of issues before each solution release. The goal is to continuously improve the CRM, addressing challenges and increasing productivity over time.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customisation

In today’s world, customisation involves a mix of coding and integration development across various levels such as server, main application, line of business functionalities, and database operations. 

It also includes user-friendly tools like app and function builders, workflow automation, and creating simple yet effective dashboards. Some of the latest advancements in this field include PowerSuite, Common Data Service (CDS), and Common Data Model (CDM).

PowerSuite simplifies system optimisation by consolidating various features, making maintenance more efficient and boosting performance. It achieves this by scanning for untouched processes, suggesting updates for drivers, and cleaning up or compressing unused files and Windows backups. 

Additionally, developers leverage CDM to establish custom connections between different databases, enhancing applications for end-users. When combined with CDS, developers can focus less on building from scratch and more on refining sophisticated integrations, thanks to the pre-existing CDM templates that can be adopted and enhanced.

Furthermore, Microsoft Visual Studio opens up avenues for developing programs, websites, applications, web services, and mobile apps. Leveraging Windows development platforms like API, Forms, Presentation Foundation, and Microsoft Silverlight, Visual Studio facilitates the creation and management of code. 

For instance, tools like Visual Studio Team Explorer or Team Web Access offer initial access and project visibility for both DevOps and development teams. Additionally, there are handy developer tools available within Dynamics 365, including WebResources Manager, View Layout Replicator, Early Bound Generator, and .Net, which assist in managing code across multiple languages.

Microsoft Visual Studio and the .Net tools seamlessly intertwine to handle various tasks such as:

  • Importing and monitoring jobs
  • Presenting data through iframes
  • Implementing server-side Dynamics 365 customisations
  • Making integration calls and managing web services
  • Developing custom UI elements
  • Extending functionality through add-ons and apps

Customisation and development tasks are typically handled by developers using a variety of tools:

  • .Net Framework:

Developed by Microsoft, the .Net Framework is widely used for building, developing, and deploying applications. It supports multiple languages, interoperability, and includes essential components like an Integrated Development Environment (IDE), Graphical User Interface (GUI), Mono Compilation System (MCS), and Common Type System (CTS). 

  • Software Development Kit:

The SDK provides an architectural overview of Dynamics 365, entity and security models, web services, and tools necessary for developing, customising, and communicating within the Dynamics 365 environment. It includes practical utilities for tasks such as registering assemblies, migrating data, and customising assemblies as per requirements, making it indispensable for developers.

  • Reusable Solutions Management:

Plug-ins are commonly employed to enhance standard features by introducing specific business logic triggered by events within entities. Reusable solutions, on the other hand, extend the functionality of Microsoft Dynamics CRM by packaging customisations completed by customisers and developers. These solutions are the recommended method for transferring customisations between CRM organisations.

  • Error Handling and Logs:

Error handling in Dynamics 365 is facilitated through the tracing service, with exception messages logged in the system job area and plug-in trace log. This ensures that any errors encountered are efficiently managed and monitored.

  • Web Resources:

Dynamics 365 allows storage and utilisation of web resources or virtual files for web page functionality, forms, and entities. These resources range from simple image files to more complex applications like Silverlight, providing flexibility in customisation and deployment.

  • VSO Change Control, Code Backups, and Versions:

Employing VSO change control and tools like Team Foundation Server ensures a systematic approach to managing changes, including code and version backups. Version control methods like Team Foundation Version Control (TFVC) or Git facilitate coordinated and controlled changes to products or systems.

  • TDD Quality Control:

Test-driven development (TDD) is a programming methodology aimed at improving quality control. It enables developers to write test cases before functional code, ensuring code passes acceptance tests and simplifying development processes, ultimately enhancing software quality.


It’s fascinating to explore the customisation possibilities within a CRM and the array of options for validating and developing modifications. Packaging these modifications together and releasing them as solution sets allows for controlled releases and versioning, enhancing the overall management of the system. Additionally, the introduction of new and improved capabilities like Common Data Model (CDM) and Common Data Service (CDS) signifies a step forward in CRM evolution.

As CDM continues to evolve, understanding its intricacies becomes crucial for the success of any developing system. 

To delve deeper into how Microsoft Dynamics 365’s features and capabilities can optimise and streamline your business processes, connect with Microsoft’s Gold Partner today.

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