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Friday, June 15, 2018

Tips for Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations Performance Optimization

Posted by Ron Larsen

Looking to get better performance from your Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations solution, or considering implementing the platform? There are a variety of ways you can improve your Dynamics 365 optimization, before and after implementation.

Know your needs

Whether you’re using Dynamics 365 in the cloud or through an on-premise deployment, one of the most important factors in preventing or correcting performance issues is aligning your servers and licenses with your workloads.

The common challenge of environments being under-sized, or under-performing the jobs they’re trying to perform, typically stems from companies underestimating how they’ll use the technology. A company may deploy a basic Dynamics 365 system to perform core financial transactions, for example, and after a few months expand it to add capabilities such as trade logistics, warehousing or other functions―placing an unplanned burden on the platform.

Similar performance challenges can result if companies miscalculate their expected business workload requirements for the Dynamics system once they are up and running. To reduce the risk of this taking place, Microsoft’s Subscription estimator tool (available in the Lifecycle Services portal) will help you estimate the transaction counts you expect during periods of peak workloads. Based on your user licenses, modules, and transaction counts, the tool helps you calculate subscription requirements to ensure your provisioned environment meets your business needs.

For either of these conditions, proper planning can help alleviate potential congestion and ensure proper performance of your Dynamics 365 system.

Watch for updates

Another common mistake that can affect your Dynamics deployment is failing to apply patches or program updates Microsoft has issued to address known performance or security issues. It’s important not to get too far behind on your patches and to keep your system up to date so you avoid problems lasting longer than they need to, or a series of minor issues cascading into more significant performance challenges.

The latest Dynamics 365 platform helps you remain current by providing more effective notice about available patches, as well as an easier way to apply binary patches without requiring significant disruptions to your production environment. These tools will make patch application and management easier, especially if you update your systems on a consistent basis.

Within Dynamics, the Lifecycle Services collaboration portal offers tools to help administrators identify outstanding platform updates that have not been deployed within your system, as well as an issue search function that allows you to look for additional performance-related, regulatory or other updates that may apply to any particular problems you’re seeing.

A new telemetry-driven knowledge base (KB) in Lifecycle Services will help determine how effectively hotfixes have solved a particular issue and will proactively push out relevant hotfixes to customers.

The portal can also provide information about―and help you remain up to date with―major upgrades that offer additional functionality or performance improvements that go beyond routine patches or point updates. Administrators should check Lifecycle Services consistently, ideally daily, to see if there are any critical updates required for their systems or other updates that have not been applied.

When customers enter a support case through Lifecycle Services, Microsoft will return a list of KB recommendations that can be continuously refined based on the user’s input.  This makes it easier for customers to possibly get answers immediately rather than wait for a support engineer response.

Your help desk can also be an important early warning system for potential performance issues. You should monitor your help desk logs and talk with project managers to identify any questions or problems that seem to happen regularly. This may help you figure out if users aren’t following the right processes, or if they don’t understand the effects of what they’re trying to do. In either case, this provides an opportunity to correct outstanding problems by correcting a configuration error or helping the user with additional training or information.

Help ensure functional alignment

It’s also important to make sure the business unit professionals using Dynamics 365 understand the platform and the proper ways to carry out procedures. Mistakes such as not attempting processes in the correct order can reduce system performance.

Several options are available to mitigate this risk. Your systems implementation partner can conduct workshops and training for your IT and business users to provide an administrative and technical overview of the system and its capabilities. By helping users understand the system (and each other) more effectively, defining procedures clearly, and providing common terminology, you can reduce common performance problems that result from misunderstandings or people using the platform improperly.

Similarly, Microsoft includes task guides within the Dynamics help system that can provide valuable guidance in reinforcing good practices across your company by defining those procedures clearly and making them easier for people to understand and follow. Any time that somebody doesn’t understand fully either what they’re supposed to do or what’s taking place in other parts of their organization, there are likely to be communication problems or decreased platform performance.

The current release of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations includes a new tool named the Optimization advisor.  The Optimization advisor workspace suggests best practices for module configuration and identifies bad data.  If you have customizations or ISV solutions in your environment, you can create additional rules for identifying configuration or data issues relative to the associated processes. The Optimization advisor will run periodically in the background and identify “opportunities” for optimization that you can “take action” on in the workspace.

Improving the understanding of users, monitoring your system for problems and keeping up to date with patches and updates are all important steps to take.  These measures will help you optimize and maintain the performance of your Dynamics 365 platform, now and in the future.

Armanino is a Gold Certified Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP and CRM Partner. Having problems with your Dynamics 365 performance? Show us your toughest performance issue and our Dynamics 365 support specialists will improve it, or it’s free.  Contact us to find out more.

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