A Productivity Consultant’s Review of the Calendar Control for an Entity Feature

Jim Lorrig / July 09, 2020
A Productivity Consultant’s Review of the Calendar Control for an Entity Feature
One of the new features in the 2020 release wave 1 for Dynamics 365 CRM/CDS/PowerApps platform is the ability to add a calendar control for an entity.  This feature allows users the ability to see records in a view shown on a calendar.  This seems like an extremely useful feature, so I did some exploring.

There 4 key new capabilities delivered in this calendar control feature, including the ability to: 
  • Find activities quickly
  • Navigate activities easily
  • Update activities intuitively
  • Benefit from Calendar view 
The focal point of today’s discussion is the Benefit from Calendar view.   This feature is only for the Unified Interface so ensure that if you intend to move forward with this, you are using the Unified Interface.  

Calendar View Benefits at a Glance:
  • Visibility to date-based data on a calendar display is very useful.  Using this control on standard entities like Leads and Opportunities seems worthwhile.  A manager that wants to review Opportunities that have an estimated close date in the next month could quickly get a visual using this control, and quickly view details using the record advance option.  
  • Displaying date-driven data for custom entities is also a nice benefit. 
In the example I worked through (provided below), there were a few things that I wanted to do that I thought would improve productivity, but I could not find a way to accomplish.  

Suggested improvements:
  1. The Calendar display shows the Time value from Date Due and the Description of the task.  The time entry is showing 12 AM because I bound the calendar’s control start and end dates to the Due Date of the task.  There is no option to change what fields are shown on the initial calendar view as far as I can tell.  In my case, the Subject and Regarding fields would provide more value. Suggested Improvement: Allow fields to be designated to display on the calendar. 
  2. Once a single task is selected, the record advance button appears, and when selected, the activities are listed.  This shows the Subject and Regarding fields.  However, there is no option to change which fields are shown here either.  I changed the order of the first two fields in the “Quick Find All Activities”, “My Open Activities”, and “My Activities” views but could not find a way to change the fields. Suggested Improvement: Allow fields to be designated to display in the list of records.  
  3. After I had completed my changes and closed the list of records from the record advance button, I was taken back to my list of activities, but the data was shown as a list, not in the calendar control.  I would expect to see the results of my changes in the control that I was using.    To do that, I had to repeat the steps of selecting the “Show As” option, selecting the calendar control, changing the display to month, and advancing to the appropriate month.  Repeating these steps was a huge waste of time.  Suggested Improvement: When a record is closed, revert to the control the user was in when the record was selected. 
  4. I do not see any method to set the calendar control as my default view of the records.  Suggested Improvement: Allow the calendar control to be set as the default “Show as” option. 
  5. I could not drag a task to a different date on the calendar.  Perhaps this is due to how I bound the calendar’s control’s start and end dates to the Due Date field.  But I think a huge productivity gain for users would be the ability to drag a task to a different date on the calendar.  I was expecting something like the Kanban control where an entry can be dragged to a different column to update a status.  Suggested Improvement: Allow a calendar entry to be dragged to a different date. 
  6. Lastly, while working through the navigation and view changes, I needed to refresh my browser to recognize the changes.  The next time I went into the “Show As” option, the display was incorrect:
                       
Suggested Improvement: Correct the bug.

If you like these suggested improvements, please vote for them on the www.experience.dynamics.com website at the following link: https://experience.dynamics.com/ideas/idea/?ideaid=9e1299b5-57b2-ea11-8b71-0003ff68f609

How I set it up - Technical Setup: 
To enable the control, Microsoft has provided instructions at the following link: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365-release-plan/2020wave1/dynamics365-sales/manage-activities-ease

Within the link above, you are directed to a second link for further details: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/sales-enterprise/manage-activities

The Microsoft documentation used the Activities entity as their example, and I followed that approach and enabled the control on the Activities entity.  

NOTE!  One of the best sections in the second link is “Best practices for activities”.  They have four bullet points that I have repeated below.  You can read the full details in the link, but I see Dynamics 365 for Sales users who do NOT follow these best practices and are frustrated why more analytics cannot be determined from Notes records.  Use the best practices and you will have a wealth of data.  
  • Add an activity for every customer interaction. 
  • Use the right activity type for the action. 
  • Add activities for yourself, too. 
  • Keep in mind that activities “roll up” under their associated records.  
Back to the subject at hand.  

In my example, I imported Tasks related to Opportunities and assigned Due Dates to the Tasks.  


Once the feature is enabled, you switch to the control using the “Show As” option.  


After selecting the calendar control, the control’s default view is for a week. 



I clicked on Month and then advanced to the month the tasks due dates were for.


Once I selected an individual record, the task was opened for the full details. 


I further selected the record advance button in the upper left-hand section of the screen so I can navigate to other tasks in the list. 


I proceeded to update the Due Date on the task and then clicked the Save & Close button.  Since the list of records was displayed on the left side of the screen, I clicked on a different record to perform a subsequent update.  

Now that I completed my updates, I closed the list of activities using the “X” button.  

That left me on the last record I was on, so even though I had already saved the changes, I didn’t see any other navigation to get me back to the list of activities, so I pressed the Save & Close button again.  That brought me back to my list of activities.     

Again, if you like these suggested improvements, please vote for them on the www.experience.dynamics.com website at the following link: https://experience.dynamics.com/ideas/idea/?ideaid=9e1299b5-57b2-ea11-8b71-0003ff68f609
Jim Lorrig
About the Author


Jim Lorrig
CRM Engineer II / Analyst

Jim has over 10 years’ experience working with sales teams, large (250+) and small (3), using CRM applications that provided visibility to ERP system data.  These businesses ranged in size from $1 million to nearly $1 billion in annual sales.  Jim believes that successful companies that utilize CRM recognize that their success is not due to CRM, their success comes from creating an environment that utilizes a powerful tool, CRM, as one component to achieve their success. 

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