Plan for change: Dynamics 365 for Outlook to be phased out 

Dynamics 365 for Outlook to be phased out

Microsoft Dynamics 365 combines enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities into one platform. One of its key features is Dynamics 365 for Outlook integration (also referred to as Outlook COM add-in). This integration allows users to record and reference Dynamics 365 data from their Microsoft Outlook interface.

However, Microsoft is planning to phase out this old integration for a new piece of software named Dynamics 365 App for Outlook. Here’s what Australian businesses need to know about this major development.

When should companies switch to Dynamics 365 App for Outlook?

Microsoft recommends that companies transition to Dynamics 365 App for Outlook before October 1, 2020. Outlook COM add-in users will still get support, security, and other critical updates before this date, though don’t expect Microsoft to release additional functionality for the deprecated add-in.

What’s wrong with Outlook COM add-in?

Outlook COM add-in is useful for tracking contact and lead records in Dynamics 365, but it has its shortcomings. For starters, the legacy add-in doesn’t automatically provide contextual information about contacts in Outlook. To find any information relevant to an email, you’ll have to manually search for it.

It’s also known to affect machine performance because it’s installed locally and has to process large amounts of data. Dynamics 365 App for Outlook, on the other hand, is cloud-based, so running the software doesn’t strain your hardware. All users need to run the app is an internet-connected device.

What’s more, Outlook COM add-in relies on legacy web clients and integration models that are no longer supported by Microsoft. This means that there’s an increased risk of exposure to cyberattacks and bugs the longer users rely on this outdated add-in.

Why migrate to Dynamics 365 App for Outlook?

Dynamics 365 App for Outlook introduces upgrades that make the Outlook COM add-in obsolete. It comes with new features that boost productivity and enable users to better engage with client information. The most notable enhancements are:

  • Unified interface – Uses responsive web design to provide a consistent experience across different screen sizes, devices, and orientations (e.g., landscape and portrait)
  • Cross-platform compatibility – Works on Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Outlook web access
  • Global search – Allows users to retrieve specific records across Dynamics 365 databases by entering relevant keywords
  • Efficient data entry – Automatically records contacts, leads, or accounts on Dynamics 365 based on the recipient’s (or sender’s) data
  • Streamlined tracking – Gives Outlook users detailed, contextual information about contacts from emails, messages, and appointments
  • Dashboards – Displays key metrics in interactive and customisable charts
  • Forms – Lets users create surveys, sign-up sheets, and more with drag-and-drop ease
  • Centralised deployment – Makes it easy to grant access privileges and distribute the app to authorised users

How do you transition to the new system?

There are several steps to migrating to Dynamics 365 App for Outlook. First, you must assess your technical infrastructure and get fully supported software platforms. Ideally, you should have the latest Microsoft Exchange Server (or Exchange Online), Outlook, web browsers, and operating systems. If you don’t, you must perform the required updates before you can proceed.

Then, evaluate how employees are currently using Outlook COM add-in. For example, they may be converting emails to leads, importing contacts in bulk, or retrieving Dynamics 365 data. Once you know the functions employees rely on, confirm whether Dynamics 365 App for Outlook has the features they need. Keep in mind that not every legacy function fits with Dynamics 365 App for Outlook. You may need to find workarounds for integrating dynamic Excel worksheets or sending personalised documents in Outlook.

The next step is to test Dynamics 365 App for Outlook and evaluate how certain business processes may change. Marketing teams may need to access a different menu to look up previous customer interactions, for instance. When business processes have been straightened out, announce the migration to your users and prepare a training seminar.

How we can help

Have a managed IT services provider (MSP) synchronise your email system with Dynamics 365 at the server level and update mailboxes. You must also configure access restrictions by going to Advanced Settings > Security > Users and selecting Manage Roles. Finally, deploy the app by going to Advanced Settings > Dynamics 365 App for Outlook and clicking on Add App for All Eligible Users.

Major developments like these are always an overwhelming affair for businesses, especially for those with limited IT experience. That’s why you can entrust all the complex and technical work to our support engineers at Empower IT. As a leading Australian MSP, we can help your business overcome huge updates, software deprecations, and other IT issues. Just call us today to put your business ahead of the curve!