The Future of Social Housing: A Radical Reform and Microsoft Solutions
Feb21

The Future of Social Housing: A Radical Reform and Microsoft Solutions

In the ever-evolving landscape of the 21st century, one sector that stands at the precipice of significant change is social housing. A recent white paper by Kate Davies, a luminary in the field, titled “Social Housing: Radical Reform Through Better Collaboration, Interdependent Working and Technological Innovation,” provides a comprehensive overview of the current challenges and potential… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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Balancing Life With Your Microsoft Supplier and Ensuring Smooth Dynamics/PowerApps Project Management
Feb14

Balancing Life With Your Microsoft Supplier and Ensuring Smooth Dynamics/PowerApps Project Management

If you find yourself grappling with your Microsoft Dynamics/PowerApps supplier, fear not! I’ve got some insights to share. Deploying, updating, or upgrading Dynamics/powerapps can be a rollercoaster ride. You start with high hopes, but suddenly find yourself in the “messy middle.” Picture this: Client: “This isn’t what I expected.” Partner: “We’ve delivered exactly… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s Article on their blog...

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What is a CRM system?
Feb12

What is a CRM system?

Introduction Are you feeling overwhelmed by the myriad of CRM options out there? Fear not! In this guide, we’ll demystify the world of CRMs and help you find the one that aligns perfectly with your business needs. Whether you’re a small housing association or a larger enterprise, we’ve got you covered. What is a CRM system? A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s Article on...

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6 Proven Ways to Boost Dynamics 365/PowerApps Adoption in the Housing Sector
Feb07

6 Proven Ways to Boost Dynamics 365/PowerApps Adoption in the Housing Sector

User adoption is a critical factor in the success of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. However, research has shown that CRM implementations have consistently high failure rates, ranging from 30% to 70%. This can be a cause of concern for potential adopters, especially considering the cost of CRM systems. Microsoft Dynamics 365/PowerApps are great, but do they have the… Continue Reading Chris...

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Save Hours of Time – Automate your table creation in Dataverse?
Jan31

Save Hours of Time – Automate your table creation in Dataverse?

Data within Dataverse is stored within a set of tables, including a base set of standard tables that cover typical scenarios. But why stop there? With Dataverse, you can create custom tables specific to your organisation and automate this process. In this blog, I’ll cover two ways to automate this process and help you get the most out of your Dataverse experience. Copilot Although not… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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AI Invasion: Will Robots Replace Your Housing Officers?
Jan24

AI Invasion: Will Robots Replace Your Housing Officers?

As we stand on the brink of a technological revolution, one question looms large: Will Artificial Intelligence (AI) replace housing officers in the next five years?  Housing officers are the backbone of the housing sector, juggling multiple responsibilities from property repairs to arrears management. However, their work often involves manual data entry across various applications, making… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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Mobilise your Team with Power Apps Mobile
Jan17

Mobilise your Team with Power Apps Mobile

Did you know that if you are you currently using Microsoft Dynamics 365 or #MicrosoftPowerApps you have access to a FREE app that can help you mobilise your teams? Here’s how to install and use it within minutes. Simply visit your app store, install it on your device  Sign in using your work credentials Find the app you need  When you create an app, or someone shares… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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Unleash Continuous Improvement and Dodge the Big Bang Go-Live Trap for Maximum Impact!
Jan10

Unleash Continuous Improvement and Dodge the Big Bang Go-Live Trap for Maximum Impact!

In the dynamic world of housing IT, steering clear of a monumental go-live event can be the key to maximising your investments, utilising team resources efficiently, and harnessing the full potential of Microsoft functionality. Read on to discover how the Team Sky cycling team’s continuous improvement approach led to Olympic gold medals and the historic triumph of the first British Tour de… Continue Reading Chris...

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Elevating Housing Association Customer Service: A Comprehensive Guide to Microsoft-Powered Modernisation
Dec18

Elevating Housing Association Customer Service: A Comprehensive Guide to Microsoft-Powered Modernisation

Housing associations nationwide are looking for ways to modernise their customer service operations. Most are dealing with legacy systems, and there is a growing need for an upgrade. This blog provides strategic guidance, focusing on leveraging the Microsoft ecosystem that many organisations already have at their disposal. Key Objectives: Many Housing associations have these as key… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s Article...

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How to Use Uploaded Documents to Enhance Your Chatbot’s AI Capabilities: A Guide for the Housing Sector
Oct23

How to Use Uploaded Documents to Enhance Your Chatbot’s AI Capabilities: A Guide for the Housing Sector

Microsoft Power Virtual Agents (PVA) is a chatbot creation platform that allows you to create chatbots without writing any code. With the new preview feature, Upload a Document, you can upload your own documents to PVA and use them as a source of information for your chatbot. This feature uses generative AI to generate answers based on the content within the documents. To upload a document,… Continue Reading Chris...

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Unlocking Solutions: Resolving Major Housing Challenges with the Microsoft Power Platform
Aug08

Unlocking Solutions: Resolving Major Housing Challenges with the Microsoft Power Platform

RESAM (resam-consulting-ltd) is the trusted advisor to affordable housing providers. their Housing Sector Survey 2023 identifies some key priorities for the sector. I’ll look some of the key challenges flagged and identify how the Microsoft stack could help reduce the impact. Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft don’t (yet) build homes. But there are a lot of things we can do with the… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s Article on...

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Microsoft Co-pilot: Revolutionising Housing Associations?
Jun07

Microsoft Co-pilot: Revolutionising Housing Associations?

There’s lots of talk about Microsoft co-pilot and in light of the Housing Ombudsman’s press release ‘Ombudsman brands Knowledge and Information Management as ‘closest thing to a silver bullet’ for social housing’ we’ll look at what it is and how it can be used in Dynamics to improve the information colleagues have access to. What is co-pilot? Microsoft co-pilot is a new feature… Continue Reading...

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Microsoft Fabric – Something to get yourself in a knot about?
May25

Microsoft Fabric – Something to get yourself in a knot about?

Microsoft Fabric is a comprehensive data analytics platform powered by AI that enables you to analyse large volumes of data to uncover patterns, trends, and correlations, aiding in data-driven decision-making. Fabric provides scalability and performance, allowing you to handle complex analytics efficiently. With AI-powered features, it can identify anomalies, predict outcomes, and offer… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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How do I move from Dynamics 365 on prem to online?

Many organisations are looking to move from Dynamics on prem to Dynamics online. A big task with lots of moving parts, here are some steps you can take to make the move a little more seamless. Read on for more detail about each step. A checklist to make your move from on prem to online as smooth as possible. Assess your current system Identify your current system: Identify… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s Article on their...

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What are Microsoft Dataverse best practices?

Microsoft Dataverse (formerly known as Common Data Service) is a data platform that allows users to store, manage, and access data. Its a core part of the Microsoft PowerPlatform so the data here is visible in Microsoft Dynamics, Power Bi and all the PowerApps you build. In this blog we’ll look a number of best practices for working with Dataverse and the potential challenges. A few best… Continue Reading Chris...

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What is Microsoft AI?

Microsoft AI (Artificial Intelligence) is here! With more AI available within the PowerPlatform and Dynamics 365 we decided to take a better look at it. We asked, what is Microsoft AI, how can it help the housing sector, how do you learn about it and what are the disadvantages? What is Microsoft AI? Microsoft AI refers to the suite of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s Article...

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How do you add word templates to Dynamics 365

From complaint letters to ASB Diary sheets this handy functionality enables you to add word templates to Dynamics that can be edited and sent/emailed to customers. Here’s how: Step 1: Create a Word template Where you can create a template There are three places in customer engagement apps where you can create a Word template: From the Settings page. Go… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s Article on their blog How do...

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How do you add word templates to Dynamics 365?

From complaint letters to ASB Diary sheets this handy functionality enables you to add word templates to Dynamics that can be edited and sent/emailed to customers. Here’s how: Step 1: Create a Word template Where you can create a template There are three places in customer engagement apps where you can create a Word template: From the Settings page. Go… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s Article on their blog How do...

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Dynamics 365 V PowerApps – which one should I go with? 
Jan05

Dynamics 365 V PowerApps – which one should I go with? 

Many housing associations are grappling with the decision to build core processes using Dynamics 365 or PowerApps. But what’s the difference, and how could the decisions made now impact the organisation in the future?  Before we start…  One key element here is that both PowerApps and Dynamics 365 are part of the ever growing Microsoft Power Platform. This is a collection of products (eg:… Continue Reading...

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Address validation
Dec13

Address validation

Ok, not the most crowd-pleasing subject but address validation is so important (particularly in our sector) and something that helps you manage this critical data.   Having a piece of validation software in place enables:   Accurate data at the point of input Consistent data – address lines completed automatically  A reduction in problems downstream caused by poor data (e.g.:… Continue Reading Chris...

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Dynamics 365 & Outlook integration – the gift and a curse 
Dec07

Dynamics 365 & Outlook integration – the gift and a curse 

Like much of the Microsoft stack Dynamics plays nice with Outlook and a handy app allows you to view records, track emails etc without even leaving outlook. Don’t get me wrong this is a great thing, but the app does come with a health warning…especially for those who are implementing Dynamics 365 for the first time.  What is it?  Use Dynamics 365 App for Outlook and tap the power of… Continue Reading Chris...

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What is Dynamics 365 For Marketing?
Nov30

What is Dynamics 365 For Marketing?

This is a comprehensive marketing option. It allows you to create customer journeys using various channels, manage events and gain valuable insights. Here’s a brief overview of what it is, how you use it and where to get more information. What is it? Dynamics 365 Marketing empowers marketers with a wide array of tools that help them take control of and manage the organisations entire… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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What is Microsoft Business Central?
Nov23

What is Microsoft Business Central?

Business Central (BC) has been designed for small to mid-sized businesses. I’ve spoken to a few housing associations who are thinking about using the system so thought I’d have a deeper look into the product (it also supports the work I’m doing at charity).   What is it?  Business central is a substantial finance (ERP) system that sits within the Dynamics 365 eco system. It can be… Continue Reading Chris...

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How do I use Microsoft accessibility features?
Nov20

How do I use Microsoft accessibility features?

Accessibility is something we (quite rightly) focus on when designing applications for customers. But what can we do to make our colleagues feel even more included when they are handed a new application to use? Thankfully Microsoft have a few tools built into Windows that will help colleagues use the whole Microsoft stack…Including Dynamics 365. Many of them sit in the Ease of Access area… Continue Reading Chris...

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Big news! – #D365ForHousing
May17

Big news! – #D365ForHousing

With the recent launch of the responsive repairs module, anyone in the public sector now has access to FREE base modules for all the key processes used to manage customers You can now use the #D365ForHousing Modules to Hold detail about Customers, their home and tenancyLog and track all the contact around complaintsLog and track ASB cases, including risk assessmentsLog responsive… Continue Reading Chris...

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Have no fear repairs is here – #D365ForHousing
Apr01

Have no fear repairs is here – #D365ForHousing

I have to start with a confession, this is probably the most simple module there is. But that doesn’t mean its not useful. It’ll certainly hold key elements of your responsive repair like: Job typeContractor Estimated costAll the customer contact around the repair Here’s what it looks like in action: But to get the most from it I’d suggest integration with your housing… Continue Reading Chris...

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Managing Arrears – The new FREE #D365ForHousing Module
Mar16

Managing Arrears – The new FREE #D365ForHousing Module

The arrears module provides a new way of managing the arrears process!……staying on top of arrears within a traditional housing management system usually involves writing lengthy notes about what you did to try and collect money from the customer. However, this means that anyone else who picks up the case has to read through a tonne of bum covering notes to find out what the next action should… Continue Reading Chris...

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Oh crap what have I done ;)…….my first year in business – #D365ForHousing
Mar02

Oh crap what have I done ;)…….my first year in business – #D365ForHousing

Picture the scene. Its December 2020 we were deep in the pandemic with absolutely no idea how/when it was going to end. I was working (in a permanent role) as a Business Applications manager at Abri and had just let my line manager know I was handing in my notice to start my own business. He offered words of encouragement and as we ended our teams call I realised what I had… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s Article on...

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Dataverse, Dynamics, Power Apps…..joining the dots
Feb22

Dataverse, Dynamics, Power Apps…..joining the dots

Heard about Dataverse, Dynamics and Power Apps but not sure how they can work together? In this blog I’ll show you one example (although there are hundreds) of how you can use all three. What are they? Dataverse and PowerApps are part of the Microsoft Power Platform. A low code platform that is gathering pace within the Housing Sector. Dataverse – Forms the foundation of the… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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SharePoint Online & Dynamics 365 a match made in heaven
Feb16

SharePoint Online & Dynamics 365 a match made in heaven

In this blog I’ll show you how to link Microsoft Dynamics with SharePoint online so that you can store and access files easily from both applications. I’ll even provide 3 benefits of doing it. Why link the two? Share/collaborate on documents uploaded to Dynamics 365 – Any documents added to Dynamics will be stored in SharePoint. This means that non dynamics users can review, edit and… Continue Reading Chris...

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DIY Power App Training
Feb08

DIY Power App Training

Did you know that you have a FREE Power App Training app right under your nose within Microsoft 365. The app walks you through some core functionality that will certainly help those looking to start upskilling internal teams. Here’s a how to access it. Go to www.office.comSign in using your company credentialsSelect the All Apps Icon (usually down the left hand side) if you’re unable to… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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Avoid a big BANG go live!
Jan27

Avoid a big BANG go live!

Continuous improvement….the key to making the most of the money you spend, your teams resources and Microsoft functionality. All this while increasing user adoption and avoiding a BIG BANG go live. Read on to find out how the Team Sky cycling team used continuous improvement to win gold medals and get us brits our first Tour de France winner. What is continuous improvement? The… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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5 Ways Dynamics Insights can help you meet the new tenant satisfaction measures
Jan11

5 Ways Dynamics Insights can help you meet the new tenant satisfaction measures

In 2020, the government published The charter for social housing residents – social housing white paper, which sets out ways to improve things for people living in social housing. Some of these are for the Regulator of Social Housing to do. Their document Reshaping consumer regulation: our principles and approach describes the steps they are taking. One of those steps is bringing in a set of… Continue Reading Chris...

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5 ways the #D365ForHousing complaints module meets the new Housing Ombudsman code
Dec13

5 ways the #D365ForHousing complaints module meets the new Housing Ombudsman code

In July 2020 the Housing Ombudsman released their new Complaint Handling Code. Shortly after this I launched the #D365ForHousing Complaints module (developed with the help of others across the sector). This Microsoft Dynamics 365 Module is FREE to everyone in the Housing and Public Sector. How does this module help meet the Complaint Handling Code? In short, lots of ways. I’ve listed… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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All your contact methods under one roof!
Nov24

All your contact methods under one roof!

At the start of November 21 Microsoft announced the general availability of voice channel for D365 customer service, but what is it and how would it help us housing folk?  The product covers some key areas:  Personalised calls, connected across channels  Dynamics 365 Customer Service out-of-the-box enables:  A consistent, 360-degree view of the customer across all channels,… Continue Reading...

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Dataverse – Data that supports your single version of the truth! 
Nov02

Dataverse – Data that supports your single version of the truth! 

Microsoft Dataverse (formerly the Common Data Service) is a cloud-based storage space. Dataverse allows you to securely store and manage data that’s used by your business applications such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. Data within Dataverse is stored within a set of tables. A table is a set of rows (formerly referred to as records) and columns...

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PowerApps Centre of Excellence
Oct27

PowerApps Centre of Excellence

Microsoft have created a Power Platform Center of Excellence (CoE) starter kit enabling businesses to support colleagues (outside Technology) create PowerApps. This certainly caught my imagination (as someone from a customer service background) But what is it and how can housing associations make the most of it? What is it? A CoE is designed to drive innovation and improvement, and… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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6 Power App Best Practices
Oct18

6 Power App Best Practices

While Power Apps is part of most Microsoft 365 subscriptions, some users may not know how to take advantage of it. Explore six best practices for Power Apps and how to get started. Power Apps has many options to connect and interact with content through the Microsoft 365 suite, including Microsoft Lists, SharePoint webpages and InfoPath forms…and of course D365. Yet, to build in Power Apps,… Continue Reading Chris...

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Creating accessible canvas apps
Oct05

Creating accessible canvas apps

An accessible canvas app will allow users with vision, hearing, and other impairments to successfully use it. Here are a few Microsoft guidelines to increase usability for all users, regardless of their abilities. Use the Accessibility Checker to help review potential accessibility issues in your app. Layout and colour Common sense and uncomplicated design helps apps be more… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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The Messy Middle
Sep29

The Messy Middle

Things not going to plan with your Dynamics deployment/update/upgrade? You could be caught in the messy middle….and having conversations that go something like this: Client: That’s not what I expected. Partner: Here’s the spec/agreement, we’ve delivered exactly what you asked for. The thing is both parties are right. The housing association may ask for something but only focus… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s Article on...

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Do we need customer portals? – #D365ForHousing
Jul15

Do we need customer portals? – #D365ForHousing

Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a smart, convenient, cost effective way for customers to access services. But should it always involve working on our terms? By that I mean visiting a URL that we set using a password and username we provide to access services we decide to surface. Are there alternatives out there? The answer is yes, one of them is the CRM bot by Artur… Continue Reading Chris...

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Microsoft Field Services – #D365ForHousing
Jun15

Microsoft Field Services – #D365ForHousing

A number of organisations within the sector are looking at (or have implemented) field services to help manage and schedule repairs. But what is field services, what functionality could the sector make the most of and what are some of the challenges. What is Field Services? Field Service Management refers to using a resource (eg: colleagues/contractors) to fulfil tasks away from the… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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UK government signs new three-year Memorandum of Understanding with Microsoft (DTA 21)
May18

UK government signs new three-year Memorandum of Understanding with Microsoft (DTA 21)

What is DTA 21? DTA 21 is the new three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Microsoft and the Crown Commercial Services (CCS) which provides Special Pricing and Special Terms to eligible UK Public Sector Customers (replaces existing DTA). The arrangement begins on 1 May 2021 and runs through to 30 April 2024. What products are included? Microsoft 365 plans, Microsoft 365 E5… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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HELP! I’ve got to Implement Dynamics 365 – #D365ForHousing
May17

HELP! I’ve got to Implement Dynamics 365 – #D365ForHousing

Been asked to implement Dynamics 365 (or any application for that matter)? I still remember the mix of pure fear and excitement as I was given the opportunity to do just this over 10 years ago (although it was CRM 4 back then) at AmicusHorizon (now Optivo). My background was customer service and although I love tech I was not a ‘techie’. To say I felt out of my depth was an… Continue Reading Chris...

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The Microsoft #D365 Implementation Guide – #D365ForHousing
May04

The Microsoft #D365 Implementation Guide – #D365ForHousing

Today, during the Microsoft Business Applications Summit, Microsoft launched Success by Design – a vision for what’s possible with #Dynamics365, #PowerPlatform and Microsoft Cloud. Click on the picture to download it for FREE.  But if you’re not sure where to start I’m here to help you throughout your Dynamics journey. Here’s how: Help you implement your Dynamics 365… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s Article on...

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The Data Maturity Roadmap – #D365ForHousing
Apr07

The Data Maturity Roadmap – #D365ForHousing

As digital strategies are implemented, improved and developed it’s never been more important to think about how you manage data. It’s the foundation of everything we do in the housing sector, fundamental to the Social Housing White Paper and is critical to the success of so many important strategic initiatives from implementing/maintaining Dynamics 365 to providing proactive services, IoT… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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Dynamics 365 + Teams, a match made in heaven?   #D365ForHousing
Mar16

Dynamics 365 + Teams, a match made in heaven? #D365ForHousing

For the last year Microsoft Teams has become second nature to many of us. Its enabled us to connect with customers and colleagues everywhere. In this blog I’ll show how Teams can be used with Dynamics 365. Dynamics sits quite nicely as an app within teams. It has some good functionality like being able to start a conversation (within teams) about a particular case/opportunity and can make… Continue Reading Chris...

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Disrupting Dynamics 365 in Housing – #D365ForHousing
Jan20

Disrupting Dynamics 365 in Housing – #D365ForHousing

For nearly a year I’ve worked with colleagues across our industry to disruptive the way we implement Dynamics 365……#D365ForHousing. This project provides FREE modules (see below) to anyone who registers (which is also free). Here’s how this can disrupt how we implement, maintain and improve Dynamics 365. Why am I doing this? I’ve worked in Social Housing since 1999 (and met lots of… Continue Reading Chris...

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5 ways the FREE #D365ForHousing complaints module meets the new Housing Ombudsman code
Dec30

5 ways the FREE #D365ForHousing complaints module meets the new Housing Ombudsman code

In July 2020 the Housing Ombudsman released their new Complaint Handling Code. Shortly after this I launched the #D365ForHousing Complaints module (developed with the help of others across the sector). This Microsoft Dynamics 365 Module is FREE to everyone in the Housing and Public Sector. How does this module help meet the Complaint Handling Code? In short, lots of ways. I’ve listed… Continue Reading Chris Roberts’s...

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#D365ForHousing – Lettings
Nov05

#D365ForHousing – Lettings

The Lettings module in Dynamics 365 is now live and available for FREE to all housing and public sector organisations! The 3rd key end to end process (following complaints and ASB) is here, saving our sector £000’s more by using out of the box functionality. Here’s a link to a larger version of the process Ok, so what does the module include? I’ve moved to the Sales App within… Continue Reading Chris...

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