The TM Group is proud to announce the debut of TMGCLOUD SaaS Insights for Business Central and TMGCLOUD SaaS Insights for Sales, Service and Marketing.
Whether you’re a long-time user of Microsoft Dynamics 365 or you’re about to start implementing the solution, The TM Group’s Cloud Solutions team has put together a new and improved way to ensure your users are adopting and efficiently using the solution. Using TMGCLOUD SaaS Insights for Business Central and/or TMGCLOUD SaaS Insights for Sales, Service and Marketing, clients can use Power BI Dashboards to allow monitoring of system performance, identify issues and obtain the information needed to resolve performance issues.
Why is TMGCLOUD SaaS Insights needed for the Microsoft Dynamics 365 family of products?
You may know that Microsoft provides a tool called Application Insights which is a feature of Azure Monitor, that allows you to monitor the performance of your applications like Microsoft Dynamics 365. Data is collected from your environment and pushed to an Application Insights environment in Azure Monitor logs. The data is exported to your Application Insights environment in the standard schema defined by Application Insights, which is basically a large collection of data logs that aren’t exactly intuitive nor user-friendly.
Data is great to have and can tell you a lot about what’s going on with your business and systems at any given moment. But it’s not worth much if you can’t make heads or tails of technical jargon and network terminologies. Plus, even if you know what certain data points suggest, like a slow-loading web interface, there may not be a way to easily review related information to isolate the precise reasons as to why your system isn’t loading properly for users (e.g. delay time, download time, processing time, router performance, browser versions, etc.). It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.
Know your data
It’s with these issues in mind that The TM Group created TMGCLOUD SaaS Insights for Business Central and TMGCLOUD SaaS Insights for Sales, Service and Marketing. With the Power BI Dashboards provided within this solution, your staff will be better able to understand, comprehend and consume data with a number of key performance indicators that help identify problems. Once issues are dedicated and the source of the problem identified, an action plan to tackle the issues can be formulated.
Before the cloud, IT staff could walk over to the server room and directly access the servers’ logs to see what was going on. Although there are many benefits to moving to the cloud, one of the downsides is that you usually no longer have direct access to the server. In a true cloud solution environment, you’re usually sharing that server and the associated costs with multiple companies, which is one of the benefits of the cloud. However, the downside of sharing is that you no longer have direct access to the servers, databases and logs.
Insights Into Application Performance
To help organizations better manage cloud solutions, Microsoft created Application Insights which can create logs from the activities and events of the cloud application and store them on your own Azure Server instance where you’ll have full access to delve deep into your own logs. You can tell it to monitor such information as load times, network transmission times, crash reports and many other metrics. Microsoft first developed this tool to help web hosts, web hosted applications, phone apps and all kinds of cloud applications to better support their solutions.
Microsoft Application Insights are free, but the Microsoft Azure will usually have a small hosting fee associated with it. You can get a certain amount of data for free which usually provides about 90 days of system usage metrics. However, a couple of our clients with larger transaction volumes have had to pay about $6 a month range for the Azure hosting of Microsoft Insights data. Although getting this data is often inexpensive or free, as we said before, it isn’t easily useful in supporting Microsoft Dynamics 365 in its raw format because the information is too hard to analyze.
Utilizing our expertise with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Sales, Service and Marketing, our team built TMGCLOUD SaaS Insights Power BI Dashboards to make it much easier to make sense of all the data that Application Insights captures. With this solution, IT professionals can identify when users are experiencing poor performance with the application, network, user device, or browser and even see if a specific Microsoft Data Center might be having troubles.
How TMGCLOUD SaaS Insights Has Helped Clients
Perhaps the best way to demonstrate the usefulness of TMGCLOUD SaaS Insights for Business Central or for Sales, Service and Marketing is with some examples.
We deployed TMGCLOUD SaaS Insights to a Business Central client who had certain reports that would take 10 to 15 minutes to load, which was unreasonable. Using our Power BI Dashboards to analyze their Application Insights data, we were able to see that when these reports were executed what functions it uses to generate that report. We noticed one function was taking a significant amount of time to run and reviewed the associated SQL query which we discovered was not written efficiently. We then issued a support ticket with Microsoft that shared the system data we discovered and discussed our findings. By sharing these findings and collaborating with Microsoft, this was one of the fastest Microsoft support tickets resolution times we have experienced and resulted in a Business Central code change issued by Microsoft.
We had another Business Central client that was complaining about a slow interface. Their screens were taking a long time to load. Our initial thought was that the problem may have been screens we had customized by adding a lot of additional fields. We reviewed the Application Insights data with our Power BI Dashboards, and we found the date and time that they were experiencing a performance issue. All the system performance data looked good except the amount of time it took to load the screen was much larger than expected, but when we tested it in our environment there wasn’t any issues with load time. So, we asked them to contact us the next time this was happening, and the next day they called us for a screen sharing session. On the screen that they showed our support team, they had their browser open with Business Central in one of the tabs, another tab had Spotify open and another tab had QuickBooks as well as half a dozen other tabs open. All these open tabs had consumed all the processing ability assigned to that browser instance and it could not get enough memory to draw the screen quickly while streaming all the applications in one browser instance. Once they closed all the other tabs the performance returned to an acceptable level.
When we deploy our own customization plugins and extensions to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Sales, Service or Marketing, Application Insights helps us identify when there are issues and identify opportunities to improve processes and user satisfaction. We review the data to determine if we have the right pages, views and workflows configured for users to work efficiently. We make sure they are not making six hops to get to something done. It helps us determine if there is a better workflow that we can help them implement to get them to the records they want faster and more efficiently. With our TMGCLOUD SaaS Insights Power BI Dashboards and Application Insights, we can see how users are navigating through the environment and we can identify those opportunities to help them work smoother and better.
Deploying TMGCLOUD SaaS Insights
We have more information and installation instructions for Application Insights and both of our Business Central and Sales, Service and Marketing Power BI Dashboard solutions on our product pages listed below.
A free trial version can be downloaded from Microsoft AppSource after installing Application Insights. Our free trial has two dashboards and a link to our website to unlock all of the dashboards for $1,000/year annual subscription. Microsoft is always adding more instrumentation and data points to the Application Insights system, therefore new dashboards may be added every year which will be included with the subscription. As we learn more about the users their use cases and the data and what the data means, more metrics will be added to the dashboards to become more insightful. These updates will roll out automatically through Microsoft AppSource.
If you have any questions for sales, please go to our contact form on the website. If you are using our TMGCLOUD SaaS Insights solution and need assistance, please go to our support page and submit a ticket.