While doing client work, I ran into a need where we needed to scan for records where a date value is 3 months in the future (i.e. 3 months from today) in Microsoft Dynamics 365. There are a few options to accomplish this:
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 SDK (Developer Guide)
- Timed workflows
- SCRIBE Online
The issue with using the Microsoft Dynamics 365 SDK (Developer Guide) is you need a software developer to create a console application that is linked to a Windows scheduled task to run every night to connect to CRM, query the records and make the changes. This means if you need any updates to the application you need to developer to change source code. This is a viable option if you have an internal development team that can support the application.
When it comes to using timed workflows with wait statements, we would need to have the workflow fire at a specific time in the record. In this scenario, this means that the workflow needs to fire to start the countdown (wait) when the record was created or when the date field we are monitoring changes. The problem with this is the more waiting workflows you have in the system, you will start to see a degradation in performance. Also, if someone manually changes the date field you will need to find the previously waiting workflow to stop it as you will have duplicate workflows waiting. This can be a nightmare to manage.
The solution that we came up with for this client was to use SCRIBE Online to perform these actions. Typically, when we think of SCRIBE Online, we think about connecting 2 systems, replicating data to another database or migrating data from one system to another. There is more that we can do with it and this is one of the areas. In this scenario, we have an integration map that is setup with only 1 connection as both the target and the source (Microsoft Dynamics 365). We set the solution containing the mapping to run nightly and query for any records where the date field on the record is 3 months from the date the mapping is running. If it is true, then it generates a record that will kick off a record creation in CRM (Triggering Entity) that will kick off a workflow to generate a bunch of related records to the account this the date field.
With the above setup, there is no need for a developer to update code as the process can be updated with the internal CRM workflow and SCRIBE Online, which both use an easy to understand GUI. By moving the counter outside of CRM, we also make sure that the CRM system won't lose performance.
The main reason for my blog post about this, is to show that we can use SCRIBE Online for more than just data migration, integration and replication. The more that I work within SCRIBE Online, the more I can see its use for other tasks.