In this section of The CRM Book, we’ll cover the creation and management of Business Process Flows.
Tip! You can get an overview of business process flows and learn about working with flows that are already created in Working with Business Process Flows.
Business process flows offer powerful functionality in Microsoft Dynamics 365. In this chapter, we’ll dive into more advanced topics on working with business process flows:
- Creating your Own Business Process Flows
- Activating/Deactivating Business Process Flows
- Switching or Abandoning Processes
- Security Roles
- Things to Consider
The great thing about business process flows is that you do not have to be a developer or an administrator to understand how to build a business process flow in Dynamics 365.
In order to create a new business process flow, a user must have adequate security permissions. This could mean the user has the security role of the Manager, Vice President, CEO-Business Manager, System Administrator, or System Customizer, or a security role with equivalent permissions.
The first step to creating your own business process flow is to navigate to the Settings area, and click on Processes.
You will be shown a list of processes. To create a new one, on the Actions toolbar, click New.
A window will pop up, prompting you to add in details of the process you are creating.
- Give the process a name
- Select the Category. There are four options to choose from–select Business Process Flow.
- Select the Entity you want the business process flow to begin on.
- Select Run process as a business flow (Classic)
This will now open the Visual Process Designer which is a WYSIWYG designer that allows you to drag and drop components used in the creation and management of business process flows, task flows, and business rules. As you can see, it displays with a single stage to start the process. Expanding the Details section will show you who the owner is (the user who created it), the primary entity, and the category which you chose upon creating the business process flow. You may also designate a description for the process at this point, with up to 2,000 characters. The lower left shows you the status of the process.
Now, you can begin adding stages and steps. Dragging a Stage component from the Components tab and dropping it on the + sign in the designer will add it to your business process flow.
Additionally you can use the Add command to use a component.
The Properties tab on the right screen is where you will set the attributes for your stage.
- Display Name – What do you want to call this stage? This is what will show as the name in the Business Process Flow ribbon
- Category – Select a stage category. You can use any of the out-of-the-box options such as Qualify, Develop Propose, Close, etc. You can also add your own categories under the Stage Category global option set.
- Entity – If your Business Process Flow will span multiple entities this is where you select the entity that is tied to this stage. You can have up to five entities in a single process.
- Relationship – Entities do not have to have a relationship in order to use them with each other in your Business Process Flow, but if they do, you can set the relationship to the entity in a prior stage.
Once you’ve added your changes for the properties for that stage click the Apply button to save your updates.
Steps are fields from an entity. To add steps to a stage, click Details in the lower-right corner of the stage and drag Step components to the stage from the Components tab.
Select the Properties tab to choose the Data Field for the step. That will automatically update the Display Name. You can check the required box to make a field required to be completed before users can move on to the next stage. This is not the same as making the field required on the form, this is just for the business process. Sequence is how you set which the step order. You can also use the arrows under the Stage to re-order the steps, or you can just drag and re-order the steps at any time. Always click Apply to save the properties updates for your step.
You can add a Condition to add branches to your process. Drag a condition between two stages and define the properties of that condition using If-Else logic. The condition can be formed of multiple logical expressions that use a combination of AND or OR operators. Use the +New button to add additional rules.
Workflows can be added by dragging the Workflow component to a stage or to the Global Workflow section in the designer. Make sure the workflow is active and set as an on-demand process for the same entity.
- Drag it to a stage when you want to trigger the workflow on entry or exit of the stage. The workflow must be based on the same primary entity as the stage.
- Drag it to the Global Workflow item when you want to trigger the workflow when the process is activated or when the process is Completed or Abandoned. The workflow must be based on the same primary entity as the process.
At any time you may save the process as a draft at the top of the screen. Users will not be able to use or see the business process flow while it is a draft. They may use it once it is activated. Once you have added all of your desired stages and steps and have saved it, click on Validate to look for any errors in your Business Process Flow. Any errors will be highlighted for you to correct.
You may activate or deactivate business process flows at any time. To do this, you must have the required permissions. Then, you may navigate to Processes from the Settings area in the navigation menu.
You can display a list of business process flows and see which ones are activated or deactivated in the Status column. You can choose Activate or Deactivate from the command bar.
Additionally you can do it from within a business process flow. If the process is currently in a draft status you will see the Activate button. Activated processes will have a Deactivate option instead.
As mentioned, there can be multiple business process flows associated with an entity. A user can choose to switch processes if they do not wish to use the default business process flow. You can do this by clicking the Process button on the command toolbar on the record.
A new window will pop up displaying the currently activated and available business process flows for that entity.
From this same Process button you also have the ability to Abandon a process. Abandoning a process does not lose any of the data that was collected in any of the steps.
An abandoned process can be reactivated also by clicking on the Process button and choosing Reactivate.
Business process flows can be used by users with specific security roles. If a security role will have multiple processes available for the users assigned that security role you can set the order in which the processes are displayed. Here is where you can assign the different security roles and process order for multiple processes:
Business process flows are not all automated processes in the sense that moving on to another stage does not necessarily eliminate some manual work. For example, in the out-of-the-box Lead to Opportunity flow, you still have to manually click on Qualify to qualify the lead. However, now with the option of adding workflows to business processes some automation can be added. A process can span across a maximum of 5 unique entities. Those entities do not have to be related. An entity used in the process can be revisited multiple times. You can use a maximum of 30 stages per process and maximum of 30 steps per stage. A branch can be no more than 5 levels deep and must be based on the steps in the stage that immediately precedes it. You can combine multiple conditions in a rule by using the AND or the OR operator, but not both operators. Only one active process per record is possible, but processes can be changed at anytime.