Training and User Adoption are always popular topics at conferences and events because they are often two of the most difficult parts of a software project to plan for. Training can be done by-the-book however there are a lot of things that depend on good training. This can range from the actual knowledge of the trainer and their approach to cater for different learning styles.
User Adoption ensures that users use the system that is being introduced is actually used as it was intended. It’s also sometimes the viewpoint that because Microsoft Dynamics 365 can come out-of-the-box that no training is required, because it’s all ‘standard’ and users will just ‘use’ a system. This viewpoint is often the opposite from what a user feels because this is the first time they have seen the application and it may as well be a custom made solution you have spent the last 2 years developing.
One of the latest features in Dynamics 365 is something which can greatly assist with Training and also, to a certain extent, user adoption. This was the Learning Path functionality which allows in-application assistance based on where a user is in the system and what they are doing. The functionality even provides contextual help which follows a user through a specific process, waiting for them to complete actions before proceeding. When this was first introduced a user could only use the standard out of the box learning paths related to the standard entities. However since Dynamics 365 you can now create new Paths based on custom processes or entities to train your users on how to use even a hugely customised system on the web and tablet application.
There is a limitation of the current Learning Path functionality (April 2017) whereby there is no way to log the completion of a user finishing a Path or logging any kind of rating or feedback. This will hopefully become part of the functionality in later versions (nothing has been confirmed).
This post aims to walk-through how to get started with creating Learning Paths and also explore and demonstrate extensions to it which can be used for user adoption/feedback purposes to bridge the current gap discussed above. One of the approaches uses Voice of the Customer to add a link into the sidebar, displaying a questionnaire for users. A second approach uses a custom entity and Quick Create functionality which presents questions to be completed and creates records which can be used with the standard reporting capabilities.
Learning Path Tutorial
There are some steps for you to take which require some setup before you have access to the Learning Path Content Library. Go to your System Settings and change ‘Enable Learning Path Authoring’ from No to Yes. This should now allow you to go into the Office 365 Admin portal and add yourself to a Group called ‘Learning Path Authors’.
Now you will be able to access the Content Library within Dynamics 365 via the ‘Training’ section on the site map. Once clicked, it will look like you have been taken to the default home screen, but you haven’t – you need to be patient, don’t click anywhere and wait about 5-7 seconds and the page will reload. It should now display the Learning Path Content Library.
Your now ready to start creating your learning path! It might be worth starting with the sidebar first as this is the ‘meat’ of the learning and path and what users will normally interact with. Click the + plus icon with Sidebar to get started.
When you first click the button, you will get a panel appear on your screen with some config options you can select from. When you have completed these click ‘Save’ (again, be patient) and then a blank, templated sidebar should appear for you to the right of the screen for you to then add your Title, Section Titles and Text, Videos links, or Buttons.
You can add rich text, text colour and styling to your information sections and also have options on how links are displayed.
Once you are ready (if this is your first time, I recommend just adding a small section and moving through the process to get used to it) – you can click Preview in the bottom left to see what your sidebar looks like. When your happy with how it looks, click the Save icon and then the Home icon to go back to the Content Library
You can now see your task in your library in it’s Draft status!
Creating Guided Tasks
Next step is to start creating Guided Tasks. You can make more informative bubbles or you can guide a user through the process using a series of Tasks.
Click on the plus icon ‘Guided Task’ button to get started and to bring up a similar panel to the sidebar where you set some configuration options. The specific one here to pay attention to is ‘Guided Task opens When’ as it dictates how the user will interact with it. Have some patience when clicking save when moving onto the next step as it may take a few moments to load.
You now have an empty Guided Task to start adding steps to. Complete the Title and click ‘Add New Step’ to then select which type of action to take. Here you can simply choose a ‘Step with Next Button’ to add a more descriptive bubble with no user action necessary, or you can add more dynamic tasks with the Step with User action. Play around with the options to get used to what they do as much of it is contextual based on what you configure.
Once you click the Step, you then get a dashed box which you need to drag to the where you want to attach it to within the application. I can’t stress enough to use the minimise button at this point to then navigate to your area you need to pin it to. Minimise, Navigate, then open up the side menu again with the arrow to get back to your Step. Then you can drag it on your item with ease. When you drag it onto the screen, all of the elements you can drop it on will be outlined in bright green. (See screenshot and video below)
I’ve put together a short video to see the whole thing in action:
Adding Guided Tasks in Sidebars
To add a guided task within a sidebar so a user can select it, open up your sidebar from the Content Library and click on the link icon. In the popup, select ‘Link To a : Guided Task’. You’ll then get a list of your Guided Tasks for you to select from. Thats it!
When your ready, check in your changes so they can be edited by another member of the group, and when your ready to then publish, click ‘Publish’, selecting the organisations you wish to publish to. You should now be able to go and see and use the Learning Path you just created!
Extending Learning Path
As discussed in the introduction, one of the downsides of the current iteration of the functionality it the absence of any logging functionality of who has completed the paths. So I thought about different ways this could be introduced using the extensibility of the platform, taking as much of a no-code approach as possible and using the standard configuration tools. The results of my efforts are below, and can be used, tweaked and changed of course, so maybe or hopefully they give you a starting point to create your own solution.
With both of these solutions you do have the limitation that you can’t force a user to complete the surveys but they are there to be easy to use, quick and simple so they can always be utilised as a ‘record of achievement’ as such for an incentive to complete it, or even just part of a procedural process.
Extending the Learning Path with Voice of the Customer
Voice of the Customer functionality is fantastic as it allows you to use a create a simple drag and drop survey you wish users to complete and then embed the link directly on the Sidebar of the Learning Path itself. When a user has completed the sidebar tasks from top to bottom, a user can click the final link which opens a new window to complete the survey in next to no effort. These responses are recorded for you to then utilise as the standard Voice of the Customer functionality or you can extend it further to make it a bit cleaner if you wish.
Watch the short 1 minute video below for a demo of this in action:
Extending the Learning Path with Custom Entities
If you don’t have or don’t want to use the Voice of the Customer, an alternative approach is to use a quick view form to provide feedback for your training. These records can then be used to make use of the standard reporting functionality such as charts and dashboards, or even Power BI.
Its fairly simple, simply create a custom entity (I used ‘Learning Path Audit’) and allow it to use Quick Create. Create a Quick Create Form, create and arrange the fields based on the data you wish to capture and thats pretty much it. This one is more dependent on a user ‘completing’ an extra action and having this as part of a procedure within the company training, as it can be quite easily forgotten or missed as its not part of the direct flow of the Learning Path itself. You could always create a guided task to complete a specific action which kicks a workflow off which automatically creates a ‘Audit’ record however I’m always dubious about things like that, as it feels like your going to then extra efforts to create and automate a process without first looking at alternatives, but the option is there.
I have put together a short video of the experience of using the custom entity approach below:
I hope this post has been useful and given you an introduction to Learning Paths and some approaches to make it part of a training and user adoption procedure.