What You Need to Know About the Upcoming Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement April ‘19 Release

Published March 7 2019 by Chad Weiner
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On February 20th, Microsoft announced the publication of the April ‘19 Release Notes, highlighting all the new features being released from April 2019 through September 2019. You can find the notes here. It’s important to note that features will be rolling out throughout the year and that the release notes highlight upcoming features - not all of them will be available on April 5th 2019. If you are curious as to how to best stay up to date with the latest changes or learn more about Microsoft’s vision for continuous deployment, check out my prior blog here.

Timing of global updates and how to enable features yourself before April 5th

Starting on April 5, 2019, Microsoft will begin to use their gradual region-by-region deployment cadence to enable the April 2019 features across the global customer base. This update will be like the Minor Service Update experience Microsoft is delivering today and won’t require you to schedule downtime to perform the update. The updates will be applied over the entire month of April. If you want to enable the April 2019 features before the update reaches your region, you can enable the updates yourself by opting in to the preview on your production instance between February 1, 2019, and the date your region will be scheduled to have the features turned on. What this means is that by the end of April, ALL Dynamics 365 Online customers will be on the latest version.

This blog is broken into two sections. The first offers information for organizations around enabling, managing, and preparing for these releases and updates. The second section is about key new features coming that I think you should be aware of. Let’s dive in!

April 2019 Administration and Best Practices

First, I’d recommend reading this Microsoft Document around how to Opt into the April 2019 updates in your Sandbox and to learn more about the upgrade process. Essentially, from the PowerApps admin center (https://admin.powerplatform.microsoft.com/), you’ll be able to view and manage the organization settings for your Dynamics 365 Customer Instance. Here is screenshot of what it looks like for my sandbox environment with these updates enabled.

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At this point, you’ll want to enable these for your Sandbox environment and begin your new feature and regression testing. If your Customer Engagement instance is fairly out-of-the-box, chances are these new updates wont impact anything. If your instance is highly customized, you’ll want to do thorough testing and reach out to your partner for assistance where needed. Once you enable the updates, certain features will appear for early access. You can find more information about those features here. They include a new UI update for the Sitemap of the Unified Client (I talk more about this in the next section), Playbooks, and Microsoft Marketing features.

New Features in the April 2019 Release You Should Know About

If you are using the new Unified Client (and you should be at least beginning to familiarize yourself with or better understand it) you will see there have been some changes made to improve the user experience. Find more about those changes here. Below is a screenshot of the new navigation layout.

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The other feature you’ll see in your environment with the April 2019 updates enabled is Playbooks. These provide the ability to create Playbook templates that help provide guidance for recurring tasks. You can find more information on how to setup Playbooks here. You can find Playbooks in the App Settings Area of the sitemap.

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Here you can see I’ve created a test playbook that when launched (either manually or via workflow), will create and associate the playbook activities to the selected record. In this case, it will create one phone call and two tasks to be completed. This playbook has been selected for Leads and Opportunities and can be launched from these selected entities.

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Here we can see the button in the command bar to Launch Playbook.

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There are also a few other features that aren’t available yet but have me excited. These include:

  • Tighter integration with LinkedIn Sales Navigator
    • LinkedIn profiles available out of the box, LinkedIn-driven organization charts

  • Manual Sales Forecasting
    • This looks to be the most intriguing new feature in this release that can quickly benefit most organizations. You’ll be able to add categories to your opportunity records, which then serve as the foundation on which you manually build your forecast records. It will give salespeople more information to measure whether or not they will hit their quota and help sales managers more accurately predict actual revenues and make better decisions on deals in the pipeline.

  • Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ)
    • Microsoft hints that they have made it easier to integrate 3rd party CPQ systems such as Experlogix, Apttus, or Infor. Have they also expanded on the out-of-box quote experience? Hopefully.

  • Microsoft Teams Integration
    • Access Dynamics records by adding Dynamics 365 tab into the Teams channel.
      • This is available today. Here is an example of an opportunity record tied to a Microsoft Teams channel

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  • On the roadmap
    • Seamless document collaboration between Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Teams
    • Access records together with the Office applications you need to close deals.
    • Work together with colleagues and customers, including those that don’t have a Dynamics 365 user account.
    • Co-author documents using Office 365 and automatically sync to Dynamics 365.
    • Search and update records from Microsoft Teams mobile app using the Dynamics 365 bot while on the go.

  • Omni-Channel Engagement Hub
    • The Omni-channel Engagement Hub for Dynamics 365 is a cloud-based service that extends the power of Dynamics 365 for Customer Service to enable organizations to instantly connect and engage with their customers via channels like Live Chat and SMS.

  • Customer Insights
    • Customers can eliminate data silos and unify customer data by connecting and transforming that data intelligently and enabling customer profiles with audience intelligence contained within the Microsoft Graph as well as being able to easily enable AI and Insights. You can find more information here.

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Chad is a certified and experienced Dynamics 365 CRM professional with a deep understanding of all facets of a Dynamics CRM implementation. With that, he carries in-depth knowledge and passion for helping clients make their business' more competitive, profitable and productive.

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