Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Update 1 (Online) has shipped with an exciting new feature that provides an end to end solution to support contracts / projects within CRM. This new feature is called Project Service Automation (PSA).

The scope of this new feature includes estimating, quotes and contracting for projects, project planning, resource management, time / expense recording and project billing. All done in a collaborative manner leveraging CRM features and Office 365.

You can find out about PSA capabilities here;

If this sounds intersting you can install a trial version into your CRM online trail system today. But be aware you can only install the trial system into a CRM trial or sandbox environment. If you find it useful and would like to progress to the full production version you will need to contact your CRM account manager.

Install Project Service Automation

Project Service automation is not enabled out of the box, you need to install an optional solution. To do this log into your Office 365 environment and goto admin. Then in the admin center select the CRM option.

Having selected CRM you click the solutions option to add solutions as required. The one you will want if “Trial for Project Service Solution”. As shown below. Simply select this solution an click install.

Once you have clicked install you will a nicely worded message about the terms of service. Just click install!

Now will be see friendly message explaining the install could take some time. Maybe time for a coffee!

When I returned from my coffee, I logged back into CRM and found that a new option of Project Service had been added to my site map.

Now before you can start trying to use this new feature you want to configure quite a few things. The initial set-up may take some time! I will try to walk you through some of the essential configuration. Including creating

  • Time Units
  • Organizational Units
  • Price Lists
  • Invoice Frequency
  • Transactional Categories
  • Expense Categories
  • Product Catalog
  • Resources

Set up time units

First off you will need to configure the time units in the product catalog. Time units are a unit group that will have been created during the installation of PSA solution. Units groups are maintained under settings / product catalog. You can see below that a unit group called “Time” has been added to my system.

You will want to create some time units that make sense in your situation. A base unit of “hour” will already exist but you will want more! To do this open the Time unit group and use the Units option. Below you can see that I have added “Day” and “Week”. A day being 8 hours and a week being 5 days. Obviously these values can be adjusted to fit with your working pattern.

Create Organizational Units & Price Lists

The logic here is to create units that reflect how you organize your projects. These maybe by geographical area or business function etc. So you will need to create one or more organizational units that reflect your processes. It will be important to understand that these units do not have to map to the structure used for business units in CRM and they have no impact on security etc.

To add an organizational unit, go to project services and select Organizational units.

As an example I created the organizational unit shown below. Notice I have provided a name, description and currency.

Next you need to define one or more cost price lists. Click “+” and opt to create a new one. I created a CRM Consultancy price list as an example.

Having saved my price list I then added two price items for different roles. So in my example I created a project manager billed at £150 per hour and a team member billed at £100 per hour. For these I used some default roles that are shipped with the trial solution. You could of course create new roles to match your situation.

My organizational units ended up looking like this.

I obviously created these price lists and units very quickly as an example. In a real scenario you will wish to give the setup of these things quite a bit of thought!

Set up invoice Frequency

Within PSA invoice frequency will drive when you bill your clients. Again back in the project service option select invoice frequency.

You can then create one or more billing frequency records. Billing is linked to a period that can be monthly, biweekly or weekly.

If you select monthly or biweekly, you can select days in run or day of period. This options give you some flexibility on when billing will occur. Again, obviously, the selections here may need thought when setting this up for a production environment. I simple opted to bill monthly on the first day in the month.

Transactional Categories

Here you will define what categories you want for transactions. This might reflect the categories a consultant charges both billable and unbillable expenses to. Again you can find the option for transactional categories in the project service option.

Below you can see that I have created a transaction category of travel time, measured it in hours and made it non-chargeable.

Expense Categories

Next you will define what expenses consultants can record, allowing you to invoice those expenses to the customer. As before you will find the expense categoies option under settings in the project service area.

Expense can be for airfare, hotels, meals, car rental or per diem. (Per diem meaning a daily expense allowance!)

Here you can see I created an expense category to allow CRM functional consultants to claim for lunch. As long as they had a receipt.

Create Product Catalog Items

I won’t cover this here but I have written blog posts on the product catalog before. Optionally you may need to define any products that will relate to the project. For example: CRM software licenses!

This post gave an introduction to the product catalog that might be useful if you are new to the concepts.


Creating resources will need a little work!

First of all, define the skills your resources might have. Using the resource skills option in the settings area of Project Service.

Next you need to define how a statement of proficiency. Is someone certified and 100% familiar with CRM for example. Luckily the trial solution will have installed a default definition for proficiency in the “Proficiency Model” area of settings for Project Service. You can see that this rates someone as familiar, Good, Proficient etc. You could of course copy this approach and tailor for your own requirements. (Maybe Junior, Certified, CRM MVP! etc.)

You can now create resources and associate them with the rights skills and roles. Below you can see that I have created myself as a proficient CRM consultant who can play the role of a team member or project manager.

Notice the resource type of user. Resources type options include Generic, Contact, User, Equipment, Account and Group.

Hopefully this post will have helped you understand how to install and complete the initial configuration of Project Service Automation. (PSA) In future posts I intend to build on these concepts I cover how to use all aspects of this new solution.

Filed under: Project Service Automation (PSA) Tagged: crm2016, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Project Service Automation, PSA