Marketing & an unusual error

I’ll be the first to admit that I have limited experience of Dynamics 365 for Marketing. In fact, I think that it would be stretching the description to say that I have even ‘limited experience’! I’ve seen it one or twice, and have attended a few presentations on it, but apart from that, nada.

I do remember what it used to be like in its previous incarnation, but even then I didn’t really touch it. Customer Service (& Sales) are my forte, and I generally stick within those walls. Marketing traditionally was its own individual application, and only more recently has been rolled into the wider Dynamics 365 application suite. Even so, it still sometimes works in a somewhat interesting way, different from the rest of the system.

Inevitably I’ve had to actually do something with it for a client project, which has brought me to putting up this post. We had created a few marketing forms, surfaced them correctly, etc. It was great, and working well.

Then we realised that we needed to capture some additional information, in this case a list of Countries. There’s no standard entity for it within Dynamics 365, so we created our own, and loaded a list of countries (& associated data) into it. Fine – that was working without issues, including in the places that we needed to surface it.

Then we came to needing to surface the Country value on a marketing form, through a lookup. Simple, you’d have though? Well, not so much. We went to create the field, and got presented with the following error as we did so:

The error says: ‘The role marketing services user does not have access to the entities you’ve chosen…’

In essence, the system was telling us that we weren’t able to access the entity. Though Country is a custom entity, we were logged in as users with the System Administrator role (which has access automatically to ALL entities). This left us puzzling around what to do.

The error message, thankfully, was quite clear. It was referring to a specific security role missing privileges. In this case, it was the ‘Marketing Services User’. I therefore went to check the permissions for it, and sure enough, it didn’t have permissions on the Country entity that I had created!

Now usually if a security role is missing permissions, what we do is create a custom security role (usually copying the existing role), and add the permissions to do. Best practise is NOT to edit the default security roles. The (main) reason behind this is that Microsoft could update the security role in a later update/release, which could impact on us. We therefore use custom roles to avoid this happening (& yes, I’ve seen it happen/impact in practise!).

The fly in the soup here (lovely phrase, I know) is that we couldn’t do that here. It seems that Dynamics 365 for Marketing uses an underlying security role that’s needed. Even if we had implemented a custom role, we didn’t have any idea of how to tell the system to actually use our custom role, rather than the default one that it’s currently using. Quite frustrating, I tell you!

So in the end we decided to give the default security role the necessary permissions, and see what happened:

With having granted the security permissions to the role, & saved it, we then attempted to create the marketing form field field. This time, we were successful! No errors occurred during it, thankfully:

So in summary, I still have no idea why this has happened. I’ve taken a look around, but can’t find anything obvious as to how/why it actually works like this. I guess that I’d need to dig ‘under the hood’ somewhat to see what’s actually going on, and how to dealt with it appropriately. For the moment, the solution is in place, and is working.

We’ve also been very careful (as mentioned above) to add just the specific custom entity to the default security role. We haven’t touched anything else within it – all other security permissions are done (as per best practise) with custom security roles, which are then allocated appropriately to users &/or teams. Hopefully this will be fine in the long-term, though we’ll definitely be keeping our eyes on it to make sure!

Have you ever come across something like this? How did you decide to go about solving it? Drop a comment below – I’d love to hear!

Update: Thanks to the amazing Carl Cookson, it turns out that this is due to an update from Microsoft in how Marketing works. See https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/dynamics365/marketing/marketing-fields for more information around it. Essentially it uses this role to sync to the Azure staged Marketing service, so this role needs to have the appropriate permission

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