Where is the limit in Business Central CRM capability and when integrating it with D365 Sales? (part 1)

We know that Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (previously NAV) is primarily an ERP solution. But even so, this product has some customer relationship management capabilities. And name ‘Business Central’ probably comes because this solution can provide all business activities in one solution. But as this is primarily an ERP solution, the biggest strength comes in ERP, and in other areas, such as CRM or HRM, the level of functionalities is significantly lower. But let us make an overview of what is already in Business Central, but we can say it can be treated as CRM.

First, what we can find are a good customer and contact management. Still, as customers play an essential role in every ERP solution, we can emphasize more about contact management where we have some basic information about contacts and some segmentation.

You can also find some level of creating and tracking opportunities and sales quotes and interactions. You can also have some possibilities to make direct phone calls from BC or send an email. This is more or less what we have, but this is not a small number of functionalities.

Today I’ll not go into details about all these features. I just wanted to show some basic information about them and explain on a high level in which situation you should think about an additional and full CRM solution. As a full and independent CRM solution, I’ll focus on Dynamics 365 Sales Professional:

  • First, naturally, if you don’t have enough functionalities, you will take a specialized CRM solution, but let’s talk in detail on another occasion.
  • Second, the price can be an issue. If you have pure CRM users, they still need to pay $70 or even $100 for the license as they must pay a BC license even if they need only CRM capabilities. Sales Professional full license price is $65, and you can get full CRM. But with the new attach license for Dynamics 365 Sales Professional, BC clients can add a full CRM solution for an additional only $20.
  • Third, as I mentioned in the beginning, Business Central is still primarily an ERP solution, meaning its UI is built for ERP and not for CRM. Even if you have many CRM features, when we compare usage of these features, this is definitely not even close to being useable as in a regular CRM solution.
Dynamics 365 Sales Lead to Opportunity Business Proces Flow

Today I wanted just to make a high-level overview, but in future texts, I’ll try to be more accurate about when CRM in Business Central is enough for you and when you should think about integration with Dynamics 365 Sales.

I’m logging out

I haven’t written s single blog post for some time and I definitely decided it will be my the last one. I’ve been writing on this blog for 8 years, but I started with another domain even a couple years earlier. In this period I’ve got some really valuable feedbacks with the huge impact on me and I want to thank all of you who read these articles or eventually post some comment/question.

I’ve made this decision as I joined Business Central product group as a Program Manager and when I have something to announce or say, it will be done through Microsoft official channels. I don’t want to bring anyone into an awkward situation by misinterpreting in some situations. Of course I’ll continue to use LinkedIn and Twitter for communication, but I’ll not continue with blogging.

But just to know, this blog will stay active minimum from two reasons:

  1. There are still a lot of valuable information not related with specific version
  2. And my son will continue to use this blog (he has already proved in a Dynamics business)

That means when you find new articles in the future, they will be written by my son Marko Totovic. I think it will be even more interesting in the future as he will bring some new topics and applications from Dynamics & Power Platform family. And just to know some of existing articles already has been written by him.

I think you we hear from me soon but using different types of communication. Meanwhile, give the opportunity to my son to show what he has to give you. totovic.com will continue in a new suit.

Dynamics 365 Ecosystem Map – November 2021

Tounca Blog

Microsoft publishes its Dynamics and other business applications’ updates and new solutions/features two times per year. Near a month ago Microsoft announced as they call it – 2021 Wave 2 update.

Thanks to Vadim Korepim who prepared and posted this great poster with Dynamics 365 ecosystem, we can have insight in an overview of Microsoft business applications portfolio. This picture represent just part of whole product portfolio, and you can download whole poster on a link at the bottom of this article.

Once more, all credits are going to Vadim who made it. You can download whole poster with Dynamics Ecosystem November 2021 here:

View original post

BizApps Wiki – a great place for ERP, CRM and other experts

New platform BizApps.Wiki has just started. On the first sight it looks like as well know Wikipedia, but there is ‘but’…

In comparison with Wikipedia there is highly focused content only with business applications (solutions/software) and other related topics. By the business application topics you can find information about almost all possible business application solutions as well as vendors (global and local). Also you can find information about partners or about the most impactful experts (MVPs or similar).

By the ‘other related topics’ it means you can find a lot information about project management, business processes, implementation processes, learning guides, certifications, events, communities, accounting… and so on.

OK it is obviously that topics are not related only with Dynamics solutions as this is Wiki about all business solutions, but there are for sure a few dozens of articles (maybe even more) related only with Microsoft solutions.

And on the end, there is one really good idea about building the digital business applications museum. Even if its history is not so big, it is very interesting how these applications looked like 20-30 years ago. And this is not finished project… as you can see on the first page, this is an ongoing project (always work-in-progress) where it is expected that community will take a part in building or editing this library of articles.

I’ll not write about the project in more details as you can easily go there and check. Definitely good for developers, consultants, project managers, but also for future experts such as students…

What MB-800 exam can guarantee?

I wanted to write this article as I recently passed this exam and I wrote about how to prepare yourself. I already mentioned in this article that if you have an experience in BC or NAV, you generally don’t need to prepare for this exam (but it implies you know and understand BC on the cloud). Now I’m not planning to continue in this direction how to prepare for the exam, but I want to discuss about what we can expect as result of passing this exam.

Generally the most of questions as well as case of study will show your real knowledge, but to be honest you can learn it even if you are not experienced and it cannot prove some specific level of knowledge. Of course, there are some questions non related with real implementation process and as a person with 15+ years in implementation I don’t know why someone thins it is important to know some report by heart, but there is not so many such a questions.

What is more important by my opinion is related with this that I personally am not a fan of this new exam models where we have one exam from whole solution. OK, for F&O we have 4 functional exams and there are similar situation with CRM exams, but there much more topics there and personally I think we have a small number of exams even in F&O and CRM areas. But when we talk about BC, I really cannot believe that one who will pass just one common exam can prove some serious knowledge. Generally BC is implemented very often as a big project and you cannot expect universal consultant who can implement all areas.

Based on my experience, we need to have minimum three exams: one core (we can use MB-800 for this) and another for essential features and third one for premium features (+WMS). And OK, we need development exam. In this case if these exams are prepared on the level as this one, they can prove serial knowledge.

Just to clarify, I like this exam, especially as it comes after a couple of years with no certification for NAV and BC. This is really well done job, but I think partners will need more. Currently, when you see that someone passed MB-800, it can guarantee that this person have basic understanding and knowledge of Business Central. It can be a case that this person is an expert, but this is definitely not necessary to pass this exam.

But as my conclusion, I would like to encourage all BC consultants (and developers as well) to try to pass this exam. Generally I think it is a good idea and especially I would like to recommend passing this exam for junior consultants. Preparing for this exam, they can learn something new and consolidate knowledge. Start with Learning Paths as now we have a lot of really good materials there.

Disclaimer: Everything I wrote in this article is my personal point of view and based on my personal experience and opinion. It doesn’t represent any official opinion companies I’m connected with.

Business Central & Power Platform Exams Experiences

Recently I’ve passed these two new exams: Business Central Functional Consultant Associate and Power Platform App Maker Associate and I would like to share some my experience about them. I’ll try to be brief and just to give you some basic directions.

First I need to admit that I’m not big fan of this kind of certification. Based on my previous experience 10+ year ago, it was more about getting certificate and less about proving a real knowledge. I had an opportunity to meet a lot highly certified persons, but they couldn’t implement even the easiest projects. But still, partners wanted to invest in certification as some kind of knowledge proof.

But with new exams in the last few years things are slightly changed and I had opportunity to check them. But with these two new exams I’m talking about, things improved drastically. And I can say I’m really positive surprised.

First what I want to say is that I didn’t prepare myself for these two exams. And when I say ‘I didn’t prepare’, I mean it for real. I wanted to see if it is possible to pass these exams with real experience and practical knowledge. And I succeed! From my perspective this is the most important fact – if you are waring with these technologies and have a real practical knowledge, you can pass them without any problem. It still means you should be focused on questions as they can sometimes be complicated, especially when it comes to the case studies. I didn’t want to say these exams are easy as they are not, but you don’t need to prepare yourself if you know topics. But to be honest, you can still find a couple of useless questions, you really don’t need in practice, but even if you fail on some of them you will still have big chance to pass exams.

What I want to mention about BC exam is to be prepared with SaaS topics as this is very important. It is not enough to know only features in system, as you need to understand cloud concept as well. On the other side, when we talk about Power Platform, you should know both Canvas and Model-driven Power Apps, Power Automate as well as other Power Platform features (AI, Chat Bots…) and CDS. But this is what we imply with the Power Platform knowledge.

If you are newbie, in this case you need to learn for these exams. But good thing is that if you want to start, you can find everything you will need on the Learning Path site. But one small note, when you start to learn from Learning Paths, I often hear that there are not enough information and some of people often fail on exams. This is because, you need to open every link you have in your learning path as often you can find basic information in this part of text, but when you click on some links, you will be redirected to Microsoft docs site with all necessary information with related topic.

On the end I want to say THANKS to all people involved in preparation these two new exams as they made a good result. And for all of you who didn’t register for these exams, do it… you will not make mistake.

Some blog statistic and feedbacks

It is the first day in 2021 and I just want to put some numbers on the paper. If you don’t agree with my conclusions, please send me some feedback and I will appreciate it.

Looking back I analyzed some numbers in my blog and found interesting that the most read articles were not related with technical topics and I was surprised with this. Because of that I want to share what topics was the most interesting for you in the past year.

If you didn’t find these topics, you can do it here:

Dynamics 365 Ecosystem Map

Business Central Functional Areas

Business Central OnPrem vs Azure vs SaaS

Looking in feedbacks, I can also recognize that these three topics were between the most popular. Ok, there is still 72% other reads, but there are consisting from hundreds of other topics. That means you still want to read technical topics, but you are interested in some other as well.

To be honest I was surprised in one moment that many of readers didn’t know that i.e. BC has some of features before my map of functional areas. An for sure, I’ll do more in this direction to make all of this areas more closely to all of you.

I’ve got some other statistics as well, but this is something I’ll use for my internal research. I just want to say thanks to all of you who read my posts and especially to ones who sent some feedback as this is extremely important for me. All the best in 2021!

Adding External Accountant to Your Business Central

If you use Business Central online, I’m sure that you need to connect your external accountant or your reseller partner to your tenant without buying new license. This is something you have included in your license. Never mind how many user you bought or if you have Essential or Premium users, you can invite up to 3 external users (External Accountants). These 3 licenses have the same use rights as your standard license except access to the user setup and admin tasks. What these users can do in your system, depends on you. But just to remind you… I’m talking about external accountant, not about internal accountant. This is important to remember as this license is not for internal stuff.

But let’s focus how you can add them. First open Users page and run Invite External Accountant.

When you run this action, new welcome page will appear. You should read it and if you agree, click I Accept (otherwise you need to stop and you cannot add user 🙂 ).

Click Next and fill in minimum mandatory fields. These fields are your external accountant contact details: Email, First and Last name. You will see there is a welcome message your accountant will get as email. You can change it or type in your language.

When you finish with details, just click Next and wait a little while. How long? It depends on many things, but it is usually a few seconds up to minute until system invite your accountant. When system finish, you will get a message that person you added was successfully invited. Close the page and enjoy.

You accountant will get an email message with text you entered in invitation as well as URL where he/she needs to log in. And yes, when you finish with adding accountant as user, do not forget to add user permission sets you want. And if you check license for this user, you will see: Dynamics 365 Business Central External Accountant.

OK, everything I described is related if everything is OK, but what if you have some trouble. I have two common issues you can often meet in a practice. Both of them will be met on the first step when you run invitation action.

First you can have an issue with licensing. Event if these 3 users are free of charge, they are not automatically added to tenant. CSP partner have to do it and if partner forget it, you will get an error message No External Accountant license available. Contact your administrator.

In this case only what you can o is to contact your CSP and to require adding these 3 licenses to your tenant. When these licenses are added, they will appear in your Admin Portal.

Now we have another case when you are not a global administrator or a user administrator in you AAD. In this case you can give yourself proper rights or you can ask administrator to do this task.

Dynamics Events in 2021

We are at the end of this year. I could hardly say – good year as we have global pandemic and people dye. But new year is coming and there are some lights at the end of tunnel; vaccine appears and probably we will have better year as I think it is not possible to have worse one.

Let’s see what events await us in 2021. I (and probably nobody) don’t know if these events will go virtually as this year or on site if this is possible, but let’s see what we will have.

In the first half of year, we will start with Directions events:

This is what we have on the list for the first part of year, but we have two more events already scheduled for the second half of 2021:

Of course we have more, but still not scheduled. What you can do now is to sign up and join mailing lists to be updated when they announce dates. Currently, I can suggest to do it for the following events:

Dynamics 365 Community Summits (Australia, Europe, US)

Microsoft Business Application Summit

On the end, I really hope we will win Corona virus and we will have minimum few events in live as conference is not only about content and it is about networking and building friendships. We as human beans still need live communications. Maybe we proved that a lot of things can be done in virtual environment, but some thing can be done only in real world.

I hope we will have healthier and more successful new year and I’ll meet some of you in person.

Directions EMEA 2020 – Day 1

Directions EMEA and Asia has just started today. This is the first-time virtual Directions ever and I can just imagine how challenged it was to prepare everything in very short time. But based on what I saw today, everything is well organized. OK, this is not the same as live event and I would like to have an opportunity to meet all of you in person, but it is still the great option with not only sessions but with a lot of networking opportunities. And just to mention, this is the biggest Directions ever with 2775+ attendees. Great achievement!

Today we had the first day Keynote and after that I had my first session. Now I want to share my experience from these two parts of today’s event.

Christian Sega started with good news about numbers (2775+ attendees, 60+ countries, 147 sessions, 101 speaker…) and future of this event and finally we had an opportunity to see Mike Morton as a new GM on the Directions stage… unfortunately not in live, but again this is the first time on Directions stage.

Mike presented roughly the most important directions from this BC release and they are:

  • Deliver seamless service and performance
  • Design for compliance and security
  • Develop ISVs and globalization
  • Delight customers by exceeding expectations
  • Drive better together Microsoft experiences

Let’s talk about these directions in the next days. Now I want to talk more about numbers. First time we had an opportunity to see official numbers about BC SaaS customers – there are 10.000 BC online customers and by my opinion this is an amazing result. And only this, there are other impressive results…

I don’t want to forget great rest of the keynote with Claus, Jannik and other PM’s where they showed some new and really good features.

And finally, Mike announced roadmap and some new features ready for the next release. First let’s make a look at new roadmap:

Now make a look at some of the next release’s features:

  • Finally, we will get Report Extensibility as this is one of the highest voted idea from users and partners… this is something we are really missing.
  • We will get enhancement printing features in BC, improving complex hybrid setup, taking care about user access to printers, eliminating admin of print servers or printer drivers, printing from anywhere…
  • Easily onboard of new clients to BC using step-by-step guide how to configure and prepare your solution, and it will be possible to use for partner’s addons as well.
  • Better integration of BC with Teams as using BC directly from Teams.

What I wanted to emphasize… completely experience with the Directions4Partners platform was/is great (if I forget some minor technical issues… who knows, maybe only at my place😊 because of my connection). You could have a feeling you are really on a site. This is briefly my experience from my first session. After 30 minutes prerecorded session, we had additional 15 minutes for live Q&A. I have a lot of questions and I had an opportunity to have a live answering session and it was good experience. As we probably had more question, we needed to continue our chat somewhere. For this purpose, we could go out to the Q&A session room and continue with discussions about all specific topics. Really great experience. I had an opportunity to meet some of friends and big thanks to Arend JK who attended my session and who continue chat with me and few other attendees in the Q&A session room. He also helped me answering on some questions. Big thanks for you Arend as well as to Christian Sega who joined us in after session time.

I’m looking forward to see more sessions today and next two days and I really hope it will be great experience.