Extensibility and Collaboration in Business Central

Recently I published an article about the functional areas covered with standard clean implementation of Business Central. But this is not the end as you can add much more features using built-in extend and integration features in Business Central. This picture is not a part of some official presentation, but this is my view on visualization and conceptual architecture of Business Central collaboration features (I’m suggesting to download this picture to see details in better resolution 2526×1370).

Extensibility

First when we start with only Business Central, we can say that this is completely solution with built-in security model, business processes and data validation. Even then, we can need more features and it is important to understand that you can easily extend its functionalities. You can do it using ISV solutions from AppSource, where you can find a lot of different solutions: Retail, Real Estate, Quality Management, Transportation, Payrolls… even different languages or localizations… Some of them are for free and for some of them you need to pay. But if you know AL language and if you have VS Code, you can easily build your own extensions and extend standard features with your customizations. My personal opinion is that every time you need industry specific solution, first try to find some ISV solution because it is probably already well proved in this industry. But if you cannot find it or this is not fit with your requirements you can build it with AL. If you don’t know how to do it, you can start with learning from here.

Collaboration

The most of experienced NAV people will be well prepared for customizations, but often they don’t know all integration and collaboration features. Because of that, very often I could see customizations in areas already covered with standard integration features. That is why I wanted to write about this topic. It is important to know that almost all integrations are done through API’s in Business Central. There are a lot of built-in API’s, but if you miss the for some of entities, it is not so complicated to create custom API. Let’s start with one of integration parts.

Office 365

Starting with the 2020 Wave 2, we can use Business Central inside the Microsoft Teams, where you just need to install an app from the Teams Store and this app will allow you to paste a link to any Business Central record into chat, and it will expand that into a compact card to share with your coworkers as well as to view card details, edit data, and take action without ever leaving Microsoft Teams… and soon you can expect even more.

Business Central Outlook add-in is well known for a while. With this add-in, you can see financial data related to customers and vendors, as well as create and send quotes and invoices from email or from meeting appointments. When you create document, you can even use AI for automatically recognition of text in your email body.

Business Central Excel add-in allows you to open any Business Central list in Excel respecting any filters on the page that limit the records shown or to edit in excel, where system will allow you to make changes to records in Excel and then publish the changes back to Business Central.

With Word you can be master of your outgoing documents, easily modifying documents layouts in Word and importing them back in Business Central where you don’t need to be a developer to change document layouts.

If your company uses the Bookings app, you can do bulk invoicing for appointments and it can be very useful. Unfortunately, based on my experience this integration is not used as it deserves.

You can use Microsoft Graph to access and manage your financials, work with your business contacts, and gain insights from your financial reports, all based on entities in the Business Central data platform. By integrating your apps with Business Central in Microsoft Graph, you can create experiences that span your business needs.

Power Platform

You can make your Business Central data available as a data source in Power Apps or Power Automate through available Business Central Connectors (online and onprem) based on exposed APIs in Business Central. If you need more, you can create your custom APIs and custom connectors based on them. Power Automate allows more using embedded flows in Business Central for approval process in many of documents and other entities.

With Power BI you can get insight your Business Central data. Power BI retrieves Business Central data through OData allowing you to build dashboards and reports based on that data. And even more, you can embed all those Power BI reports in Business Central and looking all those data visualizations without leaving your system.

Azure

Using Business Central you will find some Azure built-in features such as AI (Cash Flow Forecast, Inventory Forecast, Late Payment Prediction) and Cognitive Service (Items and Contacts recognitions).

But with Business Central you can also use some advance Azure features such as Azure Logic Apps or Azure Functions connecting them through available or custom connectors. And you are not limited only to these tools as you can use many of them with not so complicated integrations. My recommendation for all Business Central experts is to pass Azure Fundamental exams to learn more about available tools and services in Azure.

Common Data Service

We already had an integration between Business Central and Dynamics 365 Sales, but from the previous release it is significantly improved and extended to full Common Data Service integration. As Dynamics 365 Sales is based on Common Data Service, that means now we can customize our integration and use it for many different CDS applications or build our own CDS apps and connect them with Business Central.

SharePoint

And on the end, you can connect SharePoint with Business Central using Microsoft SharePoint Connection Setup page in BC. This integration is not so complicated, and you just need to fill in a few fields, but unfortunately there is no official online documentation about this integration.

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