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.

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…

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.

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.

Dynamics 365 Ecosystem Map October 2020

Recently I published a blog post about Dynamics 365 Ecosystem for April 2020 release. As I see many of you downloaded these images, but I also got a comments that this was outdated as a few days ago Microsoft announced October 2020 release (2020 Wave 2 release). Because of that I started with updating these graphics and I’ve just finished with all news.

Again, I want to mention and to say ‘thanks’ to Vadim Korepin who made this initial graphics. I used his initial slides and added all news from the last release. But even more, I found that one important part of Dynamics 365 ecosystem was not there – Industry Accelerators. They are very important parts of ecosystem and it can be very useful for some specific industries. This time I added them, and I hope we will have more and more partners using them.

If you want to collect images in the best resolution, download them (right click on the image) and you will get 3840×2180 images.

And let’s start with the first image where we have completely list of all Dynamics 365 solutions and other related solutions:

Then we can continue wit ERP ecosystem where we have some added features in each of them:

The same situation is with CRM ecosystem where we got some new features:

With modular solutions we have some differences as now we have Dynamics 365 Customer Voice as new solution:

Dynamics 365 AI solutions have some new features as well as Mixed Reality solutions:

List of Dynamics 365 services is extended for new service – Electronic invoicing Add-on:

And now new part – Industry Accelerators for specific vertical solutions. This is completely new page with accelerators details. Based on official documents, industry accelerators are foundational components within Microsoft Power Platform and Dynamics 365 that enable ISVs and other solution providers to quickly build industry vertical solutions. The accelerators extend Common Data Model to include new entities to support a data schema for concepts within specific industries.

And finally, platform again with some updates:

I hope you will use these images in daily business and especially when you need to explain connections between our ecosystem.

Dynamics 365 Ecosystem Map April 2020

Last months I see a lot of interests for completely Dynamics 365 ecosystem map. Even if we now what is part of Dynamics 365 ecosystem, visualization is much better. Because of that I want to share with you one global ecosystem map and more detailed maps per each solution. This is the last one made for April 2020 release and thanks to Vadim Korepin who made it. Keep in mind that resolution in my blog is not the best, but if you want to get in the best resolution, download image (right click on the image) and you will get 3242×1843 picture.

First start with completely Dynamics 365 ecosystem with all solutions.

Now let’s continue with more details. First let’s make a look in ERP ecosystem (Finance, SCM, project Operations and Business Central):

Logically we will continue with CRM portfolio:

Now to add ecosystem of our modular solutions to complete ERP and CRM solutions:

AI Solutions in D365 ecosystem looks like that (keep in mind that we have some additional embedded AI features in other solutions):

Mixed Reality is also part of Dynamics 365 ecosystem:

This is the list of Dynamics 365 services:

And the last but not the least, Microsoft platform ecosystem (Power Platform and other Microsoft platforms):

When you look at all these maps, it is obviously that we have a great ecosystem in Dynamics 365 family. I hope you will use these charts in daily business.

Business Central Localizations

As I’m from area where official Business Central localizations (made by Microsoft) don’t exist (CEE), it is not so strange that this topic is very important for me personally as well as for all partners I cooperate with and their existing and potential clients. Of course we have some partner based localizations as we had for NAV earlier, but this topic is important… no localization – no clients :). And yes, I wanted to make it today as we just got new release where we announced a few new localizations.

Based on available sources from official Microsoft site and information from AppSource, I created the following map (keep in mind I’m not geographer and maybe map is not 100% accurate :)) and table with details.

This map is good as an overview where Business Central is available. If you asking me if I’m satisfy, answer is yes and no. I’m happy we got so many partner based localizations developed as extensions, even the most of people suspected it will be possible. But when we talk about numbers, it is enough to remind that we had 196 Dynamics NAV localizations (info from one of previous Directions). Compared with that, we need more localizations. One of the reasons NAV was so popular was that we had localization in almost all countries and if we want to have Business Central SaaS with the same popularity, we need to have more localizations. In a meantime, if you are from country where we don’t have localization and you want to move BC to the cloud, I can recommend to read this article.

OK, now in more details. There is a table with all available localizations and who made them as well as together with available languages. You will see, this table is interesting (download table to get full resolution picture). You can find the most of these details on the official Microsoft site, but I tried to make it easier for understanding making combination of localizations and languages from different sources.

Just to avoid some misunderstanding, these information are based on official data from October 3rd 2020 and of course, it is subject of changing.

Business Central Functional Areas

Usually when I talk with people with a small (or without) experience in NAV or Business Central but with ERP knowledge, they don’t know what functional areas are covered with Business Central. Mostly, they find something on internet that it is for SMB and they assume it cannot be used for complex business processes. Yes, Business Central is on the first place for SMB, but it can be found in very complex business as well and it covers the big number of business processes. And yes, Business Central is full ERP system.

Because of that, I wanted to show simplified map what business process are covered with standard Business Central. But just to clarify, this map represents only an overview of business processes… and if you want to see all of them, I can suggest to discuss with someone who is experienced and who can show everything what is possible.

As this picture cannot be viewed good here on blog post (small resolution), I’m suggesting to download it and to open as a picture on your desktop.

And what is important on the end… Business Central is easily extended solution. You can extend it adding new functional areas from AppSource or developing them from your partners.

15 Microsoft Ignite not-to-miss non-Dynamics Session

A few years ago, and earlier, every time when I attended some conference I’ve chose the topic I’m familiar with. For example, probably in 95% of my time I attended Dynamics NAV sessions or something very close with it.

But in the last few years I changed my attention to very different sessions. In these times, everything is different, and everything is changed. Now if you want to survive in your ERP or CRM world, you need to learn a lot of different topics outside of your primarily interest. Solutions are more and more connected and now nobody want to buy i.e. ERP, but they want to buy completely solution… and if you want to provide it, you have to me familiar not only with ERP, but with IoT, AI, ML…

Because of that, I want to write a small recommendation not-to-miss sessions for all Dynamics ERP or CRM experts on this Microsoft Ignite. As Microsoft Ignite will start in a few days (September 22-24, 2020) and registration is free of charge, be sure you registered and try to attend the following sessions:

Of course, there are a lot of other Dynamics topics and I can suggest watching sessions about solutions you don’t implement. You will expand your knowledge and in this era it is very important to know how to choose what to and when to implement; when to customize and when to integrate… Of course, this is just my opinion and prediction… if you think differently, do as you think. Definitely, try to enjoy this virtual event.

All Dynamics events in 2020 are going virtually

All Dynamics events until the end of 2020 will go virtually… or they are cancelled. I don’t know what to say… if it is a good or bad. Definitely virtual event cannot replace live one and I’ll try to explain why. But with given circumstances, I think that going virtual is the best possible option… on the first place because of our health and not losing community work.

Right now, we have the following situation with all our Dynamics events:

  • First, we will start with D365 Community Summit. It will go virtual instead in Nashville and it will be held in period October 7-9, 2020. Agenda is already ready and if you didn’t register, you can see details and register here.
  • Directions EMEA and Directions Asia, instead of Prague and Bangkok will be organized as a common virtual event in period November 3-5, 2020. More information here.
  • Directions NA, Orlando is unfortunately canceled for this year. But as Directions EMEA and Asia will go virtually, it means there is not any limitations for colleagues from North America to join this even.
  • NAV TechDays is canceled somewhere on the beginning of Corona crisis and we will not have opportunity to meet before next year.

OK, I wanted to explain why I’m not a fan of virtual events… but to be honest it is probably better to have them in comparison with cancelation all these events. With virtual event you can still have an opportunity to listen prepared content and this is good. But… attending conferences is not all about content… content is important of course, but more important is an opportunity to openly ask what you need and not to get an answer only from presenter. You have an opportunity for discussion on sessions, but probably more important during the pauses. All these networking is not possible to be created in a virtual world… minimum it is not possible in this moment. And communication between presenter and attendees actually doesn’t exist in the virtual event. And when I’m talking about all of these, this is not problem only for attendees, it is not inspiring for lecturers as well (it is not the same when you have people in the front of you and when you have camera and laptop).

But again, with these circumstances, this is much better to have virtual events than not having them at all. And I must admit in a few digital events I’ve already participated, organization was really the best possible what somebody can make in a virtual world… and probably beyond my expectations. But again, this is not the same ☹.

And on the end, our hopes for the next year are that we can see each other in a live. I hope we will have much better health situation and we will attend minimum these already scheduled events:

  • Directions Asia, April 15-16, 2021 – Bangkok, Thailand
  • Directions NA, April 25-28, 2021 – San Diego, CA, US
  • Directions EMEA, October 7-9, 2021 – Milan, Italy,
  • NAV TechDays, November 16-19, 2021 – Antwerp, Belgium
  • …and hope others will schedule events soon.