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.

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.

Sessions from NAV TechDays – day 2

As I’ve promised a few days ago in my previous post, I’m completing the collection of all session from NAV TechDays 2019.

Let’s see what we had in the second day of this amazing NAV/BC event:

Leveraging the power of the cloud

Build, test, deploy and deliver your app by one file

NAV/BC for high demanding environments

{Connect app}²

Business Central with Power Platform – more than ERP solution

…and of course, this is my session where I’ve talked about PowerPlatform with BC together with an MVP Renato Fajdiga… expect feedback here 🙂

The Power Platform for Business Central Techies

If you liked my and Renato session, I’ll highly recommend to continue with this session from Arend-Jan Kauffmann.

Make the most out of Business Central on Docker

Migrate your customers to the cloud, and manage them there

How to make AI work for your Business… Central

Why Attend BCUG/NAVUG Summit 2019 in Orlando

In a month, BCUG/NAVUG Summit in Orlando will start. There will be dozens of amazing lectures and if you are NAV or Business Central user, this event is probably something you must attend, especially if you want to continue with improving your knowledge.

I like to come back to this event every year as this is probably only one opportunity where you can get directly feedback from thousands of Dynamics users.

This time, I would try to explain why you should attend this amazing event using video message and I hope you will like it 🙂

Directions NA 2020 and what we heard

Directions NA 2019 has just finished and I’m writing this article in a plane on my way to home. It was great opportunity to meet 925 Dynamics professionals and not only from North America. It was amazing event and I’m happy because I had opportunity to speak here. We got a lot interesting information regarding Business Central Spring Release and to listen about experience of implementations of this solution here in US.

If you were there, you know what I’m talking about. If you were not be there, you can find all that news on Microsoft official document here. I’ll only emphasize some facts we hear from Jannik and Claus on a closing session as well as they will have a big impact on a future of BC.

  • In the future, ISV scenarios will include 15 objects for Team Members
  • From July 1st, we will get device license – CSP pricelist = 40USD
  • For On-prem transition to BC, user ratio is changed to 1:3 (for each concurrent user in NAV/GP user, they will get 3 named BC users) and this time this includes limited users as well
  • On-premises partners will get more internal users licenses
  • On-premises license will include one CAL for external accountant and one CAL for a system administrator, the same as we have in a subscription

If you read only these few facts, you can understand how important it is for partners and for clients as well.

We also heard that we will get new certification exams for Business Central functional consultants in FY20 as well as better differentiation through the Cloud Business Applications Competency and/or the Small and Mid-Market Cloud Solutions competency. Also, there will be secondary transition journey for clients who want to stay on-premises and to use cloud benefits or to migrate to the cloud (stay on BREP and purchase Midterm Offer).

And on the end, Directions NA 2020 (April 19-22) will be again in Orlando in Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress and for me it has a special place in my hearth, because in this place a few years ago, I had an opportunity to speak on Direction North America for the very first time.

All sessions from NAV TechDays 2018

NAV TechDays 2018 has just finished a few days ago and I can say this was the best NAV TechDays ever. I don’t know what name will be the next year NAV or BC TechDays (or something different), but I’ll be there for sure and I’m promising I’ll prepare session for next year. Now, all sessions are already published and I want to have all of them on the one place. There are all of them:

Opening Keynote

What’s new in Developing for Business Central

Practical approaches for upgrading your NAV database and moving to extensions

Performance: Business Central reloaded for the Cloud

Crazy mix of integrations: Dynamics 365 Business Central and Azure services

Add some magic to Business Central with Machine Learning

Business Central: The new face of the client

Evolution of a titan: a look at the development of NAV from an MVP angle

Designing for extensibility: Learn straight from the Application Architects

Under the hood of Business Central service

The future for developers and consultants

Real life scenarios and best practices for using NAV on Docker

CI/CD for Business Central

Dynamics 365 Business Central Roadmap

Directions NA has just started this year. Unfortunately, this year I have to miss this event, but thanks to my friends I can share some information. This time, I’ll share only the future roadmap for Dynamics 365 Business Central:

Business Central Roadmap

Also, something new is that from the next year, Directions will held during the spring and the next year it will be in Las Vegas, Nevada.

My Dynamics Events Sessions – Fall 2018

For all of you who want to see what I prepared for this year conference season, I can share that I’ll have sessions on two conferences this fall.

First, I’ll be on BCUG/NAVUG Summit at Phoenix, AZ, US and after that I’ll be on Directions EMEA in the Hague. On both of these conferences, I’ll have the similar sessions – How and Why You Should Combine ‘Dynamics 365 for Talent’ with ‘Dynamics 365 Business Central’ / ‘Dynamics NAV’. But the first one will be more how you can do it if you are user, a the second one how you can do it as partner and how you can make this as a model for the future implementations.

NAVUGDirections.PNG

I already know terms, and it will be Wednesday, October 17 at 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM at BCUG/NAVUG Summit and Wednesday, October 31 at 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM at Directions EMEA. If you like this topic or think this topic can be interesting, join me there.

Dynamics 365 Business Central October release

Long time no see. I’m currently on vacation and finally found some time for writing. I don’t know if you already read Business Applications Release Notes – October ’18. If you are, don’t read this article :). But if you didn’t already read, you can get some basic overview what we will get in October.

First one technical news, from October we can use Business Central, on-cloud, on-prem and in hybrid deployments. And even more, you can use existing Dynamics NAV on-prem solution in hybrid model connecting to the cloud through Business Central. In both of cases, using Business Central or NAV on-prem, you can have your tenant on a cloud, where your data will be replicated. If you decide in one moment to continue only with cloud, it will be very easy task for you. But it is important to know, in this scenario you need to have all your customizations based on extensions. Actually you can have code customizations as well, but in this case your system will temporarily disconnected from cloud. If you refactor your code to extensions, you can be connected again.

OK, now there are some very important improvements on a Web Client, all of us expected. One of them is Advanced filtering and to be precisely Limit Totals feature. This feature is very important for regular usage of system and finally we got it on Web Client. Now we can use one of the most popular features in filtering in Dynamics NAV where we can filter aggregated values from another tables. And even more, we’ve got some new filtering shortcuts. There is not new filter pane added to the side of our lists which allows us to:

  • Get an overview of the currently applied filters, and see if they were set by you, by a filtered view, or by the application itself.
  • Add as many filtered columns as you like by typing to quickly search for more fields on the source table.
  • Get assistance with specifying filter values using lookups or the field’s data type.
  • Create complex filters using operators, ranges, variables, and shorthand.
  • Filter to the current cell value in the list.

There is now improvement in search where the Search field replaces the Search for Page or Report field. We can use it to find objects such as pages and reports, but also to find actions and product documentation, but R&D team also improved the logic behind the search with much better results.

One of the “small” improvement is continued modernizing of user experience. If you saw some pictures from the previous Directions, you could find some differences between those pictures and Web Client in already available Business Central. But now all those features are here in October release:

CustomerCard D365BC.png

As you can find in original documentation: “Now users get a more streamlined navigation with the back button displayed prominently on the left of the page and with special dynamic system commands occupying the middle section. These elements move the navigation closer to users, allowing them to stay focused on the data and task at hand.” There will be improved already amazing PowerBI embed experience and lot of other different news (I mentioned only few of them).

But one of the biggest improvement is in development area and it was maybe one of the biggest blockers in development with extensions. This feature now enable enums (options) from the base application as well as create new, extensible enums in your extensions.

Now you can extend even more in you extension as for example Report data sets and Field groups. As new feature, their is now Event discoverability and of course, there are a lot of new events added to system.

And these are not only improvement in development. There are Debugger, IntelliSense and Translation enhancements, .NET Interop, Working with permissions, OData-bound actions in AL and lot of “small” Visual Studio Code AL Extension enhancements.

If you want to find all details, you can go to the official Microsoft page: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/business-applications-release-notes/October18/dynamics365-business-central/

Summit EMEA 2019

Summit EMEA 2018 in Dublin has just finished yesterday and I still try to count all impressions. It was the great one with 221 sessions and now we can start to think about the next year Summit.

Only one part was missing – NAVUG part of the Summit and I really hope that we will have NAVUG Summit in EMEA the next year, especially because now NAV (of course Business Central) is a very important part of Dynamics 365 family. Before that I’m happy to see all UG’s in Phoenix later this year.

And now, where will Summit EMEA be the next year?

20180426_141817.jpg

Currently we have four options to choose: Amsterdam, Barcelona, London or Nice. If you want to give your vote, it is not too late and you can do it here. The last time when I checked results, it was like that:

Screenshot_20180426-141350

Anyway, see you in one of the these four cities the next year.