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.

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.

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.

Cloud Partner Competencies and Business Central

You are involved only in Business Central business and now you have Enterprise Resource Planning competency. But this competency is not in the cloud and if you want to get Cloud Business Application competency you can choose one of the options as a two different paths in achieving competencies:

  • Customer Engagements options
  • Unified Operations option

The first one is for CRM partners and the second one is in ERP. But when you read details, this is for Finance, Supply Chain Management, Retail and Talent (F&O) and all required exams are from F&O. If you want to continue only in Business Central and want cloud competency as Business Central is cloud product, you probably don’t know how you can fit with these requirements.

OK before I continue, I need to mention that this is my private text and it doesn’t represent Microsoft official statement, and this is not an announcement. Everything I’m writing here is based on Cecilia Flombaum presentation on the Microsoft Inspire a few days ago. If you want to see whole presentation, session is still available here (first part of presentation is mostly about Partner Contribution Indicator, but you can find BC details from cca 13:30).

She mentioned that we can expect a Business Central differentiation as well as Power Platform differentiation if you are focused only on one of these solutions. That will allow Business Central partner to achieve their silver and/or gold statuses in Cloud Business Application competency.

Currently we don’t know what will be required to achieve competency and statuses and if it will be connected with recently announced BC exam (probably yes).

But Business Central implementers will have one more opportunity – to achieve Small and Midsize Cloud Solutions competency through a Business Central differentiation opportunity. Probably there will be some differences i.e. slightly different threshold.

OK, this is everything we know for now. As sook as we have more information, you can find it on the Microsoft Partner Network.

Business Central Certification Exam and more…

Yesterday on the first day of Microsoft Inspire (this year in digital format), we had an opportunity to see some long time waited news. We will finally have certification exam for Business Central. It will be MB-800 exam – Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Functional Consultant and this exam will be available from October 2020. It will cover the following processes of implementation: set up Business Central, configure Financials, configure Sales and Purchasing, set up operations, and of course how to use Power Platform components. More about the exam here. When you pass this exam, you will become Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Functional Consultant Associate.

But this is not all. We have more news in certifications. As Power Platform takes more and more spaces in solving business issues, we will get two new exams for Power Platform and they will be available from September 2020:

Business Central API’s and Available Methods

If you use API’s in Business Central, probably you found some limitations in methods, depending on API to API. Sometimes you can do more, sometime less. For example, with Accounts you can use only GET method (I still don’t understand why?), and so on…

You can find details about all of them here, but I prefer to have everything on one place as it will be easier to decide if I would use standard API or eventually I need to create the custom one. Because of that, I’ve made this matrix with all standard API’s and methods you can use with them:

Except these limitations, it would be nice to know that you have some other limits as well and they are important if you want to use API’s in some solutions. Even if those limits are high, they are still limits. For example, you can have maximum 600 requests per minute in production environment and 300 in sandbox. Complete list of limits is here.

And what is also important? If you are using those API’s through Power Platform (or Logic Apps) connectors, you should understand their actions and parameters. All details can be found here, but there is a table for better understanding:

It is important to mention that all that information are subject of change.

Business Central Virtual Event – 2020 Wave 1

A couple days ago, we had an opportunity to participate first Business Central Virtual Event. This was good opportunity to see what is new in Business Central and the team during these times when we don’t have in person events (Directions Asia and Directions US are postponed to the end of this year).

With all existing and new features Business Central confirms that this solution is an important member of Dynamics 365 and Microsoft family, available for easy using and integration and collaboration with other systems through Azure cloud.

It is presented to us a new Business Central GM – Mike Morton, an experienced Microsoft leader, who introduce himself to the community as well as his first plans for Business Central. As important results he mentioned that now Business Central on cloud has 6000+ customers with 250+% YoY growth.

During this event we had a great opportunity to see some new features as well as to hear what is planned for the future releases. One of these great features planned in the next release is SmartList Designer – a great reporting tool inspired with GP tool and created in PowerApps. Further we could hear about new integration with teams as one of the most important integrations with other Microsoft products.

I don’t want to write about all features in this new release (2020 Wave 1), as you can find all details here. I just want to emphasize a few of these features. Finally, we have all languages available for using… and not only Microsoft official localizations, but also partner translations for much more countries. And one of my favorite features – integration with CDS; really great improvement which will have a huge impact on future implementation; I want to write independent blog post about this feature and this is a reason I don’t write here more. There is a lot of UI improvements (Collection of pages with already configured filters per pages, now you can bookmark reports as well, pages with two parallel lines, you can collapse or expand your lines on the page e.g. in CoA, personalization is really improved…). Finally, we can purchase resources… something partners developed in the past, but now available by default. Many great development improvements as well as on the server/database side (e.g. database read-only replica for reports, API pages, and query objects).

You still can find active session for this virtual event with 15 recorded presentations.

Dynamics 365 Sales Professional vs Sales Enterprise

In my previous post (video), you could learn how to create Dynamics 365 Sales Professional demo environment. If you are experienced with Dynamics CRM solutions you can recognize differences between this solution and enterprise version, but if you are newbie I would like to introduce you with all differences you can find there.

03-What-is-Dynamics-365-for-Sales-Professional

On the first place, we can split them to the two types of clients:

  • Dynamics 365 Sales Enterprise – full sales capabilities
  • Dynamics 365 Sales Professional – core sales functions at a reduced rate for businesses with simpler sales force needs

But if you want more details and especially if you need to promise something to your client, you should have details. Let’s start with details. First list is list of all features Dynamics 365 Sales Enterprise has, and Sales Professional has not:

  • Access via Portal or API
    • Non-employees only: Work Orders
    • Non-employees only: Opportunities
  • Entities (Create, Update, Delete)
    • Max 15 Custom Entities
    • Competitors
    • Embedded Intelligence
    • Forecasting
    • Product Families
    • Product Hierarchies
    • Product Relationships
    • Quick Campaigns
    • Sales Goals
    • Sales Hub
    • Sales Literature
    • Territories
  • Entities (Actions)
    • Business card scanning as add-on (10 users/month: pooled at tenant level)
    • Business Units (Define and Configure)
    • Knowledgebase (create, update, publish, configure, search)
    • Teams (Define and Configure)
  • General System Use (Actions)
    • Max 5 customized Business Processes Flows
    • Max 2 customized Forms and Views per entity
    • Max 15 custom Workflows
    • Max 5 custom reports, charts, and dashboards
    • Without custom system reports, charts, and dashboards
  • Additional Services and Software
    • Dynamics 365 Gamification (Player & Admin)
    • Microsoft Forms Pro
    • Microsoft PowerApps
    • Dynamics 365 Sales Insights
    • Max 10 ISV solutions

If your conclusion is that Sales Professional doesn’t have a lot of features it is not a true. Sales Professional has a pretty big number of very good features and it can cover probably the most of SMB company requests.

But let’s add some of advantages of Sales Professional. This list is maybe not so big, but quality of this list is more important than quantity:

  • Price: full price is 65$ and this is 30$ less then enterprise version
  • Attach license to Business Central; if you already have Business Central, you need to pay only 20$ for license. As you already have integration in Business Central with D365 Sales, it is a real benefit both a price and functionalities.
  • UI is better (mostly in configuration) as this is intended for SMB customers.

If you need core CRM functionalities and solution easy to implement, Sales Professional is the right solution for you, but if you need all CRM functionalities you should choose Sales Enterprise.

As I see Sales Professional as a great opportunity for small companies and especially for those who already use Business Central, I’ll be focused on this solutions with the following posts (probably mostly videos).

How to integrate Business Central with Dynamics 365 Talent – part 3 (inserting data with LogicApps)

The last days of the previous year, I’ve started with blog series how to integrate Business Central with Dynamics 365 Talent (now Dynamic 365 Human Resources). I wanted to show how to integrate these two solutions without code, using only available services.

I’ve started with the first post, with an overview and then continue with the second one where I explained how to configure both solutions. Now I would like to continue with the third part where I’ll explain integration tools we can use.

Generally, you can use Flow (Power Automation) or Azure Logic Apps. Personally, for this purpose I prefer Logic Apps. There are many reasons for this, and I’ll show the basic comparison between these two solutions:

I don’t want to say Flow is not good solution as I enjoy in using it, but for this purpose (integration) I think Logic Apps is much better choice.

To use Logic Apps, first you must have an Azure subscription. When you open an Azure portal, you can easily find Logic Apps using a search feature. Create a new Logic Apps using Add command.

If you already used Microsoft Flow, you will find that Logic Apps are very similar, but as this is on the first place Azure service, you have to make some basic configuration as a choosing a service Name, what Subscription you want to use, Resource Group and Location for your service.

Then you just need to click on Create and wait a few seconds. If you still don’t see new service, probably you need to hit Refresh and new service will appear. When a new service is created, you need to open it and start creating a flow. System will open Logic Apps Designer and you can start with a Blank Logic App button scrolling little bit down (if this is your first time with Logic Apps, I can recommend to look the introducing video before you start). Do not forget that you need to have already deployed Business Central and Talent and created Talend entities in CDS (check in PowerApps with Data tab).

On the first sight you will see it obviously look like very similar as Microsoft Flow (Power Automation). First you need to start with a trigger, and as there is not trigger for Talent, you need to find ‘Common Data Service’ trigger – ‘When a record is created’. Yes, the first Logic App will be for inserting new data, but to complete this process, minimum necessary will be to make a Logic App for update as well.

Now you need to sign in to create a connection to Common Data Service. You will use credentials you used for Talent and CDS. When you finish with signing in, choose an environment where you have installed Talent and Workers as an entity name. On the end, add Organization as a Scope.

In a new step, you need to make an action. For this purpose, you need to choose Business Central and find ‘Create record’ action. When you sign in, first you need to choose if you want to use Production or some other environment and after that you need to choose a company name and as a Table name choose Employees (this is an API from Business Central).

On the end you just need to connect fields. To do this you need to click on Add new parameter and to choose Business Central fields you want to use for integration. Minimum you have to use are number, givenName and surname. Now you need to connect BC with Talent data i.e. Given Name (from Talent) to First_name, Surname to Last_name…

Click Save and as this is a service, do not forget to click Run. Only now, your Logic App is ready for using.

Be careful here with choosing fields for integration… you can try to integrate more fields here, but it cannot be useful. The answer on your question is when you create new record to the Worker entity in Talent, only a few field will be treated as an insert and the most of them will be treated as an update. Look at the last image where I’ll create new record… only these field you see are treated as an insert.

When you click Hire and add details, all other values you will add will be treated as an update. Because of that, you will see that created new Logic App for updating is absolutely necessary. But I’ll explain more about this in my next post.

But right now, you can create new Worker in Talent and you will see that system created new Employee in Business Central immediately.