Where is the limit in Business Central CRM capability when integrating it with D365 Sales? (part 2)

So, after introduction to this topic, it is time to continue with it and say when you would need to consider extending your Business Central with a license for Sales Professional.

First, what I would like to introduce you to is a small dictionary. The reason is that we have a few of the same, but they have different names. The reason is that Business Central is a financial-focused system, and all data you see in it are focused on your financial transactions with your clients. On the other side, Sales Professional is a Customer-Centric system, and all data in it is focused so that you can have a better view of your clients and make better relationships with them.

Business CentralSales Professional
ContactsContacts (only person)
CustomerAccount
VendorAccount
ItemsProducts
Unit of MeasureUnit Group

After the dictionary, you probably already have a perspective of the focus of each system, as I have previously mentioned.

But why should we stay on a dictionary when we can split all of the things and dive deep into the actual capabilities of a Sales Professional? You will have a better perspective after seeing what is different and when it would be nice to consider extending your Business Central with a Sales Professional license.

Contacts

So, first of all, if we focus on a Contact table, we will see that Contact can be both Company and Person in Business Central, but in the Sales Professional, Contact is only based on a Person.

But besides this difference key difference is the data that we see in both solutions. Sales Professionals have all data which is essential for a salesperson, for example, all recent Opportunities, general information about clients (Name, Email, Preferred Method of Contact, Address, Marital Status, Contact Preferences, Marketing Information of origin of Contact… etc.) and Timeline which I will explain in a separate section because it is on of the main features which are focused to the Sales Professional users.

We have some of the same information on the Business Central side, but all focus on different users. All data in Business Central is focused on a client’s financial data. Still, of course, it is not only financial stuff, there is some of the information that a Sales Professional has, but the whole UI is different and makes users first see relevant data for one ERP system.

Accounts

If we look at the Accounts (Customers/Vendors) situation, it’s like the Contacts. But the main difference is in the gettering Customer and Vendors to the one record, which is the crucial difference from where we can understand the different focus of these two solutions. As previously mentioned, several times, besides UI focus difference whole solution is for another type of user, and each of the solutions makes you look to the specific data which is most important for key users of each of them.

To better understand the difference, you can see that Sales Professional focuses on the Annual Revenue of the whole company, how many employees the company has, what is the company’s industry of the company… etc. Regarding all of this data, you can see that a Sales Professional focuses on adjusting your sales team to make even better sales to this client.

Lead

Lead does not exist in the Business Central, and Lead is our introduction to the Business Process Flow.

Let’s first start with the actual usage of the Leads, specially Leads for Business Central users. Lead is the first contact with some Account or Contact. This means that the salesperson has just talked with somebody, but they are still unsure if they can make actual sales, so we are creating Leads for the starting status. One of the most important things with leads is that they can be used with existing clients and those you don’t have in the system. Suppose contact has been made with someone you don’t have in the system. In that case, another does not create a Contact or Account until you qualify them for the next stage of negotiations, not synchronized as a Contact/Vendor/Account. You will not have several useless clients from whom you have never sold or bought anything in your Business Central. But for the salespersons, this is most important because they will start to negotiate and negotiate sales from here. While salespersons are trying to make as many sales as possible, there is a graphical process that takes them through precisely defined steps to focus on essential communication with potential clients. This graphical leading is called Business Process Flow.

All salespersons can Qualify or Disqualify a Lead. Qualification takes us to the Opportunity, where Contact and Account will be created if they don’t exist in the system already. And important is that Business Process Flow will continue regardless we are getting on to a different table.

Opportunity

From Opportunity, we are returning to the familiar thing we have in Business Central. Still, from the side of a Sales Professional, it depends on how far we will go with the Opportunity. Would we go to the moment to create a Quote inside Sales Professional, or will we leave all financially focused data to the Business Central?

Sales Professional is fully capable of giving a quote, order, and invoice, but as recommended, we should provide a quote from Sales Professional or leave only on the Opportunity level and go to the Business Central and make a Quote from here.

This is all up to you and your use case. It is important to know that all Items and Units of Measure are synced between both systems. All data is available on both sides, and you will receive it back to Sales Professional if you create Quotes in the Business Central. From the perspective of Business Process Flow, it is always there until you finish with this Opportunity and close it as Won or Lost.

Timeline

Timeline is one of the greatest strengths of Sales applications because you have it on all tables and can see all communication with a client. It doesn’t matter if it is regarding just Account or Contact communication or sales regarding the Opportunity or Lead. You can write it manually or make a Phone Call or Email Appointment. Still, more important, if you connect your Outlook with Sales, what can be created in just a setup connection, you can automatically generate all communication with clients and be informed about every and each communication that happens with a specific client.

And with the new release, you have Teams integration based on the table, which means that you can start the conversation which stays connected to the record, and everyone can see it and be informed of what you have to say about the Client or Sales Opportunity.

Conclusion of part 2.

We have passed key differences in some of the tables most used in collaborations for both systems. In the next blog post, I will explain to you how it is possible to make Data Synchronization and make basic integration of them both so that users can get full capabilities of both solutions and get the correct data in the right solution so that users of both solutions can have the best possible information’s which are related to them and that each company which has both of the solutions can make even usage of them both.

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Dynamics 365 Sales Professional Infographic

Recently I finished my session about using Dynamics 365 Sales professional with Business Central at Directions EMEA. But there were many questions about D365 Sales Professional capabilities… what is possible, where are limitations…

First, Sales Professional is a CRM solution for SMB companies targeting businesses with more straightforward sales needs with basic sales force automation and limited customizations. But it is still a powerful tool, and I wanted to show you what this app includes using an infographic model. You can see details here:

What more is essential to know? You cannot mix a Sales Professional license with Sales Enterprise (and other Sales licenses)… if you decide to use Sales Professional, you must use it for all Sales users. But if this is not enough for you (at some moment, your company has grown), you can upgrade this license to Dynamics 365 Sales Enterprise.

If you like this infographic, I’ll add a similar one for Sales Enterprise.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.