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.
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.
I haven’t written s single blog post for some time and I definitely decided it will be my the last one. I’ve been writing on this blog for 8 years, but I started with another domain even a couple years earlier. In this period I’ve got some really valuable feedbacks with the huge impact on me and I want to thank all of you who read these articles or eventually post some comment/question.
I’ve made this decision as I joined Business Central product group as a Program Manager and when I have something to announce or say, it will be done through Microsoft official channels. I don’t want to bring anyone into an awkward situation by misinterpreting in some situations. Of course I’ll continue to use LinkedIn and Twitter for communication, but I’ll not continue with blogging.
But just to know, this blog will stay active minimum from two reasons:
There are still a lot of valuable information not related with specific version
And my son will continue to use this blog (he has already proved in a Dynamics business)
That means when you find new articles in the future, they will be written by my son Marko Totovic. I think it will be even more interesting in the future as he will bring some new topics and applications from Dynamics & Power Platform family. And just to know some of existing articles already has been written by him.
I think you we hear from me soon but using different types of communication. Meanwhile, give the opportunity to my son to show what he has to give you. totovic.com will continue in a new suit.
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…
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.
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:
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!
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:
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:
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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
You can make your Business Central data available as a data source in Power Apps or PowerAutomate 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.
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.
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.