If you were one of the 2,375 attendees at Directions EMEA in Vienna, Austria in October 2019 for Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central partners, you would have witnessed Microsoft’s very apparent commitment to the platform throughout all their presentations.

A few interesting stats I noted was the 45% revenue growth over the past year for Business Central and that over 91% of Fortune 500 companies are using some part of Dynamics 365 or the Microsoft power platform. For those acquainted with Acumatica, one of its principal midmarket ERP cloud competitors, Microsoft already has more cloud ERP customers in less than two years after introducing the full Business Central product. There are now over 4,000 Business Central customers and over 450 add-on solutions offered.

 

 

The recent October 2019 release represents a huge watershed event. The old C/side legacy toolkit used in Dynamics NAV will be gone, although Microsoft is making promises of a path forward for partner solutions. Another big item is the absence of the Windows client option for both in-house and cloud solutions. Users will be expected to utilize the browser client. Personally, although the browser solution has had a few hiccups and was missing some keyboard shortcuts, those problems have been largely solved, to the point I now prefer to use the browser client. The new browser client works on a variety of browsers and allows you to configure the role center. This means you can quickly add bookmarks for changes to menus and customize actions on the role center, all without code.

 

Enhanced performance, supportability, stability, and security

Consistent with previous updates, the latest release offers significant improvements and investment in performance, supportability, stability, and security. One impressive thing to note was Microsoft’s response to suggested changes on the Dynamics 365 Ideas page from partners and customers. In the past six months, Microsoft has implemented over a hundred of the suggested ideas in the online list and nearly all of the higher rated items.

There are a number of interesting enhancements but one of the most exciting for international organizations is the ability to manage localized versions for many countries within one instance of Business Central. Previously, users would have had to change between instances to have access to different localizations of Business Central. Data can also be integrated between the various database instances by using Microsoft Flow.

 

Improved Sandbox environments and Intelligent Edge

Sandbox environments can now be easily set up as copies of production environments to use for testing and training. Be aware that you need to match the sandbox version with any apps you may think of using. As an example, the last published version of our equipment rental app is version 14, not the most current 15.  As a result, when I created a sandbox, I had to make sure I was matching the version of the last published rental app on AppSource.

Intelligent Edge can easily replicate data or create backups. It can now be used to create replicated online versions of Dynamics GP and Business Central. Previously it was able to replicate Dynamics NAV 2018 but that is no longer the case. This can work especially well when replicating databases from one regional version into another.

 

User Improvements on a practical level

The EMEA conference also summarized the major improvements for Setup and Data Migration, Application-wide, Finance, Sales, Purchasing, Inventory and Warehousing, and Extensibility.

A few of the more interesting of the 100+ improvements made for users in the last six months include the ability to:

  • Merge duplicate customers, vendors, or contacts (this requires a specific permission set)
  • Manually adjust column width in List view
  • Input longer names and descriptions (previously 50 characters max)
  • View item descriptions and customer/vendor names in ledger entries
  • Change descriptions on G/L entries
  • Post sales, purchases, and General Journals in the background
  • Adhere to better rules for expiry of sales quotes
  • Preview prepayment and corrective credit memos
  • Cancel reminders and finance charge memos
  • Use a new External Document Number field on aged Accounts Payable
  • View document attachments on customer and vendor ledger entries and during payment application
  • Email and resend remittance advice from the payment journal and vendor ledger entries
  • Configure reports for Warehousing
  • Control item creation from lookups on documents
  • Save Views on both lists and reports
  • Open up additional screens in a new browser with synchronization between related screens
  • Turn off requirement for consecutive number series, which can remove locking problems when several users need a number

 

Additionally, application shortcuts with tooltips are back, Notes is back, and consolidation of purchase lines before they hit the GL has been removed. Session timeout has been extended from 20 minutes to two hours, and a list of new countries have been added across the world.

 

Advanced Integration & Investment in Learning

As seems to be a regular theme, Business Central now offers improved integration with Customer Engagement and other Dynamics 365 products. The upgrade process has also been significantly improved.

Lastly, Microsoft announced they would be investing $250 million into marketing, skills, programs, and incentives. New learning materials are now available and further certifications will follow soon.

 

You can find more information on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central here.

 

 

*Malcolm Roach is President and CEO of Open Door Technology, a Microsoft partner based in Calgary, Alberta with offices all over the world. He is a professional accountant with a passion for business analysis and integration. He specializes in applying mid-market ERP software to grow organizations and improve business processes. You can contact Malcolm here.

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