Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Overview. I attended a 2 day deep dive on Business Central at Microsoft in Manhattan and wanted to share an overview of this new offering. Microsoft Business Central is a full, cloud-based ERP & accounting application. It is the cloud version of Microsoft Navision which has been available for many years. The market for Business Central is companies that need much more than QuickBooks but are not an enterprise organization (or those who don’t need Enterprise ERP functionality). The solution is great for organizations who need robust sales (quote to cash), accounting, purchasing, warehouse and light manufacturing capabilities.
There are 3 levels of licensing, Team Member, Essential, and Premium each with different price points.
Main areas of functionality:
- Opportunity Management
- General Ledger
- Accounts Receivable
- Accounts Payable
- Project Management
- Fixed Assets
- Purchasing Order Management
- Resource Management
- Contact Management
- Simple Inventory
- Advanced Sales (SO)
- Advanced Inventory (stock)
Team Member - $8 - light use, approve Time & Expense, read business reports, lookup customer and inventory data
Essential - $70 - All main features except manufacturing and service order management
Premium $100 - All main features including manufacturing and service order management
Microsoft nailed the user interface, it is clean, easy to navigate, simple to personalize and offers powerful features like Excel integration on list views. The documents like invoices, quotes etc. are all based on Microsoft Word, easy to maintain.
One of the big “WOW” factors is the Outlook email integration. When you send or receive an email in Outlook you can click the Business Central icon to display information like sales, open orders etc. The Outlook integration works in the full desktop version of Outlook as well as Outlook Web Access. You can perform end-to-end workflow without ever leaving Outlook. For example quote to cash. A sales rep receives an email asking for a quote, without leaving the email she can generate a quote and send it. If the recipient replies and asks to place the order you can click one button “Convert to Order or Invoice”. Very powerful and will become the gold standard in my opinion.
You can invite your accountant to use Business Central as well without additional costs. The downside is that most accountants will not yet be familiar with Business Central like they are with QuickBooks.
The mobile app does not disappoint, it is a full use application designed for mobile devices supporting Apple, Android and Microsoft mobile devices.
There is solid integration with PowerBI and even free content packs available with a lot of prebuilt dashboards and reports. You can easily add a PowerBI chart to many areas of Business Central.
Intelligence is also at work in Business Central. An example of this is when quoting an item, if the quantity quoted would exceed the available stock a warning is displayed. Quick Insights is a component of Power BI which provides additional insights based on trends, historical and provides forecasts. The insights feature is built on a growing set of advanced analytical algorithms developed in conjunction with Microsoft Research that we’ll continue to use to allow more people to find insights in their data in new and intuitive ways. I love the send to PowerPoint function. If you are going to a meeting and need to present reports/charts this is a great feature. It pushes chart data right to PowerPoint and makes the charts live so if you have Internet access you can drill from PowerPoint right to Business Central. There is even an image analyzer tool. The image analyzer will scan an image of an item and recommend substitute items along with a confidence score. This is part of the Cortana intelligence integration.
PowerApps and Flow can be used to build simple apps (like a mobile inventory app) or to connect Business Central to other systems/cloud services. Of course, there is integration with Dynamics 365 for sales to share Account, Quote, Order, Invoice, Product data and other data elements.
Microsoft is unifying business applications in Dynamics 365 enabling organizations to reduce the number of systems in use. This solves a lot of challenges around better management of workflows/business processes, better ability to market and much better business intelligence capabilities. You will see this platform take off and grab large chunks of market share over the next few years.
I am very impressed with this offering, if you have not seen Business Central yet and are thinking about replacing your current ERP/accounting system I would be happy to show it to you.
About the Author: David Buggy is a veteran of the CRM industry with 18 years of experience helping businesses transform by leveraging Customer Relationship Management technology. He has over 14 years experience with Microsoft CRM and has helped hundreds of businesses plan, implement and support CRM initiatives. In 2017 he founded Strava Technology Group, a firm that is focused on helping businesses achieve success with Microsoft CRM and Dynamics 365. To reach David connect with him on LinkedIn. To learn more about Strava Technology Group visit www.stravatechgroup.com