Is your business ready to take advantage of a much enhanced Microsoft ERP system that helps generate more useful value from your other Microsoft solutions and unifies your technology environment? The 2022 release wave 2 of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central became available earlier this fall. As companies are learning about the new capabilities and scheduling their upgrades, our Business Central experts discussed highlights of this release in a Sikich roundtable with a few clients and industry insiders. This article summarizes the main points of their conversation, which focused on the cloud version of Business Central.
Connecting the ecosystem
As all major releases of Business Central, this one features more than 90 enhancements that will make users’ lives easier and processes more efficient. If you want to see in detail what’s new in Business Central 2022 release wave 2, Microsoft offers a comprehensive overview.
What’s particularly remarkable about 2022 release wave 2 is how far it extends the ERP system into the wider Microsoft ecosystem. While maintaining a consistent, unified user experience, it has acquired many more connections with other solutions and environments, such as Microsoft Teams, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Power Apps, Microsoft Power Automate, and Microsoft Power BI. It also has become more robust, stable, and dependable, delivering what Microsoft calls “seamless service.” Microsoft has brought more efficiency to many financial and supply chain management processes. Developers will find a broader range of more powerful development tools. Version 21 of Business Central, as this upgrade is also known, is available in more countries and regions than its predecessors.
Enhancements across your operations
Some new capabilities in the application stand out for Sikich clients. For example:
You find clearer and more comprehensive matching rules in bank reconciliation. The solution now matches check entries from the bank with entries from the general ledger for greater accuracy. You also have expanded reporting capabilities and can take more precise snapshots when you work with reconciliations.
In journal entries and other transactions, you can now make variant codes mandatory for items with small variations that don’t require a new item number. You can also have a bill-of-materials (BOM) by variant, and the BOM will update automatically when you select a certain variant.
Microsoft expanded the functionality of picking for jobs, with more warehouse activities firmly correlated to jobs and project functions.
With multiple remit-to addresses for vendors, you can more easily send checks to the right location when vendors have multiple branches.
Business Central integrates with the popular Shopify ecommerce application out-of-the-box without requiring any middleware.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales and Business Central can now sync Sales Orders bi-directionally, no longer requiring a customization. This is a feature many Sikich clients asked for.
More power for expert and citizen developers
For developers, version 21 of Business Central greatly expands the range of resources for building solutions and evolving their companies’ ERP environments. For one thing, you now can connect Azure functions from AL code, which will make it much easier to create integrations with third-party solutions. With enhanced API services and integration options, you can accelerate and simplify integration building on the cloud platform. These integrations will be easier to maintain and manage through upgrades than those relying on middleware.
Overall, you can now rely on Business Central as the cornerstone of a technology environment with consistently efficient, valuable communications. By making greater use of the Microsoft Power Platform, Business Central in this version enables business users to create their own functionality. From within Business Central, they can work with Power Apps to build simple applications and automate workflows with Power Automate. You can quickly build new capabilities, test them, and keep refining them until they address users’ needs in the most efficient manner.
Automations, alerts, and notifications with varying degrees of urgency
We can expect that Sikich clients will make extensive use of the capabilities of Power Apps, Power BI, and Power Automate. For instance, they will be able to implement automated alerts and messages in response to events in the ERP system, such as inventory running low for certain items. In this release of Business Central, they can more easily use events in the ERP system to trigger notifications for people who are not Business Central users, as well as for other business systems. They can also reverse the flow of notifications to go from a third-party CRM or other solution into Business Central. Microsoft offers a large library of connectors for the different business systems and web applications that you can link to Business Central by using Power Automate. With enhanced support for document attachments in Power Automate, you can make greater use of images or other files which you can automatically generate and attach to invoices or other transactions in Business Central.
For many companies, management by exceptions and urgent actions prompted by automations will be valuable. You can adjust your Business Central workflows built with Power Automate to generate a notification to process stakeholders if, for example, an invoice is not approved, but rejected. That allows people to act quickly and keep business processes moving. You also can create workflows that draw on Power BI to collate data from the ERP system and multiple other sources, delivering notifications in response to certain events or thresholds in Outlook or Teams.
For decision-makers relying on dashboards, Business Central in this release makes it easier to include multiple, independent Power BI charts in dashboards. Embedding Power BI into your Business Central dashboards offers more versatile and powerful options for reporting and visualization.
ERP comes to Teams and Excel
The newest Business Central release more closely connects the ERP solution with Microsoft Teams—which uses the same back-end technology as Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint—and makes documents and other files available in the Teams collaborative environments on mobile, handheld, and desktop devices. That capability will greatly increase the usefulness of ERP information and capabilities for more users, business groups, and even external, trusted parties, especially given that you don’t necessarily need to purchase more licenses to use it. We can imagine that our clients’ field service workers, production floor staff, logistics teams, and others will benefit from Business Central data surfaced in Teams.
If you like to work in Microsoft Excel, you can now efficiently edit data in that application. By clicking a “publish” button, you can save your changes directly to Business Central. Business Central validates data before posting it. You can designate business partners as well as employees as trusted administrators who can use this Excel editing capability.
Efficient saving of changes, enhanced search
Multiple users can work in Business Central version 21 and automatically see their changes saved without taking additional steps to do so. Depending on how you configure Business Central in your organization, you can keep some changes and document or table versions auditable in a log. As the ERP system immediately reflects changes that may trigger events or activities, developers will need to adjust how they write code related to these capabilities. Over time, that will likely improve the quality and robustness of coding.
One other update many users will appreciate is a new, powerful search function in company data, although it won’t be available until March of 2023. Given the right access permissions, you will be able to more easily find company information across different instances of Business Central. As Microsoft points out in its release overview, workers spend as much as 20 percent of their time looking for information. This enhancement will give them more productive time in their day.
Here to help
You should act now to take advantage of the upgrade. Microsoft launched Business Central 2022 release wave 2 on October 1. The last date to schedule your update is December 1, 2022. If you happen to miss the upgrade window, Microsoft will propagate the upgrade, but promises to remove it if a private-tenant or Microsoft Store extension causes it to fail. Sikich can help you troubleshoot and resolve any upgrade issues.
Ensuring smooth upgrades.
Before you go live with any Business Central upgrade capabilities, you need to ensure that they will work unproblematically and as expected in your technology environment. If you aren’t certain that the upgrade will run smoothly or would like assistance, you can call on Sikich. We receive advance releases of planned Business Central and other upgrades, reviewing them closely for potential concerns. For clients, we can perform thorough regression testing to ensure that upgrades will work flawlessly within their environments. The Sikich services team can work with you to bring any customizations into a new ERP version, simplify update rollouts, and ensure the security and dependability of your ERP system.
Right-size licensing for your company.
Licensing can be complicated, and it’s easy to miss some opportunities for savings. As Business Central interoperates so much more closely with solutions like Teams, Microsoft 365, the Power Platform, your licensing considerations change. We can help you take advantage of the licensing structure that most benefits your business.
Share your ideas and requests!
Microsoft is very interested in hearing from the users and companies working with Business Central. You can submit your ideas to Microsoft directly, and also share them with Sikich, if you like. We are always in touch with the executives that drive development and innovation for Business Central; they are very open to hearing from the partner community and learning about the experiences of their clients.
As you plan your next move, you can: