Home Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customize Wisely: Best Practices for Configuring Dynamics 365 Business Central

Customize Wisely: Best Practices for Configuring Dynamics 365 Business Central

by Mark Mendez
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dynamics 365 business central customization

Dynamics 365 Business Central customization provides extensive configuration options to tailor the solution to your business needs.

However, determining when to customize Business Central versus using native configuration can impact upgradability.

Let’s look at some leading practices to optimize Business Central implementations.

Analyzing Requirements in Detail

The first step is gathering detailed requirements across all impacted groups – sales, operations, finance etc. Some key aspects to analyze:

Documenting Current Pain Points and Challenges

Conduct workshops and interviews with users to understand their day-to-day challenges. Identify limitations of current systems that frustrate users and reduce productivity.

Mapping Expected Benefits to Business Priorities

Link expected benefits from Business Central to concrete business priorities and outcomes. For example, faster month-end close and real-time visibility into profitability supports better decision making.

Reviewing Current Workflows and Processes

Document the end-to-end workflows for key processes such as order-to-cash, procure-to-pay etc. Outline how data, documents and tasks flow between users.

Compiling Data and Integration Requirements

Catalog all critical data elements needed, including master data attributes, transactional data requirements, associated validation rules etc. Also detail integration needs with other enterprise systems.

This requirements analysis provides the foundation for configuration and customization.

Leveraging Out-of-the-Box Features First

Business Central provides extensive built-in functionality across financials, inventory, manufacturing, sales, services and more.

When evaluating requirements, always start by checking if any native features can meet the needs:

Using Standard Entities and Attributes

Review whether Business Central’s standard customer, vendor, item and other entities along with their attributes fulfil the identified data requirements.

Aligning to Embedded Workflows

Assess if Business Central’s 100+ built-in workflows for various processes like purchase approvals, sales quotes, invoicing etc. address the documented business workflows.

Evaluating Power BI and Reporting

Explore embedded Power BI dashboards, charts, reports etc. to determine if they can provide the analytics and visibility elements required by business users.

Researching Extensions from Microsoft and Partners

Check the Power Apps marketplace for extensions that add functionality in your required area without needing custom code.

Focusing on out-of-the-box capabilities first reduces the need for customization.

Weighing Customization vs Configuration Tradeoffs

For requirements that cannot be fully met by standard Business Central, the next step is analyzing the pros and cons of customization versus configuration options:

Comparing Implementation Time and Cost

Customizations have higher upfront costs, both in terms of dollars and implementation time needed. Configurations can be delivered faster.

Evaluating Integration and Testing Needs

Integrating customizations with core Business Central and ensuring full testing requires more effort compared to configuring default features.

Considering User Training Needs

As users need to be trained on customizations but are already familiar with out-of-the-box features, configuration minimizes training workload.

Maintaining and Upgrading

Customizations increase long-term maintenance overhead. They also complicate future upgrades, requiring rework and retesting.

Assessing Future Flexibility

Configurations provide more flexibility to adjust system functioning without code changes. Customizations tend to be more rigid and difficult to alter.

This trade-off analysis helps guide the right approach.

Configuration Best Practices

For requirements where configuration is the better fit, some leading practices include:

Adjusting Fields for Optimal Usage

Make simple adjustments like changing field lengths, formats, optional versus mandatory as per needs to optimize data entry and reporting.

Tailoring Page Layouts to Task Flow

Reorganize FastTabs, fields, actions etc. on key pages to better match actual workflows and usage patterns.

Tuning Table Relationships

Modify table relationships and keys based on how data needs to be connected across Business Central.

Setting Up Access Groups and Privileges

Align user roles and access groups with current team structures and access needs. Tailor privileges to job functions.

Defining Number Sequences

Set up number sequences for transaction ids, documents etc. as per business rules for standardization.

Building Custom Summary Reports

Use built-in reporting tools to create filtered summary reports for routine business reporting needs.

These configurations allow simple enhancements without coding.

When Customization Becomes Essential

For requirements where only customization can meet the need, some examples include:

Advanced Business Logic and Calculation Requirements

Complex domain-specific rules and computations may require custom code for proper implementation.

Tight Integration with External Systems

Customization maybe needed for specialized integration beyond OOB connectors for core enterprise systems.

Niche Analytics and Reporting Needs

Very specific BI needs with custom data mashups, visualizations etc. may warrant custom tables, queries, reports etc.

Missing Fundamental Capabilities

Gaps requiring large modules or foundational feature sets would need substantial customization.

Specialized Workflow Automation

Highly specific process automation needs unlikely to be required by other customers and could require tailored custom workflows.

In these cases, customization is warranted to fill major gaps.

Protecting Customizations Long-Term

When customization is unavoidable, some tips for easier maintainability include:

Isolating Custom Objects in Separate Extensions

Keep custom tables, pages, code units, etc. together in their own extensions. This makes them easier to identify and manage.

Extensive Comments and Consistent Naming

Comment on custom code extensively for clarity. Use clear naming conventions to reflect purpose and facilitate maintenance.

Designing for Future Extensibility

Build in hooks, extension points, and abstractions to allow easier enhancement of customizations later.

Detailed Documentation

Document all customizations in a central wiki or document repository detailing the purpose, design, dependencies, etc. for ongoing reference.

These practices reduce the overhead of maintaining customizations long-term.

By first leveraging Business Central’s extensive out-of-the-box capabilities and using configuration over customization wherever possible, organizations can optimize their Dynamics 365 investments for agility and scalability.

Involving both business and technical teams in the analysis and decision process helps strike the right balance between functionality and maintainability.

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