Better Together | Microsoft D365 Business Central & The Modern Workplace (Video)
Learn about how Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Microsoft Teams and the Power Platform work better together for the modern workplace. Encore presents an overview of the ERP solution Dynamics 365 Business Central, showing how it integrates with Power Platform solutions like Power Apps, Power BI and Power Automate. Clear Concepts demonstrates the integration of Business Central information with Microsoft Teams to enable better collaboration, faster decision making, and improved customer experiences.
Encore Business Solutions brings over 30 years of experience with Microsoft Dynamics solutions. Clear Concepts Modern Workplace practice can help unleash the power of Microsoft 365 and foster an environment of learning and sharing in a sustained, incremental way.
Ryan: All right, good morning, everybody. It is the top of the hour, it’s time to get this show on the road and get things started. We’re gathered here today, if you will, for an interesting session, an interesting topic. And I think a really exciting experience and exciting opportunity to, as we’ve marketed, do things better together. So an interesting combination today of Dynamics 365 Business Central, and The Modern Workplace, again, digital transformation. Those are the types of topics we are gonna be talking about today.
Just a few bits and bobs of housekeeping before we get into the presentation. We are using Microsoft Teams live events. If you’re new to this experience, we do have a Q&A module, just look for the little chat icon with a question mark. And you can send us your questions throughout today’s event. If you’d like to ask one of the presenters a question, if you got a technical question, a sales question, whatever it happens to be, drop those in the Q&A module.
And don’t worry, don’t be embarrassed, there are no silly questions. All of the questions actually come to the moderators here first privately. And if your question is good, we will share that with the rest of the crowd. And you can also like and give thumbs up to questions that you think are valuable as well.
And last but not least, we will record this webinar. The session today will be recorded and available both from Encore and from Clear Concepts. So if you do have to duck out, if the phone rings, if Amazon package shows up on the doorstep, and you gotta go get it, by all means, you can dip away if you have to, and you can always catch up on the recording later on.
All right, so my name is Ryan Bialek. If you’re coming from the Clear Concepts…if you’re coming as a Clear Concepts guest you probably have heard my voice before on our Modern Workplace series. I’m joined by a couple of great gentlemen from Encore Business Solutions, Ziad Paracha, and Pierre Manaigre, and they are both from Encore.
We’re gonna take turns throughout the hour today and again sort of break the topics into three different chunks. Ziad talking about Business Central and Power Platform, myself talking about Modern Workplace and digital transformation. And then we’ve actually really set the stage here for Pierre to do a lot of demo again in Dynamics 365 Business Central, and in some of the Power Platform-specific apps as well. So, gentlemen, thank you so much for joining me, and we will keep things moving along.
Again, for Clear Concepts guests new to hearing Encore again, Better Together, we’re not just talking about Modern Workplace and Business Central being better together, this is an exciting opportunity for Encore Business Solutions to come together with Clear Concepts again, that better together approach.
And so if you haven’t heard about Encore Business Solutions before, over 30 years of experience with Dynamics and the Microsoft platform. A massive team, over 100 business and technical professionals that do provide award-winning solutions focused on ERP, CRM, and Business Intelligence. They’re a very sweet spot with Microsoft Dynamics 365. Over 1,100 Dynamics implementations completed in their history. And Encore has offices in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary, and Seattle as well.
If you are an Encore guest, welcome, thank you so much for joining us. Again, if you’re new to hearing Clear Concepts or that’s a new name for you, we’re just celebrating our 20th year of business. We’re just over the 50 employee mark. And that includes folks in tech support, as well as our cloud and adoption areas, and specialists in those focus areas. We do have an award-winning approach to adoption and transformation, Microsoft 365. And we’re well over 10,000 seats that we’ve migrated to the cloud in the last number of years. And our head office is right here center of the country in fantastic Winnipeg.
So if you wanna use the Q&A module, drop us a line, let us know where you are joining us from the country. If you’re in Manitoba, if you’re out east or out west, feel free to drop us a line in the event Q&A. If you’re having troubles today with any of the audio any of the visuals, Teams live events does work best if you just close it out and rejoin. So that’s sort of my last tip there.
And today’s agenda before I toss things over to Ziad. Again, we’re gonna break down Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. We’re going to talk Power Platform and give you an overview of the bits and pieces to that platform. I’ll come back to talk about the Modern Workplace. And as mentioned, Pierre is gonna do some demonstration and talk about a number of scenarios that you may encounter or may want to further explore using all of the solutions that we talk about today. So on that Ziad, over to you.
Ziad: Thanks, Ryan. Thanks very much. And welcome everybody to our live event here today. Dynamics 365 Business Central. And on the next slide, before we talk about what Business Central is, I wanted to kind of give you an overview of all the Dynamics 365 products that you may be familiar with.
So in the next slide, you could see there are various applications that are unified together in this mechanism where it’s a modern unified interface. You’ve got all these applications from Microsoft Finance, Supply Chain Management to Microsoft Talent, which is really just attract and onboard, which has been amalgamated to Dynamics HR. There’s Microsoft CRM functionalities, and ERP functionalities, as well as this Power Platform just coming in, in a unified type of interface.
On to the next slide, we can see all of these applications coming together in a way…some of these names might be familiar to you. Talent is now HR, but all the other ones, Customer Service, Sales, Finance and Operations, now Finance and Supply Chain Management, you know, all of these are Dynamics solutions. So there’s a wealth of various types of implementations that take place.
Today’s focus is gonna be on one of these ERP systems, known as Business Central. And Business Central, you know, it came from Navision or NAV, in formerly other product names. But Business Central in the next slide here gives you an overview of what the system really is. So it’s centralized data from finance, sales, service, and operations, and all of these various modules coming together into this ERP system, really for the small, medium-sized, and even some of the smaller enterprise level type businesses as well. And really allows you to be able to create that all-in-one type of business solution.
And so some of the modules that are included are, to do with finance, you get your regular AR, AP, all of your financial management type of modules. You’ve got your project management, operation management, you got reporting and analytics. There are some pre-built Power BI functionality that’s embedded inside of Business Central. And we’ll kind of talk about some of those capabilities as well, in our demo. You’ve got sales and service management, supply chain management.
And then there’s premium versions where you’ve got, you know, various manufacturing and service management type of modules as well to accommodate for all the needs. At a high level, that’s what Business Central can provide, a holistic, unified interface that is integrated with the rest of your Microsoft 365 solutions and allows you to be able to effectively operate your enterprise resource management solution for your business.
In the next slide here, we’ll talk about the Power Platform. And Microsoft has introduced the functionality and the capabilities within Power Platform to allow you to essentially close and complete the rest of your Microsoft solution. So there’s four primary solutions that we’ll kind of dive into detail with. In the next slide, we could see Power Automate, Power Apps, Power BI, as well as Power Virtual Agents.
And Power BI really is your business analytics tool. So this allows you to be able to visualize dashboards, create reports, have real-time analytics, all on the go, you can access them anywhere. Same with Power Apps, the design of Power Apps is to allow a low-code environment for you to build, you know, from scratch all model-driven type applications that you can utilize. And the concept here is, again, low-code to no code. So citizen development where you don’t really need a developing certification or experience to be able to create these applications. That’s the power of Power Apps.
Power Automate I always think of this as the glue between everything. It’s the integration tool, it’s the tool that allows you to automate tasks, automate your transactions. You know, if there’s a rudimentary or mundane type of transactions that take place in your organization, there has to be a way through Power Automate to be able to automatically do that for you to increase not only efficiency but also utilize your time to the best capacity.
Power Virtual Agent, this is your intelligent virtual bots or your virtual agents. We’ll talk a little bit about this as well in the next few slides. What’s really important here to kind of capture is, you’ve got these four major application solutions and services that are all connected, and can connect with various different solutions as well. So you can integrate the power of Power Platform with something like Business Central, and all of the other Dynamics solutions that I had in the previous slide, amongst other data connectors as well.
So we can create custom data connectors if there aren’t already pre-built data connectors. And there’s well over 300 data connectors that exist. And the power of this is that you’ve got data that is now residing in Dataverse, which is commonly known as the Common Data Center as well. And that common data service allows you to be able to access that data anywhere, right. And we’ll kind of talk about this in the Modern Workplace as well.
So when we see Power Platform, and all of the applications within Power Platform be integrated with Dynamics Business Central, be integrated with a collaborative tool like Microsoft Teams, it gives you the unified kind of interface to operate out of. And that’s all done through Dataverse.
In the next slide, we’ll kind of break down each of these applications further as well, in terms of Power Automate and what it can do for you. Power Automate again, creating those automatic workflows, giving you those multi-step flows and approval requests, allowing you to be able to securely make those transactions.
Power Apps again, as a summary allows you to easily build those apps, create those integrations, connect to any sort of data sets that are available. And Power BI, of course, allows you to be able to create those custom visualizations, and access them anywhere, whether they be on your laptop, your tablet, your mobile devices. And really create them on the go as well, and be able to see a real-time view of your entire organization.
Power Virtual Agents allows you to be able to create virtual chatbots with very minimal or no coding at all required, interact with your customers, interact with your employees through these intelligent bots, using some of the AI-powered chatbots to resolve whether it be, you know, issues or concerns or questions that may come in. Or build some of these custom workflows through these bots to reduce costs and automate, you know, common type of inquiries or tasks as well. More on that as well. I’ll pass it over to my friend Ryan to talk more about the power of Modern Workplace. And we’ll go from there.
Ryan: Thanks Ziad. So some interesting potential I think. Before we jump into Modern Workplace, just a few thoughts here. When you talk to customers, when you talk to prospective customers on Business Central, and they’re coming from something like a Sage product or a QuickBooks product. Do you find that it’s these additional functions around Power Platform, around these integrations, around automation, is that the secret sauce, is that what pushes this solution that much further over the top?
Ziad: Absolutely. So Power Platform’s got that ability to connect to a whole bunch of different solutions, that power of Dataverse, the power of Modern Workloads connected to it, all of that really pushes it right above the waters here. Really, really powerful tools. And really, it not only allows you…you know, with the no-code policies here, I mean, there’s ways for you to create this from scratch. There’s model-driven stuff that already exists. You can literally just connect it to your system and start utilizing it within minutes. Whereas it would have taken, you know, lots of hours and effort traditionally to be able to do this. Absolutely, Ryan, you nailed it right on the head there.
Ryan: Perfect. And thank you so much Ziad. And I’m happy that I left this slide on while you were kind of going through it. So what is digital transformation? I get asked this a lot as part of our modern workplace practice, we talk about digital transformation a lot. And so this is a snippet I’ve borrowed from our friends at Microsoft, obviously.
Digital transformation is that reimagining of how you bring together people, data, and processes to create value for customers, maintaining a competitive advantage. You know, maybe it’s not just customers, maybe it’s patients, maybe it’s students. All of these different types of users and folks that we interact with and keeping things in the digital-first world.
So going back to what Ziad mentioned about citizen developers, that’s a digital capability. That’s sort of a really interesting muscle that your organization can flex without the cost and the overhead of doing really complicated development. Really democratizes these capabilities so that SMBs can have some very, very impressive, and useful features and capabilities for their customers, students, patients, and so on.
So to keep in mind, that is what we consider digital transformation as we go through here and take a look at modern workplace. I like to think about modern workplace and I like to think about digital transformation as a journey. It may seem like a never-ending journey. It may seem like you’re gonna take a few pitstops and enjoy the scenery along the way. But the goal is to keep moving forward one step at a time, follow a route. Your plan, your journey may be different than the next organization and that’s okay. It’s a very unique, and it’s a very personal experience even right down to the user.
And so that journey has some rewards, some very, very tangible rewards. You can see this wheel graphic here in the center of the screen, and then some sort of modern workplace outcomes around the edge of the screen. But think about what we have to do as we digitally transform, we have to support the work styles of all of our different users. Now we’ve got five or six different generations all working together in our organization. Certainly, with the pandemic and COVID, we’ve had to change, and adapt, and mold to different work styles. And that’s certainly been an interesting experience for many, many organizations.
If you take a look around the next ring of outcomes, digital capabilities, again, not sticking to paper and paper-based processes. Operational efficiency, we’ve got folks here…we probably have a good group of financially focused individuals in attendance today. So we want to talk about operational efficiency, can we do things faster with less effort? Can we empower our employees to deliver a better customer service experience? Can we engage with our customers in different ways? And can our leadership be effective by making decisions, transitions, acquisitions, using data that comes from the systems that we already have?
And then that last ring or sort of those little wedges, if you will, are some of the more tangible outcomes that we do aim for on our modern workplace journey. Like becoming automated, doing more with less, doing more with less human intervention, if we can, you know, trust some of those mundane processes to automation in a solution like Power Automate.
Being collaborative. If you haven’t heard of Microsoft Teams is this really, really important sort of keystone to this collaborative journey that we’re on. And it’s not just chat and meetings, it’s about conversation. It’s about sharing. It’s about getting everybody together and working on the right thing at the right time, with the right context.
Being consolidated. Obviously, there’s a very strong Microsoft flavor to our presentation today. But we feel that vendor consolidation, platform consolidation is a very, very important part of this modern workplace journey as well. Not having to worry about vendor sprawl, not having to worry about shadow IT, and having your employees use all sorts of things and spreading your data out all over the place. Consolidation is an important topic as well.
The pandemic absolutely taught us about resiliency, being able to change on the fly, changing business models, changing how we approach customers, and how we deal with employees. And so being on the cloud, that elasticity of the cloud, the flexibility of the cloud can certainly help organizations become more resilient.
And then the last few data-driven again, perfect scenario today, we have all sorts of data in our financial systems, in our ERP systems, let’s use that data to make some interesting decisions. And so Pierre is gonna do in his demo, a few scenarios where we use some data to make some decisions. So being data-driven is a huge key to the modern workplace.
Obviously, security, you can’t flip through the news, it seems you can’t go on LinkedIn without hearing of another breach, another ransomware attack, another phishing exploit that’s out in the wild. And again, a lot of trust in the Microsoft platform for being highly secure, and keeping your company’s data private where it needs to be.
And last but not least is, is accessible. And this is sort of a two for one if you will. Accessible both in terms of being able to get to your data. Again, not being on an on-premise system that can only be accessed from your place of work or from your headquarters. So having your data in the cloud means you can get to it from anywhere.
But the other half of accessibility is giving a voice to all of our users and making sure that users with varying abilities, physical or otherwise, are able to fully participate in the collaboration, in the automation, in the data decisions. And so we are, again, in modern workplace very concerned with all of the users being at the technology table.
All right, so, again, in modern workplace, we talk a lot about outcomes, we talk a lot about the things that we’d like to see. Again, we’ve planted our flag, if you will, in the three Microsoft clouds, Microsoft 365, and Office 365, Azure for infrastructure and platform development. And as you can see from Ziad’s introduction, the Dynamics 365 family is pretty large, and pretty broad, and does have a lot of solutions. But without adoption, we won’t have transformations. We have amazing tools, but we have to lean into our users adopting these tools to their fullest, to really drive transformation for our organizations.
And so that’s really what our focus is. And my team’s focus here at Clear Concepts, and our mobile or modern workplace team is we support adoption and transformative services, if you will, digital transformation as a service. And what we do at the end of the day is support organizations on their cloud journey. And this is primarily for organizations adopting or wanting to squeeze sort of the most return on investment out of Office 365, and Microsoft 365 plans.
Our service is an ongoing program that’s meant to sort of accelerate collaboration. Again, Teams is a huge, huge, huge part of what we talk about. SharePoint, absolutely. Power Platform, I have to tell you, I have not stopped talking about automation. I’m probably driving all my colleagues nuts already. I haven’t stopped talking about automation and Power Apps, and Power BI for the last four or five months. But there’s so much value and it unlocks so much potential in our customer organizations.
And last but not least, we are again keen on fostering a culture that’s suited to the needs of today’s modern worker. And again, that’s multiple generations that work together. Some people like to message and chat back and forth all day. Some people prefer a video call. And some people still like email. And there’s also a growing crowd of people that would love to have less email throughout their workday. And so we’ll see some scenarios of that in Pierre’s demo as well.
So, last little pitch from my side on Clear Concepts, if you do want to learn more about our adoption and transformative services, if you visit mowo.ca, everything is well laid out there. And let’s take a quick look at the Q&A. If you guys wanna get any questions in on Business Central so far, or on modern workplace so far, we’ll take a minute or so a gap here, and then we’ll turn things over to Pierre for some demos.
Right Pierre, if you want to, take it off. I’ll do my best to stay in the Q&A folks if you wanna drop any questions in there as we go along. And Pierre, if you wanna share your screen, and you’ll be ready to go.
Pierre: Great. Thank you, Ryan. Good day, everyone. And thank you for attending our demonstration today. As Ryan mentioned, my name is Pierre Manaigre and I’m a technical pre-sales for Power Platform at Encore Business Solutions. And I’ve been in IT for 30 years, so I’ve definitely seen a lot of the evolution from the old-style offices where we had just maybe a handful of computers to the modern workplace that’s occurring today where it’s a mobile-first world. And allowing companies to be a lot more agile and responsive to changing trends in terms of their customer demands, as well as just being able to allow people to have a more work-life balance as well and being able to accommodate that for them.
So what we’re going to be looking at is several different products as Ziad and Ryan have mentioned. So we’re gonna take a look at Power Apps, of course, Power Automate, and Power BI. Unfortunately, today, we won’t be diving into Power Virtual Agents or Power Apps portals, which is a website capability that allows you to connect to your customers and your vendors externally to your back office and then can kind of enhance that experience as well. And the AI Builder as Ziad had mentioned allows you to incorporate some Azure artificial intelligence and machine learning into the capability of your bots.
So Microsoft Business Central is one of the many ERP systems that Microsoft does have, and there’s a number of out-of-the-box capabilities as well. And what it allows you to do is to kind of leverage that ability to be in different products, Microsoft products, and still gain access to the data. So a lot of people don’t really want to be shifting their applications, you know, being in Outlook and then going somewhere else into say Microsoft Teams, and then going somewhere else.
So basically, what they’re wanting to do is give you the ability to interact at least at a surface level with some of the data that you have in different applications from within each of those applications. So that way, it makes you a little bit more effective in terms of your job, a little bit more efficient.
Now, with Business Central, there’s basically a number of different roles available. So what I’m gonna do here is quickly go to Settings. Now I’m in the business manager role and the reason for that is because what we’re going to work with today is relevant to that. But you can also set your role as accountant, or sales order professional, or processor, etc. And it’s going to go and tailor-make that experience for you with the different dashboards and summaries that it is gonna go and provide to you.
And there is a Power BI component here. I apologize, it’s not surfacing any data because of the date that I’ve chosen. But you can see already that Power BI is incorporated within Business Central. And again, it’s going to be more of a summary capability that allows you to see things at a glance. But anytime that you wanna interact more with your reports and visualize your data, you’re gonna wanna go into that rich experience of the Power BI product itself.
So what we’ll do is we’re going to showcase the Business Central Power BI content pack that Encore has available for purchase for their Business Central customers. And before we dive into that, I just wanna show you a Power BI feature, if you’re not familiar with the website yet. So here if you hover your mouse, you see that there’s a star there, so you can add or remove that to your favorites. So I’ve gone ahead and done that, just because I wanna highlight all the three different items within our content pack. But just to show you that you can have all of your reports here at a glance in a single space. And you can go ahead and have them available so you don’t have to navigate to all the different workspaces that you might have or other reports that are shared with you.
Now, there’s different licensing components for Power Platform and some of what I’m going to show today is available for free, some of it is not. And so what I wanna highlight here first in the Power BI section is there is a Power BI free capability that will allow you to connect to what’s called non-premium data sources. And you’ll see that in just a short moment once we go ahead and dive into the Power Apps section of the demonstration.
So Power BI free, you can go ahead, create your own reports, you can then work with the data yourself. As soon as you wanna share that data with your colleagues basically share the report out to them, you’re going to need what’s called a Power BI Pro or a Power BI Premium license.
Power BI Premium license has everything that Power BI Pro has, but it adds the additional items of dedicated computation resources, or paginated reports, other features like that. Really, it’s meant for extremely large data sets or reports. Most of you I don’t think will be using Premium, but it is available for purchase on a per-user basis so it has made it a lot more attainable.
And that’s the beautiful thing about the cloud is that essentially, a lot of the resources that companies used to have access to, it was really only the fortune 500 companies who could afford this type of infrastructure. And what the cloud operators have done is they’ve made this accessible to smaller businesses as well. And so Power BI Premium is one of those features where it’s really meant for larger companies, but the pricing point has come down a lot. So you could use it as your smaller company if you so desired.
Now you see here I have a trial that’s activated. So you can do this as well. If you wanna start exploring some of the Premium features, you can activate your 60-day trial. And then just know at the end of that trial that, you know, you won’t be able to access those reports or features anymore. But this is a Premium trial. So if you decided after your trial that you wanted to continue, you may want to explore downgrading to a Power BI Pro license just for cost-effectiveness.
And then same with Power Apps, etc., you can go ahead and activate the trials there as well. I believe Power Apps is currently capped at 30 days. And also if you want to explore Power Apps in more detail you can create a free membership to Power Apps community. And you can go and explore to your heart’s content and learn Power Apps.
The only caveat there is Power Apps community, you cannot bring anything Power Apps-related that you’ve created there, into your…you cannot import it into your production environment, you’ll need to recreate it. But it does give you a free mechanism to go ahead and learn, you know, the products and how to integrate with them and start your journey.
So for the content pack, we’ve got it broken down into three different areas. So this is what a financial professional may wanna look at, what a purchasing professional may want to look at. And what a sales professional may want to look at. And this content pack is ever-evolving. So we do have additional features that we’re adding to it. And we also have customer feedback that is going to go ahead and provide some additional details as well as to how they would like to see the product evolve over time. And we’re also using this content pack to kind of fill in some of the gaps in terms of Business Central reporting and capabilities, just to enhance that for our users.
So if you’re not familiar with Power BI, there’s a number of different items available for you. If you navigate through the menu, you can save a copy, or print the page, or even embed the report into SharePoint online. So as Ryan mentioned before, it’s one Microsoft vision. So if you want to have this report in SharePoint online for your users to see, then you can go ahead. Website or Portal. So we talked briefly about Power Apps portals and how that can connect your external users and partners to your website. And so they can get additional details in terms of their account or other things that you may want to surface for them.
And Publish to the Web, this one is a little dangerous. I caution you on that. It does allow anonymous access. So if you think about, for example, using a topic of today, like all the websites, you may go to for COVID statistics, etc. A lot of those are just basically Power BI websites that are set to publish to the web. So there is a time and place for that feature. But definitely, it’s something to be aware of that you may not want to do your business data on there.
Now, again, you can export directly into PowerPoint presentations if you’re giving an executive overview, etc. You can export to PDF if you need to provide these reports in a view-only fashion for non-Power BI Pro users. So again, not everybody needs to interact with reports within your organization so you may not have to license everybody for Power BI Pro.
But people who are report designers, the ones who are going to create the reports. And they do that on this product here called Power BI Desktop, which is a free download from microsoft.com. So anybody who’s a report designer, as well as those who need to interact with the data that I’m going to be doing here will require that Power BI Pro license.
And you can also chat in Microsoft Teams. So you can directly start a conversation in Teams on this report or any other report that you’re currently viewing. You can also leave comments on this website for people. And say, for example, you don’t wanna come to the Power BI dashboard every week or every day and you just wanna subscribe to email. As Ryan mentioned, some people like more conversations to occur in email, and some people such as myself, are navigating away from email. I tend to practice what’s called Inbox Zero. So I try to get my inbox messages down to zero every day. And that’s a whole other topic in itself.
And this edit pencil is here because I am a report owner. So if you’re not a report owner, you will not have this edit pencil. So again, you have additional…you can see related content. And you can open usage metrics as a report owner. So again, as Ryan mentioned, adoption is very important. So if you wanna see how many people are using this report that you created, and are they adopting it. So that’ll allow you to get insights from there.
And the filters, we’re not going to play with these too much today either, actually or at all. But you can basically filter on specific data points, like if you wanted to filter date or other things. And there’s also ways that you can activate data slicers that I’m going to show you, that will give you the ability to add these ad hoc filters to the report.
So this report, it gives you…these are cards and they provide summary. So this is not an interactive area of the system. It just gives you summary of information that’s being displayed here. So if I go over to this area, for net income budget, and net income budget variance, I apologize, there’s no budget numbers here which is why you see the variance is identical to the budget. I think if I change my year. So now we have some budget numbers and it is showing different variances as well. We’ll just go back to 2019.
And so this part of the system allows you to interact with it. And if I hover my mouse, it creates a cue card and basically, you can also customize these as well. And so for example, in a sales dashboard, if you want to see, you know, how am I trending towards budget, you know, so you would see in the cue card, your actual number as well as your budgeted sales number. Or if you have a salesperson dashboard, you can list their quota there and customize it for them as well. And so if I click on one of these items, it’s going to go ahead and slice the data. And you may not have noticed it if your eyes weren’t here, but this card has now changed to give you that summary.
And you can hold down your Ctrl key and just add additional slicers if you want. And it’s going to then provide you the details and update all these other cards, or visualizations to show you how those changes look in terms of the filtered data.
And if you ever lose track of where you were, I don’t know what date filters I did, or I just wanna get back to the default, then you can go ahead and just click this button here at the top and it’ll just reset your report back to its default state. So you don’t really have to remember what was clicked or what was not clicked and you can get back to that default state.
And, again here, we provide additional statistics for year over year in terms of net income. So it gives you the ability to see how your performance is trending compared to last year versus this year. And there’s other great features as well. If you right-click within here obviously, you can show it as a table. You can also drill up and instead of it being by month, now it’s going to be by quarter. And the drill up and drill down are all here as well. So you can go ahead and provide that drill up capability without having to right-click, and then choosing Drill Up.
And you can also include and exclude items as well. And here you can go and drill through. Now this is where, again, the Microsoft Dataverse and the Microsoft Holistic Vision becomes very powerful. So right now, without actually going into Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, I’m looking at the GL. And so I can scroll through here and see, what are all the numbers that make up this particular bar chart?
And so if you so desire because you need to get additional details on those specific numbers, then you can go ahead and just tab over to Microsoft Business Central, and then just go ahead and do your investigation further. But again, it really gives you a very quick way as you’re interacting with the data and seeing it visually to go ahead and dive back into it.
And there’s also a number of out-of-the-box information as well. So here, out-of-the-box, artificial intelligence, pardon me. So here, you can just right-click and say, okay, give me results as to what has accounted for the cost of goods sold, in terms of why these numbers are decreasing or increasing. And so here, it’s providing us a context that the data that we had the most significant reasoning for the issues at hand.
So that’ll allow you to then create some…or rather come up with some decisions on how you want to address that, whether it’s providing promotions for specific days of the week, if you’re trying to drive traffic to a retail location, etc. So really, what Power BI is looking to do is just kind of allow you to get smarter with your data, as well as, instead of just having static reports, you can go ahead and start creating additional predictive analytics as well, in terms of what it sees for overall trends. And so again, here, we’ve provided a balance sheet as well as an income statement in a static report. You can also again, drill through straight to the GL to look at those entries. And the income statement is very similar in that.
So that’s the financial dashboard. And then what we’re going to do is quickly navigate to purchasing. And so here we’ve got, again, some different data slicers and data visualizations that it’s basically showing you some ratios and other things like that.
And again, if we click on the data slicers as I mentioned, it is gonna go ahead and update those other visuals for you as well just to see what is currently being shown. So you’d be able to see outstanding purchase orders and what quantity is remaining in terms of purchase order resolution, or receipt, and so on.
If you’re familiar with Excel conditional formatting, you can apply some conditions as well to say, okay, well, any amounts that are over 60 days, I wanna flag them as red. Anything that’s current is gonna get flagged as green. So very similar to the Excel conditional formatting that if you’ve ever designed that in Excel, you’ll be able to easily do this in Power BI.
And this provides you a very quick at a glance visual cue so that way, you’re able to determine whether or not you need to address these outstanding issues. Or if you’re gonna have a hold on your account or something like that, that may impact your purchase experience, and if you have orders that are needing to be rushed in, etc.
And again, as we see this visual here, so if you’re a salesperson and John Haddock Insurance has called and would like to buy, you know, more ATHENS desks. Well, you can say to them, please, you know, if you could resolve your outstanding sales less…overdue sales invoice rather. And then that way, you can go ahead and process their order.
So this map visual is also very useful as well, that you’re able to click on these dots on the map, and then basically get the information for each geography that you’ll be working with. And if you see this, this donut chart is showing you the relevant information, or relevant amount rather, that applies to that specific geography.
So again, a tree map can be very useful as well, in sort of visualizing some of that data. And as always, we can reset and go back to our default view. And then I can go ahead and click on, pardon me, the tree map again, just to show…you know, give me all of the ATHENS desk performance over time in all the geographies.
So that in a nutshell is Power BI. And what we’re going to do next is dive into Microsoft Power Apps. And I appreciate there’s a lot of information we’re throwing at you today. So I welcome all your questions. If we can’t get to them all, within the context of this session, I’d be happy to respond to them via email afterwards as well.
So for Power Apps, we need to connect first of all to our data. And so you do that by going to Data connections. So here I’ve got the Business Central data connection that I set up and I’m just gonna click on New Connection so that you can see it. And this was what I talked about earlier, where there’s a premium connector. So this one requires a Power Apps paid license. But again, you can start a 30-day free trial, and work with those Premium connectors if you so desire.
But there’s also a Power Apps nested license within your Office or Microsoft 365 license. So if you wanna create a Power App that works with SharePoint or OneDrive for Business, etc., you’ll be able to drop boxes in other ones. So Microsoft, of course, has connectors outside of their ecosystem. These are non-Premium connectors. So you’d be able to use your nested licenses to go ahead and create those applications.
So this set of tables is the next area and this is part of the Microsoft Dataverse formerly known the Common Data Service, where the data lives. And Microsoft has created a number of tables out-of-the-box for you to work with. So that you can extend the capability of your applications as well when you’re at that stage. The one thing I wanna mention to you is first of all environments is important. So it creates a default environment which is this one right here. But because I am working with this environment, you wanna make sure you’re in the correct environment before you get started.
And then when you’re working with tables and columns as we’ll see, you also wanna change from default to all. And the reason for that is if you’re creating custom tables, or there may be some tables that are hidden because not every user needs to see them, you can go ahead and put it to all. And then it provides you everything under the sun that’s available to you. So as you’re just getting started, you may want to just go ahead and begin with the default filtered view. But before you go and create another table, if you find your application needs one, then go ahead and click All, and just make sure that the table isn’t already there by chance.
So here if I go to Account, I’m just gonna drill into this table. Now we’re going to see that there’s columns available to us. And so for those particular columns, then once it refreshes, it’s already set to the all view. So in the past, this would have been set to default. So it’s possible because the cloud is ever revolving, what you worked with or saw yesterday may not necessarily be the same today. So it’s possible Microsoft has said, okay, if you filter by all on the table view, then the column view will automatically default to all. In the past it didn’t, it was still default. So that might have caused some confusion for people.
But every column is…or every table, pardon me, is going to have a primary name column. And what that is, is a unique identifier. So if you’re familiar with how to create applications, or if you’re not, you always need a unique identifier for each record to say that this is the only record that exists or I need to point to this record and that’s how you get there.
And so we’re not gonna cover these business views, etc., today, just for the interest of time, but what I did is using the Business Central connector that I created earlier, I created a business inventory items app. And so if I click this button to go into the app, it’s showing me how the app is going to appear on the phone.
So while that’s updating, I’m gonna show you how you create the app. So the new app you’re going to create is a Canvas app. Model-Driven app is another complicated application type. But if you’re familiar with the Dynamics 365 ecosystem, when you look at, say a sales hub, and see the account form, etc., that’s a Model Driven app. So Microsoft is providing you the same platform that they use to create their first-party applications. And portal is what we had talked about, the customer-vendor portal that you can have access to. Again, quite a large topic.
So we’ll just dive into the Canvas app. And I’m gonna go ahead and I want to…pardon me, I’m gonna say Get Started. So I want to go ahead and create an app, but starting with my data. So if I click on the next button, I can go ahead, and choose my connector for Dynamics 365 Business Central. And then it’s gonna go ahead and come up with that data set.
So again, while we wait for that to get started. So a lot of this was created for me out-of-the-box because I interfaced with the items table. Microsoft made some assumptions as to what I was looking to surface with my particular data request. So I customized the app slightly. Certain things I didn’t have to do. So the refresh, the sort, the add an item, these screens were all created by default.
I changed it a little bit, instead of showing the item number, the item description, and another code, what I did is I said, okay, well, give me the item description here, I wanna see the active quantity on hand. And then I created…I had to do a little bit of code just to show the dollar sign in front of the price. But it was very straightforward and easy to do. And so here when I click on the drill down to dive into the details, this again was provided to me by default, and the delete bin, as well as the Edit pencil, was there by default.
And it automatically brings you to your items detail screen where you can go ahead and edit that. So here if I click on Blocked, I don’t wanna activate it just because it’s a shared demo environment that we use. But it just shows you how you can go ahead and very quickly get an app up and running in a short amount of time.
So here if I go to this company that I wish to work with, this is back in our Power App design screen. And now it’s going to ask me to choose a table. So here you see all the Power BI…or sorry, the Business Central tables available to us. And what I did there is I just went into items version 2.0. So then once I click on that, and I say, Connect. Now Power Apps is gonna go ahead and create this application for me. And so it’s gonna give us an animation just to kind of show us how that’s done. So we’ll skip the tour.
So now you see the application is pretty much ready to go if you’re satisfied with this. And it’s broken up into a number of screens. So here we have the browser screen, the detail screen, and the edit screen. And you can go ahead and make changes. It’s very straightforward, just by clicking and interacting with this area of the system. So very quick, and easy to get applications up and running. And this is live into Dynamics 365. So if I were to create a new item, and then click the Save button, it would save it in this environment. So you’re connected to your data right out of the box.
So that’s the Business Central portion. And here we have Power Automate. So again, as it was explained, very easy way to automate the mundane tasks. And I’m a fan of automating everything, especially the boring stuff. And so with Microsoft Power Automate, you can also link it to your Business Central and other areas of the system.
And if you have even legacy systems that might still run on a mainframe, there’s a piece of Power Automate called Robotic Process Automation, where you can just go ahead and start recording your keyboard strokes, on what the process is for this particular old system. And then you can save that and then go ahead and repeat the process to automate all those mundane tasks even in legacy systems.
And so again, the same thing, we need to… Pardon me. This is a list of all the connectors that are available. The Microsoft Dataverse is, again, as I mentioned, a Premium connector. So if you want to interact with some of those things outside of the license that’s provided with SharePoint, etc., you may need a Power Automate license. But for the purposes of this demonstration, we’re working in Microsoft Teams so you shouldn’t necessarily need the Power Automate license for that.
So I’ve created a flow. And what I’ve done is I wanted to post overdue accounts into Business Central. And so this is a scheduled flow that I did, and it was very easy to get started. So basically, I posted a message, or rather used the post a message in v3 preview, and you tell it to connect to your environment. So it’s a drop-down list that comes up.
So this is the Microsoft Team name and I’ll just quickly browse there. So here’s my Microsoft Teams environment. And this is my team’s name. And this is the accounting channel that I’ve created. So what I did there is I said, okay, well, post this message into accounting. So I have here are the weekly overdue accounts receivable accounts. And so I have this set to go off once a week at 9:15 a.m. on, I believe it’s Tuesday. So you can really have a lot of flexibility with the scheduling as well.
So to provide this link for the word here just to clean up this message a little bit, I went to Dynamics 365. And I wanted to leverage some of the information that’s already available out of the box. So I didn’t have to create this view, it was there for me. So when I click on this, it’s showing me all of my overdue invoices in red, or accounts receivable in red. So I didn’t have to do anything there. I just double-clicked this address and then chose Copy. And then in my Power Automate screen, I’m just gonna highlight a different word so you can see. But I highlighted the word here and then I just chose Link. And I paste the link target. And then I click on Add. And that’s how I created that hyperlink, and then I saved it. So once you save it, you just basically use the flow checker to make sure there’s no errors. And then you run a test.
And so what I’m left with is within Microsoft Teams now I’ve got the message that was sent out yesterday at 8:44 a.m. So essentially, if I click on here, it brings me right to Business Central. Now, it’s interesting too…pardon me, this is a little nuisance in our demo environment. For whatever reason, you won’t experience this in your environment, but it does default to a different day in the future. So you have to go to My Settings and go to today. And then click OK.
And then I’ll just quickly…I’ll just go home, and just quickly go back. So yeah, now we have the updated window. But you won’t experience this in your environment at all. But yeah, so then you can go ahead and make the calls to those customers and start performing some collections management.
Now, it’s interesting because it brought me straight to the Dynamics 365 by opening another tab. Yesterday did offer me the option for a detail screen, and it just basically opened up a mini window here. So I’m not sure why that’s not working today. I probably have to reset a setting or something. But you do have the option of doing a quick visual to see it within Microsoft Teams before going to the full application set in Dynamics 365 if you need more information.
So there’s another integration with Microsoft Teams that I wanna quickly show before we conclude. So in Teams, you can add applications and this one is called a Who bot. If you’ve never used that, that’s a really useful one, especially in organizations where there’s a lot of people. You can ask who is a particular type or who works for a certain manager. And it gives you a lot of details. So that’s one that I really like showcasing.
But the one app we wanna look for is Business Central. And I’ll just make that spelling correction. And so here, I’m gonna click on it. It’s already installed. But if you go to Add this, you would just say Open. And unlike other apps, it’s not going to appear here once it’s installed and you can’t pin it. But the reason for that is it’s activating a feature that allows you to send a preview thumbnail within your Microsoft Teams.
So here, I’m going to pick a customer, Cannon Group. And again, all we do is we grab this hyperlink for this customer, and then I can go ahead and start having conversations within Microsoft Teams about a particular customer. So here, I’m gonna mention my colleague, Mark, and I’m gonna ask him why this customer has exceeded their credit. And then you go ahead and paste that. And it should come up in just a moment. And then I can go ahead and just send this off.
And now we have the ability to click on Details. Oh, I apologize. Okay, so yeah, this was the feature that actually had the detail screen. So because I provided the hyperlink for the accounts receivable overdue accounts, that one does take you directly to Business Central. So yeah, this was the detail screen that I was alluding to. You have the ability…right now it’s view only, I can click this edit pencil and then go ahead and just say Edit on that. There’s a delete function as well, we obviously do not wanna delete the record. But you have the ability to make some very minor adjustments, you know, to this customer card within this environment. And then you could also go pop-out, and then it’s gonna go ahead and provide that ability for you to view this within Business Central.
So, you know, in conclusion, that just hopefully gives you a very broad experience as to how the Microsoft ecosystem can really tie so many applications together and allow you to access your data from different applications. But more importantly, the Microsoft Dataverse provides you that single source of truth that basically makes sure that the data that you’re using is accurate, and is reliable.
So back to you, Ryan.
Ryan: Right on. Thanks so much, Pierre. Good to know there’s another Inbox Zero guy out there in the world, I’m not the only one.
Pierre: You bet.
Ryan: Right on. So as you can see you, folks, you got…pardon the pun, you’ve got a goldmine, literally, a goldmine of data in your ERP system. We’ve shown you or we sort of hinted at modern workplace methodologies to give you a sense of what you can do. What you can bring all of these various apps back into. Supporting those different work styles, whether it’s an email work style or a team-centric work style. If you have people that are working from a desk from a fixed location, or they’re working from home, or hopefully one day, we get back to working on the road and those types of scenarios, you can see where surfacing different information in Teams, in a chat, in a collaborative environment can drive a lot of value.
As far as finding trends and making decisions based on your data, Power BI in that section again, leverage the data that you have in your ERP, leverage sales, and purchasing, and AR and AP data. May be connected to another third party tool like your website or something like that. If your customer service system sits in a different application, Power BI does integrate beyond Microsoft’s first-party solution. So lots and lots of potential. And they call it Power Platform for a reason because it does bring a lot of power to your business.
And then lastly, the Power Apps if you’ve ever had that lightbulb moment where you said, yeah, we need an app for that. Or if you just wanna carve a specific function for a specific group of users, maybe it’s to enter inventory accounts, right? We’ve probably all done that with paper and a clipboard before. What if you had an app that tapped right into your ERP system so you can make those changes as you do your stock-taking activities, or mobile support, or whatever it happens to be. Those Power Apps can run on smartphones and tablets as well. So very compelling stuff.
So I know we’re at the end of our hour together, Q&A will stay open for another few minutes. We do wanna share though an offer that we’ve put together again, Better Together Dynamics 365 Business Central and Modern Workplace Power Platform, but also better together with Encore Business Solutions and Clear Concepts. So we have an offer here put together between the two organizations. If you want to get at your Encore Business Solutions account manager, contact whoever you work with at Encore. Same deal over at Clear Concepts, if you’d like to take advantage of some no charge on the house consultations, Encore will be delivering a two-hour discovery consultation. They give you an estimate on implementation of a Business Central solution, as well as access to learning materials and their content library.
Over on the Modern Workplace side from Clear Concepts, we’re happy to offer a one-hour modern workplace consultation in which we cover at least some opportunities to improve collaboration. Look at ROI on Microsoft 365 teams and SharePoint. And then as well, you’d have access to our live bi-weekly show, and bi-weekly podcast under our MoWo banner.
All right, thank you so much. Thank you so much, Ziad. Thank you so much, Pierre. I’m going to just sit here on mute for a few seconds, we’ll kick around, see if any questions come in. And looks like there is one. Does the D365 Power Platform have integrations for common external cloud ERPs like Acumatica? So, Ziad, Pierre, I will turn that one over to you. But I can see where you’re going. Thank you for submitting that question. You can see maybe we already have some investments in other software, but can we still leverage Power Platform in M365.
Zaid: So Dynamics 365, I’m not sure which solution you would be looking. So if you’re doing Business Central and you’ve got Acumatica already, but if you got…it’s the same solution. So if you are looking at perhaps Power Platform integration, absolutely, there are some out-of-the-box connectors or integrations as well as some custom-built integrations that you can have as well, that would link to data in Acumatica.
Now, it would depend on how that solution is built already for us to be able to kinda work through that. But if you wanna submit that kind of inquiry, feel free to shoot us an email, we can kind of look into what that solution looks like. But there are custom integrations that you can make between those data connectors as well using Power Platform.
Ryan: Right on. And even on-premise data, too. I know Pierre mentioned that. There’s an on-premise data gateway for Power Platform to connect to data that is in your SQL environment. So again, lots and lots of potential to connect to not just first-party Microsoft solutions, but everything they might be supporting as well.
All right, give a few more seconds for questions to come in. Just to close up, thank you so much for spending an hour and a few minutes with us here today. On behalf of the team at Encore and the team at Clear Concepts, thank you so much.
If you need to get at us for more information on Dynamics 365 on Business Central, encorebusiness.com is your place to go. And then on the Modern Workplace side on the cloud, Microsoft 365 you can get at clearconcepts.ca as well. Again, Pierre, thank you so much. Ziad, thank you so much. And thank you, everybody, for tuning in.
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