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When you’re running a business, there are a lot of balls you have to keep in the air at once. You need to manage team communications, set up strong sales channels, organize your production team, and keep your warehouses running smoothly.

How do you make sure you’re making the right choices for your business at each stage of the operations with so many parts moving at once?

Microsoft Business Central has the tools you need to keep your business running as efficiently as possible and can scale with you as you grow. Read on to learn more about this tool and how it can help your business become more successful.

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What Is Microsoft Business Central?

Microsoft Dynamics Business Central is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform designed to help businesses make the most of their operations. Business Central is part of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 suite, which is Microsoft’s portfolio of CRM & ERP platforms. It is geared towards small to mid-sized businesses and has a variety of tools for automation and optimization of business processes.

Currently, more than 100,000 businesses in more than 43 countries across the globe use Microsoft Business Central to run their operations.

The Microsoft Business Central platform helps businesses streamline their process by combining multiple modules into a single package. These modules include:

  • Finance Management
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Supply Chain Management & Inventory (Orders, Purchasing, Inventory, & Warehouse)
  • Project Management
  • Human Resources
  • Service Management
  • Manufacturing
  • Fixed Assets

These combined modules, all integrated natively using the same data architecture and feature set, help businesses use their resources more efficiently and keep their revenue streams growing the smart way.

Microsoft Business Central is also interoperable with the Microsoft Office 365 suite and Microsoft Teams to keep all important team members in the loop during the decision-making process. This includes native integrations with PowerBI, which means you’ll be able to get immediate insights and reporting from the data within your platform. Business Central interoperability also includes the Microsoft Power Platform, which can create customized workflows that can automate data transfer, notifications, record creation, and many other processes.

Cloud Support and Licensing Model

Dynamics 365 Business Central

Team Members

$8 per month / per user

License Inclusions


Read and Approve

Run All Reports

Employee Self-Serve

Dynamics 365 Business Central

Essentials

$70 per month / per user

License Inclusions


Invoicing

Purchasing

Opportunity Management

Budget

Finance

Fixed Assets

Purchasing Order Management

Resource Management

Workflow

Contact Management

Simple Inventory

Advanced Sales (SO)

Advanced Inventory (Stock)

Distribution

Dynamics 365 Business Central

Premium

$100 per month / per user

License Inclusions


Service Management

Manufacturing

Supply Planning

Invoicing

Purchasing

Opportunity Management

Budget

Finance

Fixed Assets

Purchasing Order Management

Resource Management

Workflow

Contact Management

Simple Inventory

Advanced Sales (SO)

One of the significant benefits of Microsoft Business Central is the option to go to a 100% cloud-based platform, ensuring flexibility in both your licensing model and employee access to the platform. Your team can work from anywhere, whether through a browser or an app.

There is also an on-premise version available but most partners will, and should, recommend you move to the cloud. It will be very rare to have an on-premise solution.

The primary benefit of choosing the cloud (Software-as-a-Service) route is that your team will have access to the platform anytime they need it. This includes leveraging applications on a phone or tablet. Also, the licensing model is highly flexible and can be increased or decreased very quickly.

The Microsoft Business Central ERP platform has two major licenses and one team member license available. Here is a quick breakdown of these license types:

Business Central Premium – $100 per month/per user

This license includes every module mentioned at the beginning of this article. If you have a field service or manufacturing business, this license is a must-have. If your business does not rely on field services or manufacturing, you could likely leverage the Business Central Essentials license.

Business Central Essentials – $70 per month / per user

The Business Central Essentials license includes everything that the premium license includes, minus the Service Management or Manufacturing module. This license is great for businesses that are looking for a modern finance platform but would also like to handle sales order processing, purchasing, inventory, and project management.

Business Central Team Member – $8 per month/per user

The Business Central Team Member license is designed to allow certain employees to have limited access to the platform. Common roles could include sales admins or purchasing admins.

The Team Member license enables the user to read all records, modify some records, and provide support in approval workflows. This is not designed as a stand-alone license, and we will want to do a thorough review to help you budget for your monthly/annual costs.

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Business Central Reporting & Insights

When you are working to grow a business, you don’t want to be operating blind. You need to have reliable data, and Microsoft Business Central supports you with powerful reporting and insights functionality.

As part of the base Business Central platform, you will have immediate access to the high-level financial reporting (ie. Income Statements, Balance Sheets, and Statements of Cash Flows). It also includes standard operational reporting related to projects, purchasing, inventory, or customer and sales information.

All reporting within Business Central can be customized to include or hide columns or filter down to a specific client.

The platform also offers embedded dashboards on the home screen that guide the user to the smartest item to focus on at that moment. As an example, purchasing would focus on open orders, accounts payable would focus on overdue vendor invoices, and project management would focus on projects that are over budget. As with the reporting, these dashboards are customizable and extremely powerful.

The other option for reporting is to leverage the native integration with Microsoft PowerBI. With minimal time, all data from Business Central can be integrated with PowerBI, enabling you to create insightful dashboards and KPIs that are tailored for your business. PowerBI brings your data to life with graphs and charts that can be filtered by hundreds of different variables (i.e. transaction date, city, customer type, vendor type, etc.).

Overall, Microsoft Business Central can help you to bring your people and processes together through relevant dashboards and reporting. This will ensure your team is in the best position to make each decision with a full view of the situation.

Microsoft Business Central Finance

Microsoft Business Central Finance is the heart of the platform, with everything tying back to this module. Microsoft Business Central can help you better manage your bank reconciliations, budgeting, project costing, fixed assets, and cash flow. It can also reduce your financial closing times thanks to its connected data and automated approval workflows.

With Microsoft Business Central’s Finance module, you’ll get the starting point of structured pre-built financial processes, ensuring auditory compliance. The finance module includes standard components like:

  • Invoicing (Sales & Purchasing)
  • Accounts Receivables
  • Accounts Payables
  • Bank Reconciliation
  • Inventory Costs
  • Fixed Assets
  • G/L Entries
  • Budgets & Forecasts
  • Financial Statements and Reporting
  • Recurring Revenue and Expenses

Business Central also supports intercompany transactions and can help ensure compliance across all subsidiaries.

You can get built-in reports through Microsoft Business Central using data from Excel or Power BI to monitor your financial performance. This includes connected reports, charts, and business information data from across multiple teams.

You can even expand into global markets with Microsoft Business Central’s support for multiple currencies, exchange rates, and localized tax regulations.

The financial tools within Microsoft Business Central can help you to accelerate your monthly or annual close processes.

Supply Chain Management & Inventory

Businesses that need to process orders and manage inventory need to make sure you avoid long backorder times to ensure your orders ship quickly and your production team have the supplies they need to continue work. At the same time, you don’t want to overorder and wind up with products or supplies that will sit around and potentially lose value.

Microsoft Business Central Supply Chain Management & Inventory integrates your sales order, purchasing, receiving, and shipping processes into a unified flow.

Within the Sales Order Fulfillment process, you get the power of transparency. You can quickly identify open orders, determine what inventory is needed, manage automated creation of purchase orders, and handle automated inventory replenishment for popular items.

The Warehouse module allows you to manage inventory across multiple warehouses and enforce inventory management best practices like recurring inventory counts. You can set up virtual bins and zones that reflect the layout of your warehouse and determine the best placement for new items in this layout to streamline the picking and shipment process.

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Microsoft Business Central Project Management

Microsoft Business Central Project Management allows you to manage projects and increase the likelihood of finishing projects on time and within budget. Similar to the Finance and Supply Chain Management modules within Business Central, the Project Management is robust and encompasses all the core functionality to successfully run a PMO.

The core functions within Microsoft Business Central Project Management include:

  • Project templates to create similar projects automatically
  • Budget and resource planning
  • Work breakdown structure with line-level estimates
  • Timesheet management with approval processes
  • Reporting to quickly determine T&M or milestone billable work
  • Invoice generation from projects, including miscellaneous fees and expenses
  • Budget vs actual analysis

The Microsoft Business Central Project Management module will allow you to optimize resource levels and quickly bill for work that has been completed.

Microsoft Business Central Sales & Marketing

The Microsoft Business Central Sales & Marketing module is an often overlooked component within Business Central. For those businesses that want everything within one platform, the Sales & Marketing module combines your CRM with your ERP within the same platform.

It’s important to note in this overview that the Sales & Marketing module is not the highlight of Business Central. Microsoft Business Central is a powerful ERP, and many companies choose to integrate other CRMs into Business Central. A common alternative to the Business Central Sales & Marketing is Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CRM). Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement is part of Microsoft’s enterprise suite of applications but integrates nicely with Business Central. When these two platforms are combined (Dynamics 365 CE & Business Central ERP), you truly have a top-tier platform that positions you both on the sales and operations fronts.

With that being said, the Sales & Marketing module does include the components needed to operate a sales organization. This includes lead/account/contact management, quote creation, task management, and email communication. It also includes the ability to track the cost of each interaction within the “interaction log.” This allows you to track the total cost of phone calls, emails, and on-site meetings for a customer.

The Sales & Marketing module also includes marketing functionality to create customized campaigns based on different variables. This enables you to target specific customer groups that have, as an example, had an email interaction in the last 90 days or purchased a specific type of product or service.

The additional benefit of Business Central being part of the Microsoft universe is that you can manage the entire sales process from within Microsoft Outlook.

Microsoft Business Central Human Resources

The Microsoft Business Central Human Resources module provides building blocks for Human Resources. This includes capturing employee information, contracts, qualifications, and contacts. You can also quickly filter and sort through employee details to isolate an employee or group of employees based on similar characteristics.

The Human resources module is generally complemented by apps from the Microsoft Business Central App Store. Some popular plugins include expense modules and payroll systems.

Microsoft Business Central Manufacturing

Within Microsoft Business Central Manufacturing, you can optimize your process flows related to the order evaluation, component purchasing for an order, and management of the build process. These efficiencies allow you to keep your costs low, your processes fast, and your customers happy. With Microsoft Business Central, you can set up plans for all your manufacturing processes that allow you to produce within supply and capacity constraints.

One of the core components is a tool that creates detailed bills of materials (BOM) that define the raw materials, subassemblies, and resources that will go into a finished kit or product. Based on this BOM, you can automate the purchase order process for missing components.

You can also register consumption and output across multiple bills of routes and materials, as well as resolving deviations in your output and consumption.

Business Central Manufacturing can better connect your sales and manufacturing departments with assemble-to-order capabilities. This will capture any special requirements from the order and include them with the bill of materials that goes to the manufacturing team.

Learn More About Microsoft Business Central

When you’re running a business, efficiency is the name of the game. Microsoft Business Central can help you optimize every stage of your business, from team communications and planning to sales, order fulfillment, warehousing, and shipping. You can get dynamic, real-time insights and guidance on the smartest moves to make for your company’s success.

If you’d like to discover more ways to improve your business’s functioning, check out the rest of our site at Black Belt Solutions. We provide turn-key solutions for business process improvement, automation, intelligence, and more.

Contact us today to discover the solution built on six sigma process improvement and project management methodologies.

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