Our quick-answer guide to Dynamics 365 Business Central is out of this world!

Business Central is an all-in-one business management solution that's easy to use and adapt - it's purpose is to help you get an end-to-end view of your business. It is what is commonly referred to as an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution and is designed to cover all your business processes from finance to purchasing, warehouse management to general reporting.
Ok, this is a pretty easy one to answer because Business Central is the newest version of Dynamics NAV. It's the new name. In essence what is going on here is a rebranding exercise by Microsoft. Dynamics NAV is now known as Dynamics 365 Business Central; just like in the past when this most marvellous of products went from Navision to being called Dynamics NAV. Now it's going from Dynamics NAV to being called Dynamics 365 Business Central. For those of you who are familiar with Dynamics NAV you will see some visual differences, but the functionality remains the same.

In order to decide the best way of upgrading your Dynamics NAV system to Dynamics 365 Business Central there are a few things that you’ll need to consider:

Key considerations

1. Ask yourself whether you want to do a clean start upgrade (where you’ll get a fresh system leaving all your old modifications behind) or whether you want to do an upgrade including your existing modifications and data.

  • If you want to do an upgrade of your existing modifications and data, then you’ll need to think about how much bespoke code you have. All this code will ideally need to be migrated to ‘extensions’ – the new way of doing modifications in Business Central.
  • Doing a clean upgrade means you get clean extension modifications based on the latest version of 365 Business Central and only the data that you need in your new system. (Don’t worry - you can still access the old data if you need to).

2. What add-ons do you have?

  • Not all add-ons are available for Business Central (or at least for Business Central when hosted in the Microsoft Public Cloud environment). All partners are working on their add-ons to make them work within new the Business Central environment, but this may affect the timescales of your upgrade.

3. Next decide whether you want to keep your perpetual licence or go subscription.

  • If you bought your licence on a perpetual basis, you own your licence and have probably been paying Microsoft annually for enhancement (known as 'BREP') for the latest upgrades. You can move to a subscription licence but Microsoft will only provide a 40% discount on subscription licences until June 2020. If you upgrade your perpetual licence Microsoft will give you 2 named user licences for every 1 concurrent user you have.
  • The subscription licencing module is a monthly fee based on the number of users which log into the system each month. The monthly subscription costs cover the licence and ongoing software assurance.

4. Now ask yourself where you’d like to host your system – you have 3 choices; The Microsoft Public Cloud, The Microsoft Private Cloud (known as ‘Azure’) or your own environment.

Microsoft Public Cloud

Since April 2018 it has been possible to host your Business Central system on a fully managed Microsoft Shared Cloud environment.

Benefits:

  • Automatic updates of the software
  • Hosting is included within your subscription licences – more cost effective
  • Fully managed including all automatic back-ups etc.

Disadvantages:

  • Less control over your Business Central Environment (you cannot control when updates happen)
  • No performance control (there is no SQL Access)
  • Only available on subscription

Microsoft Private Cloud - ‘Azure’

If you like the idea of hosting in the Cloud but are put-off by the limited control of the Public Cloud you can host your system in a Private Cloud environment. Resellers like The NAV People have ‘Managed Services’ teams which are dedicated to managing their customers’ Azure environments.

Benefits:

  • Greater control over updates and upgrades
  • Fully managed including all automatic back-ups etc.
  • You can choose between the subscription or on-premise licencing modules
  • Ability to maximize performance and tune system

Disadvantages:

  • As you don’t get automatic upgrades, these will need to be planned and deployed as mini projects to ensure you are on the latest software version
  • Additional hosting costs

Your own hosting environment

You can host your environment either yourself or through a 3rd party provider. This can be either on the Cloud or on a physical server.

Benefits:

  • Full control over your own environment
  • You can choose between the subscription or on-premise licencing modules

Disadvantages:

  • As you don’t get automatic upgrades, these will need to be planned and deployed as mini projects to ensure you are on the latest software version
  • Additional hosting costs
Business Central is super flexible and, as such, can be adapted to work for any industry - from retailers to restaurateurs, food producers to financial services - it can work for them all. Industry-specific add-ons, available from Microsoft's App-Source, mean that no matter what your industry requirement, there will be a niche solution ready-and-waiting for you to access.
Yes - Business Central can be modified by 'extensions'. Extensions are little bits of code that tap into the core solution code in order to change the way that it works. They are terribly clever because they allow developers to make changes to your solution, even if it is hosted in a public environment, without affecting all the other systems which are hosted in that same environment. We think that extensions are a big deal - if you take a look at the competitor ERP market, like SAP or Sage, there is nothing else remotely like this. With extensions Microsoft have provided the ultimate 'Software as a Service Platform' (SAAS) which you can tailor and modify to suit your business. It's massive and really exciting; well done Microsoft boffins!
You can indeed! Microsoft have developed an online marketplace called 'AppSource' where you can buy trialled and tested add-on extensions to work seamlessly with your Business Central solution. On AppSource you will find a suite of products under the 'nHanced 365' brand which have been developed by The 365 People to take the hassle out of your everyday tasks; from reporting to productivity and customisation these add-ons will give you extended versatility of your business central system making life so much easier! Outside of the app store many partner solutions are available with decades of experience.
You can purchase Business Central on two levels Essentials and Premium - Premium simply gives an additional layer of functionality for manufacturing and service order management.
  • Dynamics 365 Business Central Essentials is charged from £52.79 per user per month
  • Dynamics 365 Business Central Premium is charged from £75.40 per user per month

Business Central is charged on a subscription per user per month basis. Dynamics 365 Business Central user subscriptions classify users into two types, 'full users' and 'additional users'.

Full users
These users are those whose work requires use of the feature rich business applications functionality. Examples of full users are sales people, customer service representatives, finance employees, controllers and supply chain managers. These users have also been referred to in the past as 'Pro' users or 'Power Users'.

Additional users
These users often represent a significant percentage of users in an organisation and may consume data or reports from line of business systems, complete light tasks like time or expense entry and HR record updates or be heavier users of the system, but not require full user capabilities.

Microsoft don't support set up directly - instead they use a diverse range of partners, like The 365 People, who can help you set up your Business Central system. These partners can give you more or less support with the set-up of your solution depending on the complexity of your requirements and the degree of system modification you need.
As with initial set-up, your support for Business Central will be through Microsoft's partner network, of which The 365 People are a Gold Partner (sorry - we had to just drop that in there!)
The Microsoft Cloud (aka Microsoft Azure) is a set of cloud services which allow you to build, manage, and deploy applications (like Business Central) on a massive, global network using familiar tools. Microsoft's Cloud gives you piece-of-mind that your applications are being hosted in an environment which is under comprehensive compliance standards (including GDPR) and protected by Microsoft's unparalleled security and privacy standards.
Yes, absolutely. You can host Business Central on your own servers, in your own private cloud (e.g. Azure), in a private cloud which is provided by a Dynamics 365 Partner such as The 365 People (also in Azure), or in Microsoft's public cloud version of 365 Business Central.
Business Central is designed to work hand-in-hand with the applications in the rest of the Microsoft Cloud. It is part of the next generation of business applications which are built to connect people, products, and data through seamless integration, breaking down silos between departments and giving a 360-degree view of your customers and operations.
Power BI is an out-of-the-box data visualisation tool - which means loads of great looking graphics and dashboards representing your data. With Power BI you will get access to a range of standard reporting templates and the ability to connect directly Dynamics 365 Business Central to create your own reports and dashboards.
Now familiar to most businesses, Office 365 helps organisations with the smooth-running of their day-to-day tasks with tools to help with collaboration, security, analytics and mobile access no-matter where you are or what device you are using. Dynamics 365 Business Central integrates with Office 365 seamlessly, unifying your business like never before!
The Intelligent Edge is a continually expanding set of connected systems and devices that gather and analyse data. Users get real-time insights and experiences, delivered by highly responsive and contextually aware apps. Together with Microsoft's Intelligent Cloud it gives you the ability to create a new class of connected applications and, ultimately, to revolutionise your business outcomes.
Microsoft have taken Dynamics CRM and pulled it apart to create the Dynamics 365 Sales app and the Dynamics 365 Marketing app. This means that if you just wanted a sales app you'd just buy Dynamics 365 Sales. Or just looking for marketing functionality? Then you buy the Dynamics 365 Marketing app.
Microsoft have created Dynamics 365 for Talent which is an HR management tool to help businesses with their employee attraction, engagement, development, and retention. Like all other Dynamics 365 apps, it can easily be bolted on to Business Central to give you the extra functionality you need without creating data silos.