In my last post, I announced that we (Forceworks) were developing an addon for our RapidStart CRM to connect to Microsoft’s wildly popular Dynamics 365 Business Central. I wanted to update you on our progress.
BTW, I did not record audio for this post because it has too many reference images.
Apples and Oranges
First, Dynamics 365 Business Central and RapidStart CRM, which runs on Dataverse, are completely different animals. Not just in their purpose, but their User Interface and Development Language have absolutely nothing in common. I was concerned that our lack of knowledge of Business Central’s “AL” Language would keep us from succeeding. Thankfully, the Business Central team and the Dataverse team have collaborated on building a bridge. Ostensibly for Dynamics 365 Sales, but RapidStart CRM can ride over the same bridge.
Our goal was to work within the out-of-the-box configuration capabilities of Dynamics 365 Business Central without requiring an AL extension. We don’t want to change anything in the Business Central deployment; we just want to share certain relevant data with the Sales and Service teams within RapidStart CRM. So far, it looks like this can be accomplished.
The screenshots I shared in my last post around RapidStart CRM sales capabilities have evolved a little but are largely the same. Bringing financial data to RapidStart CRM Account records and Quote data to RapidStart CRM Opportunity records. It feels like Dynamics 365 Business Central is more of a B2B product as delivered, and so we have focused on the B2B scenario with this solution.
In my discussions with Microsoft’s Copenhagen-based Business Central team, it seems that Case Management is a white-space opportunity, and RapidStart CRM already includes super-simple Case Management. We have case processes and dashboards baked into RapidStart CRM, so adding context from Business Central would tie things together nicely. I wanted to share some screenshots of how we envision that coming together. BTW, these are real, not photoshopped 🙂
The RapidStart CRM Case Record:
This is our existing RapidStart CRM Case record form with a new tab, “🧿 REGARDING”. Our existing Case record has relationships to RapidStart CRM Accounts and/or RapidStart CRM Contacts already. You may notice that we have used the 🧿 icon throughout RapidStart CRM to delineate Business Central “stuff”. I’ll click on this new tab.
This new “🧿 REGARDING” tab allows for relating a RapidStart CRM Case to Sales Orders, Sales Shipments, and/or Sales Invoices from Dynamics 365 Business Central. Of course, other Business Central tables could be added here, but these seemed like the ones that would likely require Cases. Under the lookups, we have surfaced some basic information from the selected records. For full information, you can click on an item’s link, see below.
Here the RapidStart CRM Support team member can see all the details of a “regarding” record. This surfaces as a modal over the RapidStart CRM Case record, so once they review the information, they can close this dialog and continue where they left off with the Case record.
Linking a Business Central record to a RapidStart CRM Case is a manual selection, although the lookup fields are filtered on the related Account. Since Case origination paths vary from company to company, this is the broadest approach. However, with additional effort, this could potentially be fully automated. For example, a Power Virtual Agent bot on your website could display a list of Business Central records for customers to select from during case creation. This could also be done similarly with a Power Pages portal. A generic website form for case creation that includes a field for the customer to type in a reference number could also work but may not be as reliable due to the potential for typos. Case creation via email is also an option.
CRUD operations have a few ramifications. First, we don’t think it is necessary for the RapidStart CRM Service team member to make changes to Business Central records to accomplish their tasks. Though this could be allowed, the second issue is around Licensing, my favorite Microsoft Topic. We created a new RapidStart CRM Security role to expose Business Central information. Any RapidStart CRM user with this role will require a minimum of an $8 USD PUPM Dynamics 365 Business Central Team Member license. This license allows a user to “Read data within Business Central”. In addition, this license allows the following privileges, some of which are not relevant to this:
• Update existing data and entries in Business Central, such as previously created customer, vendor, or item records. Entries are defined as specific accounting information that may be updated, such as a due date on customer ledger entries. (this one is kind of vague)
• Approve or reject tasks in all workflows assigned to that user, with the limit that approvals and rejections can only update data in records that Business Central Team Members can access. (probably not relevant)
• Create, edit, and delete a sales or purchase quote (This is enabled in our sales scenario with our “Request Quote” functionality).
• Create, edit, and delete personal information
• Edit job time sheets for approval
• Use the Dynamics 365 Power Apps/Power Automate use rights provided with a Dynamics 365 license (need to confirm if this means our RapidStart CRM user would not need a separate Power Apps license)
• Business Central Team Members application module may be customized with a maximum of 15 additional tables (custom tables or standard Dataverse tables) available to the Business Central Team Members license. (presumably, this limit would apply to our RapidStart CRM app(s) also)
Note that the Dynamics 365 Business Central Team Member license does not allow for “creating” anything in Dynamics 365 Business Central other than Sales or Purchase Quotes and Personal Information.
To “create” other records, like Customers, for example, a Business Central Essentials license would be required at $70 USD PUPM.
We are deep in the weeds on this, but it won’t take too long. We still have more “Polishing” to do. You may have noticed a few “Puzzle Piece” icons and 10-digit decimals throughout. The Business Central team is launching an update soon to allow us to take care of these minor items. BTW, working with this team, I can tell you they are “on it”!
We still have to complete the Admin and User documentation, but it looks like this won’t be a user-installable solution. We plan to have a Test Drive in AppSource. However, several initial steps need to be done correctly in particular order for this to work as intended in a customer environment, so we will likely create a “RapidLaunch” turn-key setup service for this.
Feel free to share your opinions on where we are headed and what you would like to see!