Unpacking Dynamics 365 Business Central 2020 Wave 2 for the system administrator

October 7 2020

This is my favorite time of the year, when I get to proudly fly my IT nerd flag. The rest of the year I keep it under wraps, but each year the summer and early fall is a non-stop parade for me. I’m like a kid in a Lego store with all the Microsoft conferences and new announcements, not only around Dynamics 365 Business Central, but across Microsoft's platform.

Most recently (on October 1), Microsoft released Business Central 2020 Wave 2. For those newer to the Business Central release cadence, Microsoft releases two major releases a year: Wave 1 in April, and Wave 2 in October. Monthly in between are updates and bug fixes. I’ve been reviewing the advanced release notes (a significant publication of what’s likely coming in the next major release, typically shared two to three months before the general release) and testing the new features in the preview application.  I’d like to share the enhancements I’m most excited about digging into more in Wave 2.

Editor's Note: Check out Kim's upcoming webcast on October 14Top 10 features for the system admin in Dynamics 365 Business Central 2020 Wave 2 

Improved overview and management of available database and file capacity

It is now much easier for system admins to get an overview of the database and file capacity available for their Business Central Environments. You can read about this enhancement in the release notes and in Mike Ehrenberg’s previous blog post. Not only will this facilitate your system management, this insight is critical if you have a large database you are trying to manage: the standard database for Business Central is limited to 80 GB, which is often a surprise to customers, especially those upgrading from on-premises NAV (you can read more in Microsoft’s FAQs and this MSDynamicsWorld article). This facilitated view will enable customers to more easily monitor as they approach this limit, so they can discuss with their partner options for resolving.

Schedule data update of application features enabled through Feature Management

Microsoft has continued to provide system admins more control over managing their environment. This feature will give admins the ability to control when the take advantage of features that require a data update.  As an admin, having the ability to test anything that results in a data update prior to it affecting one’s production environment is certainly important, at the very least to avoid any disruption in service.

 

Notify users of high-risk changes in selected setup fields

This enhancement will be a valuable one – when values in Setup tables are changed, admins will be notified by email, and can evaluate whether the change makes sense and is valid. Of course users should not be changing values in Setup tables on a regular basis, and this ability should be limited to a very small number of people. Unfortunately, this enhancement isn’t quite there yet, but has been scheduled for a monthly update before year’s end. It seems to be linked to email enhancements, which are not yet deployed (if you search for the page to set it up the page is not currently available).

Define retention policies

This is also a great addition to the product – one can now specify when to delete outdated data in tables that contain log entries and archived records. I can’t stress how important it is to keep the data in your database clean. Especially with an 80 GB initial limit for size, this becomes critical. Being able to define retention policies and have the system automatically purge the records is key to keeping the database clean. The change log entry table is a perfect use case for this feature – depending on what you have turned on in the change log this table can grow seeming exponentially and can spiral out of control. 

Business Central 2020 Release Wave 2

Database Access intent changed to read-only for frequently used reports

I have been in the Microsoft ERP space for a long time. I lived through the days when running reports used to lock the database and slow down the system to the point of precluding any transactions. This feature will change the frequently used reports to read-only out of the box, so you don’t have to remember to update them. This a nice feature that admins can use on other reports as well if there are performance issues. Click here to see a list of reports that are included in this update.

Restoring environments to a point in time in the past

While this one has been delayed until November, it helps me feel more secure about my disaster recovery plan for my own company and our data. Now, I did just knock on wood to make sure I did not jinx myself, but it makes me feel a lot better knowing that the option will soon exist. With this enhancement, system admins can roll back to a restore point in the last 30 days, and even restore to a sandbox first to test. For companies with a significant amount of transactions, or where it is critical to not lose data as part of an outage, this is huge! 

Business Central with Teams

This enhancement is not quite there yet, but the groundwork has been laid and it will be exciting to view and share BC data through Teams.  You can see a preview of it now, but there is more to come on this.

Business Central 2020 Release Wave 2

Power BI with Teams and Business Central

This is another exciting integration emerging with Teams, and you may be noticing a theme here. Teams is really transforming into a hub for everything you need to do in your day. The list of apps available in Teams is staggering and now with BC data entering the mix it adds another dimension to it. For more insight here is the full list of planned features.

 Business Central 2020 Release Wave 2

The broader landscape of Microsoft innovation

These are just a few selections from the extensive list of changes included in Dynamics 365 Business Central 2020 Wave 2 over the next few months. However, when I look at Wave 2 in conjunction with the other announcements by Microsoft this year, it is clear that Microsoft is going all in on providing a robust ecosystem of tools and platforms that can be used to extend and tie into one’s ERP system. Also, when we look at the improvements in Azure and other areas you can see how BC is benefiting from those improvements as well.

Below, I’ve highlighted some key announcements from the "book of news” documents that Microsoft has provided for its most recent major Microsoft conferences. Each of these selections demonstrates some of the exciting new features that BC may benefit from in the future. For just one example, I think about the capability to integrate AI and Azure Data to further extend the planning engine in BC for purchases and production – the future is definitely exciting! For each conference, Microsoft provides a “book of news” which itemizes the key announcements and is linked below. The number for each announcement corresponds to Microsoft’s index for the book of news.

Microsoft Build

Build is highly technical in nature and a developer’s dream to attend.  Key announcements included:

  • Video: Azure Synapse get your data for your analytics faster
  • 1.1 Azure Hybrid and Azure Infrastructure
  • 1.3 Azure Data & AI
  • Video: Discussion on teams

Microsoft Inspire

Inspire is an annual conference each summer for Microsoft Partners and was formerly the Worldwide Partner Conference. Key announcements included:

  • 1.1 Azure Data and Azure Infrastructure
  • 2.1 D365
  • 2.2 Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Ignite

Ignite is Microsoft's annual gathering of technology leaders and practitioners delivered as a digital event experience in September. Key announcements included:

  • 1.3   Azure Data Centers
  • 2.1 Power Platform
  • 2.2 Dynamics 365
  • 4.2 Excel
  • 4.10 Microsoft Teams

Looking ahead

So, what does all this mean for Business Central 2020 Wave 2 and you? That’s a great question. To me when I look at Business Central, I am impressed by the investment Microsoft continues to make in the product. When we look at BC as part of an ecosystem of solutions that can be leveraged to solve not just your ERP needs but also your business needs outside the ERP, it becomes a powerful part of your technology strategy. For example, say you're a small business that would like to work towards becoming paperless. You have requirements to perform quality audits on inbound truck loads and you want to tie them to a Purchase Order in BC. With Microsoft’s current toolset, there are multiple options to build a solution! It no longer has to be an ERP add-on or customization that hinders you with expensive technical debt well into the future. A popular solution I see frequently is an easy-to-create Power App coupled with Power BI to capture data and report on it.

As the tools improve, so do your options as a user of Dynamics 365 Business Central. To get the most out of your investment, plan to spend more time understanding the technology changes and planning for how they will impact your business processes.

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About Kim Congleton

Kim Congleton, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Owner of New View Strategies, is a thought leader and trusted business partner known for her contagious, “we can do this” leadership energy. Kim leads NVS consulting and training services related to Advanced Warehousing, IT Solution Architecture, and Operations, and she empowers her clients to DO MORE with their ERP solutions. Kim draws from over two decades of senior leadership for Enterprise Systems, IT Supply Chain Solutions, and Solution Architecture. She earned the reputation as the go-to leader for meeting ambitious timetables, and navigated teams through 50+ BC/NAV ERP and advanced warehousing projects.

Kim is a passionate and acclaimed contributor to the BC/NAV user community. In addition to being recognized with All-Star and Granite awards, she has served as National Advisory Board member, Programming Committee member, Dynamics Credentialed Professionals Exam Committee member, and frequent presenter. Holding a B.A. in Special Studies (Teikyo Marycrest University), Kim has also earned Seth Gordin’s altMBA, core certifications in Microsoft Dynamics NAV Setup & Financials, and Scrum Master & Scrum Product Owner certificates. She cheerfully admits to being a tech nerd and invariably is the one asking, “Is there a better way?” You’ll also find her on the road as a competitive triathlete, and in the kitchen as an avid cook.

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