Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Spring 2021 Release

Microsoft, in keeping in line with their cadence to release new functionality bi-annually has announced plans for their April release. In this Blog, we will focus on highlighting those application improvements that are relevant to end users.  There are several other feature releases that are pretty exciting that you can check out here as well: New and planned features for Dynamics 365 Business Central, 2021 release wave 1 – Dynamics 365 Release Plan | Microsoft Docs

If you are interested in learning more about Business Central, please contact us to schedule a consultation and demo.

In the wave 1 Business Central 2021 release, featured improvements will focus on the area of banking, payments, continued improvements to software performance for applications.

Application Changes

In the wave 1 Business Central 2021 release, featured improvements will focus on the area of banking, payments, continued improvements to software performance for applications. See a summarized list of relevant updates listed below:

Assisted setup helps move the task of adjusting item costs to the background:

To optimize the experience, most features in Business Central are turned on by default. However, as data accumulates over time, that might impact performance. To reduce the load on the application, it’s often helpful to use job queue entries to move tasks to run in the background.

However, creating the job queue entries can be tricky, even for an experienced consultant, so we’re introducing an assisted setup guide to make the process easier for adjusting item costs. On the Inventory Setup page, when you turn off the Automatic Cost Posting toggle, or specify Never in the Automatic Cost Adjustment field, an assisted setup guide becomes available, and can help you on each step of the way.

Automatic creation of lot and serial number information cards:

To create an information card when you post journals or documents, go to the Item Tracking Code page and turn on the Create SN Info. on posting or Create Lot No. Info on posting toggles. For even more control, go to the Item Tracking Lines page and use the Serial No. Information Card or Lot No. Information Card actions. If you create serial numbers in bulk by using the Create Customized SN or Assign Serial No. actions, you can enable Create SN Information, and an information card will be created for each tracking line.

Bank reconciliation improvements:

From the Bank Acc. Reconciliation page, you can cancel a bank reconciliation that was posted with mistakes, and then from the Bank Statements page, you can run a new bank reconciliation. You can also change the statement number for the bank reconciliation in case you want to redo an undone bank reconciliation using the same number. The Undo functionality is available on the standard Bank Reconciliation page. The Undo feature is not available for US Bank Rec. Worksheets. In short, for Bank Acc. Statements, you now have a report that shows the reconciliated entries.

Bin code in jobs:

Bins are basic storage units in warehouses. For locations that use bins, Business Central uses a system of default bins to support warehouse handling tasks. When a user creates a job planning line or a job journal line and specifies the item number and location code, the default bin is automatically suggested. Users can choose a different bin by using the Lookup action to open the Bin Content page. The page shows the default bin, fixed bins, and bins that are temporarily used to store items.

Changes in synchronization between contact and customer or vendor:

We are changing the way data is synchronized between cards for customers and vendors, contacts of type Company, and contacts of type Person.

Business Central continues to keep in sync any customer or vendor record and contact record that are linked through the Business Relations action. Similarly, we continue to propagate data from contacts of type Company to linked contacts of type Person, while respecting the settings from the Marketing Setup page.

New in this release wave is that the contact selected in Contact Code and Contact Name on the customer card and vendor card will no longer be used for sync. These fields contain the default contact of type Person for the specific customer or vendor to be used in documents. While you still can add a contact of type Company, there is not much sense in it. We recommend using the Link to existing action from the contact card instead to register the connection between a customer or vendor and a contact of type Company. For more information, see To link a contact to an existing customer, vendor, employee, or bank account.

Note that fields on the Address & Contact FastTab of the customer card are related to the customer, not the contact person. They’ll no longer be updated when you choose a new contact in the Contact Code or Contact Name fields. The same applies to the fields on the vendor card.

After all, in most cases, you wouldn’t want Business Central to copy private email from the specified contact of type Person to the customer or vendor, and then synch it to the contact of type Company, or to other contacts of type Person that are linked to the same company.

To highlight this new behavior, we reorganized fields on the Address & Contact FastTab on the customer card and vendor card, isolating the Contact Code and Contact Name in a separate group.

Define lot sizes for various stages of production:

In addition to the ability to specify lot sizes on routing lines, you now can also set lot sizes on the following pages:

  • Routing version. See Routing Version Lines (page 99000767)
  • Planning worksheet. See Planning Routing Line (page 99000830)
  • In various production orders directly. See Prod. Order Routing (page 99000817)

By default, the Lot Size field is hidden on these pages. However, you can easily add it by personalizing the pages.

Dimension corrections (for G/L Entries):

When a data entry mistake happens, either in journal entries, document posting, or data added through APIs, it distorts the picture of the business you get from financial analyses. Often, the data is used only for financial reporting, and doesn’t necessarily need to be corrected on the source document.

On the General Ledger Entries page, the Correct Dimensions action lets you correct dimensions on posted entries by editing the dimension value, adding new dimensions, or removing them. Administrators can also lock dimensions for corrections, specify that corrections must respect closed accounting periods, and view a change log for a given G/L entry in order to revert the entry to its original value.

Easy contact insights and access to history of interactions with contacts:

Contact list page in brick view now shows more important contact details across different form factors—for example, when looking up a contact in Microsoft Teams.

The Contact Card shows the Business Relation and gives you direct access to the related Customer, Vendor, or Employee card.

Contact card also has an Interaction Log Entries FastTab that gives one-click access to the history of interactions your company has had with the contact.

Inventory documents – new capability to adjust your inventory:

You can use the Inventory Receipt and Inventory Shipment documents to adjust your inventory. You can print these documents at any stage, release and reopen them, and assign common values, including dimensions, in the header.

Both documents are ready to use after you set up the number series on the Inventory Setup page.

  • Search for Inventory Receipt to register an increase of inventory. For example, this is useful when preparing to go live or adding open balances.
  • Search for Inventory Shipment to write off missing or damaged goods.

If you want to reprint posted documents, find the documents as Posted Inventory Receipt and Posted Inventory Shipment, respectively.

You can specify which reports must be printed at different stages. The following Usage options are available on the Report Selection – Inventory page:

  • Inventory Receipt
  • Inventory Shipment
  • Posted Inventory Receipt
  • Posted Inventory Shipment

Note that the available reports might vary based on your country’s localization. The base application doesn’t include any layouts.

Monitor inventory and transaction flow with Availability by Lot window:

As the flow of goods in a supply chain becomes more complex, the ability to keep track of items is increasingly important. In fact, for some companies, such as those in the medical and chemical supply space, monitoring an item’s transaction flow is a legal requirement. Other businesses might want to monitor products with warranties or expiration dates for customer service reasons.

Business Central makes it easy to handle serial and lot numbers for items, so you can quickly determine when and where items were received, where they’re stored, and when and where they were sold. In this release we’ve improved the item tracking capabilities by introducing Availability by Lot. You now have a list of lots with on-hand quantities, plus expected incoming and outgoing transactions, such as sales, purchase, transfer, assembly, or production orders.

If you enable Lot Specific Tracking for an item tracking code, you can get an overview of quantities by opening the Availability by Lot page from the item card or item list. To be sure that the quantities match in other pages related to availability, such as the Availability by Variant, Availability by Location, and Availability by Date pages, you must specify tracking information for expected incoming or outgoing transactions. For example, the Availability by Lot page will show information from a purchase order only if you have defined item tracking.

More control over settings for Default Dimensions:

Instead of allowing users to pick just any dimension value, when the dimension Value Posting is set to Code Mandatory, using Allowed Dimension Values in the Default Dimensions page, users can now pick from a predefined list of allowed dimension values that controlling, finance, or accounting departments choose as valid for particular master data, documents, or transaction posting in Business Central.

For example, your company wants to track customer revenue by geography using the AREA dimension, as shown in this example in the Business Central documentation. Your finance department sets all customer revenue transactions to include an AREA dimension value by choosing Code Mandatory in the AREA dimension’s Value Posting column in the Default Dimensions page.

Continuing the example, you have a customer that has operations both in North and South America, but not in the Pacific area. For such customers, you choose Code Mandatory in AREA dimension’s Value Posting column in the Default Dimensions page, and then, in the Allowed Dimension Values field, you choose North America and South America only.

This way, Business Central checks the dimensions values and requires the order processor to specify an AREA dimension value, and that the dimension values that the order processor picks are either North America or South America when they post sales invoices and other transactions for this customer.

Payment reconciliation journal improvements:

You must regularly reconcile your bank, receivables, and payables accounts by applying payments recorded in the bank to their related open (unpaid) invoices and credit memos or other open entries in Business Central. With this release wave, the payment reconciliation journal supports application against employee ledger entries.

Simplified bank statement file import:

Users can often download various transaction file formats from their bank. With the new capability, users can configure the import of flat file and comma- or semicolon-separated transaction formats, so that they can more easily import files they have produced or manipulated to fit with the mapping that they have configured.

Variant code added to production order header, plus limited support for production BOMs and routes on stockkeeping units:

Production orders created directly or from sales orders by using the Planning page will use the production bill of materials (BOMs) and routes defined for the selected stockkeeping unit.

Now, a new Variant Code field is added to the production order header, so you can specify not only the locations, but also the variant to produce.

The following fields for this feature are not available by default, but you can easily add them through personalization:

  • On the Production Order page, add the Variant Code field.
  • On the Stockkeeping Unit page, add the Production BOM and Production Routing fields.

If these fields are left empty, the values specified in the Production BOM and Production Routing fields on the Item Card page are used.

Supported scenarios:

Refresh production orders that have an item as the source type will respect the Variant Code and Location Code specified on the production order and use the BOM and route from the stockkeeping unit.

Refresh production orders that have a sales order as the source type will respect the Variant Code and Location Code specified for the sales lines.

Refresh production orders that have the family as the source type will respect the Location Code specified on the order. If you created stockkeeping units with location codes but without variants, the stockkeeping unit will be used.

Replanning production orders will create dependent orders, or lines within the current production order, with respect to the variant codes specified for the components of the main item.

Create production order of the type Item from the Planning page opened from a sales order will respect the Variant Code and Location Code specified for the sales lines.

Create production order of the type Project from the Planning page opened from a sales order will respect the Variant Code and Location Code specified for the sales lines.

Send documents as emails with any attached files automatically added as email attachments:

Business Central documents, such as orders or invoices, can include attached files that are related to the process. With this update, when you send an email based on a document, the attached files can be included in the email. This improves efficiency and makes the process of sharing related information smoother.

Edit active prices in Prices Overview and implement price changes using Price Worksheet:

When you enable the New Pricing Experience feature update on the Feature Management page, the Feature Data Update guide opens. To specify that you primarily work with sales prices, turn on the Use default prices toggle. If you use sales price lists, turn off the toggle.

If Use default price lists is turned on during feature data update, existing prices will be converted to default price lists for each area (sales, purchase, and jobs). This lets you edit prices in the same way as before. The default price lists will be automatically specified on the Sales & Receivables Setup, Purchases & Payables Setup, and Jobs Setup pages.

If Use default price lists is turned off, existing prices will be converted to new price lists according to what they apply to, what starting and ending dates they have, currencies, units of measure, and the minimum quantity.

When you turn on the Allow Editing Active Price toggle on the Sales & Receivables Setup and Purchase & Payables Setup pages, you can edit prices on active price lists in the context of the selected item, resource, customer, or vendor. When the toggle is turned off, to update prices in a price list you must change the status of the price list to Draft, make your change, and then activate the price list.

The Prices Overview page provides an overview of prices across all price lists. You can set filters that will narrow down the list of prices to modify or add to. When you’re done modifying prices, you can choose Verify Lines to verify prices against other price list lines to avoid duplicates and ambiguity during price calculation.

To add new prices, use the Add New Lines action on the Prices Overview page. This opens the Prices Worksheet page, where you can add one or more price lines, either by suggesting them based on criteria, copying them from other price lists, or manually entering them.

After you enter new prices on the Prices Worksheet page, you can compare them to existing prices before you implement the changes. Choosing the Implement Price Change action verifies prices against other price lists to avoid duplicates and ambiguity during price calculation.

Data cleanup tasks page:

In Dynamics 365 Business Central, administrators have different options for handling table and database sizes. Until now, these options have been available through several different pages and roles. With this new page, all processes are displayed in a single place. An in-product assistant can be used for guidance.

Dimension issues detection and repair tool:

Sometimes businesses use configuration packages to import data for dimensions, or run custom code to generate the data. If these processes are performed without running validation triggers, the result can be an incorrect value in the Shortcut Dimension No. field on the Dimension Set Entry table. The incorrect value can make reports that use dimension data to be inaccurate, or cause issues when displaying values for shortcut dimensions on various pages.

Business Central can now detect the incorrect values in places where this can cause an issue, such as in recurring general journals, and display the errors on the Error Messages page. In addition to listing the issues, the Error Messages page also offers a link to the Update Global Dimension No. for Dimension Set Entries report, which makes it easy to fix them in just a few steps.

The Update Global Dimension No. for Dimension Set Entries report fixes the value in the Shortcut Dimension No. field on the Dimension Set Entry table. Because the Dimension Set Entry table can contain a lot of entries, it might take time to resolve the issues, so we recommend that you schedule the report to run outside of business hours.

To preserve the audit trail for the changes that the Update Global Dimension No. for Dimension Set Entries report makes, Business Central will always log the previous and new values of the Shortcut Dimension No. field, and you can view them on the Change Log Entries page.

Get report (raw) data in Excel from the request page:

From the Send to menu on the request page, users can now choose Microsoft Excel Document (data only).

When you choose this option, Business Central generates the report without a layout and presents the raw dataset in an Excel file.

Better with Microsoft 365 Business Central

Microsoft Business Central 2021 wave 1 release made collaborative business processes in Microsoft Teams more efficient, add support for Universal Print, and harden the Excel and Outlook add-ins. See a complete list of updates listed below:

Support cloud printing using Microsoft Universal Print:

This feature adds a native extension that enables cloud printing using the newly released Universal Print technology from Microsoft. This is in addition to our existing email printing capabilities for supported devices (like HP ePrint and more) and third-party extensions already built by Business Central partners (including PrintNode support and more).

With Universal Print and Business Central together, you can:

  • Enhance Business Central with printing experience powered by Microsoft 365 cloud.
  • Unblock the move to the cloud and support printing for Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) users without a complex, hybrid print setup.
  • Print only to devices users have access to.
  • Eliminate the need to manage print servers or install printer drivers, including existing printers (via a software connector, connector appliance, or directly).
  • Print from anywhere when connected to the internet and authenticated to Azure AD.
Enablement of Word merge in Business Central:

When you want to send a document to a lot of recipients—for example, to your customers and contacts as part of a sales campaign—you can use Word’s mail merge capability to personalize each document by pulling data about the recipients from Business Central.

Search for customers, vendors, and other contacts from Microsoft Teams:

The Business Central app for Teams has been updated to include a messaging extension to look up contact records sourced in the Business Central database:

Look up Business Central contacts from the Microsoft Teams search/command box or from the message compose area. Contacts can include prospects, vendors, customers, or other business relationships.

Share a contact as a card during conversations in Microsoft Teams.

View contact information, history of interactions, and other insights such as outstanding payments or open documents, in the details window in Microsoft Teams.

Coming later this calendar year, quickly start a call to the contact’s landline or mobile phone number on PSTN (requires Microsoft 365 Business Voice).

Editing in Excel more reliably:

Support for company names with international characters

Add the Business Central Excel add-in to your Excel spreadsheet, and enjoy how you can edit or refresh data from Business Central companies. Now you can also get and update data from Business Central companies where the company name includes non-English characters or non-letter symbols.

This improvement is available from April 22, 2021 when you connect Excel to any of the supported versions of Business Central.

Better handling of Flow Fields

In earlier versions of Business Central, you would often run into problems when you edited multiple rows in a list in Excel when the list included FlowFields. This was typically due to the FlowField being recalculated, which caused problems in determining if there are conflicting changes to a record. With this update, we’ve greatly reduced the risk of error due to FlowField calculations on one row being affected by changes to another row.

Export any list part to Excel:

Lists that are displayed as a part on a page can now be exported to Excel. For example, you can export sales lines from a Sales Order page, list parts on the Role Center, lists in the FactBox pane, or even lists on ListPlus pages such as the Item By Location page. Similar to full-page lists, the Open in Excel action downloads a static copy of your list as an Excel worksheet, complete with any filters and sort order that you have applied.

Enabling the feature ahead of time

The change will be automatically enabled on all environments with Business Central in 2021 release wave 2 (version 19), but administrators can enable it as early as Update 18.3. To enable the change, sign in to your Business Central online environment and navigate to the Feature Management page, and then enable this capability for all users.

Integration of Word templates with interaction templates:

In 2021 release wave 1, Microsoft added Word templates so you can use Business Central as the data source for mail merge documents in Word. With the July update, users will be able to add a Word template to interactions, and then log the interactions to a segmented audience.

Information for this post was pulled from Microsoft and you can view additional enhancements made to Business Central here.  The respective link is updated with new features throughout the year, so check back regularly to see what is coming:  New and planned features for Dynamics 365 Business Central

Learn more about our Business Central offerings or Contact us for a free consultation/demo.