Dynamics 365 is evolving fast and it has been heavily marketed by Microsoft since its release. Dynamics 365 for Financials (or Dynamics 365 Business Edition) has been available for the North American businesses since November 1st, 2016, and has since caught much attention. UK has recently seen the preview release of Dynamics 365 and Netherlands and Denmark should see the releases coming this year as well.
Until now, Dynamics 365 for Financials released four service updates, on track to deliver full functionality until the end of this year.
The Dynamics 365 for Financials is based on Dynamics NAV 2017. However there are quite significant changes between the two that are important to know while configuring the ERP for a new company. A notable change is that building all custom functionality is only available through standardized extensions that are placed in Appsource (an app store for Dynamics 365, run by Microsoft), and thus the SMEs or the Resellers are not able to modify code that is inside the solution. This creates a challenge for migrating the existing custom functionality to a non-modifiable cloud based system Dynamics 365. So what are the options for migration?
Starting from scratch with D365
If the business is starting from scratch with Dynamics 365 for Financials then it will only need configuring the system according to the business requirements. The standard D365 setup package comes with Cronus setup and/or Cronus data to help started in 5 minutes. However, that would only suit a business for an initial trial of the system since it would not be tailored to that business. If this does not suit the business, the only option they now have for configuring would be setting it up themselves or asking the reseller for help. This could take somewhere from 4 hours to a full day of consultancy work depending on the business.
Another way to speed up the Dynamics 365 for Financials configuration process would be a standardised questionnaire for the SME to fill-in. This way business related questions could be answered by the end-user without any need for consultancy hours, and thus might be seen more attractive. We do not know of any questionnaires available for Dynamics 365 for Financials yet, and we will update this post when we see one available. A candidate for a release of such service this year is JumpStart 365. They already have an online portal available for end-users (managed through their Resellers) running Dynamics 365 for Sales and Marketing which allows for a rapid configuration. It‘s a standardised questionnaire that users are able to fill-in themselves or with the help of their Resellers. The ERP is then configured automatically based on the answers.
Migrating functionality from other ERP
If the business has decided to migrate from an existing ERP to Dynamics 365, the first step would be to decide which data and functionality should be preserved. If migrating from another cloud based non-modifiable ERP, then only data migration should be taken into consideration. However, if migrating from a customized ERP, such as Dynamics NAV 2017, then all of the custom functionality would have to be removed and rebuilt by adding standardized extensions from Microsoft Appsource. There might be an extension available in Appsource by your favorite ISV to replace the add-ons used in your custom solution, but there is no way and there will be no migration tools available for preserving the custom changes for Dynamics 365 cloud version. Thus all custom functionality would have to be removed. The to-be-released on-premise version should allow custom extensions and therefore a way to preserve the custom changes in Dynamics 365. There are Microsoft Partners, such as Simplanova, who are cooperating with ISVs and Dynamics 365 resellers to help them use Simplanova‘s competences in building extensions for both Dynamics 365 and Dynamics NAV 2017.
Migrating data from other ERP
If the business does not need the custom functionality or if it can be replaced using the available extensions, then it would only need to decide what data should be migrated. There are a few methods for migrating the data in the standard of Dynamics 365 for Financials:
- from Excel template (Customer, Vendor, Item and GL Account data);
- from Quickbooks (on-prem. Version);
- from GP (2013-2016 versions).
There will be limitations imposed, different for each system, such as not all balances will be available, no detail balances available or only few tables available for import. More on migrating using standard tools could be found at Microsoft Support team page.
There are also free extensions available on Appsource for migrating to Dynamics 365 for Financials from:
- Pegasus Opera (by Technology Management Ltd) for Customer, Vendor, Item and GL data; and
- from CYMA (by Dynamics Southwest Inc) for Customer, Vendor and Item information.
All in all, the key disadvantage of migrating data now is that all migration tools focus on migration of Master data (as could be seen bove) and thus do not import any transactional data. If you want to keep transactional data then you have to use the Rapid Start package (excel template) which is available with the update 4 of Dynamics 365 for Financials. Using this template, you would be able to fill in the journal data and fill in manually most other table information in predefined excel sheets. The shortcoming is that you have to use a predefined excel and therefore manually check which field data should be pasted to which columns and validate the data which will take some effort. But this would allow bringing not only balances but actual transactions which are crucial to have for historical data reporting.
Configuring Dynamics 365 for Financials and migrating data could be a challenge at first though we notice how fast the tools around this process evolve. There are many more to come together with more versions available for other countries this year. We hope your business found this review about configuration and migration tools useful. If there are any updates, we‘ll try to keep the post up to date and if we missed any newly available method, please let us know in the comments.
CEO | Simplanova
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