Big Changes Are Coming: Dimensions in Dynamics 365 Business Central
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Big Changes Are Coming: Dimensions in Dynamics 365 Business Central

Over the past few weeks my colleagues and myself have been digging into the new 2021 Wave 1 Spring update of Dynamics 365 Business Central. We’ve dug through a trove of wordy technical Microsoft documentation and have spent some time identifying the bigger and more exciting changes. One that we all find to be a welcome change are some of the updates surrounding Dimensions.

If you aren’t familiar with Dimensions, they’re one of the big features in Business Central that allow users to analyze and slice up data. They’re user defined and are part of the backbone of a well-designed financial system. I’m going to focus mostly on the changes coming to dimensions but if you would like to learn more general information one of my colleagues has a great write-up on the details here.

There are two distinct changes that are being rolled out and implemented. One change has to do with the actual configuration with Dimensions and the second change has to do more on the transactional side of Business Central. What really grabs my interest is that we now have tools to correct Dimensions that have been applied to entries.

More Configuration Options

One of the most common places we see Dimensions in Business Central is as a requirement on Profit & Loss accounts. Typically, I see clients track revenues and expenses by departments, sales regions and maybe even more specifically by product line but the applications and specific use cases are rather endless with Dimensions. Focusing on just departments as an example we may see in most companies a structure kind of like the one below:

While we do track expenses by every department and every department may be spending money on office supplies, travel, meals, and other general expenses, we generally don’t see them all as a revenue generator. With a lot of our clients, they really only want to track revenue in a few departments and sometimes by mistake the wrong departments can be selected.

This is where the new feature comes in. While not possible before, we now can utilize a new column called “Allow Value Filter” while setting up our default Dimensions.

It’s rather straight forward in implementation and functions similarly to any other filter in Business Central. We just need to specify what Dimension values we would like to allow in our default Dimension setup page. For example if we open up the “Allow Values Filter” menu then we can see all our dimension values associated with that Dimension and we can then check off the values we would like to allow.

This will then flow through to any of our documents or journal entries for that GL Account. For example if I was to create a Sales Invoice using that GL Account and I selected ADM as my Dimension value code I would receive this error when trying to post:

The new filter really adds an extra level of control and reduces errors from routine data entry. With the new filter Microsoft has given us some more tools to help improve efficiency and now we can be more confident on the accuracy of our reporting.

Mistakes are Made

The other Dimension related feature that I find to be a huge value add is the Dimension corrections. When it comes to implementations, I’m very used to seeing clients experience a bit of ERP anxiety especially when moving from a smaller bookkeeping program. Dynamics 365 Business Central can be a rather large complex program with many working parts. With an ERP system it’s not always a matter of if you’ll make a mistake but more when and how do you fix it.

Thankfully, Business Central is extremely forgiving and with Dimension corrections it becomes even more so. Historically if we had incorrect Dimensions on a journal or a document such as an invoice, we would have to reverse the applicable journal/document and then repost it. Generally, this isn’t a complicated process but when it came to making mass changes it could become timely and there is always the risk of double posting entries. Additionally, just from a quality-of-life perspective you would have a large amount of “General Journal Bloat” so to speak. That is, you would have your original incorrect journal entries, your reversal entries and then your new entry that’s correct, given you did everything correct along the way. Below is an example of a simple correction for just one prepared line in a journal entry. That one line now becomes 3 just for a quick correction.

Dimension corrections add a whole new dimension to correcting your journal entries and documents. For example, let’s say I wanted to update the journal entry from above without posting a reversal or correction. I can opt to select “Entry” and then “Correct Dimensions”

Next, we are taken to a new menu that allows us to draft our Dimension changes. Also, while I selected one line, we can also select you do have the option to select multiple lines and you can view all the selected lines from the Draft page as well.

From the Draft page I can then select a new Dimension value code and add a description where I can input why the change is being made. I can also automatically update my analysis views but be warned if you’re making a huge batch of changes then this may take some time, especially with more complex analysis views.

You then have two options once your corrections are prepared.

  1. Run
  2. Validate Dimension Changes and then Run

Validating your Dimension Changes checks to see if the rules in Dimension combinations are followed and second it checks the “Blocked Dimensions Setup” page. This is a new page where we can specify if a Dimension is blocked from being changed.

If we decide to just run the job, then we can either run it immediately or schedule to run at a point in time:

For one GL Entry change we can easily run the job immediately but if you selected hundreds (or potentially even thousands) then you may want to run the job overnight or even on the weekend.

When you pick validate or even run what happens is a job is scheduled. You’ll be given a notification like:

Or

If we only validated the changes, what happens next is we have to navigate to the new page “Dimension Corrections” and we can find our drafted changes.

We can see that it was validated and there is a box called validation status updating us on if there are any errors. If everything looks correct, we then want to Run this job, again either immediately or at a specific point in time.

We can also make Dimension Changes on several different pages. There is the General Ledger Entries page which I demoed above but you can also perform the same process from the G/L Register, Posted General Journal Page and manually from the Dimension Corrections page which has a few tools for adding entries once you create a new Drafted Dimension Correction:

Effectively we have the option to select entries manually or by using filters in some way (Add by Filter, Add by Dimension).

In my testing I’ve been able to correct several hundred lines without issue albeit the system does slow down quite a bit when making that many changes. Digging further into the changes it appears that 1,000 entries is the maximum that you can add at once but the screen that displays entries has a maximum limit of 20,000.

As usual these are new changes and there are going to be some bugs and improvements over time. I found that the new Dimension features actually work rather well without many issues. One issue I’ve noticed is that I do believe the Dimension corrections can be a little clunky. Although, this is a feature that primarily will be used infrequently.

Sometimes we have clients who change their Dimension values and structure of their Dimension values and that’s where this tool has a lot of value. Reporting is going to be more accurate, and mistakes are even more forgivable than before.

Got questions about Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central? Schedule a demo and one of our solution advisors will walk you through the solution.

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Catapult Team

Talk to as many internal stakeholders as you possibly can, because the more input you have about what you really need, the better chance you have of a successful implementation.

Blair Hurlbut, Team Leader Business Central