Making a decision for your ERP system is never easy, there’s a seemingly endless number of options for businesses out there and the choice to pick one system over another is never an easy one. Business Central is primarily geared towards the medium sized business segment of ERP systems. A new app introduced as part of the October 2020 “Wave 2” release of Business Central will really allow Business Central to punch above its weight in this category.
The new app or extension in question is the at first glance unassuming “Company Hub”. Simply put, it’s a dashboard which provides a quick glance at the companies a user has access too. What makes it powerful is that the Hub provides access to the entirety of your Business Central environments and tenants on one page. Even for a smaller company this feature can provide a benefit by linking all your sandbox companies (and environments) and production companies (and environments) together. From one page you can view all your companies and environments and click on them to hop to the selected company.
The first step that needs to be taken to utilize the Company Hub is to add the environments you would like to access. You can import and export the list of environments you’re working in and adding new environments is very easy.
All that’s needed is the URL link to the environment then the connection can be tested to verify the link is accurate. The “Test the Connection” button will take you to the environment.
Given you have the correct permissions, it will prompt you if the login is successful and if it is successful you will now have a connection to that environment.
From the main Company Hub page, you can then load all the companies from that environment into the Company Hub. As you can see below, we can even set “Group Codes” for the environments. In this example I’ve classified environments based on their support tiers, both Dedicated and On Demand. The Company Hub also gives us a brief glance at our Cash Balance, Overdue Purchase Invoice and Sales Invoice amounts.
From within a company, tasks can be created and assigned to users. The Company Hub then provides an update of user tasks that have been assigned, and the status of those tasks.
Tasks are easy to create. From within any company you can create a new task, assign it to a user and set a due date. Below is a task that has been created in our fictional company “Let’s Potato Chips”.
When we navigate back to the Company Hub, you can see that as Tasks are created, the user assigned to those tasks will see that the User Tasks and Overdue Tasks have been updated.
If you select “My User Tasks” you can then view a list of all tasks that have been assigned to you. Overdue tasks are highlighted in Bold, Red and Italic font. From there the user can navigate to the company in question and tasks can then be marked off as completed.
The most common use case for this feature would be an accountant or bookkeeper that has a portfolio of clients in Business Central. With the company hub they can quickly view all of the environments and tenants they work with. They can track and complete tasks and view those quick KPI’s at a glance.
Another case that I believe will interest companies at the larger end of the SME space is that Business Central now has the ability to easily handle the needs of a company that has multiple business entities with operations in different countries under its umbrella. If for example a company has a Canadian operation and American operation that are distinct, both companies can exist in their own space with their own localization, users, permissions, and customizations. However, management can use the Company Hub as a dashboard to view and hop between both with ease.
If we want to consider the usefulness of the Company Hub on a smaller scale the Hub is a convenient dashboard for tracking tasks that have been assigned to users. It’s also a great tool for any developers who would like to test custom extensions in a Sandbox company.
There is a lot of potential to tap into and Business Central is becoming that much more viable for expanding multinational companies and complex business entities. It will be interesting to see the direction that Microsoft is going to take this feature in the future. The Company Hub does not feel like a one off and I expect there to be plenty of new features and capabilities added over time.
Want to see Business Central in action? Request a 30-minute live demo of Dynamics 365 and one of our ERP experts will get in touch to book an appointment.