One question I commonly receive from clients is how to handle payroll in Dynamics 365 Business Central. There are two built-in import tools, one for Ceridian and one for QuickBooks payroll and you can also seek out 3rd party solutions but those come with additional costs and setup. Business Central does offer several tools that make payroll a breeze out-of-the-box without additional costs or headaches.
In this article, I’ll walk through four different methods for entering payroll (and really any recurring periodic journal entries). Using standard journal functionality, recurring journals, excel or a configuration package I’ll walk through the steps to create your payroll entries to help save time.
Standard Journal Functionality
Business Central has standard functionality built into the General Journal that allows us to save journal entries that have been prepared and then reuse them for future use.
These are called Standard Journals and to set them up you have to first prepare the journal entry you would like to save, in this instance payroll entries.
Next, you want to save the Standard Journal and assign it a unique code by selecting Actions > Save as Standard Journal:
Provide a code for that Standard Journal and a brief description:
If you have multiple payroll journals you need to post, then you could create numerous Standard Journal codes.
Then go ahead and post the journal entry as normal and in your next pay period you can opt to load your saved Standard Journal instead of preparing manually by selecting Actions > Get Standard Journal:
Then select the code that you created:
And just like that you now have a reusable journal entry that you could use for simple payroll entries.
With Standard Journals there’s also the benefit where they are saved among users so if I prepare and save a Standard Journal another user can use it in the future.
Using the recurring journal function in Business Central we can create persistent journal entries that retain their setup and formatting after posting. These are based on a user-defined frequency most commonly monthly but can also be set to update bi-weekly, daily, or any other date formula combination.
First, we have to open the Recurring General Journal page and prepare our payroll entry, there are a few important settings I’ll make note of.
One important setting to consider is the Recurring Method and you are given several options:
Fixed: If the journal entries are for the same amount every period, in the case of simple payroll entries.
Variable: If your journal entries have varying amounts every period, such as employee benefits paid by the employer once a month.
Reversing: This option wouldn’t be used for a common payroll journal entry but is generally used for accruals that are reversed the day following the posting date.
Balance: This type isn’t commonly used for most recurring journal entries you may have. The balance of a selected G/L Account is cleared and allocated to specified G/L accounts per the allocation table.
Another important part of recurring journals is to identify the frequency using a date formula:
In the journal above I’ve identified the frequency as 2 weeks, but you can also use D for days, M for months, and also basic arithmetic such as 1D+2W.
When the journal entry is posted it will persist but with an updated posting date based on your frequency date:
Other users in the system can also use this journal in the future and post it which is a benefit just in case someone happens to be on vacation or out of office.
Another option is simply just using excel by preparing your journal entries in excel and then pasting them into Business Central from there.
For this method to work you have to first open a General Journal and copy (Ctrl + C) any number of lines, a pop up will appear at the bottom of your page signifying how many lines have been copied:
Then just paste these into Excel:
The column formatting will carry over into Excel and you can add new rows as needed. One important thing to note here is that you can’t remove any columns from the excel file and the column layout has to match the Business Central format exactly. Also, you need to consider what your date format is in Excel as it has to match the Business Central format.
I can edit the Amounts, G/L Account No., Document No., Description and then copy those rows and paste them back into Business Central:
If you get the below error message you will have to delete the line, you’re pasting your excel rows into:
This method is great if you’re more comfortable working in excel as I personally find it much easier to make modifications in excel. It’s also easier if, for example, your payroll system has a .csv or excel file output where you can transcribe columns into the excel template. Additionally, it also keeps the payroll journal out of Business Central so users with access to journals won’t be able to see the payroll journals in the process of being prepared.
Lastly would be using Configuration Packages which are a slightly complex but efficient method that’s highly customizable. If you’re curious what Configuration Packages are and how to use them, I wrote a previous article that went in-depth and can be found here.
The setup for a payroll journal Configuration Package can take a bit of setup but is the most robust method overall. To use the Configuration Package to prepare journal entries we will want to identify the table and then select the columns we want to be included in the package.
For general journals the Table ID is table 81:
And we can even select specific filters so that we’re only working within a specific journal template and batch:
When you select “No. of Fields Available” it’ll show you all the columns that are exposed in that particular table. The columns that need to be included at a minimum:
And if you want to modify the columns that are included select “Edit List” at the top of the page and you can columns on or off.
If you also want dimensions, then you can toggle dimensions on as well by marking off the “Dimensions as Columns” field back in the line section:
These show up at the very bottom of the column table with a “9999999XX” prefix:
Once you’ve finished that setup the Configuration Package can then be extracted to excel by selecting Package > Export to Excel:
You only need to do this once (unless the columns included are modified) and this file can be saved for future use.
You can add any rows you would like but make sure not to add any columns and also not to delete the first two rows with the Configuration Package mapping:
Once the template is filled in and ready to load you would save the file and in the Configuration Package select Package > Import from Excel:
Select Import at the top, this queues your data up to be loaded but don’t worry yet as nothing has really been done in the system and no journal entries are posted yet:
Then select Functions > Apply Data. This won’t post your journal entries but just prepares them and creates them for you:
If successful you’ll be greeted with a message similar to below showing you have many records have been inserted, modified or if any errors may have been found:
The last step would be going to the journal and batch you identified in your Configuration Package and then validating and posting the journal entry.
Configuration Packages are extremely powerful tools especially when you have a high volume of lines in your journal entries. I work with a few clients who post upwards of 50 lines in a payroll entry as they want to dimensionalize their data so Configuration Packages are a great way to handle a mass upload of that nature.
Selecting a method to use will depend on the frequency and volume of your journal entries. In many cases, it’s best to keep it simple and stick to a Standard Journal but if you do find that you have complex reporting requirements and want granular detail reported by dimension then there are methods available out-of-the-box without having to resort to add-ons that can come with added costs or technical requirements.