So, you have made the huge decision (or are exploring it!) to implement or upgrade to a new ERP software. I’m sure since you have found yourself here, that you are learning all about how fantastic Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is and can’t wait to get on it. That part is obvious. What you may not have realized among looking at the huge amount of work ahead of you (and us), is that you have been presented with a fantastic opportunity to rethink your master data.
A big missed opportunity for improvement comes from those who don’t do this. You may think “it’s master data, I don’t need that to change”. Fair enough… from a broad overview, sure.
Some of the changes we are talking about making may seem big on the surface and some may seem minor. However, it is a combination of the changes we would recommend, that play a big part in maximizing the benefits of the awesome features that Business Central and its compatible friends (PowerBi, Jet Repots and Excel to name a few!) have to offer.
Let’s take a look at some important points:
The obvious first point, CLEAN UP ANY MESS!
When you switch over to a new ERP you can make less export/import work, as well as clean up and streamline the data in your fresh new system by clearing all the outdated data. This means old Customers, Vendors, GL Accounts and anything else you no longer use that just sits in the way and keeps you scrolling forever. Old is defined differently by everyone. However, in general business sense, if you hadn’t had any interaction with the piece of data in 2 years it can likely go!
Next, it’s a great time to restructure how you tag and track data.
If you’re upgrading from a recent NAV, you might want to update these things to get the most out of them. If you’ve outgrown QuickBooks or coming from GP and older NAV’s these things may be completely new to you. Don’t miss out on their benefits because new is intimidating. These awesome tools include Dimensions (and their Dimension Values), Posting Groups and Account Categories/Subcategories, to name a few.
Using Dimensions to categorize your data is key. Creating Dimensions to tag transactions to Departments, Seasons, Projects, Events or different Office Locations for example can give you a huge added depth to your reporting insight. It allows you to break down your costs more specifically and identify areas where these costs can be reduced.
Here is an example of the Dimensions you may have within your company to categorize your financial data with (EG Tag certain Invoices to show they are for a particular Department and an Office):
Each Dimension will then have its own Dimension Values (EG Tag the Invoice with the Downtown Vancouver Office to show it relates to them):
Posting Groups allow you to categorize data. Such as Customers, Vendors, Jobs and Items. Maybe you want to be able to report sales to your Customers by region or size. Maybe you want to see the breakdown between imported purchases vs local purchases. Have different teams that take on different jobs? Identify that. It’s easy to do using Posting Groups and gives you a whole new level of detail to your reporting.
This is an example of how you might like to categorize your Vendors. In the right you can see them linked to different Payables accounts. In this example, Provincial and Non-Provincial are linked to the Canadian AP account, whilst US and Foreign are linked to the Foreign AP account. This is where the Purchase Invoices that get done for each Vendor will show in the Chart of Accounts.
The final point I will touch on here, is making sure you structure your master data to maximize compatibility.
This means changing data, so it works with Excel, and in turn PowerBi and Jet for example. One of the huge benefits of Business Central is the awesome ‘Edit in Excel’ function on most pages that has an Excel add in which publishes changes right back to Business Central in the cloud (Blog on Business Central and Excel functionality coming soon, I promise!). To do this, it means removing anything preceding 0’s and decimals on data. Why? Because as soon as you ‘Edit in Excel’ these are gone, and you lose the ability to publish right back to the cloud. Or maybe you choose to ‘Open in Excel’ because you want to use the information for something else and now all the account numbers look different. To maximize this may mean renumbering your Chart of Accounts for example. Seems like a lot of work, but really you just use most of the same accounts and give them a new number for the new system. You will thank us later.
Overall, the general theme of changes should always be directed towards future efficiency and detail. The more reporting detail you have by using Business Central features, ability and other software compatibility, the easier it is to identify areas to improve your profitability and the more tools to help you do this.