Data Challenges in Dynamics 365 Business Central Reports and How to Overcome Them

The evolution of Microsoft Dynamics ERP software to Dynamics 365 Business Central cloud brings flexibility and accessibility to small and midsized businesses around the globe. As an all-in-one cloud ERP solution, Business Central provides essential functionality to manage and grow your business, coupled with seamless integration, scalable functionality, automatic upgrades, and access to your data from anywhere.

Business Central is the first fully-featured cloud solution developed by Microsoft and built on its secure cloud platform, Microsoft Azure. Launched in 2018, Business Central was initially referred to as “NAV in the Cloud” due to creation from the Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP platform as its base (previously called Navision). While it does include the same core functionality that NAV users have relied on for a flexible fit to their business process management requirements, Business Central has a few other tricks up its sleeve.

One of those tricks is “extensions,” Microsoft’s new approach to customizing your out-of-the-box ERP software. From a technical perspective, extensions are a programming model that is object-based and stored as AL code. In application, extensions allow your ERP modifications to sit outside the system, so the base code remains unchanged, which is significantly different from Dynamics NAV. While this new model brings a higher level of flexibility and significantly reduces complexity and costs during updates, it also brings new data challenges, especially since your custom and industry-tailored data isn’t readily available in standard reporting.
 

Reporting Limitations of Business Central

Business Central’s native reporting tools are a good starting point for a small company. Account Schedules and pre-built Excel financial reports provide the standard level of reports required to support basic financial needs. Still, they leave little room for customizations, full operational visibility, adaptation for industry reporting requirements, or formatting manipulation. However, limitations in out-of-the-box reporting and analytics are standard practice in most ERP solutions today so organizations can obtain their specific needs through third-party solutions or custom developed reports by an implementing partner for the endless combination of requirements.

Here are some of the most common reporting challenges in out-of-the-box Business Central:

  • Report formatting limitations
  • Data validation and accuracy issues
  • Only manages one company at a time (i.e., no multi-company data consolidation)
  • Doesn’t access data from extensions for customizations and third-party applications
  • Simple changes require developers and technical expertise

Unlike Business Central, most ERP solutions connect to proven, third-party solutions that offer robust reporting, advanced analytics, and ad-hoc query availability. When a company outgrows or has requirements outside the basic reporting capabilities of its ERP software, a common practice is to implement a compatible independent software vendor (ISV) solution that enables more self-service features, data management abilities, and customization.

The problem that arises here with Business Central is that between the cloud environment and the move to extensions, it is much harder for third-party solutions to have the same compatibility and performance in this model. Also, standardized cloud deployments can hinder speed and Business Central, ‘Limited Users’ can’t access much of the data, which has left a lot of reliable Microsoft Dynamics third-party solutions looking for a way to adapt accordingly. Unfortunately, most ISV products aren’t caught up quite yet, and are either unavailable for Business Central at this time, or available with much more limited features and capabilities.
 

Jet Analytics for Business Central

There are financial reporting and analytics limitations within every Microsoft Dynamics ERP solution that restricts the data you can get to, who can get to it, and how fast you can get it. If you’re familiar with any Microsoft Dynamics ERP product, then you have likely heard of Jet Analytics as the go-to third-party solution for extending your reporting and business intelligence (BI) capabilities.

Jet Analytics was initially built to fill the reporting and data management gaps that exist in Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV, and Dynamics AX. And with over 219,000 users world-wide on the Jet platform, it’s no surprise the demand for Jet Analytics is exceptionally high among both existing customers who are migrating to Dynamics 365 Business Central and customers in new deployments. It is a highly effective ISV solution that provides complete business visibility, fast operational insight, and flexible self-service reporting capabilities for non-technical users required to make timely, data-driven decisions in a competitive environment.

But like most reporting, analytics, and data management add-on products, Jet Analytics currently has challenges when integrated into Business Central. Those limitations can prevent companies from experiencing the full business visibility that can be realized by Business Central and promised in execution by Jet Analytics.

Third-party applications like Jet Analytics can only access pre-defined, static cubes Business Central unless you employ a specialized developer to set-up custom queries. The results limit further by restricted access to customized fields and add-on data, and the fact that standard analytics are not compatible with Business Central Essentials. Here are three data challenges customers running Jet Analytics for Business Central are experiencing:

  1. Static queries limit what you can report on
    Only 62 queries are currently defined, and additional queries require a Business Central developer to deploy. Queries cannot be localized for regional deployments.
  2. Reliance on CData impacts performance and speed
    Jet Analytics’ current connection to Business Central relies heavily on a 3rd party (CData) to be able to work. As a result, you lose performance, speed, and support.
  3. Dependence on technical resources to optimize
    Any customization or seemingly simple fix to a query requires a Business Central developer.

Each of these data challenges severely limits your ability to generate timely, accurate financial or operational reports in the format that works for you without technical support – which is precisely what Jet Analytics is built to do. It is developed to enable self-service business intelligence at any level of an organization, and up until the launch of Business Central, it did just that.

As the biggest advocate for all Jet products, Tigunians saw an opportunity to help our existing customers get the most out of their data and their investment in both Business Central and Jet Analytics. We know the power of Jet Analytics and the value that a data warehouse can bring to all organizations. Hence, our business intelligence team got to work on a solution to bridge the existing gap and support every customers’ BI journey.
 

Introducing AdaptBC for Analytics

AdaptBC for Analytics is Tigunia’s new extension that removes the existing data challenges of Jet Analytics in Business Central. Our adapter reverts Jet Analytics to its original form, decreasing reporting costs and eliminating the need for a developer to help build and run custom queries.

READ THE PRESS RELEASE HERE

Through an integrated extension available with the click of a button, AdaptBC for Analytics allows you to access all your data, including third-party integrations and customizations, for any user to create any query, report, or dashboard on any version of Business Central, without technical resources. Here are some of the benefits it provides:

  • No Query Limitations
    Access all your tables, fields, customizations, and third-party ISV data through the Jet Analytics data warehouse and cubes – without the need for a Business Central developer.
  • Full Compatibility
    AdaptBC for Analytics will work with any localized version, all Business Central versions (Essentials or Premium), in cloud or on-premise deployments, and all license types (Full Users and Team Members).
  • Increased Speed
    Build unlimited queries, cubes, dashboards, or reports fast and customized to the way you need. Our adapter delivers the performance and speed Jet Analytics is intended for.
  • Seamless Upgrades and Zero Disruptions
    If upgrading from NAV to Business Central, AdaptBC for Analytics allows for seamless migration of the Jet Analytics solution.
  • Faster, Easier Deployments of Business Central
    Speed up your deployment by leveraging Jet Analytics for historical and consolidated reporting without complex and costly data migrations.
  • No Dependencies and Decreased Costs
    No developer is required to report on data from Dynamics 365 Business Central.

AdaptBC for Analytics will soon be in AppSource and is available now directly through Tigunia for a low monthly fee. Today is the day you can experience real business intelligence with Business Central, the way it was meant to be!
 

LEARN MORE ABOUT ADAPTBC FOR ANALYTICS

 

See AdaptBC for Analytics in Action!

Jet Analytics is a reporting and business intelligence platform made for easy self-service reporting, fast access to governed data, and highly effective collaboration without the need for technical staff. We’re very proud to say that with our adapter, Jet Analytics for Business Central can now achieve those goals!

At Tigunia, we want to make sure your new deployment or upgrade to Business Central runs as smoothly as possible. With AdaptBC for Analytics, you get fast, limitless analytics with any Business Central version or user type from day one. If you’re interested in learning more and seeing how it works, contact our business intelligence team for more information.

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