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Customers’ focus: “hocus pocus” features in Dynamics 365 Business Central

It is fair to say that the most significant recent enhancements in the world of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) have involved expanding the breadth of what these platforms can do. But even relatively small incremental improvements can make life much easier for people using ERP software every day.

Customers’ focus: “hocus pocus” features in Dynamics 365 Business Central

A new feature of Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Business Central ERP suite is a good case in point. It involves the seemingly simple task of merging Customers but will be considered a breakthrough by many users who have tried to merge Master Data with automated historical transactions.

It is not that it was absolutely impossible to do this before. But the new process avoids numerous routine steps that were required in the old days of Dynamics NAV, bringing accounting perspective to focus within Business Central.

A better way of doing things

Previously, even after executing all of those steps, you would still have a lot of residual useless data left in the financial system. Direct Merge as a function was available in CRM, but not in ERP because of historical financial transactions.

Now the process of Merge is unified across the Common Data Service platform (bearing in mind that the financial entities of Customers can be coupled with CRM Accounts). It is all done automatically behind the scenes as though by magic (the “hocus pocus”).

Some of the additional positive consequences include:

  • Merging of vendors works the same as merging customers, re-pointing Accounts Payable transactions to a new Vendor.
  • While this Merge process is primarily aimed to fix duplicate Customers or fix errors in data entry, it may also be relevant in cases when there is an actual merge of customers happening and you would like to reflect it in your ERP.
  • Previously, during Data Migration, it was extremely critical to address duplicate Master Data records for Accounts Receivable (AR) and prepare the data during ETL (Extract Transform Load) processes. Now, depending on the volume of detected duplicates, it is simpler  to load the data as is and apply Native Merge once loaded in Business Central.
  • While the historical AR entries are re-pointed after the Merge to a new Customer, all needed historical details for queries and references at the Posted Document level still exist.
  • If there are conflicts with other tables during the Merge, this new tool identifies the conflicts and provides methods to resolve them. It may be a bit more complex if the Master Data is linked to dimensions that are synchronised across multiple Companies in the same Database.

Walking through the details

I want merge two Customers that have historical posted transactions (visible as Balance and Sales against customers in the list below):

The merge starts from the Customer card that I would like to keep: Actions -> Functions -> Merge with…

Then I specify the ‘duplicate’ customer to merge with, and whether any fields from the ‘duplicate customer’ should be applied to the merged record:

On the same screen, I can see related tables where Duplicate records were used (that includes General Ledger Entries, sub-ledgers and open or posted documents):

During merge processing, the system will attempt to validate all conflicts, remove duplicates and transfer all related entries to the new aggregated Customer. Conflicts to resolve are indicated:

View Details shows the conflicting tables:

I can either choose Remove Duplicate or Rename Duplicate. After that I merge again, getting a warning that it cannot be undone:

This warning is very important. Once the merge is processed, all logic relationships between the existing data (duplicate Customer records) will be replaced with a new Customer. Therefore, for Business Central, it would be impossible to identify the merged elements to split them back again.

Customer 40000 is gone while Customer 50000 now has new balances, including those transferred from Duplicate 40000:

The Customer’s City is updated as it was requested in a field-by-field selection. In this case, it follows from the duplicate record 40000:

Looking at the General Ledger (G/L) entries in the G/L Registers, no new entries are created. The old entries including sub-ledgers are re-pointing to the new Customer. In the list below, the transaction for the amount 9019.00, was related to the old duplicate customer 40000, but is now associated with customer 50000.

Navigating through that posted invoice, I see the following:

The customer shown in the Posted Sales Invoice is still reflected as the original. It is easier for AR processors to relate the queries:

While the associated Detailed Customer Ledger Entry shows the new Customer, it will be used to link the Cash Receipt later on:

The above description is very detailed so thanks for staying with me. Hopefully, it is a process that accountants and ERP users can apply in Business Central to make the most out of this powerful platform, while staying on the cutting edge without requiring specialised knowledge.

There are many more interesting ideas like this in the experience.dynamics.com/ideas iIdeas Forum – currently 1,160 ideas have been raised.

The idea for this Merge process has been tagged as completed:

Bright ideas welcome

One of the great features of Ideas is that the Dynamics 365 Business Central community can suggest new enhancements to Microsoft, vote for them and expect to see some of them make it into future software releases.

So if you have suggestions for better ways of doing things in Dynamics 365 Business Central head over to the Ideas forum and post your own ideas, or check out some of the great improvements your fellow ERP users have raised. Participate through voting – even a small number of votes can generate the movement necessary to bring an idea to life.

The simplified user experience we walked you through this blog is the “hocus pocus” that makes Business Central simply magic and customer focused.

Posted by: Andrew Sknar, Practice Lead, Business Applications – Business Central | 12 August 2019

Tags: Dynamics 365, Business Central


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