Twice a year, Microsoft announces new features and updates across their Dynamics 365 platform. Here, our team have picked out some ERP highlights from the 2021 Wave 2 release.
With a new, dedicated feature, Dynamics 365 Finance users will be prevented from posting depreciation within a period where the calculation has already been performed. The validation is based up asset ID and Book ID and helps to improve the accuracy of financial period reporting.
Wave 2 also brings further enhancements to invoice automation, with usability features based on real business processes. With the ability to apply prepayments to vendor invoices automatically, efficiencies in the invoice process are gained by removing the need for users to manually apply prepayments during processing.
Additionally, new one-voucher prevention is addressing one of the few remaining conflicts to disabling the one-voucher feature, improving downstream reporting and analytics. Fixed assets transactions will no longer use the same voucher number for asset lines during fixed asset transactions.
Microsoft’s AI-driven financial insights application is focused on leveraging machine learning to provide insights into existing data and this functionality is now available to all customers. This includes customer payment predictions, external data for cash flow forecasting, forecast bank balances, intelligent budget proposal and the treasurer workspace.
A new configurable tax microservice improves compliance, automates and standardises tax calculations and simplifies the maintenance involved to align with local tax regulations.
Meanwhile, a new tax reporting feature allows for multiple tax registrations to be held against a single legal entity. Tax transactions, reporting and declarations can now be identified by their relevant/associated tax registration.
More changes and improvements to the configurable business documents feature are also included in the Wave 2 release, including the ability to specify print destination settings at a document level, and support for configurable images to be added the document headers and footers.
Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Wave 2 updates mean asset maintenance plans can now consider fluctuating asset usage, with maintained orders triggered only when user-defined internals are met.
The core supply chain Internet of Things (IOT) offering continues to expand, as well, with new capabilities to track the health, state and usage of assets and present this information visually for shop floor/production operatives.
Inventory and logistics
Small parcel shipping enables integration with external shipping carriers to transfer packaging details and receive and rate tracking numbers. This rate can be automatically added to the sales order as a miscellaneous charge to provide accurate shipping costs to customers.
Additionally, a new landed cost feature will increase an organisation’s supply chain visibility by defining transport legs to inbound shipment processes, providing greater visibility of stock and also greater clarity for onward sales and customer service processes.
New face recognition sign-in for workers eliminates the need for badges to be used for sign-in which, as well as providing a hands-free sign-in experience, reduces the risk of fraud.
Wave 2 also brings an enhanced production floor execution interface, which will improve worker efficiency and user experience with clock-in and clock-out support and job lists optimised for scanning.
Further enhancements to the planning optimisation add-in are introduced in Wave 2, including manufacturing resource planning (MRP) II, purchase requisition input and greater flexibility for lead times and buffers.
Product information management
Wave 2 functionality makes it possible to convert standard existing products to engineering products to leverage the benefits of versioning and change management.
Improved administration features enable Business Central admins to self-administer and add flexibility when it comes to creating environments, including the ability to copy different types of environment (whereas before, you could only copy production environments).
Users can also now restart environments and restore environments to a certain point in time within the last 30 days.
Wave 2 application features and improvements include the introduction of non-stock items to both requisition and planning worksheets, the addition of item variant codes to demand forecasts, and enhance tours of Business Central, to help new users get to grips with the technology quickly and easily.
Microsoft 365 integration
With integration still a common theme in Microsoft’s regular updates, Wave 2 brings a new wizard that enables Business Central users to set up Teams without leaving the Business Central app.
Meanwhile, new development objects will allow developers to integrate with OneDrive, with only minimal code required to open files, and enhancements to the Outlook add-on will introduce new ‘send to incoming documents’ feature to process incoming vendor transactions.
As part of Wave 2 2021, Dynamics 365 Human Resources will merge back into the Finance and Operations infrastructure but will continue to be licensed as an independent application (just like Finance and Supply Chain Management), providing a consistent admin experience for managing the application lifecycle for Human Resources.
Capabilities from the standalone Human Resources app will be merged into the Finance and Operations infrastructure, with leave and absence management, benefits management and task management all set to be made available within D365 Finance.
Redesigned bulk actions inquiry will simplify the user experience by providing bulk editing capabilities in benefits management.
Often, benefits administrators enrol employees or confirm the selections employees make from employee self-service. Currently, this is achieved using the worker benefits update form on an employee-by-employee basis, which can be time-consuming and repetitive. The new inquiry view will allow benefits administrators to:
Quickly select and confirm the selection of all employee benefit enrolments
Look at different data pivots based on plan types, employee types and plan bundles, and do bulk selections based on those pivots
Look at flex credit allocations for applicable plans and quickly identify anomalies where credits aren't completely allocated
Look at enrolment information based on custom criteria (filter based on query) and save those custom views as shortcuts
Customer segmentation and targeting is a newcomer to Dynamics 365 Commerce, enabling organisations to target specific customer segments and markets based upon the shopper’s device information, locations, attributes, and more, boosting customer engagement and satisfaction.
Avoiding the need for authentication and account creation during the sales process can be key to increasing conversion. New order lookup for guest checkouts means guest checkout orders can now be retrospectively lookup up, after the event, for status information.
Customer addresses can now be saved asynchronously, too, decreasing the risk of abandoned orders due to delays or errors to online purchase. This enhancement decouples the address update between e-commerce and the headquarters app, thereby improving the customer check out experience.
Finally, Commerce analytics are now available in public preview, with general release predicted for February 2022. This feature enables organisations to make informed, data-driven decisions based on sales, operational insights and activity. High-scale data storage utilising the Azure Data Lake, interactive Power BI visualisations and Azure Synapse Analytics are also enabled with this feature.