Microsoft Dynamics Business Central for Manufacturing – A Viable ERP System?

Why Should we care if we can use Dynamics Business Central for Manufacturing?

Given the disruption of the past year, a lot of businesses are investigating ways to work remotely and in a hybrid work environment. There are a few technologies that manufacturing companies need to use that don’t work well remotely. One of them is ERP systems. That’s why we should care about Dynamics Business Central for Manufacturing.

If you are looking to replace an ERP system because you want to ensure it facilitates remote work, cloud ERP is where you need to look. My experience is almost entirely with what is often called “SMB” or Small and Medium Business manufacturers.

There are not a lot of good, modern cloud based ERP systems in the mid-market / SMB space. There are even less that really support manufacturing. That means that the best cloud systems are priced out of most manufacturers budget.

Oh, In case you are wondering, Microsoft defines SMB as businesses with less than 250 computers. That’s a pretty large manufacturer.

What is Business Central?

In the simplest terms, Business Central is the new brand name for Microsoft Dynamics NAV. In all the ways that count this cutting edge new cloud based ERP is the old Dynamics NAV reimagined in the cloud.

Microsoft did not shirk on the technology either! They have a boat load of money, and they were willing to spend a lot of it on Business Central.

The full name of the product is Dynamics 365 Business Central. That 365 should look familiar, because it appears on Office 365, Microsoft 365 etc…

This does mean that Business Central is part of the same suite of products you might already be using for your Outlook email, Teams communication, Microsoft Word or Excel productivity tools. And yes, that is a big advantage to Microsoft. It doesn’t mean that it will work in Manufacturing however – so that remains to be seen.

How does it compare with more traditional manufacturing ERP?

I recently wrote a blog comparing Dynamics Business Central for manufacturing with a pretty well respected mid-market pure manufacturing ERP called Infor Visual ERP.

I worked extensively with Visual ERP for almost 20 years (ironically I never sold a copy in all that time). I ran the firm that people who had trouble with the system came to for help.

When I migrated my business away from Infor Visual, I investigated a lot of products. I settled on Dynamics NAV (which later became Business Central) after significant research.

By 2014 we had started switching Visual ERP customers Microsoft Dynamics NAV manufacturing. There are a few small areas that Visual might do a bit better in. That is more than overcome by two main factors that make Microsoft Dynamics Business Central for manufacturing really shine.


Dynamics NAV and now Business Central are extremely easy to program, which let us enhance it in ways you absolutely could not with Visual. It’s so easy to program that we are essentially giving away “Missing” Visual features when we sell the product.

This customization let us plug any holes we found. It also allowed us to do the one thing Visual customers always cried about. We could make small, easily maintained, incremental changes. We could adjust the system to make it work better for the customer.

We avoided any kind of massive programming (although in my time I’ve seen other partners who didn’t avoid the same). We focused on making really useful changes that allowed the customer to get rapid benefits. This made a huge difference to customers. It can be a game changer when a very small change saves staff hours every week.

Dynamics 365 AppSource Addons

More or less related is the existence of addons for Microsoft Dynamics products.

When we first started selling Dynamics NAV for manufacturing, there was no AppSource. AppSource is like the Google Play store or Apple Apps store. It’s a place to go and rapidly (in seconds really) install addons.

In the early days these addons existed, were certified by Microsoft, but did not exist in any central location. Today things are even better. With Appsource we can really enhance Dynamics Business Central for manufacturing. I mention a couple of those modules below.

Wait! I have to get Addons

<Let me rant here>

There are 2 schools of thought about ERP systems. You want to get a really good ERP system with: great accounting; inventory control; purchasing and sales; CRM; scheduling; shop floor execution etc…

Imagine you wanted to get a similarly priced personal item. Say you wanted to get a vehicle and a camping trailer. You went to 2 dealerships. A Ford and the other GMC.

In our fake and hypothetical Ford dealer they sell their F150 truck, with a Ford Radio, Ford Tires, and a Ford brand camping trailer. This specific ford’s rims are totally custom and don’t fit other makes of tires. Nobody makes a radio that fits their dash. The trailer is OK but not the best you’ve seen. The trailer hitch is custom built for their truck.

You have no choice. But wait! It’s all in one warranty so if anything goes wrong you can blame them and they have to fix it!

GMC sells their big truck by itself. You can choose which tires you get, so you want Michelin tires. You can add a radio, and decide to get the more expensive but awe inspiring Bose Radio. They don’t sell trainers, so you buy an Airstream.

You would never complain about GM not making their own tires or radio, and you would never want the Ford where you had no choice but to get what they sell.

Why do you want an ERP that forces you to get their proprietary versions of things instead of buying the best you can afford?

<End rant.>

Out of the Box Manufacturing Features in Business Central

Dynamics Business Central manufacturing capabilities are identical to what was in Microsoft Dynamics NAV manufacturing.

There are a set of core modules in the Essentials edition of Business Central. These include: sales orders, inventory and purchase orders; assembly management; jons (project accounting and management); and warehouse management.

Some customers use the Essentials version exclusively. It works fine depending on your mode of manufacturing (see below).

Upgrading to the Premium version adds extra capabilities. You get Bills of Materials; Routings; Machine and Work Centers; Capacity Planning; Production Orders and other purely manufacturing oriented features.

Premium also adds Service management, which is used in the Engineer to Order space quite frequently, but not often in regular manufacturing.

Detailed Features in Manufacturing – in the Premium Version

Production Order Management

  • Agile Manufacturing
  • Version Management
  • Inventory Planning
  • Demand Forecasting
  • Machine Centre Management
  • Capacity Planning
  • Finite Loading
  • Production Bill of Materials
  • Production Scheduling
  • Supply Planning

Modes of Manufacturing for Business Central

I tend to think of manufacturing ERP projects in terms of the mode of manufacturing being used. There are different definitions from different organizations (mainly APICS) but these are the ones I tend to see and my take on how good Business Central for manufacturing is for these modes.

Engineer to Order – ETO

This is my favorite. I worked at an ETO for a few years before starting my own business. Dynamics Business Central for Manufacturing includes a really powerful project accounting module called Jobs. Since ETO manufacturers are really project manufacturers, this jobs module is a solid foundation. There are a few additional addons that I strongly recommend (including one that we created) to make the fit even better.

Overall – Business Central for ETO is really good.

Make to Order and Make to Stock – Production Manufacturing

Make to Order and Make to Stock are usually two separate modes of manufacturing (and they are) but I combine them into one mode I call Production Manufacturing. The out of the box manufacturing modules that are part of Business Central Premium work great for these businesses. Many of them also want the addins that I list below – which are great extra features.

Job Shops

Job shops tend to come in the biggest variety and tend to actually not fit that well into either ETO or Production Manufacturing. I’d want to see the Job Shop to see whether it’s more of a micro-production shop (very common – I call these “repetitive job shops”) or whether it’s more of a custom mini-project manufacturer like a light ETO.

These businesses vary a lot in what they make. A food co-packer is technically a job shop. So is a welding service business, a small machine shop etc…

Whatever the case, it is a good fit for Dynamics Business Central for manufacturing.

Process Manufacturing

Process Manufacturing is usually related to making one of the following:

  • Cosmetics
  • Chemicals
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Food manufacturing

Process manufacturing needs some heavy duty addons for Business Central to work properly. This is outside my comfort zone to be honest. The regulations and batch manufacturing processes are really unique. I have a few colleagues that I send these kinds of prospects to. Those addons for Business Central are extremely good, and handle this industry very, very well.

Graphics Arts Manufacturing

Print Manufacturing is it’s own sub-type, really a form of either Job Shop or Production Manufacturing depending on what they make. These businesses don’t work as well out of the box with Dynamics Business Central for Manufacturing. They usually fall into these categories.

  • Commercial Print (magazines, business carts, posters, flyers etc. – a real Job Shop)
  • Folding Cartons (think a toothpaste box, or cereal box. Can be production or Job Shop)
  • Flexible Packaging (these companies make the plastic bags you get consumer goods in)
  • Labels (could be a wine bottle label, or a shampoo bottle, or your aspirin).
  • Wide Format (think huge banners, giant photographs on walls in a mall etc.)

This mode of manufacturing has a really great addon for Business Central called PrintVis. PrintVis is a Print manufacturing MIS software addon that turns Business Central into arguably the best Print MIS in the market.

Add-ins Recommended by Me

My team has reviewed many addon solutions since we started working with Business Central for manufacturing. Here are our top choices:

InsightWorks Shop Floor Insights (SFI)

This is a manufacturing execution system for collecting job costing data (time), production reporting and materials use in real time. Comes with a nifty scheduling tool also.

InsightWorks Warehouse Insights (WHI)

This product is my favorite wireless barcoding solution for warehouse management. It runs on most of major brands of wireless devices used in warehouses today. I think it’s a great mid-level warehouse management solution.

Netronic Visual Production Scheduler

For those who need a a graphical drag and drop scheduler, Netronic is the industry standard for Business Central. Their Visual Production Scheduler is more or less for visualizing and manually editing the schedule. The Advanced Production Scheduler is more robust and will do best fit scheduling.


We’ve taken a look at using Dynamics Business Central for manufacturing in this article. I’ve had the opportunity to oversee the implementation of this system in more than 50 companies, and so far, so good. For that SMB manufacturer with 20 employees who work in the office and 60 that work in the shop – this is a great system. We’ve got a few customers with 500+ total employees using it very successfully. We also have a few with 10 total employees, and they are able to make it work.

If you are a manufacturing company that is in the small or medium market (again – less than 250 computers) looking for ERP I strongly suggest you look at Microsoft Dynamics. I can confidently say that as an ERP Dynamics Business Central for manufacturing is a great fit.

Select Suitable Conservatory Furniture For A Relaxing Evening

One should opt for attractive conservatory furniture for the garden so that family members and friends can spend a relaxing evening. Such furniture should be sturdy and made of durable material as it would be exposed to bad weather, rain, and hot sunshine.Attractive Designs in Wood and CaneThe best material for garden furniture is cane, rattan, metal, and teak which look good in the lawns and last long. It is essential to keep some points in mind while choosing chairs and tables for one’s lawn.The conservatory furniture should be light weight so that it can be easily moved around. Accessories like cushion covers should also be simple.Some of the best options are cane and metal which are reasonably priced and have very good designs. The furniture should have a comforting appeal. It would a good idea to opt for reclining chairs, hammocks, and cane swing chairs for one’s lawns. One can check out various websites on the internet which deal in such furniture. Most sites have their designs displayed along with the prices. One can compare the prices on various sites and choose suitable lawn furniture as per his requirements and budget.If the garden is small, one can buy sleek metal furniture which does not occupy much space. There are various designs which combine metal and cane. These look attractive and are reasonable. If the person has a large garden, he can opt for bigger chairs and tables for his lawn. He can also look for a suitable bar table and chair. One can find different sizes and designs of conservatory furniture as per preference and budget. One of the most important factors for such furniture is durability, so it is essential to see if the furniture material can withstand bad weather.Opt For Home DeliveryIt is a good idea to opt for light outdoor garden furniture which can be easily moved under a shade during rains and harsh sunshine. If one prefers wooden chairs and centre tables for his lawns, teak, which is durable, is a great option.These wooden chairs and tables do not have the same polish as indoor furniture. Most websites give a description of the kind of furniture they deal in but if the customer has any doubt, it is important to clear it before placing an order. Reliable websites have their contact phone numbers and email addresses on their websites where the customer can clear all queries.One can buy conservatory furniture from the comforts of his home by placing an online order. Payment is also simple through one’s credit card as reputed sites ensure that the client’s details are kept confidential and secure. It is important to find out in advance the amount of time that would be required for delivery of bulky furniture and the charges for home delivery so that any additional payment can be factored in. It is a good idea to search around for a reliable site which has good reviews from previous clients for supplying quality furniture.By choosing appropriate conservatory furniture, one can spend a relaxing time with friends and family in his garden.

Health Screenings Provide Health and Financial Benefits to Businesses

Corporate health screenings are a growing trend for companies seeking ways to reduce expenditures and provide a better quality of health for employees. By encouraging and maintaining the wellness of workers, the possibility of preventing potential health problems increases, which can result in lowering medicals costs associated with treating a condition in its advanced stage. Implementing preventive health care programs that include regular health screenings, immunizations and education is the first line of defense against health problems and rising health expenditures for businesses.Chronic illnesses and health conditions can decrease employee productivity and increase absenteeism and presenteeism, which greatly impacts a company’s bottom line. In fact, The Human Resources Policy Association puts the annual cost of reduced productivity for businesses between $87 and $127 billion. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and complications from obesity are listed by The Center for Disease Control as illnesses most commonly uncovered during health screenings. If undetected and left untreated, problems resulting from these conditions can disrupt every aspect of an employee’s life, including productivity in the workplace.”Preventive health care is an efficient and effective method of identifying and treating possible health conditions before they have the opportunity to develop or worsen,” says Dr. Jeffrey Greiff, founder of Flu Busters, a third-party provider of on-site preventive health care for businesses. “When a potential health condition is diagnosed in its early stages, it can be easily remedied and can prevent more serious conditions, resulting in a much healthier patient over time.”An Employer Health Benefits Survey found from 2002 to 2007, health insurance premiums for businesses increased approximately five times faster than inflation and four times faster than wage growth. As health insurance premiums continue to increase throughout the 2008 – 2009 fiscal year, analysts believe health care costs are a threat to the financial success of American businesses. Businesses are discovering the economic benefits of preventing and identifying employee health problems before they become serious ailments by offering annual on-site health screenings that improve and protect employees’ current and future state of health.A common deterrent for employees against receiving health screenings and immunization by a primary care physician is that the medical services can interrupt an employee’s busy day resulting in wasted time and energy. Third-party health care providers are gaining popularity in the business world due to their ability to provide on-site services to companies of any size. So, how does it work?Health screenings are available to companies of all sizes and can be provided on-site by a team of experienced health professionals. Prior to a health screening, information sheets are provided to make recommendations on what screenings would be most beneficial for an employee based on individual circumstances, such as, age, sex and family history. The actual screening takes only minutes and employees receive most screening results within minutes of the actual screening. A post-screening consultation with a registered health professional, as well as an online customized wellness program is offered to address any existing or potential health issues that may have been uncovered in the screening. From the initial screening to the post-screening consultation phase, the screening participants are actively assisted in developing solutions that will enable them to lead healthier, more productive and fulfilling lives.Even through economic hardships, businesses can still provide employees with quality health care by focusing on prevention. Routine health screenings and immunizations can identify and prevent illnesses, resulting in healthier employees, lower insurance premiums, increased productivity and decreased absenteeism. Businesses that establish a comprehensive wellness plan are investing in their employees, and ultimately, the company’s success.

Selecting Automotive Navigational GPS

You get in your car with a destination in mind but you wonder, is there a best way to get there. There is a very easy answer to that question and it is called GPS (global positioning system) automotive navigation system. They will direct you to your destination in ways to keep you from getting lost. If you make a wrong turn you are directed the best way to get back on track. The automotive GPS can tell you which way to turn, show you on a 2D or 3D map which way plus written commands easy to follow.How Automotive Navigation WorksThe automotive navigation system locks into a number of satellites to triangulate your exact location. What it does is it overlays the maps to the precise latitude and longitude of your location. It will then guide you with easy to follow directions to your destination.What to Look For in an Automotive GPSTraveling by car is a real pleasure with proper navigational instructions to your destination. Think about how often you would need and automotive GPS. How much use and how much information you really need to enhance your travel. Navigational aids can provide you anything you want. A simple route around trouble spots along the highway construction maybe all you need. Points of interest can be attractions, fuel, shopping and restaurants and many others. The more fully loaded with information the higher the price.Points of Interest or POIMost automotive GPS systems include points of interest pre-programmed into the unit. They include locations of airports and other transportation services, ATMs and banks, hotels and a many other sites you have an interest in. There are updates available to the database for you to get the latest information on your favorite destinations.There are full featured entry level models that have a lot of high tech options that are very inexpensive. The user no longer needs to know rocket science to operate the navigational aid. They are so simple to use while driving that your safety level goes up a few notches because of accurate directions less stress trying to decide which way to go.Some other considerations in your selection would be do you need your aid to use a voice command to tell you which way to go? Or would simple text commands work for you or would you like to have both? Maybe a bright crisp clear screen to see the 2D or 3D map is enough with the commands to your destination displayed across the top of the screen will do. As little or as much as you would like to have is available and affordable.You must have a system that provides multiple ways of getting to your destination. They can be by address, intersection, a personal address book or latitude and longitude from the map. No matter what your pleasure it is available to meet your needs.