The Dangers of Data Silos, and How to Avoid Them

The Dangers of Data Silos, and How to Avoid Them

When you drive across the country, you’ll see silos used by farmers for storing grain and corn. They’re hard to miss, cylindrical towers reaching up a hundred feet or more over the flat landscape. The word “silo” has been adopted in the business world, but with different meaning. While a physical silo is used for stockpiling a commodity like grain, a corporate silo refers to the hoarding of information. Such data silos tend not to be good for optimal business management outcomes, yet they’re quite common. Innovative software now offers a way to avoid the silo phenomenon in your company.

What is a Data Silo?

A data silo is a collection of data that’s isolated from people who might benefit from seeing it. In some cases, the people who need the data don’t even know it exists. Alternatively, you can have two separate data sets, each differently describing the same area of the business. For instance, as we’ve seen many times, a company can have two unrelated databases for a function like accounts payable management, each offering users a different version of reality.

How Do Data Silos Come into Existence?

Data silos can arise for a number of reasons. Usually, it’s by accident. Two teams manage overlapping business processes separately. Each has its own information system and database. The result is two different data sets for the same basic information. Or, a company can update computer systems and end up with two versions of the same database, operating independently. In some cases, though, the data silos are deliberate. The practice reflects a corporate culture where managers compete with one another—trying to keep valuable data out of the hands of professional rivals.

Why are Data Silos Bad?

Keeping different versions of the same data in multiple silos is bad for business in more ways than one. Data silos make it hard to for people to do their jobs. For example, an accounting staffer may waste time collecting a debt that has already been declared uncollectible, but that helpful bit of information is hidden in a data silo. Teams may adopt awkward, wasteful workflows to hop between data silos to accomplish their tasks. There are costs involved in cleaning up discrepancies in data. When the silos are deliberate, they can contribute to a toxic work environment that inhibits growth and good morale.

How to Avoid Data Silos?

It is definitely possible to avoid data silos or break down the ones you may already have in your business. A new generation of accounting and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is the key to making this happen. For example, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central offers extensive application and data integration features. The platform enables system architects to connect siloed sources of data and “normalize” them—eliminating the silo once and for all. Business Central also allows for application-to-application connections that let users jump between siloed data in a single workflow.

Paired with Microsoft Power BI analytics software, Business Central gives managers a high-level overview of corporate data. This is good for management, but it also makes it harder for people to hoard data. People can come together to assess important business data instead of hiding it from peers. This is good for business growth and success in the long term.

We have worked with many clients on the identification and remediation of data siloes using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. To learn more about how we can help you in this regard, or to arrange a demo of Business Central, let’s talk.

Additional Business Central Resources

How Project Managers Can Benefit from Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Top New Features – Dynamics 365 Business Central

Tips for Making Your Business More Productive

How Project Managers Can Benefit from Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

How Project Managers Can Benefit from Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is a comprehensive, web-based business management solution. Yet, it even goes further than that. The solution also offers deep, multi-faceted project management capabilities. If you’re a project manager, you might be surprised to learn the many ways you can benefit from Dynamics 365 Business Central. Cloud-based Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central enables you to manage customer projects efficiently. You can increase your productivity as well as that of your project team.

Project Management as Part of the Broader Business

There’s a fallacy in certain companies that project work is separate from other areas of business operations and accounting processes. If your company is project-oriented, then projects should be completely enmeshed in the operational and financial management aspects of the business. That is what Microsoft has done with the project management capabilities of Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Managing Projects with Dynamics 365 Business Central

When you manage a project, you need to know what’s happening across a variety of separate workflows—some of which may be taking place in other locations. You need to have a handle on how much each job costs, and the revenue it brings in. Project management is also customer management. You’ll want to understand what the client needs and how the project is meeting their expectations. Today, this is a matter of software.

Project Management in Dynamics 365 Business Central allows you to simplify and oversee the project tasks of budgeting, time sheet management, inventory, reporting, profitability and more. The toolset is oriented toward keeping projects on-time and on (or under) budget, regardless of the project’s complexity. Dynamics 365 Business Central Project Management gives you the ability to track costs as well as time, completion percentages and budgets. As a result, you can deliver accurate updates and on-time completion.

Project planning features in Dynamics 365 Business Central Project Management let you get out ahead of potential issues before they become problems. For example, the tool shows you upcoming deadlines and possible conflicts with work schedules in advance. You can continuously monitor budget versus cost performance—connecting directly with invoicing, quotes and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) functions in the broader Dynamics 365 Business Central suite. This overall integration with Business Central allows you to know, at all times, who is doing what and where things stand with regard to your projects.

Project management today means mobility, too. Today’s employees and contractors expect to be able to work on projects wherever they are, whenever they want and on any device. Dynamics 365 Business Central makes all of this possible, with secure mobile apps and cloud delivery. The solution also provides data analytics, so you can visualize and report on your project work to senior management.

Other highlights of Dynamics 365 Business Central Project Management include:

  • Estimates—Project start out in life as estimates. The estimating phase is where you gather key requirements that later form the basis for the project plan.
  • Time Sheets and Time Management—If your company tracks and bills for time, an effective, easy-to-use and integrated time sheet is essential.
  • Capacity Management—How much can the team handle? Business managers like to say that being overbooked is a “high quality problem,” but it’s still a problem. It can even negatively affect customer relationships if capacity can’t meet demand.
  • Job Supplies—Stay on top of supplies, which can eat into job profits if not carefully monitored.
  • Work in Progress and Job Queue—Project-based businesses are usually running multiple projects simultaneously. You need to know where things stand with various works in progress, including those that haven’t started yet.
  • Invoice Management—Most projects are invoiced in stages. This can turn into a big mess if you can’t track project statuses, deliverables and contracts.
  • Employee Self-Service—When employees can enter their time sheets or status updates via self-service, everyone becomes more productive.
  • Document Management—Projects beget documents. Having a robust document management function bolsters project management productivity. People do not have to manage documents by email or waste time searching for documents.

All of these features work synergistically to improve project management outcomes. Together with the overall business management functions available in Dynamics 365 Business Central, they can drive greater profitability in a project-based business.

We work with businesses on the implementation of Dynamics 365 Business Central Project Management. If you want to see a demo of this software or learn more about how it can benefit your business, please visit the Dynamics 365 Business Central page on our website.

Additional Business Central Resources

Top New Features – Dynamics 365 Business Central

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Power BI

Comparing QuickBooks to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Top New Features – Dynamics 365 Business Central

Top New Features – Dynamics 365 Business Central

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is being updated between October 2019 and March 2020. The already feature-rich, all-in-one business management solution is becoming more versatile so businesses can take advantage of application enhancements, customer lifecycle management functions and migrations to Business Central online among other new features and functionality.

The Latest Business Central Enhancements

Microsoft has made a number of performance-focused enhancements to Dynamics 365 Business Central. Some of these features are already generally available to end users. These include:

  • Non-sequential numbering: By setting up a custom number series, system performance can be improved, especially for records where numbers are not legally required to be assigned in a sequence.
  • Cancel reminders and finance charge memos: This allows for quick correction of mistakes during busy times, particularly for reminders/memos created in batches during close-of-period work.
  • Specify default purchasing method on item cards: The software automatically handles items sent using the Drop Shipment or Special Order features when items are shipped from vendors to customers.
  • Use receipt date when customizing a Purchase Order report: Expected, requested, and promised receipt dates can now be added to the Purchase Order report, for when different line items are available at different times.
  • Copy Document function on blocked lines: Notifications on blocked items/resources are provided when users are creating new source documents.

Business Central Customer Lifecycle Management Updates

Dynamics 365 Business Central provides the tools to manage support, testing and updates; partners with customers using the platform can now:

  • View detailed notifications for update events
  • Access multiple production environments
  • Use report filtering and keyboard shortcut tools
  • Report production outages in Business Central Administration Center
  • Download a database export file
  • …and much more

Learn more about Business Central Customer Management.

Business Central Modern Developer Tools

The legacy development tool, C/SIDE, has been retired, as has been the development language C/AL. These are being replaced with a system based on Visual Studio Code and Azure DevOps, which supports extension-based customization.

Business Central now lets users translate other extensions, including apps, and access modifiers from local or third-party code. Users can also convert tables from C/AL definitions to AL table definitions, filter XmlPort objects and view database insights in AL as well as implement hierarchal menus.

Additional New Features

For businesses migrating to Business Central, customer migration tools have been enhanced with additional tables to complete migration. They can support migrations from installed extensions by default. A variety of features enhance the desktop experience for new and expert users. These include adding links to the navigation menu, adding notes/links to data, full support for keyboard shortcuts, longer timeout periods and simplified column resizing.

Other new features focus on performance, reliability and security as well as accessibility. A Support Request option has been added to the Business Central Administration Center, while support contact details can be entered here as well. With surrogate keys added to all tables, AL developers can now find records based on the key.

Stay tuned to our blog for more details on what’s new and planned for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central 2019 release wave 2. Click here to schedule a Business Central demo.

Additional Business Central Resources

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Dynamics 365 Business Central for Manufacturing

Microsoft Dynamics Business Central Features

Tips for Making Your Business More Productive

Tips for Making Your Business More Productive

Improving productivity, or having people do more in less time, is greatly boosted by a business application such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. Microsoft’s business solutions are geared toward productivity enhancement. From automating manual tasks to allowing more efficient use of data, this solution suite goes beyond standalone ERP and CRM systems to improve productivity in the following ways.

Increasing Availability of Data

Connecting all parts of your business enables people to do more. Real-time shared data provides insights into business processes, customers and sales performance. Equipped with the right data, people in your company can make better decisions. For example, your financial team can monitor sales and expenses in real-time while a close connection between back office processes and CRM can help anticipate demand.

Automating Business Processes

Sales, finance, supply chain and other processes can be automated and adapted using advanced business software. Role-based user experiences typically enhance productivity and support growth. A familiar interface across devices helps improve productivity, as can spending more time managing your business instead of maintaining on-site servers. Dynamics automates the vast majority of manual tasks through its cloud-based business management solution.

Deepening Customer Insights

The more data on customers, the deeper the analysis you can perform on the behaviors and preferences. Your teams can use interactive dashboards to see where to adapt sales activities and change what isn’t working. Information (e.g. buying history or previous communications) can be used to improve the customer experience. Team members can more productively:

  • Target leads
  • Reach out to existing customers with personalized special offers
  • Personalize customer interactions

Dashboards also help reveal new sales/service opportunities. They provide data and insights for sales presentations as well, enabling use of sales best practices to improve productivity.

Encouraging Mobility

Secure access to tools and data, and single sign-on across files, email, business processes and other applications enable greater productivity in and out of the office. Your team can be more productive if key business data and processes are available from anywhere. This lets any authorized user view and act on order status, customer details and product information. They can respond anytime, anywhere or track information, share insights and communicate with team members from wherever they are connected.

Keeping Your Data Centralized and Protected

With access control, authentication and encryption, all data are protected across all devices. Greater security prevents data integrity issues that can wreak havoc on productivity. In addition to structured access to sensitive information, Microsoft cloud solutions such as Dynamics 365 have 99.9% guaranteed uptime, so information can be accessed at virtually any time. Data are also continuously backed up in datacenters around the world, providing redundancy that avoids catastrophic losses and reduced productivity in the face of uncontrollable factors.

Upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Today

Dynamics 365 consolidates processes, so all parts of a business are connected. It provides real-time dashboards, automation and data security as well as mobility, all which contribute to improved productivity in and out of the office. If you’re considering migrating from your legacy CRM and ERP systems, learn more about Business Central software from Microsoft.

Learn more in Better Productivity with Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Additional Business Central Resources

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Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Power BI

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Power BI

An all-in-one business management solution, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central helps manage financials, project budgeting/scheduling, supply chain automation and customer service. Microsoft Power BI complements Dynamics 365 with the ability to visualize data through real-time dashboards supports more thorough analytics and informed decision making. Power BI helps visualize and analyze data across a business.

The cloud-based BI solution integrates with Business Central via intuitive apps to retrieve data, build dashboards and deliver reports. Dynamics 365 Business Central now offers several Power BI apps for its cloud and on-premises solutions. These include CRM, finance and sales.

Business Central dashboards are conveniently available in Power BI by selecting any visual on a dashboard. Once an underlying report is chosen, it can be filtered or have fields added to it. A customized view can be added to the dashboard, so users can continue tracking the selected metrics. Drilling into a report enables users to refresh data manually or automatically by setting up a refresh schedule.

Dynamics 365 Business Central Essentials

Starting at $70 per user/month, this cloud solution is based on the user-friendly Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). It is customizable and includes:

  • Financial Management: Users can work with general ledgers, budgets, cash flows and payments along with many other finance-related functions.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Business Central helps manage and support sales operations; the information available helps improve customer interactions.
  • Project Management: Configure jobs and schedule resources while leveraging information needed to manage budgets and track the progress of any project.
  • Supply Chain Management: Gain the visibility and control needed to optimize inventory and reduce shortages while maximizing profitability through automation.
  • Human Resources Management: Business Central lets users manage payroll and expenses, track time and absences and complete many other HR tasks.
  • Warehouse Management: Track goods from receipt through shipping with a solution that helps organize/maintain inventory and manage workflow and other internal warehouse activities.

Dynamics 365 Business Central Premium

Available from $100 per user/month, Business Central Premium offers all the basic features of Essentials, but adds integrated, customizable capabilities for:

  • Service Management: Includes tools for managing and tracking customer service including scheduling calls, setting up service orders and tracking supplies and the status of repairs.
  • Manufacturing: A range of functionality is available, from executing production orders to tracking finished production costs to managing subcontract manufacturing and post production.

Learn more in Dynamics 365 Business Central: Premium Vs. Essentials.

A Complete Overview with Power BI

With Power BI, Dynamics 365 Business Central users can access data, create reports and view dashboards using mobile applications. The tool helps visualize data from across a business to help managers make key decisions and develop strategies. Data from multiple departments can be combined for an integrated view. In addition, Power BI connects with Excel and Power View.

When combined with Dynamics 365, the BI solution delivers new insights via interactive data visualizations. The combination presents company data and critical statistics in real time, while reports can be published on Power BI. This provides availability across mobile devices to increase visibility and collaboration.

We have worked with many companies on the implementation of Dynamics 365 Business Central working in concert with Power BI as well. If you’re interested in learning how this simple, but data-rich management platform can help your business, let’s talk.

Additional Business Central Resources

Comparing QuickBooks to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Improving Field Service Operations with Dynamics 365 Business Central

Improving Your Business with Dynamics 365 Business Central

Comparing QuickBooks to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

Comparing QuickBooks to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

QuickBooks and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central are both popular and affordable business software solutions for smaller companies. However, they differ greatly in terms of available features, scalability and pricing. Their core functionality enables small companies to manage their basic accounting needs. However, the similarities between the two substantially diverge from there.

QuickBooks: A Simple Small Business Solution

The appeal of QuickBooks arises out of its:

  • Longevity: Intuit launched the first version, Quicken, in 1983, so it has been around for a while.
  • Deployment options: It is available as on-premise and cloud-based accounting applications.
  • Versions: Choose from QuickBooks Online Plus, Enterprise Solutions Platinum, Enterprise Solutions Gold and Enterprise Solutions Silver.

QuickBooks is relatively easy to set up and can be moved from a private to a public cloud. There are also options to help your business manage payroll, pay bills and accept payments. In general, the platform is best-suited for small and medium-sized businesses with 1,000 or fewer transactions per month.

Is QuickBooks Right for Your Business?

The easiness of QuickBooks can create problems, convenient as it all might be. In some ways, QuickBooks can leave your business vulnerable as it grows. For example, you can change or even delete journal entries after an accounting period closes. This is very useful, but it’s also runs totally against established accounting principles.

The reporting options are also limited, making it difficult to leverage analytics or customer insights. It doesn’t offer visibility into changes to master records or logins/logoffs, making audit trails inconsistent. Other cons include a lack of control over who can access sensitive financial data, while weak user permissions/roles limit security and increase the risk of mistakes.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central: Feature-Rich with Full Integration

Microsoft’s accounting product has hundreds more features than Intuit’s. A strictly cloud-based system, Dynamics 365 is designed for SaaS implementations. It is available in several Business Editions with modules centered on Finance and Operations, Sales, Customer Service and Marketing. Some of the solution’s strong points include:

  • Integration with other Microsoft products: Data can be stored, updated and accessed across Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Office, Excel, Outlook and other applications.
  • Robust audit trail: Greater protection against errors and data theft; voided transactions must be reversed (not deleted) so there is an audit trail of activity and who did what.
  • Extensive reporting capabilities: A web-based reporting system lets users view open purchase orders, analyze salesperson performance and assign data access permissions.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central also offers contract management, mail logging for MS Exchange, contact classification and job management features. It supports multiple languages as well. Integration with Power BI enables businesses to connect their data to the reporting system.


While setting up QuickBooks is relatively simple, Microsoft’s solution requires a little more effort and investment. For the best results, you’ll need a professional to import data, provide staff training and integrate the software with your business systems.


For top tier functionality, a QuickBooks installation may run you $184/user/month (lower tier plans go for much less, but have limited features), while Dynamics 365 costs roughly $70/user/month.

QuickBooks vs. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central: Which Solution Is Best for Your Business?

Determining the best solution for your business requires looking into your organization’s requirements and growth objectives. Each product has its strengths and weaknesses. You can choose between QuickBooks’ brand recognition or the robust features and integration of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Learn more about Business Central at the links below or contact us here:

Better Productivity with Dynamics 365 Business Central

Improving Your Business with Dynamics 365 Business Central

Dynamics 365 Business Central: Premium Vs. Essentials