Optimising Business Central for international organisations

Published on 11 Jan 2024

Topics: Dynamics 365 Business Central, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

When international organisations contemplate adopting an ERP system, they often face a fundamental question: centralisation or decentralisation?

In this article, we'll explore the nuances of this choice and how Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central can be the solution that bridges the gap, offering flexibility and control for international operations.

Understanding your international organisation

International organisations are as diverse as the countries they operate in. To make an informed choice, it's crucial to first understand the nature of your business:

  • Central vs. de-central: Are you a "command and control" organisation, where headquarters dictate processes and systems to every subsidiary, or do you grant local autonomy and control over profit and loss? Your choice here profoundly influences your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system needs.
  • Diverse operations: Consider the range of activities across your various branches. Are they involved in similar functions, or do they have diverse operational models? The extent of common requirements across your organisation is a key determinant.
  • Scale: Consider the scale of your operations. Is every business unit of a similar size, or do you have a mix of large and small entities within your international network? Scalability is essential to accommodate various business sizes.

The versatility of Dynamics 365 Business Central

Dynamics 365 Business Central stands out for its flexibility, capable of accommodating various organisational structures. It's like having a versatile toolkit at your disposal:

  • Tailored configuration: Business Central can be configured to mirror your organisation's structure. For example, if you operate in a "command and control" model, it allows you to centralise control over processes and systems. On the other hand, if you opt for a more decentralised approach, it can be customised to provide local autonomy.
  • Example scenarios: Some international customers mandate Business Central use across their network but let subsidiaries work with local partners. Others choose a rigid global template. In both scenarios, Business Central offers benefits like centralised financial processes, streamlined communication, and intercompany transaction management.
  • International transaction strength: Business Central excels in international transaction processing. It handles multi-currency transactions, currency gains, and losses efficiently, making it a reliable choice for companies with diverse global operations. Even in locally managed systems, it simplifies processes like intercompany communication and consolidation, ensuring smooth financial operations across borders.

Configuring Business Central for success

A key strategy for international projects is to identify a "model" country that serves as the blueprint. This country often represents the entire spectrum of your company's operations or addresses the most pressing business needs. Here's what to consider:

  • Standardisation: The model country should be set up with an eye toward establishing common product structures, numeric product groups, and language-independent dimensions. This makes the rollout to other countries smoother and minimises the need for extensive modifications in each location.
  • Rollouts vs. projects: Viewing other country implementations as rollouts rather than entirely new projects can significantly reduce costs. It also fosters consistency in processes and reporting, which is crucial for organisations with a presence in multiple countries.

Language support and localisation

Business Central offers robust language support:

  • Multi-language capabilities: Users can interact with the system in their preferred language. This means that a branch in France can use Business Central in French, while another in Spain can use it in Spanish.
  • Simultaneous use: Business Central allows users from different countries to access the system simultaneously, even within the same instance. This means that users from different language backgrounds can work on the system together.
  • Custom solutions: If needed, modifications can be made to display descriptions in multiple languages according to user preference. This is especially valuable in environments where employees speak different languages.

Licensing considerations

Consider licensing if you're using a SaaS version of Business Central with multiple country versions and a common domain:

  • Streamlined access: When you have multiple country versions of Business Central and a common domain (e.g., mycountry.com), users can log into all countries without requiring individual country-specific licensing. This approach simplifies user access and administration, especially for shared functions like finance and debt collection.

To summarise, Dynamics 365 Business Central is a dynamic solution for international organisations of all sizes and structures. It offers scalability, flexibility, and a rich set of functionalities that support small sales offices and large manufacturing/distribution operations across more than 100 countries (with continuous expansion). Business Central adapts to your unique business model, providing the flexibility to meet your specific needs.

Ready to explore the possibilities of Dynamics 365 Business Central for your international organisation? Reach out to us to discuss your organisation's specific needs and how we can tailor a solution to optimise your global operations.

Written by
Ian Humphries
Ian Humphries

Ian is Founder and Chief Architect at TNP. He is one of the most experienced Dynamics NAV guys in the UK starting with version 1.0, so in the distant past when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Having had a life as an IT Manager of both manufacturing companies and distribution companies prior to his Dynamics NAV life, Ian understands the reality of IT solutions and projects needing to be pragmatic and not full of techie jargon. Ian had spent several years helping to build the largest NAV solution centre in the UK. Keen to get back to dealing with customers, users and his beloved Dynamics NAV product, he left to set up TNP and is now involved on a daily basis with our wonderful customers and products. He is constantly looking at new technologies to enhance our customers' use of Dynamics NAV (and yes, he gets crazily excited about new stuff!). Random Fact: As a keen musician, he owns a staggering 57 different instruments and plays them all to the same very poor level...