Improved Configurable Business Documents

In our previous article we analyzed Configurable Business Documents announced on Microsoft Business Application Summit in Jun 2019, with general availability in October 2019.

Configurable Business Documents are intended to empower end-users and functional consultants to customize business documents such as invoices and orders in terms of design and data sources directly from within Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, without help from developers or new deployments.

Check out the overview of Configurable Business Documents >>

Configurable Business Documents: Pros and Cons

We already discussed in detail advantages and disadvantages of Configurable Business Documents but let’s repeat them here shortly:

Pros

  • End-users can change business document designs including adding additional data from within D365FO.
  • Provides setup for document templates with versioning.
  • 34 core documents and 64 localized templates in Word and Excel are provided out-of-the box for the most common business documents such as invoices and orders.

Cons

  • Very limited design capabilities with no preview option.
  • No PDF output.
  • Cannot be printed to network or local printers.
  • Partial Print Management integration: you cannot configure different target print destinations for the same template in Print Management Setup nor can you use Preview original/copy from journal forms.

Removing the drawbacks of Configurable Business Documents

if you are familiar with Docentric, you probably know that Docentric sits on top of the SSRS framework, reusing all SSRS report menu items, workflows, security, controlling and data fetching logic. On the other hand, each of the SSRS report designs can be replaced with one or more Docentric designs and printed using far better Docentric print destinations.

With Configurable Business Documents we decided not to follow the same approach as we did with SSRS, because they are only partially integrated with Print Management and business processes in general.

On the contrary, Docentric is going to continue reusing SSRS reports in the completely same way as before, still enabling seamless integration with D365FO document related processes and a more convenient user experience. But instead of consuming SSRS report data sources only, Docentric will also enable fetching report data through ER Data Models, which are the integral part of Configurable Business Documents.

We are going to utilize the best part of Configurable Business Documents, which is using ER Data Models as report data sources. This way end-users and functional consultants will be given the opportunity to add data fields they find to be missing on particular business documents, without help from developers, using plain and powerful Electronic Reporting.

Next, we will remove all the Cons listed at the beginning of the article, and here is how.

We already discussed seamless integration with Print Management and business processes, but the biggest drawback lies somewhere else – the poor and almost unusable template designers. Therefore, the first thing on our list is bringing Docentric Designer into play, so end-users and functional consultants can enjoy designing business documents in MS Word using a powerful and user-friendly designer equipped with a multilingual preview.

To recap, Formats (aka templates) will be based on ER Data Models and designed using Docentric Designer with far better design capabilities, and afterwards used for document generation. Instead of the ER framework, which is capable of generating Excel and Word files only, Docentric Document Generator will generate PDF files that will then be distributed to print destinations enhanced by Docentric. And finally, printing to printers will also be supported.

In addition, we prepared a separate article with the tabular comparison between Configurable Business Documents and Docentric by various aspects: design capabilities, data sources, print destinations, emailing, archiving, printing, etc. Please read & comment. We appreciate your feedback!

See the comparison: Configurable Business Documents vs. Docentric >>

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