Developing proper permissions and security in Dynamics 365 Business Central has long been considered an IT or administrative project, but I challenge you to think differently. Rather than boring you with facts, figures and arguments to prove my point, I’m going to tell you a story. Sit back and relax as you read about Amy and her experience leading a permissions and security project.

Amy’s company is implementing Business Central. As IT manager, Amy is very involved in the implementation. Her company appoints her as administrator of Business Central and entrusts her with the security and authorizations project. Amy panics thinking about the responsibility of the project. She worries about timing and denying users who might get frustrated if they run into permissions issues as she fixes the issues. Amy decides to tackle the project one department at a time, starting with the finance department. Billy Bob and Joe are two users in a large financial department.

Lesson 1: The Business Central administrator does not know EVERYTHING users are doing. The users are the real SMEs (subject-matter-experts).

Amy soon realizes that she doesn’t really know what Billy Bob and Joe do in the system on a daily basis and therefore doesn’t know what permissions they need. She thinks of typical finance department activities and decides that he will likely need permission to post journal entries, enter vendor invoices, create and post sales invoices, and run monthly financial reports. Before assigning permissions in the system, Amy decides to email Billy Bob and Joe to confirm their tasks. She’s glad she reached out when she receives email responses that reveal the following:

  • Users perform certain tasks that she did not have on her list. Billy Bob approves timesheets, while Joe is responsible for uploading annual budgets. She had no idea that one of them performed these tasks.
  • Some of the tasks had changed recently or had more steps than she thought. The AP process now uses endorsements and Amy had no idea until Joe told her.
  • Users are not performing all tasks that were thought to be “Finances” tasks. Joe lets Amy know that the creation and validation of sales invoices is done by the sales team. This helps Amy determine that she will remove this task from the financial planning sheet and add it to the Sales Department section.

Lesson 2: Share responsibility and workload.

After Amy begins involving Billy Bob and Joe in the planning process, she finds that the project seems much more manageable when the responsibility and work is shared with them. No one is overwhelmed. She decides to keep Billy Bob and Joe involved in the whole Permissions and Security project. Here’s how users are helping with each phase of the project:

  • Planning: Billy Bob and Joe join Amy for a 30 minute brainstorming session to come up with a list of their daily/weekly/monthly tasks. Amy leads this conversation by listing functional areas of Business Central such as customers, vendors, and items as prompts to help Billy Bob and Joe identify tasks more easily.
    A sample planning document might look like this:
    Sample planning document
  • Save/Create Permissions: Amy researches and finds that the best way to create custom permission sets in Business Central is to use the permission recorder. After training Billy Bob and Joe on how to use the permission recorder, Amy creates the agreed-upon permission sets from the planning phase in the Business Central Sandbox environment and assigns the task of creating records permissions to Billy Bob and Joe.
  • Test: Billy Bob and Joe help test saved permissions in the Sandbox and then in the production environment by simply doing their day-to-day tasks. They are working with Amy to report any obstacles and error messages during their testing before permissions are assigned to other Finance users. Who better to perform the tests than the end user?
  • Repair: Once permissions are in production, Billy Bob and Joe become go-to resources for their department when permissions issues are encountered by other users.

Lesson 3: Shorten the project schedule

Amy’s original approach was to plan, test and execute full financial authorizations before moving into the sales department. Since she got Billy Bob and Joe involved in the clearance check-in and gave them a week to complete, she has time to start the planning process for the sales department. She is thrilled when she realizes that shared responsibilities mean she can shorten the timeline and complete the project with overlapping phases instead of one at a time. With this approach, Amy determines that she can shorten the lead time from 4.5 months to 2 months, reducing the project time by more than 50%!

An example timeline with overlapping phases might look like this: