Understanding Project Categories

The School of Athens by Raphael

Fun fact: Aristotle thought there were ten categories.
Possibly related fact: Aristotle never used the D365 Projects Module.


Project categories are not a new concept in D365. A quick search will show that categories date back at least to AX2012, and perhaps even time immemorial. The latest project category documentation (see here, here, or here) is 5+ years old – more ancient than Aristotle in tech-years.

Why do I think I can explain an old topic any better than it’s already been explained? Aristotle would call this Hubris.


What Are Project Categories?

Understanding project categories requires knowing a few D365 projects module rules:

  • Cost or revenue associated with a project must be defined by a project category.
  • A project category can only be of one transaction type (Hour, Expense, Item, Fee).
  • A project category can only be used within its own legal entity.
  • To work with the Expense module, a Project category needs to be setup as an Expense category.
  • To work with the production module, a Project category needs to be setup as a Cost category.

These rules lead to a D365 category table structure that looks like this:

Why so complicated? The complexity comes from the rules…let’s examine.

1) Category group

Category groups…groups categories! Project categories can only have one transaction type, and the category group is where the category’s transaction type is defined. All project categories in the same category group will be of the same transaction type.

2) Shared category

Because a project category can be used only within its own legal entity, the concept of a global “shared category” exists in D365 to link project categories across different legal entities. The shared category is also where the category’s identity as a “Project category” for use in the Project management and accounting module is defined. The Shared category is also where a category’s use in the Production or Expense management modules is defined if applicable.

3) Project category

Once a category group and shared category have been setup, the project category can be created. When creating a new project category on the project category form, the category ID dropdown will show all shared categories not yet associated to project categories in the current legal entity. Notice that Category group is a required field for the project category, and that selecting the category group sets the project category’s transaction type.

4) Production category

When “Use in production” is enabled on the Shared category, the associated Project category is also setup as a Cost category. An additional fastab related to Production attributes is displayed on the project category (this additional production information is stored on the Cost Category table). The category is also visible in the production module. This is the same category record information, just viewed from a filtered list of categories used in production.

5) Expense category

When “Use in expense” is enabled on the Shared category, the associated Project category is also setup as an Expense category. Two additional fastabs related to expense attributes are displayed on the project category (this additional information is stored on the expense category table), and the category is also visible in the Expense management module. Like the Cost category, the Expense category record in Expense management displays its same record information as in the Project category list.


As you can see, setting up a new Project category is as easy as 1, 2, 3 (configurations for Category groups, Shared categories, and Project categories)…and possibly 4 or 5 (additional configurations for Cost categories or Expense categories, if applicable). In a future post, I plan to look at different results that can be driven by Project categories, as well as how to efficiently upload Project categories through data management.

2 thoughts on “Understanding Project Categories

  1. Pingback: Using Project Categories | iamJoshKnox

  2. Pingback: Uploading Project Categories | iamJoshKnox

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