My D365 Excel Add-in Disappeared – What do I Do?

The excel add-in connection is one of my favorite Dynamics features. What brings me more joy than updating a bunch of records through the excel add-in, or using the template to load a journal entry with tons of lines? Well, maybe hearing my son say “I love you too” brings me slightly more joy, but the excel add-in thing is a close second.

That said, sometimes I unintentionally close the excel add-in. Frustrated, I used to redownload my desired template from D365 and redo my work. This isn’t necessary though!

Here’s how you can get the excel add-in back:

Does anyone else frequently close this before they mean to?

  1. Click Insert
  2. Click My Add-ins
  3. Click Microsoft Dynamics Add-in
  4. Click Add

Why Edge Is My Preferred D365 Browser

My favorite Chrome shortcut for D365:

Ctrl+F to find menu item
Ctrl+Enter to click on found menu item

My favorite Edge shortcut for D365:

Ctrl+Shift+K to duplicate tab
(great for looking up multiple records at same time)

What I just learned in Edge for D365

Ctrl+F to find menu item (duh)
Esc, Enter to click on found menu item (ooohhh…)

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

What Do You Do?

Featured

I hate this question. It’s a terrible question.  It’s the first question at every party, but it’s still a very bad question.  Yet some law of human nature states any two strangers standing next to each other long enough will eventually ask – whether for reasons of genuine curiosity or to evaluate relative status –  “What do you do?”

“I am a Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Functional Consultant.”

I’m met with a blank stare.  I’ve said words and communicated nothing.  Only once have these particular words been sufficient. I was on a plane.  The woman next to me lit up, “Oh! I’m a Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Functional Consultant too!”.  Then she paused, “How do you explain what you do to your family?”

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FastTabs in D365 Finance

FastTabs are blocks in D365 forms that can be expanded or collapsed. Like a filing cabinet or library card catalog (remember card catalogs?), FastTabs allow lots of information to be compressed into a tiny space and opened for access when needed.

Below are some tips for navigating FastTabs in D365 Finance:

Personalization and Saved Views

If you routinely need access to certain field positioned lower on a form, the Move personalization feature can be used to move the more utilized field into a more prominent FastTab, or even to move an entire FastTab higher on the form.

Right-click and select personalize on a field and you can also select Show in Header, which will display that field attribute on the right side of the FastTab whether the FastTab is expanded or collapsed.

Expand All

If you are looking for a field on a form, but unsure which FastTab it is filed under, Expand all can be your friend. Right-clicking on the fasttab header gives you the option to Expand all FastTabs on the form. Used in conjunction with Ctrl+F, this can be a powerful method to quickly find the field you are searching for.

Less Words, Moar Video

I made a quick video of this. Let me know if this is helpful, and whether you’d like me to make more videos like this.

Pin D365 Finance Workspaces to Your Taskbar

On the topic of Hunter Bars, a somber farewell to The Big Hunt in Washington DC.

Longtime readers of this blog know I’m a big fan of Workspaces. I’m such a fan, I gave an entire Workspace Presentation at last year’s User Group Summit.


Why Workspaces?

Here is my pitch for Workspaces:

If bookmarking the D365 Default Dashboard, in order to perform an action you need to 1) Open your browser 2) Go to D365 Default Dashboard and then 3) Goto the D365 form where you will perform your action.

(eg yourcompanyd365url.operations.dynamics.com/),

Bookmarking specific workspaces, utilizing the workspace’s tiles, listpages and links gets you straight to the action you want to perform. Your steps are now 1) Open your browser and 2) Go to the D365 form where you will perform your action.

(eg yourcompanyd365url.operations.dynamics.com/?mi=VendInvoiceWorkspace),

Default Dashboard

Vendor invoice entry workspace


Why Pin Workspaces to Taskbar?

Advancing this concept, Edge makes it easy to pin a workspace to your taskbar. If I click on the purple finance and operations logo on the far right of my taskbar, the vendor invoice entry workspace opens immediately.

The steps are now 1) Go to the D365 form where you want to perform your action and 2)…profit!


How to Pin Workspace to Taskbar

The Edge browser makes this easy. Go to your desired workspace and click the ellipsis on the top right of the Edge Browser. Select more tools, and then click pin to taskbar,

Pin Vendor invoice entry workspace to taskbar


Advanced Concepts

Limited navigation

If you add “&limitednav=true” to the end of your workspace URL, the menu item on the left disappears (zoom into the two Vendor invoice entry workspace screenshots above and look at the urls to see the difference). This gives you a few more pixels to work with (a small benefit), but also cuts down on distractions in the workspace (a larger benefit, possibly).

I like using this limited navigation with the pinned workspace because makes the D365 workspace feel more like a desktop application.

Change Icon

If you hold shift and click on the pinned shortcut in your taskbar, you can select properties to change the icon (the pinned website’s favicon is the shortcut’s default icon). This can be helpful if you want to pin multiple shortcuts to your taskbar and easily distinguish between them. The new icon image must be in .ico format – fortunately there are multiple sites that make it easy to convert standard jpg or png images to ico.


Happy Hunting…


Get Your Free Trial of Dynamics 365

Microsoft has made it simple to to spin up your own 30-day trial environment of D365.
Many thanks to Rick, friend-of-the-blog, for walking me through the steps.

– Trials.Dynamics.com –

Goto https://trials.dynamics.com, click on desired D365 product and provide work email/phone number.

You currently have the ability to startup a trial of D365 Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Project Service Automation, Business Central, Human Resources, Retail, and (of course) Finance and Operations.

Agree to the terms and conditions, and decide whether or not to opt into marketing messaging.

Kudos to the restraint of the marketing team leaving the opt-in checkbox unselected by default. If your organization belongs to a Microsoft 365 tenant, you can proceed straight to spinning up your trial environment. The process may take up to 30 minutes from here. If your organization does not have a Microsoft 365 tenant, there will be a few more steps.

Once the environment is created, you will receive an email from Lifecycle Services.

The “Click here to start” link will take you to your new trial environment.

The environment will come preconfigured with D365’s legendary Contoso default data. Congratulations! You are now the proud owner user of a 30-day trial environment. Have any questions about what to do from here? Ping me in the comments:)

Always open for editing – Personalization | D365 Platform

See the source image
“I took the [road] less traveled by, And that has made all the difference” ~ Robert Frost

In the middle of a twitter thread complaining about how food bloggers always tell long, unrelated stories before finally getting to their recipe, food blogger @DanielleEsposti points out: “Google forces us to provide context so we can rank, so we can get traffic, so we can make ad $$, so we can provide more (free) content. It’s not always as simple as shut up & blog.

Reading her comment, watching the autumn leaves turn golden brown outside my window, I was reminded of making butternut squash soup with my mother when I was little. It’s a simple recipe, lovingly made. The dish is the right balance of sweet and savory….and all of this is really a ruse to get ranked on “D365 for Butternut Squash Soup“.

Anyways, here’s some D365 content:


Always Open for Editing

D365 forms are either open for editing (in edit mode) or closed for editing (in view mode). When a form is in view mode, it can be opened for editing by clicking the edit button on the top left, or hovering the mouse over any editable field and clicking the pencil icon that appears.

View mode can help prevent accidental record changes, but can also be cumbersome if a user’s role requires them to make frequent form updates. In the Options tab, users can personalize their view of a form by clicking Always open for editing so that the form is in edit mode by default when opened by the user.

Notice that when saved views are enabled, activating Always open for editing creates an asterisk by the view name, reminding the user that a change has been made to the view. Users can save this view for personal use or publish the view, making it accessible to other users.


If you’ve come this far in your D365 reading and still can’t stop thinking about Butternut Squash Soup, I recommend you try Danielle’s PALEO BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH POMEGRANATE – it really looks delicious. #D365forButternutSquashSoup


Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Uploading Project Categories

Part 1: Export Project Category Data

The School of Athens by Raphael

The whole is better than the sum if its parts.

~Aristotle, maybe.


In our previous posts in this series we looked at understanding project categories and using project categories. Completing the series, today we’ll look at uploading project categories through a package in the data migration framework.

Remembering our initial diagram, project category data don’t exist on a single table, but are on a set of related tables. To manually create a Project category, you need to

  1. Configure a Category group
  2. Configure a Shared category
  3. Create a Project category
  4. Update Expense or Cost category details (if necessary)

The same holds true when uploading project categories through the data management workspace. We will need to upload data through multiple data entities to successfully build our project categories.

Data management workspace

A quick refresher on the Data management workspace – The Data management workspace relies on data entities to pass data in and out of D365. An Import project can be created to pass data into D365. An Export project can be created to pass data out of D365. When examining data in an existing system, it can sometimes help to create an Export project to view the available data.

Above is an export project with the data entities related to project categories

  1. Project category group
  2. Shared category
  3. Category table
  4. Project category
  5. Expense category

Clicking export processes the data in these entities so they can be downloaded in a package. Refresh the following screen until the completed checkbox appears – you can now click Download package.

The downloaded package is a zip file containing excel files for your data entities as well as two .xml files – Manifest.xml and PackageHeader.xml. You can extract the contents of the zip file to examine the contents of the project category data. The xml files will be helpful when we make changes or additions to the project category data and are ready to import those changes back into D365. As we will see in the next post, the xml files tell the Data management workspace what data entities we want to upload and the order in which we want to upload them.

STAY TUNED FOR THE EXCITING FOLLOW-UP…

Part 2: Import Project Category Data

Using Project Categories

The School of Athens by Raphael

There are Ten Categories of Being: Substance, Quantity, Quality, Relative, Place, Time, Position, Having, Acting upon, Being affected.

~Aristotle

Is that MECE?

~Literally every management consultant, ever.


How many project categories do I need?” is a common D365 implementation question. Remembering the rules from our initial project categories post, a project category can be of only one transaction type – so you will need at least one project category group for each transaction type used and at least one project category within each project category group.

Below is a survey of places where project categories are used in D365 for Finance and Operations. The list is not exhaustive, and project categories are not the only drivers of the below (for instance, there are many attributes that can be used to drive sales prices), but the below can be a good starting point for thinking about how granularly an organization’s project categories ought to be defined.

Ledger Posting Setup

Project and category relationships are the two main drivers of both cost and revenue account posting profiles in the Project management and accounting module.

Sales prices

Hour, Expense, and Fee transaction types all have their own sales price tables. Sales prices for items are set through trade agreements. Project category is one of many attributes that can be used to drive sales prices.

Cost prices

While it is more common for cost prices to be driven at the resource or role level, specific cost prices can also be set at the project category level.

Line property defaults

Line property default behaviors are configured on the project/group line properties table. For some organizations, it makes sense to have billable and non-billable expense categories instead of having users directly select the line property on their expense report lines.

Expense category attributes

Different expense types have different attributes – for instance, an expense type of mileage requires a number of miles to be entered on the expense report, calculating a reimbursement amount, instead of allowing the user to directly enter their mileage expense reimbursement amount.

Expense policies

Different company expense policies can be applied specifically to project categories of certain expense types.

Indirect costs

If using indirect costing, indirect cost components need to be associated to an indirect cost project category. Less frequently used, project categories can be used to drive whether indirect costs are applied through the Indirect cost component group assignment rules configuration.

Item sales tax groups

Different sales tax codes apply to different goods and services. In D365, this sales tax configuration is applied through the item sales tax group on the project category.

Posted transaction reporting

Whether viewing posted transactions in D365 or an external reporting solution, project category can be an important reporting dimension. In the image above, the hours transactions form is grouped by project category.

Project forecast reporting

As with posted transactions, project categories can be a useful dimension for project forecast reporting. Sometimes forecasting is done at a more general level of project category than those anticipated for posting. (For example, an “Expense forecast” project category may be used to estimate all the different expense postings anticipated on a project)

Project invoice document

Project categories display on the project invoice document – which makes sense especially if sales prices are being driven by project categories. That being the case, it is worth considering what customers would like to see related to the project categories displayed.


Do you see an important project category function missing from the list above? Call it out in the comments!

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.