Effectively Manage User Access and Security with Profiles in Dynamics 365 Business Central

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For those unaware, Dynamics 365 Business is now Microsoft’s premiere mid-market ERP application (get the full story here.) Many Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics GP customers are considering moving to Business Central with its modern interface and improved mechanics. Whether you are a current Dynamics NAV user, or you’re switching to a Dynamics ERP system for the first time, some of these system changes can be confusing or difficult to navigate when first encountering them. One of these major changes is the way user access and security is handled. The Profile management system in Business Central allows admins to define and manage what users can do and see in the system. Microsoft’s goal with this new security system is to make it easy for users to perform their business tasks efficiently without providing unnecessary access. Read Microsoft’s documentation on profile management in Business Central here.

In a recent update, Microsoft overhauled the Role system and changed the name to Profiles. Effectively, this is a name change with significant improvements. The Profile system is designed to provide specific users with information and tools that will help them perform whatever function they are in the system to do. Once a user either selects a profile for themselves, or one is assigned to them, they will be able to view a personalized set of dashboards and accompanying security roles are automatically assigned. Users can be assigned multiple profiles that, when selected, show unique dashboards. For example, if a user logs in to enter invoices, they may want to see data related to Accounts Receivable or Accounts Payable. If they are in the system to view statistics about the year’s expenditures, they may want to view graphs of the year to date revenue. Profiles are a way for a user who has multiple functions in a company to easily switch gears and tackle whatever needs to be done whenever it needs to be done.

So why change from roles to profiles? Roles had the inherent flaw of dealing with functionality and security at the same time. As you can imagine, this could cause some serious headaches when users who were not authorized to use a specific Role required an entirely separate Role Center with modified permissions across the board. This new system does keep Roles around, but they are now confined to security only. When a user logs into Business Central, the role that they have allows them specific access to parts of Business Central. They can then switch Profiles using that Role Center to access additional areas of Business Central.

This is an improved system because it changes Roles from serving a dual function, to being managed in a sleeker and more defined way. Instead of having to deal with users having access to information they shouldn’t, an administrator can set up a few Role Centers and assign the Profiles to them that restricts specific user types to specific data. Essentially, Roles and Profiles each serve a specific function which can allow for a more versatile use for both of them.

The Role Center is the managing entity that allows for a user to switch between Profiles. In previous versions of Business Central, these Role Centers were less refined and often involved bulkier role changes that got away from the real purpose of the system itself. Essentially, a Role Center is a collection of Profiles that a given user can access in the system to swap between when they are in the system for a specific task. That’s sort of an abstract concept, but it’s really very simple. If a user is in the system to do a specific thing, they can go to their Role Center and select the profile that will have the dashboards provide the features need to complete the task. They can then go and swap their profile later in the Role Center as soon as they need to switch tasks. This seems like it may be cumbersome, but it actually allows for a wider amount of data to be displayed without being overcluttered which can help inform business decisions as they are made.

This is a very easy subject to get into the weeds with, but the important issue here is that Profiles provide additional functionality to Business Central that other ERP systems tend to lack. Whereas other ERP systems may have a few roles that are manually assigned when they are created, Business Central’s flexibility provides users the ability to make a quick change that requires no administrative overhead. In other systems, doing something like changing a role could require an administrator to go manually find the user and swap their roles, or going deep into the system to modify specific security permissions. Business Central completely avoids this because the user rarely has to have entirely new profiles added and, if they do, they can be assigned another role which could just solve the issue outright. The amount of time or extra work that goes into changing security roles is substantial and less administrative time means less direct cost to a company. The other option, of course, would be to pay someone who manages the system to change these roles, and that’s effectively the same choice.

What other ERP systems may have struggled with, Business Central is able to do out of the box because it is designed to be forward thinking with security and user management.

How to access Profiles and Role Centers in Business Central

Microsoft documentation provides detailed instructions for accessing profiles, creating new profiles, copying existing profiles, and activating profiles to be used in Role Centers. You can view that documentation here.

The easiest way to access Profiles in Business Central is to search for them via the search icon in the upper right corner of the window. Type in Profiles and select the related link to the Profiles page. To create a new profile, select the “New” action. If you want to copy an existing profile and make changes to it, select the “Copy Profile” action.

When a profile is ready to be enabled for users, you will need to activate it. On the Profile page, the following check boxes will need to be selected in order for users to access it via the role Explorer:

  • Enabled
  • Show in Role Explorer

View detailed documentation here to learn more about these profile options and additional, optional check boxes.

Interested in learning more about Business Central and if it may be a good fit for your organization? Schedule a free consultation with our Dynamics 365 team.

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