As I prepare for my Dynamics 365 certification in sales (MB 210), I’m creating blog posts based on my revision. I hope that collectively these posts may prove useful to anyone also preparing for the MB 210 exam. This time I will start to cover concepts around the product catalog.
Below you can see the skills measured statement that refers to the product catalog. From this we can learn that the product catalog covers many topics including product families, bundles, price lisst, discount lists and much more. Because of this I intend to take several posts to cover all of the details connected with the product catalog. This being the first which will give an introduction to the concept.
Products can be associated with opportunities, quotes etc. but how do we define what those products are and how do they fit into the overall sales process?
The product catalog not only includes the definition of the actual products and services but also the units they’ll be sold in (unit groups) and the prices that will be charged (Price lists). Plus, products can be grouped into families and bundles as required. The components of the product catalog include;
- Products, the product entity holds the key information about the product likes its name, description, unique ID, default unit group etc.
- Unit Groups, these define how the products are sold or packages. (Examples might include, Single Units, Dozens, Box of 10 etc)
- Price lists allow for differing pricing structures for specific customers and currencies.
- Price list items allow prices for certain products to be defined and linked to price lists.
- Discount lists offer the ability to discount prices based on volume purchased.
A product can be a physical item such as a chair or a can of beans. It is important to understand a product can also be service provided, such consultancy, a software support contract or even a dental checkup. In the case of services, the products will be defined in units of time or single units. (1 hour of consultancy or 1 dental checkup.)
With the newer Unified Interface we can maintain products from the sales app. Additionally some settings connected with the product catalog maybe found in the advanced settings area.You can navigate to the advanced settings by using the “cog” icon and selecting advanced settings. (shown below.)
Below you can see that with advanced settings I have a product catalog option.
Before you can create a product, you must have at least one Unit Group. Imagine you sell cans of beans. The basic unit for a can of beans might be 1 can (each). And they maybe bought by in cases of 24 cans. Or maybe even by the pallet load, which might be equivalent to 12 cases.
- 1 can.
- 1 case = 24 cans.
- 1 Pallet = 12 cases. (Or 288 cans)
Instead of defining a separate product codes for 1 can, 1 case, and 1 pallet. We define unit groups.
Unit groups can be found in the product catalog, which is in the settings area of Dynamics 365.
Below you can see that I have created a unit group for Canned Goods. I’ve named it like this because I might want to sell cans of peas, sweet corn and beans all using this one unit group. Notice that I have another unit group called “Default Unit”, this comes out of the box and is often used when products are stocked and sold only as singles.
When we first create a unit group we will be prompted to enter its name and the name of the primary unit. In my example of canned goods my primary unit is one can.
By opening my canned goods Unit Group, you can see I have three units. Firstly, a single can. This is known as the base unit and will always have a quantity of 1. (All unit groups must have a base unit.)
Then I have a case which is linked to a single can as its base unit. This has a quantity of 24. Meaning a case is made up of 24 cans.
Next notice I have also defined a pallet. This doesn’t use the single can as its base unit but the case. A pallet is made up of 12 cases and a case of 24 cans. (So … 12*24 = 288 cans.)
Once you’ve created your unit groups you can start to create products. Under settings and product catalog you’ll find the products option. Here I can add product families, products and product bundles. I will cover families and bundles a little later. So first I’m going to add a new product.
When defining a product, you’ll allocate a name, unit group (and default unit from that group), default price list and other items like the list price, cost price and standard cost.
It is important to be aware that some of these fields are not shown on the product form by default but do exist in the database. On my sample form below you can see I have added some of these fields to illustrate this. This is important because depending on your pricing approach the list price, standard cost and current cost maybe be used in the price calculation logic.
Also note that the product has a valid from and valid to date. These are for reference only! There is no out of the box system functionality to automatically retire a product from the valid to date is reached. If this functionality was required customizations could be created to enforce any required automation.
You may notice I have added a field called “Quantity on Hand”. Out of the box the Dynamics 365 sales app does not have a concept of inventory, meaning no stock levels are maintained. The quantity on hand field might be useful if you’d like to import stock levels from an external system. The decimals supported field does have an impact on the quantity on hand field.
The Field Service app does have a concept of warehouses and inventory. Meaning that any inventory information only comes into play when you are using Field Service.
Tip: We can maintain products from the advanced settings area, currently (Feb 2019) this displays the classic web client version of the form. We can also maintain products from the Sales App (and other apps) using the new Unified Interface. I am trying to use the new Unified Interface as much as possible! So, the screen show below is from my Sales App. The navigation might differ slightly but the basic concepts are common to the web client and Unified Interface.
Notice that I have given the product a subject of “Default Subject”, this illustrates that products can (optionally) be linked to the subject tree. The subject tree can be used to categorize products. In my simplistic example I haven’t configured realistic options within the subject tree. (I don’t expect you to need to know how to customize the subject tree in the MB3-717 exam but you might need to know that is exists as a field on product.)
The default price list is a business recommended field. If you save a product without entering a valid price list a warning notification will be given. But you can ignore this and publish the product if required.
Product Life Cycle
Products have a life cycle; they always start off as draft. Then, once fully defined we publish the product to make it active. After time a product maybe retired or revised.
|Draft||Products start off in draft status. At this point they cannot be added to any transitional records, including opportunities, quotes, orders and invoices.|
|Active||Only active products can be added to opportunities, quotes, orders or invoices. Products become active once published.|
|Retired||When a product is no longer relevant it is retired. (For example when a new version is created.) Retired products cannot be added to any new opportunities, quotes, orders or invoices. But if the product already exists on an opportunity when retired it can continue with the rest of the sales cycle.|
|Under Revision||This is used when products are being updated. Whilst this is happening the current version of the product is still available but any of the changes being made to this new version are not seen until activated.|
- A retired product can be made active again by selecting the “Activate” button from the product ribbon. (Draft to Active is called publish, but Retired to Active is called Activate.)
- Only active products with valid price lists are available for addition to opportunities, quotes, orders and invoices.
- Making a product active does not restrict changes to the product detail.
- Making a product retired makes it read only and meaning it can no longer be maintained.
There is a system setting that may influence the state of new products. It is possible that they are created and become active immediately. See below that I have highlighted an option in the sales tab of system settings that changes this behavior.
Tip: There are some additional options on this tab that impact products and price lists. It might be worth reviewing all of these options!!
Cloning products is a simple process that helps when creating products that are similar. Take my earlier example of Beans. Beans are a canned goods sold in a particular way, but I might also sell cans of sweet corn, peas, carrots. (etc.) The configuration of each of these maybe very similar. Being able to clone one of the products and then make amendments may make the time create all of these variations of canned goods quicker.
You can clone a product regardless of its state. Maybe you want to clone a retired product to become a new improved version of an old favorite.
Once cloned the new record is given a name based on the original with a suffix of an 18-digit long number that is derived from the date time.
The clone button can be found once one product has been selected in the product list view or directly on the product form. When you select the clone button a warning message will be displayed stating that a new record will be created.
A new record is created and given a name based on the original with a suffix of an 18-digit long number that is derived from the date time. (So … Baked Beans-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
Also notice that when the product is opened you can see that a similar code has been given a similar suffix.
When we clone a product all of its details are copied. However, I have noticed that the default price list is not cloned. (I guess cloning all the price list items doesn’t happen!)
You can now edit this new product and publish when ready.
I hope this post has given you a quick introduction into the product catalog, in later posts I will build on these concepts by explaining price lists, product families, product bundles and such like.