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Submitted by Saurav Dhyani on 8 June 2020

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Administrators Need to Be Responsible When Dealing with Apps in Microsoft Dynamics Business Central

Many things have changed from Microsoft Dynamics NAV to Business Central. Here’s one big warning from a Microsoft MVP.

NAV In the Past: Many Resources for Tools and Information

In the past, we admins were able to find resources with great posts, articles, or tools/utilities on the web that could help our business. To name a few:

  • Emailing Utility
  • Export to Excel Utility
  • Reports
  • Attachment Manager

Once we found a tool we were looking for, we would: 

  • Review the code that was written within the tool
  • Deploy tool/utility in our Test Environment
  • Execute the tool/utility in Test Environment and Verify outputs
  • Deploy the utility in our Production Environment

Things Have Changed with Business Central

You will not be receiving Text or Fob Releases with Business Central (on-premises nor SaaS). Every tool/utility, either Free or Paid, will be received as an App File. You might not be able to review what’s written inside the app, and your partner might not be able to support or upgrade your free tool/utility.

In this “new world” of BC, it’s your responsibility as a system administrator to make sure that whatever app is available in your tenant comes from a verified Source (Microsoft/Addon Partner) or from your Business Central Partner. In addition, only the Administrator group should be allowed to publish and install a new app. 

Why Can’t You Use Free Apps?

There are multiple Issues you can face with a free app from an unknown developer.

  1. Your Business Central Partner will not be able to – 
    • Support you in case you report an issue with an unverified free app
    • Upgrade unverified free app
  2. An unverified app (without source code) also comes with risk like malware that can corrupt your data or execute processes without your knowledge. For example, if I provide you with an app that provides 5 cool reports that your business needs, you need to test the app and test reports, and if you like all the reports, you would be likely to deploy that app into production. However, I can also write code to send an email to me every month with your companies’ financial statements. You don’t want that, but  you cannot verify what’s inside the app as its locked and not available for downloading the code within.

Your ERP system is now using an App Driven Model for customizations that bring flexibility and ease of use, but at the same time is bringing risk to system. 

You will find many articles about why you should not use free apps on your mobile device, and you should also relate those articles to your business solution. Here is a great article that talks about specific apps and why you should not install them: Avoid These 100 Android Apps Hiding ‘Malicious’ Malware: New ‘Fraud Arms Race’ Underway.

Some key points in the article: 

  1. “Free” is free for a reason.
  2. If you’re not paying for an app in an obvious way, then you’re paying for it in some other way.
  3. When it’s free, trivial, and from an unknown developer, it’s best avoided.

Work Closely with Your Partner  

With the changing world of NAV/BC, your partner is your best friend. Even if you have developers in house, you need to work closely with your partner. If you found a great free app on a website, forum, or blog, pass that information to your partner before doing anything with it. 

NOTE: Not all free apps have malware. People who like to share tools with the community also provide the source code. Your partner can act as the reviewer of that app source code and will help you to make the decision as to whether to use it. 

We all will be safe with changing world if we work together. 

If you have any questions about apps or other Dynamics NAV or Business Central questions for any version, contact ArcherPoint.

Read more "How To" blogs from ArcherPoint for practical advice on using Microsoft Dynamics Business Central or NAV. If you are interested in NAV/Business Central development, check out our collection of NAV Development Blogs.
 

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