Top 10 Skills of a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Consultant

In this article, Leah Sweeney, recruiter and Career Growth Expert, highlights the top ten soft skills and necessary hard skills for a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Consultant.

Leah Sweeney

Leah Sweeney

Introduction

Being a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Consultant can be a rewarding and exciting career path. As a D365 Finance consultant, you will have an opportunity to work in the diverse, innovative, and constantly evolving world that is tech. In addition, working on behalf of one of the largest tech giants out there has its benefits. You will be able to experience the unique working environment that is a result of Microsoft’s vast ecosystem of products, paired with their extensive partnership program and network.

Top Skills of a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Consultant

Dynamics 365 Finance Consultants have the opportunity to work with many different clients, across a multitude of sectors; and because finance is a core business function, the versatility of projects and use-cases for consulting knowledge is extremely versatile. With added versatility, comes additional needs for a distinct and well-rounded toolset of skills. In the competitive job market today, it is more important than ever to be able to display and demonstrate these skills. Not only to land the desired job but throughout your career to ensure you are proving high-quality services in all areas.

In this position, it is also extremely important to be cross-functional and possess a wide range of soft, hard, technical, and non-technical skills. Throughout this post, we will outline some of the core skills needed to be a successful Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Consultant, why they are so important, and what they look like when applied to the job duties and responsibilities.

1. Collaboration

Collaboration skills will increase your ability to engage in meaningful conversations, discovery sessions, and workshops. Through actively listening, you will open yourself to new thoughts and ideas. You can think quickly and provide your own perspective and feedback on the matter at hand, leading to possible solutions and next steps. Because finance touches all aspects of a business, it is important to be highly skilled in collaboration. Collaborating is needed at all levels – whether it’s between your own team within your own company, or externally with clients and throughout their individual organization. Finance must often balance various departments needs and demands, which contribute to the overall health of the company’s financial status. This information frequently comes from collaborative sessions and workshops, where this skill is essential.

2. Attention to Detail

Being a D365 Finance Consultant is nearly impossible without having strong attention to detail. Throughout your day, you will be working with numbers, across various accounts, and for multiple clients. Having strong attention to detail allows you to not only ensure your calculations and accounts are correct, but that you are being thorough in all areas of the task. It also allows you to pick up on details, nuances, and hidden information when confronted with large amounts of data.

3. Organization

Again, because finance touches virtually all aspects of a business, you must be able to collect data and organize it in a meaningful way. Throughout a client project, examples of this would be taking the data you initially evaluated and being able to organize and group it based on company needs, best practices, and the software capabilities within Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations.

4. Verbal & Written Communication

Excellent communication skills are needed in most jobs today and are listed as must-haves for good reason. At all stages of a Dynamics 365 Finance project, you will have to have excellent communication skills both internally with your own team, and externally with the client and their team. This will come in the form of voice-calls, online and in-person meetings, e-mails, exploration/data mining sessions, and pre/post project write-ups. Being able to communicate effectively and express yourself, questions and concerns is a huge component of consulting. In the world of finance, you also must be able to communicate the vital financial concepts, complex reasoning, and overall scope of the implementation related to finance.

5. Analytical Mindset

Overall analytical skills are another requirement of being a D365 Finance consultant. In this role, analytical skills will play off one’s core understanding finance and knowledge around the Dynamics 365 software. In combining these two, along with the other skills requirements, an individual is able to fully analyze given data and understand its makeup and meaning.

6. Conceptualization

Once a consultant has the chance to analyze client data, they can then use the skill of conceptualization. This is extremely important, as it is an important link from the problem to the solution. This skill will require the consultant to take their database of knowledge in all areas, and apply important concepts to the client project, and use these to shape the desired outcome.

7. Problem Solving

As a consultant, you are ultimately expected to use the above skills to problem solve and communicate a proposed solution to clients’ problems. This could include, but is not limited to:

    • Better financial organization and grouping
    • Increased visibility into financial data
    • Higher integrity data
    • Better understanding of the data input & output

8. Reporting Skills

As mentioned above, being able to read, analyze, organize, group, and conceptualize data is a huge portion of this role, but having the skills to report on it, and present it in a meaningful way is the other half. Data visualization and modeling is an important skill as it can help convey a wide range of data, or even complex financial concepts through another medium, aiding in overall comprehension and retention.

9. General Business Acumen

Having a sense for business and a general business understanding and mindset is a great skill to have. Finance drives a huge portion of business practices and decisions, so understanding your impact and role within that framework is essential.

10. Prioritization

Prioritization is also a must have skill, as you will often have to juggle internal needs, with competing client needs on multiple projects. Knowing what to prioritize, and when, will help you create an efficient working schedule and give you a better understanding of your ability to commit to certain deadlines.

Finance & Accounting General Knowledge

Understanding GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles)

If you are a Finance Consultant, it‘s important to understand GAAP generally accepted accounting principles. GAAP is a set of rules that govern how financial statements are prepared. These statements show a company‘s financial position, performance and cash flow. While there are other accounting principles that can be used, GAAP is the most common and it‘s been around for a long time. It‘s been endorsed by the SEC and other regulatory agencies.A finance consultant who understands GAAP can help clients to ensure that their financial statements are in compliance with these standards.

Understanding A/R: Accounts Receivable

The main importance of accounts receivable is so that a business can take steps to ensure that it is collecting payments as quickly as possible. This includes assessing the creditworthiness of its customers, sending out invoices and reminders, and using debt collection agencies if necessary. Another reason for understanding accounts receivable is so that the business can identify any potential problems early on. For example, if the amount of receivables increases significantly over a period of time, this could be a sign that the business is not collecting payments as quickly as it should be. This could be due to a number of factors, such as a slowdown in sales or customers who are struggling to pay their bills. Identifying and addressing these issues early on can help to prevent them from becoming bigger problems down the road.

A finance consultant who understands accounts receivable can help a company improve its cash flow by advising on how to optimize its collections process and receivables. This includes recommending strategies for reducing the amount of time it takes to collect payments from customers, as well as helping to identify and resolve any issues that may be causing delays. Additionally, the consultant can help to optimize the use of Dynamics 365 for Finance to improve billing and collections processes.

Understanding A/P: Accounts Payable

The importance of a Dynamics 365 finance consultant understanding accounts payable is that they can help a business to understand and manage their cash flow. Accounts payable is the process of tracking and managing the money that a business owes to its suppliers. By understanding accounts payable, a Dynamics 365 finance consultant can help a business to keep tabs on its spending, make better financial decisions, and improve its cash flow.

Understanding Costing Methodology

A finance consultant who understands costing methodology can help organizations make better decisions about where to allocate their resources. By understanding how different costs are determined, a consultant can help an organization make informed decisions about pricing products and services, budgeting, and other strategic decisions. Additionally, a Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Consultant who understands costing methodology can help an organization track its expenses and revenue over time, identify areas where it can save money, and make more informed decisions about where to invest its resources.

Understanding Asset Management

Asset management is a critical component of any business, and it is especially important for businesses that rely on their assets to generate revenue. A Dynamics 365 finance consultant who understands asset management can help businesses make sure their assets are being used efficiently and that they are getting the most value from them. Additionally, a Dynamics 365 finance consultant can help businesses plan for and manage changes in their asset holdings, which can help them stay profitable and compliant.

Tax Strategy & Planning

A Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Consultant who understands tax strategy and planning can help businesses understanding tax regulations- this could relate to Internal Tax Law and state tax. By understanding how different tax laws impact businesses, a Dynamics 365 finance consultant can help businesses make strategic decisions that reduce their tax liability. Additionally, a Dynamics 365 finance consultant can help businesses stay up to date on changes to tax laws that could impact their bottom line.

Account Reconciliation

A Dynamics 365 finance consultant needs to be able to understand account reconciliation in order to help clients with their financial reporting. Account reconciliation is the process of matching the balances of two or more sets of accounting records in order to identify any discrepancies. The Accounts Reconciliation function in Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations is used to ensure the accuracy of the financial data in the system. This process is used to ensure the accuracy of financial statements and to identify any potential financial irregularities. A Dynamics 365 finance consultant who understands account reconciliation can help clients to ensure the accuracy of their financial statements and to identify and correct any potential financial irregularities.

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Understanding Financial Forecasting

This Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations module enables you to create forecasts for a business by predicting future sales, expenses, and profits.The ability to forecast future financial performance is critical for all businesses, but especially for those in the retail and services sectors. Inaccurate forecasting can lead to missed opportunities, overspending, and even bankruptcy. A consultant’s understanding of forecasting within Dynamics 365 Finance can help them advise businesses on improving their forecasting accuracy and making better strategic decisions.

Understanding Financial Budgetting

A financial budget is a plan that shows how much money a company expects to earn and spend over a specific period of time. The budget can be for a single month, a quarter, or a year. The budgeting process usually starts with forecasting, which is the process of estimating future sales and expenses. Forecasting is used to create a preliminary budget. This budget is then reviewed and updated as needed. The final budget is then approved by management and used to track actual results against the plan. This helps to identify any areas where adjustments need to be made.

A Dynamics 365 finance consultant should understand financial budgeting in order to help customers create accurate budgets and forecasts. Additionally, a finance consultant should be able to help customers understand how their business is performing financially and identify areas for improvement.

Understanding Financial Statements

In Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations, financial statements are reports that show the financial performance and position of a company. Financial statements include a balance sheet, an income statement, and a cash flow statement.

A finance consultant needs to be able to read and understand financial statements in order to provide accurate consulting services. Financial statements can provide insights into a company‘s financial health, performance, and future prospects. They can also help identify areas of improvement and potential risks.

CPA- Certification & Experience

There are a few reasons why a finance consultant would benefit from being a CPA:

1. CPAs are held to a high ethical standard.

2. CPAs have a strong understanding of financial accounting and reporting principles.

3. CPAs are wellversed in tax laws and regulations.

4. CPAs are skilled in financial analysis and forecasting.

5. CPAs are knowledgeable in business and management principles.

A finance consultant is responsible for providing financial advice to clients. In order to do this effectively, the consultant must have a good understanding of accounting and financial concepts. Additionally, the consultant should be a certified public accountant (CPA) so that they can provide clients with accurate financial statements and other related services.

Skills and Knowledge Needed to Become a Certified Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Consultant

In addition to the above soft/hard skills and finance/accounting knowledge that a Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Consultant should possess, there are also core technical components and knowledge requirements related to the Microsoft products that are foundational to this role. Not only should you have a deep understanding of Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations, plus other related products and add-ons, you need to be able to demonstrate and practically apply what you know. Demonstration can come in the form of presenting and explaining core functionality, problem solving in sandbox environments, or providing insights on past, current, or upcoming client projects. You can also demonstrate this knowledge, and even become certified, through a series of Microsoft administered exams.

To become a Microsoft certified Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Consultant Associate, you must pass the below two exams:

Exam MB-300: Microsoft Dynamic 365: Core Finance and Operations

Exam MB-310: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Consultant

Understanding the Microsoft Universe

Understanding the Microsoft ecosystem is an important foundation to the many skills requirements. This allows you to understand where Finance fits in, but also its relation to many other products and apps, and the possibilities and capabilities that are present. Demonstrating this knowledge is a core function of a certified consultant. A few examples include:

  • DevOps, Power Bi, Microsoft Suite (particularly Excel) + Data transformation tools such as Power Query.
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Security Roles & Configuration

In order to provide functional consulting advice it is also important to understand the various roles, core configuration needs and administrative features of Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations. These components are essential to the database structure and are vital to the proper setup and security of the software in preparation for the implementation project. A few examples include:

  • Legal Entities with Chart of Accounts – General Ledger Module
  • AR Setup: Customers and Payment Processing
  • AP Setup: Vendors and Payment Processing

Analyze & Organize Data

As mentioned above, being able to properly analyze and organize data is huge. This data plays a large role in all implementations, as the data make-up and structure must be aligned with the Dynamics 365 finance software configuration. A few examples include:

  • Financial Reporting (Management Reporting)
  • Incorporation of other Microsoft Ecosystems such as Power Bi to organize, manage, and report data.

Implementation

As a D365 Finance Functional Consultant, you play a role in the actual implementation of the software. This means you will not only help in the initial data gathering, system framework, configuration, and setup, but also with the testing and post-live support. Having this knowledge and skillset is essential, as it plays a large role in the overall project success.  A few examples include:

  • DevOps: Although DevOps carries a variety of functions, being able to utilize it throughout an implementation is beneficial. You should be able to understand basic functionality related to tagging, creating tasks, writing a query, etc. with advanced knowledge needed at the senior level.

Conclusion

As you can see, to have a successful career as a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Consultant, you should possess a wide range of soft, hard, and technical skills. These skills serve a variety of purposes and contribute to your overall success internally and externally in the position of functional consultant. 

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