Business Central has a couple of tricks up it’s sleeve when it comes to recording field changes. The two things this blog will delve into will be Field Monitoring and the Change Log. These two features aren’t mutually exclusive but, you can’t run both for the same field.
Field monitoring allows for users of the system, typically admins, to establish that a notification be sent to them when a specific field on a page is changed.
The first step in setting this up is going to the Field Monitoring Setup page and filling in the relevant fields. The User Card has a field in it for email address. For field monitoring, this is the one that will be used. The Notification Recipient field determines who will receive notification of a change. The Notification Email Account determines where the email will come from.
Conveniently, where you don’t have the relevant setup done, it will prompt you to go and create an email for the relevant user.
Clicking ‘Yes’ will direct you here, where you can input the relevant email.
Above is the User Card. Now, it’s certainly worth a mention that the email field in the User Setup page is used for different things. This one will be used for workflows, but not field monitoring. If you’re unfamilar with how workflows work in Business Central, make sure to read our guide. free to read our blog.
Field Monitoring Worksheet
The Monitored Fields Worksheet is where we can establish what we want to be notified for. Below are some simple examples. Again referring back to Workflows, you might be wondering why you wouldn’t just use approval workflows to prevent a user making a change until it’s approved instead of merely notifying you after you after the fact. Well, Workflows are more narrowly defined in their use. For example, you can’t create a workflow for Vendor Bank Account as standard. In instances like these, Field Monitoring is your next best bet.
When all the initial setup is complete, be sure to click ‘Start’ on Field Monitoring Setup. From this point, you just leave it running so that in future, any changes that fall within the parameters you have laid out will be communicated to the relevant user.
Field Monitoring email examples
Just to demonstrate what the emails will look like when the appropriate setup is completed, look below. The first image is a notification to say I have been assigned as the recipient of any changes to fields.
The second image is an example of where changes have been made. For the purpose of this, I have said that for any changes made to the ‘Name’ field of any Location Card, notify me.
The Change Log
The Change Log is like Field Monitoring but with the key difference being that where changes are made to a field, it isn’t communicated directly. Instead, it works by logging the change in a table in the system. This is good but does rely on people checking it, otherwise it won’t be known which fields have been changed and when. It can be used to keep an audit trail of changes. If you go to the Change Log Setup page, clicking into ‘Setup’ and ‘Tables’ will bring you to a long list of all the pages within the system.
In this instance, I chose the Customer page as it has very recognisable fields. Where you select ‘All Fields’ on the Log Insertion column, there’s nothing more to do. Where you wish to select ‘Some Fields’, you have to go into the ‘…’ to choose which fields you wish to have recorded when they are changed.
The three columns serve individual purposes. It’s important to remember this when performing the setup. If I only have Log Insertion fields ticked, then changing pre-existing fields or deleting them will not register anything in the system.
The length of time you wish to have this information kept within the system is configurable to suit users’ needs. This is using the system’s Retention Policy. It’s unlikely you’re concerned with a change made to a field in a table several years ago. Whatever the preference, you can limit the retention periods accordingly. The image above shows the default Policy settings. As you can see, by default the system retains information related to field changes within the last 28 days. However, where a field is ‘protected’, it’s never deleted.
To add, delete or amend existing retention periods, from the Retention Policy page, click ‘Navigate’ and ‘Retention Policy’. From here, make the necessary changes. These will then be applicable to Lines within the Record Retention Policy area.
Using both in unison
The Change Log has been a feature in the NAV to Business Central story much longer than Field Monitoring. Using the existing example surrounding Customer record changes, an error is produced in the Monitored Fields Worksheet when I try and communicate a change that is already covered by the Change Log Setup. This means these two functions work independently of one another.