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Delivery Date Calculation for Sales

A delivery date defines when your customer will receive their order. The date is often determined by the shipping method, the agent making the delivery, or the customer's delivery address. You can calculate sales delivery date in Business Central by creating rules for addresses, shipping agents and shipment agents if you use couriers to ship customers' orders. In this blog post, I explain how to set up Business Central to calculate delivery dates for sales documents.


Understanding sales lead time in Business Central

Sales lead time in Business Central is based on the Shipping Time concept that applies to sales and outbound transfers, and it defines the time required to deliver goods to their final destination after the shipment.


The shipping time is also used to calculate the earliest shipment date in backward calculation. For example, if your customers request goods to be delivered on a specific delivery date, Business Central will use the shipping time to calculate the earliest shipment date. Read more about customers' shipments in this other post: The Complete Guide on how to Ship Items.


Update Shipping Time on a Sales Order

The most straightforward way to update the shipping time on a customer order is to use the Shipping Time field on the Shipping and Billing tab.

Sales Order Page

The field accepts a date formula used to calculate the planned delivery date field on the sales lines. The calculation updates the field Planned Delivery Date on the document lines based on this formula:


Planned Delivery Date = Planned Shipment Date + Shipping Time

Sales Order Page

You can also use a complex date formula in the shipping date field, like CM for the current month or CW for the current week. For example, if you want to calculate a delivery date as the first working date of the following week, you can type CW+1D in the shipping time field. CW will return on the last day of the current week, and +1D will add one more day.


The process described above works for companies that don't hold much inventory or manufacture to order when stock is unavailable (More on inventory availability in this post: Plan and Promise Sales Order Delivery with Order Promising).


Setup a default shipping time for a customers

If your organisation holds inventory, you might prefer a default shipping time on sales documents. Business Central allows storing default shipping time on multiple pages: the customer card, the ship-to address and the shipping agents you can use to add couriers and their services on sales orders. More on shipping agents in this other post: Use Shipping Agents to Plan Warehouse Picks.


The customer card is the first and most common place to store a default shipping time and automatically update the delivery date of a customer order. The same rules apply to the Shipping Time field on the sales order, which means you can use a date formula to store a default shipping time. The value of this field will be copied to all new sales orders for that customer.


Important: You cannot use dynamic date formulas like CW if your process involves backward calculations - for example, if you record a customer's requested delivery date and calculate the shipping date backwards. In this case, you should use absolute date formulas like 5D (Five Days).

Customer Card

Surprisingly, you cannot record a default shipping time on a customer ship-to address. However, you can use shipping agents to record shipping times if your customers have multiple addresses.


Use lead time on shipping agents and shipping agent services to calculate delivery dates on sales documents

Another method to record shipping time for customers and automatically update delivery dates on sales orders is to use shipping agents.


Shipping agents in Business Central are records designed to store information about couriers that companies use to ship customer orders. In the picture below, you can see the shipping agent page of a Cronus evaluation company in a sandbox.

Shipping Agents

Shipping Agents support package tracking URLs that you can share on order confirmations so customers can track their orders. You can also synchronise shipping agents with other Dynamics 365 apps or 3rd parties through Dataverse—more on this subject in upcoming posts.


You can set up shipping agent services for shipping agents; the service holds data about the shipping time and even a calendar that allows you to create rules to calculate delivery time. For example, you can set up a standard delivery service with a courier with a shipping time of two working days by using a 2D formula in the shipping time field and a base calendar where Saturday and Sunday are non-working days, as in my example below.

Shipping Agent Services

Default shipping agents and shipping agent services can be applied to customers' ship-to addresses or typed into customer orders. Doing that will automatically apply the shipping time and agent service calendar to the customer order.


In the example below, you can see how the planned delivery date of my order changed after I updated the shipping agent and service. I also changed the shipping date to a Friday to show how the calendar affects the shipping time. Even though the shipping time is two days, the delivery date is four days ahead because it includes two non-working days. You can also assign a calendar to customers, for example, to store details about when a customer is closed and cannot receive an order.

Sales Order Page

Differences between forward and backward calculation

Business Central calculated shipping and delivery dates using two main concepts: forward and backwards.


  • Forward calculation takes the order date plus outbound handling time and then adds shipping time to calculate a planned delivery date.

  • Backward calculation starts from the customer's requested delivery date and subtracts the shipping time to calculate a planned shipment date. The outbound handling time is also considered to calculate the sales line shipment date used to calculate item availability.

The picture below shows an example of a backwards calculation for the same order as the previous example. I have put a date in the Requested Delivery Date field and added one day as outbound handling time to my location to show all the calculation steps. The planned delivery date now flows from the requested delivery date. The Planned Shipment Date takes the two days shipping time of the shipping agent service, and the Shipment Date is calculated by subtracting one day of outbound handling time.

Sales Order Page

In Summary

You can set up a shipping time on customers' orders to calculate the delivery date on sales documents in Business Central. Delivery date is calculated as shipment date plus shipping time. You can add shipment time on orders or set up a shipping time for your customers. Also, you can assign default shipping time to a shipment service if you use shipping agents in Business Central. You can also set a calendar for customers or shipping agent services, for example, to store details about when a customer is closed and cannot receive an order. Lastly, you can use forward or backwards calculations in Business Central to record a customer's requested delivery date and calculate a shipment date.


Regards

Alfredo Iorio


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