Vendor Self-service portal and Vendor collaboration in Dynamics 365 For Operations

Vendor Self-service portal and Vendor collaboration in Dynamics 365 For Operations

Having a fully functional vendor self service portal in an enterprise class cloud ERP solution is a huge advantage and allows your organization to streamline the collaboration with vendors, there by helping you reduce back office efforts and improves accuracy of business transactions with vendors and procurement. Dynamics 365 For Operations provides this right out of the box !

In today’s quick post, we will take a look at some of the key capabilities of the Vendor Collaboration/Self-service portal in Microsoft Dynamics 365 For Operations. Let us first look at some of the key setups involved.

Activate a vendor for Self -service/Collaboration:

  • On the vendor master record > General fast Tab, select Active (PO is auto-confirmed) or Active (PO is not auto-confirmed).

vendor-master

  • Setup the Primary contact for the vendor. I have setup Erin in this demonstration.

Prim Contact.jpg

  • Setup the user account for the vendor contact/vendor user. You will need to setup a Azure AD account for this for the vendor user and assign the Vendor(external) or Vendor admin(external) or both of these roles to this user. Then link the vendor primary contact to this user. Important Note: Note that you would not want to give the System user default role to this user, as this is purely an external user.

vendor-role

Additional Note: Since the vendor is an external user, you would definitely want them to personalize Dynamics 365 screens to add new data fields on their views. To block this, you can Block personalization for the vendor user in Dynamics 365 for Operations.

With the understanding of the some of these basic setups, let us now see , what are some of the key features of the self-service portal.

Shared View of Purchase Order Communications and Responses with Vendor:

  • Let us say Contoso Entertainment Systems USA wants to order some Wiring Harness and Speaker Units from their vendor Fabrikam Suppliers. The purchasing clerk at Contoso USA creates the PO. The purchase order is shown below.

po

  • He then sends the PO to the vendor portal for obtaining confirmation response from vendor.

send-for-conf

  • Notice at this stage, the PO status is “In External Review”.

po-status

  • Now, Erin the contact Fabrikam Suppliers logs in to Vendor portal and can see that the PO that Contoso just sent is right there on the portal. He  logs in and navigates to Purchase Order confirmation workspace.

vendor-portal-po-conf

po-for-review

  • He sees that the PO sent by Contoso appears there and then he goes into the PO details.
  • At this point, as a vendor Erin from Fabrikam can review the PO header and line details and do the following.
    • Print a copy or original PO if he needs to send it to anyone else.
  • printpo
    • Review the PO Header and Line information and Accept or Reject the PO Confirmation request. If he accepts the PO confirmation request, then the PO will be automatically confirmed.
  • accept-reject
    • Additionally, Erin can suggest changes on the PO, such as Mode of delivery, Delivery date and Quantity. Erin can also view or attach Notes and documents both at the PO header and line levels at this stage. Let us say he changes the Quantity of the Wiring Harness to 170, as Fabrikam does not see to have enough stock at the moment to fulfill the order.
  • suggest-change-1
  • suggest-change-2
    • Eric can substitute a specific PO line if needed. He can also split the delivery of the PO into multiple deliveries for each PO line. Let us say, he splits the delivery of Wiring harness into 2 deliveries as shown below. He also adds appropriate note saying that they can deliver only 170 Qty. of the Harness ordered and they will need to delivery them in 2 schedules.
  • split-delivery
  • split-delivery2
  • notes
    • Erin can now go ahead and Accept all the changes he suggested and proceed further Accepting the PO with changes. He clicks on Accept with changes on the PO. At this point, Contoso will review the suggested changes on the PO on their side and confirm the changes, after which Eric has to do the final acceptance without making any further changes.
  • accept-with-changes-1
    • The purchasing clerk at Contoso can now view the suggested changed and accept the changes followed by final acceptance from the vendor.
  • vendor-accepts-changes

 

Vendors can manage their Contacts and New Collaboration Users easily:

  • The primary contact/user at the vendor can view and manage the contacts and users for the vendor portal.
  • They can create new contacts and request to provision new vendor users for collaboration portal.
  • Can update contact information of the vendor users any time, anywhere.

vendor-users

provision-user

vendor-user-requests

Vendors can view and inquire on invoices and payments using the portal workspace:

  • Vendor can review the status of the their invoices and payments online.
  • Create purchase order invoices and upload invoice documents on the portal.
  • Inquire status of payment for the invoices.

vendor-invoice-workspace

vendor-creates-invoice

vendor-invoice-attachments

Vendor can view and inquire information about consignment inventory:

consignment-inventory

Vendor portal and Vendor collaboration feature  continues to be one of the major investment areas for Microsoft in Dynamics 365 For Operations, which means we will only continue to see more and more new features in the upcoming platform updates in next few months. Stay tuned !!

Mobile apps for Dynamics 365 For Operations is available for download in Android

Mobile apps for Dynamics 365 For Operations is available for download in Android

Exciting times are here for Dynamics customers, prospects and enthusiasts !!

The mobile app for Dynamics 365 For Operations is now available for download and use in the Android platform.

You can download it from Google play store today. Just search with keyword Dynamics 365 and you should see the app listed.

After you have installed, login to your Dynamics 365 environment and provide your login credentials. That’s it.

Below are some quick screenshots that I took on my phone. I connected to one of my demo environments that has the Update 2 environment and I was able to see the one mobile app workspace I designed a few weeks ago, which I described in the post below.

https://sandeepchaudhury.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/sneak-peek-into-mobile-applications-framework-for-dynamics-axdynamics-365-enterprise-edition/

android-apps

android-apps

Obviously this was just a very crude attempt at creating a prototype mobile app to evaluate the new feature in Dynamics 365 and it worked great.

I could not connect it to the Update 3 environment, which is really the Dynamics 365 For Operations environment, as it is still being configured.I will work on creating a more usable and professional app/workspace in Dynamics 365 For Operations, and I will share more details once I have something ready. If you connect to an Update 3 environment, you will notice that there will already be several out of the workspaces/apps that are developed and published my Microsoft out of the box.

Regards,

Sandeep

 

Dynamics AX Tip: How to control Personalization options for specific users in the New Dynamics AX

Dynamics AX Tip: How to control Personalization options for specific users in the New Dynamics AX

The Personalization options has been a very widely used feature, which is powerful and has always allowed users to personalize various screens based on what they would like the screens to look like. You can learn more on the Personalization options in the New Dynamics AX on my earlier post.

While this is a great feature to allow every users to be able to personalize screens, it is sometimes required to disable this option or even give some users explicit personalization options for certain users, based on what type of users of the system they are.

For example, let us say you are configuring a vendor(External) user in your Dynamics AX environment, to provide them access to the Vendor portal, but you obviously do not want to them to be able to personalize screens to add any data fields which you do not want them to see.

The vendor user is setup as shown below, with Vendor (External) security role.

vendor-user

In the new Dynamics AX, you can control user specific personalization options under System Administration > Setup > Personalization. All you have to do is, select the specific user ID and UNMARK the Personalization allowed checkbox.

personalization-setup

With this, when the vendor user logs into the Vendor Portal, they will not see the Personalize this form option.

personalization-setup-dis

If the Personalization was allowed for this user, they would see this option as shown in screenshot below.

personalization-yes

Cheers !!

Sandeep

Sneak Peek into Mobile Applications Framework of New Dynamics AX/Dynamics 365 For Operations

Sneak Peek into Mobile Applications Framework of New Dynamics AX/Dynamics 365 For Operations

“Can I enter my time and expenses on the go, when I am at an airport, or in a flight” ?

“Can I do my daily tasks of work while I am on the go “?

“Can I inquire the status of a sales order and take some basic action on it, or even add a new customer contact when I am meeting a customer”.

These are probably some of the very common questions we hear from users and customers who are either using an ERP or looking to implement an ERP for their organization. In today’s mobile first cloud first era, it is vital that the users of an ERP system remain productive regardless of their location, the computing device they use. They should be able to complete the key functions of their daily tasks “Anytime, anywhere”.

So what is the story of Mobile applications for Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP, which is the main Operations component of Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition ? Well, traditionally till the AX 2012 R 3 release of Dynamics AX, the mobile applications platform (Windows, iOS and Android) existed and supported basic mobile scenarios, but they were not very significant and the framework had limitations obviously.

Now with the release of the New Dynamics AX (Still widely known as AX 7 among the community), the whole scenario of Mobile applications is going to take a HUGE leap in terms of the quality, usage, configurability, capabilities and more.

SOME KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NEW MOBILE APPS FRAMEWORK:

  1. Support for full Offline/intermittent connectivity mode. You can interact with Dynamics AX even when you are not connected to the internet !!
  2. Inherits of all key artifacts of Dynamics AX (Such as Security, labels and more).
  3. Front end “Mobile experience designer” within AX client, to develop mobile screens/apps with literally less or no coding needed.
  4. Deploy these app experiences to the common mobile app present in Windows Store, App Store(iOS) and Play store (Android).
  5. There is no limit for the mobile app to certain functional areas only like time and expense. It can be used literally for any operational area of Dynamics AX from sales to warehouse and accounting. Very Powerful !!!!!
  6. Microsoft will release several mobile apps out of the box when this framework releases this fall (Around November 2016).
  7. Dynamics Partners will be able to create specific business apps and publish those to app source for consumption.
  8. Will take full advantage of smart phone features like GPS, Maps, Camera and more.
  9. While most of the apps and features will be available out of the box, if you need to make your apps more fancy (Like changing he UI, adding a file upload interface, or some real-time validation in the mobile client), you can do them by writing your own java script.

The 2 significant components of this new mobile applications framework are as follows.

  1. The actual mobile app for Windows store, App Store and Play store. This common app is still in beta testing and not available for public preview yet. I don’t have access to the preview version unfortunately.
  2. The Mobile Experience Designer within Dynamics AX. This is the component I will provide sneak peek into in today’s post. Using this, you can create and configure the mobile application workspaces for different areas of AX the way you want it.

If you have deployed the recent Update 2 release of Dynamics AX that came out in August 2016, then you can access the Mobile experience designer within AX and see what it is all about. Let us take quick ride on this.

  • Launch Dynamics AX  in your browser.
  • After that, Open the Settings menu and you will notice a new menu option called “Mobile Apps”.

mobile-app-menu

  • Click the Mobile Apps option to load the designer experience.

mobile-app-workspace

  • Now, you can create your mobile workspace for any functional area you want. Let us say we want to create a mobile app/workspace for the Projects.
  • Click Add and give a name and description for the app/workspace. You can also select a color for the workspace as well as a default icon (Which is how it will appear in the mobile app).

new-workspace

  • Next, we will add a new page to the to app. This is the page which will appear when user launches the app/workspace in the mobile app. Click Add Page and provide a page title and description.

add-pages

  • Click Select fields button to select the data fields you want to show on this page.

select-fields

  • As soon as you do this, system will automatically prompt the data fields that you can simply select to add to the page. In this case lets add Project ID, Name, Customer Name, Project type and Project stage. Just click the + icon on each field to add them to the page.

select-fields-details

  • Now, click Done when you are done adding all the fields you need.

done

  • Go back to the main page now and you can add ACTIONS on this page if you want. Under action if click add actions and perform all the tasks such as save, submit, edit etc. on a specific form, system automatically record them and present the action in form of a button in the app.

actions

  • Under the CODE tab, You can add custom code (Java script) for additional fancy customizations (such as  UI changes, validation in mobile client and more).
  • Finally , when done, click Done and You will see option to publish this workspace to the mobile app. As soon as this is done, you will start seeing it in the mobile app when you login to the app in your smart phone or tablet.

publish

I am not able to show how this all will actually look on the actual Mobile app on the Windows/iOS/Android smart phone or tablet, since I do not have access to the beta release of the apps and it is yet to be released for public preview. Expect the apps to be available for public preview around November 2016 timeframe, when the Update 3 for Dynamics AX comes out. However, below are some sample screenshots on how the ultimate apps may look like (This is subjected to change when it releases for public preview).

mobile-app-sneak-peak

With that said, one final note to mention. If you have explored the Microsoft PowerApps and Common Data model, which are 2 of the significant components of Dynamics 365, you might be wondering if I can build a mobile application using PowerApps, then how is this built-in mobile apps framework of AX different from that ! Well, the answer is,

  • If you are looking at extending Dynamics AX functions to mobile devices and build native mobile app experiences for those functions, you would use the built-in mobile app extensibility framework, which we just discussed above.
  • However, if you are looking for building a solution that needs to span multiple services, such as Office 365, CRM and other non-Dynamics AX services, you would use Microsoft powerApps and the new Common Data model, to build your mobile apps. You can read my blog posts on “How to build mobile apps using common data model and Microsoft PowerApps” for more information.

I hope this post will give you some idea where the mobile app story for Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 is headed in the future and the tremendous potential it has to unlock new scenarios of mobile capabilities of a high quality enterprise ERP software, which is Dynamics 365 (Enterprise edition) and Dynamics AX.

Stay tuned for more updates soon!!

Regards,

Sandeep

Dynamics AX Tip: Percentage complete calculation for revenue recognition, based on WBS Work Percentage Complete for fixed price projects

Dynamics AX Tip: Percentage complete calculation for revenue recognition, based on WBS Work Percentage Complete for fixed price projects

Traditionally, the 2 primary methods of revenue recognition for a fixed price project were the “Completed Percentage” and the “Completed Contract” methods. I have explained how these work in Dynamics AX for revenue recognition of fixed price projects in my earlier posts.

With the AX 2012 R3 release (CU 10), the straight line method for revenue recognition was introduced, which I also elaborated in this earlier post.

When you work with the Completed percentage method of revenue recognition, there are multiple ways to determine the percentage completion of a project. Some of these options are,

  1. Manage percentage completion on a manual basis
  2. Use project budgets or forecasts to the system automatically keep track of % complete.
  3. The new method to calculate % completion on a project is based on the WBS percent complete. In this quick post, we will how this works.

The first step for this is to setup the Cost template and select the Completion based on as “Work percentage complete”. See screenshot below.

Cost Template Setup

Once you have that, associate it with the project group. See screenshot below.

Project Group

The next step is to setup the fixed price project and establish the project plan, which is basically the work breakdown structure. Once you have your WBS defined and the cost estimates established, Dynamics AX will automatically keep track of the “Percentage completion” for the project based on the WBS estimates vs the actual transactions. I have setup a very basic WBS for this walkthrough.

WBS

After I have progressed in the project and transactions (Timesheets, Expense reports, Purchase orders, journals etc.), Dynamics AX automatically starts tracking the % complete for the project at each task level of the project. See screenshot below.

Percent Complete

Let us say, at this point you are ready to run the revenue recognition for this project for the Month of August 2016.

Navigate to the Project revenue recognition screen and click Create. You will notice here that “Work progress percentage” is a new option under the “Cost to complete method” dropdown. But we will just leave it as default (From cost template).

Notice that after we have run the revenue recognition, system automatically shows the Percentage completion based on the WBS work percent complete.

Revenue Recognition Percentage

The process after this is pretty straight forward and as you would run the revenue recognition typically for the fixed price project.

NOTE: The intention of this blog post was not to explain the end to end process of revenue recognition for fixed price projects. I have explained these in detail in my earlier posts. This post was specifically a quick tip to highlight the new method of automatic work percent complete calculation.

Check out what is New in Update 2(August 2016 release) for the New Dynamics AX

Check out what is New in Update 2(August 2016 release) for the New Dynamics AX

The Update 2 (August 2016) release for the New Dynamics AX (AX 7) is now available for download in LCS.  Checkout what is new in this release at the URL below and learn how you can benefit from these enhancements.

https://ax.help.dynamics.com/en/wiki/whats-new-or-changed-in-dynamics-ax-platform-version-7-2-august-2016/

Revamped Help System(Task Guides and Wiki) in the New Dynamics AX (AX 7)

Revamped Help System(Task Guides and Wiki) in the New Dynamics AX (AX 7)

One of the most talked about features when the new Dynamics AX was released, is the new Task Guides and Wiki (New Help system for AX). We all know the architecture for the Help system is completely revamped and I am sure there must be several videos, blog posts already out in the community talking about these.

In today’s post, I would like to provide my perspective of how these work together in the new Dynamics AX and how customers and partners can benefit from these.

Before we deep dive, let us understand the basic terms and what they really mean.

Help Wiki: In earlier version of AX, all the help content for Dynamics AX were primarily delivered via the Help Server and the TechNet. In the new Dynamics AX brings in a True Cloud based Help Wiki system. This not only brings a whole new approach for discovering and consuming help content for AX, but also it has now become more business process and task focused. The earlier Help system always told us “How to do a specific task under various functional modules”, but there was no real content telling how these tasks tie together. The new help system focuses primarily in delivering Help content for the tasks in a business process oriented manner , which makes it easy to understand for the consumers (Consultants, End Users etc.). We will learn additional details about Wiki further in this post below.

Task guides: A task guide represents step by step guidelines to execute a specific task under a business process. Task guides are beyond just steps to execute a task actually. You can configure task guides to have as much as detailed information at each step of the task and you can keep track of your steps execution with visual indicators right in front of you, telling up to what step you have executed the task so far and how many steps are to be executed. You will also be prompted with visual navigator(Something like WalkMe), that will exactly point you where to navigate and what to click in order to complete each step of a task. So no more hassle to toggle between training documents/user manuals and AX to execute a task. We will discuss more on Task guides further in the post below.

BPM Library in LCS: Business process library is a library of business processes broken down to sub-business processes of a solution. This basically contains the breakdown of all the business processes down to the specific task levels under each business process and each task has a pre-reordered task guide for it.

Task Recorder: This is a tool built inside Dynamics AX (as was with earlier versions of AX, but improved/revamped now), which you can use to record the task guide for a task and then upload the same to LCS library. In this blog post, I will not talk on specifics of “how to create a BPM library”, How to use task recorder etc.

Before we go and see these in action in Dynamics AX, let us understand the overall Help System Architecture in the New Dynamics AX a little bit.

As I mentioned above, the help content in the New Dynamics AX is primarily delivered via two sources. 1. Help from Task guides. 2. Help from Wiki.

  • The Task guide contents are provisioned using the LCS (Life Cycle Services). These  are prepared using the task recorder tool and are published into LCS BPM Library of a specific LCS project, which can then ultimately be referenced and consumed within AX.
  • Source 1 of these task guides are the ones created by the product experts within the Dynamics AX team of Microsoft, to be used publicly by everyone. These would go into the Microsoft BMP library in LCS. Source 2 of the task guides would be the ones created and published by Partners and Customers. These would go into the Customer/Partner BPM library.
  • Once you have these BPM libraries within your LCS project, you can reference the same in AX help system configuration and contents from those specific libraries will be delivered when you search them on the Dynamics AX Help Pane.
  • The Wiki contents are directly provisioned from the AX wiki help site . The Wiki that is currently available is the Microsoft public wiki. This primarily  contains text/links to videos/embedded office mix presentations (Manually authored by Microsoft experts), wiki contribution topics from the Microsoft community(with approval/audit from Microsoft)  and finally Microsoft BPM topics from the public Microsoft BPM library in LCS.
  • Partner/Customer specific private Wiki not currently supported, but there is news that it is in the road map. This wiki content will be authored by partners and customers and those will be private for use.

Let us deep dive now and see some of these in action.

How to setup the Help system in your Dynamics AX environment: At this point, I assume that most of us are already familiar with what is LCS, LCS project and the BPM libraries(My library, Corporate library and Global library) under the LCS project. Once you have this setup, follow the steps below to setup your help system within AX.

  • In AX, navigate to System Administration > System Parameters > Help tab.
  • Select the LCS Project in which you would have your Business Process Library containing the task guides.
  • As soon as you select this, system will show all the libraries that are available in this LCS project.

Help Setup in AX Env

  • The next step is to select the specific libraries that you want to use for this AX environment. This means that business processes from this library will be shown when you search from help in AX. In this case I will select the Microsoft APQC library.

Help Setup in AX Select

  • Save and close the form.

Dynamics AX Help Pane and the Consumption Experience: Now that we have everything setup, let us see these in action. In this case, I will demonstrate how a user from the Customer Service team of an organization will consume the help topics for creating a Sales order in AX. (Both Wiki and Business process task guides).

  • The user navigates to the Accounts Receivable > All Sales Orders.
  •  Now, as soon as the user is on this form, let us say they are new to the system and are not fully aware of the steps and best practices they need to follow in order to create the order. The immediate thing that comes to mind is “I NEED HELP“. So they click the Help icon on the top right of the page.

Help Button

  • As soon as they click Help, system will automatically render the help information (Both Task Guides and Wiki) that are related to Sales orders and list them as per relevance.

Help Topics Listing

  • The Content under the Task Guides bucket/tab lists all the task guides that are present in the business process library related to sales order. The content under the Wiki bucket lists all topics related to Sales orders from the Microsoft public Wiki.
  • User can find or even search for more specific topics with appropriate key words under the Help Search box.

Wiki Bucket Help Search

  • Once the topics are listed, it is up to the user on how to consume these. If they are a new user dealing with the Sales order process for the first time and they really need step by step guidelines to make sure they do not go wrong, they can Start the Task guide in play mode. This will help them navigate to each click with visual pointers which makes it super easy to follow the steps and execute them.
  • So user selects the required Task guide and clicks Start Task guide button.

Start Task Guide button

  • With this, notice that system will start visual pointed navigational instructions with additional information for the user to execute the steps. System will also show visual indicators on which steps are completed, current step and which are pending, all of these without having to leave the form.

Visual pointers

Visual pointers 2

  • Once the user start a task guide, system will force them to follow the task guide recommended steps. But if they do any actions to deviate from the recommended steps, then  system will automatically prompt the user if they want to Unlock the task guide for them not to follow a particular step for any reason.

Unlock Task Guide

  • User can skip a non-mandatory step if they wish to. The user can also stop the task guide at any point they want.
  • Now, as users uses the business processes on a daily basis and gets familiar with the tasks, they might not need pointed guidelines always. So they can simply consume the task guides in Read only Mode, just to refer to any specific step or additional information on a specific step that they are not sure about.

Read Only mode

  • Finally, if the user wishes to explore more on the specific topic in the Public Wiki, they can chose the link under Wiki tab and it will take them to the Wiki link.

Wiki Link

So that was it from my side on this post. Hope this information will  be helpful. There are a host of new features in this area as well which are slated for future updates in coming months. Stay tuned!!

Of course there are several minor details behind the scenes,such as How to create task guides, what are the best practices, how to publish them to LCS etc. Feel free to drop you questions.

Regards,

Sandeep

Introducing the New Microsoft Dynamics AX (AX 7) – Public Preview

Introducing the New Microsoft Dynamics AX (AX 7) – Public Preview

Hello All,

With the Public Preview of the “New Microsoft Dynamics AX” now out, I am sure all of us are excited to learn more about it and start exploring all possibilities with the new version.

Read  more about the new Dynamics AX on the Blog Post on SBS Group’s Blog spot.

Regards,

Sandeep