Take advantage of configuration data templates for seamless data import and export management in your Dynamics 365 For finance and operations implementation

Take advantage of configuration data templates for seamless data import and export management in your Dynamics 365 For finance and operations implementation

The Data Management Framework of Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations – Enterprise Edition provides advanced data management capabilities, which makes the overall data export and import really seamless easy, for both standard Dynamics 365 data entities, as well as any custom entities that you might have developed for your business requirements. This framework provides an easy to use front end interface for data export and import management, so that regular pro-users of Dynamics 365 can interact with it, without requiring advanced knowledge of development and database.

In this post today, let us discuss about one of the features of this Data Management framework called the “Data Templates“, which will help you accelerate the data configuration and export/import management in your Dynamics 365 Implementation.

Data Config Templates

So, what are these data configuration templates ? One of the things you would have always done in every D365FO (Dynamics AX earlier) implementation, is probably use an excel spreadsheet to keep track of setup and master data configuration checklist and their sequence of import. While this works, it also requires extensive manual tracking, supervision and may lead to lot of human errors and mistakes.

Data configuration templates in D365FO are basically a predefined list of data entities for each module area, which are sequenced , so the data import will be processed in correct order automatically. This reduces human error in the data import sequence, save a huge amount of time in data import/export.

The templates are sequenced using Units, levels and sequence numbers and predefined dependencies between data entities. For example, before you import/upload your customer master data, you need to make sure all the number sequences formats, customer groups, payment terms etc. are imported prior to that. The data configuration templates addresses this and takes care of sequencing.

Let us now understand what is underneath these data templates and how these are managed in D365FO.

  • Microsoft started releasing these predefined data templates with the July 2017 update and these are right now made available directly within D365FO. From home page of D365FO, Navigate to System Administration > Data Management Workspace > Click Templates tile and click the Load default templates button. This will load all the default templates which are made available by Microsoft.

Load Default Templates

Note: In future, these will be made available in the shared asset library of LCS(Lifecycle Services), just like other assets such as the Power BI report models, Software deployable packages etc. 

  • You can use these out of the box templates, modify them to meet your business requirement, or you can even create your own templates and define the entities under it. For example you might have customized D365FO to meet your business needs and you might have created various custom data entities for this. So you can create your own templates and include those entities.

Custom Data Template

  • How are these entities sequences within a data template for processing? The “Execution unit”, “Level in execution unit” and “Sequence” fields under the Entities tab of the templates defines how the entities are sequences for processing.
    • Execution Unit: Entities that have different units are processed in parallel.
    • Level in execution unit: Entities that have the same level within an unit are processed in parallel.
    • Sequence number: With the same level, entities are processed according to their sequence numbers.

Note: At some point in future, Microsoft will make it possible for the sequencing to happen automatically when you add entities to a template and will they will try to provide templates for every standard D365FO configuration and setup.

Unit Level and Sequence Numbers

  • The Module, category and Tags represent the entity category or classification for better understanding. Module represents the actual module name of D365 to which the entity belongs, Entity category shows if the entity is related to setup data, reference data or master data and the tags shows additional information tags.

Module Tag And Category

  • There are other miscellaneous features on this templates so that you can export and import templates, Open the list of entities within a data template in Excel to make changes to Units, levels, sequences, module, tag etc., or you can even create the templates from a data project.

Other Misc Features

Now, let us see how we can use these data templates (Predefined or custom created) in an actual Data project for export or import.

  • Navigate to System Administration > Data Management > Click Import tile.

Demo Template Import Data Project

  • Enter a name for the project and click Save. Now click “Apply Template” button. You will see all your data templates that you can select and add them to the data project. You can add more than one data template. Let us say I want to use the GL-Shared data template to load all the data for the GL shared area. I can select that and select preferred source type (EXCEL, CSV etc.) and click OK button.

Select Data Template on Data Project

  • Notice here that all the data entities that were part of the General Ledger-Shared data template are automatically loaded and all the level and sequencing of these entities is also inherited from the template setup. Now, you can just upload the excel/source data files for all these entities and schedule the data project to run. It will run and automatically process the entities in the correct sequence as per the definition in the template.

This is certainly a huge time saver and you don’t have to select individual entities and import them one by one remembering their sequence.

Data Entities loaded in DP

  • Similarly, you can use the templates for exporting too, so that system will automatically provide all the source files for each module, depending on the data template you selected in the project.

Export Using Template

  • As an example, I have exported the same GL Shared template in a data project and it exported all my relevant data entities with more than 500 records within few seconds.

Data Entities Exported

  • I can now download these packages and see the data on the files. See screenshot below.

Data Package Export

Exported Data.png

I find this feature very useful and this will help save significant time in data export/import and will also enable users who are not experts of the system to seamlessly export and import data for all required modules by leveraging these templates. This is also a great step towards standardizing data configs as much as possible, so that customers don’t have to reinvent the wheel in every implementation.

That’s it for this post. Stay tuned !!

Sandeep Chaudhury

 

Review of new features for Project Management and Accounting in Dynamics 365 For Operations

Review of new features for Project Management and Accounting in Dynamics 365 For Operations

Dynamics 365 For Operations is a cloud based SaaS service, which provides rich features and functionalities to manage simple to complex business processes across all major industry verticals, such as Manufacturing, Professional Services, Financial Services, Retail, Distribution and more. It provides very rich features and functionality for project management and accounting for the professional services industry. In today’s post, we will review some of the key new features and enhancements that were released for project management and accounting, in Dynamics 365 for Operations (Update 3 released on NOV 1st 2016).

Let us review and discuss these new features in the order of what I think their significance would  be for customers.

Dedicated PowerBI Content Pack for Project Management and Accounting Reports and Dashboards:

The is the biggest enhancement /new  feature under Project Management and accounting in Dynamics 365 For Operations. Customers will now get access to  preconfigured PowerBI Content pack that comes out of the box and provides key project management and accounting related dashboards and KPIs that are readily available for consumption . This content pack offers the following dashboards and reports. (Note: You can get access to the .pbix PowerBI files via the shared asset library in Life Cycle Services)

Projects Overview Dashboard: Shows overview of projects by customers, budget performance and revenue and provides a bird’s eye overview of the projects so that you can promptly review projects that are either exceeding budget, underperforming in revenue to take actions.

proj-db

Project Cost and Revenue Details Dashboard: These 2 dashboards enables you to view the project cost and revenue trends easily by customer and various other classifications and also shows actual bs budget comparisons.

proj-cost

proj-rev

Earned Value Management: Earned value management(EVM) is one of the key project health and success measuring criteria for professional services firms. Traditionally, in the earlier version of Dynamics AX, there was no dashboards/KPIs available out of the box that shows EVM and associated KPIs such as Cost Performance Index(CPI) or Schedule Performance Index (SPI), even though you could develop or customize reports and dashboards for these. But in Dynamics 365 for Operations, the content pack provides these out of the box enabling organizations to measure EVM and associated KPIs easily for projects. A very welcome addition !! (In one of the upcoming posts, I will dive deep into EVM in D365 For Operations)

evm

Project Hours Details report: This dedicated dashboard page shows the hours/time details for projects and resources. This also allows you to measure resource utilizations in various perspectives.

proj-hours

Manage Estimated Costs, Revenues and Item requirements on WBS Task Details form of a project:

In the earlier releases of the New Dynamics AX (Update 2 and earlier) or even in AX 2012, you could always define the estimated costs and revenues for each task on the WBS for a project. In Dynamics 365 For Operations, you can add estimated costs and revenue lines for Hours, Expenses, Items and Fees on the WBS task under ‘Estimated Costs and Revenue Tab” as you were able to do in earlier versions, But additionally, you can also manage these on the “TASK Details” form. You can also add/setup “Item Requirements” on the WBS Task details form, so that when you save and publish the WBS, Project Item requirements will be automatically created. (It was also possible earlier, but you had to transfer the WBS Item estimates to Item requirements specifically). Small enhancement, but can be very useful !

wbs-details

Option to setup ledger accounts for intercompany cost and revenues based on lending and borrowing entities for projects:

The Intercompany timesheet and intercompany customer invoicing has been one of the very useful features of AX which enables organizations to deploy resources from multiple entities on the project of borrowing entity and automate the intercompany timesheets and invoicing and accounting. In earlier versions, you only setup one Ledger account for Intercompany Cost and One ledger account for intercompany Revenue postings, regardless of the resource borrowing and lending entities. Dynamics 365 For Operations now provides the option to setup multiple ledger accounts for intercompany cost and revenue posting based on the resource lending and borrowing entities respectively.

int-cost-account

int-rev-account

Enhancements to Project resource management:

There are some significant changes and enhancements to the project resource management feature in the Dynamics 365 For Operations release. I am listing some of those which I think are important, but will discuss them in greater detail in one of the future posts.

  • Organization’s Operations resources such as Machines, Tools, Facility etc. can now be added as project resource and can be scheduled on projects. Earlier, only workers (Employees and Contractors) could be designated as project resource.
  • New Resource request workflow enabling a resource allocation manager to control the resource requests from various projects. (It was there in the AX 7 release as Planned resource, but it has be revised up to some extent)
  • Resource role based pricing and cost price visibility based on date of Task and booking.

resource-request

resource-request1

Miscellaneous usability enhancements across various forms:

The following are some of the miscellaneous usability enhancements.

  • WBS Task ID and the Task Name are now visible on the Project Forecasts Transactions forms. This will certainly make it easier to see the forecasts (Labor, Expense, Items, Fee etc.) at each Task level with easy identification of the task, instead of just looking at the Activity ID.

taskidname

  • On the Resource management screens such as Resource Availability, Resource fulfillment, clearing record selections for each date range is now possible and it a whole lot earlier and neat! Certainly a very useful enhancement.

clearresselections

  • Multiple record selections on various forms to take actions is now possible. An example is the price setup form.

multiselect

  • The Project resource availability form’s business logic now considers Employee’s efficiency rate. Earlier the resource availability was based on Competencies and calendar availability, but Efficiency rate might be a good addition. I am not sure yet if I would use/need it that much, it certainly is a good add-on.

res-avail

  • When you select the Project Manager on a project, it is automatically added to the Project Team under the Project Team and Scheduling tab. Make Sense and makes like a little easier 🙂 !!

pm-team-member

  • Timesheet workflow status is Reset if the workflow and Document status are out of Sync. I believe this enhancement is related to cases when the “Approval status” of a timesheet changes, but the corresponding workflow status does not change sue to unexpected intermittent issues. If this happens, my guess is the workflow status will automatically reset to match with the timesheet document/approval status. I was not able to review and test this feature yet.
  • You can now select a funding source specifically on Fee journal lines. This will prove to be a very useful enhancement, especially in cases where there multiple funding parties responsible for a project contract and when booking Fees for the contract, you can select a specific funding source if you want to bill the partially fee to that funding source. (Note: This was indirectly possible in earlier releases where you could do a Project Free Text invoice and select a funding source on the line, which in turn will post a project Fee transaction.

proj-fee-fundsource

Hope this was helpful! Till next time..

 

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

How to create a new Workspace with no coding needed in New Dynamics AX(AX 7)

How to create a new Workspace with no coding needed in New Dynamics AX(AX 7)

If you have worked enough on the New Dynamics AX , you must be well aware of the new Workspaces feature by now. The workspaces are basically an aggregation of several business tasks, insights, reporting and dashboards that a business user deals with on a typical work day. These workspaces comes in really handy for end users by providing everything they need to execute their daily tasks, all at one central location, so that they can become more productive and save time to focus on important things.

Workspaces probably are one of the most liked and talked about features of the New Dynamics AX among users, customers and prospects. Some of the examples of the workspaces are ” Financial Period Close”, “Employee Self Service“, “Manager Self Service“, “Project Management“, “Cost Administration” and more.

Standard Dynamics AX already provides several workspaces out-of-the-box for most of the operational areas and departments of your business(Shown in screenshot below), but there might be specific cases where you might want to create customized workspace of your own to meet your requirements. With the release of Update 1 for Dynamics AX in May 2016, you can now create and build your own workspaces without requiring a developer or any sort of coding. Let us see the steps involved in doing this.

 All Workspaces Dynamics AX

Create a new Workspace in Dynamics AX:

  • On the main landing page of workspaces, right click anywhere on the blank area and click Personalize > Tile page container.

TilePageContainer

  • You will notice a new pop-up menu wit several options.
  • Click Add a workspace button.

Add A workspace

  • Come back to the main landing page and notice that a new workspace with a default name “My workspace 1″ will be added. Right click on this new workspace and click Personalize > My workspace 1.

My workspace 1 Personalize

  • Let us now rename this workspace. Let’s say we are creating a new workspace for Fixed Assets Management, which is not available in standard AX yet.

Rename a workspace

  • The next step is to add the different components of this workspace to make it look complete. Let us first add a few live tiles. Navigate to the Fixes Assets Module and go the list pages which you want to add to the workspace. In this case I will add a few of the list pages. On the list page, click OPTIONS > Add to workspace and select the newly created workspace, and click Configure.

Add to workspace

  • Continue the same for the remaining live tiles you want to add. At the end of adding all the tiles, your new workspace will look something like below.

Workspace Tiles

  • Let us now add a few List items on this workspace. Navigate to the “Fixed Assets Transactions” form and click OPTIONS > Add to workspace button. Select the Presentation as List this time.

Add list items

Field List

  • Repeat the same process to add all the lists you want on the workspace. At the end of it, your workspace will look something like below.

Workspace List Tile

  • Next step would be to add the option of adding/removing Power BI tiles for dashboards and reports. Navigate into the new workspace and click Options > Personalize this form. On the Personalization pane, click the Add button and mark “Allow Power BI Control”.

Add Power BI Tile

Add Power BI Tile 1

  • At the end of adding the Power BI tiles option, your workspace should look something like below.

Add Power BI Tile 3

Add PBI Tile

  • The last type of element that you typically add on a workspace is quick links to different menus and reports etc. You can do this by Personalizing the workspace and add the menu Presentation as Link this time.

Add Links

Links

That was all I had for this blog post. The workspaces framework in the New Dynamics AX will evolve for sure with lot of new exciting new possibilities in the upcoming releases. Stay tuned for more..

Regards,
Sandeep

 

MasterCard partners with Microsoft to streamline secured online payments in Dynamics AX ERP

MasterCard partners with Microsoft to streamline secured online payments in Dynamics AX ERP

Today MasterCard announced the integration of it’s “Simplify Commerce” solution, a cloud based payments platform, with Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP solution.

Existing and future customers of Dynamics AX can now take advantage of this to streamline their online and call center payments and will get access to one system that connects their end to end planning with online commercial sales.

Read more on the news HERE.

Regards,

Sandeep

Financial Period Closing in the New Dynamics AX(AX 7) – Get real time status, Be more productive, Close faster

Financial Period Closing in the New Dynamics AX(AX 7) – Get real time status, Be more productive, Close faster

Financial Period Close is probably one of the most important task that the Corporate Accounting team of your organization spends most time accomplishing. Accounting Managers of your organization spend tons of time in creating and assigning various tasks needed to close financial periods and always end up tracking status manually in MS Project, MS Excel or by other means. Today your Financial Period Close and status tracking probably looks something like below.

Fiscal Period Closing Status - Excel

With this, you are not able to,

  • Know who is working on what task and when are going to complete it.
  • How much percentage the closing tasks are complete by operational area.
  • Who is having how much tasks remaining to be completed.
  • Know real time status of closing across all legal entities of the organization.

In today’s post, we will discuss the details of one of the workspaces of the New Dynamics AX, which is the Financial Period Close workspace and see how it can help you be more productive, track status in real time and close periods faster.

Workspaces in the New Dynamics AX are a new way of helping your users gain and do more in the ERP, all at one central location. The dedicated workspace for Financial Period Closing also intends to do the same and help your accounting team stay on top of their tasks for period close and get real time status updates at any time, so that they can act and escalate on delayed tasks.

Let us first see some of the insights into the some of the underlying setups before we discuss the workspace.

Configure Financial Period Closing:

  • Under General Ledger Module > Period Close , navigate to Financial Period Close configuration form.
  • Under the Closing roles tab, create period closing roles as per requirement of you organization. Note that these roles are specific to financial period closing and does not relate in anyways to AX Security roles. These are only required from the Financial Period Closing perspective.

Closing Roles

  • Under the Resources tab, define/select the employees from your employee master, who needs to be involved in the Financial Period closing process. Also you can set “What they will see when they go to the Financial Period Close workspace”. Additionally you can assign one or more closing roles of each of these resources.

Resources

  • Under the Task areas, define the different areas of the tasks for financial period closing. These task areas will be ideally your different areas such as AR, AP, Bank, Fixed Assets, GL, Inventory etc.

Task Areas

  • Under the Calendars tab, configure and set the calendar for scheduling the tasks of Financial Period Closing. Note that these calendars are different than the organization and resource calendars.

Calendars

  • Under Templates tab, create the List of tasks from scratch or from an exiting template. This is your master list of tasks that needs to be executed to complete the Financial Period Closing process. You can set up the Task description, which area it belongs to, when is it due (before the end date of the closing schedule).
  • Then assign each task to a Closing role (Which is linked to employees or resources) and select the Legal entities you want the tasks to be applicable for. Additionally, you can also setup dependencies between tasks and also set direct links to different forms of AX to complete the tasks.

Task List

  • Finally, create your financial period close schedule, select the start and end dates, the calendar applicable for it.

Closing Schedule

Now that we have gone though the setups and configurations, let us see how the Financial Period Closing workspace looks for an employee who is with certain closing roles and see how they can interact with the workspace in completing their daily tasks for period closing.

Arnie who plays the role of AR and AP clerk in the closing process, navigates to the Financial Period Closing workspace.

  • On this workspace, she gets to see filtered and actionable data for her task list in live tiles. She can she how many of her tasks are past due, how many tasks pending to be completed today, how many tasks of her blocked due to incomplete dependent tasks by others and all remaining tasks.

Task List Arnie Live Tiles

  • She also see the Task list that are assigned to her. For each of the tasks, she sees the due date, dependency and most importantly she can navigate to the destination form directly if needed by simply clicking on the task and take required action. For example she can click the Post Free text invoices task to directly launch the Free text invoices form.
  • Once she completes the task, she marks the task as Complete by marking the Completed checkbox.

Task List Details

Let us now see how the workspace looks like for an Accounting Manager, who is managing the status of the Financial Period Close process for multiple entities.

When Phyllis Harris, the Accounting Manager navigates to the workspace, she gets to see real time status updates in terms of % completion of the tasks by entity, task area, by person and more.

Workspace for Manager

  • So clearly, the manager gets clean, real time updates on the status of the tasks for period close. They can see the status by entity or by area and person in terms of how much percentage is completed.

Status by Area

Status by Person

  • She can even drill down to each tasks under each area, person or entity to get more status updates or modify anything as needed.

Task List Details

That’s it for today’s post. Stay tuned !!!

Best,

Sandeep

 

 

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

What is new in General Ledger Module – Top 5 enhancements in the New Dynamics AX (AX 7)

What is new in General Ledger Module – Top 5 enhancements in the New Dynamics AX (AX 7)

Hello Everyone,

Hope everyone participated in the virtual launch of the New Dynamics AX on 9th March and got to learn more about the new fully cloud based ERP.

In today’s post, I will explain the top 5 enhancements that I witnessed and tested under the General Ledger area in the New Dynamics AX.

  1. Financial Dimension Activation
  2. Global General Journals
  3. Global Fiscal calendar management
  4. Dedicated Process driven Workspace for Financial Period Close
  5. Account structure related enhancements

Let’s get straight into it and see some additional details.

1. Financial Dimension Activation: Starting with the new Dynamics AX, new financials dimensions will now need to be activated by a specific role, which has the privilege assigned for dimension activation or by System administrators. The intention here is to simplify the database schema for financial dimensions so that the reporting and data extraction becomes easier.

  • When a new Dimension is created under GL > Dimensions > Financial Dimensions is created, it will be in “Inactive” status by default.
  • Before users can start using this new dimension, it needs to be activated, which can be only done by either a System Administrator or by a role which has the privilege for dimension activation.
  • When the activation is run, system will add the new dimension across all applicable tables in the database and the database schema will change. See screenshot below for reference.

Finnancial Dimension Activation

2. Global General Journals: This new feature will allow accounting team members to create and manage general journals in multiple legal entities staying in one entity, without having to change the legal entity each time when they create or edit the journals.

  • The new global general journal is located under General Ledger > Journal Entries > Global general journals.
  • When you create a new New journal, you can select the Legal entity and the journal name of that entity for which you want to create the journal entry.

Global General Journals

  • You can then continue to create the journal lines inside the current entity and you can directly Open the journal in the other entity if you wish to, or you can complete the entire journal entity, validate and post in the current entity and the unmoral entry will be created and posted in the destination entity.

Global General Journals 1.jpg

3. Global Fiscal Calendar Management: This feature will enable finance controllers and other related users of the accounting team to manage the the fiscal period status and Module level accesses for multiple entities which share the same Fiscal Calendar.

  • Navigate to General Ledger > Ledger Setup > Ledger Calendars.
  • Select the Fiscal calendar and the Fiscal year to see all the Periods under them.
  • Notice that you will now see all the Legal entities listed in separate rows , which share the same fiscal calendar.
  • You can change the Period status and Module level access for the required modules for one or more or all legal entities at once.

Ledger Calendar

Ledger Calendar1

4. Dedicated Workspace for Financial Period Close: The new Dynamics AX brings in a a new dedicated workspace for the financial period close tasks. You all must be very familiar with what workspaces in the new AX are. The purpose of this workspace is primarily to help the corporate accounting team and Controllers to manage their fiscal period closing more effectively and make the process more transparent, get real time insights with the status of closing and get more timely insight into your business.

  • Controllers can create Period Closing schedules and templates.
  • Under each template and schedule, they can create breakdown of the tasks for the period close.
  • Tasks can be assigned to to different team members with required due date and times.
  • Can be done for multiple legal entities.
  • This workspace helps the corporate accounting team to collaborate and update the status of tasks assigned to them and enables controllers to view the status of closing is real time and take required actions.
  • Explaining this topic will become a separate blog in itself. I will try to explain sometimes later in future with a new post on this. Screenshots below shows a quick snapshot of how this workspace looks like.

Closing schedule

Closing schedule 2.jpg

5. Account Structures related enhancements: In the new Dynamics AX, the over all view and arrangement of data fields and tabs on the account structure form makes it more intuitive and easy to use. You can see which entities are using the selected account structure staying in the same form. Most importantly you can now export Account structures to Excel. This allows you to make edits easily in bulk and push it back to AX from Excel.Export to ex cel

Export to ex cel 1

There are a few other minor enhancements under the GL area too, which I will leave up to you all to explore 🙂

That is it for this post !! Keep DAXing..

Regards,

Sandeep