As end users of any product, software application or any other app, we all love to spend less time in the system and get more done with less effort. Also we all love if the system gives us the flexibility to personalize the way we want it. Using an ERP systems should not be is no different. Dynamics 365 for Finance and Supply Chain Management has been on a journey to release new features every month. The goal is very simple. Drive the user base from just using Dynamics 365 to Loving Dynamics 365.
With the newest version 10.0.9 that is coming out in a couple of weeks, there are some new cool productivity features that every user of Dynamics 365 should take advantage of. Here are some of my favorite ones.
We all love the Personalization feature of D365 F&O, which allowed us to add/remove fields, rearrange data fields and more. One of the primary limitation of the personalization feature was “Only one set of personalization was allowed on a view/form and you could never have more than one personalized views of the same page/form. Saved Views feature addresses that in the 10.0.9 release.
With Saved views, you can create your own personalized view with data fields added/removed or even with data filtered and save the view. You can switch to the custom view or the standard views any time based on what you want to see. An example of this is “Let’s say on the All Projects page, I want to see all closed projects of a customer (City manufacturing). I also want to see the “Project manage” column when I am in this view. I want another view to see all projects that are in Process for them and I want to see the Project group column in this view instead of the project manager. With the earlier personalization feature, you always had to filter the data and it was not possible to chose different columns to see depending on the view you are seeing. With Saved views, this is a breeze and will help user productivity significantly.
Additionally you can pin a saved view as your default view and you can also publish your saved views and let others take advantage of it. You can rename your views at any time.
Groupings and show totals of data in grids:
Imagine how nice it will be if you can group, sort and see data sliced and diced without having to export them to Microsoft Excel!! With the new grouping feature, you can now group data by literally any data column and even see totals of amounts for the grouped data. You don’t have to export the data to excel. This feature is not replacing Export to excel by any means 🙂 You can obviously do much more with slicing and dicing when you export data to excel, but if you were looking for basic grouping and view totals, then you an now do it right within the client.
For example I am a project controller and I am reviewing all the posted transactions on the Posted project transaction page and i want to see the amounts grouped by Category or grouped by date. I can just right click on a column and select group by. I can also chose to see then totals of the amounts at the bottom.
Run/View 3rd party Websites under a fast tab within D365 F&O:
In the earlier versions, there was the capability to add PowerApp to run in a n embedded view within D365 F&O. You can now add any website to run embedded within a fast tab of any page in D365 F&O. This is a very helpful additional. Think of a scenario where you have a home grown website/web app and you want to run it within F&O, so that you don’t have to leave the F&O page to run the app.
A sample use case of this will be adding vendor’s websites to the vendor records within F&O. When you are on a vendor record in D365 F&O, you can go to the site within the fast tab of the vendor record.
You also have any inhouse websites/webapps running within the fast tab.
Quick Personalization and faster data load on grids:
Rearranging data fields within a page does not require to go to Personalization mode now. You can just drag and drop fields on any page and arrange them in the order you want. This can be a part of your saved views as well.
The data filtering on the new grid control now got even better. Earlier if you were to filter certain records on a page using the “Is one of” option, it was very difficult and time consuming to type every single value, one at a time. With the new improved control, the “Is one of” control works like a charm. You actually get to see the values in the drop down and you can select them with just a click. That’s it!!
The new improved grid also provides key enhancements such as,
Improved data rendering speed and faster scrolling experiencing.
You can do positional scrolling. So if you are looking at a page that has thousands of records, then you can scroll to specific position on the scrollbar to go to the specific records.
Enter mathematical expressions on numerical columns for the system to recognize values. For example I am on the Project Hours forecast screen and on the Hours field, I can type = 5*45, instead of 225.
Faster data entry, as server side data validation allows user to enter data first and then the system validates data.
Last few months have been pretty busy with lot of our customers getting ready to move to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations “ONE Version. All of you should probably know already what “ONE Version” is and what are some of the key expectations around this. The objective is very simple. “All customers should run the latest version of Dynamics 365, Always“. This means, no more expenssive and extenssive upgrade projects and timelines.
For common questions on ONE version, you can find more info here.
With that said, I wanted to write about the ALL NEW Project timesheets mobile app in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, that launched with the ONE version. (The app was released a few weeks ago alongside the ONE version release in the first week of April 2019). In the earlier releases of D365 F&O, there was the Project time entry mobile workspace, which did allow you to enter your project timesheet on a mobile device, but it had very limited functionality. Now, there is a new dedicated mobile app called “Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Timesheet” in both Apple Appstore and Google playsytore. This new mobile app is fully redesigned and provides full functionality for timesheet management using a mobile devide. Some key highlights of this app,
Standalone app that seamlessly connects to Dynamics 365 F&O.
Modern responsive and fast user interface which is easy to use.
Easy time recording and internal/external comments/description entry.
Mobile timesheet entry submissions.
Mobile Timesheet Approvals.
Enter start and stop times.
Configurable Data fields visbility
To get started, you need to download and install the mobile app from App Store or Playstore. Once you have done that, the syustem admin of your organziation will need to enable this mobile time entry within Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operation.
Navigate to Project Management and Accoutning > Setup > Project management and accounting parameters > Timesheet tab.
You can also pick and chose which data fields to show on the mobile app and which ones not to show. That’s it!!
Now launch the mobile app and the timesheet entry process is very startight forward. You can Copy timesheets from previous, favorites and assignments. More importantly, you will always see the list of most recent projects you worked on, so that it is easy to find and select. The user interface for entering the time and comments is clean and welcoming. Great job Microsoft on this one and I am sure this will get new features in future versions.
Here are some screenshots from the testing I performed and it worked like a Charm!! Try it and provide your feedback to Microsoft directly in Appstores.
The October 2018 release of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations (Version 8.1) introduced several new and very useful features in the core financials management area of the application, along with several other new functionality and enhancements across various other modules, analytics, overall platform, extensibility and more.
In this blog post, we will review some of the key new features under the core financials area, which a lot of end users will certainly fall in love with.
Central view of Settlement Transactions: In the past, when you had to see the settlements on a customer or vendor transaction, you always had to make a few clicks and jump to more than one screen to find the relevant information, which was time consuming. With the new “View Settlement” form/option on the Customer and Vendor transactions form, you can now see the full settlement details, related transactions, accounting, history and more, all at one place. Here is an example.
A customer invoice is posted: The View settlements form shows just the required details of the invoice.
Let us now settle this invoice against a customer payment along with some cash discount. Here is what you see in the view settlement form.
On this new “View Settlements” form, you can,
View any related transaction lines for the invoice, payment, cash discount lines etc.
You can dig into the Settlement history, if there a transaction was settles, unsettled multiple times.
You can view the accounting entries directly from this screen, for each individual line.
You can also initiate the Undo Settlement process from this new form.
Customer and Vendor data field change approvals: On the
Customer and Vendor master records, if you want approval process to be in
place, when certain data fields are changed on the customer or vendor records,
you can now enable that functionality optionally. This is a pretty neat
feature, which let’s you chose which data fields you want to control from being
changed accidentally, and then configure a detailed one or multi step approval
process, so that the changes can be reviewed and approved, before the new field
value comes into effect for the customer or vendor. In the post today, we will
see this on the Customer side, but it is the same functionality on the vendor
side as well.
So the first step is to Enable the approval process. As i mentioned, this is completely optional and if you do not need, you just leave the feature turned OFF. To enable this, go to Accounts Receivable > Setup > AR Parameters form and mark the “Enable customer approval” check box under the General tab.
The next step is to actually configure the approval workflow, which will be used for routing the proposed customer account changes for review and approval. This workflow is similar to other workflows in the system. In my case, i have setup a basic workflow with just one step approval process.
Once you have the workflow configured, let us now see this functionality in action. Navigate to the customer master and you will notice that the data fields you selected in the parameter screen , will now show as “requires approval” indicator. This is super helpful and easily tells the user that this field if changes will require approval. Let’s try to change the customer credit limit and customer group field.
Let’s try to change the customer credit limit and customer group field. When you save the changes, system will create and show the change proposal, which shows both current values and the proposed changed. At this point, the user if wishes, can discard the changes they made.
Notice now that the status of the Customer account says “Changes not submitted”.
One important thing to note here is, when the changes to the data fields are in process, you can still transact with the customer. System will just use the current values.
Once you are done with the changes, click Workflow > Submit to submit the changes to the workflow for review and approval. When the changes gets assigned to the approver, they can view the Proposed changes on the customer record directly.
Important note: There is a periodic option to submit all changes created for customer accounts in bulk. You can do it both manually and in the background/batch.
The changes to the data fields will come into effect after the change proposal has been approved. It works the same way for vendor records as well.
Financial Dimension values on Derived Dimensions: In many of the implementations I have done, a common requirement we here is to have some of the master records such as Item, Project, Customer etc. to be configured as one of the financial dimensions, so that customers can do adequate financial reporting on those. We use Derived dimension values for this and often end up having to select the financial dimension value manually on the master data record or we end up doing additional customization to automatically populate this value when new records are created in the master data table.
With this new functionality, you do not need to do any customization or even setup the dimension value manually when new records are created. If enabled, the system will automatically set these up now. Let us see this in action.
Additionally, there is another new functionality available on the financial dimensions area, where you can now setup certain dimension values to be defaulted when you select another dimension value. For example, when you select a specific business unit, you can have the system automatically default a cost center value for you.
To set this up, go under Financial dimensions > Select the dimension record and click Derived dimensions button. Here you can setup the value combinations of the defaulting of dimensions.
In this case, i have setup to default Cost center and Department values to be defaulted when i select a certain business unit.”. Let us see this in action.
With the above setup, when I select Business Unit dimension on a master record setup such as Project/Customer or anything else, the Cost center and Department dimensions will be auto populated, and i do not see to select them specifically. This is a pretty handy feature and will certainly save a lot of time for users in some cases.
For example, when i select Business unit 001 on my customer record, the Cost center and Department values auto populates to what i have setup.
The same defaulting functionality works on journal entry as well. For example, when I do a general journal entry and select the Business Unit dimension, i can have other dimension values defaulted (as long as they pass other account structure related validations)
Financial Journal Validation: Additional functionality to simulate posting during journal validation is available, which allows you to basically run the whole posting process, without actually posting the journal. As a result, you can see the possible errors, messages or warnings and you can take corrective actions on the journal.
Global Shared Number Sequence for Customers and Vendors: The global shared number sequence functionality allows you to use a single number sequence across many legal entities for customers and vendors. With this, you can also copy customers and vendors easily between legal entities. Since you cannot share master data using virtual companies anymore in D365 F&O, this might be a functionality you want to use to share the customer or vendor master if needed in your implementation.
Note: This functionality is not a replacement of the Virtual company feature by any means. It is just a possible alternate that can be leveraged to have same customer ID and info for one customer across multiple entities, but they will live as separate data records and have their own transactions.
The first thing you have to do is configure a Shared number sequence and then you will need to select the same shared number sequence under the Number sequence parameter.
Then you need to make sure you select the same number sequence code for the customer account under the AR parameters page in all the entities where you want to use the shared customer account ID.
With that setup, let us now see how you can copy customer accounts from one entity to another and they will use the same customer account number and other related info for the customer.
In USSI entity, I created a new customer account. Notice that when i create the new customer, system does not assign a Customer account number immediately. This is because, if you want to copy the customer from another entity, it will use the same customer account number. If not, it will assign a new shared number after you save the details on the customer. (We will see this copying feature when we create this same customer in another entity USMF).
Now i have filled the required details for this new customer and i save the data. System assigned a customer account number using the shared number sequence we had setup.
We will now copy the customer in the USMF entity. Let us see how that process looks like. I will navigate to the Customer master in the USMF entity and click New on the All Customers page, and then i will type in the customer name i want to copy. System will automatically find the match and if they are an existing customer in another entity, it will present an option to copy the customer account.
You will now see that the Customer information is copied into the USMF entity and it used the same Customer account number.
Note: You will need to make sure all the dependent data fields for the customer account are correctly setup in both entities.
Now that we have the shared customer account numbers setup and customer accounts copied, let us look at another new feature that complements this feature.
Global Customer and Vendor Transactions List page: If you are using shared number sequence for customers/vendors and have copied the accounts between multiple entities, you would obviously want to see a centralized view where you can see the transactions of the customer of vendor in all the entities they are copied in. I have already posted some transactions for this new customer “Marshal’s New store” in both USSI and USMF entities.
Invoice posted in USSI:
Invoice Posted in USMF:
Let’s see how the look in the new global transactions list page. I am in the USMF entity now and i will navigate to the global transactions list page.
Notice that the new page shows me all the transactions for this customer account form multiple entities. You will notice here that when you select the transaction for the specific entity on this page, the system automatically switches the company account, so that you can perform required operations on the transaction correctly.
That’s it for today’s post. In the next post, we will discuss in detail about another new feature in the core financials module called ‘Dual currency” and learn how it works and what are some of the significant changes that were introduced as part of this functionality.
Here is a quick tip for an error related to data import of Project work breakdown structure – Draft entity using the Data Management framework in Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations.
If you are trying to import the Project work breakdown structure – Draft entity(ProjProjectWBSDraftEntity) and you are getting the error below, then follow the steps below to get around this issue.
Results. Field ‘Project category’ must be filled in. Results. Matching record for the read only data source ‘ProjPlanVersionDetail’ does not exist
Steps to Work around this error:
Navigate to Project Management and Accounting > Setup > Projects > Work breakdown structure templates.
Create a new record
Enter a Name and Description
Make sure the Active checkbox is marked.
That’s it. You do not need to create the details under the WBS template.
With this default WBS template record in place, if you try to import the roject work breakdown structure – Draft entity, system will import the data just fine.
NOTE: This is an issue in the July 2017 release with Platform update 12 and I have not validated this in the Spring release yet. To me, it looks like a glitch/bug in the DMF entity that needs to be reported to Microsoft. But i just wanted to share this info in case any of you are dealing with this issue and trying to find a solution.
It has been quite sometime i have not written here. Last few months were very busy with several things and that did not allow any time to spend on blogging. I finally managed to get some time here!!
In one of my earlier posts, I elaborated some of the functionalities of the Vendor collaboration/Vendor self-service feature of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations – Enterprise Edition and what was coming in future releases. With the Fall release (Version 7.3), Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations has much more to offer to automate vendor self-service and collaboration, specifically around the vendor user and organization onboarding aspects.
In this post, lets take a look at some of those new features, specifically in the vendor onboarding area.
The diagram below shows an overall representation of how the data flows from a Prospective Vendor to an Approved vendor in D365FO.
Let’s now dig into some of the finer details of the processes and steps underneath each of these steps in the vendor onboarding process.
ProspectiveVendor shows interest to become a potential vendor: Before an organization or individual wants to become a vendor for your organization, they are referred as “Prospective Vendors”. They can apply to be a vendor for your organization either via a website you may have, with anonymous access, or they can apply via a contact at your organization. If they come in through your website, you can have an OData integration with D365FO, to send the prospective vendor’s data into D365FO. Alternately, you can also use Data Management Framework to import the prospective vendor data periodically into D365FO.
After the initial basic data for the perspective vendor comes into D365, it will appear in Prospective Vendors registration under Procurement & Sourcing > Vendor collaboration requests.
Procurement Personnel from your organization reviews the details and initiates the vendor invitation process:
Before a procurement personnel from your organization reviews these requests to initiate the vendor invitation process, lets take a look at the workflow that is set up behind the scenes to do all the heavy lifting.
Under System Administration > Workflow > User Workflows, you can set up workflows for adding, modifying or inactivation of a new prospective vendor/existing vendor user. For a new prospective vendor user, the workflow provides your various options to fully control the new user provisioning in Azure AD and new user creation in D365FO.
Take a look at the screenshot below which shows this workflow.
To initiate the invitation process for the new prospective vendor, the procurement personnel will select the required user and review the details. If they decide to proceed with initiating the invitation process, they click the Invite User button.
At this point, the Processing status of the vendor registration request changes to “User requested“. This means a request for setting up a new user account in Azure AD and in D365FO has been initiated in the workflow.
As soon as the user creation request is creation, the personnel setup in the workflow for this will get notified and will process the request further. If you notice the screenshot of the workflow above, the first step in our workflow is to review and approve the user request even before the Azure AD and D365FO user accounts are created.
The Personnel responsible goes into the user request and reviews the details to approve it.
The next step in the workflow is to set up the B2B user account in Azure AD. You can use the manual task within the workflow and assign it to the required person, who then can download the external user setup CSV file for import within Azure AD.
Alternately, you can use the automated task for provisioning the Azure AD B2B user account.If you chose to use the automated task, you need to make sure to complete the below setups.
Register the D365FO app within Azure AD in Azure portal.
Complete the required setup for the API permissions for Microsoft Graph for the D365FO app. The automated task of the user setup workflow will invoke this to provision the user account in Azure AD.
Setup the Client ID, Application Keys within D365FO B2B invitation configuration page of D365FO.
With the above setup done, the automated task will provision the Azure AD user for the vendor user automatically. In the next step of the user setup workflow, you can set up automated tasks for provisioning the user account within D365FO and also send the email notification to the vendor with a URL link to D365 for signup and registration. You can set up an email template and use (%portalURL%) placeholder in the email message, which will automatically include the URL of D365FO, when it sends the email notification to the vendor.
In this demo, the prospective vendor i added was John Smith whose email id was email@example.com. Since i had done all the setups above, ( (John Smith, the vendor) got the email notification with a URL for sign up.
Prospective vendor signs up to D365 and completes registration Wizard:
Now, it is time for the prospective vendor to sign up and complete the registration wizard and provide additional information about their organization.
When the vendor logs in to D365 by clicking the URL in the email invite, they are directly taken to a registration wizard, which appears as shown in screenshot below.
The vendor selects the Country/region first in which they operate in. In this case , i selected USA.
On the next few screens, vendor enters their business information and all necessary details as shown in screenshots below.
You can also configure and assign predefined questionnaire and assign it to the vendor to answer and you also let them select procurement catalog.
New Vendor request created in D365 for review and approval:When done, the vendor submits all the information at the end of the wizard.
This create the new vendor request in D365FO, which will then be reviewed and approved by a procurement or AP person of your organization. Procurement personnel can navigate to Procurement and Sourcing > Vendor collaboration > Vendor requests to see these.
New vendor details reviewed and approved:
The Procurement personnel then completes the review process of the new vendor request and upon confirmation, the new vendor record is automatically setup in the Vendor master. After that, the vendor can have full access to the vendor collaboration portal and they can communicate with your organization in real time on purchase orders, invoices, consignment inventory, RFQs and responses, bidding and more.
That essentially completes the overall vendor onboarding process in D365FO. Stay tuned for more on this.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I can now download these packages and see the data on the files. See screenshot below.
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.
One of the most awaited releases of Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations is now available (The July 2017 and Platform Update 8). Lot of new capabilities and exciting new features across all the functional modules and quite a few technology stack improvements!!In this post, I will highlight some of the most important new features that are my favorites so far, that I think are going to helpful for customers in big time.
First thing first! Starting with the July release, there is a change in the naming of the Dynamics 365 apps . Earlier we had “Dynamics 365 For Operations”, which basically represented the Enterprise edition of Dynamics 365 and “Dynamics 365 For Financials’ which represented the Business edition targeted for SMB customers.
Starting with the July release, the naming will be as below.
Dynamics 365 For Operations => Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations – Enterprise Edition (For Enterprise Customers)
Dynamics 365 For Financials => Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations – Business Edition (Suitable For SMB Customers)
You should notice this name changes, when you login to the new version.
Here are some of my personal favorite features and functionality fro this latest update of Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations.
Embedded PowerBI and Analytical Workspaces for all D365FO licensed users:
Microsoft Power BI is the backbone of Dynamics 365 for delivering critical business intelligence to all users of an organization with rich interactive visuals, dashboards and reports, with appropriate drill downs, data filter options etc. When Dynamics 365 was first released, users had the option of consuming preconfigured or customized Power BI dashboards and reports from their PowerBI online workspaces right into their workspaces within Dynamics 365. This is a great capability and allowed users to mash up data from Dynamics 365 or even from external data sources and then see them all together right on their workspaces. However, this required every users to have at least a free PowerBI.com subscription to be able to do this.
With the July 2017 update, Power BI Embedded services are integrated into Dynamics 365. Embedded Power BI is a Microsoft Azure Service that allows to embed the dashboards and reports directly into Operations workspaces of Dynamics 365. Embedded Power BI is an ideal way of presenting near real time data insights, with Direct Query to the Entity Story (Data warehouse for Dynamics 365). These embedded dashboards and reports are available for all users with the base license of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations and does not necessarily require the user to have a PowerBI.com subscription.
The diagram below shows the key difference between the PowerBI Online and PowerBI Embedded services.
The good news is, Microsoft has already shipped several out of the box PowerBI asset files within Life Cycle Service starting with the July 2017 release, which can be simply included in the Dynamics 365 deployment options to get instant access to readily available dashboards and reports across all major business areas. Below are some of the sample examples of these embedded Power BI dashboards and workspaces in Dynamics 365.
Prospect to Cash Integration between Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations using Common Data Services:
This one is a HUGE step forward!! Since Dynamics 365 launched back in February 2016, the Primary objective and goal for Microsoft was to combine the best of Dynamics CRM and ERP worlds and provide a unified experience to end users, so that they can advantage of best of breed functionalities within the Modular apps for Sales and Financials & Operations and still be able to integrate the data flow between these apps seamlessly to get a 360 degree view of their business. We have seen steps Microsoft has taken in last several months to get the Common Data Service (Azure Public Cloud data storage) Platform ready for prime time along with the supporting surrounding services such as Microsoft Flow and PowerApps. With the July release, these all are coming together as a first significant step towards truly unifying the CRM and ERP worlds. This is the beginning of the departure from the traditional custom 3rd party integrations between CRM and ERP.
The following key scenarios are supported currently with this integrations, primarily in the Supply Chain side. More to come in future. I have not got chance to test this end to end yet. Will share some details when I am able to test it in coming weeks.
Maintain accounts in Dynamics 365 for Sales and sync them to Finance and Operations as customers.
Maintain contacts in Dynamics 365 for Sales and sync them to Finance and Operations.
Maintain products in Finance and Operations and sync them to Dynamics 365 for Sales.
Create quotes in Dynamics 365 for Sales and sync them to Finance and Operations.
Generate sales orders in Dynamics 365 for Sales for existing products and sync them to Finance and Operations.
Generate invoices in Finance and Operations and sync them to Dynamics 365 for Sales.
Mobile workspaces/apps were introduced with the Update 3 release of Dynamics 365. Since then, these workspaces have been evolving and Microsoft continues to deliver more and more mobile workspaces covering various mobile business process scenarios. Some of the key mobile workspaces that were released in the July 2017 update are as below.
The highlight of these workspaces is the mobile app for Project Timesheet Entry and the Expense Management app. I provided my views on the preview version of these mobile workspaces in my earlier post. These workspaces have added significant amount of new features with the July 2017 release. The Expense management workspace now support end to end expense management from receipt capture, new expense report creation, submission, expense approvals and expense status inquiry and so on. Below are some screenshots of the mobile workspaces released in the July Update.
Employee Expenses Management and Reimbursement related enhancements:
There are several new features and usability enhancements that are introduced for Employee Expenses management in the July Update. From all these features and enhancement, my favorites are as below.
Dedicated Expense management workspace
Grouping of vendor invoices for different expense lines of an expense report, as opposed to create separate vendor invoices for each expense line, for reimbursement. This was one of the most talked about concerns in the earlier version (AX 2012), since it was causing problems creating individual invoices for each expense lines and there by causing issues in Check printing etc. Now with this release, you can optionally group all expense lines with the same method of payment to post as grouped vendor invoice instead of individual invoices. If you enable the grouping of vendor invoices, this functionality basically posts all the expenses of the expense report with same payment method on the recent transaction date from the list of expense lines.
Several usability enhancements in some key screens. Also, Employees can now track payment information for their expense reimbursements. Nice and very useful functionality, as this is one point that customers usually ask and they used to customize it in AX 2012.
OCR interface for capturing vendor invoices automatically:
One of the most common asks from customers in the AP invoicing area is the functionality of OCR and vendor invoice automation. Organizations often offload the paper invoice processing to 3rd party OCR reader service providers. These service providers provide machine readable metadata for the invoice along with scanned imaged the invoice headers and lines. In the July 2017 release, the solution/standard interface to read these invoice metadata and invoice scanned attachments is in-built into the AP invoice process of Dynamics 365. 3rd party OCR service provider systems will be able to send metadata feed for invoices directly to D365FO.
This new functionality basically provides the following.
Out of the data entities invoice header, invoice lines, and invoice attachments.
Exception processing for invoices. A frontend UI for users to make it easy to track failed invoice imports.
A side by side invoice attachment viewer to imported invoices and exceptions.
PowerBI reporting with Financial Dimensions:
This feature will be available with July 2017 Update and you will also need to have the most recent Platform update of Dynamics 365, which is Platform Update 8. This features let’s the power users or the BI report creators to add financials dimensions to the readily available aggregated measurements or custom built aggregated measurements in the Entity store.
With that, when the Entity store is periodically updated/refreshed, the financial dimension information of all the General ledger transactions will automatically be included in it. Then you can use those aggregated measurements to write joins, queries within Power BI to create any sort of financial report/dashboard within Power BI itself. Screenshot below shows just an example.
Publish financial reports from Dynamics 365 to SharePoint:
In the earlier versions/releases, you could generate financials reports and export/save it to your local computer. With the July 2017 release, you can now save financial reports directly to a SharePoint document library. The benefit of this is, you can setup alerts within SharePoint to notify you when new reports are available.
Note: I don’t have SharePoint configured in the demo environment, so not able to show the full experience.
You could also extend this further and write a Microsoft Flow, to automatically send the reports directly to your inbox from SharePoint. Endless possibilities !!
Tools for upgrade from AX 2012 or AX 2009 to Dynamics 365:
You can upgrade from Dynamics AX 2012 to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition. The complete Dynamics AX 2012 database can be brought forward, and your AX 2012 codebase can be upgraded to Finance and Operations. You can migrate from Dynamics AX 2009 to Finance and Operations via a migration toolset to bring forward master data and opening balances. It would be interesting to test these upgrade experiences and tools as opportunity comes !!
The Upgrade is now more predictable, which reduces the overall cost of the upgrade process. Upgrade starts with an automated analysis phase, which defines the preparation tasks required to reduce the time and cost to upgrade, as well as the ongoing future cost of Finance and Operations. Post upgrade, an automated validation phase provides statistics and metrics on the success of the upgrade process. The validation details can be used to quickly assess the state of the upgrade, so you can continue with functional testing and sign off.
In Finance and Operations there are no expensive upgrades needed to stay current and take advantage of continuous innovation. You can update to the latest versions of the product with a click of a button.
Support for Hybrid Cloud (Cloud + Edge) and Op-premise (Local Business Data) Deployment scenarios:
In one of my earlier posts, I explained some details about the 3 different deployment options that Dynamics 365 is going to provide. Starting with the July 2017 Update, both these deployment options are available. Customers who are keen on having an On-premise deployment of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations to capitalize on their existing infrastructure investments or due to data security and compliance requirements, will have the option to deploy D365FO in Hybrid as well as On-Premise model.
Microsoft published system requirements documentation explaining the detailed system requirements for an On-premise deployment of D365FO. You can find the information at this URL
There was system requirements document also that Microsoft published. See URL below.
I will share more info about this in future as we move with some testing and some actual deployments for customers.
That was a long enough post :). There are several other features and functionalities across technology stack, Retail and manufacturing modules, that I have not highlighted here in this post. There is a lot to explore and learn!!!
Starting with the Update 3 release of Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations (I will refer this as D365FO from here on), Microsoft introduced the concept of “Mobile Workspaces” for D365FO. This works across all major mobile platforms, i.e. Android, iOS and Windows. The idea behind the mobile workspaces is to create and enable business process experiences for users of D365FO on mobile devices of any form factor, with purpose-built workspaces for various functions such as, Expense entry, Expense approval, timesheet entry, timesheet approval, invoices approval and more. All these workspaces are contained within one app, that you can download from Google Play Store or Apple Appstore. These are NOT individual mobile apps to address specific business process functions.
One of the key advantages of these workspaces is that, these are more configurable, that power users of an organization can create , instead of requiring heavy development skills (You would need to have basic level of understanding of the technical concepts of D365FO). I explained these mobile workspaces in one of my earlier blog posts here.
Today, I was able to use the preview version of ‘Expense Management Mobile Workspace” on my android phone and found it phenomenally usefully. Mobile capabilities in an ERP that is really meaningful and easy to use, FINALLY !!!
Here is a summary of my experience of using these mobile workspaces/apps.
One of the most important features that everyone needs in an expense reporting mobile app is the ability to easily enter expenses and easily capture receipts and upload them to the expense reports. The Mobile workspace addresses this in a very neat manner. This preview version of the app that I was able to play with, does both of these functions seamlessly in a very convenient way.
Easy to use interface. Nice use of the real estate.
Clean UI with minimal and key functions
Works lightening fast, Almost instantaneous.!!!
You can download the app for Dynamics 365 for Operations here.
Login to the app and view all available workspaces. For example, I have a few workspaces in my environment, as seen in screenshot below.
Quick Receipt Capture using Mobile App. You can take a photo or import an image from gallery and see receipts immediately in self-service workspace.
Enter Quick Expense lines using the mobile app and see the expense line instantaneously in Expense reports in self-service workspace.
The Mobile workspace and app for D365FO supports Offline capabilities also. You can enter your time and expenses and upload receipts when you are not connected or even when in airplane mode. The changes will sync immediately when you come back online. I was able to test this too and it worked flawlessly!!
This was just a preview version of the Expense management workspace that I tested. When the Spring release 2017 is available for download in next few days, the full-fledged app/workspace will be available, which will have a lot more capabilities such as below.
Create and submit expense reports using the app for reimbursement.
Create expense report details such as expense itemization, guest expense split as per policy and more.
Attach credit card transactions for expense reporting.
Expense policies validated in real-time within the app.
Review and approve expense reports in the app.
Along with this, there will be several out of the box mobile capabilities for Project Time Entry (I was able to test the preview version of this app and it worked great too), Project time approval, Invoice approvals, Sales Orders management etc. and the list is going grow soon.
Stay tuned for the next post on my analysis of the Spring 2017 release of Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations, which should be available for download in next few days.
Hello, Good to be back here on the blog !!! Jumping straight into topic here today about a new addition of a feature for vendor prepayments in relation with fixed price project revenue recognition !!
Issuing large amounts of prepayments to vendors is often a common business requirement for large scale, long term fixed price projects, which involves a lot of sub-contracted work. Vendors often request prepayments for the subcontracting services they are contracted to deliver for these projects. These prepayments can sometimes be just a flat amount based on mutual decisions, or it can sometimes be a percentage of the total cost of the subcontracting service. There can be several months of gap between when the prepayments are issued and when the vendors actually delivers the services.
For such projects, customers usually recognize revenue on a percentage completion basis and need the ability to include these vendor prepayments in the project percentage completion calculation of the project for revenue recognition/revenue estimates calculations.
In this post, we will evaluate one of the new features of Dynamics 365 For Operations (Referred as D365 – Operations from here on), which allows to consider these vendor prepayments automatically when running the monthly revenue recognition/estimates for fixed price projects for calculating the % completion of the project.
For this demonstration, I have setup a fixed price project and the associated contract already. This project is setup to recognize revenue on a % completion basis.
The Project Manager has created and submitted the purchase requisition for approval, so that the services can be procured from Rebar Supply Co. Ltd. See screenshot below.
The purchase requisition gets approved by the designated manager and the Purchase order is automatically crated. See screenshot below.
The Project procurement team/Project manager then sets up the prepayment details on the project purchase order that was automatically created upon approval of the requisition.
Finance and Accounting team now processes the prepayment invoice to initiate the prepayment to the vendor.
Now that the finance team has processed the vendor prepayment for the subcontracting work, let us now go ahead and see what happens when they run the monthly revenue recognition process for this project.
Notice that system was able to consider the vendor prepayment cost for the project and was able to determine the percentage completion based on the total project budget/forecast defined. See screenshot below
When this revenue recognition entry is posted, the revenue amount (based on Percentage complete and the total contract value) will be posted to general ledger. We all know how it works from here 🙂
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.
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.
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)
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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.
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.
Multiple record selections on various forms to take actions is now possible. An example is the price setup form.
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.
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 🙂 !!
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.