Some useful new features of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations version 8.1 under Core Financials management module – Part 1

Some useful new features of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations version 8.1 under Core Financials management module – Part 1

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.

cust trans8.1
view settlements

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.

view settleemnts after settlement

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.
options on view settlements

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.

Enable Customer fields approval

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.

Till next time !!!

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..

 

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

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

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

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

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