The scope for enhancements to an ERP solution(In fact any software solution) is always never-ending. And so is the case with Microsoft Dynamics AX. It has been witnessing continuous improvements over the last few releases.
Better project planning is the key to ensure profitable project executions for professional services firms. Today, I will take time to explain the several enhancements which have come with the “Project Planning” functionality in the Cumulative Update 7 release of AX 2012 R2.
In today’s post, let us start with setting up a new project and then setup the project work breakdown structure and then discuss about the enhancements in this area.
In the screenshot below, I have already created a new project which is for a Website development for the CONTSO company.
The next step is to define the detailed breakdown of the project tasks. Go to Plan Tab and click “Work breakdown structure” button.
Note that Microsoft Dynamics AX seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Project Server so that Managers can manage and schedule their projects in Project server. I will not explain this functionality in this post. Click Here to learn more about Project Server integration.
You will notice that the WBS form now looks completely different and has several new functionalities. We will discuss each of those below in this post.
You can create tasks for the project work broken down to as detailed as possible. In the screenshot below, I have created the task breakdown for a simple project called “ Website Development”. You can use the options such as “Outdent”, “Indent”, “Move task up” and “Move task down” to create the complete hierarchy of the tasks.
Also, you can set “Predecessors” for each of your tasks to setup necessary dependency of the tasks on each other.
DIFFERENT VIEWS OF THE TASK BREAKDOWN TO HELP PROJECT MANAGERS:
The above screenshot shows the “Project planning view” of the project task breakdown. Note that there two other views which can help the Project Manager to track the cost and efforts in the project more effectively.
To see the Cost tracking view, click View > Cost tracking view. This view shows a complete snapshot of the project cost tracking details such as “% Cost consumed”, “Actual cost”, “Complete to cost”, ‘Estimate at complete”, “Planned cost” and the “cost variance”.
Cost Tracking View of the Project Plan:
Note: Since we have not posted any transactions on the project yet, the values for the % cost consumed and Actual cost are shown as Zero.
To see the Effort tracking view, click View > Effort tracking view. This view shows a complete snapshot of the project effort tracking details such as “% progress of the project”, “Actual efforts in hours”, “Remaining efforts”, ‘Effort at complete”, “Planned effort” and the “effort variance”.
Effort Tracking view of the Project Plan:
Note: Since we have not posted any transactions on the project yet, the values for the % progress and Actual efforts are shown as Zero.
You also have the option of expanding or collapsing the task breakdown view to any level or see all levels with by clicking Expand to Level > Level 1 to 9.
AUTOMATIC SCHEDULING ASSISTANT:
The options under the Task Scheduling helps the project managers to automatically correct any scheduling conflicts. You can optionally switch ON/OFF the “Automatic Scheduling Assistant”. Keep the Scheduling assistant ON and let us see how it can help to automatically scheduling discrepancies.
Let us change the Effort for the “Planning” task to 16 hours. You will notice that the Finish date automatically changes to 01/29/2014.
You can also use the Fix all scheduling discrepancies option to correct any discrepancies in the task breakdown automatically.
There are options to export and import the WBS templates.
Well, this is it for today’s post. In my next post, I will discuss the “enhancements in the “Project Resource Scheduling” functionality in the CU7 release of AX 2012 R2.
Till then…Keep reading.