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

 

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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