Powerful Mobile Workspaces/Apps in Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations, for Android and iOS, Get more done on the Go!

Powerful Mobile Workspaces/Apps in Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations, for Android and iOS, Get more done on the Go!

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.

Android

IOS

Login to the app and view all available workspaces. For example, I have a few workspaces in my environment, as seen in screenshot below.

Home Screen Login

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.

Capture Receipts

ESS Workspace

Uploaded Receipts Available in ESS

Enter Quick Expense lines using the mobile app and see the expense line instantaneously in Expense reports in self-service workspace.

Quick Expense Entry

Quick Expense Entry available in ESS

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.

  1. Create and submit expense reports using the app for reimbursement.
  2. Create expense report details such as expense itemization, guest expense split as per policy and more.
  3. Attach credit card transactions for expense reporting.
  4. Expense policies validated in real-time within the app.
  5. 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.

Till next time !!

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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

 

Sneak Peek into Mobile Applications Framework of New Dynamics AX/Dynamics 365 For Operations

Sneak Peek into Mobile Applications Framework of New Dynamics AX/Dynamics 365 For Operations

“Can I enter my time and expenses on the go, when I am at an airport, or in a flight” ?

“Can I do my daily tasks of work while I am on the go “?

“Can I inquire the status of a sales order and take some basic action on it, or even add a new customer contact when I am meeting a customer”.

These are probably some of the very common questions we hear from users and customers who are either using an ERP or looking to implement an ERP for their organization. In today’s mobile first cloud first era, it is vital that the users of an ERP system remain productive regardless of their location, the computing device they use. They should be able to complete the key functions of their daily tasks “Anytime, anywhere”.

So what is the story of Mobile applications for Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP, which is the main Operations component of Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition ? Well, traditionally till the AX 2012 R 3 release of Dynamics AX, the mobile applications platform (Windows, iOS and Android) existed and supported basic mobile scenarios, but they were not very significant and the framework had limitations obviously.

Now with the release of the New Dynamics AX (Still widely known as AX 7 among the community), the whole scenario of Mobile applications is going to take a HUGE leap in terms of the quality, usage, configurability, capabilities and more.

SOME KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NEW MOBILE APPS FRAMEWORK:

  1. Support for full Offline/intermittent connectivity mode. You can interact with Dynamics AX even when you are not connected to the internet !!
  2. Inherits of all key artifacts of Dynamics AX (Such as Security, labels and more).
  3. Front end “Mobile experience designer” within AX client, to develop mobile screens/apps with literally less or no coding needed.
  4. Deploy these app experiences to the common mobile app present in Windows Store, App Store(iOS) and Play store (Android).
  5. There is no limit for the mobile app to certain functional areas only like time and expense. It can be used literally for any operational area of Dynamics AX from sales to warehouse and accounting. Very Powerful !!!!!
  6. Microsoft will release several mobile apps out of the box when this framework releases this fall (Around November 2016).
  7. Dynamics Partners will be able to create specific business apps and publish those to app source for consumption.
  8. Will take full advantage of smart phone features like GPS, Maps, Camera and more.
  9. While most of the apps and features will be available out of the box, if you need to make your apps more fancy (Like changing he UI, adding a file upload interface, or some real-time validation in the mobile client), you can do them by writing your own java script.

The 2 significant components of this new mobile applications framework are as follows.

  1. The actual mobile app for Windows store, App Store and Play store. This common app is still in beta testing and not available for public preview yet. I don’t have access to the preview version unfortunately.
  2. The Mobile Experience Designer within Dynamics AX. This is the component I will provide sneak peek into in today’s post. Using this, you can create and configure the mobile application workspaces for different areas of AX the way you want it.

If you have deployed the recent Update 2 release of Dynamics AX that came out in August 2016, then you can access the Mobile experience designer within AX and see what it is all about. Let us take quick ride on this.

  • Launch Dynamics AX  in your browser.
  • After that, Open the Settings menu and you will notice a new menu option called “Mobile Apps”.

mobile-app-menu

  • Click the Mobile Apps option to load the designer experience.

mobile-app-workspace

  • Now, you can create your mobile workspace for any functional area you want. Let us say we want to create a mobile app/workspace for the Projects.
  • Click Add and give a name and description for the app/workspace. You can also select a color for the workspace as well as a default icon (Which is how it will appear in the mobile app).

new-workspace

  • Next, we will add a new page to the to app. This is the page which will appear when user launches the app/workspace in the mobile app. Click Add Page and provide a page title and description.

add-pages

  • Click Select fields button to select the data fields you want to show on this page.

select-fields

  • As soon as you do this, system will automatically prompt the data fields that you can simply select to add to the page. In this case lets add Project ID, Name, Customer Name, Project type and Project stage. Just click the + icon on each field to add them to the page.

select-fields-details

  • Now, click Done when you are done adding all the fields you need.

done

  • Go back to the main page now and you can add ACTIONS on this page if you want. Under action if click add actions and perform all the tasks such as save, submit, edit etc. on a specific form, system automatically record them and present the action in form of a button in the app.

actions

  • Under the CODE tab, You can add custom code (Java script) for additional fancy customizations (such as  UI changes, validation in mobile client and more).
  • Finally , when done, click Done and You will see option to publish this workspace to the mobile app. As soon as this is done, you will start seeing it in the mobile app when you login to the app in your smart phone or tablet.

publish

I am not able to show how this all will actually look on the actual Mobile app on the Windows/iOS/Android smart phone or tablet, since I do not have access to the beta release of the apps and it is yet to be released for public preview. Expect the apps to be available for public preview around November 2016 timeframe, when the Update 3 for Dynamics AX comes out. However, below are some sample screenshots on how the ultimate apps may look like (This is subjected to change when it releases for public preview).

mobile-app-sneak-peak

With that said, one final note to mention. If you have explored the Microsoft PowerApps and Common Data model, which are 2 of the significant components of Dynamics 365, you might be wondering if I can build a mobile application using PowerApps, then how is this built-in mobile apps framework of AX different from that ! Well, the answer is,

  • If you are looking at extending Dynamics AX functions to mobile devices and build native mobile app experiences for those functions, you would use the built-in mobile app extensibility framework, which we just discussed above.
  • However, if you are looking for building a solution that needs to span multiple services, such as Office 365, CRM and other non-Dynamics AX services, you would use Microsoft powerApps and the new Common Data model, to build your mobile apps. You can read my blog posts on “How to build mobile apps using common data model and Microsoft PowerApps” for more information.

I hope this post will give you some idea where the mobile app story for Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 is headed in the future and the tremendous potential it has to unlock new scenarios of mobile capabilities of a high quality enterprise ERP software, which is Dynamics 365 (Enterprise edition) and Dynamics AX.

Stay tuned for more updates soon!!

Regards,

Sandeep