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.

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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..

 

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Enhancements to the Project Resource Scheduling Functionality in AX 2012 R2 Cumulative Update 7

Enhancements to the Project Resource Scheduling Functionality in AX 2012 R2 Cumulative Update 7

Hello Everyone,

I hope all of you found my earlier post on “Enhancements to the project management functionality in CU7” useful. As mentioned in that post, today I will take some time to explain the new enhancements to the “Project Resource Scheduling” functionality in the latest release of AX 2012 R2, which is the CU7 release.

For a professional services firm, the workers of the organizations are the key assets and are also the key sources of revenue generation. When your organization grows in size and number of Projects you manage grows, you ill need effective tools to manage and schedule the workers on projects to ensure that the skilled and most available people are assigned to the project tasks, to ensure optimized cost management and realize better profits.

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 provides you with such functionalities under the Project Management & Accounting Module. Let us take look how this functionality has evolved over the last few releases of AX.

  1. Project Roles: The Project Managers can now create “Project Teams” for each project and include appropriate project roles to the team. The project roles/project role templates basically act as pre-defined roles, where you can specify the required competencies such as “Skills”, “Certifications” and ‘Education” for that role, which ultimately will help in the resource search operation for the project.image
  2. Create Project Teams: For today’s demonstration, I have created a sample Time and Material project for a Website development project. Let us now see how the project managers can create the project team by adding project roles. For this project, I will need one software architect,  one Java developer and a QA engineer.
    • Go to the project details screen and expand the Project team and scheduling fast tab.Specify the project start and end dates.
    • Note that these days might not be always accurate, but the PM can specify the approximate start and end dates.
    • Click Add roles button and select all the roles you will need in the project by creating new records. Note that you can specify how many workers you will need in each project role.
    • Reserve workers immediately : If you mark this check box, then system will open the resource reservation form as soon as you click OK button.image
    • See the screenshot below where I have added all the three roles I need in the sample project.image
  3. Reserve the workers for the project: The next step is to find, identify and reserve the most suitable workers for this project.
    • Click the “Reserve worker” button to open the Worker reservations main form.Note that the project manager has several options on this form such as editing the worker competency criteria, search workers by role, by name, department, legal entity.
    • Also they can view the worker’s availability in the specified duration of the project by Days, Weeks and Months. Additionally they get to see the worker’s availability statuses such as ‘Available’, ‘Partial available’, ‘Booked’, ‘Overbooked’, ‘Non-working day’ and ‘Soft booked’ in different colors, with an indicator of what each color means. Screenshot below highlights each of these options.
    • The worker search criteria (Competency) automatically populates from the roles selected, but the manager can always override them on this form.
    • image
    • The ‘Display remaining capacity’ checkbox allows the project manager to see the available capacity of the worker in terms of Hours for each Day/Week/Month.
    • The PM can either hard book or soft book the appropriate workers for the project by selecting the required options on the Hard book > and Soft book > buttons.
    • image
    • In my example I have reserved the software architect, java developer and the QA engineer to their full capacity in the full duration of the project. Below screenshot shows the results after the reservation. The #hours the workers are reserved for the project is now update in the Hours reserved column. Also, notice the color code of availability for the workers now have changed on the Worker reservations form.
    • image
    • image
    • Notice that the Hours assigned column still shows ZERO as the PM has not yet assigned these workers to the project tasks or activities (WBS).
  4. Assign workers to the Individual tasks of the Project: The next step for the PM is to do the detailed assignment of the workers (Project team) to the individual tasks or activities of the project on the work breakdown structure form.
    • Go to Plan tab of the project detail screen and click Work breakdown structure button.
    • Select the workers for each of the tasks under the Worker column. The PM can select one or more worker for each of the tasks and assign them.image
    • Notice the Hours assigned column of the project details screen now. It automatically shows the #hours the worker is booked for the project by calculating it from the assignments done in the WBS screen.
    • image
  5. New forms to show project resources and availability: Two new list pages are now available to help the project resource management function.
    • Project resources – This new form under now allows the project managers to see the project resources quickly without having the need to navigate to the HRM module.
    • image
    • This form also allows to view/edit several worker related data such as cost price, sales price, assigned projects, categories, competencies etc.
    • The PMs can also initiate the hard/soft booking of the workers to projects by clicking Hard book or Soft book buttons.
    • image
    • Resource availability: This list page shows one stop snapshot of the worker’s availability, everything at once :). This form also lets the PM to initiate the Hard/bookings for the resources.
    • image
  6. Inquiries: At any time in the duration of the project, the PMs can see the detailed analysis of the resource assignments. Let us see it for one of the workers “Sandeep Chaudhury” whom we booked in the example above.
    • Navigate to PMA > Inquiries > Resource Scheduling > Resource assignment analysis –by worker.
    • image

Well ! That was a pretty long write up !!! But it deserved it 🙂 In my next post, I will explain all the new enhancements in the Project Timesheets functionality in the CU7 release.

I hope you all will find this post useful. keep reading !!

Regards,

Sandeep

Enhancements in the Project Planning Functionality in AX 2012 R2 CU7

Enhancements in the Project Planning Functionality in AX 2012 R2 CU7

Hello Friends,

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.

image

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.

image

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:

image

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:

image

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:

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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.

image

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.

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You can also use the Fix all scheduling discrepancies option to correct any discrepancies in the task breakdown automatically.

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WBS Management:

There are options to export and import the WBS templates.

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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.

Regards

Sandeep