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

Missing Timesheets Report – Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

Missing Timesheets Report – Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

Hello Everyone,

First of all, I would like to wish you all very happy and prosperous holidays and hope you all are enjoying with your families and relatives.

And, So do I ! I took a long vacation from blog writing and work and had wonderful time with family and I am back again here.

In today’s post, we will discuss a very small report/functionality of Microsoft Dynamics AX, which is the “Missing Timesheets Report”” under the Project Management and Accounting Module.

Timesheets are critical for any service industry to be able to invoice their customers effectively on time, as they are the source for the invoices. Making sure that all the employees submit their timesheets on time is very important for the service industries in terms of project management, accountability, invoicing customer and getting paid.

AX 2012 provides a a report called “Missing Timesheets” which tells which employees have not submitted their timesheets for a given period, so that you can communicate with them to make sure the timesheets are in.

Let us take a look at how this is configured in AX and how does it look like.

  1. To begin with, I will need to ensure that all my configurations and setup for worker and timesheets are correct.
  2. Navigate to Workers > Project Management Tab and make sure there is a timesheet period attached to the worker.

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   3. The next step is to make sure that the “Worker timesheet periods are updated along with billable and efficiency hours data.

   4. Go to PMA > Setup > Timesheet > Periods, Select “EmplWeek” and Click Update worker periods.

 image

    5. Now, the worker “Alan Brewer” has not submitted his timesheets for the week 12/23 to 12/29. Let us generate the Missing Timesheets report and see how it looks like.

    6. Go to PMA > Reports > Timesheets > Missing Timesheets. Let me explain the options on this report.

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    Period Code: Select the timesheet period code for which you want to generate the missing timesheets.

   Start date: Select the start date of the Week/Bi-Week(Depending on what is your timesheet period).

    All Employees: Mark this check box if you want the report to list all the employee who have already registered their hours.

    Send e-mail: This check box misleads by its name. It does not really send email to the employees for whom the timesheets are     missing in the given period. For me, this is limitation and you could write custom code (Will not be complex) to send emails.      When you mark this check box, the “E-mail sent” column will show “YES” if the an email id is setup for the worker in the worker     master and will show “NO”, if there is not email ID.

   7. Finally, let us see how the final report looks like.

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   See that, Alan Brewer is listed in the report, as he has not submitted his timesheet for the week 12/23-12/29. Also, there is no email ID specified for Alan, so the “Email   Sent” column shows “No”.

When you write the custom code to send emails, you could also set this report to run automatically at end of every timesheet period, so that the report can be automatically sent to the accounts receivable team for their action for follow ups and also an automatic email can be sent to the employees directly asking to submit timesheets.

NOTE: Please see the conversation below between myself and KK, where he says the CU 7 now has the functionality of sending emails. This means that you will no more require to write custom code for this. Thank you KK for providing this information.

Thats it for today’s post. Till next time !!!

Intercompany Expense Reporting and Management in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

Intercompany Expense Reporting and Management in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

Multinational Professional Services Firms always have employees working out of different office locations and it is a common practice in this industry to share resources(workers) between companies to execute project/non-project tasks. In such scenarios, it is pretty common that employees of one legal entity works on the Project/non-project tasks of other legal entities and might incur expenses which needs to charged to the project or ledger of the borrowing entity.

Until AX 2012 R2, there was not a good option in AX to handle the accounting of intercompany expenses scenarios in an efficient manner.

With the introduction of intercompany expense reporting feature in AX 2012 R2, it becomes a lot simplified for the users to manage the accounting of such scenarios. In today’s post we will take a look at this this new functionality in AX 2012 R2 and understand how this works.

The enabling and disabling the intercompany expense management feature is centrally controlled by a new parameter introduced in the Travel and Expenses Parameters form.

  • Go to Travel and Expenses > Setup > Travel and expense parameters form.
  • Mark the “Allow intercompany expenses” checkbox to enable this feature.

Travel & Expense Paramter AX 2012

Note that prior to submitting an intercompany expense report, you need to make sure that the necessary intercompany accounting relationship is setup between the loaning and borrowing entities under the General Ledger Module.

Refer to my post on intercompany timesheets earlier to understand the loaning and borrowing entities.

Let us  now go to the enterprise portal and create an intercompany expense report. In this demonstration we will assume that,

  • USMF is the company where the worker is employed. (Loaning Legal Entity)
  • USSI is the contracting company where the worker does the work. (Borrowing Legal Entity)
  • Now, Navigate to EP > Employee Services > New Expenses Report.
  • Mark the Intercompany expense report check box.

New Expense Report

  • Click New Expense line button
  • Select the Borrowing legal entity. In this case I will select USSI.
  • Select the Expense Category and click OK. This dropdown will show the categories which are validated for the worker.

Select Expense Category and Legal entity

  • Key in the other required values such as transaction date, amount, payment method etc and save the expense line and then submit and approve the expense report.
  • Note that if you are entering a project related expense line, then you can select the project, line property, activity etc.
  • So with this, the accounting team do not need to worry about creating manual journal entries for these intercompany expenses as employees are able to enter the expenses directly in the borrowing legal entity.
  • Now, let us go ahead and post the approved expense report and analyze the financial voucher.
  • Navigate to Travel & Expense Module > Common > All Expense reports, Select the expense report and approve it.
  • Click the Sub ledger journal button to see the general ledger update which will happen when we post this expense report.

Financial Voucher

In the screenshot above, note that the intercompany ledger update in USMF and USSI are based on the intercompany accounting setup done under the GL module in both the entities and the other accounts gets automatically picked up based on the payment method setup and the ledger account setup for the expense category.

Simple ! Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012..

Till next time..keep exploring…

Regards

Sandeep

Integration of Microsoft Dynamics AX with Microsoft Office Word

Integration of Microsoft Dynamics AX with Microsoft Office Word

Microsoft Office , especially the excel, word and PowerPoint are the most popular office productivity  applications which everyone knows and works with today.

Imagine what if a Simple, scalable yet powerful ERP system integrates seamlessly with such  popular applications to exchange data so that users can spend more time on their favorite office applications and then easily push or pull data to or from the ERP without requiring any development effort.

As most of us know, with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, these all come Out-of-the-box.

There has been a lot of great posts and discussions about the Office excel add-in functionality which is heavily used by most of the implementation teams up to some extent.

In today’s post, I wanted to uncover and discuss the integration of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 with Microsoft Office Word and demonstrate how these two applications share and exchange data effortlessly making the life of the end users a lot simpler and better.

Let us take an example where the sales manager of an organization has challenges in preparing different quotation/business proposal formats for different customers and still maintaining all the data inside the ERP system.

With Microsoft Dynamics AX  2012 and Microsoft Office, they can prepare as many number of proposal templates in MS word in any format they want for different customers/prospect, and then just upload them in the organization’s shared document library in the enterprise portal. AX 2012 can then sync those automatically within it to generate project proposals with data on to the templates without needing multiple development efforts. Let us now take look at the steps involved in accomplishing this in AX 2012.

Prepare the required project proposal templates and do the necessary data mapping within AX:

  • Open a Microsoft Word document and click on the Dynamics AX tab.
  • Connect to the Dynamics AX AOS server in the similar by which you connect the excel add in function.
  • Now, once you have your document source types configured in AX, you would see the table and data fields in the Add fields pane. In this case, I have already done the necessary configuration.

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Upload all your template documents on the shared document library of the enterprise:

  • After you have prepared all your required proposal templates, you can upload them in the shared document library in the portal.
  • This document can be shared, reviewed and managed as in normal SharePoint functionality.
  • Once these are finalized and ready, AX has in-built functionality to sync with these.

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Complete necessary setup in AX to automatically synchronize the documents into AX document types:

  • AX 2012 now automatically synchronizes with the share point portal and gets the document templates to create new document types in AX.

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Generate project proposals from proposal templates:

  • In Dynamics AX, you can create and store proposal templates for various customers or price groups.
  • Once you generate your new proposal either newly, or by copying from a template, the proposal is all set to be generated in the MS word formats which were created and designed outside AX, without needing any specific connection methodology. Thanks to the seamless integration of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 and MS Office.

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Generate proposal templates in your desired format with just click of a button:

  • When you click on the Attachments button and create a new document, you will notice that the document template which we created and synced in AX appears automatically on the document handling options.

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  • Click New > Project Quotation Sample menu button. This will automatically attach the word document for the project proposal on to the proposal record and then generates and launches the document which the data automatically filled in from Dynamics AX which is ready for review and sending to Customers or prospects.

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Powerful, Simple and Agile ! Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Project Invoice Proposal Approvals in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2

Project Invoice Proposal Approvals in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2

Hello Everyone,

Here is a quick post on an update on the approval process of project invoice proposals in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R2 release.

In the AX 2012 feature pack release(Until Cumulative Update 4), the project invoice proposals were always forced or required to go through the workflow for approval.

I came across many situations where customers did not want their invoice proposals to go through the workflow approval process as it is not required as per their business policies and rather have them posted directly. But in AX 2012 feature pack release, there was no way to have the invoice proposals not go through workflow approval.

Microsoft has introduced a design change in AX 2012 R2 release, by which we can now have project invoice proposals not routed through the review and approval process in workflow.

If you unmark the “Enable processing invoice proposals in workflow checkbox”, then you can directly post the invoice proposals without having it to go through the workflow process.

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Pretty good and much needed change !!

Regards

Sandeep