My favorite features from July 2017 update of Microsoft Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations – Enterprise Edition

One of the most awaited releases of Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations is now available (The July 2017 and Platform Update 8). Lot of new capabilities and exciting new features across all the functional modules and quite a few technology stack improvements!!In this post, I will highlight some of the most important new features that are my favorites so far, that I think are going to helpful for customers in big time.

First thing first! Starting with the July release, there is a change in the naming of the Dynamics 365 apps . Earlier we had “Dynamics 365 For Operations”, which basically represented the Enterprise edition of Dynamics 365 and “Dynamics 365 For Financials’ which represented the Business edition targeted for SMB customers.

Starting with the July release, the naming will be as below.

Dynamics 365 For Operations => Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations – Enterprise Edition (For Enterprise Customers)

Dynamics 365 For Financials => Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations – Business Edition  (Suitable For SMB Customers)

You should notice this name changes, when you login to the new version.

Default Landing Page

Here are some of my personal favorite features and functionality fro this latest update of Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations.

Embedded PowerBI and Analytical Workspaces for all D365FO licensed users:

Microsoft Power BI is the backbone of Dynamics 365 for delivering critical business intelligence to all users of an organization with rich interactive visuals, dashboards and reports, with appropriate drill downs, data filter options etc. When Dynamics 365 was first released, users had the option of consuming preconfigured or customized Power BI dashboards and reports from their PowerBI online workspaces right into their workspaces within Dynamics 365. This is a great capability and allowed users to mash up data from Dynamics 365 or even from external data sources and then see them all together right on their workspaces. However, this required every users to have at least a free PowerBI.com subscription to be able to do this.

With the July 2017 update, Power BI Embedded services are integrated into Dynamics 365. Embedded Power BI is a Microsoft Azure Service that allows to embed the dashboards and reports directly into Operations workspaces of Dynamics 365. Embedded Power BI is an ideal way of presenting near real time data insights, with Direct Query to the Entity Story (Data warehouse for Dynamics 365). These embedded dashboards and reports are available for all users with the base license of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations and does not necessarily require the user to have a PowerBI.com subscription.

The diagram below shows the key difference between the PowerBI Online and PowerBI Embedded services.

power-bi-embedded-overview

The good news is, Microsoft has already shipped several out of the box PowerBI asset files within Life Cycle Service starting with the July 2017 release, which can be simply included in the Dynamics 365 deployment options to get instant access to readily available dashboards and reports across all major business areas. Below are some of the sample examples of these embedded Power BI dashboards and workspaces in Dynamics 365.

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Prospect to Cash Integration between Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations using Common Data Services:

This one is a HUGE step forward!! Since Dynamics 365 launched back in February 2016, the Primary objective and goal for Microsoft was to combine the best of Dynamics CRM and ERP worlds and provide a unified experience to end users, so that they can advantage of best of breed functionalities within the Modular apps for Sales and Financials & Operations and still be able to integrate the data flow between these apps seamlessly to get a 360 degree view of their business. We have seen steps Microsoft has taken in last several months to get the Common Data Service (Azure Public Cloud data storage) Platform ready for prime time along with the supporting surrounding services such as Microsoft Flow and PowerApps. With the July release, these all are coming together as a first significant step towards truly unifying the CRM and ERP worlds. This is the beginning of the departure from the traditional custom 3rd party integrations between CRM and ERP.

The following key scenarios are supported currently with this integrations, primarily in the Supply Chain side. More to come in future. I have not got chance to test this end to end yet. Will share some details when I am able to test it in coming weeks.

  • Maintain accounts in Dynamics 365 for Sales and sync them to Finance and Operations as customers.
  • Maintain contacts in Dynamics 365 for Sales and sync them to Finance and Operations.
  • Maintain products in Finance and Operations and sync them to Dynamics 365 for Sales.
  • Create quotes in Dynamics 365 for Sales and sync them to Finance and Operations.
  • Generate sales orders in Dynamics 365 for Sales for existing products and sync them to Finance and Operations.
  • Generate invoices in Finance and Operations and sync them to Dynamics 365 for Sales.

Mobile Apps/Workspaces:

Mobile workspaces/apps were introduced with the Update 3 release of Dynamics 365. Since then, these workspaces have been evolving and Microsoft continues to deliver more and more mobile workspaces covering various mobile business process scenarios. Some of the key mobile workspaces that were released in the July 2017 update are as below.

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The highlight of these workspaces is the mobile app for Project Timesheet Entry and the Expense Management app. I provided my views on the preview version of these mobile workspaces in my earlier post. These workspaces have added significant amount of new features with the July 2017 release. The Expense management workspace now support end to end expense management from receipt capture, new expense report creation, submission, expense approvals and expense status inquiry and so on. Below are some screenshots of the mobile workspaces released in the July Update.

Employee Expenses Management and Reimbursement related enhancements:

There are several new features and usability enhancements that are introduced for Employee Expenses management in the July Update. From all these features and enhancement, my favorites are as below.

  • Dedicated Expense management workspace

expense-workspace

  • Grouping of vendor invoices for different expense lines of an expense report, as opposed to create separate vendor invoices for each expense line, for reimbursement. This was one of the most talked about concerns in the earlier version (AX 2012), since it was causing problems creating individual invoices for each expense lines and there by causing issues in Check printing etc. Now with this release, you can optionally group all expense lines with the same method of payment to post as grouped vendor invoice instead of individual invoices. If you enable the grouping of vendor invoices, this functionality basically posts all the expenses of the expense report with same payment method on the recent transaction date from the list of expense lines.

  • Several usability enhancements in some key screens. Also, Employees can now track payment information for their expense reimbursements. Nice and very useful functionality, as this is one point that customers usually ask and they used to customize it in AX 2012.

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OCR interface for capturing vendor invoices automatically:

One of the most common asks from customers in the AP invoicing area is the functionality of OCR and vendor invoice automation. Organizations often offload the paper invoice processing to 3rd party OCR reader service providers. These service providers provide machine readable metadata for the invoice along with scanned imaged the invoice headers and lines. In the July 2017 release, the solution/standard interface to read these invoice metadata and invoice scanned attachments is in-built into the AP invoice process of Dynamics 365. 3rd party OCR service provider systems will be able to send metadata feed for invoices directly to D365FO.

This new functionality basically provides the following.

  • Out of the data entities invoice header, invoice lines, and invoice attachments.
  • Exception processing for invoices. A frontend UI for users to make it easy to track failed invoice imports.
  • A side by side invoice attachment viewer to imported invoices and exceptions.

Vendor Invoice

PowerBI reporting with Financial Dimensions:

This feature will be available with July 2017 Update and you will also need to have the most recent Platform update of Dynamics 365, which is Platform Update 8. This features let’s the power users or the BI report creators to add financials dimensions to the readily available aggregated measurements or custom built aggregated measurements in the Entity store.

With that, when the Entity store is periodically updated/refreshed, the financial dimension information of all the General ledger transactions will automatically be included in it. Then you can use those aggregated measurements to write joins, queries within Power BI to create any sort of financial report/dashboard within Power BI itself. Screenshot below shows just an example.

Publish financial reports from Dynamics 365 to SharePoint:

In the earlier versions/releases, you could generate financials reports and export/save it to your local computer. With the July 2017 release, you can now save financial reports directly to a SharePoint document library. The benefit of this is, you can setup alerts within SharePoint to notify you when new reports are available.

Note: I don’t have SharePoint configured in the demo environment, so not able to show the full experience.

FInancials Statement to Sharepoint

You could also extend this further and write a Microsoft Flow, to automatically send the reports directly to your inbox from SharePoint. Endless possibilities !!

Tools for upgrade from AX 2012 or AX 2009 to Dynamics 365:

You can upgrade from Dynamics AX 2012 to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition. The complete Dynamics AX 2012 database can be brought forward, and your AX 2012 codebase can be upgraded to Finance and Operations. You can migrate from Dynamics AX 2009 to Finance and Operations via a migration toolset to bring forward master data and opening balances. It would be interesting to test these upgrade experiences and tools as opportunity comes !! 

The Upgrade is now more predictable, which reduces the overall cost of the upgrade process. Upgrade starts with an automated analysis phase, which defines the preparation tasks required to reduce the time and cost to upgrade, as well as the ongoing future cost of Finance and Operations. Post upgrade, an automated validation phase provides statistics and metrics on the success of the upgrade process. The validation details can be used to quickly assess the state of the upgrade, so you can continue with functional testing and sign off.

In Finance and Operations there are no expensive upgrades needed to stay current and take advantage of continuous innovation. You can update to the latest versions of the product with a click of a button.

Support for Hybrid Cloud (Cloud + Edge) and Op-premise (Local Business Data) Deployment scenarios:

In one of my earlier posts, I explained some details about the 3 different deployment options that Dynamics 365 is going to provide. Starting with the July 2017 Update, both these deployment options are available. Customers who are keen on having an On-premise deployment of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations to capitalize on their existing infrastructure investments or due to data security and compliance requirements, will have the option to deploy D365FO in Hybrid as well as On-Premise model.

d365-opr-deployment-scenarios

Microsoft published system requirements documentation explaining the detailed system requirements for an On-premise deployment of D365FO. You can find the information at this URL

There was system requirements document also that Microsoft published. See URL below.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=55496

I will share more info about this in future as we move with some testing and some actual deployments for customers.

That was a long enough post :). There are several other features and functionalities across technology stack, Retail and manufacturing modules, that I have not highlighted here in this post. There is a lot to explore and learn!!!

Stay tuned and stay current !! Till next time..

Thanks // Sandeep

Sandeep Chaudhury is a Dynamics AX enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in functional consulting, Solutions architecture and systems integration, with expertise in the areas of Professional services automation(Project Management and accounting), Financials Management, Services Management, Sales and Marketing, Human resource management, Travel and Expenses Management and Procurement & Sourcing modules of Microsoft dynamics AX ERP. He has experience working with the new Dynamics AX (AX 7), AX 2012 R3, AX 2012 R2 and more.

Manage your Project Resources efficiently with Resource request workflow in Microsoft Dynamics 365 For Operations

In some of my earlier posts, I discussed about the various capabilities of the Project resource management feature of Dynamics 365 For Operations and how it can help Professional Services firms manage their project resources, to ensure optimum resource utilization, and drive better project profitability, by deploying the right people at the right time in the project..

Continuing the conversation the this topic, I will discuss about some of the additional features that you can take advantage of, to manage your central pool of project resources even more efficiently. Your Project managers can better coordinate with Resource Managers, for finding and deploying the right resources by having visibility into resource’s capability and availability in real time.

Resources

In Dynamics 365 For Operations, you can optionally enable the Resource request workflow. When you enable the workflow, project managers can create and submit requests for resources whom they want for their projects. The Workflow can be configured to assign the resource requests to the required Resource Managers. Let us see in the few screenshots below, how this experience looks like for the Project Managers and Resource Managers.

Resource Request approval Workflow :

I have a very simple workflow setup, where the project resource request will be assigned to a designated Resource Manager of the Organization.

Workflow

Project Manager creates Project Team and submits request for resources: The Project managers can create the Project Team, where they can select available resources and submit the request for approval of the resources. The project manager requires 2 Software developers for this project. He is able to view the Resource pool of developers and testers and is able to view their availabilities.

Developers

The project manager then submits the request for these resources by soft booking (Tentative booking) them on the project.

Create Resource request

After the resource request is submitted, notice that the indicator shows that these resources have been requested.

Resource Requested

Resource Manager gets notified and reviews the resource request and approves the request:

Under My Resource Requests page, the resource manager gets to see all the resource requests where they can review the requests and approve/reject them. The resource manager also gets to see the other available resources and their current reservation details, in case they want to refer to those information. They can also see the details of resource request by clicking the Request details button.

Resource Approval

At this point, the Resource Manager approves the request and as soon as this is done, the resources will be automatically hard booked (Committed/booked to the project) and can be assigned to Tasks of the project further.

Developers Booked

That was a quick post about the new Resource request workflow feature for better project resource management in Dynamics 365 for Operations. Keep exploring !!

-Sandeep Chaudhury

Sandeep ChaudhurySandeep Chaudhury is a Dynamics 365 enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in functional consulting, Solutions architecture and systems integration, with expertise in the areas of Professional services automation(Project Management and accounting), Financials Management, Services Management, Sales and Marketing, Human resource management, Travel and Expenses Management and Procurement & Sourcing modules of Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP. He has experience working with the Dynamics 365, AX 7, AX 2012 R3, AX 2012 R2, Dynamics 365 for Operations and more.

Dynamics 365 For Operations Tip: Vendor Prepayments and Revenue Recognition for Fixed Price Projects

Hello, Good to be back here on the blog !!! Jumping straight into the topic here today about a new addition of a feature for vendor prepayments in relation with fixed price project revenue recognition !!

Issuing large amounts of prepayments to vendors is often a common business requirement for large scale, long-term fixed price projects, which involves a lot of sub-contracted work. Vendors often request prepayments for the subcontracting services they are contracted to deliver for these projects. These prepayments can sometimes be just a flat amount based on mutual decisions, or it can sometimes be a percentage of the total cost of the subcontracting service. There can be several months of gap between when the prepayments are issued and when the vendors actually deliver the services.

For such projects, customers usually recognize revenue on a percentage completion basis and need the ability to include these vendor prepayments in the project percentage completion calculation of the project for revenue recognition/revenue estimates calculations.

In this post, we will evaluate one of the new features of Dynamics 365 For Operations (Referred as D365 – Operations from here on), which allows us to consider these vendor prepayments automatically when running the monthly revenue recognition/estimates for fixed price projects for calculating the % completion of the project.

For this demonstration, I have setup a fixed price project and the associated contract already. This project is setup to recognize revenue on a % completion basis.

Contract Setup

Project Setup

The Project Manager has created and submitted the purchase requisition for approval so that the services can be procured from Rebar Supply Co. Ltd. See screenshot below.

PR Submitted

The purchase requisition gets approved by the designated manager and the Purchase order is automatically created. See screenshot below.

PR Approved

The Project procurement team/Project manager then sets up the prepayment details on the project purchase order that was automatically created upon approval of the requisition.

PrepaySetupOnPO

Finance and Accounting team now processes the prepayment invoice to initiate the prepayment to the vendor.

Prepay Invoice

Prepayment

Now that the finance team has processed the vendor prepayment for the subcontracting work, let us now go ahead and see what happens when they run the monthly revenue recognition process for this project.

Notice that system was able to consider the vendor prepayment cost for the project and was able to determine the percentage completion based on the total project budget/forecast defined. See screenshot below

PComp

When this revenue recognition entry is posted, the revenue amount (based on Percentage complete and the total contract value) will be posted to general ledger. We all know how it works from here 🙂

That’s it for today !!

Sandeep

Sandeep ChaudhurySandeep Chaudhury is a Dynamics 365 enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in functional consulting, Solutions architecture and systems integration, with expertise in the areas of Professional services automation(Project Management and accounting), Financials Management, Services Management, Sales and Marketing, Human resource management, Travel and Expenses Management and Procurement & Sourcing modules of Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP. He has experience working with the Dynamics 365, AX 7, AX 2012 R3, AX 2012 R2, Dynamics 365 for Operations and more.

Dynamics 365 For Operations Tip: Now you can use Position based hierarchies in all workflows

Using a Reporting manager hierarchy for routing workflow documents has always been possible in Microsoft Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 For Operations. This worked great in cases where you were required to route all of an employee’s workflow documents, such as timesheets, expense reports, purchase requisitions and more, to the manager they report to.

Now in Dynamics 365 For Operations, you can use Custom configured position hierarchies to route workflow documents. So, let’s say  you have a scenario where you need to route timesheets of an employee to the reporting manager, but route the expense reports to a manager they report to in a specific project hierarchy, you can configure this in Dynamics 365 For Operations ! Let’s see how?

On the Position Hierarchy Types, you can select the workflows which can use the selected position Hierarchy for outing documents. For example, in the screenshot below notice that the Matrix based hierarchy can be used by the expense report – USMF and Timesheet workflow.

dynamics365-position-hierarchy-types

NOTE: Note that a workflow can use only one custom hierarchy.

Additionally, you will notice that, on the workflow setup form, you can now view and manage the associated configurable hierarchies.

dynamics365-associate-hierarchy

On the workflow setup/configuration, you can select the steps to be assigned to a Configurable hierarchy. See screenshot below.

dynamics365-workflow-step-1

So, when an employee submits their expense report/timesheet, this workflow setup is going to look for the Matrix Position Hierarchy and assign the workflow document to the worker to whom the employee reports in the Matrix hierarchy instead of the managerial hierarchy.

dynamics365-position-hierarchy

dynamics365-ar-administrator

Small, but useful enhancement !! Hope this quick tip is useful.

Sandeep

Sandeep ChaudhurySandeep Chaudhury is a Dynamics 365 enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in functional consulting, Solutions architecture and systems integration, with expertise in the areas of Professional services automation(Project Management and accounting), Financials Management, Services Management, Sales and Marketing, Human resource management, Travel and Expenses Management and Procurement & Sourcing modules of Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP. He has experience working with the Dynamics 365, AX 7, AX 2012 R3, AX 2012 R2, Dynamics 365 for Operations and more.

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..

Sandeep

Sandeep ChaudhurySandeep Chaudhury is a Dynamics AX enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in functional consulting, Solutions architecture and systems integration, with expertise in the areas of Professional services automation(Project Management and accounting), Financials Management, Services Management, Sales and Marketing, Human resource management, Travel and Expenses Management and Procurement & Sourcing modules of Microsoft dynamics AX ERP. He has experience working with the Dynamics 365, AX 7, AX 2012 R3, AX 2012 R2 and more.

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