Great video from Merit Solutions on the topic of upgrade and migration from Dynamics AX 2009 and AX 2012 to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, and preparing for the cloud.
Moving data from one company to another has been pretty taxing ever since we suddenly were faced with the missing “Duplicate” feature when first diving into Dynamics AX 2012.
For a while, we’ve been using the Data import export framework (DIEF) to export entities and import them back into other companies. That worked fairly good, but now with the Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition Platform update 11 we have a solution for copying directly between legal entities within a solution.
I tried the concept out on a very superficial setup as there are A LOT of parameters and entities to configure and stack in the right order. I haven’t been able to do a full implementation of it to test it out in a proper scenario, but at least the concepts are looking to be working.
It can be used for copying a company to another and starting with a fresh sheet as well as making a form of virtual data exchange. This solution can be set up to work both ways.
The big job is now to re-arrange the different entities so that the dependent ones are read in first. You can create Execution units and levels within these and then do a resequencing. I didn’t do that in this case and did run into some dependencies afterward, but it didn’t really matter for my exploration.
I would also guess that this will be things that can be copied in or templated, as there is a template option (maybe in LCS). There would probably be something that someone would make and share once it is first done.
After this setup, I ran the import.
Once the form was refreshed a couple of times, it finished…
…with some errors and dependencies that were missing.
So I looked at the staging data and quickly found that I was missing an entity. I added it and ran it again.
That did it. A successful copy of data from one legal entity DIRECTLY to another. Lovely!
Making sure tasks are performed by the right person at the right time is always a hassle and we’ve got MANY places where one could organize these types of things and some are more convenient then others. I wrote about the Data Validation Checklist a few days ago and that gave us a great tooling when it comes to running through setup and effectively navigate and keep track of the process. The nice feature of that being that you could easily navigate to the task as you could associate a task with a menu item and get right to where you needed to be to perform the task.
In the latest release of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise Edition we’ve also got a new “Business processes solution” from the HR product team which is pretty similar in nature, but has some extra features that you might like. It even got THREE work centers, which is rather superfluous and could be solved with only one with a filter function.
It is obviously meant to cover Payroll and HCM processes, but can basically be used for the same thing as the Data Validation Checklist (meaning all menu objects linked to a task can be reached). The difference being that it is not global in the solution when executing and tracking the tasks, but it is however have a personal user view and you can have a due date and offset deadlines on each tasks based on that. You are also able to execute the process multiple times.
Let us take a look at how this new feature works, how to set it up and then look at executing and tracking tasks.
Setting it up
1. Create a template
A template is a set of tasks that are to be triggered at a given time. Different tasks are then distributed based on the Assigned worker with a deadline offset to the target date.
First you create a new task. I’m creating a “Montly inventory close” business process as an example. In the Contoso demo data there is an HR Audit.
Input a name, description, template owner and calendar. The template owner will be able to create new tasks after the process has been triggered in addition to the existing template tasks. The calendar will help offset task deadlines and only focus on actual open business days.
The “Process type” is always set to the module you launch it from. I would assume that there will be other modules supported in the future.
2. Create tasks
Once the template is saved you can create the tasks.
Create a name, description, Assigned worker, contact person, offset date and a task link. Note that a task can be optional.
Task links can be either a menu item or a URL.
The instructions is a nice rich text editor that works very well.
Repeat the process until you have your complete business process.
Execution and tracking
Once a template is create it is then triggered for execution by clicking “Start Process” in the action menu.
Once the process is started the system will create a business process instance with set of task for each task in the template. The status will be set to “in progress”. A Business process instance can have different statuses (“Not Started”, “In progress”, “Completed” and “Canceled”) and you can trigger multiple instances of templates and have them running at the same time.
Anyone can view the ongoing processes in the “Business processes for HR/Payroll” work space which has a filter for each process type and has the all and overdue list, while the “My business processes” work space only shows the users tasks and the templates their responsible for.
It is also possible to create new tasks for a running business process and one can create blank templates and just fill them in as you please.
The users will be able to view their assigned tasks in the “My Business Processes” work space. They can view details, change status (In progress, Completed, Canceled) and reassign the task to other workers.
Once all tasks are completed the business process instance is still set to “in progress” and you would have to mark the instance and click the “edit” button where you could change the status of the business process instance to complete.
All in all a good first feature release, but I would hope that they would move a bit closer to how other features are developed. I mean that they have relied too much on the work centers for access to data, where the work centers are used instead of feature oriented forms. I couldn’t easily find a form that showed me all tasks except in the work centers. They should quickly remove two of the work centers and add a possibility to navigate to a form instead. Also a related links in the work spaces to get to the configuration and some statistics for each task would be preferable…
I’m also missing some features that I hope will be implemented in the future. Like task dependencies and also a more role based approach among other things. Assigning templates to defaulted workers could give some headache and is a killer when moving between companies.
I am hoping this will in time also bleed in to the other task handling systems in the solution like the case management and more.
In the latest release of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise Edition there is now a check list feature for creating new setup in the system. It lets you enter a set of tasks within a configuration area and attach a menu item link for each task. Then you select the companies that this falls under and the task is then duplicated for each company and you can select the performing user for each particular company task.
Opening up the workspace you’re faced with a page which shows you a task overview for a given DVC project.
If you tick the Project dropdown in the Contoso demo database there is already a project present which clearly shows the intent of the solution, but I’ll create one from scratch to run you through it.
Setting it up
1. Create a new DVC Project
You create a new and can copy from an existing project and select what data you want copied.
Scroll all the way to the right in the workspace and click the “Configure data validation project” link in the “Related links”.
2. Create Task areas
First create the Task Areas you need. Note that the Task Areas are global and shared between all projects. You can create multiple areas for different processes, but all will appear in this list eventually.
3. Select your Legal entities
Select the required legal entities you want to configure. You can do this later also.
4. Create your task
Add a task description, then a task area and select your menu item from the drop down tree.
The display order will let you reorganize your tasks afterwards. You can have as many numbers as you want (pretty much). It will sort numerically, so 20 comes before 100. If you want to have a 2, 20, 200 type hierarchy… It won’t work.
5. Assign resource
If you’ve added companies you can attach an employee to the task for each company selected for the Project
6. Add an attachment
You can add attachments for each company task. This is great for spreadsheets of data or other type of documents that shows what data to control against. Just click the Attachments action menu item. Once attached the binder icon will show up (green arrow).
You can add any type of attachement that is defined in the document type settings. Just click new and add it.
That basically covers the setup.
Using the feature as an end user isn’t all that intuitive. I would love to see these tasks be created as other general tasks in the system and the user can work with them as any other task. I couldn’t find out how, so if you do… please let me know.
1. Set to “in progress”
You would have to go to the task and click “Edit Task”. That opens up a dialogue box where you can select a individual company task (even if it already had that context from the table) and set a new status on it.
You can select an “Assigned to” person when doing this if it is not already assigned.
After changing the status to “In progress” for the company you would click the task name. This will open the assigned menu item and the person can perform the work.
2. Close the task
After completing the task the person can either assign a new person for control purposes or close the task. The same procedure as before will be used and select “Completed”.
The overview screen will update with the completed and in progress statuses and you’ll have a nice overview of the progression.
I think this is an awesome feature that is pretty handy to have on board and I believe that it will be improved slightly over time to be more user friendly.
I’m hoping for a “my tasks” view, but you could of cause create that yourself.
Have a super time setting up that new company!
Going to a conference might look like a costly affair with attendance, travel and hotel expenses as well as being away from work with other covering the work load and missed opportunities.
However in n my experience it is what you make of it yourself. Sending someone that is hungry for information and is willing to strike up a conversation with a stranger will give you great benefits from joining a conference like Summit. In fact I would argue that it pays of many times over if you take advantage of the opportunities.
Resources at the conference
The many sessions should give you a lot of new information and inspiration to do more. Speakers will most likely have Q&A and hope you will interact with them. They also remain after their sessions so you can ask them one to one or give you their contact information, so you can get in contact with them after the conference. Use them! They want to help.
Summit has a bunch of other interaction events like round tables and let’s you hook up with other customers or partners for a talk through their portals or through different chapters. I know that Mike Ehrenberg and the rest of the executives had many sessions with customers to get direct feedback. That is a MAJOR opportunity to directly influence the direction of the product.
The MVPs that where stationed at the Medics desk and we didn’t really see that much traffic, but for those who came to have their questions answered got good help. I had a very nice lady that came back day after day, going back to her co-workers each day for more questions that needed answering and returning for a new round.
After a conference day
Many of the implementation partners and most larger ISVs have social events with their customers and other partners. This is a great way to tie closer bonds with them and talk about the products.
I observed one customer get half an hour with one of the Microsoft program managers to get the very best answers to future strategies on warehouse management implementations for the business. That is some great value and probably covered the travel in itself.
Also the bar at the hotel (if you selected one of the hotels suggested by the event) will probably let you get in contact with some other attendees in a social setting.
Use time to join the sessions you find interesting, but also find time to roam the ISV booths. Interact with other attendees, strike up a chat and exchange business cards. Join the user group events and get to know other partners and users by being social and open to meet new people. You’ll get your moneys worth!
Check out my travel experience and some ISV interviews here:
If you have a suggestion for improvement or changes for Dynamics you can go to the new Ideas page and get to know the solution better. You can also go here to browse suggestions and vote them up to get the improvements that are important to YOU up on the agenda. This is a preliminary work list that actually makes it to the product. So go get your voice heard and make the application move in your direction.
The awesomeness of the HTML5 client is apparent, but it might be even clearer if you know a bit on how the URL parameters work as well. These can be used to further enhance your user experience and extend the usage of the web client.
URL parameters are additional commands you can send in the URL and can be used to affect the way the web application works. It is placed at the end of the URL string after the ? (question mark) character and each parameter is separated by an & (and) character. The parameter can be given an attribute or value and that is separated by the = (equals) character. Giving you a structure like so:
Let’s dive in!
You can set a default company that the user defaults to at User Options > Preferences > Startup > Company. Use this URL parameter to override this and directly access a legal entity. If you use many companies it will be easy to create shortcuts for each company for quick access.
Note: This parameter is visualized by default in the URL.
You can set a default user language under User Options > Preferences > Language and country/region preferences > Language. However if you like to open the solution in another language, use this URL parameter. Great if you’re doing user training and support, work with different companies in their native languages or if you are doing a demo.
Use this to go directly to any of the forms in the solution. Based on your user settings you either go to DefaultDashboard, SystemAdministrationWorkspace, EssentialsDashboard or HcmEmployeeSelfServiceWorkspace. This can take you to any for like SalesTable, CustTable and so on…
Note: This parameter is visualized by default in the URL and it is easy to copy it for future use.
Want to skip the splash screen? Use that. Looks like it shaves of a millisecond or two, so it isn’t that much faster. It does however look slightly cleaner from my standpoint.
The theme ID is the number of the color palette given in the user setup. This is awesome when combined with the “cmp” URL parameter. Gives you a sense of what company you’ve launched, but be aware that you can change company at any time.
If you’re afraid you might accidentally navigate to a form you shouldn’t be in, you can use the “limitednav” URL parameter to minimize this risk. This parameter takes all navigation possibilities away.
Working on both tablet and on a computer? There are two different types of grid density in the solution. High(21) and low(30). Select your pixel density by using this URL parameter. This is the same as selecting a different grid density in the user options.
Example: &density=21 is best suited for desktop and &density=30 is best suited for tablet/touch.
If you have a solution that is partitioned you can use this to quickly going to the right one. The feature is deprecated, but still works. For instance the Contoso database Public sector partition can be accessed by writing: prt=ps. You can get an overview of the partition by entering f=PartitionAdministration (replacing the mi parameter). Note that partitions have their own user access, so you would initially access it with the system master user. Thanks to Ievgen for pointing this out.
Some forms doesn’t have menu items. Like “SysTableBrowser” *, “jmgClock”, “WHSWorkExecute” and “jmgWorkPlanner”. These are some forms that are in the system, but isn’t accessible through the menus. This replaces the “mi” parameter.
* Requires also to use the parameter tableName=[TableID]
If you activate the “URL manipulation” parameter under your User settings > Preferences, you’ll find that when doing a filter or record lookup you’ll get a query string directly in your URL. I assume that this is the query string that is created by the deep links generator. This is described in the Operations Wiki.
The mode selector does access features that you might otherwise not have access to. The “trial” attribute starts a trial experience and the “mobile” attribute gives the user access to the mobile application builder feature.
This gives you the opportunity to debug the application directly in the web client. It gives you a little indicator right next to the legal entity (company) selector on the top menu bar and clicking it gives you details on the client performance.
That is the list so far. This will give to the opportunity to create direct access to the form and information you need quickly and give a better user experience. I can see great benefit in a multi company solutions.
What URL parameters do you know about that isn’t on this list?
I just got my copy of the new Scott Hamilton book! Look at how happy I am!
It is an in-depth master piece that covers all the functionality from the basics to the advanced. Organized and written in a way that everyone with basic knowledge of the subject matter and ERP can digest it. It covers all the different type of manufacturing scenarios (Discrete, Project, Process and Lean) and has a great deal of case studies that are informative and might even solve many of your known and unknown issues.
This is the go-to book for any company that is using Master planning functionality. If you’re a customer, user or partner of Dynamics AX2012 or Dynamics 365 for Operations, then you should go get this book ASAP. You’ll probably save the cost after the second chapter (As the first is the introduction)…
It will deepen the understanding of the features for people that are already up and running on the system as well as work as a reference guide. And it is a great companion and a must-read to people doing an implementation or want to simply learn the solution.
Go get your copy either physical or electronically now!
Also read some of Scotts latest posts on MSDynamicsWorld.com for more info:
- Master Planning in Manufacturing using Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations or AX 2012 R3
- Model SCM Decision Making for Purchased Material using Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations
- Models of SCM decision making using Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations
- SCM Decision Making for Manufactured Items using Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations
As there are many time and attendance solutions that have specialized terminal equipment available, the Dynamics AX solutions might seem like a step back in user friendliness. A way to improve the experience for end users is to launch the terminal window directly when the terminal is turned on, so they don’t need to launch the window separately.
Dynamics 365 for Operations
For Dynamics 365 for Operations it is easy to just launch the URL with the right attributes in the browser to full screen. Use either mi=JmgRegistrationJobQueue for the job card terminal or mi=JmgRegistrationTouch for the job card device and add &limitednav=true on the end to restrict navigation access.
Go to the terminal setup (Production control > Setup > Manufacturing Execution > Configure job card Terminal or Configure job card for Devices) and add the user to log in directly. On the terminal you can turn off the “prompt for production area” to further limit the interaction.
Put the shortcut in the windows “Start up” folder. An example of the shortcut could be:
Dynamics AX 2012
When it comes to AX 2012 you can do this by using the .axc files in combination with an XML file to launch directly to the terminal window. I have even been able to do this in a Citrix environment.
Just use the ax32.exe startupCmd command and prompt an XML. Read Janet Blakes bloggpost to do this.
Thank you to AXDATA for making this possible.
Fredrik Sætre — @AxFredrik
André Arnaud de Calavon — @DynamicsAXGeek
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