Happy New Year 2016/2017

With the release of AX 7, the increased industry focus on IoT, AI and automation, release of Power Apps and Flow and the launch of Dynamics 365 it is probably safe to say that this is one of the most eventful years in Dynamics AXs history. Let us take a closer look at the events.

Launch of Dynamics AX

AX7_DD

On March 9th we had the official launch of Dynamics AX. Branding wise we should only refer to it as AX and drop any type of version reference like iPad once did with. It is to be a service that will be updated continuously with both platform and functional updates.

The solution was redesigned from the ground up to work as a web first application based on the proven AX business logic. A big leap in the application concept and put AX on the bleeding edge of technology. Exciting times for those of us loving technology, but daunting for those with a more traditional viewpoint on business applications.

It was launced as a SSaS only solution, hosted and managed by Microsoft and had a 50 Enterprise users minimum. The on-prem story was in development awaiting the general availability of Azure stack. It was on the roadmap to be available in Q3 of 2016.

Rapid updates

After the launch in March we had multiple platform updates. Update 1 released in May, Update 2 released in August and Update 3 released in November. The most profound change was probably the separation of the platform and application making it possible to  do updates to the one without the other. This also hints to the separation of multiple applications running on a unified AX7 platform.

We also saw a lot of features and general application upgrades being added and also implemented on AX 2012. Two Cumulative updates where released for AX2012; CU11 in June and CU12 in November.

Time Event
2016 March AX7 – Launch
2016 May AX7 – Application update 7.01
AX7 – Platform update 1
2016 June AX 2012 – Cumulative Update 11
2016 August AX7 – Platform update 2
2016 November AX7 – Application version 1611
AX7 – Platform update 3
AX 2012 – Cumulative Update 12

Dynamics 365 for Operations

dynamics365logo

The next chapter in Microsoft Business Solutions saw a unification of ERP and CRM solutions. Merging them together in a “marketing package” called Dynamics 365. Mostly being a rebranding and refocusing of their business application suite to focus on business processes rather then the different platforms. The idea is to integrate the different applications into a common navigation and let the data flow between the solutions through the master data managment service named “Common data service”.

Though it is a mouthful, the new designation for the ERP system formerly know as Dynamics AX formerly known as Axapta, is a pretty understandable direction if you look at the success that they had with Office 365 and that Microsofts “365-brand” is a synonym with cloud. Off cause the issue of calling the SMB suite “Financials” and the Enterprise suite “Operations” is kind of confusing. I would hope they would call it “Business” and “Enterprise” instead.

It is early days, but I thing that it is a change of mindset that Microsoft is looking to achieve with this rebranding. I’m looking forward to see what they have in store for 2017.

On-prem story changed

AXRoadmap.pngDuring the summer months the on-prem solution was silently removed from the roadmap and we were waiting for an explanation to what the alternative was to be. We had to wait until November and the launch of Dynamics 365.

The second day of AXUG Summit 2016, Christian Pettersen and Sri Srinivasan showed us the hybrid solution for Dynamics 365 for Operations. It would be adding new possibilities with multiple on-prem installations for specific workloads and a synchronization to a cloud hosted main application. Some partners and customers expected a 100% on-prem solution and understandably was disappointed, but in my opinion this does bring the best of both worlds and is a much more versatile solution.

Dynamics 365 was released with support for retail workload on-prem, but other features will be available during 2017.

Flow and Power Apps

A multitude of business power applications was released and made GA in November along side the Dynamics 365 launch. They are still early applications, but introduce the same conceptual user story that Power BI did for reporting.

This empowers the power- and end users to create solutions based on published data sources. Flow is an “if-this-then-that” solutions for automating processes while Power Apps is a solution to create applications and user interfaces in a very simplified way that should be available to end users.

AppSource

Along side the Dynamics 365 release, Microsoft also introduced the AppSource. This is a market place that contains custom applications developed by third party vendors on the individual platforms; Azure, Office 365, Power BI, Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365.

This gives the customers the possibility to find and try out third party applications available to them without going through their partners. This will empower users, but also could give some partners headache. It is also important to note that this is a combination of VAR and ISV solutions. All partners should make sure to have their standard solutions available in this store as soon as possible.

LinkedIn and Microsoft

microsoft-linkedin.jpg

In the last months of 2016 the EU finally approved the LinkedIn purchase and this will be a great asset to many different applications in the Microsoft Suite as this network contains most of peoples business relations and professional resumes.

I’m looking forward to see what Microsoft will do with the LinkedIn data and how they will differentiate, insight and automation of the CRM and HRM processes.

IoT and AI

internet-of-things

In 2016 there was a great deal of leaps done within the IoT and AI scene. Most of the big conferences had large focus on the area and they introduced some very nice solutions on the CRM platform at the end of the year.

A lot of IoT stories are coming to life at the end of 2016 and I think that this will be the number 1 focus area in 2017.

On a personal note…

2017worldmap

This has been a very hectic year with the MVP title received in the very beginning, a newborn girl in February and A LOT of things happening on the Dynamics AX scene.

I achieved my goal to get a larger series of blog posts in March with one post each day. I also got a lot of things to write about with the new AX solution being released. Between my activity and probably most because of the MVP title I saw a 10x increase of hits on my blog.

I started a podcast together with co-worker and fellow MVP Tommy Skaue in November. Only a couple of hundred views for each episode at the time, but I hope that this will increase and grow over time. We have a great deal lined up for the next year.

I start my year with 10 weeks of paternity leave which I’m really looking forward to. I’m hoping my MVP status to be renewed in 2017, but it is a tough competition and a lot of VERY competent people contributing… Mostly because it is a great honor, but also because I want to go to the MVP summit which was not easy to do this year with a newborn in the family. Fingers crossed! Have a great new year.

Dynamics Podcast // Episode 6 // Great Dr. Scott!!

We get to talk to Dr. Scott Hamilton about his great book series about Supply Chain and Manufacturing for Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 for Operations. Scott gives us some insights into writing books about these types of topics and talks about his background in the ERP industry.
He also talks about the journey that AX has been on the last couple of years in regards to Warehouse and Supply Chain Management.
Me and Tommy share our views on AX2012 R3 vs. Dynamics 365 for Operations and what you should choose today.

Hosts:
Fredrik Sætre — @AxFredrik
https://www.dynaxtips.com

Tommy Skaue — @Skaue
https://yetanotherax.com

Guest:
Scott Hamilton
http://msdynamicsworld.com/author/sco…

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Be a part of the AX community!
https://www.dynamicsuser.net/ax/
https://community.dynamics.com/ax/
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Music courtesy of Cannavo&Nesse

Dynamics Podcast // Episode 5 // Community and Master planning

Jonathan Stypula and Jacob Roder joins us in discussions about their engagement at http://dynamicsuser.net.
We brush on the topic of Master planning and automations as well as everything Dynamics 365 for Operations and Dynamics AX.
Hosts:
Fredrik Sætre — @AxFredrik
https://www.dynaxtips.com
Tommy Skaue — @Skaue
https://yetanotherax.com
Guests:
Jonathan Stypula — @the_jon_stypula
Jacob Roder — @jac_rod
http://www.dynamicsuser.net
http://www.dynamicconsulting.com
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Be a part of the AX community!
https://www.dynamicsuser.net/ax/
https://community.dynamics.com/ax/
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Music courtesy of Cannavo&Nesse

Dynamics Podcast site (Audio)

https://dynpodcast.wordpress.com
The Dynamics podcast just got its own site. We will distribute Audio versions of the podcast through this, resulting in it very soon being available on aggregated podcast sites. ITunes is currently pending, but I expect it to be up and running by this week.

Video version will still be published through Youtube.
The show is recorded bi-weekly on Mondays and we are also going to live stream it in the near future.

Subscribe, comment and apply to participate by tweeting me or Tommy.

Dynamics AX Podcast // Episode 4 // Weaveriski

Steven Weaver joins us to talk about his experience as an NAV and AX consultant. He goes in detail into their project methodology and has some stories to share with us. We also take a look at some Dynamics 365 topics, talk in detail about communities and upcoming events.

Dynamics 365 Tech Conference (12-15 March 2017):
http://www.d365tech.com/

AXUG Summit EMEA 2017 (4–6 April 2017):
http://www.summitemea.com/

Hosts:
Fredrik Sætre (Twitter: @AxFredrik)
https://www.dynaxtips.com

Tommy Skaue (Twitter: @Skaue)
https://www.yetanotherax.com

Guest:
Steven Weaver (Twitter: @Weaveriski)
https://community.dynamics.com/members/weaveriski
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Be a part of the AX community!
https://community.dynamics.com/ax/
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Music courtesy of Cannavo&Nesse

D365 Operations on a Mobile phone

There are two ways that D365 Operations are supposed to be interacted with on mobile phone. We’ve got the Mobile App with the awesome foundation that can basically expose any form to the end user in a mobile format, and then we have the WHS Mobile Terminal interface that covers all operations in logistics as well as all logistics for manufacturing operations.
But probably the most common way people will experience interfacing with the application on mobile would be to a browser on a mobile phone to the HTML 5 general client. I did try this out pretty early on and wrote about it. The experience wasn’t all that amazing, but it worked in a way. That was three versions ago, so I’d thought I’d have another crack at it.

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The dashboard works very well and the module navigation now takes a full screen experience that I really liked.

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One of the first things I noticed was that the interface now was much better on a cell phone. The previous version had two rows when looking at detail forms and that made the experience pretty “scrolly”. Mobile interfaces are best when there is only one way of scrolling required, either vertical or horizontal, but once you put data in both axis of your field of view it can get a bit disorienting and hard to find the data. I am happy to report that this has been dealt with and is now a much better experience.

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The work centers function pretty good as well. It is aligned to work in the horizontal axis, but scales pretty well in both portrait and landscape mode.

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There is an issue with interaction on grids as these naturally would be horizontal in nature. However the experience is very nice as the scrolling now only affect the grid it self and the rest of the data stays static. This is also where the Mobile App shines as you can transform grid lines to be a field list interaction that is more suited for mobile entry.

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The only place I experienced a bit of a disconnect with the interface was on the dialogue boxes. In this case they still don’t go full screen, but has the menus peeking through on the left side of the screen. It also puts data in two columns that require some two axis navigation. Not horrible, but not perfect either…

wp_ss_20161112_0003

 

All in all it was a much better experience then the last time. The forms scale very well to the mobile format and it is a very smooth experience that can stack up to any web application for mobile interface. I am impressed and very enthusiastic!

Team Member seat count discount

Disclaimer: I have not read licensing policies, rules and regulations, and I urge you to make sure that you abide by them at ALL time!

teammemberpricing

The Team Member access for Dynamics 365 is being discounted the more users you have, so at some levels you would be better off jumping to the next price point by adding more users. I’m not sure that billing from Microsoft would take this in to account. That said, you would be better off in some cases by reporting a higher user count then you are actually using to hit the next discount tier (ONLY IF THIS IS PERMITTED) or add more users as there are some plateaus on the license plan… SO BRING ON THE CALCULATOR!

teammemberpricegraph

You’ll first hit the first jump at 85 (85*$10=$850)users. At that point you would be better off reporting 100 (100*$8,5=$850) users as reporting 86 users would cost you $10 more.

Here is a table to go by:

From To Optimal
0 85 Actual count
86 99 100
100 206 Actual count
207 249 250
250 392 Actual count
393 499 500
500 723 Actual count
724 999 1000
Above 1000 Actual count

Hopefully the Microsofts billing department will pick up on this and help you along or at least it will be accepted to report a HIGHER number then actual users used (If permitted). It will be a lot of work adding users for the jump from 723 to 1000…
Worst case scenario is that you don’t do anything and end up reporting 999 Team Member users. That would give you an excess of almost $1500 pr month!

You’re welcome!

Team Member access

teammembersetupfocus

“What can the team user actually do in Operations?”
I’ve been asked this question quite frequently lately, so I’d thought I’ll share my findings with you.

Microsoft calls the Team Member a “Light” users of the system and this is what the user will have access to (Note: This has been changed recently):

TeamMemberAccess.png

The license level is controlled by the security role assigned to each user. To be a Team member License level user it has to be configured only with “Team Member” license level roles or “None”.

 

Just remember that if you over give a user more privileges then Team, the user automatically will be counted as a Operations user.

The roles available for team member access are:

  • Accounts payable positive payment clerk
  • Contractor
  • Cost object controller
  • Dispatcher
  • Employee
  • Field service technician
  • Guest
  • Project manager – Public Sector
  • Project timesheet user
  • Quality control clerk
  • Retail warehouse clerk
  • System external user
  • System user
  • Test Essensials Role
  • Time registration worker
  • Vendor (External)
  • Vendor admin (External)
  • Waterspider

What it does not include?

A simple task like doing inventory movement journals in the client looks like it requires an Operations level license. You should be able to do inventory movement by using the WHS mobile terminal (not tested).
Entering a simple sales order also requires a full Operations license, but maybe this would be done in the Dynamics 365 Sales application or though a self composed PowerApp, lowering the cost for each head quite significantly.

What does it include?

It means that your user can use all the the terminals in the system. That includes the Retail POS, Retail Store Manager, WHS Mobile, Job card terminal and Job card device. The user can also approve invoices that are on assigned to him/her, fill out both time sheets for Project accounting and Time and attendance as well as do expense reports for Project accounting.
The user can use the full range of employee services features and also use the full features of Case managment, Activities and Tasks. It is also possible to create purchase requisitions, respond to questionnaires, create and maintain your contacts.
The access to Lean Manufacturing execution (Waterspider role) and Service Management features (Field service technician) are also pretty extensive.

The vendor portal roles also falls under the Team Member license.

I would say that is a pretty feature rich application covered by only $4-10 per user.

Minor UI changes in new version…

As we moved to Dynamics 365 for Operations and the system was updated we did see some minor changes in the UI that you maybe didn’t notice.

The top navigation bar did change somewhat, and not only the global navigation elements in the left hand corner like this:

navchange2

There was some minor changes in the right hand corner as well. Like the fact that they switched places on the company picker and search button (now not a field) is maybe the most prominent change, but they also swapped the help button and feedback.

navchange

There is also a nice separator and the messages has lost the alert/bell icon. Quite good as there are no alert feature any more.

 

Try out Dynamics 365 for Operations now for free!

With the release of Dynamics 365 you are now able to do a quick demo of the client with a VERY limited set of functionality.

By going to: https://aka.ms/D365OperationTrials you will be able to get your very own company to play around with.

The experience of setting it up is remarkably simple.

d3fodemo0

Just add you email addresse in the registration box (Mine was in my native language). You do need to have an Office 365 subscription (or atleast an Azure tennant). Invite some collegues to join you in the demo experience (from your domain) and watch the magic happen.

D3FODemo1.png

Ready to explore

You will then be presented with an environment that is only accessable by you and the people you invited from your organization.

D3FODemo2.png

After the intro the system will send you directly to the scripted Task guide demos.

D3FODemo3.png

You can then click through any of the three scripted demos on your own to experience the Dynamics 365 for Operations web client.

If you want to roam around the application on your own, you can do so. There are however a very limited set of things you actually can do.

The access level is very restricted as you can see in the modules available.

d3fodemo4

It gets even more apparent when you look at the individual modules.

d3fodemo5

Not much to click on, but the full blooded version might be a bit daunting (as shown below) and this is maybe more close to the actual experience of a simple application user.

D3FODemo6-2.png

D3FODemo6.png

You cannot create a sales order,  but it is however possible to create a new purchase order.

D3FODemo7.png

So this is most definite NOT a feature demo, but a simple demo of the user experience which is pretty awesome. I would assume that in the future there would be more guides demonstrating different business processes, but for now it is mostly a feel for the UI. Contact your Dynamics Partner or Cloud Service Provider to get a full demo of the functionality.

Also check out the AppSource for more industry specific or scenario related application demo.