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

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..

Regards, Sandeep

Published at Mon, 17 Jul 2017 07:08:27 +0000

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Advanced Vendor Collaboration and Vendor Onboarding in Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition

Advanced Vendor Collaboration and Vendor Onboarding in Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition

Hello Everyone,

It has been quite sometime i have not written here. Last few months were very busy with several things and that did not allow any time to spend on blogging. I finally managed to get some time here!!

In one of my earlier posts, I elaborated some of the functionalities of the Vendor collaboration/Vendor self-service feature of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations – Enterprise Edition and what was coming in future releases. With the Fall release (Version 7.3), Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations has much more to offer to automate vendor self-service and collaboration, specifically around the vendor user and organization onboarding aspects.

In this post, lets take a look at some of those new features, specifically in the vendor onboarding area.

The diagram  below shows an overall representation of how the data flows from a Prospective Vendor to an Approved vendor in D365FO.

Vendor Onboarding

Let’s now dig into some of the finer details of the processes and steps underneath each of these steps in the vendor onboarding process.

ProspectiveVendor shows interest to become a potential vendor: Before an organization or individual wants to become a vendor for your organization, they are referred as “Prospective Vendors”. They can apply to be a vendor for your organization either via a website you may have, with anonymous access, or they can apply via a contact at your organization. If they come in through your website, you can have an OData integration with D365FO, to send the prospective vendor’s data into D365FO. Alternately, you can also use Data Management Framework to import the prospective vendor data periodically into D365FO.

Prospective Vendors DMF Upload

Prospective Vendors Import

After the initial basic data for the perspective vendor comes into D365, it will appear in Prospective Vendors registration under Procurement & Sourcing > Vendor collaboration requests.

Prospective Vendor User requests

Procurement Personnel from your organization reviews the details and initiates the vendor invitation process:

Before a procurement personnel from your organization reviews these requests to initiate the vendor invitation process, lets take a look at the workflow that is set up behind the scenes to do all the heavy lifting.

Under System Administration > Workflow > User Workflows, you can set up workflows for adding, modifying or inactivation of a new prospective vendor/existing vendor user. For a new prospective vendor user, the workflow provides your various options to fully control the new user provisioning in Azure AD and new user creation in D365FO.

Take a look at the screenshot below which shows this workflow.

User request workflow Create

Vendor User request workflowTo initiate the invitation process for the new prospective vendor, the procurement personnel will select the required user and review the details. If they decide to proceed with initiating the invitation process, they click the Invite User button.

At this point, the Processing status of the vendor registration request changes to “User requested“. This means a request for setting up a new user account in Azure AD and in D365FO has been initiated in the workflow.

Invite Vendor User

As soon as the user creation request is creation, the personnel setup in the workflow for this will get notified and will process the request further. If you notice the screenshot of the workflow above, the first step in our workflow is to review and approve the user request even before the Azure AD and D365FO user accounts are created.

The Personnel responsible goes into the user request and reviews the details to approve it.

Approve User request

The next step in the workflow is to set up the B2B user account in Azure AD. You can use the manual task within the workflow and assign it to the required person, who then can download the external user setup CSV file for import within Azure AD.

Manually Export User Invitatio File

Alternately, you can use the automated task for provisioning the Azure AD B2B user account.If you chose to use the automated task, you need to make sure to complete the below setups.

  • Register the D365FO app within Azure AD in Azure portal.
  • Complete the required setup for the API permissions for Microsoft Graph for the D365FO app. The automated task of the user setup workflow will invoke this to provision the user account in Azure AD.
  • Setup the Client ID, Application Keys within D365FO B2B invitation configuration page of D365FO.

App Registration

With the above setup done, the automated task will provision the Azure AD user for the vendor user automatically. In the next step of the user setup workflow, you can set up automated tasks for provisioning the user account within D365FO and also send the email notification to the vendor with a URL link to D365 for signup and registration. You can set up an email template and use (%portalURL%) placeholder in the email message, which will automatically include the URL of D365FO, when it sends the email notification to the vendor.

In this demo, the prospective vendor i added was John Smith whose email id was schaudhury@velosio.com. Since i had done all the setups above, ( (John Smith, the vendor) got the email notification with a URL for sign up.

Email Invite

Prospective vendor signs up to D365 and completes registration Wizard:

Now, it is time for the prospective vendor to sign up and complete the registration wizard and provide additional information about their organization.

When the vendor logs in to D365 by clicking the URL in the email invite, they are directly taken to a registration wizard, which appears as shown in screenshot below.

John Smith Vendor logs in to Portal for registration

The vendor selects the Country/region first in which they operate in. In this case , i selected USA.

Vendor Selects Country

On the next few screens, vendor enters their business information and all necessary details as shown in screenshots below.

Vendor Enters their information

Vendor Enters more info about contact person

Vendor Enters business information6

You can also configure and assign predefined questionnaire and assign it to the vendor to answer and you also let them select procurement catalog.

New Vendor request created in D365 for review and approval:When done, the vendor submits all the information at the end of the wizard. Registration submitted

This create the new vendor request in D365FO, which will then be reviewed and approved by a procurement or AP person of your organization. Procurement personnel can navigate to Procurement and Sourcing > Vendor collaboration > Vendor requests to see these.

New Vendor Request Created

New Vendor Details

New Vendor Details1

New vendor details reviewed and approved:

The Procurement personnel then completes the review process of the new vendor request and upon confirmation, the new vendor record is automatically setup in the Vendor master. After that, the vendor can have full access to the vendor collaboration portal and they can communicate with your organization in real time on purchase orders, invoices, consignment inventory, RFQs and responses, bidding and more.

vendor Review completed

That essentially completes the overall vendor onboarding process in D365FO. Stay tuned for more on this.

Regards,

Sandeep

Published at Fri, 16 Mar 2018 02:11:21 +0000

Take advantage of configuration data templates for seamless data import and export management in your Dynamics 365 For finance and operations implementation

The Data Management Framework of Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations – Enterprise Edition provides advanced data management capabilities, which makes the overall data export and import really seamless easy, for both standard Dynamics 365 data entities, as well as any custom entities that you might have developed for your business requirements. This framework provides an easy to use front end interface for data export and import management, so that regular pro-users of Dynamics 365 can interact with it, without requiring advanced knowledge of development and database.

In this post today, let us discuss about one of the features of this Data Management framework called the “Data Templates“, which will help you accelerate the data configuration and export/import management in your Dynamics 365 Implementation.

Data Config Templates

So, what are these data configuration templates ? One of the things you would have always done in every D365FO (Dynamics AX earlier) implementation, is probably use an excel spreadsheet to keep track of setup and master data configuration checklist and their sequence of import. While this works, it also requires extensive manual tracking, supervision and may lead to lot of human errors and mistakes.

Data configuration templates in D365FO are basically a predefined list of data entities for each module area, which are sequenced , so the data import will be processed in correct order automatically. This reduces human error in the data import sequence, save a huge amount of time in data import/export.

The templates are sequenced using Units, levels and sequence numbers and predefined dependencies between data entities. For example, before you import/upload your customer master data, you need to make sure all the number sequences formats, customer groups, payment terms etc. are imported prior to that. The data configuration templates addresses this and takes care of sequencing.

Let us now understand what is underneath these data templates and how these are managed in D365FO.

  • Microsoft started releasing these predefined data templates with the July 2017 update and these are right now made available directly within D365FO. From home page of D365FO, Navigate to System Administration > Data Management Workspace > Click Templates tile and click the Load default templates button. This will load all the default templates which are made available by Microsoft.

Load Default Templates

Note: In future, these will be made available in the shared asset library of LCS(Lifecycle Services), just like other assets such as the Power BI report models, Software deployable packages etc. 

  • You can use these out of the box templates, modify them to meet your business requirement, or you can even create your own templates and define the entities under it. For example you might have customized D365FO to meet your business needs and you might have created various custom data entities for this. So you can create your own templates and include those entities.

Custom Data Template

  • How are these entities sequences within a data template for processing? The “Execution unit”, “Level in execution unit” and “Sequence” fields under the Entities tab of the templates defines how the entities are sequences for processing.
    • Execution Unit: Entities that have different units are processed in parallel.
    • Level in execution unit: Entities that have the same level within an unit are processed in parallel.
    • Sequence number: With the same level, entities are processed according to their sequence numbers.

Note: At some point in future, Microsoft will make it possible for the sequencing to happen automatically when you add entities to a template and will they will try to provide templates for every standard D365FO configuration and setup.

Unit Level and Sequence Numbers

  • The Module, category and Tags represent the entity category or classification for better understanding. Module represents the actual module name of D365 to which the entity belongs, Entity category shows if the entity is related to setup data, reference data or master data and the tags shows additional information tags.

Module Tag And Category

  • There are other miscellaneous features on this templates so that you can export and import templates, Open the list of entities within a data template in Excel to make changes to Units, levels, sequences, module, tag etc., or you can even create the templates from a data project.

Other Misc Features

Now, let us see how we can use these data templates (Predefined or custom created) in an actual Data project for export or import.

  • Navigate to System Administration > Data Management > Click Import tile.

Demo Template Import Data Project

  • Enter a name for the project and click Save. Now click “Apply Template” button. You will see all your data templates that you can select and add them to the data project. You can add more than one data template. Let us say I want to use the GL-Shared data template to load all the data for the GL shared area. I can select that and select preferred source type (EXCEL, CSV etc.) and click OK button.

Select Data Template on Data Project

  • Notice here that all the data entities that were part of the General Ledger-Shared data template are automatically loaded and all the level and sequencing of these entities is also inherited from the template setup. Now, you can just upload the excel/source data files for all these entities and schedule the data project to run. It will run and automatically process the entities in the correct sequence as per the definition in the template.

This is certainly a huge time saver and you don’t have to select individual entities and import them one by one remembering their sequence.

Data Entities loaded in DP

  • Similarly, you can use the templates for exporting too, so that system will automatically provide all the source files for each module, depending on the data template you selected in the project.

Export Using Template

  • As an example, I have exported the same GL Shared template in a data project and it exported all my relevant data entities with more than 500 records within few seconds.

Data Entities Exported

  • I can now download these packages and see the data on the files. See screenshot below.

Data Package Export

Exported Data.png

I find this feature very useful and this will help save significant time in data export/import and will also enable users who are not experts of the system to seamlessly export and import data for all required modules by leveraging these templates. This is also a great step towards standardizing data configs as much as possible, so that customers don’t have to reinvent the wheel in every implementation.

That’s it for this post. Stay tuned !!

Sandeep Chaudhury

Published at Sun, 05 Nov 2017 02:19:57 +0000