Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise Edition

A guide to the hidden gems

Before I begin, I must point out that I’m desperately waiting for someone to come up with a clever and meaningful shortened version of the newly released name. D365fF&OEE doesn’t have that winning ring to my mind… but … moving on...

There are some truly great improvements in the new release, and in the pipeline. Mobile workspaces, task recorder playbacks, power BI integration and content packs, the list goes on. But I want to take some time to highlight a few features I think are slipping by unnoticed, overshadowed by the huge leaps forward Microsoft are making with the entire Dynamics 365 solution set and the Azure platform. It says something about the level of Microsoft’s investment when features that would once have been front and centre in a new release are now just footnotes.

Top 5 gems already released

1. Consignment inventory

Consignment stock has been missing for a long time in Dynamics AX. Over the years Dynamics users came up with fun and inventive workarounds. But these were cumbersome and didn’t provide the best visibility. Microsoft introduced consignment stock a few releases ago. But the July release extends it to support batch and serial IDs - a welcome addition to the process.

2. Visual scheduling

The Gantt chart has been part the product for a long time, but was always a bit cumbersome and I’ve never seen it implemented entirely successfully. Dynamics 365 upgraded the Gantt chart to the new HTML client, but we lost the drag and drop operations for rescheduling - which in my view makes the tool pointless. Drag and drop is back in the July release, and after taking it for a test run, I can see this working in a production environment. I’m looking forward to seeing our customers use this in the real world!

3. Migration to advanced warehouse management

A massive piece of functionality was introduced in the AX2012 R3 release with the advanced warehouse management tools. This significant addition to the supply chain modules provides out-of-the-box wireless warehouse capability for all major inventory-based processes. Then D365 saw the wireless mobile app completely rewritten and improved.

Unfortunately, if you were already live on AX using the old WMS I or WMS II modules, then switching across was not an easy process. The most practical option available was to create new items and warehouses. But this was a huge undertaking, which left behind a historical mess of master and transactional data.

Thankfully, Microsoft now have out-of-the-box tools for converting across. Here’s some information taken straight from the Dynamics roadmap website:

“During a data upgrade, products are blocked if they are associated with a storage dimension group with the Pallet ID inventory dimension active. However, after the upgrade, you can use a set of migration options in the Change storage dimension group for items process to unblock products that were blocked during upgrade. As part of this process you can also use the Enable warehouse setup process to enable an existing warehouse to be used in warehouse management processes and thereby get the pallet ID migrated to the License plate inventory dimension.

Some of your items might already be associated with storage dimension groups where the Site, Warehouse, and Location inventory dimensions are active and physically tracked. In this case, you can use the Change storage dimension group for items process to enable those items to be used in warehouse management processes. This feature is useful if you want to use the warehouse management functionality for existing items.

4. Prospect to cash integration with Dynamics 365 for Sales

Now there is an out-of-the-box end-to-end integration between D365 Finance and Operations and D365 Sales for the prospect to cash process. Built on the Common Data Service, it utilises the Microsoft technology platform, reducing the need for any bespoke and/or 3rd party solutions.

  • Maintain Accounts in Dynamics 365 for Sales and sync them to Dynamics 365 for Operations as Customers.
  • Maintain Contacts in Dynamics 365 for Sales and sync them to Dynamics 365 for Operations.
  • Maintain Products in Dynamics 365 for Operations and sync them to Dynamics 365 for Sales.
  • Create Quotes in Dynamics 365 for Sales and sync them to Dynamics 365 for Operations.
  • Generate Sales Orders in Dynamics 365 for Sales for existing products and sync them to Dynamics 365 for Operations.
  • Generate Invoices in Dynamics 365 for Operations and sync them to Dynamics 365 for Sales.

5. Managing your Project WBS in MS Project

This is another feature that was in the AX2012 version, but got lost along the way. It’s now back and works perfectly with the new features in the projects module.

Users need to install an add-on into their Microsoft Project app, which can be done from within the Project Management Workspace in D365.

You can then open a work breakdown structure (in draft status only) in Microsoft Project, edit it and publish it back into D365. You can even pull a list of resources directly from D365 to add to your tasks.

Just be sure to restart the Project client after installing the add-in (a trap for new players…)

Top 5 Gems on the Roadmap

These gems are currently in development, and I’ve pulled the information straight from the roadmap website. Microsoft will release more info as we draw closer to the next release, so expect even better improvements along the way.

1. Batch job for releasing material requirements to the shop floor

“A new batch job for releasing BOM and formula lines to the warehouse is in development. This batch job can be set up to release production lines that are scheduled to be consumed within a defined time window.

The process of releasing materials to the warehouse has so far been part of the release step on the production order.

It is now possible to separate the two processes by excluding the release of materials from the production order release step.

Previously, all the production lines were released with the production order. With the use of the new job, the release can be limited to only include materials that are close to their scheduled date of consumption. This is, for example, relevant if materials are scheduled to be consumed on different operations with different scheduled starts.”

2. Partial release of materials and release materials per production operation

“Previously, when a production order was released, all the material for the order was released to the warehouse. In some production scenarios, this is not the optimal process. For example, consider the following scenarios:

  • Production orders where material is consumed on different operation.
  • Long running production orders where materials for the total quantity of the production order cannot be released at once; either because all the material is not available or there is not space enough on the shop floor.

To better support these scenarios, the release process has been enhanced with the following capabilities:

  • Ability to limit the release of materials to an operation or selected operations.
  • Ability to release materials for a partial quantity of finished goods. In process industries, this can, for example, be useful for batch orders where not all the materials that are scheduled for the order can be consumed at once. For example, if you plan to produce 1000 pieces of the finished goods per day or shift, then you can easily limit the release of materials to match the requirement for this quantity.”

3. Project Management integration with the Common Data Service

“Integration with the Common Data Service (CDS) will be provided to support scenarios where project management and resource management activities are done outside of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition and the project accounting activities are done in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition.” 

4. Vendor collaboration improvements

“We aim to bring Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition on parity with the Vendor portal functionality that was available in Dynamics AX 2012 R3. For this objective, we will extend the current Vendor collaboration interface by enabling:

  • Vendor profile visibility/maintenance.
  • RFQ, view, and respond to RFQs.
  • Vendor onboarding, workflow-supported process where the vendor is invited to register based on either an unsolicited signup or an employee’s request.
  • Vendor request, possibility for vendors to request to sell within an additional procurement category.
  • Questionnaire, possibility for vendors to answer questionnaires.
  • Notifications sent to vendors when certain criteria are fulfilled.

5. Browser client – Net promoter score integration

This sounds powerful and leading edge, right? Actually, this is my dud pick. The ‘net promoter score integrator’ is just a fancy way of saying that the solution periodically asks for feedback on the product…

Check out the full list of what’s coming on the Dynamics roadmap website https://roadmap.dynamics.com. It includes all the apps within the D365 family and is constantly updated, so it’s a great source of info on what’s coming.

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