Sunday, May 7, 2017

Ideas for D365? Tell Microsoft!

This blog post is a public service announcement. If you have an idea for how Dynamics 365 for Operations can be improved, Microsoft has a website where end users can tell them what they'd like to see as well as vote on ideas that other users have suggested. Get out there and post your great ideas! Also, there are already several great ideas that have been posted. If you see a life changing idea, be sure to vote it up!

The website where ideas can be submitted to Microsoft and voted on is: https://ideas.dynamics.com/ideas/dynamics-operations

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Horse Race in AX

As many of you may know, I work and reside in beautiful Louisville, Kentucky. One of the best parts of living in this city is that on the first Saturday in May, we host a small gathering of our closest 150,000 friends called the Kentucky Derby. For those of you not familiar with the Kentucky Derby, it's a horse race that's been hailed "the most exciting two minutes in sports."


Photo of me at Churchill Downs
I got to spend some time at the track this week.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Marathon of Implementation

I wrote this article for the AXUG magazine (link to original article here) and felt that it was appropriate to share it again on the eve of yet another half marathon. As many companies are actively considering moving to Dynamics 365, it still maintains its relevance. Here it is, slightly edited to maintain applicability.

The Marathon of Implementation


After being live in AX for over three years now, I can look back on my company’s implementation process and laugh about some of the craziness that occurred during that time. Of course, I now have some space from that process and I have gained a bit of perspective. At the time though, I would not have laughed, and I can empathize with the pain that those of you are feeling that are in the process of implementing AX, Dynamics 365, or any ERP for that matter.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

AX Word of the Week: Inquiries

Inquiries - you see them in almost every module of AX along with the headers Common, Journals, Periodic, Setup, and Reports. If you have ever opened something that was listed under Inquiries, you may have gotten something that kind of reminds you of a report, or a query screen, or even a completely new form.


Inquiries within the produciton module in AX
Inquiries within a module in AX

Thursday, April 13, 2017

AX Word of the Week: ERP


What is an ERP? I am actually asked this question a lot, and for people not well versed or immersed in the world of ERP, it's pretty common to not know what this acronym means.

AX is an ERP


ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. I know, that really cleared it up.

Confused baby
Enterprise resource wha...?

For the simple, down and dirty explanation, I just tell people that it's fancy terminology for an accounting system.

But an ERP is so much more than just an accounting system. If you do a search for ERP, the definitions that are out there can be overwhelming and sound more like they belong in a textbook on ERP Theory.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

AX Word of the Week: FastTab

This week's AX Word of the Week is FastTab. I did not realize it, but I say this word a lot in my blog posts and I have never really explained it. Some people probably know exactly what this is (or have a pretty good idea) but if you ever find yourself wanting to explain navigation in AX to someone, knowing what a FastTab is can truly save you some time.

The FastTab in AX


Thursday, March 16, 2017

AX Word of the Week: Infolog

Ah, the infolog. You are probably very familiar with this if you work in AX in any capacity, but you may not have known what it was called. The infolog is a tool that developers use to communicate issues within the system to users, but you probably are more familiar with it as that %#^$& pop up message that's not letting you do your job.

Image of shocked older woman
Watch your language!

What is an infolog in AX?


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

D365 Tech: AX 2012 Upgrade Path

By far, the most informative session I attended was about the AX 2012 Upgrade Path. This hasn't really made the rounds yet and it's still pretty high level, but the plan seems solid and was very encouraging!

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: The upgrade tools won't be available until July 1, and will start with AX 2012 R3 and move backwards to include functionality for AX 2012 R2 and then AX 2012 RTM.

As of right now, the informally named Upgrade Analyzer is the core of your upgrade from AX 2012. This product effectively helps to analyze, execute, and validate the code and data that you wish to migrate from your 2012 environment through an LCS diagnostic service. The nice thing about it is that it can be used on a backup of your database at any time, so if you want to analyze your data to see what kind of issues may lie ahead, it will be available for you to use!

Getting Started


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

D365 Tech: Licensing and Pricing for Dynamics 365

This topic seemed to cause more confusion than clarification, but it was a session that generated a lot of discussion! Here is what I gleaned from the Licensing and Pricing session I attended.

User types


There are two types of users that get licenses in Dynamics 365, light users and full users. I made the comparison to functional and enterprise users, but I am not convinced that they are the same!

Light users: Get access to Dynamics 365 for Team Members, Enterprise Edition. This means that they get access to all basic functionality. They can execute basic processes and use embedded business intelligence.

Full users: Get access to all Apps - Operations, Sales, Field Service, Customer Service, Project Service Automation, and PowerApps. These users have access to everything, then have to deal with the constraints of security beyond that point.

Pricing


Here is the Pricing that was shown to us:

D365 Tech: Deployment options

When Dynamics 365 for Operations was introduced to the world, it was a stunner because it was meant to be a cloud-based ERP system. Period. This caused quite a bit of commotion amongst the AX user community due to a lot of concerns about the security of data in the cloud and industry regulations regarding location and accessibility of data. When the AX user community balked at the notion of a cloud-only ERP, Microsoft finally agreed to develop a local business data, or on-prem, version of Dynamics 365 for Operations after initially saying that if the users wanted on-prem, they could use Dynamics AX 2012 R3.

During the keynote at D365 Tech and during an in-depth session on deployment options, I was able to get a clearer picture of the offerings that will soon be available. It appears that the cloud version of Dynamics 365 is ready to go as several companies have already implemented this and are moving forward. There is a hybrid model for deployment in addition to the local business data (on-prem) version of Dynamics 365, but neither one is completely ready yet. Keep reading for more info on the deployment options available for users.

Screenshot of deployment options for Dynamics 365
I snapped this photo of a slide shown during the keynote. Great information!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The D365 Tech Conference

Yes, I am in Seattle this week for the D365 Tech Conference! Don't worry though, I am not completely abandoning my AX followers for Dynamics 365 for Operations. I know that there will be people using AX for years to come and I will continue to provide content for AX users as long as I am using AX. But this week, I am all about Dynamics 365.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

AX Word of the Week: Contoso

Ok, so maybe this isn't TRULY an AX word, but anyone who has ever used an AX demo environment has seen the word Contoso.

So, what is Contoso?


Contoso is the Microsoft demo company that is used to show the functionality of AX. It's not just limited to AX though. You may see Contoso pop up in other products as well! Contoso is a very diverse company. It sells everything from HDMI cables to orange juice. And if you visit their website, www.contoso.com, you might be redirected to another large corporation's official website.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

AX Word of the Week: X++

In my AX Word of the Week post last week on the AOT, I briefly mentioned the code in AX that developers work with to make the system work as intended. Well, that programming language, X++, is the AX Soup Word of the Week!

X++


X++ is the AX programming language, and is most similar to the programming language C#.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Number Sequences: The Building Block of AX Transactions

One thing that is easily overlooked as one of the basic building blocks of all transactions within AX is the number sequence. A poorly built number sequence will cause headaches, confusion, and unnecessary stress.

A Number sequence in AX is set up so that records requiring identifiers can have unique identifiers that are easy to understand tied to them. They are typically tied to transactional records and master data.

Number Sequence Information in AX


Number sequences are set up in the Organization administration module under Organization administration > Common > Number sequences. There are unique number sequences for each company within your organization, so there is a possibility that you have hundreds, or even thousands, of number sequences set up in your AX environment.

screenshot of number sequences. In demo environment, there are over 23,000 number sequences!
This is just the beginning of the list in my demo environment. There are 23,384 unique number sequences set up for 24 demo companies.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

AX Word of the Week: AOT

The AX Word of the Week this week is AOT, another acronym! Not to be confused with last week's word of the week, AOS, the AOT is quite different.

AOT - Application Object Tree


The AOT, or the Application Object Tree, is the back end of your AX environment. This is where all of the code, the tables, and all of the objects defined in AX reside. Typically, you will hear a developer or a system administrator talk about the AOT. The typical AX user does not have access to the AOT, so this blog post will be a very high level overview of what the AOT is. This will be helpful for the next time you hear someone talking about it, you might be able to hang with the conversation a little bit longer.


AOT Structure in AX


Thursday, February 16, 2017

AX Word of the Week: AOS

Ok, this is kind of a cheater here because it's actually three words, but it's something that you might hear your System administrator or your IT Department throw around. So what is an AOS?

AOS - Application Object Server


The Application Object Server is one piece of three that make up your AX architecture. The three pieces that make up the AX architecture are the database, the AOS, and the client. The AOS manages the connection between the database and the client and is on its own server(s). If the server that the AOS is on crashes or has any issues, this is the message that users who are trying to log in to AX will see:

Communication error infolog that says "The Application Object Server is unavailable. Check your configuration and network connection and try again."
This error always elicits a lot of groans and calls to IT.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New Post Series: AX Word of the Week

Keep an eye out for a new weekly post from me called AX Word of the Week. In these posts, I will take a word or phrase that you may have heard about in AX and give you a definition for it that is easy to understand.

I have had a lot going on lately, so this will help me stay in touch with my blog on a more regular basis. I also have a couple of great post ideas lined up for the future. Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Logging in as a Different User

A great tip to help users when they have to switch between logins, whether testing user functionality or working with another user on training, is the Run as different user function. There are many different reasons why you may want to log in as a different user. Your coworker or manager might want to log in from your PC and show you something or make a quick change to something that was posted incorrectly. It's always a best practice to work from your own login when in AX so that the records you touch in the system are tied to your username, but there will always be circumstances where it would be convenient to have another user log in to AX from your specific instance.

A typical installation of AX will have users set up as Active Directory authenticated. This means that when you log in to your work network with your username and password, your AX login will be automatically authenticated. This is great for ease of use and not having to enter your password every time you want to open AX (especially if you accidentally close AX a lot - we all do it!).

Run as Different User


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

AX Date Shortcuts - More Interesting Than You Think!

My last post, AX Is Better at Math Than I Am, sparked some interesting conversations on social media and in person. Most of it ended up being about the hidden games in AX, but one reader mentioned the date shortcuts as something that people really like to use. I thought that was worthy of a short post, so here goes!

Quick Date Formatting - AX is Still Pretty Smart

Anywhere you can put a date in AX, you can enter it many ways. AX is pretty smart and will try to figure out what your entry means. For example, today's date is January 24, 2017. I have found that I can enter it as any of the following and AX will give me 1/24/2017 in my field:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

AX is Better at Math than I Am

Did you know that AX has a built in calculator? You can access it under File > Tools > Calculator.

Screenshot of AX calculator
All AX installations come standard with Calculator.

But even though that is a sweet feature, that is not what my post is about. I am here to tell you today that AX is better at math than either of us and if you don't know about the functionality I am about to share with you, I guarantee that it will put a smile on your face.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hide Unwanted Modules

When you look at the module list in AX, it can seem very large and overwhelming, especially if you only touch one or two modules in the system as part of your daily tasks. You may long for a way to hide some of these extra modules that you never use just to clear up some screen real estate and make system navigation easier on yourself. Well, I bring good news! Hiding modules in AX is extremely easy to do and anyone can do it.

Hiding Unused Modules in AX


Navigate from any screen to File > View > Modules. From there, a full list of all modules in AX will open up and you will see most, if not all, checked.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Units and Unit Conversions

AX is very customizable, even for the quirkiest of situations. You could work for a company that has an item with a strange unit of measure (UOM) that isn't in the standard list of units that come with AX. You can add that new unit to your list of units in AX and still sell it, purchase it, inventory it - anything you can do to an item in AX can be done with your item that has a unique UOM! You can even create conversions between units that will help when you have a situation that requires it. Keep reading to find out more.

Creating a New Unit in AX


Units can be found in Organization administration > Setup > Units > Units. Here you will find the full list of Units that are available to use in AX. You can also see the parameters assigned to each unit such as Unit class, Decimal precision, and whether or not it's United States customary or Metric. 

Image of the Units form in AX with list of all available units on the left.
This is where we define Units in AX.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Automatic Clean Up of Alerts

Alerts in AX can be a beautiful thing, but sometimes unused alerts can be ignored and build up in the system's EventInbox, causing issues and system latency if it gets too out of hand. You might have a problem when you are looking at someone's PC and they have 14,236 unread alerts in AX. Do not fear though! There is always an answer to these types problems and I have come across a beauty that I am going to share.

Alerts are something that your System Administrator should be cleaning up on a regular basis in System administration > Periodic > Notification clean up. This opens a notification clean-up tool that will clean alerts from every user's alert inbox when it is run. 

An issue arises when the System Administrator goes to run the clean-up tool and if they clean it out as of right this minute, someone might miss an important alert. So the System Administrator has to set up some parameters of when it might be appropriate to clean up alerts and how far back they need to go. 

When I first started cleaning up alerts in my AX environment, I had a reminder in my calendar to clean up alerts every Friday and I would set it with the following parameter so that it would clean up alerts from three weeks prior and older. 

Screenshot of Notification Clean-up with parameters set: Alert created date and time <"12/19/16 01:00:00 pm"
Imagine I am running this today to clean up everything older than three weeks in EventInbox.

This was working pretty well until I stumbled upon this gem in MSDN and put it into place:

Monday, January 2, 2017

Product Attributes - Solving the Mystery


Product attributes in AX can be a mystery. Why are they there? What do they tie to? How do I set them up? Can I have separate product attributes for different types of products?

Within this post, I will break down the mysteries surrounding Product attributes in AX and help bring a better understanding to what this functionality can be used for.

Product Attributes - A Definition


Product attributes are user defined fields that are added to an item record without additional customization to your AX environment. They are found on the Released products form in AX, so they are easily accessible. Product attributes can hold any type of information you would like to store about an item and different item types can definitely hold different types of attributes as long as they are assigned to distinct categories! Attributes in AX are not tied to anything except the Released product and the Procurement category that they are assigned to. They are simply and purely for informational use only.