The New Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 is packed full of functionality for financial and project management

With multi- territory, currency and regulatory operations it’s never been more important to have all critical data in a single, instantly accessible place. Leveraging the data for deeper business insights and better anticipation of needs can create competitive advantage. The new Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 brings the solid financial fundamentals of previous Dynamics AX versions together with Microsoft Power BI, Azure Machine Learning and the Cortana Analytics Suite.

Here are 5 key financial areas of functionality offered in Dynamics AX 7:

1. BUDGET PLANNING AND CONTROL

With Microsoft Dynamics AX 7, budget planning is made straightforward. Use the built-in wizard to create a budget plan worksheet for Microsoft Excel. Customise the flexible configuration options to your organisation’s unique budget management requirements. Instantly calculate available budget funds, pool budgets, and budget workflows for review and approval.

2. FINANCIAL REPORTING

Custom reporting structures are supported, with mapping of ledger accounts or dimensions. Boardroom-standard financial statements and reports can be created and published to multiple channels and formats straight from the desktop. Both transactional and analytical reports can be embedded in customisable dashboards, providing instant insight into the business’ financials.

3.COMPLIANCE AND INTERNAL CONTROLS

Management Reporter in Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 supports the consolidation of multiple legal entities with differing chart of accounts and fiscal periods. The Compliance Centre manages internal controls and organisational processes, and helps ensure adherence to laws, regulations, policies and business rules.

Use Database Logging and Audit Trail to monitor and trace compliance related data fields and tables, and receive alerts for any changes made. Create workflows to automate processes for greater speed and consistency.

4. FINANCIAL WORKSPACES

Accessed through the Dynamics AX 7 dashboard, Workspaces bring together all processes, tasks, business intelligence and people required to carry out specific activities or user-customisable roles.

Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 offers a number of preconfigured Workspaces, such as customer invoicing, financial period close, general journal processing, ledger budgets and forecasts, vendor invoice entry, and vendor payments.

5. PROJECT RESOURCE AND SCHEDULE MANAGEMENT

The new Dynamics AX 7 provides end-to-end project management with enhanced capabilities for finding, matching and assigning available resources; for tracking schedules, costs and manpower utilisation; and for capturing, distributing and approving project time and expenses.

Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 provides greater visibility of costs and resources across legal entities and divisions. Integration with Microsoft Project Server allows the creation of complex projects of any size with hierarchies of multiple sub-projects, and synchronisation with Office 365 for collaboration and sharing of project information.

This is just a small selection of the functionality offered in the new Dynamics AX 7. The latest generation of Microsoft’s premier enterprise resource planning solution enables you to place all your financial and project management processes on a single, unified platform.

The new Dynamics AX 7 provides a real-time view across your entire organisation. It streamlines internal cost accounting and currency translation, and manages the relationships between subsidiaries and the parent organisation.

With Power BI now integrated as the native business intelligence, users can now deploy and customise a ‘Monitor financial performance’ content pack to provide deep-level analytics of financial data and take advantage of the 22 out-of-the box financial reports.

The new role-tailored Workspaces drive productivity, and the browser-based client offers a familiar interface that is easy to learn and operate.

The merger between ERP and the cloud: The New Microsoft Dynamics AX 7

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions have evolved over the years to address changes in business functions, marketplace conditions, and customer demands. We are about to witness another evolution in ERP that merges a powerful, innovative ERP system with cloud technology and this new best of breed solution is commonly known as Microsoft Dynamics® AX 7.

What makes Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 particularly unique is that it was purposely built for the cloud and can be deployed in a public or private cloud, or on-premise if needed. Companies can’t deny the growing popularly of the internet, ecommerce, and mobility which is redefining relationships with prospects and customers. In addition, as younger employees enter the workforce, they are expecting the same level of mobility. Workers want to be able to use their mobile devices in the workplace just as they do when using mobile devices outside the workplace – for research, shopping, entertainment, and working from home. Although cloud-based solutions can be added to on-premise ERP systems, many traditional, on-premises solutions haven’t been able to adapt as quickly to changing business conditions due to inflexible data centers and complex integrations.

Lifecycle services in New Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 delivers faster time to value

With Lifecycle Services (LCS) Microsoft has been changing the way that business software systems are implemented. Now, with the latest iteration, Microsoft Dynamics AX 7, this trend has been taken to the next level.

LCS is a Microsoft Azure-based collaboration portal that provides a unifying, collaborative environment to help customers manage the whole life cycle of their system from planning to implementation to ongoing support. The latest Dynamics AX has taken best practices from enterprise management of mission-critical software. LCS has been extended with new methodologies and best practices driven toolsets for implementation, updates and support. Utilising the capabilities of cloud deployment, modifications and upgrades to the system are first promoted from the development system to the test system before being released to the production system.

Most of the modelling and validation takes place in LCS, before the system, or configuration data or master data, is even deployed. Updates are simplified and accelerated through predefined methodologies, automated testing and code merging. The traditional model of deployment would entail people coming on site, doing software installation and configuration, then tweaking the system. With much of this process possible through the cloud, operational disruption is kept to a minimum.

Ultimately, LCS is about getting your business management system up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible, while reducing the overall risk and interference to business processes.

Together with the new Azure-based telemetry and diagnostics, LCS in Dynamics AX 7 can provide pro-active monitoring and real-time insights that help to optimise system usage and streamline business processes, delivering faster time to value.

Microsoft takes one great step into the intelligent cloud with New Microsoft Dynamics AX 7

At the launch of the new Microsoft Dynamics AX 7, Mike Ehrenberg, Technical Fellow, Microsoft Dynamics ERP, said that their next generation enterprise resource planning (ERP) application suite had been, “reimagined for the cloud-first, mobile first-world”. The simplified branding itself reflects this new philosophy – as a primarily cloud-based service, the product will be regularly updated. Year or version numbers are no longer relevant because the product will always be the latest version.

Microsoft accelerated the cloud integration of its ERP products by incorporating the Dynamics AX development team into its Cloud and Enterprise (C+E) division as part of a comprehensive corporate reorganisation in June 2015.

Every design decision has been focused on delivering optimal cloud deployment. Specifically, deployment to the Azure cloud. However, Microsoft makes a commitment in its roadmap to make the same service available on-premise in a private cloud, a few months down the line. Customers will also have the option of hybrid deployments where, for example, core financials will continue to be run on-premise while other components such as Human Capital Management will be implemented in the cloud. Moreover, with the same Azure fabric maintaining consistency of technology it is easy to move between private and public cloud when dictated by business conditions.

Microsoft has leveraged its Azure-based application life cycle management portal, Lifecycle Services (LCS), to deliver rapid deployment. Implementations, updates or upgrades can be modelled and tested on a development or test system set up parallel with the production system, thus reducing risk and minimising operational disruption.

With Azure Service Level Agreements, users get a guarantee of uptime and built-in disaster recovery in both public and private cloud deployments.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of the cloud is the flexibility to run operations while only paying for the resources actually used. The cloud can deliver more capability on demand. When your organisation requires more computing capacity – a rush of orders come at the end of the day or production peaks in a busy holiday season – the cloud can provide it, and without having to pay for it all the time.

The elasticity of the cloud is also reflected in the simple sign-up experience and straightforward, transparent pricing. The ERP system can be easily scaled to match your organisation’s growth by adding users and business scenarios in a pay-as-you-go model.

One of the most important enhancements of the cloud in the new Dynamics AX is one, perhaps, the end-user will never see. The system has been equipped with advanced telemetry and diagnostics to report on performance and usage. It not only helps engineers to maximise efficiency, but also to identify issues proactively to avoid downtime. The new Microsoft Dynamics AX ensures the power of the intelligent cloud is always at your disposal.

Users of the New Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 enjoy a fresh, modern and productive user experience

The user experience is fundamental to the success of business management software. Quite simply, if an application is not easy and pleasant to use, then end-users will not make the most of it. An intuitive and enjoyable user experience naturally increases productivity. The new Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 user interface (UI) has been transformed to meet modern expectations of design and usability.

The new UI introduces familiar elements of Office 365, providing a visually attractive and immersive experience as well as allowing rapid uptake of new functionality and reducing training costs. A great deal of effort has been put into the optimization of the UI by removing all superfluous clicks, popups and scrolling. This smoother, more efficient UI is delivered through a browser-based HTML5 client enabling access across many platforms, including (soon) mobile apps for Windows 10, Android and iOS. Organisations will be able to build business-specific mobile apps with a mobile SDK and make them available to employees through a private marketplace.

One hundred percent of the business data is available through the HTML5 client, with over five thousand forms redesigned to fit the new interface. Users benefit from the familiarity of a browser-based client which allows them to jump to specific Dynamics AX 7 forms by clicking URLs. For IT administrators the thin client means it is easy to deploy on any machine, and for developers the built-in abstraction layer means controls can be easily developed using Visual Studio.

People feel comfortable using the same software environment at work as they do in their private life and the new Dynamics UI gives them just that, equally with a touchscreen as with the traditional mouse and keyboard. Business applications no longer have to be clunky and unintuitive. Users can now enjoy the same quality of experience as they do when browsing their tablet or mobile phone at home.

The new Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 has been several years in the making. The evolution of the product has resulted in a clean, modern UI which puts the right information at the user’s fingertips when and wherever they require it, and on a device that suits them.

Mike Ehrenberg, Technical Fellow, Microsoft Dynamics ERP, says that he, “doesn’t usually get to use the expression ‘beautiful user experience’ and ERP in the same sentence,” but he believes, “we’ve actually earned the right to do that this time and that’s something we’re really excited about.”

The New Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 is the business management system for the mobile and cloud age

The new product name, simply, Microsoft Dynamics AX, stripped of any version or year association, reflects the new approach: Microsoft’s flagship enterprise resource planning (ERP) application suite has been transformed for today’s commercial environment – cloud-driven and mobile-pervasive. Regular updates to the cloud mean you will always have the latest version.

While most of the business logic has been carried over from AX 2012, the new Dynamics AX has undergone a design overhaul to offer a user experience that looks and works like Microsoft Office. The new user experience is the first of five pillars, fundamental to the product’s transformation.

1. USER EXPERIENCE

With the new Microsoft Dynamics AX 7, Microsoft have leveraged their knowledge from the consumer side into the enterprise space, with Skype and Cortana integration within an Office 365-derived UI to create a whole new, immersive user experience. Able to run in any modern browser, its elegant HTML5-based client has been optimised to eliminate all unnecessary clicking and scrolling, for touch-screen mobile apps as well as traditional keyboard and mouse.

2. BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE

The latest version of Microsoft Dynamics AX sees Power BI integrated as the native business intelligence. Gone are the days when critical decisions are made on last month’s data. Power BI offers close to real-time data delivery. With Power BI embedded into Dynamics AX, a user no longer needs to exit the app to use a separate analytics tool. Power BI ‘tiles’ can be pinned to different workspaces and forms to easily visualize and drill into data.

3. PRODUCTIVITY

The integration of productivity and collaboration tools has been greatly enhanced in the new Microsoft Dynamics AX. Office 365, Power BI, and Skype for Business all interoperate seamlessly with Dynamics AX, driving individual productivity. The introduction of new concepts such as ‘workspaces’ and ‘task guides’ make it easier to personalise the system and take full advantage of functionality while minimising the learning curve.

4. THE CLOUD

The new Microsoft Dynamics AX has been specifically architected for the cloud. The application suite will first run exclusively on the Azure cloud, and will be closely followed up by the ability to deliver the service on an organisation’s on-premise environment. As well as the flexibility the cloud brings to the system, the Azure platform has been equipped with a whole new instrumentation and telemetry which allows for greater proactivity and efficiency of implementation.

5. LIFECYCLE SERVICES

The new release of Microsoft Dynamics AX brings Lifecycle Services (LCS) to the next level. LCS allows the customer and implementation partner to manage the whole life cycle of the project, from planning to post-implementation support. The latest version has added a set of capabilities which bring enterprise best practices to bear on the deployment process.

The new Microsoft Dynamics AX will continue to benefit from a thriving ecosystem of independent solution developers and vendors, and customers will be able to find and sample customised solutions through the Azure Marketplace. Pricing, traditionally a complex area of ERP solutions, has been simplified to provide a transparent and easily scalable pricing model.

Business intelligence in the New Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 just got a lot smarter

Optimal use of data is a key element of business management systems. Any amount of data is useless if it can’t be organised, analysed and accessed to deliver the insights that can drive smarter business decisions. The new Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 brings a whole new dimension to business analytics and intelligence.

The new Dynamics AX has been reengineered to embed Power BI as the native business intelligence tool. This has been achieved through the Power BI and Azure SQL teams implementing in-memory BI to channel Power BI. A significant benefit of sharing the Power BI engine is the removal of performance issues in the process of receiving query answers with real-time data. Instead of relying on last quarter’s or last month’s data, near real-time analytics is now possible.

The full power of BI can also now be accessed without having to leave the Dynamics AX application to use a separate analytics tool. The user can create the analytics within the application and navigate and explore the data, with rich visualisation tools, even drilling down to individual transactions. External data services can also be integrated with historical data in the Dynamics AX system, such as combining clickstream analysis of website forecasting and product recommendations with existing customer sales data.

The new Microsoft Dynamics AX will ship with four BI content packs out of the box:

  • Financial Manager, CFO
  • Practice Manager within service industries
  • Retail
  • Manufacturing

With data cubes replaced by in-memory Power BI capabilities, users can get a snapshot of how the business is doing at any point in time. But the application is a lot smarter than simply collating and displaying data. Taking advantage of Azure’s machine learning capabilities, Power BI opens up the vast possibilities of predictive intelligence.

Future demand can be estimated with the power of Azure machine learning. Combining historical data and calculations with user defined variables such as weather and traffic conditions, predictive intelligence can anticipate potential issues in the supply chain or possible delays in product availability and delivery.

In the retail product, for example, Azure can make product recommendations or suggest the most efficient strategy to replace inventory. Add to this the integration with Cortana that puts critical information even more readily at your fingertips, and Dynamics AX is already delivering the future of business intelligence in the here and now.

Killer productivity tools in the New Microsoft Dynamics AX 7

One of Microsoft’s core initiatives is to drive innovation in business process and productivity, and the new Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 lies at the very heart of that commitment.

The first step is engineering the interoperability between Microsoft platforms to a whole new level of functionality and productivity. The new Dynamics AX interacts seamlessly with Office 365 applications, making it possible, for example, for budget data to be presented in Excel while Dynamics AX manages the process of requesting and approving, all the time maintaining a live connection to keep the data up to date. Fields can be modified and deleted directly from Microsoft Excel before submitting the data back to Dynamics AX. Add to this the collaboration and analytic capabilities of Skype for Business and Power BI and the new Microsoft Dynamics AX brings an extremely powerful set of integrated tools to the productivity table.

A concept that leverages all these capabilities is ‘Workspaces’. The introduction of the Workspace takes full advantage of the new level of interoperability. A Workspace is an enhanced role centre that pulls together all the data, analytics, processes and people necessary to address complex tasks and processes. It is for all employees who like to personalise their workflows, but particularly useful for those who have specialised roles or tasks.

There are dozens of pre-defined Workspaces available out of the box. An HR manager, for example, can bring together and control all their tasks across the organisation. In the retail environment there are Workspaces set up for category and product management, prices and discounts, catalogue management, and channel deployment and operations, allowing the central management of all processes connected with channel deployment, operations and retail IT operations. The browser-based UI allows the user to open multiple windows from their Workspace side by side, further enhancing the user experience and productivity.

With the new Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft have leveraged their knowledge from the consumer side into the enterprise space, and one aspect of this is the integration of Cortana with another new feature called ‘task guides’.

Task guides allow experienced users to create step-by-step walkthroughs of processes which can be later searched and accessed from a library. A new user will be guided around the screen with visual cues on where to click and what to enter. It is a built-in, instantly accessible training resource enabling novice users to rapidly learn functionality. The task guide’s metadata is stored as an xml file, making it available for testing and documenting purposes, and through Cortana integration making it possible to drive the application by voice. By telling Cortana, “Create a new sales order,” the system will search the library and run the appropriate task guide.

The Cortana integration does not stop there. Just as on your phone Cortana will alert you when to leave for an appointment based on weather and traffic data, the same predictive intelligence can be applied in business applications, for example, to notify you of a problem in the supply chain or a lack of inventory.

With the introduction of these new features the new Microsoft Dynamics AX makes it even easier for users to work better and smarter.

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