Implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations

4.7 (11 reviews total)
By Rahul Mohta , Yogesh Kasat , JJ Yadav
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  1. Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics 365

About this book

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition, is a modern, cloud-first, mobile-first, ERP solution suitable for medium and large enterprise customers.

This book will guide you through the entire life cycle of a implementation, helping you avoid common pitfalls while increasing your efficiency and effectiveness at every stage of the project.

Starting with the foundations, the book introduces the Microsoft Dynamics 365 offerings, plans, and products. You will be taken through the various methodologies, architectures, and deployments so you can select, implement, and maintain Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition. You will delve in-depth into the various phases of implementation: project management, analysis, configuration, data migration, design, development, using Power BI, machine learning, Cortana analytics for intelligence, testing, training, and finally deployment, support cycles, and upgrading. This book focuses on providing you with information about the product and the various concepts and tools, along with real-life examples from the field and guidance that will empower you to execute and implement Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition.

Publication date:
September 2017
Publisher
Packt
Pages
562
ISBN
9781787283336

 

Chapter 1. Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics 365

Organizations need a system of records to manage data, control it, and use it for their growth. This often leads to embracing business applications for managing their resources well and keep improving. Traditionally, this used to happen via software installed at the customer's location; it later evolved to hosting either internally or at the partner's premises. Now, in this modern world, it has transformed into leveraging the power and elasticity of the cloud.

Dynamics 365 is a cloud service from Microsoft, combining several business needs into a single, scalable, and agile platform, allowing organizations to bring in the much-needed digital disruption.

This chapter will introduce you to Microsoft Dynamics 365 and share the details of various apps, solution elements, buying choices, and complimentary tools. We hope you will get an insight into various tools, offerings, and options provided by Microsoft in Dynamics 365. This may help you in your business transformation initiatives, and solution and platform evaluation, spanning Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Business Intelligence (BI).

Let's explore the topics we are to cover in chapter:

  • What is Microsoft Dynamics 365?
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 apps
  • Complimenting/supporting tools with Microsoft Dynamics 365
  • Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition (AX)
  • Trail and Buying Microsoft Dynamics 365
 

What is Microsoft Dynamics 365?


To understand Dynamics 365, let's first understand Microsoft Cloud competencies and the overall cloud vision. Microsoft Cloud has numerous offerings and services; Microsoft these offerings into four broad categories, namely Modern Workplace, Business Applications, Application and Infrastructure, and Data & AI. Each of these categories of multiple applications services.

The following are the visual highlights of these four categories:

As shown in the preceding visual, Modern Workplace combines Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility and Security, and it is offered as Microsoft 365. The Business Applications category is a combination of ERP and CRM business applications and is offered as Dynamics 365. The third category is Cloud Application and Infrastructure, which is powered by Azure. The last category, Data & AI, deals with data, AI, and analytics.

Turning our focus back to the Business Applications category, in the business application word, business leaders are looking for greater business process automation to achieve digital transformation. What gets in the way today is monolithic application suites, which try to solve business process automation as a single application; you need modular applications built for a specific purpose, but at the same time, you need these applications to talk to each other and produce a connected graph of data that can be further used for AI and analytics. Microsoft, from the past several years, has been focused on building modern world purpose-built modular, integrated applications infused with AI and analytics capabilities.   

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the next generation of intelligent business applications in the Cloud. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a unification of the current CRM and ERP Cloud solutions into one Cloud service, delivered by purpose-built applications. It enables end-to-end business processes driven by unified navigation, has a core user experience in how they look and feel, and also allows seamless integration with each other. Microsoft Dynamics 365 further extends Microsoft's commitment of being a cloud-committed company bringing in world-class business apps together in their overall cloud offering. The Dynamics 365 applications can be independently deployed. A customer can start with what they need, and as the business demands, the customer can adopt additional applications.

Many of you may be new to Microsoft Dynamics 365, and it would be a good idea to register the logo/brand image of this solution from Microsoft. The following is a common symbol that you should expect to gain a lot of traction among organizations embracing business applications in Microsoft Cloud:

Let's now explore the key deciding factors for adopting Microsoft Dynamics 365 in your organization's day-to-day life, with the help of its usage benefits and salient features.

The benefits of Microsoft Dynamics 365

Any business application and its platform decision is often on benefits, return on investment, and the commitment of product principal with an assured road map. We would like to share the top three among several benefits of leveraging Dynamics 365 as your business solution platform:

  • Productivity like never before with purpose-built applications
  • A powerful and highly adaptable platform to enable business transformation effectively
  • Integrated applications to eliminate data silos  
  • Insightful intelligence to drive informed decision making

Microsoft Dynamics 365 salient features

What makes Microsoft Dynamics 365 stand apart from its competition and enabler for organizations lies in its features, capabilities, and offerings.

Here's a quick glance at the salient features of Dynamics 365:

  • Cloud-driven, browser-based application
  • Generally made available on November 01, 2016 to a number of markets
  • Seamlessly integrated with Office 365, all out of the box, to increase productivity and stand apart from others
  • Intelligence built in for predictive analysis and decision making support
  • Releveled and revolutionized the traditional approach towards business solutions

Dynamics 365 is the next generation of intelligent business applications in the Cloud (public and private) as well as on premises, expected to transform how businesses use technological solutions to achieve their goals.

 

Microsoft Dynamics 365 apps


The Microsoft Dynamics 365 approach to business applications Microsoft's current CRM and ERP cloud solutions into one cloud service with new purpose-built business applications that work together seamlessly to help you manage specific business functions.

Let's now get an insight at a high level into the various apps available in Dynamics 365. The following visual shows the apps and their association to ERP/CRM:

Now let's personal these starting their names, their solution base, and their brand logos. The following are the matrix of business solution enablers in Microsoft Dynamics 365 with their quick URL:

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales (popularly known as Dynamics CRM)

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/sales

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service (popularly known as Dynamics CRM)

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/customer-service

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service (popularly known as Dynamics CRM)

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/field-service

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation (popularly as Dynamics CRM)

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/project-service-automation

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition (popularly as Dynamics AX)

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/operations

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Business edition (also known as Project Madeira and on known Dynamics NAV)

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/financials

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Talent

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/talent

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Retail

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/retail

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/marketing

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer insights

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/customer-insights

 

In subsequent sections, we elaborating apps, giving a introduction them and a summary of their key features.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales

Dynamics 365 for Sales empowers the sales in new and exciting ways by helping them sell more and faster.

The following is a visual from one of the screens showing a configurable dashboard from Dynamics 365 for Sales:

Dynamics 365 for Sales has a built-in digital intelligence and automated business processes to increase revenue while controlling acquisition costs. It allows you to win new and repeat business using a personalized sales process, allowing your sales team to quickly and easily use it day in and day out. By measuring the past and identifying leading indicators for future sales, it helps in maximizing your sales team's performance by reducing distractions and helping them focus on the priorities.

We would like to give a full suite coverage of modules/capabilities in Dynamics 365 for Sales with the help of the following visual:

As shown above, there are several modules/capability areas spanning Customers, Sales, Collateral, Marketing and other tools.

Also, identification of customers with the most potential and basing strategic decisions on digital intelligence is a great asset here. Personalizing every engagement is needed to gain insights into buyer's decision and using that insight for efficient sales management is possible with Dynamics 365 for Sales. Your sales team will be empowered to close deals faster by collaboration, application of contextual insights, and the ability to work anytime, anywhere with the tools they need.

We would like to share the top in Dynamics 365 for Sales, which are as follows:

  • Full suite opportunity management
    • Generation of new leads
    • Content collaboration
  • Social selling capabilities
    • People enabler to share knowledge and participate in social conversations
  • High visibility to information contest results
  • Onsite services
  • Motivates users to perform their best for themselves and their teams
  • Increases performance, productivity, and adoption
  • Efficiently manage customers
  • Actionable insights into your organization sales performance

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service

Dynamics 365 for Customer Service is an omni-channel solution unify the way customers and prospects experience your business. Similar to Dynamics 365 for Sales, there are a number of dashboards in Dynamics 365 for Customer Service as well. The following image depicts one of the dashboards:

One can create consistency and loyalty at all touch points across various experience channels such as self-service, peer-to-peer service, and assisted service. It also proactively addresses the issues by detecting the customers’ intent and social sentiment. Expect an increase in CSAT (customer satisfaction) and retention by providing personalized and consistent engagements and proactive addressing of service issues. We would like to give a full suite coverage of the modules/capabilities in Dynamics 365 for Customer Service with the help of the following visual:

As shown in the preceding image, there are several modules/capability areas spanning Customers, Service, Collateral, and other tools.

Empower your customer service agents to gain actionable insights into customers' case histories, preferences, and feedback and provide guidance on entitlements and service-level agreements. When agents respond quickly to customer and market changes, you get the power of an agile, Cloud-based environment that has digital intelligence built in.

We would like to share the top features of Dynamics 365 for Service as follows:

  • Full suite omni-channel experience
  • Agent enablement platform
  • Leverage relevance search to quickly find information for better service experience
  • Enable teams to perform customer oriented activities efficiently and timely
  • Enabling customer for self service capabilities
  • Knowledge and community management

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service

Dynamics 365 for Field Service is the new Microsoft Field Service application drastically reduces your service costs and improves customer satisfaction. Similar to Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 for Customer Service, there are a number of useful dashboards in Dynamics 365 for Field Service. Here is one such dashboard, utilized for scheduling the field staff:

The new solution is an intelligent, world-class Field Service, which includes scheduling, mobile, and resource optimization. This helps in maximizing efficiency, minimizing costs, and improving customer satisfaction.

We would like to give a full suite coverage of the modules/capabilities in Dynamics 365 for Field Service with the help of the following visual:

As shown above, there are several modules/capability areas spanning Sales, Service Delivery, Inventory & Purchase, and other tools.

The following are the top of Dynamics 365 for field service:

  • Optimize scheduling and dispatch
  • Improve resource productivity
  • Management and execution of services
  • Asset and warranty management
  • Mobility suite
  • Service and Inventory management
  • 360-degree customer centric experience enabler
  • Leverage Internet of Things (IoT) to enable preemptive from field service agents by connecting asset monitoring and anomaly detection so that action can be taken before failures occur, avoiding customer service issues

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation

Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation (PSA) lets you your project-based business productively and profitably.  You can create and execute more profitable projects and customer relationships and satisfy your clients. Similar to other Dynamics 365 apps, there are a number of useful dashboards in Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation as well. The following screenshot depicts one such dashboard:

It helps in deepening customer engagement and building a trusted customer relationship by developing credibility and increasing customer confidence through a responsive engagement model. It also empowers your professionals with a collaboration-rich experience, enabling transparency across the business and empowering them to use their expertise to increase project productivity with every customer. It also helps you in prioritizing, innovation, and investment in service offers based on actionable insight.

We would like to give a full suite coverage of the modules/capabilities in Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation with the help of the following visual:

As shown above, there are several modules/capability areas spanning Customers, Sales, Billing, Planning and Delivery and other tools. Here are the the top features in Dynamics 365 for service automation:

  • Contract management
  • Resource management
  • Time and expense management
  • A number of capabilities in opportunity management
  • Planning and collaboration platform for resources
  • Team collaboration
  • Customer billing
  • Powerful unified resource scheduling
  • Enhanced service billing experience
  • Optimum talent utilization
  • Analytics in project performance

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition (AX)

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise is a complete re-architecture of Dynamics AX to be a Cloud-first Azure service.  Microsoft offered users an interface that is so natural to use that they just use it with an accelerated adoption, thereby raising productivity.

Working seamlessly anywhere on any device and on any platform is among the key features that make Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition a game changer.

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition (AX) offers a wide variety of role-specific dashboards and work spaces to make work life easier for folks using day in and day out. The following screenshot shows a dashboard comprising of several work spaces in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition (AX):

One can imagine a usage choice and Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition addresses it:

  • Enterprise: End-to-end solution that manages the financials and core operations for a company
  • 2-Tier Subsidiary: Solution that manages the financials and operations for subsidiaries or business units and integrates with the headquarters ERP
  • Operational Workloads: Manages specific business functions/workloads of a business and integrates with corporate systems

It would be so nice to get a glimpse of all workloads available in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition (AX) suggesting their core functionality. The following diagram shows a full-suite visual for various workloads:

As shown in the preceding diagram, there are several modules/capability areas spanning different workloads viz. vertical, horizontal/operational and administrative. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition (AX) offers several deployment choices to its customers, suggesting the following options:

  • Public Cloud/Azure:
    • Fully Cloud
    • Edge mode (Cloud and local)
  • Private Cloud
  • On-premise

We will be getting into the details of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition (AX) throughout this book; however there are a few key features that are with other business apps as follows:

  • Full-suite business management solution including enterprise class ERP functionalities with powerful financials
  • Evolution of Dynamics AX on Azure
  • Multiple industry capabilities viz. retail, distribution, manufacturing, public sector, and service industries; all built in a single solution
  • Availability in 18 countries/markets with local compliance met and local language support
  • Choice of running solution on the cloud (public/private) or on the premises

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Business edition (NAV)

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operation, Business edition is than accounting software. It is a comprehensive business management solution for small and mid-sized organizations that automates and streamlines business processes. Its pay-as-you-go enterprise-grade software can scale from one to unlimited users making it amongst the most scalable cloud accounting solutions.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for financials also has dashboards similar to the role drive dashboards in other Dynamics 365 apps:

It helps in the easy migration of the existing business data from a legacy system. Dynamics NAV is the pedigree that the Dynamics 365 for Financials platform was built on.

As of July 2017, Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operation, Business edition is available in the United States and Canada and soon other countries are expected as well from Microsoft. It is licensed by named users and has the option to choose between full user and limited user access.

Among several features in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operation, Business edition, the following some of the key features for your platform evaluation: 

  • Comprehensive business management solution for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)
  • As of July 2016, available in the USA and Canada
  • A business management solution for small and mid-sized organizations that automates and streamlines business processes

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Retail

Earlier, a part of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Retail is now separated as its own application part of the Dynamics 365 product portfolio. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Retail provides an intelligent platform to enable retailers to combine the best of digital and in-store to deliver personal, seamless, and differentiated customer experiences by empowering people capturing insights to drive growth.

The following screenshot depicts a point of sale (POS) solution:

The following are the key of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Retail:

  • Personalize customer experiences throughout stores, web, mobile, and call centers
  • Provide convenient, flexible ways to shop, such as in-store pickup or home delivery
  • Offer cross-channel incentives, such as loyalty programs, gift cards, and promotions
  • Deliver better services by giving employees access to real-time product, customer, inventory, and order details
  • Offer more product selection and recommendations by blending the best of online and in-store shopping
  • Get more control over store operations through automation and advanced operational capabilities
  • Give customers the flexibility to buy in store, pick up in other locations, or have it delivered to their doorstep
  • Improve employee productivity thorough schedules, time clock, and manager dashboards
  • Simplify sales and promotional efforts by centrally managing your products and promotions
  • Attract more customers by managing your assortments by channel and personalized offers
  • Drive revenue by creating and targeting catalogs across channels, customers, and seasons
  • Optimize fulfillment and enable the right level of inventory at right locations
  • Get a centralized and cohesive view of your entire operations
  • Finish end-of-day activities faster using automated and streamlined workflows
  • Meet your changing business needs with a solution built for multi-company, multi-brand, and multi-channel global operations
  • Take advantage of the latest innovations and opportunities with continuous application updates

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Talent

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Talent was an earlier part of the Finance Operations, Enterpise edition and is now a separate SaaS-based independent offering out of Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition. If you have Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition, you already have the Talent application. Dynamics 365 for Talent brings your human capital management to the cloud for a mobile, employee-focused, strategic HR approach that helps you find and hire the right people, nurture success, and deliver high-impact, sustainable results.

The following is a talent solution dashboard showing various modules and capabilities:

At the high level, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Talent has the following modules and high-level functions.

Human resources

The human resources module's focus is to streamline the resource management process. Here are the functionalities at a high level:

  • Centralized HR programs such as benefits, leave and absent management, and compliance
  • Create a personalized career path. Build competencies to meet future career demand. Increase employee engagement and satisfaction.
  • Benefits and compensation management. Integration with payroll system 
  • Powerful analytics

Attract 

The Attract experience allows you to build candidate profiles, manage the interview process and shorten the time to hire.

  • Integrates with LinkedIn to find and source top candidates
  • Create accurate profiles by integrating disparate data
  • Interview scheduling (coordinate calendars, automate the scheduling process, communicate with candidates on expectations)
  • Allow interviewers to easily provide feedback from a mobile device or desktop
  • Keep hiring managers in the loop at every stage

Onboard

The Onboard experience aims to enable a seamless on-boarding experience accelerates the productivity and business impact of new hires.

  • Create personalized pre-boarding and on-boarding plans
  • Share critical resources and information to get your new hire productive
  • Create on-boarding milestones and task lists
  • Identify critical contacts and help make connections
  • Monitor the success of on-boarding progress

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing

Dynamics 365 for Marketing is a comprehensive marketing service can be leveraged to delight customers and personalize their experiences of your company/brand.

This is a unique service/app in Dynamics 365 targeting a crucial aspect in any organization: growth viz. marketing. The following is the landing page in Dynamics 365 for marketing:

As shown in the preceding screenshot, there are several modules/capability areas spanning Customers, Collateral,Marketing, and other tools. It integrates with Adobe Marketing Cloud to deliver powerful customer experiences and give a holistic customer view. This unified customer profile is the foundation for building and running integrated, cross-channel marketing.

Your marketing teams can provide one-to-one personalized communications and send offers that automatically adapt to a customer's behavior. You can also orchestrate coordinated campaigns different channels and measure return on investment (ROI) across the board.

This offering is expected to evolve in the same way as the other Dynamics 365 services/apps and we like you to make a note of the following key features for Dynamics 365 for Marketing: 

  • Comprehensive service to address modern marketing needs
  • Collaboration with Adobe for Marketing Cloud
  • Easily and effectively model and manage customer journeys across marketing and sales, lead management across marketing and sales

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer insights

Dynamics 365 Customer insights is on top of Azure and Cortana Intelligent. It leverages data services and connects your Dynamics 365 data with any other data source. This enables you to have a 360 view of your customer and to better understand and engage with them.

Managing customers is amongst the dearest goals in any enterprise, and leveraging the Dynamics 365 for Customer insights gives you the power to gain a 360-degree perspective of your customers with actionable information:

Once the relationship assistant is enabled, you can review action cards that will automatically become available in the social pane in several primary records such as opportunities, accounts, cases, and so on. It uses the information derived from interactions to help guide your customer facing team's daily work, find critical opportunities, manage email communications, identify actionable email messages, and propose follow up activities.

The following are the salient features of Dynamics 365 customer insights:

  • Intelligent customer analytics
  • Transform customer data into intelligence
  • Completely new solution connecting and analyzing data from Dynamics 365 with business applications, web, social, and IoT sources
  • Predictive intelligence applied to create a 360-degree customer view with automatic suggestions to improve customer engagement.
 

Complimenting/supporting tools with Microsoft Dynamics 365


Dynamics 365 is complimented with tools to make it more personalized easy for information consumption and informed decision making. Power BI, PowerApps, and Microsoft Flow are all backed by the best-in-class cloud services for enterprise developers and IT professionals to quickly extend capabilities for power users and scale to enterprise-wide manageability easily at any time.

Let's have a visual overview of additional apps/services/tools which could be utilized to measure information, act upon task, and automate stuff as much as possible. The following screenshot shows the apps, Power BI, PowerApps, and Microsoft Flow, addressing each of the aforementioned capabilities:

Let's now explore all of these tools one by one.

Power BI

Power BI is a powerful analytical visualization power users to quickly insights into information over cloud or on their premises. It works with Microsoft Dynamics 365 to provide a self-service analytics solution. With Power BI built directly into Dynamics 365, you gain access to powerful business intelligence – real-time on any device no matter where you are in the world – with rich visuals, charts and graphics.

Power BI also has data warehouse capabilities including data preparation, data discovery, and interactive dashboards and can be embedded on most Azure Cloud platforms. The following screenshot shows a sample dashboard from Power BI with several informational parts such as charts, trends, values, tables, and many more:

PowerApps

PowerApps is a mobile app with capabilities power users with faster time to delivery. It is the foundation to build any web/mobile application on top of Dynamics 365 solutions without writing any significant code.

Let's have a glimpse of a sample mobile app built in no time and ready for usage by business. The following screenshot shows an app built on top of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition (AX) and its data entities:

This app is expected to create the much needed disruption in how ERP and CRM data are used.

Microsoft Flow

Flow is the new workflow of Microsoft Cloud helping in quickly designing time consuming task or process as either a complex multi-step process sequence, or a simple one-step task. It is going to be seen more in areas of notifications, sync, and automating  approvals. Let's have a look at the chain of events which is so easy to establish in Microsoft Flow as follows:

Flow supports a wide variety of data sources to connect to external world applications seamlessly and the list is increasing as you are reading this book.

Common Data Service (CDS)

Common Data Service (CDS) is a shared database for storing business that connects to Dynamics 365, Flow, and PowerApps. It is the fabric behind Dynamics 365 and Office 365 to provide consistently structured entities across services spanning solutions Dynamics 365 as well as external applications.

CDS gives a secure and encrypted business database, comprising of well-formed standard business entities that can be deployed for use in your organization. It provides structured metadata, rich data types, auto numbering, lookups, business data types, such as Address, Currency, capabilities, such as referential integrity, through metadata configuration, and cascade deletes, making a compelling functionality. CDS is licensed together with PowerApps as a standalone solution and is included in two different versions with Dynamics 365.

The following is a glimpse of managing entities within CDS with other tools such as connections, gateways, notifications, and others:

Microsoft AppSource

Think of an ecosystem in cloud which can act a single destination business users to discover, try, and acquire line-of-business SaaS applications. That is what Microsoft AppSource is and we see it as a great platform for partners having niche expertise in a specific subject to build, show and sell their expertise and solution on Cloud.

Let's see how the AppSource landing screen looks. The following is a visual showing the AppSource search page along with solution offerings by partners related to one or many Dynamics 365 apps:

Consider AppSource as an application store, where businesses will be able to find and try out line-of-business SaaS apps from Microsoft and its partners.

AppSource also provides a list of implementation partners who can assist customers in implementing these business apps. Currently, it hosts more than 80 apps for Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition (AX).

For customers, Microsoft AppSource is your destination to easily find and evaluate the apps from Microsoft and our partners that drive your business. Use AppSource to review the details of business application, request trial through implementation partner.

For ISVs, Microsoft AppSource is destination to market line-of-business (LoB) SaaS apps to business users. Drive discoverability and usage of your apps within an existing global network of business customers through co-marketing opportunities, lead generation, and the support of Microsoft's worldwide ecosystem and sales force. Harness Azure's leading, secure, and intelligent Cloud services platform and tools to deliver differentiated apps to customers:

The preceding image shows the landing page and solution across industry segments for ease in locating the perfect solution. To learn more about it, you can visit https://appsource.microsoft.com.

 

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition (AX)


Earlier in this chapter we learned about, Microsoft Dynamics 365 offering and all different components and options available with the offering.  Our focus of this book is on Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition. Throughout the book we will be focusing on Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition as product and will go through different phases of ERP implementation cycle in various chapters. We will discover specific tools and techniques applicable to implement it successfully in organizations. In this section, you will learn a little more more about Finance and Operations, its history and highlights.

What is Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition?

As we learned earlier in the chapter, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for and Operations is an ERP offering out of Dynamics 365 enterprise edition. To clarify further, the following image shows how Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations fits into the overall Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition offering. Finance and operations enterprise edition is is available under enterprise edition Dynamics 365 Plan or Unified Operations Plan:

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations is a modern ERP system built for cloud-first with two decades of proven business functionalities. Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operation is designed for mid-size and large enterprise customers, and is a multi-language, multi-currency Enterprise resource planning solution. Finance and Operations is available in 138 countries and supports more than 40 languages and country specific localization out of the box. On one side, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition seamless integration with Office 365 takes productivity to a new level, on the other hand, out-of-the-box integration with Power BI, Cortana analytics, and machine learning takes decision making to another level. 

History of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations may be a new name it has been around for the last two decades. Finance and Operations, in the past, was known as Microsoft Dynamics AX and Axapta. It was originally developed by IBM and Danish company Damgard in 1998 and released with the name, IBM Axapta. Later Damgard bought out IBM and got exclusive rights for Axapta. In the year, 2000, Damgard merged with Navision and the product became Navision Axapta. Microsoft acquired Navision in 2002 and Navision became part of the Microsoft Business solution group. Navision Axapta was now called Microsoft Navision Axapta. In 2004, Microsoft released the first major version and renamed the product to Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0. Other releases under Microsoft are Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 and AX 2012. In February 2016 Microsoft released the new cloud based modern version with the new name, Microsoft Dynamics AX, later renamed to Dynamics 365 Operations to get into the brand of Dynamics 365 and now called Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition.

The following diagram highlights the history of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition over the last two decades:

The history of ERP products is important to understand the product growth in the past both in terms of functionality and implemented best practices. The history of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations from the last two decades shows the story of growth from an ERP system for small businesses to a tier 1 ERP system for global enterprises.

Highlights of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations 

The following topics describe the of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations:

  • Modern: Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition is a modern, cloud-first, and mobile-first ERP solution. Microsoft has completely rewritten the technology platform and user interface from its previous version, Dynamics AX 2012. Just to name few advancement, new version comes with; cloud-first Azure deployment, modern HTML 5 client, mobile app, Power BI integration and modern integration capabilities and so on.
  • Work anywhere, anytime, and on any device: The new user experience is optimized for multiple platforms and mobile apps. The clean, modern and intuitive browser-based UI is a pleasure to use and easy to learn. All business logic is available any time, any place, on any device.
  • Business Intelligence: Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition brings the power of Cloud to light up state of the art business intelligence options such as Power BI, Cognitive services, and artificial intelligence. Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations comes with a near real-time operational data store called entity store for analytics and BI reporting. Entity store uses in memory, clustered columnstore index (CCI) functionality that is built into Microsoft SQL Server to optimize reporting and queries.  Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition comes with many out of the box Power BI content packs from Microsoft and also provides the ability for partners and customers to author their power bi content pack and distribute it through the market place.  
  • Productivity: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition keeps the productivity as core on its product and user interface design. Integration with productivity tools such as Office 365 has taken things to a new level, and the ability for business users to use their favorite apps such as Excel to export, edit, and publish data back to an application has never been so easy. New concept workspaces takes productivity to a new level by providing information around a process. All the dependencies and answers to questions around a given process are available through a single page. Task guides make it easier to on board new staff and train them on process with step by step instructions while minimizing the learning curve.
  • Predictable and repeatable implementations: Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition brings Lifecycle Services (LCS) to the next level. With LCS customer and implementation partners can manage their application Lifecycle and move predictable, repeatable, and high quality implementations. LCS is mandatory for any implementation project and allows customers and implementation partners to manage their implementation project from the project planning, deployment, and configuration, to monitoring and post go live support. LCS provides best practices and standards for implementation projects. 
 

Trial of Microsoft Dynamics 365


New customers or consultant who wants to get familiar with Dynamics 365 applications can leverage the trial provided by Microsoft to explore Dynamics 365. To start free trial, simply follow the link https://trials.dynamics.com/, choose an app to explore, provide your work email get started. Following visual shows the trial sign-up experience as available currently:

Depending on the application selected, you may have to provide additional details before application can be provisioned for you. Trial application comes with guided experience and demo data to make new users easy to navigate, learn and get familiarize with the application.

 

Buying Microsoft Dynamics 365


Dynamics 365 is available in two editions which can leveraged for purchasing. You can always get a trial version by signing up at Microsoft Dynamics 365 website and see all the platform and apps working together for yourself.

There are two Microsoft Dynamics 365 plan subscriptions available namely Enterprise edition and Business edition. The enterprise plan further provides various options to choose from as well as the option to select individual applications to start what you need and then upgrade as your business grows.

The following image shows the enterprise and business edition plans and various product offerings, as of July 2017:

Additional license options for Team members, activity users, and devices are available in both Enterprise and Business edition.

We would like to summarize our understanding of the buying options. Please do validate the current validity of the following options with your solution advisor/partner:

Business edition

  • Comprises of Business edition ERP and CRM
  • Cloud only
  • Suitable for 10~250 employees
  • Upper cap of 300 seats at maximum

Enterprise edition

  • Comprises of Enterprise version of CRM and ERP Applications
  • Cloud or on-premise choices; dual rights
  • No upper limit on maximum seats
  • Minimum 20 users to Finance and Operations/AX SKU's

Note

 Listing of buying option in this section as described as available at the time of writing this book (July 2017). These plans and offer may change in future. To know the current offer, pricing details please refer to Dynamics 365 pricing page at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/pricing.

 

Summary


In the very first chapter of this book, you started with learning about Microsoft Dynamics 365 and all the different products that are part of it. You also briefly learned about all the product offerings, different plans, buying, and trial options. Then, we shifted the focus to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition, which is the primary focus of this book ,and we explored its history and key highlights. In a nutshell, Dynamics 365 is a solution approach with a unified platform and data model. It's an end-to-end full suite business application on cloud. It's a win-win for customers, advisors, partners, and Microsoft, as they have enabled different channels of development, for example, drag-and-drop/wizard-like building capabilities for business users and analysts as well as pure development on Visual Studio, .NET, and Biz Talk.

The following diagram summarizes the the overall theme of Microsoft Dynamics 365, showing the next-generation intelligent applications that work together on the cloud:

We look forward to Microsoft Dynamics 365 creating infinite possibilities and allowing organizations to leverage their finite resources and a fixed timelines to be able to achieve more.

In the next chapter, we will start our journey of implementing Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition and learn about the implementation methodology and tools.

About the Authors

  • Rahul Mohta

    Rahul Mohta is a cofounder of Real Dynamics and also works as an independent trainer for Microsoft. He has 16 years of experience in ERP, focusing on Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition (AX) and has worked for customers and partners worldwide. His experience spans multiple geographies (America, Europe, and Asia) across various domains, such as financials, supply chain and distribution, projects, manufacturing, warehousing, retail, and professional services, where he works as a trusted advisor while undertaking diverse roles across various implementations and initiatives.

    He is an enthusiast of ensuring value creation while embracing Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition (AX), and he regularly shares his knowledge through blogs and training sessions delivered for Microsoft and other companies.

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  • Yogesh Kasat

    Yogesh Kasat is a founding partner of Real Dynamics, which is one of the first IV&Vs (Independent Verification and Validation services provider) for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition. He has led several large Dynamics AX implementations and turned them into success stories with his unique blend of knowledge of financial and supply chain modules, technical architecture, and business process optimization.

    Yogesh brings over 15 years of experience in ERP Consulting and Audits to the team. He has worked as a solution architect and project lead on many enterprise engagements, and as an advisor with the Microsoft Product team. His global customer experience covers the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Japan, India, and Singapore.

    Yogesh is a returning author, and having previously written the book Microsoft Dynamics AX Implementation Guide.

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  • JJ Yadav

    JJ Yadav has been working on Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition for more than 13 years as a solutions architect, project manager, technical lead, and developer. He started working on Axapta 3.0 as a developer with Euro Info Systems in India (now Tectura India). He has experience in leading and managing several Dynamics AX Global implementations and upgrade projects. His core technical expertise includes infrastructure planning, integration services, data migration, and workflow. He has extensive functional experience in financials, procurement, accounts payable, accounts receivable, inventory and warehouse management, and the service modules of Dynamics AX.

    Currently, he works as a senior project manager with Hitachi Solutions, America in the central region of the U.S.

    JJ Yadav has also coauthored the book Microsoft Dynamics AX Implementation Guide, published by Packt.

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Latest Reviews

(11 reviews total)
This book looks great. The content is useful for implementation phase of d365FO.
Covers lots of topics, a good book to take a look.
Good service. books are clear and easy to read

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