Archive for April, 2017

Dynamics 365 Operations, ‘SPRING” 2017 release financial roadmap

April 29th, 2017

Microsoft has long been enhancing Analytics nd this trend continues

CFO Workspace: Rich user interfaces that has been showcased, where a CFO can look-up any needed KPIs and drill down to the lowest level of detail.
Customer Management: All customer-related information can be made available using workspaces – e.g. KPIs, drill downs into collection statuses, open invoices, aging reports, write-offs, open orders/quotes.
Payables and Vendor Management: Purchasing managers can streamline their operations with vendor compliance reporting for payment terms, which helps manage cash flow with timely payments and invoice entry all through workspaces.

Mobility is another strongly growing feature area.
Mobile capability (or PowerApps) will now also be incrementally deployed for Dynamics 365 for Operations. The plumbing will be done via CDS, which will help synch not just data entities, but also workflows.

Vendor Invoice Approval: Once the vendor enters their invoice using the new vendor collaboration portal (with edit capability), it gets submitted to the workflow. The workflow can be made to be processed through three-way match, look-up the needed accounting distribution (if applicable), and then ping the AP manager to approve the invoice. The mobile capability will also be available in an offline mode, which would later synch once online.

Customer and Vendor Aging Reports: All customer and vendor aging reports can be made available using the mobile power app.

A catch to embedded analytics and mobile, however, is the heavy dependency on the Azure stack. The underlying constructs – Power BI, PowerApps, CDS, Azure service bus – are only available on the Azure stack.

The Power BI desktop application is available to use (which can be hooked up to legacy databases), but it won’t provide any template applications, nor will it be able to use the Common Data Model.

New Fix: Ability to Delete a Main Account and Dimension
• A pain of Dynamics 365 for Operations and its previous version, Dynamics AX 2012 R3, has not supported deletion of a main account after it was used. For example, even when the account was used in a posting profile and then immediately cleared, and not used ever again, the user could still not delete the account. Technically, this happens as soon as a record is created in the DimnesionAttributeValue table using that specific account. This spring, Microsoft will be releasing a fix for this.

In the GL Journal line, when there is only one default relevant dimension value for an account, that dimension will automatically be populated on the ledger combination field. In addition, when any dimension value is inactivated, then thatwill not show up on any of the lookups, which helps prevent repeating steps that cause posting errors.

Cash Flow Forecasting
• The process of cash flow forecasting thus far (up until Dynamics AX 2012) was known to be inconvenient; hence, Microsoft chose not to retain that functionality within Dynamics 365 for Operations. The current version of Dynamics 365 for Operations doesn’t have any of it.
• In the spring release, Microsoft will launch a single parameter screen for the setup of cash flow forecasting, in which the user will have the ability to set-up parameters for all the following modules: General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Budgets and Inventory.
• The user will have the option to choose which transactions to include and which to exclude for cash flow reporting – like: expected payments from your customers, previous payment, and receivable patterns.
• All cash flow reporting functionality will now be moved into a Power BI dashboard. The user will have the power to explore the same data by legal entity, financial dimension, currency, and bank account.
Intercompany Setup of Accounts: Now a Global Screen

intercompany posting
In earlier versions of Dynamics AX, intercompany posting relationships between two companies depended on the source/destination entity. For instance, USMF and DEMF could be set-up by going to the USMF entity and then adding the accounts for the DEMF relationship. (And the same process would follow for any two legal entities.) In essence, the user has to log-in to the specific entity to set-up that relationship. Once set-up, transactions could go either way, i.e. the user could go to either company, and set the transaction into the other company. • With the new release, a global interface is made available so that, regardless of company, you can see all intercompany relationships. Every company relationship configuration is viewable and editable.
• Reciprocal transactions are by default blocked, i.e. a USMF to DEMF relationship will only allow transactions originating in USMF to post in DEMF, but not the other way around. The system will need an explicit record for DEMF to USMF to create a transaction in the reverse order. A “create reciprocal relationship” button will soon be available to auto-create those records for the user.

Review Vendor Invoices in Accounts Payable
• A complaint about Dynamics 365 for Operations is that it doesn’t allow companies to review the actual invoice from a vendor right before making the posting decision. That functionality is finally here.
• With the spring release of Dynamics 365 for Operations, the user can view the actual vendor invoice (that was previously attached) from the posting screen. This is going to be made available on the invoice journal screen along with inquiries and the pending invoice screen. The user will be able to easily review the journal and invoice attachment side by side, without having to navigate to the document attachment window. This is limited, however, to the first attachment, with the assumption that most invoice lines come with a single attachment.

Generic Electronic Reporting (GER) and Printing Checks
• Generic Electronic Reporting, or GER, is new functionality developed in Dynamics 365 for Operations to help many customers with their business requirements. While the core functionality targets localized reporting, it is extended for use across the board wherever there are pre-specified formats for reports, as well as reports that are commonly used across regions.
• Electronic reporting has two components: the data model and the format.
The formats that are currently supported in Dynamics 365 for Operations are TXT, XML and worksheets.
With the new release, Word documents will also now be supported, which will basically allow us to output a Word format of a report with predefined XML meta data tags at various points in the format.
• Since 2016, 160 configurable regulatory formats, with imports from txt, reports on doc and pdf, are supported.
• In 2017, Microsoft will support multiple versions, with import from XML, and offer the ability to use images in templates and format updates on Excel templates.
• The same capability will be extended to provide multiple check formats that are supported by banks. Historically, check printing has been (and still is) a pain with printer alignment issues. But now, check formatting will be made easier by using electronic reporting or Excel capabilities.
Out-of-the-box templates will be provided to consume the information and adhere to acceptable layouts.

Generic Tax Engine (GTE)
• The Generic Tax Engine (GTE) is a brand new add-on that helps to address complex sales tax calculation . This tool is primarily targeted toward countries such as: India, Brazil, Russia, etc. In these countries, there isn’t an electronic format of tax data being published by the government, which can be absorbed into the system.
• Most business accounting teams work very actively to stay on top of the tax setup so that every transaction is taxed with the correct rate. Localization patches thus far have made this a major challenge; but now with GTE, the whole tax combination can be configured to drive the formula for tax. The user can define various components of the tax, and define which taxes are meant for state sales, out-of-state sales, or international sales.
• In addition, product category rules and conditions can be built into formulas. This functionality has very strong potential for most European countries, where taxation can be configured.
• Microsoft has very clearly stated that the bounds of this functionality is limited to providing the construct for building complex tax formulae and using it in transactions. There is no intention to have actual tax % values be updated into this from an external (government) source; the assumption is that the Dynamics 365 for Operations user will configure the rates manually.

Fixed Assets
The previous versions of Dynamics 365 for Operations saw the major change of consolidating value model and depreciation books into what is now called “Book”.
• On the book, the system can be configured to either post to GL or not.
• With the spring release, we are going to see some of the following:
o The ability to run depreciation as a single process across multiple companies from the fixed asset depreciation proposal screen: In previous versions, the user (as part of the month-end process) was expected to log into every legal entity and run depreciation.
o Now, they can execute it just once from any legal entity, as long as the default depreciation journals for every legal entity are configured for each legal entity.
o The “Post journal” toggle and batch processing functionality on the depreciation proposal helps to auto-post all legal entities at one go. For users, this is now a one-step process for a period close.
o Valuations hub, with multi-book: We will now have the ability to see multiple books related to the same asset side-by-side. This is very similar to the FA balances inquiry against a book, but with the difference of having multiple books for comparison.
o Rows in the FA statement will now be configurable by FA group: Earlier, the user was expected to add every asset as and when acquired to the statement rows.
o Fixed asset roll forward report.

Financial Reporting
• Major modifications are coming to the Dynamics 365 for Operations financial reporting space. Management Reporter’s functionality is absorbed into the Dynamics 365 for Operations interface, to give users the ability to access the interfaces to construct Management Reporter building blocks, right out of Dynamics 365 for Operations.

Some additional changes that are on the way are:
• Users will be able to generate reports for any level of the hierarchy from the reports.
• The data mart will be deprecated and reports will run off the entity store,.

This provides lets users either manually refresh the data as needed, or to sync in batches.

Some features that will be launched further down the road are:
• The report designer will be moved into Dynamics 365 for Operations.
• Ability to import report definitions with tree functionality from Excel.
• Ability to publish reports onto SharePoint.

Data Migration: Copying Over a Legal Entity
• A process that typically happens multiple times during an implementation cycle is copying configurations from one environment to another, or one legal entity to another.
• While this topic is not directly related to the financial modules, GL, AR, AP, FA, Bank, and Budget configurations are a very big part of the snapshot to copy over.
• There is set-up involved to get a snapshot ready, which uses data entities as the underlying construct.
• A configuration template will need to be created, to which data entities/packages can be assigned.
• These templates can be exported and imported into another legal entity.
• This also works in conjunction with the data sharing framework – be careful to update sharing policies .

Dynamics 365 for Operations Platform Update 6 is released.

April 29th, 2017

There are 3 locations to get this update from LCS:
1) Binary updates tile – Provides a deployable package that is a combination of latest application and platform binaries. When you apply this package, you will be updated to the latest platform.
2) Platform Update 6 package in Asset library – A deployable package with just the Platform Update 6 binaries.
3) Issue Search – A deployable package with just the Platform Update 6 binaries.

The instructions for upgrading to this platform update are here:
Key changes:
Browser framework – PowerApps Host control
Dynamics 365 for Operations introduces a new control for developers, the PowerApps Host control. This control allows a developer to host or embed a PowerApp within a Dynamics 365 for Operations form. +

Browser client – Ability to model toolbar actions in the overflow menu
You can now provide a cleaner action story on forms by designating certain buttons in toolbars to always render in overflow. This makes it easier to differentiate actions that users will commonly use versus those that are infrequently or rarely used. To utilize this feature, try the new AlwaysInOverflow metadata property on Button groups inside Toolbars.

Build automation – Automatic update of model version during build
During an automated build, versions of models that are being built are updated to reflect the build number. This allows customers the ability to trace the model versions in the Dynamics 365 for Operations About window back to the build history in Visual Studio Team Services.+

Build automation – Option to include runtime packages in the deployable package of the automated build output
A new option in the build definition instructs the automated build to include any source-controlled runtime packages in the deployable package that is generated for the build output. This allows customers to deploy one package, generated by the automated build, that includes both custom code as well as runtime packages supplied by third parties, such as ISVs.

Number sequence scope extensibility
You can now extend the number sequence scope through extensions.
The scope of a number sequence defines which organization uses the number sequence.
The scope can be combined with fiscal calendar periods to create even more specific number sequences.

• Added the ability to set workspace visibility for different user groups.
• Mobile users will not see pages that they do not have access to in the underlying form in the web client. Before Platform update 6, users could see empty mobile workspaces if they did not have access to any of the pages. Also, the visibility of an entire workspace for a group of users could not be modified.
• New security attributes and APIs are introduced, making it easy to declare visibility of a mobile workspace based on menu items. These APIs can be used to override mobile workspace access for specific user groups.
• Added the ability to auto detect required attributes, through form and table metadata, to denote mobile fields as mandatory during data entry. Action data cannot be submitted to the server if values for the required fields are not provided. (Requirement: Platform update 6 and Mobile April release.)
• Option to fully localize mobile workspaces for all Dynamics 365 for Operations supported languages.

Ideas portal
Dynamics 365 for Operations Ideas forum is now available on Ideas portal.

Dynamics 365 Operations Spring 2017 new features – AP automation

April 27th, 2017

Over the next week I will cover some of the new features in Dynamics 365 Operations.

Accounts payable – Vendor invoice automation
Organizations look to streamline and automate their Accounts payable processes, and invoice processing is often a major process areas that needs improved efficiency. A local hotel group might generate a million Purchase orders in a year.

Oftentimes, organizations offload the paper invoice processing to a third-party optical character recognition (OCR) service provider to get machine readable invoice metadata along with the scanned image of the invoice.
To help with automation, a solution is now built in the invoicing system to enable consumption of those artifacts. Dynamics 365 for Operations enables this automation out of the box.

This new invoice automation support enables a standard interface to accept invoice metadata for
invoice header and invoice lines, as well as the related attachments to the invoice. An external system
that can generate the artifacts and comply with the interface will be able to send the feed to Dynamics 365 for
Operations for automatic processing of invoices and attachments.

A side-by-side attachment viewer is available in invoices in exception handling forms, in pending invoices, and
journal inquiries.

Dynamics 365 Cloud Apps won the product of the year

April 27th, 2017

The family of Dynamics 365 Cloud Apps won the product of the year given by TMC, the writers of CUSTOMER, a quarterly magazine. Rich Tehrani CEO of TMC who publishes CUSTOMER magazine said, “I would like to congratulate all of the winners of the 2017 Products of the Year Awards. Every year I am so impressed by each winning company’s dedication to quality in solutions that benefit the overall customer experience – while driving ROI for companies that use them.”

The awards is written about and published in Q2 of CUSTOMER magazine.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 has also already received these awards and positive reviews in 2017:
• CRM Watchlist Elite award
• Two Stevie® Awards for Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 for Customer Service
• Rated as a leader in usability and functionality published in the ERP Value Matrix by Nucleus Research
• Total Economic value of Dynamics 365 Cloud platform Azure

What is Dynamics 365?
Dynamics 365 combines ERP, CRM, and Office 365 working together to make your job easier. It can include Azure IoT Suite, Cortana Analytics, and Power BI. The word “can” is used in the previous sentence to indicate that the software can be purchased in a plan or by purchasing individual apps.
Dynamics 365 fulfills your mobile business needs for a united solution that handles Customer Service, Field Service, Operations, Finance, Marketing, and Project Services regardless of the job function or industry sector while staying secure.

Other functions included with Dynamics 365:
Dynamics 365 allows your company to use just the functions it needs of this cloud software offering.
Your business can easily adapt to changing needs while keeping your IT team more flexible.
The use of 365 for Operations and the ability to make business driven power apps, and flow (or workflows) allows your company to meet demands better and be customizable by your company without code.

Synergy Software Systems implements both the ERP portion of Dynamics 365, called Dynamics 365 for Operations and Dynamics 365 CRM modules.

The front-end of Dynamics 365 for Operations is written in HTML 5 making the application mobile, the back-end of the software is 95% based on Dynamics AX. The new cloud based release of Dynamics AX was launched last year and was renamed, Dynamics 365, to reflect its integration into the overall Dynamics Technology solution set; Power BI, Power Apps, Flow, Common Data Source, and more..

Dynamics Financials – starting to rollout geographically – but still no date for the G.C.C

April 22nd, 2017

Microsoft will expand the geographic reach of Dynamics 365 for Financials with a planned launch in the UK

Speaking to partners today, Microsoft general managers Paul White and Marko Perisic emphasized that the company is focused on two priorities for Dynamics 365 (D365) Financials: functional and geographic expansion.

D365 Financials will become generally available in the United Kingdom “very soon” though no specific date was shared, followed by Denmark and the Netherlands before the end of calendar year 2017.

Microsoft is working to accelerate delivery to another five markets in 2018

Microsoft signs an agreement to acquire Intentional Software.

April 22nd, 2017

Microsoft has recently signed an agreement to acquire Intentional Software, a company focused on creating a platform for a new generation of team productivity apps.

We live in a hyper-connected world that requires the ability to collaborate across geographies, disciplines and organizations. Microsoft Teams, a chat-based workspace for Office 365, and the continued momentum and customer demand for Surface Hub, a device designed to unlock the power of the group are tools to support team collaboration.

Intentional Software’s technology will enhance Microsoft’s existing capabilities to add new tools and services to productivity applications, to put people at the center of collaboration.

Founded in 2002 by Charles Simonyi, a pioneer in the area of intentional programming, Intentional Software was initially focused on how to make programming less complicated. Over the past few years, the Intentional Software team has applied their programming expertise to develop productivity scenarios for the future workforce. Charles was a former Microsoft employee where he oversaw the creation of some of Microsoft’s most well-known productivity applications, such as Excel and Word.

The closing of the acquisition is subject to regulatory approval.

Micorsft is to acquire Deis

April 22nd, 2017

Containers have been at the forefront of cloud transformation in recent years, and for good reason – Container technologies let organizations more easily build, deploy and move applications to and from the cloud. With this increase in agility and portability, containers help to make applications in the cloud. There is explosive interest in the deployment of containerized workloads on Azure, and ensuring that Azure is the best place to run those apps.

Microsoft has signed an agreement to acquire Deis – a company at the center of the container transformation. Deis gives developers application agility, efficiency and reliability through their Kubernetes container management technologies.

In addition to their container expertise, the Deis team brings a depth of open source technology experience – furthering Microsoft’s commitments to improve developer productivity and to provide choice and flexibility for all customers. Members of the Deis team are strong supporters of the open source community – developing tools, contributing code and organizing developer meetups.

We expect Deis’ technology to make it even easier to work with the existing container portfolio including Linux and Windows Server Containers, Hyper-V Containers and Azure Container Service, no matter what tools they choose to use.

Vista – Microsoft support has ended-upgrade to Windows 10

April 20th, 2017

As of April 11, 2017, Windows Vista customers are no longer receiving new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft.

Microsoft has provided support for Windows Vista for the past 10 years, is now investing resources towards more recent technologies.

What happens if I continue to use Windows Vista?

If you continue to use Windows Vista now that support has ended, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Internet Explorer 9 is no longer supported, so if your Windows Vista PC is connected to the Internet and you use Internet Explorer 9 to surf the web, you might be exposing your PC to additional threats. Also, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter more apps and devices that do not work with Windows Vista.

Microsoft has also stopped providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows Vista.
If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, then you’ll continue to receive antimalware signature updates for a limited time.

However, please note that Microsoft Security Essentials (or any other antivirus software) will have limited effectiveness on PCs that do not have the latest security updates. This means that PCs running Windows Vista will not be secure and will still be at risk for virus and malware.

To find out if you’re running Windows Vista, follow these steps:

1.Click the Start 
Start button icon button, and then type winver in the search box.
2.Double-click winver in the list of results to open the About Windows dialog box, where you’ll see the version of Windows that your PC is running.

You can purchase a full version of Windows 10, but you should first make sure that your computer can run it. Very few older computers are able to run Windows 10. We recommend that you check out the Windows 10 specifications page to find out if your PC meets the system requirements for Windows 10.

PCmover Express— si a tool for transferring selected files, folders, and more from your old Windows PC to your new Windows 10 PC.

3 new Microsoft tools to help you to move to the cloud.

April 18th, 2017

Here’s a breakdown of the three new Microsoft tools to help you move to the cloud faster and what they can offer businesses.

1. Free cloud migration assessment

This assessment will help customers to more easily find and to better understand their current server setups, to help them to determine the cost and the value of moving to the cloud. Once the servers are discovered, the tool can analyze their configurations, and give the user a report of the potential cost drop of moving to Azure.

Data center administrators can export the results of the assessment into a customized report. The report could provide some valuable data and statistics for a CIO conversation with the CFO.

2. Azure Hybrid Use Benefit

This tool should save users money on their cloud deployments. Customers can activate the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit in the Azure Management Portal,It is available on Windows Server virtual machines in Azure, to all customers. “Use your on-premises Windows Server licenses that include Software Assurance to save big on Windows Server VMs in Azure. By using your existing licenses, you pay the base compute rate and save up to 40 percent.” the tool’s web page said,

3. Azure Site Recovery

Azure Site Recovery is meant to ease the process of migrating virtual machines to Azure. Applications running on AWS, VMware, Hyper-V, or physical servers can be moved. Additionally, a new feature in Azure Site Recovery will “allow you to tag virtual machines within the Azure portal itself, This capability will make it easier than ever to migrate your Windows Server virtual machines.”

Other features include automated protection and replication of virtual machines, remote monitoring, custom recovery plans, recovery plan testing, and more

Shadow Brokers malware – update your Windows pcs and servers

April 18th, 2017

Last Friday, hacker group Shadow Brokers released 300 MB of alleged exploits and surveillance tools targeting Windows PCs and servers. There was also evidence of hacks on the SWIFT banking system.

Microsoft in a blog post published late Friday night by Philip Misner, principal security group manager at the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) said that most of these vulnerabilities were patched by previous updates
“We work to swiftly validate the claim and make sure legitimate, unresolved vulnerabilities that put customers at risk are fixed,” Once validated, engineering teams prioritize fixing the reported issue as soon as possible, taking into consideration the time to fix it across any impacted product or service, as well as versions, the potential threat to customers, and the likelihood of exploitation.”

In the case of the Shadow Brokers leak, “most of the exploits that were disclosed fall into vulnerabilities that are already patched in our supported products,” Misner wrote,

The following exploits were already addressed, via the updates listed in parentheses:
•EternalBlue (MS17-010)
•EmeraldThread (MS10-06)
•EternalChampion (CVE-2017-0146 and CVE-2017-0147)
•ErraticGopher (Addressed prior to the release of Windows Vista)
•EsikmoRoll (MS14-068)
•EternalRomance (MS17-010)
•EducatedScholar (MS09-050)
•EternalSynergy (MS17-010)
•EclipsedWing (MS08-067)

The three remaining exploits—EnglishmanDentist, EsteemAudit, and ExplodingCan—cannot be reproduced on supported Microsoft platforms, Misner wrote. That means that users running Windows 7 and later versions, as well as those using Exchange 2010 and later versions, are not at risk. However, users that are still running older versions of those products should upgrade immediately, the post said.

Security researchers have been speculating about why Microsoft mitigated these specific attacks a full month before they were published online. One theory is that an NSA source warned Microsoft about the impending leaks. Another sign that Microsoft may have gained prior knowledge of the exploits was its unprecedented delay in releasing its monthly updates in February, for which it did not give a reason, ZDNet reported.

For enterprise Microsoft users, the key takeaway is to always ensure your machines and software are up to date. It’s also important to stay informed on these types of breaches, especially when your business is one that deals with sensitive data.