Armanino Dynamics Blog

Armanino Dynamics Blog

Welcome to the Dynamics Blog hosted by the professionals at Armanino. This blog is about anything that may be helpful to others regarding Microsoft Dynamics' software. The topics can be anything from Microsoft Dynamics GP, AX, CRM, SharePoint, MAS 90/200, .NET development, accounting, compliance and more.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Is Now the Time to Upgrade Your ERP?

We've been running into a number of companies looking to move from Avante, a legacy ERP from Epicor that was popular with technology manufacturers in years past. Most are already looking to upgrade or will start looking within the next year. Admittedly, ERP implementations are no small matter and companies tend put off upgrading until the last minute due to the cost and impact on internal resources. Older instances of ERP, such as Avante and Vantage, are nearing (or already at the end) of their shelf lives and support dates, and can’t keep up with newer systems that are supported and can be customized to fit more modern business needs. 

Some factors driving organizations to overhaul their older ERP systems and seek a new system that supports high tech manufacturing nuances, include the risk of losing business data by running an unsupported system, lack of Windows compliance, and the increasingly cost-prohibitive nature of maintaining a legacy systems.

Some of the most tangible issues of running an older ERP include:
  • Inability to make even minor changes without specialized systems builder
  • Obsolete databases requiring heavy manual exports to spreadsheets and various workarounds to manipulate or transfer data
  • The need for numerous additional systems to fill the gaps left by a legacy ERP

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

First Update for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 is now available!

On Monday of this week, Microsoft released the Update Rollup 0.1 for Dynamics CRM 2015.  (From this point forward, these will be referred to as “Updates” with the version number, rather than “Update Rollups”).

On-Premises customers can download Update 0.1 from this page. A complete list of the 100+ fixes can be found near the bottom of that page as well. A significant portion of these fixes are related to mobile devices, including a dozen fixes for CRM for Tablets and ten more for Android 4.4 devices.

As always, we suggest you wait a few weeks after Update 0.1 is deployed to allow for thorough testing before implementing it into your production environment.

Discover more about Dynamics CRM 2015 and Update 0.1 from Microsoft.

By Greg Lief, Senior Developer, Armanino's Dynamics CRM Practice

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Data Quality is Critical for UDI Compliance

Implementation for the FDA's unique device identification (UDI) system for medical devices is underway. In 2007, Congress passed legislation requiring the establishment of a UDI system for all regulated medical devices. The goal was to improve patient safety by enabling teams to identify devices and correct problems faster.

Final rules were set with requirements around labeling, direct marking, and data submission. After some industry feedback to adjust for implanted devices and single-use products, the rules were finalized and staggered compliance deadlines set for different classes of devices.

As the UDI system is fully implemented, the process will evolve to continually improve efficiency. Manufacturers need to establish systems now to continue evolving with updates to UDI compliance rules. According to the article For UDI Compliance, Data Quality is Critical, "With rollout of the system underway, manufacturers need to assess their own level of UDI readiness, including their ERP and other systems, and start working toward meeting their requirements. By building an efficient UDI process now, they will be better equipped to generate and manage high-quality data as the UDI system evolves and matures."

Read the full article by Jeff Russell, Practice Leader for Armanino's High Tech and Life Sciences Industry Practice: For UDI Compliance, Data Quality is Critical.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Fixed Assets Depreciation Projection Query and SmartList in Dynamics GP

Dynamics GP includes a variety of reporting tools to get business information out of GP. One of the easiest to use is SmartLists, and its companion, Refreshable Excel Reports.

SmartLists are based on SQL Views and make current information from your ERP system instantly available. Dynamics GP 2015 introduced a feature to allow you to make your own SmartLists using SmartList Designer and publish them to Refreshable Excel Reports.

To be publishable to Refreshable Excel Reports, the new SmartList must be based on a SQL query, not one or more SQL tables.

Here’s an example of how you might create your own SQL View that can be used in Refreshable Excel Reports. For this example, I used the Fixed Assets Depreciation Projection data.

Take a peek at the step-by-step process:
  1. Run the Fixed Assets Depreciation Projection in Dynamics GP.
  2. Create a new SQL View in SQL Server Management Studio.
  3. Create a new SmartList in SmartList Designer based on the new SQL View.
  4. Publish the new SmartList to Refreshable Excel Reports.
  5. Run the new Refreshable Excel report and create a pivot table.
Open SQL Server Management Studio to create a new SQL View. Right click on the “Views” folder and select new.
These are the tables I used. FA41900 is the main table with the depreciation projections. I added the other two to make available additional information to help the user identify the data.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Forrester’s Total Economic Impact Study of Microsoft Dynamics AX

Implementing a new ERP solution can be a costly undertaking, which is why it’s important to weigh the value as well as the potential return on investment (ROI) when evaluating solutions. Forrester’s Total Economic Impact Study of Microsoft Dynamics AX found the average length of payback to be 21 months. Additionally, companies who implemented Dynamics AX experienced:
  • Eliminated systems licenses and maintenance
  • Reduced IT team size
  • Increased business user productivity
When asked “Roughly how long did it take to implement Microsoft Dynamics AX within your environment?” companies responded:

Additionally, the Composite Organization Three-Year Risk-Adjusted ROI for companies implementing Dynamics AX was found to be 92%

Want to learn more? Check out the full Total Economic Impact™ Study Of MicrosoftDynamics AX 2012 from Forrester and learn more about Microsoft Dynamics AX.

By Chris Moore, Partner for Armanino's Dynamics AX Practice

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Utilizing Data Cubes for Business Intelligence Best Practices


Do you have existing data cubes but are struggling to take full advantage of them?

Data cubes return results quickly and can be a great way to get information out to users. This is because they are pre-processed, aggregated, and ready for queries, which make them much faster to use than traditional relational tables. SQL Server Analysis Services cubes can be used with readily available tools such as an Excel pivot table or Reporting Services (SSRS) to produce basic dashboards and reports. 3rd party products, like XLPublisher, help to address some common issues with the traditional approaches. (I’ll cover XLPublisher in a future blog).

For most end users, SSRS are too technical for writing reports; and where deployed, users typically just “consume” existing reports written by IT. Let’s take a look at some basic capabilities within Excel that end users can utilize on their own.

Since Excel 2010, Microsoft has provided powerful business intelligence (BI) capabilities with pivot tables/charts as well as slicers, sparklines, and OLAP Query formulas. These can become the initial entry into BI or even the foundation for a successful project. For this article, we will focus on using pivot tables and slicers to create a sales-oriented dashboard. (All screenshots below are from Excel 2013).
  1. Create a Connection

    • Input the SQL Server Analysis Services server name and credentials click Next
    • Choose your cube and then click Next or Finish.
    • Once you do this once, the office data connection (ODC) file will be available on the computer.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Armanino's Rob Wunderlich Named to Qlik Luminary Class of 2015

Each year QlikView announces their list of the top influencers in the Qlik business intelligence community. We are excited to share that the Qlik Luminary Class of 2015 included Armanino's Rob Wunderlich!

The Luminary Program brings together the crème of the crop of Qlik partners, customers, and enthusiasts. Qlik notes "With deep drive, passion and expertise, Qlik Luminaries champion our vision for self-service BI and its potential to make transformative discoveries."

To be selected to the list of the top 50 influential Qlik luminaries, one must be an innovator and expert, must be an active, regular member of the Qlik community, and demonstrate a willingness to share best practices and knowledge throughout industry events.

Rob embodies this spirit of a Qlik Luminary with his consistent dedication to engaging with the Qlik community in a multitude of ways. Through his Qlik Cookbook blog, Rob shares tips and tricks for utilizing QlikView to enhance your business processes. Coming up in May, Rob will be one of the featured presenters at the Qlik Masters Summit in San Francisco, where he will present business intelligence best practices through hands-on sessions.

Armanino is very proud to count Rob on our Dynamic Insights team combining QlikView alongside Microsoft Dynamics ERP systems and PrecisionPoint's data warehouse for a robust reporting and analytics package.

Congratulations, Rob, on this tremendous honor to be named a Class of 2015 Qlik Luminary!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Microsoft Dynamics ERP Takes the Lead in an Ovum Study of 6,700 Companies

The analysts have spoken, and we've been listening. Microsoft Dynamics is the ERP solution for forward-thinking business leaders.

Ovum’s ICT Enterprises Insights study asked 6,700 companies across geographies and segments to weigh in on their preferred vendor for their next ERP investment. The answer?

Over 55% of companies indicated their preferred vendor was Microsoft over SAP and Oracle: 

And companies earning $1B or more? Over 60% chose Microsoft:

Ovum's lead analyst for the report, Warren Wilson, commented, "Microsoft's strong showing in Ovum's ICT Enterprise Insights survey is hardly surprising. The company's Dynamics Product line is an increasingly attractive option for organizations looking to augment their legacy ERP systems with capable enterprise applications that are easy to deploy and integrate."

Discover Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions and learn more about Ovum's ICT Enterprises Insights research - Microsoft Dynamics Community.

By Chris Moore, Partner for Armanino's Microsoft Dynamics AX Practice

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Special Depreciation Allowance for Fixed Assets in Dynamics AX 2012

Governments occasionally allow businesses to take on the extra depreciation on a few fixed assets for the purpose of taxes. These deductions – called Section 179 or bonus deduction – are incentives for businesses to capitalize on their investments in equipment and property.

According to the IRS, by electing a Section 179 deduction, a business “can elect to recover all or part of the cost of certain qualifying property, up to a limit, by deducting it in the year business place the property in service. This is the section 179 deduction. You can elect the section 179 deduction instead of recovering the cost by taking depreciation deductions.”

An important item to note is that Section 179 or bonus depreciation can only be taken in the year that the property was placed in service and not afterwards.

Dynamics AX 2012 R3 provides a robust functionality to configure the bonus depreciation for the fixed assets and claim the depreciation in the first year that the property was placed in service by special depreciation proposal.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tales from the Trenches: User Record Enabled in Production / Disabled in Sandbox

Our team recently encountered an odd issue with a user record for one of our clients. This user record was enabled in their CRM Online Production instance, but disabled in their Sandbox instances.

This client’s users are managed via Office 365 and synced with Active Directory.  So why would the user be disabled in one instance, yet enabled in another, when it would stand to reason that they should be either ENABLED or DISABLED in all instances?

The answer is Office 365 Groups. The sandbox environment included a security group defined in the security settings.  That security group did not include the disabled user, so CRM disabled the user.

To fix the issue, I removed the security group from the sandbox instance:

By Josh Briggs, Senior Consultant for Armanino’s Dynamics CRM Practice