Dynamics AX overview Dynamics AX is ERP system for the mobile and cloud era. The latest version of Dynamics AX is branded without any version number or year association, reflecting a new approach: Microsoft’s flagship ERP application suite has been transformed for today’s commercial environment – cloud-driven and mobile-pervasive.
The new Dynamics AX is a global, enterprise-class ERP solution with multi-site, multi-currency capabilities. All business processes – financial, human resources, customer relationship, operations and project management – are placed on a single, unified platform with real-time business intelligence and predictive analytics.
Dynamics AX offers class-leading technology and unrivalled support. Microsoft’s unparalleled resources and long-term commitment guarantees performance, security and cutting-edge technology.
Dynamics AX works seamlessly with other Microsoft applications such as Dynamics CRM, Office 365, and
Power BI and has a fresh, intuitive and touchscreen-friendly user interface. Deployed in the public or private Azure cloud, regular updates ensure the system will always be on the latest version. Enterprise-class ERP Cloud, on-premises or hybrid Simple and transparent pricing Web-based client on any device Future-proofed Unified processes on a single platform Superior business intelligence Microsoft commitment and support
Independent research highlighted a number of Microsoft Dynamics AX functional strengths versus other Tier 1
ERP systems, including: Ease of customisation High flexibility Ease of integration Familiarity of user interface Source: Clash of the Titans 2016, Panorama Consulting Solutions. Why choose Microsoft Dynamics AX? Preferred vendor
A global survey asked 6,700 enterprise decision-makers about their preferred vendor for their next ERP system investment. The majority chose Microsoft Dynamics AX.
Source: ICT Enterprise Insights 2013, Ovum Research.
A study carried out by Panorama Consulting Solutions identified Microsoft Dynamics AX as having the lowest total cost of ownership of Tier 1 ERP solutions. Microsoft Dynamics ERP has the lowest planned and actual total cost.
Source: Clash of the Titans 2016, Panorama Consulting Solutions.
Microsoft Dynamics AX (formerly Axapta) already holds the greatest market share of Tier 1 ERP users in the manufacturing sector. Microsoft Dynamics ERP has the second highest share of all industries.
Source: The 2015 Manufacturing ERP Report, Panorama Consulting Solutions.
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Microsoft Dynamics AX (formerly Axapta) is now known as Finance and Operations and is also available as part of
Dynamics AX features Modern user interface (UI)
The Microsoft Dynamics AX user interface has been transformed to meet modern expectations of design and usability. The user interface is easy and pleasant to use, leading end-users to make the most of the application and its functionality. An intuitive and agreeable user experience naturally increases productivity.
The new user interface minimises training costs and maximises uptake of new functionality by the introduction of familiar elements of Office 365. 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. Much effort was taken into providing an immersive and visually attractive experience, at the same time optimising the user interface by removing all superfluous clicks, popups and scrolling. This more fluid user interface is accessible across many platforms through a browser-based HTML5 client, including mobile apps for Windows 10, Android and iOS. A mobile SDK allows organisations to build business-specific mobile apps and make them available to employees through a private marketplace.
Dynamics AX has been engineered to operate seamlessly with Office 365 applications, offering a powerful set of integrated productivity tools. Budget data, for example, can be presented in Excel while Dynamics AX manages the process of requesting and approving, constantly maintaining a live connection to ensure up-to-date data. Fields can be modified and deleted directly from Microsoft Excel before submitting the data back to Dynamics AX.
Dynamics AX has introduced the concept of Workspaces to take full advantage of the high level of integration. A Workspace is an enhanced role centre that gathers together all the data, analytics, processes and people required for complex tasks and workflows. It makes it easy for employees to personalise their work areas around their particular roles or tasks. Pre-configured Workspaces include those for HR management, category and product management, prices and discounts, catalogue management, and retail channel deployment and operations.
Another Dynamics AX feature is the task guide. Task guides are step-by-step walkthroughs of processes created by users themselves which are stored in a library to be searched and accessed by other users. The task guide will lead the user around the screen with visual cues on where to click and what to enter. This readily available learning resource enables both new and experienced users to learn and become proficient using functionality.
Cortana integration makes it possible to drive Dynamics AX with voice. For example, instructing Cortana to “Create a new sales order” will initiate a search of the task guide library and run the appropriate guide to create a sales order.
Just as Cortana can alert you when to leave for an appointment based on weather and traffic data, it can apply the same predictive intelligence in business applications, for example, to warn of a problem in the supply chain or a lack of inventory.
Dynamics AX now places significant emphasis on operating in the cloud. A cloud-based service allows more regular updates and ensures the product will always be on the latest version. Another enhancement made possible by the cloud in Dynamics AX is the ability to access advanced telemetry and diagnostics on performance and usage, providing reports to help maximise efficiency and avoid downtime by identifying issues proactively.
Even though design decisions were focused on optimising deployment to the Azure cloud, the same service is available on-premises in a private cloud and as a hybrid deployment. As an example, core financials could be run on-premises while other components such as HR can be implemented in the cloud. And if business conditions require it, a consistent Azure fabric makes it easy to move between private and public cloud.
Lifecycle Services (LCS) is Microsoft’s Azure-based application life cycle management and collaboration portal that provides a unifying environment to help manage the whole life cycle of the system from planning to implementation to ongoing support. To reduce risk and minimise operational disruption, implementations, updates or upgrades can be modelled and tested on a parallel development or test system before being released to the production system.
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. Updates are simplified and accelerated through predefined methodologies, automated testing and code merging. The traditional deployment model would normally involve people coming on site, installing and configuring software, then tweaking the system. With much of this process possible through LCS, operational disruption is kept to a minimum.
LCS gets Dynamics AX up and running quickly and efficiently and, at the same time, mitigates the overall risk and interference to everyday business operations. Utilising the Azure-based telemetry and diagnostics, LCS provides pro-active monitoring and real-time insights that help to optimise system usage and streamline business processes, delivering faster time to value.
The Dynamics AX Warehouse Management module contributes to the reduction of operational costs by automating warehouse processes. The flexible workflow engine enables an agile response to rapidly changing business needs. Workflows can be configured without coding to increase flexibility of put-away and picking activities. The performance of picking and put-away processes is also improved by out-of-the-box support for handheld devices that enhance scanning precision.
Advanced inventory allocation in the Dynamics AX Warehouse Module helps to decrease inventory costs. In addition, real-time visibility into inventory using inventory dimensions helps improve customer service.
Finance tools in Dynamics AX
Dynamics AX 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. Using the financial period close workspace you can define, schedule and communicate close activities within or across companies.
Dynamics AX introduced new general ledger features to make month-end, quarter-end and financial year-end much easier. With customisable accounting templates it is possible to define multiple role-based tasks with dependencies and set up a calendar with the number of positive or negative business days. Journal entries can be posted in many legal entities without having to switch companies. With the Excel Add In, journal entries can be uploaded without the need of custom code and the account structure can be modified in Excel and published back to Dynamics AX.
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. In addition, users can deploy customisable Power BI content packs to provide deep-level analytics of financial data with more than 20 out-of-the box financial reports.
Users can easily manage and access the financial information needed to track bank accounts. Payments and deposits can also be tracked efficiently with electronic payment files and comprehensive support for payment types, including checks, bills of exchange, promissory notes, letters of guarantee, and letter of credit. Users can reconcile recorded transactions to the company’s bank statement and enable review process controls to ensure accuracy.
Dynamics AX enables users to manage the organisation’s budget with flexible configuration options, instant calculation of available budget funds, budget pooling, and budget workflows for review and approval. A flexible chart of accounts and dimensions, custom-defined process configurations and workflows is supported by configurable budget planning. Budget plans can be automatically routed together with worksheets, justifications, and attachments for reviews and approvals.
The full accounting lifecycle of assets can be effectively managed from acquisition to depreciation and transfer/disposition. Users can easily set up, maintain, and track the valuation of fixed assets. Using different depreciation methods and conventions it is possible to track multiple valuations for the same fixed asset.
With Dynamics AX financial managers can take advantage of comprehensive support for inter-company accounting and shared services. Transactions can be booked across subsidiaries and parent company.
Management Reporter facilitates comprehensive financial reporting functionality in Dynamics AX. Currently, Management Reporter is translated for use in more than 20 countries. Global organisations that have legal entities with different chart of accounts and fiscal periods that need to be consolidated can do so without the need for an elimination company.
High quality financial statements and reports can be created easily and distributed and stored securely using Management Reporter. Users are able to collaborate on financial reports using the Web-based report viewer.
Project management tools in Dynamics AX
Dynamics AX offers a comprehensive set of tools for project management and accounting. Manage projects including time and materials, fixed price, and internal projects, with the option to create a project hierarchy with multiple sub-projects.
Work breakdown structure (WBS) templates are available to efficiently plan common types of projects. These activities can be augmented with specific information including schedule, requirements, estimated cost and revenue, and worker attributes. Project staffing decisions are aided by greater visibility of resource availability, skills, and costs across legal entities.
WBS templates provide the ability to rapidly build accurate project quotations, and profitability analysis helps identify the most lucrative opportunities. Quotation approval workflows provide visibility into project initiation and the integration with Dynamics CRM allows the synchronisation of costing and pricing.
Dynamics AX enables the accurate capture of project time and expense. Deep integration with expense management allows expenses to be assigned to a single project or across multiple projects. Additionally, time, expense, and approvals can be submitted whether in or out of the office through all common mobile devices.
Projects in Dynamics AX can also be integrated with the scheduling and resource management capabilities of Microsoft Project Server. The management of projects of any size can benefit from bidirectional interoperability with Microsoft Project for projects, activities, tasks, and resource allocation.
The history of Dynamics AX
The origins of Microsoft Dynamics AX can be traced back to 1983 when Danish brothers Preben and Erik Damgaard founded Damgaard Data. Three years later, they released the accounting software Concorde Finance. In 1991, Damgaard released the business application, Concorde XAL, based on the XAL Developer environment.
The precursor of Microsoft Dynamics AX began as a collaborative development between IBM and Damgaard when they formed the joint venture, Damgaard International, in 1994. The result, called IBM Axapta, was first released in March 1998 in the Danish and U.S. markets. It was based mainly on Concorde XAL business processes and covered financial, trade, inventory management, logistics and production.
Axapta Login screen
Subsequent to the release of Version 1.5, IBM returned all rights in the product to Damgaard Data. Axapta 2.0 was released in 1999 and added Project Accounting and Warehouse Management modules.
In 2000, Damgaard Data merged with Navision Software A/S to form NavisionDamgaard, which was subsequently renamed Navision A/S. In July 2002, the combined company was bought by Microsoft and the Navision portfolio, together with Microsoft Great Plains, became part of Microsoft Business Solutions.
Now known as Microsoft Axapta, version 3.0 was released in 2002, supported in 17 countries. In 2005, Microsoft Business Solutions was rebranded to Microsoft Dynamics, and at the same time, the Axapta brand became AX. The first Dynamics-branded version, Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0, was released the following year.
Three years later, Microsoft changed the naming convention to reflect the release year with Dynamics AX 2009, introducing the Office style navigation bar and a lot of new features and technical upgrades. AX 2012 brought the ribbon menu, action panes and fact boxes, and additional modules, Sales and Marketing and Procurement and Sourcing. This latest version (6.0) was available in more than 30 countries and 25 languages, and used in over 20,000 organisations.
Dynamics AX 2009
In the following years, Microsoft released many cumulative updates, increasing both functionality and features.
2016 saw the release of a major revision, known unofficially as AX7, with a completely new UI delivered through a browser-based HTML5 client, and initially only available as a cloud-hosted application. After a few months, the product was rebranded Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations, and once more as Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations in July 2017.