D365FO Channels, Insiders Preview and Update Policy

As announced with the update 4, Microsoft will release monthly updates so that new and existing environments can stay up-to-date with the latest innovations with a click of a button. Hopefully this make it easier to stay on the newest platform. We are also assuming and hoping that this approach in the future will extend to also cover business functionality (eg ApplicationSuite). A faster update cycle also results that there are more versions currently used in at customers. As seen here are all the official releases that Microsoft have made available for Dynamics 365 for operations. With a monthly update cycle the list will be extended quickly. Keeping track on versions does not give any actual customers value. But in a SaaS approach, creating faster and simplified updated on business functionality will require a better and more visible release policy, not based on build numbers.

We need to make this upgrade and update experience easier to understand and easier to follow. The work that the Microsoft Office and Windows team have done is a great example that I think is something we also should have for Dynamics 365: The introduction of release channels.

Update channel

Primary purpose

Feature updates

Platform updates

Security Updates

Preview Channel

Provide users to evaluate the newest features of Dynamics 365 as soon as possible. The channel is only available through an insider program, and is not deployable into a production environment.

Weekly

Weekly

Weekly

First Channel

Provide users with the newest features of Dynamics 365.

Monthly

Monthly

Monthly

Current Channel

Provide users with the released and stable features of Dynamics 365.

Every 3 months

Monthly

Monthly

Deferred Channel

Provide users with new features of Dynamics 365 only a few times a year.

Every 6 months

Monthly

Monthly

 

What channel you would like to have should be a setting in LCS, and the customers can switch between the channels as wanted. Visually the release and update schedule could then look something like this.

With the introduction of Microsoft AppSource and for ISV’s this would mean that they could commit to a specific channel, and “front-runners” like myself would have early access to the newest and hottest. Some customers are deadly serious about stability, and new features could potentially cripple business processes. In this way customers can for them self’s decide their speed for adding new functionality.

Dear Microsoft; Can we have something like this also for Dynamics 365?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D365FO – Test & Feedback

Visual Studio Team Services Marketplace contains a ton of jewels, and one add-in I like a lot is the Test & Feedback extension to VSTS:

When installing it, you get a small icon in Chrome, where test and feedback can be given.

When setting it up, you just point to the VSTS site :

And then you are ready to start giving feedback, and to collect backorders, bugs or tests.

Let’s say I wanted the implementation team to know that some changes are necessary on the “All Customers” form. I then click on the feedback button, and click on “start recording”

While navigating and taking screenshots, notes and video, it all gets recorded, with URL, time etc.

When done with my recording I want to create a bug, test or create a test case:

In this case, create a bug, and while I’m typing I can even see that there are one similar bug already reported.

After saving the bug. I see that a bug have been created in VSTS:

I now have a complete bug report in VSTS, that the consultants can start to process and to identify if this is a bug or an “as designed” feature

This means that in a Dynamics 365 project where VSTS is the central element, the feedback and testing just got simpler.

The feedback and Test extension do contain a lot more, but the rest you have to explore for yourself. Try out video recording . That is really cool.

 

 

 

Warehouse Performance Power BI pack

Just a small reminder to my digital brain, that Microsoft have released a Microsoft PowerBI pack aimed for the WMS industry. Here are some samples.

Inbound – Measure vendor delivery precision. Measure put-away average times for products, and vendors, and be able to measure how fast your workers are processing put-away work.

Outbound – Measure how many of the shipments are send in full and on time. We provide ability to measure early, late and on time shipments in order to monitor outbound performance and endure high customer service levels.


Inventory accuracy (Warehouse itself) – Every warehouse needs to have high inventory accuracy on locations in order to be able to process shipments correctly. Measure inventory accuracy for locations and items based on inventory counting with full visibility into discrepancies in quantity and percentage. We provide easy way to monitor counting performance, and inventory accuracy for items on locations

 

Where can you find this package ?

In the LCS- shared asset library:

Thanks Yi Zhang !

The new Warehousing App

Microsoft have released the new warehouse APP, and the setup instructions can be followed here : https://ax.help.dynamics.com/en/wiki/install-and-configure-dynamics-365-for-operations-warehousing/

You can download the Windows App here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/dynamics-365-for-operations-warehousing/9p1bffd5tstm

The setup instructions are very good, and in 10 minutes you should be able to get the app working as expected in your windows 10 machine. The App also have a demo-mode that lets you try it out, without having to connect it to an environment.

Here are some pictures for you pleasure.

Thank you Markus J

Retail process modeling; Divide and conquer

I normally don’t share much that is considered as employer specific IP/tools, but today I will do an exception. At EG we have for years been focusing on how to address the business processes for the Retail industry, and how to name and classify these processes. By combining the structure APQC business process mapping and classification with the essential understanding on how to improve and implement the retail business processes. This means we have a that a predefined approach for scoping and planning retail implementations. The key to this model, is to ensure that we can have a good scoping and planning phased retail implementations based on the customers actual processes.

The top level in the EG Retail model we group all epic processes into “Management processes“, Operating processes” and “Support processes” as seen in the following picture. Then we have broken each process into sub-processes(Levels), pretty much according to APQC.

 

Level 1 – Operating processes

The Operating processes are the day-to-day processes taking place in at a retailer. We have divided the level 2 processes into 5 specific areas as seen in the figure below.

1. Category management is all about grouping products into hierarchies with similar properties and attributes. This makes it possible to give responsibilities and parameters on group levels, instead of on SKU level.

2. Sourcing and procurement is about making sure that we have the products available on the store/channels available for sale. This means working with vendors and producers, and to have clear planning strategies.

3. Retail logistics is processes that typical happens at the central warehouse, and when replenishment to stores is needed, then it is sent at the right time.

4. Omni channels is about being available to customers on multiple platforms and through the customers purchase experience. It stretches from brand awareness, store, web, mobile, loyalty and after sales processes.

5. Store operations is what is happening at the physical store.

Each of these level 1 the retail processes have been split into the following level 2 processes. In the column 1 we have the parent process, and below we have the sub-processes in the horizontal boxes.

We can further look deeper into the category management processes and we see the following level 3 sub processes. You can see the red boxes in the level 1, have been moved to the first column in level 2, and then the sub-processes are shown in the horizontal columns.

For each and every retail process we break the processes down to level 3 or level 4, and we then also decide on how we are solving each of these sub processes. This is done by color coding the processes. As you can see in the following picture, you see that most is solved in standard Dynamics 365, but also with some 3-party products. There are also processes that is not covered by the solution stack available currently.

At level 3 we have mapped each of these processes into APQC and into the LCS business process modeler. When we take the level 3 process called “Define categories” we have a relevant APQC process named 2.1.1, and this means that we(or APQC Members) can extract som KPI’s to allow us to define how this process are performing.

Together with APQC we can use these KPI’s to measure how good this process if performing, and also compare the process with similar retailers also using the same KPI’s. This tells us if the process needs to be improved to achieve more.

Microsoft released a new APQC library in November 2016, that is available in LCS, and here Microsoft have defined 3774 business processes and have 617 flow charts for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations. This gives us a further ability to map the processes directly into Dynamics 365. Here I have searched for “category” to see what APQC and Dynamics 365 processes are supported.

Using the process mapping to create a implementation plan.

When we are working with our customers, we build a scope plan quickly, and define what processes we what to start with, and what to postpone into future projects. We can be clear about the how quickly the ROI can be, and that we can start on business processes where we today have low performing processes. In the sample scoping below, I show how we can start with the stores, then in project 2 enable the HQ suppy chain/replenishment and then finally start a project where logistics to the stores are in scope.

This means we can do project phased retail implementations within the budgets for the retailer. Each of the “Boxes” also contains process descriptions, VSTS backlog and task lists, UAT test scripts and workshop agenda’s. This means that when running a retail project, we don’t have to start with a blank whiteboard.

In addition the model have been mapped into Visual Studio Team Services. This means that the Retail model is also a implementation model for than can be used by project managers, consultants, developers, customer super users and stakeholders.

 

I hope this gives you some ideas on how we are approaching the retail market from a business process standpoint, and delivering our implementation as predefined repeatable services where Azure, Office365, LCS, VSTS, ODM and all the other good Microsoft services are used to the full extent.

Retail is detail, and the future is bright J

Check out KB 3206881 – New image preview control

Microsoft have released a hotfix on the document preview control, and this is actually quite cool. In the following picture you see the preview pane have been updated with some new buttons.

Now we have ordinary functions like move, zoom, print, but we also have highlight, Blocking and some text functions.

This means we can make direct changes to the attached images, and this is interesting when we have scanned copies of invoices or any other document.

In the following picture, I have just highlighted some parts, and blocked some texts. I have also added a text of my own.

Why is this interesting? Because good developers is experts in “copy-with-pride” solutions. And we now have a new web-enabled control that allows us to create new extended solutions for handling scanned documents.

I expect that we very soon will see small invoice approval apps available at a fraction of the price we have seen before, and that is using this feature.

Try it out J It’s Cool.

 

Warning; Generate Demodata; Financial period close

Dynamics 365 for Operations have a nice feature for generating demo data.

Here is my 1000 $ tip!
DON’T USE IT IN ANY IMPLEMENTATION PROJECTS!

This class is only meant for generating demodata in the Contoso dataset, and will corrupt and delete any real data you may have created. If you take a look at the class LedgerPeriodCloseWorkspaceDataCreation that will generate month end financial closing data you see that it only works towards specific contoso companies and personas defined in the contoso company.

There is also a method executed in the beginning, that just deletes data, and makes sure any data you may have generated is just gone.

Why Microsoft have decided to include this “Demo-data” package in the implementation deployment I don’t understand……

…and if you wonder; Yes, I did this mistake.