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Dynamics AX Updates

Comparing AX Supply chain Management Capabilities

The new Dynamics AX now in public preview contains the proven business logic of the previous Axapta 2012 R3 version, where both options share the same embedded conceptual models and business processes.  However, a comparison indicates some substantive differences. This comparative analysis of AX 2012 R3 and the new Dynamics AX supply chain management focuses on changes in SCM-related functionality for manufacturing/distribution businesses. It does not cover the many changes related to retail-oriented operations or the changes related to business intelligence.

The major differences include the analysis of delivery alternatives for a sales order line, the approach to calculating demand forecasts, and the introduction of AX supply chain management-related workspaces.  Other differences include changes in the user experience and in AX terminology, as well as deprecated functionality.

1.  Analyze Delivery Alternatives for the Sales Order Line

The delivery for the meeting the customer’s requested delivery date and quantity can reflect the product availability at different ship-from warehouses and different modes of delivery.  It may also reflect different product variants in some scenarios.  You can evaluate these options for the sales line using data on the Delivery Alternatives page, and select the desired option for updating the promised dates, ship-from warehouse, and mode of delivery on the sales line.  You can also select to ship the smaller quantity than ordered and ship the remainder at a later date, which results in a delivery schedule for the sales line.

2.  Calculate Demand Forecasts Based on Historical Usage

The different approach for calculating the demand forecasts was introduced in the new Dynamics AX using the Microsoft Azure Machine Learning cloud service.  The service performs best match model selection and offers key performance indicators for calculating the forecast accuracy.

It replaces the previous approach where the forecast models in Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Service are used to make predictions. You could review and adjust these calculated forecasts within the Excel spreadsheet, and upload them automatically into the demand forecast tables within Axapta.

3.  SCM-Related Workspaces

Workspaces represent one of the major changes introduced in the new Microsoft Dynamics AX supply chain management in comparison to the previous version of AX 2012 R3.  While each workspace builds on existing functionality and information structures, this new interface provides a different approach to displaying the data, managing business processes, and guiding user activity.

Almost half of it is available workspaces apply to Axapta supply chain management topics, such as an item definition, product costing, master scheduling, sales orders, purchase orders, production orders, warehouse management, and configuration technologies.  Figure 1 identifies the several examples of these SCM-related workspaces.

4.  Changes in a User Experience Related to SCM

The standard menu structure and the user-defined favorites provide commonly used approaches for navigation in both options for using Axapta.  However, there are significant changes in the menu structure and in the approach to maintaining favorites when using the new Dynamics AX.  For example, the menu structure is flatter, a Cost Management menu has been introduced, and the topics within the Product Information Management menu now include a broader set of relevant information.  However, an additional approach to navigation – termed “search for a page” – enables you to specify the desired topic, review a list of application forms, and then navigate to a selected form.

Workspaces represent one variation in the user experience and the links within a workspace help navigation to commonly used tasks.

5.  Changes in AX Terminology Related to SCM

A number of changes in AX supply chain management-related terminology was introduced in the new Microsoft Dynamics AX.  As one example, the terms futures message and futures date have been changed to calculated the delays message and delayed date.   As another example, the Ship Complete policy for the sales order line item has been changed to Prevent Partial Delivery policy.  These changes are more accurately indicate the significance of the term and did not change the software functionality.  A comprehensive list of changes in Axapta terminology has not yet been provided available.

Other examples apply to the displayed information, such as replacing a checkbox with a “yes/no switch” and replacing an info log about warnings and errors with a message bar (for warnings) and a message box (for errors).

6.  Dedicated Functionality Related to SCM

A partial list of the deprecated features involves the old WMS II capabilities for warehouse management (replaced by the Advanced WMS capabilities), the product builder capabilities (replaced by the constraint-based configuration technology); and the shipping carrier interface.

7. Concluding Remarks

The 2 options for using Axapta using AX 2012 R3 or the new Dynamics Axapta help the same fundamental capabilities for the supply chain management, but there are some substantive differences for running a manufacturing/distribution business.  This article highlighted some of the differences.

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