Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dynamics 365 Financials Training - Day 3 - Payables and Inventory

By Steve Endow

Today I attended day 3 of the Dynamics 365 Financials training class organized by Liberty Grove.

While I'm starting to get a little more familiar with the UI and navigation, there are a lot of nooks and crannies in Dynamics 365 Financials and very different names and concepts, so the training still seems very fast paced as I try and digest all of the new material.

Here are some observations from Day 3.

1. UI updates.

Menus are dead. Other than the few 'area page' links/buttons you can access from your Role Center (home page), there aren't really any menus in the application.  You interact with actions on your Role Center, the Ribbon above a window, or use the Global Search feature to locate things.

The Save button is dead.  I don't think I've seen a Save button anywhere. Maybe there are a few hidden on an option window, but for nearly all windows, there is no save button.  It is WEIRD.  My entire life, I have been trained to click a button to save my work as I go, to save before I close, to save before I exit a window to work on something else.  I constantly find myself trying to find and click a save button before I close a window--it feels very unnatural.  But it's also a demonstration of a better software design--why should I have to constantly save to avoid losing my work?  The only minor downside is that sometimes you may want to check something, and you can't exit a window without saving changes.  So if you accidentally make a change without realizing it, it gets committed.

In the grids, you cannot currently resize the columns.  Several times today I found this annoying.  Sometimes the columns are too narrow for the data value, and sometimes they are too narrow for the column header label, and it's a hassle to try and figure out what is in the cell or what the label says.

Column label is not fully visible:

Data in a row is truncated:

On many grids, there are often columns that are not displayed.  Many times these are important or required fields, but unless you know that you need to populate them, you won't even realize they are hidden.  Once you change the displayed columns, I believe that the grid will save your preferred fields and display them the next time you open the window, but there are a lot of grids, so you have to constantly check the available columns to see if you are missing anything.

In Dynamics GP, the scrolling window columns can't be resized, and you can't even pick which fields are displayed, but GP always displays the key fields and also has multi-line rows.  And in GP, you often times have a line detail window that gives you a full window for entering additional information on a line.

If you have a grid with many rows and you need to delete several of the rows, it's fairly tedious.  You have to click on the row, click on the "..." button, wait for the context menu to appear, click Delete, and then wait for the operation to complete and the window to refresh.  For 1 or 2 lines, it's okay, but deleting 10 or more rows is painfully tedious.  I think some grids could benefit from a multi-select feature.

In many windows, there is a "Show More" / "Show Less" link that expands or hides extra fields that were apparently deemed less important or less used.  This can be frustrating for new users like me, as I don't realize that the fields are hidden, and I spend 30 seconds trying to figure out why I can't see the fields.  I eventually realize they are hidden and click on Show More.

I suppose this is similar to GP detail windows or expansion windows.  You need to know that the field exists and know to click on the blue arrow to enter the additional information or change a field value.

2. Reports.

It was noted during the training that D365 Financials does not currently have the ability to print a report directly to a printer.  Apparently they are working on that.  I recently saw a blog post indicating that the NAV web client has the same limitation, and people are trying to work around it by using cloud based printing services (which makes me wary--sending your financial reports over the internet to a third party service to send it to your internal printer?).

I personally didn't expect the web based ERP system to be able to print to printer.  Displaying the report as a PDF first, and then having the user print the PDF seems pretty straightforward to me, but I can imagine this might be annoying for some customers who are used to different methods.

Note that with these file output options, there is no option to view these reports directly in the browser as an "on screen" report.  You currently always have to open a file to view a report.

The report generation is usually pretty fast, with the browser prompting you to open or save the file.

2. Payables

Templates.  When you create a new vendor, you are prompted to choose a vendor template, which can default values for you and make the vendor setup more consistent.  This is similar to a Dynamics GP Vendor Class.  The templates can be setup for vendors, customers, and items.

No equivalent to Dynamics GP PM Vouchers.   This is kind of weird with D365 Financials.  It may change in the future, but at the moment, there is apparently no equivalent to a Dynamics GP PM Voucher.  Full NAV apparently does have a voucher-like entry process, but D365 Financials doesn't at the moment.

In D365, you either enter a full purchase invoice, with line items (or base a purchase invoice on a PO), or you enter a strange transaction called a "Purchase Journal".

Some customers may be fine entering line items for AP invoices, but every line must use a pre-defined Item. You can't enter a free form one-time item like "Pizza Delivery".  The Items must be setup as inventory items or service items in advance, and must be tied to posting groups (GL accounts and dimensions, etc.).  So we discussed during class that this will likely not work too well with many AP departments, as it would require them to potentially setup and maintain dozens of Item records.

The alternative is the Purchase Journal, which I can only describe as a sub-ledger journal entry.

It is a very sparse window with only a grid where you enter a journal entry like transaction.  The transaction can be tied to vendors, so it does hit the sub-ledger, and it also has posting groups / GL accounts, so it hits the GL as well.  But it just seems odd, and I personally have a harder time performing data entry in such a large grid than a traditional window--in part because I just don't know the fields well enough to know what I'm entering.  And each line of the Posting Journal can do very different things, so it seems like a much less controlled entry process.  With my current limited knowledge of Purchase Journals, I would have a hard time recommending it to customers that are used to a more formal transaction entry window like the Payables Transaction Entry window in GP.

3. Inventory.

We only briefly touched on Inventory today by looking at what are supposedly called "Inventory Adjustments" in Dynamics 365 Financials.  Those quotation marks are there for a reason, as I can only assume that this is a very temporary measure until the Inventory module is more fully developed in D365.

Here's the process, which I think you'll see is a bit lacking.

Open an item.

Click on the arrow next to the Quantity On Hand field.

And just start changing numbers.

No transaction window.  No notes, no descriptions, nada.  Just change numbers, click OK, and viola, your inventory quantities have changed, and the GL has been updated with the inventory valuation adjustment.

The changes are tracked as "Ledger Entries" that you can view, but there is no visibility of who made the changes or why.

Like I said, I assume that this is just a temporary process until the Inventory module is more fully developed and proper transactions can be entered in dedicated windows.

Inventory Items.  Based on a quick glance at the current Item Card (shown above), I don't see any fields for bins or lot or serial tracking.  There is support for "Item Attributes", such as dimensions, color, size, etc., but those are at the Item Card level, so I don't think they could be used to support bins, lots, or serial numbers.

And that's a wrap for Day 3!

Update: Here is a link to my post on Day 4 of the D365 Financials training:

Steve Endow is a Microsoft MVP for Dynamics GP and a Dynamics GP Certified IT Professional in Los Angeles.  He is the owner of Precipio Services, which provides Dynamics GP integrations, customizations, and automation solutions.

You can also find him on Twitter, YouTube, and Google+

1 comment:

Erik P. Ernst said...

"The Save button is dead. I don't think I've seen a Save button anywhere. Maybe there are a few hidden on an option window, but for nearly all windows, there is no save button. It is WEIRD."
LOL. Welcome to the future! Some of us arrived there 30 years ago, not even in the first PC-Plus (Navision's first DOS single user version) in 1985.
Great observations. Sure D365 f.f. is not NAV, but most of it applies here too. Your comments are not that much different from what we heard, when trying to sell NAV to customers in the US in the late 1990'ies. :)