What’s New in General Ledger in the New Microsoft Dynamics AX
The 2016 Dynamics Technical Conference was a great experience! The AX community is very excited to see the changes Microsoft has made to the platform, making life easy for implementation consultants with many new tools that are user friendly, limiting technical jargon and ultimately building an implementation support system that would help make repeatable success stories.
In this article I will cover few more features that are added in General Ledger area of the new Microsoft Dynamics AX. The article will summarize the Management Reporter structural changes. Microsoft is listening to feedback to improve the product, and I would take this opportunity to provide feedback on behalf of my customers.
While the new Dynamics AX has virtually the same functionality as Dynamics AX 2012 R3, the product team has also shipped some enhancements to the General Ledger area.
Global Journal Entry
The global journal entry form now allows users to create journal entries without having to change companies. Users can now select company they want to create a journal in while creating the new journal in the Global journal entry form. Of course, users will see only companies based on their security.
Accountants that need to post journal entries in many legal entities will NOT have to keep switching companies for every journal entry.
Fiscal calendars now support maintenance of period statuses across multiple legal entities that are using the same fiscal calendar. Users can multi-select legal entities or choose all legal entities to update period status or status by module.
This feature will receive a warm welcome by controllers that need to manage many legal entities.
New financial dimensions now need to be activated by system administrators. This process will add columns to the several tables in the database for the financial dimension (the concept looks similar to AX 2009 and prior releases except that you don’t have to buy license for adding the Financial dimension).
I am sure denormalization of dimensions will be welcomed by developers and BI resources trying to import and export financial dimensions from Dynamics AX.
The Related Vouchers screen now shows inter-company vouchers that were posted along with the current transaction. This is a great feature. Adding a screen to show Global Vouchers should be the next step. Accounts can then see postings across companies from the transaction, which becomes crucial for organizations with large number of legal entities.
Account structure - Excel integration
You can now export account structures in Excel, see rules in grid format on the form, use Excel to modify account structure, and publish it back to Dynamics AX. The ability to see legal entities that are using an account structure or shared chart of accounts from their respective forms is very cool addition.
The user experience of using account structure and advanced rules is much improved!
I hope Microsoft will also consider extending use of account structure outside of the Dynamics AX application. For example, if a customer wants to use Coupa for their purchase requisitions and extend account structure rules - account entry controls that are natively available in Dynamics AX.
Excel Add In for Journal Entry
The Excel Add In for journal entries allows users to seamlessly create journal entries through Excel. There are several templates being shipped as part of the product, including general journals and invoice journals.
Now customers do not have to write custom code to upload journals. This was a customization made by almost every customer in Dynamics AX 2012 and prior releases.
Another future enhancement in this area would be to allow uploads across multiple journals and across legal entities. Organizations that have multiple legal entities often have requirements to allow accountants to upload journals across entities from a single Excel file. I hope Microsoft will add this feature to the road map.
OANDA Exchange Rates Integration
OANDA exchange rates integration is no longer a developer task. Users can configure use of an OANDA subscription to set up currencies they want rates to import for and frequency of importing rates. Once setup, this process can be run manually or scheduled to run in background. All you need is your subscription ID from OANDA.
Many additional posting layers have been added to the new Dynamics AX and can be used for keeping multiple books in addition to Current, Tax, and Operations layers in prior versions. Organizations that had to customize posting layers in previous versions can now use standard functionality. Thankfully all of these posting layers are available to use in Management Reporter.
Financial Period Close
Does this spread sheet (above) look familiar? If your Finance team has a similar month end close check list in Excel, most likely it will go away when your organization moves to new Dynamics AX.
Most finance teams track their month end, quarter end, or year-end checklists in Excel in a similar manner. It is challenge to keep them updated in collaborative environments. As business becomes more complex, so too do these spreadsheets with multiple legal entities and month end processes across groups. These tasks can now be tracked within Microsoft Dynamics AX in much collaborative way.
Here are key highlights of the Financial Period Close functionality
Accounting manager can define several templates as needed. E.g. Template for Month end, Quarter end and Year end processes.
In a Template you have multiple tasks. Individual task can have dependencies with other tasks, assign form or URL that will be used for navigation to perform the task, define number of days for due date
A calendar can be defined with the business days and tasks can have number of positive or negative business days. For example, tasks prior to last day of month will have negative days while following days will have a positive number and due dates will be calculated based on the business days defined in the calendar.
Task Areas can be configured based on the groups in the organization e.g. Accounts Payable, Inventory Control, Accounts Receivable, FP&A etc.
Resources: Employees and their access (view all tasks or assigned tasks), Define roles by legal entity, Only one person in legal entity can be assigned to the role. Closing roles are different than security roles and are configurable by user
Once all setup is completed, an accounting manager can create a closing schedule for a specific fiscal period, select a template, and select a calendar to use along with list of legal entities for which they want to create a closing schedule.
Users can view tasks assigned to them, directly navigate to the form from the task, and perform their actions, attach documents on the task, and mark the task as complete. e.g. User can open the Customer Aging report from the task, run it, and attach output back to the task.
Tasks will have dependencies and cannot be marked complete until predecessor tasks are completed.
Accounting managers can track tasks, their dependencies, due dates, assigned to, status by company, Status by area, Status by person.
Users can see tasks due today and blocked tasks. They can connect with owners of the blocker tasks.
What’s coming soon
Based on what I have seen, I would consider this feature to be production ready and met the mark on most common scenarios I have seen in the field. Microsoft plans to make this functionality even richer with:
Microsoft continues to make further investments in Management Report and it continues to be the financial reporting tool of the new Microsoft Dynamics AX. Key changes for the initial release of the new AX include:
Management Reporter reports will directly be accessible within new Microsoft Dynamics AX UI.
Management Reporter going forward. For the initial release, this database will also be in the cloud and it will be important to size it properly. It should be setup as either an S3, P1, or P2 depending on your transaction volume.
MR Designer will continue to be used for designing of the report. However you do not have to install it or use RDP to access it. MR designer add-in will automatically be installed through the browser.
The picture below shows components of the MR solution for the new AX:
Error handling logic for synchronization of AX and MR database has improved. Error records will now be archived in separate tables and will not impact the rest of the records behind them. It will also improve the performance of data sync.
Overall, the architecture and strategy looks promising, however time will tell how effectively it has been implemented.
We have looked at some of the positive changes that Microsoft has made to the general ledger in the new Dynamics AX, from global journal entry and fiscal dimension improvements to financial close capabilities and Management Reporter updates. But the product will not stand still.
Microsoft is listening to the feedback of the Dynamics AX community more than ever before. Input from the customers and partners will add features that will improve productivity and reduce the need for customizations.
Please feel free to provide feedback on connect.microsoft.com/dynamicssuggestions/Feedback.
If you have questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org