D365 Outsourcing your master data (DaaS)

In Dynamics 365 implementation projects I often say that all we do can mainly be categorized into 3 headline topics.

As we know for Dynamics 365, Microsoft is providing the software and the platform needed. It is easy to buy as a service where only a monthly commitment is essentially required. This is the nature of the Software-as-a-Service cloud-based concept.

The implementation partners are the best in structuring an implementation project and guiding step-by-step through the jungle. There is a lot of knowledge needed to understand complex processes needed in an organization. The partners are typically working tightly with people and ensuing that the organizational machinery is oiled and running smoothly. Defining processes that follows the entire end-to-end processes like procure-to-pay or order-to-cash.

The third element of equal importance is master data. I have written some previous blogpost about the subject, that is relevant to check up. Traditionally building the master data have often been the responsibility of the organization implementing Dynamics 365 and have been regarded as the heart and soul of the organization. The data is often manually built/generated and maintained, and low quality in master data can have catastrophic effects in any organization. If you cannot trust your data, then you do not have the information needed to make good business decisions.

Traditionally this have been identified as an integration requirement, but the main “ownership” of the data have still been handled internally in the company. Here is where I see a change. Instead of maintaining your own master data, the master data is maintained through cloud based public services operated based on a monthly fee. Just like SaaS (Software as a Service), we see mature implementations of DaaS (Data as a Service), where Dynamics 365 customers is closely integrating and outsourcing much of the maintenance to vertical specific online services.

But one aspect I see, is that the data providers are not global actors, but tends to be more local and verticalized services to specific domains. To be specific towards some providers here in Norway, I would like to name-drop some providers that I have encountered that provide such services.

BREG – Brønnøysund Register Center

The Brønnøysund Register Center develops and operates digital services that streamline, coordinate and simplify dialogue with the public for individuals and businesses. They operate many of the Norway’s most important registers, that contains information about companies, roles, tax etc Many of the services is free, and you can read more about them. If you need validated and confirmed information about any organization on Norway, then this is the registers you need to integrate towards. My friend Fredrik S, from Microsoft have create many demo’s showing how easy it actually is to set this up.

BISNode – Integrated credit check and risk management

Knowing the commercial risk is essential for all businesses. By having updated information, the decisions become less risky and less labor intensive.

1881 – search and return person address information

1881 is Norway’s leading provider of personal and business information and is providing information on telephone numbers, names and addresses. By having lookup into databases like 1881 you instantly get address information that enrich your data and simplifies transaction handling.

GS1 – The Global Language of Business

GS1 is the main provider of a lot of supply-chain oriented master data. Here you maintain product GTIN/barcodes, and they also provide a GLN (Global Location Number) register. When working with delivery addresses, then this is a must-have, because it ensures that goods are shipped and received to the right places. For a small fee, you get access to updated addresses directly into D365, where the addresses are also enriched with GPS coordinates. One more relevant aspect of GS1, is the GPC (Global Product Classification), that makes it easier to search for products globally and is also a very good reporting/analytics structure.

TradeSolution – The Norwegian Grocery PIM

If you are going to sell or purchase products through the Norwegian grocery chain’s, you need to have a close connection with Trade solution. I have written about them previously, but they make sure you have a reliable source of product master data and properties of the products. If you are using their services, there is no need for a third part PIM solution. They also provide a media store for product pictures.

NOBB – The Norwegian Construction PIM

NOBB contains almost 1,000,000 articles from 700 suppliers. You will find a wide range of product information, e.g. lumber, building materials, hardware, tools, fasteners, paints, houses and gardens, water / plumbing, electrical etc. The database contains basic data, price, logistics data, images, documentation streamline the industry’s need for structured and quality-assured basic data. The quality of the product database is ensured through the industry bodies Quality Forum and the Standardization Committee. The item owner updates and maintains the information based on industry standards (ref quality forum and standardization committee). This is a unique quality assurance and proximity to the industry that no other players can offer.

Elfo – The Norwegian electronics PIM

Electronics Industry Association – EIF – is an industry association for Norwegian-based companies that runs electronics-related activities that are mainly aimed at the professional market, either as importer, manufacturer or developer.

Farmalogg – The Norwegian pharmacy industry PIM.

The product register, with few exceptions, covers all goods that are sold in pharmacies, and it contains information that is necessary for the safe and efficient handling of the goods throughout the value chain from manufacturer / supplier, through wholesaler and retailer, to end-user.

Prisguiden – Compare your prices

Price databases that allows you to compare your prices to competitors. You can also measure the popularity and trends that happens in the market. What does customers search for? By tightly integrating towards the market, makes decision making easier and can be made more automated.

Consignor – Easy shipping

Delivery Management is all about connecting your warehouse to your customers in the most efficient way. By making one standard integration to services like Consignor, they make sure that no matter what combination of carrier services you choose, customer will get the same high-quality feeling when receiving a delivery from you.

Currency exchange rate

This service is already present in standard Dynamics 365 – Start using it!

There are surly many other master data providers, and here I have list listed a few actors in the Norwegian marked. By outsourcing your master data maintenance, you will get much higher quality on the data and more return on investment.

Are you ready to outsource your master data ?

DaaS Leben ist kein Ponyhof

 

 

D365 Retail – Buzz Alert !

THIS IS COOL !
Microsoft is launching several new product lines for retailers.

Dynamics 365 Commerce

Empower your business to create exceptional, insightful shopping experiences for every customer with Dynamics 365 Commerce—built on our proven Dynamics 365 Retail solution.

https://dynamics.microsoft.com/en-us/commerce/overview/

Microsoft Connected Store

Empower retailers with real-time observational data to improve in-store performance. From customer movement to the status of products and store devices, Dynamics 365 Connected Store will provide a better understanding of your retail space. (Check out the video)

https://dynamics.microsoft.com/en-us/ai/connected-store/

 

 

Retail statement trickle feed (public preview)

Retail statements are one of the most important (and complex) processes a retailer have. It’s where the retail sales and transactions are being transformed to become physical and financial transactions so you can see the sales in finance and in inventory. Retail statement calculation and posting have been covered many times in my blog posts and Microsoft have a large set’s of article on doc’s on the matter. The amount of transactions retail statements calculates and post is to my knowledge THE most complex and intense feature and business process in the entire Dynamics 365 solution. Imagen that every sale, in every store is being processed. For larger retailers Dynamics 365 for Retail are processing millions of transactions daily. This area really put’s computational pressure in the systems and is also one of the areas where Microsoft is investing heavily.

Since the start of D365 there have been done hundreds of improvements on retail statement posting, and the next “big thing” is Retail Statement trickle feed. One of the pain’s in today’s solution is a significantly delay between the when the retail sales have been conducted, and when the inventory transactions have been financially posted. And in short, when the inventory transaction gets a financial status like “Sold”. Why is this important? Because the inventory transactions define on-hand values, as again it defines how the master planning/replenishment is calculated. We want this to be as accurate and up to date as possible. Any delays in having accurate on-hand influences planned purchase orders. Also the ability to spread out the processing of transactions through the day will reduce the amount of “spikes” in the Azure SQL load, making the nightly timeslot more open for other high intensive transaction processing tasks.

Another critical benefit of trickle feed is the decoupling of transactional statements and financial statements. Now you can post transactional statements without even posting a financial statement, and the other way around. Together with the increase of posting frequency that produce small bundles of transactional statements, it will address the main reason for the compounding effect that prevents a series of statement from being posted due to a single invalid transaction. Right now, the only validation that impact financial statements is that all retail transactions for a given shift must be present in HQ in order for a financial statement to be posted. However the transactions don’t need to be successfully posted for a financial statement to be posted.

There is also a new aggregation strategy, where unnamed transactions are always aggregated and named(customers) transactions are never aggregated. There is no more option available to turn aggregation on or off.

Microsoft have made the following improvements to the statement posting process:

  1. Deprecate the “inventory job” that creates temporary reservations.
  2. Create a new job that will, at a predefined schedule, create sales orders, invoice them, and create, post, and apply payments for all the transactions that are synchronized to the HQ at that point of time. In addition, it will also create any ledger journals that need to be created for discounts, gift cards, and so on.
  3. The statement document that gets created at the end of the day will only be used to calculate and post any counting variances.

To enable the new preview (10.0.5) trickle feed solution you have to enable the Retail Statement (trickle feed) – preview configuration key. Also remember to disable the other retail statements configuration keys, and that you don’t have any open statements when doing this.

When finally released (GA) I hope that the new the new feature management is used for enabling this.

When this is done, you will see a set of new menu items. Under the menu \Retail\Retail IT\POS Posting.

The sequence of these batch jobs is to be able to financially post most of the transactions, and the financial statement posting will only be used to calculate and post any counting variances. There is no need to run the “Post inventory” job anymore. But in reality, there is a decoupling, and the transactional statement and financial statement can post independently if the other have not been posted. The only actual requirement is that the P-job have fetched the retail transactions from the retail channel database.

If we look into the Retail Statement form, we now have the possibility to manually create transaction posting and financial reconciliation (That in the essence is the financial statement).

When creating a “Transactional posting”, we see that the form is a bit changed compared how it was before. There a no lines related to payments.

When posting the transactional statement, the following steps are performed:

When calculating and posting a financial statement, you see the more traditional statement posting screen, where you have the payment lines:

The steps in the posting is the following:

The summary of this, is that Dynamics 365 will with trickle feed support a much faster updating frequency to get proper on-hand values and scalability. Since the transaction statement will be running more frequently it also means that there will be less retail statement posting in the evening/night. The transactions will be smaller and therefore also easier to post. But there are a few things to keep in mind. If you trickle feed too often, you will miss out on the transaction aggregation on the unnamed transactions, and will have to process more sales order invoicing per day. This can again slightly increase the load in your system.

This feature will also increase scaling of the system, as posting of transactions can be better load balancing among multiple AOS-batch services. I also have a feeling that there will be more features in this area to come, that will further enable close to real-time master planning, inventory services, and close to real-time power-BI reporting.

 

Next on customers wish list is a super-duper-fast invoicing service of sales orders(retail), as this still is the most resource demanding task in the processing of retail transactions. It is also in the roadmap the ability for the store manager to perform and generate the financial statement when a shift is closing in POS.  The financial statement in HQ in this case will post whatever the financial statement generated in POS defines, breaking the requirement of having all transactions uploaded to HQ db. And beyond this Microsoft is as always improving general performance by working close with customers and partners. We see that the data distribution and different usage of retail statements require different indexes and Microsoft invests heavily in improving how queries are executed.

 

Great work to the Microsoft team working on the retail statement processing.

 

Here is a small joke for all of you that don’t care about retail statement posting

 

 

Near real-time replenishment in Dynamics 365 F&O

There is a lot of good stuff on the horizon for Dynamics 365. I highly recommend that you check out the following article of some new planning services that will come in the April 2019 release.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/business-applications-release-notes/April19/dynamics365-finance-operations/planning-service

To make this happen, I would expect the planning to go deeper into the SQL stack, and also to maximize the utilization of in-memory processing of the transactions.

For Retailers, this will be highly appreciated, where limited space in the stores means that shelf replenishment several times each day is common. Especially for perishable products with limited shelf-time. Keeping things fresh and presentable is a necessity for the customer to buy. The ability to more quickly react to customer demands ensures that the customers actually find the products in your store. And the same aspect, when there are a slower sale, the ability to adjust down the replenishment according to activity. This saves cost and increases profit. In Retail, it is the small improvements that in sum creates the big results.

For the planning service to work, it needs the transactions to take action on. In Dynamics 365 for Retail we must choose between the ability to aggregate the transactions coming from the POS/Channel databases, or more quickly posting the statements. I’m looking forward to many good discussions on this area.

The future is faster

Retail category managers, Simplify your import of released products in #Dyn365FO

It is a category manager’s job to try to maximize profit from selling products within a specific category. This may be looking after a broad category such as ‘confectionery’ or they may focus closely on a more specific category, such as ‘snacking’. A category manager will analyze complex data collected on shopper behavior from a range of different sources, and then translate it into meaningful information. The category manager’s duty is to ensure that their company is providing the market with the products that consumers desire.

Retail Category managers love Excel. It is used for almost everything, and they perform much of the analyzing, lookup, data collection and decision making in Excel. When implementing Dynamics 365 we are often faces with large set of excel spreadsheets that needs to be imported. I have seen users import 8 different excel spreadsheets for importing products. This blog post is about how to simplify the process of keeping retail master data in single excel sheet and easily importing and updating products. For this, Dynamics 365 data management framework is used. One of the problems I often se uses are struggling with, is the issue that the source excel spread sheet is a single spreadsheet, but it needs to be imported into several data entities. For a retailer some of the most common master data entities are:

Data entity

Description of data entity

Products V2

Contains Product number, Product name and dimension groups

Released products V2

Contains most fields on the released product

Item – bar code

Contains the item barcodes used for scanning

Default order settings

Contains information like minimum purchase quantity etc.

External item descriptions for vendors

Vendors item numbers and descriptions

Product category assignments

The connection to the retail category hierarchy.

 

It is possible to create a single excel spreads sheet that overs all of these entities, and in a single run import or update the retail products.

So how to exactly do this?

Create an Excel spreadsheet with exactly the following.

I recommend creating two sheets. First one is a “read me” sheet, that explains the “template” sheet.

Use exactly the column names as described here. This will make the mapping between the columns and the data entity automatic. Here I also use color coding to show what entity each column mainly belongs to.

Field

Example Value

Comment

Tables

ITEMNUMBER

1005157

Product number

Released Products, Products

PRODUCTNUMBER

1005157

Product number

Released Products

PRODUCTNAME

Jalla Coffee 500G

Item name

Released Products, Products

PRODUCTSEARCHNAME

4001392 Jalla Coffee FILTER 500G

Seach name

Released Products, Products

SEARCHNAME

Jalla Coffee FILTER 500G

Seach name

Released Products

PRODUCTDESCRIPTION

Jalla Coffee Original is a useful coffee that can be enjoyed on most occasions. A carefully selected mix of coffee types, mainly from Brazil, guarantees a round and full-bodied coffee with long aftertaste

Full item description

Released Products, Products

PRODUCTSUBTYPE

Product

Should always be “product”

Released Products, Products

PRODUCTTYPE

Item

Item or Service

Released Products, Products

STORAGEDIMENSIONGROUPNAME

SiteWhLoc

Name of the storage dimension group

Released Products, Products

ISPURCHASEPRICEAUTOMATICALLYUPDATED

Yes/No

Should last purchase price be updated automatically

Released Products

ISUNITCOSTAUTOMATICALLYUPDATED

Yes/No

Should cost purchase price be updated automatically

Released Products

PRODUCTGROUPID

WHI

WHI(warehouse controlled) or, SRV(service)

Released Products

INVENTORYUNITSYMBOL

PCS

Inventory unit

Released Products

PURCHASEUNITSYMBOL

PCS

Purchase unit

Released Products

SALESUNITSYMBOL

PCS

Sales unit

Released Products

PURCHASEPRICE

0

Latest purchase price in local currency

Released Products

UNITCOST

0

Latest cost price Sin local currency

Released Products

SALESPRICE

0

Default sales price in local currency

Released Products

NETPRODUCTWEIGHT

0,5

Weight of the product

Released Products

PRIMARYVENDORACCOUNTNUMBER

20086

Primary vendor

Released Products

PURCHASESALESTAXITEMGROUPCODE

Middle

Purchase item tax groups

Released Products

SALESSALESTAXITEMGROUPCODE

Middle

Sales item tax groups

Released Products

BUYERGROUPID

P108

Grouping related to buyergroup

Released Products

TRACKINGDIMENSIONGROUPNAME

None

Tracking dimension

Released Products, Products

BASESALESPRICESOURCE

PurchPrice

Base sales prices on purchase price ?

Released Products

DEFAULTORDERTYPE

Purch

Standard verdier

Released Products

ITEMMODELGROUPID

FIFO

item model group

Released Products

PRODUCTCOVERAGEGROUPID

Min/Max

Coverage group

Released Products

COUNTGROUPID

PER

Gcount group

Released Products

PURCHASEPRICEQUANTITY

1

Purchase price quantity

Released Products

UNITCOSTQUANTITY

1

Cost price quantity

Released Products

DEFAULTLEDGERDIMENSIONDISPLAYVALUE

-D30-320—P108

Financial dimensions(=”-D30-320—“&B34)

Released Products

Product Dimension

P108

Just a helping colum

Help column for DefaultLedgerDimension

ProductCategoryHierarchyName

Retail category

Retail hierarcy name

Product category assignments

ProductCAtegoryName

Coffee

Category node

Product category assignments

VendorProductNumber

4001392

Vendors item number

External item descriptions for vendors

VendorProductDescription

Jalla Coffee FILTER 500G

Vendors item name

External item descriptions for vendors

VendorAccountNumber

20086

Vendor number

External item descriptions for vendors

BARCODESETUPID

EAN13

Barcode type

Item – Bar Code, Released products

BARCODE

7041011050007

Barcode

Item – Bar Code

PRODUCTQUANTITYUNITSYMBOL

PCS

barcode unit

Item – Bar Code

ISDEFAULTSCANNEDBARCODE

Yes

Scanning yes/no

Item – Bar Code

PRODUCTQUANTITY

1

Barcode quantity

Item – Bar Code

PURCHASEUNDERDELIVERYPERCENTAGE

20

Purchase under delivery percentage allowed

Released Products

PURCHASEOVERDELIVERYPERCENTAGE

20

Purchase over delivery percentage allowed

Released Products

MINIMUMPROCUREMENTORDERQUANTITY

x

Minimum purchase quantity

Default Order Settings

MAXIMUMPROCUREMENTORDERQUANTITY

x

Maximum purchase quantity

Default Order Settings

STANDARDPROCUREMENTORDERQUANTITY

x

Standard purchase quantity

Default Order Settings

PROCUREMENTQUANTITYMULTIPLES

x

Multiple purchase quantity

Default Order Settings

 

The template excel spread sheet columns should contain exactly the columns as listed above:

Then start building the excel spread sheet (this is the time consuming part). This can also be regarded as the “master file” for products. And mass update and mass import of products is done using this file. Remember that you can add more columns and also include calculated fields. Like in this case, the default dimension (used for financial dimension have the formula like =”-D30-320—“&B34 making sure that cell B34 is merged into the financial dimension.

Create the data management import project.

In the data management workspace, create a import project, and use the “+ Add file”, and select the excel file by using the “upload and add”. Then select all the entities and what page in the excel spread sheet that should be imported.

– Select file
– Select entity name
– Select sheet lookup
– Then repeat by select entity name and sheet lookup until all date entities needed are selected

After done this correctly you should have an import project with the following entities:

You should also click on the “view map” symbol if there are a warning, and just delete the lines where there are no mapping generated. Like what I have done here to the “Products V2” entity.

The mapping will be done automatically for you, and will only select the fields that is relevant for each data entity.

Your data entity is now ready to be used. I recommend to use the data management workspace, and select the import project and then “run project”

Then for each data entity I upload exactly the same excel spreadsheet :

And then click on the “import”. If there are any errors, then fix them in the excel sheet or make changes to the staging.

What we then have accomplished is to have a single excel spreadsheet that the category manager can maintain and work with, and it can uploaded(several times) into the import project. For trade agreement sales and purchase prices I normally recommend creating a separate excel spread sheet

Then the excel loving category managers will be happy, and they can import thousands of products in a very short time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D365F&O Retail: Combining important retail statement batch jobs

The Retail statement functionality in D365F&O is the process that puts everything together and makes sure transactions from POS flows into D365F&O HQ. Microsoft have made some improvements to the statement functionality that you can read here : https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/unified-operations/retail/statement-posting-eod. I wanted to show how to combine these 3 processes into a single batch job.

The following drawing is an oversimplification of the process, but here the process starts with the opening of a shift in the POS (with start amount declaration), and then start selling in POS. Each time the job P-0001 upload channel transaction is executed, the transactions are fetched from the channel databases, and imported to D365F&O. If you are using shift-based statements, a statement will be calculated when the shift is closed. Using shift-based closing can be tricky, but I highly recommend doing this! After the statement is calculated and there are no issues, the statement will be posted, and an invoiced sales order is created. Then you have all your inventory and financial transactions in place.

 

What I often do see, is that customers are using 3 separate batch jobs for this. The results in the user experience that the retail statement form contains many calculated statements waiting for statement posting. Some customers say they only want to see statements where there are issues (like cash differences after shift is closed).

By combining the batch jobs into a sequenced batch job, then the calculated statements will be posted right again, instead of waiting until the post statement batch job is executed. Here is how to set this up:

1. Manually create a new “blank” batch job

 

2. Click on “View Tasks”.

3. Add the following 4 classes:

RetailCDXScheduleRunner – Upload channel transaction (also called P-job)

RetailTransactionSalesTransMark_Multi – Post inventory

RetailEodStatementCalculateBatchScheduler– Calculate statement

RetailEodStatementPostBatchScheduler – Post statement

Here I choose to include upload of transactions, post inventory, calculate statement and post statement into a single batch-job.

Also remember to ignore task failures.

And remember to click on the “parameters” to set the parameters on each task, like what organization notes that should be included.

On each batch task I also add conditions, so that the previous step needs to be completed before the batch-job starts on the next.

Then I have 1 single batch job, and when executing it spawns subsequent tasks nicely.

The benefit of this is that when you are opening the statements workspace you mostly see statements where there are cash differences, or where the issues on master data.

Take case and post your retail statements.

 

 

 

Using Cloud POS as your retail mobile device

Handheld functionality for retailers is a question I get a lot. Then typical in the area of counting, replenishment, receive and daily POS operations. In version 8.1 Microsoft have taken a small step forward to make it easier to use any handheld device that supports a common browser. Because Cloud POS (CPOS) runs in a browser, the application isn’t installed on the device. Instead, the browser accesses the application code from the CPOS server. CPOS can’t directly access POS hardware or work in an offline state.

What Microsoft have done is to make the CPOS change according to the screen size, to work more effectively on your device. To make it simple, I just want to show you how it looks on my iPhone.

Step 1: Direct your browser towards the URL of where the CPOS is located. In LCS you will find the URL here:

Step 2: Activate your POS on mobile device by selecting store and register, and log in

Step 3: Log into CPOS and start using it. Here are some sample screens from my iPhone, where I count an item using CPOS.

You can also “simulate” this in your PC browser, but just reducing the size of your browser window before you log into CPOS. Here I’m showing the inventory lookup in CPOS.

What I would love to see more of is:

– Barcode scanning support using camera

– The ability to create replenishment/purchase orders in CPOS

– More receive capabilities like ASN/Pallet receive etc.

– Improved browser functionality (like back-forward browsing etc)

To me it seems clear that we will see additional improvements in CPOS, making it the preferred mobile platform for Dynamics 365 for Retail. As we get a little, I hope to see more of this as Microsoft is definitely investing in this area. In our own customer projects we will be developing more and more functionality using RTS (Real Time Service calls) to add more features to be used together with CPOS.

To take this to the next level, please also check evaluate to create a hybrid app, that incorporate CPOS in a app friendly way. Sources say that this will also allow us to build extensions like camera barcode scanning

The direction is right and my prediction for the future is that: Mobile Retail device = CPOS.

Report your bugs, free-riders!

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the fastest innovation and most agile business software in the world. A very feature rich solution with a packed very fast moving roadmap. We see new possibilities and features coming monthly in platform update, fall/spring releases. if you look at the entire platform-stack including windows, office, and platform (power* apps) new features being made available on a daily basis. Being first and fast have changed and challenged the Dynamics 365 ecosystem. Mostly for the good.

But we have to recognize that it is people (and highly productive) behind this innovation tsunami. In such an environment there are thousands of elements that must to fit together. If you look towards the number of combinations on how you can use and setup Dynamics 365, I would assume that this is millions of combinations in the core product. And when adding office and power* apps, combinations just increases exponentially.

People are people, and there is a limitation to the numbers of combinations that can be tested, both from a manual and automated testing scenario. This leads to scenarios that there is no capacity to test everything before the product is released. It is not possible to test all of the millions of combinations, and I know that even Microsoft do not have unlimited people and resources to cover every test scenario.

This evidently results in issues and bugs that will be found when implementing Dynamics 365, and these needs to be reported to Microsoft support so that the fixes becomes part of the future solution.

Searching, testing, reporting a solution takes time and do cost money! Each time I find a bug, I report this to Microsoft so that all of the community can benefit of a fix. But as some have recognized that reporting issues/bug is requiring effort and resources. You report the bug, analyze the issue, report the issue, Microsoft provides hotfixes, the hotfix needs to be validated and testing and then deployed to the environment. This takes time, but is necessary!

With this blog post I urge both partners and customers to report your findings to Microsoft, so that all the rest of us can benefit that we are an ecosystem together. As I hope most of you know, we are quickly moving towards Dynamics 10, that is often referred to as the “ever-green” solution. This means that there are ONE version, that all customers are using, and that follows the Microsoft roadmap. When one customer reports an issue, and it is fixed, then all benefit from this.

Then there is the issue with the “free-riders”. These are the people that recognize the issue, find workarounds and DON’T take the investment in time and resources of reporting the issue. They know and see the issue, but choose to live with it or ignore it. Then in many cases, Microsoft if not even aware of any issue, and the issues just continues to be present in future releases. The best way is to report what you see to Microsoft support or to Microsoft ideas. Then Microsoft can take action on it, because they know of it.

So, I urge my fellow community friends to not be a Free-Rider, but report your issues. This will ensure that we all can share the resource/time burden among us, and we also improve and strengthen Dynamics 365, that we all will benefit from.

PS! Dynamics 365 is the BEST business application in the world!

Focus18 – EMEA – London

The User Groups for Dynamics 365, AX, CRM, BC/NAV, and Power BI road-trip named Focus is arriving to Europe and is making a stop in London from 5-6 September, 2018 featuring dive deep sessions covering advanced topics on D365 Finance and Operations and Customer Engagement. Additionally, specific topics to the Retail space including modern POS, inventory management, sales orders, ecommerce, credit card processing and more. This is great stuff!

It is a privilege for me to participate and present together with great MVP’s, Microsoft experts and the Dynamics 365 community. If you want to check out my sessions, I will have the following sessions:

Deep dive into retail pricing and discounts. 

This session is about what product sales price and discount options that exists in Dynamics 365 for Retail – “out-of-the-box”.  With actual and real examples of how to implement and maintain your retail prices.

 

Learn, Try, Buy for Retailers.

The “Learn, Try and Buy for Retailers” is an accelerated onboarding approach that enables you to evaluate if a cloud enabled Dynamics 365 for Retail is the right direction, and to be able to learn as much as possible prior to performing a business- and solution analysis. This is available for agile and iterative approaches, and this sessions shows why buying a small Dynamics 365 license is an affordable investment to purchase before scope of implementation have been defined. Using VSTS (Visual Studio Team Services) is a central topic in this session.

Power BI and Retail.  How to get the numbers.

This sessions shows how to publish retail transactions into a Azure SQL database or CDS(Common Data Services), and then analyze the retail sales in Power BI.

Check out https://www.focusemea.com/locations/london as there are many other very interesting sessions.

 

See you in London!

 

 

Measure sales per Retail Category in Power BI

Drill down on sales per category, employee, and department is key essentials for Retailers. Doing this gives a more specific view of what’s generating sales and what isn’t. Having insights into top categories or departments might help make decisions about purchasing and marketing. A good point of sale comes with reporting and analytics, so you can quickly get the data you need, whenever you need it — without manual calculations.

Power BI is a must have for all retailers, and this blogpost is about creating a retail category hierarchy in power BI.

If you have worked with Retail Categories, you know that there exists a “parent-child” relationship between the categories as illustrated from the following data in the Contoso demodata set.

In power BI it is possible to also create such hierarchies, but it requires some minor changes to reflect this. My inspiration came from Power BI Tutorial: Flatten Parent Child Hierarchy. I will not go through how I build a retail power BI analysis, but I can share that I use ODATA entities, and here is the entities I’m using:

More information on the data model is available in DOCS her.

The “trick” is to create a new column named “Path“, and a column named CategoryL[X] for each level in the hierarchy, that for the RetailProductHierarchyCategories looks like this:

Here are the column formulas

Path = PATH(RetailProductHierarchyCategories[CategoryName];RetailProductHierarchyCategories[ParentCategoryName])

CategoryL2 = PATHITEM(RetailProductHierarchyCategories[Path];2)

CategoryL3 = PATHITEM(RetailProductHierarchyCategories[Path];3)

CategoryL4 = PATHITEM(RetailProductHierarchyCategories[Path];4)

CategoryL5 = PATHITEM(RetailProductHierarchyCategories[Path];5)

…etc

Then I create a new hierarchy column for, where I specify

And I use the Hierarchy Slicer that is available in the power BI marketplace.

In power BI I then get a Retail Category slicer, and can filter and measure sales per category in power BI

Microsoft are in process of aligning ourselves with future of Power BI and create the new version of Retail Channel Performance with New Common Data Service for Analytics capability coming to Power BI https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/cds-analytics/

Keep on rocking #MSDYN365FO!

DAX2012 R3 – Playing with Retail CRT

The Microsoft Dynamics AX commerce runtime (CRT) serves as the engine for a retail channel. It connects to a CRT database that stores business data for the channel.. Dynamics AX uses the CRT Architecture in the Retail ePOS, mPOS and in the Sharepoint based eCommerce solution. Also the SiteCore eCommerce solution uses the CRT as the integration to Dynamics AX.

Let’s look at some of the interesting things with CRT.

1. It is a well-documented framework supported by Microsoft. More details on it is available here.

2. It can make it easier to integrate business logics to other eCommerce solutions. Like Magento.

3. We can create CRT web-services that handles information like very advanced retail prices, on-hand shipment, check-outs etc.

4. And MUCH more. This CRT we will have almost everything we need to interact with external system. It Rocks !

Let’s take an example. I would like to utilize the CRT to calculate a sales price with discounts. Price/discounts in AX is very flexible and almost all options you can imagine. Here is a small example of the possibilities we get in Dynamics AX 2012 R3 CU 8.

Let’s say we would like to expose this price/discount structure as a web-service to external parties. Since the CRT is relying on it’s own channel database, it means that the much of the integration is actually not creating a heavy load on the Dynamics AX database. We also have the possibility to “scale out” on the architecture.

The CRT is developed in Visual Studio, and is basically just a bunch of dll’s. I have to admit, that Visual studio, Web-services and is not my strongest side. So I decided to see it I could access and use the CRT framework directly from Dynamics AX. The new call-center module in AX 2012 R3 CU8 is using this, and I wanted to create a very simple job that exemplifies how CRT operates and can be used. Basically I’m looking for this:

I use the standard AX 2012 R3 CU8 contoso demo data, but added the following quantity discount to the Houston store;

Since I know X++, I’ll use X++ job to try this. The infolog I got was the following:

Here we see that the CRT returned the sales price, discounted price, and also information like total amount. Surely it can give everything else, but I wanted to keep the example easy to understand.

I created the following job to play with the framework, and it gives you an idea of how to interact with the CRT from AX.

static void demo_CRT_GetSalesPrice(Args _args)
{
    //To test this code, use the AX 2012 R3 CU8, and use the USRT company
    Microsoft.Dynamics.Commerce.Runtime.Data.IPricingDataManagerV2                pricingManager;
    Microsoft.Dynamics.Commerce.Runtime.Services.PricingEngine.DiscountParameters priceParameters;
    Microsoft.Dynamics.Commerce.Runtime.DataModel.SalesLine                       crtSalesLine;
    Microsoft.Dynamics.Commerce.Runtime.DataModel.SalesTransaction                crtSalesTransaction;
    System.Object                                                                 roundingRule, currencyConverter;
    CLRObject                                                                     clrSalesLines, enumeratorSalesLine;
    CLRObject                                                                     clrObjectSalesLines;
    System.DateTimeOffset                                                         activeDateTimeOffset;
    System.String                                                                 lineIdString;
    System.String                                                                 customerPriceGroup = "";
    Price                                                                         price;
    Qty                                                                           qty;
    InventDim                                                                     inventdim;

    RetailStoreTable    storeTable = RetailStoreTable::find("HOUSTON");   //Lets use houston as an example here
    RetailChannelRecId  channelId = storeTable.RecId;                     //This is the recid for a retail channel. A retail store is an extension of a retail channel.
    CurrencyCode        currencyCode = storeTable.Currency;
    appl.setDefaultCompany(storeTable.company(), false);                  //Setting default company to houstons company

    //Creating a unique line ID
    lineIdString = System.Guid::NewGuid().toString();

    InventDim.InventLocationId = storeTable.inventLocation;
    InventDim.InventSiteId     = InventLocation::find(storeTable.inventLocation).InventSiteId;
    InventDim                  = InventDim::findOrCreate(InventDim);

    //Pricing manager : Encapsulates data access to pricing information.
    pricingManager          = Microsoft.Dynamics.Commerce.Headquarters.RetailProxy.AxPricingDataManager::BuildDataManager(channelId);

    //Price parameters : types of AX discounts (aka trade agreement discounts, aka not Retail Periodic Discounts) are currently activated and should be allowed on the transaction
    priceParameters         = Microsoft.Dynamics.Commerce.Runtime.Services.PricingEngine.DiscountParameters::CreateAndInitialize(pricingManager);
    roundingRule            = Microsoft.Dynamics.Commerce.Headquarters.RetailProxy.ServiceHelpers::GetRoundingMethod(currencyCode);
    currencyConverter       = Microsoft.Dynamics.Commerce.Headquarters.RetailProxy.ServiceHelpers::GetCurrencyConverter(currencyCode);
    activeDateTimeOffset    = RetailPricingEngineHelper::getSessionDateTimeInChannelTimeZone(channelId);

    //Next we create a crtSalesLine, that represents a channel agnostic sales line.
    crtSalesLine = new Microsoft.Dynamics.Commerce.Runtime.DataModel.SalesLine();

    crtSalesLine.set_ItemId("0001");        //Lets use product 0001 as our example
    crtSalesLine.set_InventoryDimensionId(InventDim.inventDimId);
    crtSalesLine.set_Quantity(10);          //Lets use quantity 10 as our example
    crtSalesLine.set_LineId(lineIdString);  //Let give this line a uniqe ID

    crtSalesLine.set_UnitOfMeasureSymbol("ea"); //Let use 'ea' as the unit

    //We then create a sales transaction, and add the salesline to this.
    crtSalesTransaction = new Microsoft.Dynamics.Commerce.Runtime.DataModel.SalesTransaction();
    clrObjectSalesLines = crtSalesTransaction.get_SalesLines();
    clrObjectSalesLines.Add(crtSalesLine);                      //This is where the we add the salesLine to the sales transaction

    //Lets calculate the prices
    Microsoft.Dynamics.Commerce.Runtime.Services.PricingEngine.PricingEngine::CalculatePricesForTransaction(
        crtSalesTransaction,
        pricingManager,
        roundingRule,
        currencyConverter,
        customerPriceGroup,
        currencyCode,
        false,
        activeDateTimeOffset);

    //Lets calculate the discounts
    Microsoft.Dynamics.Commerce.Runtime.Services.PricingEngine.PricingEngine::CalculateDiscountsForLines(
        pricingManager,
        crtSalesTransaction,
        roundingRule,
        currencyConverter,
        currencyCode,
        '',
        '',
        '',
        true,
        Microsoft.Dynamics.Commerce.Runtime.DataModel.DiscountCalculationMode::CalculateAll,
        activeDateTimeOffset);

    //And, let's show what the CRT can give us.
    qty   = crtSalesLine.get_Quantity();
    Price = crtSalesLine.get_Price();
    info(strFmt("Normal sales price is %1 when buying %2", price, qty ));

    Price = crtSalesLine.get_DiscountAmount();
    info(strFmt("Discount amount pr unit is %1, when buying %2", price/qty, qty ));

    Price = crtSalesLine.get_NetAmountPerUnit();
    info(strFmt("Net amount pr unit is %1, when buying %2", price, qty ));

    Price = crtSalesLine.get_TotalAmount();

    info(strFmt("Total amount is %1 when buying %2", price, qty ));

Maybe some of you can teach me how to expose the CRT in a web-service, so that we can easily