Management Reporter and Microsoft Forecaster

We often get asked the question from our customers and prospective customers, “What will the future hold for Management Reporter and how does Microsoft Forecaster fit into that future?”  There are big plans for this reporting tool from Microsoft.  As many of you know Management Reporter just released their latest version, Management Reporter 2012.  There were many needed enhancements to Management Reporter included in this new release, highlighted here  . However, there was no functionality added that involves forecasting or collaborative budgetting for Management Reporter for Dynamics GP or Dynamics AX (as well as other Microsoft ERP products).

What about financial forecasting and collaborative budgetting?  What are the plans for Management Reporter and these important areas?  I spoke to a reliable resource close to the Management Reporter and Microsoft Forecaster teams and I was told that there are no immediate plans to add this functionality into Management Reporter.  The team will continue to support this functionality in the existing Microsoft Forecaster 7.0 tool, and for the foreseeable future they will rely on this product and the other 3rd party applications out on the market to meet this need.

Look for more exciting enhancements to Management Reporter, but don’t look for a collaborative budgetting or forecasting tool any time in the near future.

Sales Tax Automation for Microsoft Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX

If you do business in several tax jurisdictions, or in complex states, it can easily become more than a full-time job just to keep up with the ever changing tax rates and product taxability rules. Not only is compliance difficult to maintain, but even the simplest of mistakes can cost you thousands of dollars if audited.

Although you, or Tridea Partners as a Dynamics partner, can configure Dynamics GP or Dynamics AX to handle complex tax tables, we recommend using one of the third party solutions that handles the tax updates automatically.

One of the leading solutions is by Avalara (www.avalara.com), the creator of AvaTax – a cloud-based system – to help address your unique sales tax challenges. With complete integration to Microsoft Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX, AvaTax removes the difficulty of managing sales tax compliance by helping to eliminate the tedious work and complexity that goes into calculating, reporting, filing and remitting taxes.

Sales tax automation software can help:

• Achieve full end-to-end sales tax compliance
• Automate manual processes involved with managing tax tables and updates
• Eliminate compliance holes associated with using a flat state rate or zip code-based systems
• Reduce your audit exposure through ‘bullet-proof’ compliance
• Outsource all of your sales tax filing requirements
• Automate the paperless collection and management of certificates

Managing sales tax can be complex and time consuming. Depending on your unique requirements, a sales tax software application may dramatically simplify things for your organization.

Microsoft Dynamics AX is “Leader” in the Gartner Magic Quadrant

Microsoft Dynamics AX is positioned in the Leaders quadrant of the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant (Magic Quadrant for ERP for Product-Centric Midmarket Companies, December 2010).  Microsoft Dynamics AX’s ability to execute is proven by a long track record and above-average growth rates in the midmarket, its intuitive user interface, and by its functionality.  The new Gartner Quadrant is scheduled to be released later in 2012.

Gartner’s report highlights Microsoft Dynamics AX as specifically being targeted at midmarket and upper midmarket organizations. It offers broad and robust functionality in distribution, manufacturing, professional services, retail and public sector, and delivers low TCO through bi-directional integration with other Microsoft products and technologies.  Microsoft Dynamics AX can serve multinational companies in the core and the upper midmarket with out of the box functionality. Microsoft Dynamics AX allows support of multiple sites or business units in one single instance, including those that operate in different countries and need country-specific localizations and currencies.

Magic Quadrant for ERP for Product-Centric Midmarket Companies

Dynamics AX on Gartner Magic Quadrant

 

 

 

Dynamics AX Financial Dimensions

Financial Dimensions in AX 2009 and AX 2012 provide a means to create additional segments to the main or natural general ledger account in order to track revenues, costs or expenses by a specific attribute, without having to have the segment be imbedded in the natural account itself. Additionally, these dimensions can also be linked to vendors and customers in order to facilitate the dimension tracking for a multitude of transactions.

Standard functionality in AX 2009 offers the three predefined dimensions of Department, Cost Center and Purpose. A big upgrade in AX 2012 is the ability for users to create an unlimited number of Financial Dimensions and link them in any combination to vendors, customers and the chart of accounts, creating one or more Financial Dimension sets or structures. These dimension sets can then be used to establish reporting structures, as well as in the validation of data entered for transactions, minimizing errors. Financial Dimensions offer the flexibility to continue to customize your chart of accounts and data analysis based on your business’ growth and needs.

Process and Batch Manufacturing with Dynamics AX and Dynamics GP

Batch Manufacturing and Process Manufacturing are often discussed together, and the terms are occasionally even used interchangeably. One of the reasons is that both are very well represented within certain types of industries – food & beverage manufacturers and pharmaceuticals manufacturers, for example.

Blending the terms can sometimes be problematic, however, when discussing the requirements that these manufacturing modes place on ERP software systems.

Batch Production is really just what the name implies: groups or “batches” of a product are produced together, even though the item being produced can take the form of a discrete unit. Process Manufacturing is typically characterized by output that does not take the form of discrete units. Furthermore, the product cannot typically be “disassembled” back into its component parts, and it often involves the extraction of 1 or more products from a particular input (example: juice, pulp, and an oil might all be extracted from the same fruit).

While Microsoft Dynamics GP does not have a specific solution set developed for batch or process manufacturing, it can and has been successfully deployed in both environments, as long as certain requirements are not present. Microsoft Dynamics AX, on the other hand, has a solution set specifically developed to meet the needs of both batch and process manufacturers, making it an extremely attractive solution for those industries.

There are some software system requirements that, although not specifically related to the mode of production, tend to be present in batch and process manufacturing environments because of the nature of the industries involved (example: lot number traceability in food & beverage). Below is a list of some requirements, as well as a quick look at whether or not related functionality is available in Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX. The intent here is not to characterize how comparatively robust is the functionality in each system, but simply to indicate whether or not some
functionality is available that could potentially meet the needs of a client.
Requirements that are common for both batch and process manufacturers:

  • Managing shelf life / Expiration dates – Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX
  • Traceability of Lot Numbers  – Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX
  • Tracking of Batch Attributes / Batch Records – Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX
  • Quality Assurance and Quality Control – Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX
  • Number of Decimal Places for Tracking Inventory Quantities (when very small quantities of an ingredient are used in formulas/recipes): 5 decimals in Dynamics GP; 8 decimals in Dynamics AX
  • Multiple Units of Measure per Item – Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX

 

Requirements more commonly associated with process manufacturing:

  • Ability to Transact the production of planned Co-Products (multiple outputs from the same production process) that should share the cost of the production inputs – Dynamics AX
  • Ability to Transact the production of By-Products  – Dynamics GP and Dynamics AX
  • Tracking Catch Weight (example: # of fish and lbs. of fish both need to be tracked independently) – Dynamics AX
  • Planning and managing the packaging and containerization of bulk product into multiple forms based on actual yields – Dynamics AX