Microsoft Dynamics AX: An ERP System Review Tutorial

Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics AX:

Nowadays, Microsoft Dynamics AX is quite popular in the Software Testing industry and it helps to improve business to a great extent.

This is considered to be one of the best ERP products that are available in the market. Microsoft Dynamics AX is very powerful and it has been designed to serve the needs of both mid-sized and large organization accordingly. A one-time investment in this will be beneficial in the long run.

This article will give you a complete overview of Microsoft Dynamics AX including its module and other factors pertaining to it with practical examples for your easy understanding.

Microsoft Dynamics AX

What is an Enterprise Resource Planning?

erp

Any organization has various departments such as Accounts, HR, Marketing, Production, Sales etc. Each of these departments has their own functions. For Example, the HR department takes care of payroll, employee benefits, recruitment, training, appraisals and so on.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) integrates the core functions of various departments into a single product. An ERP typically comprises of various ‘modules’ which contain some common functionalities, like the Manufacturing module, HR module, Supply chain management module, Sales module etc.

Each module interacts with another module for functionality and the data is stored in a shared database which can be accessed by various other modules as per the functions.

For Example, Sales module can access the accounting module to check the amount for which the sales are made every year. The functionalities can be customized as per the process and business requirements of the particular organization and the field in which they are in.

For Example, for a company dealing with dealers, a new module can be created for dealer management system, which is not inbuilt in many ERPs.

What is AX all about?

There are various ERP products that are available in the market such as SAP, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards etc. Microsoft has its own set of ERP products under the Dynamics line, such as Dynamics Axapta, Dynamics Navision, Dynamics Great Plains and so on.

AX is designed for mid-sized to large organizations with 200 to 7500 users. AX is very powerful and is an agile pre-built solution that can be used globally.

Each country has its own currency/language/functionalities such as different tax setups, banking functions, etc. AX covers this localization in a single instance of the product. Hence it has the flexibility to be used across various industries/countries/currencies and languages.

The latest version of AX 2012 is supported in more than 36 countries and in 25 languages. AX can be integrated with various other Microsoft products, such as MS Office, MS SharePoint, MS SQL Server etc.

Third party integration of a product is also possible in AX. It has pre-built solutions for nearly five industries, i.e., Manufacturing, Distribution, Retail, Public Sector and Service industries.  It can be extended to provide functionalities for other industries too.

Modules in AX

The image given below will give you a clear insight into the major and often used modules that are available in AX.

dynamics

#1) Financial Management:

This module provides the functionality for reliable & fast accounting, ledger management, bank management and also the financial reports that are required for the organization.

#2) Procurement and Sourcing:

This module deals with the functionality of vendor management, purchase from vendors, and the processes done during purchase, such as creating a purchase order, invoicing, purchase requisition etc.

It also involves product management.

#3) Human Capital Management:

This module is mainly for employee management, which includes their benefits, payroll, rewards, absence management, questionnaire etc.

#4) Travel and Expense Management:

This module encompasses expense reports, travel requisition, payment methods for travel, reimburse the expenses and so on.

#5) Service Management:

This module handles service orders, service agreements, service subscriptions, and reports for service fee transactions.

The main purpose of this module is to handle the service/repair types, the technician responsible for it, charges for the service etc.

#6) Supply Chain Management:

This is one of the major and biggest modules used in AX. It links the overall management of raw materials movement from the vendor to the manufacturer and later as finished goods to the retailer and finally, to the end customer.

This includes the sales order and purchases order processes, inventory & warehouse management, quality control etc.

#7) Sales and Marketing:

This module tracks the prospective customers, contacts, activities to track interactions with the customers, marketing campaigns and so on.

#8) Project Management and Accounting:

This module helps the organization to effectively manage a project, maintain the project costs incurred and get the project cash flow reports to check for profit. Project skills and experience can be associated with workers.

This module can also be integrated with MS Project Server.

#9) Production:

This module deals with the process of raw materials getting converted into finished goods. It includes managing production orders, scheduling, tracking production costs etc.

Pre-requisites to Learn Microsoft Dynamics AX

There are certain pre-requisites involved to learn Microsoft Dynamics AX, which we see in detail in this section.

Any ERP has 2 areas, and they include:

  • Technical area – It Involves learning architecture, installation, setup/configuration, and customization of the product and basic functional knowledge.
  • Functional area – Functional area involves knowing the basic domain knowledge for each module such as trade and logistics, finance etc.

#1) Technical Area:

In order to learn the technical side of AX, basic coding and object-oriented programming knowledge will be of immense help. The basics of SQL queries will also assist a lot as the data needs to be fetched from the database.

AX uses a language called X++ for development which in turn uses the object-oriented programming concepts such as inheritance, encapsulation, and polymorphism. X++ is similar to C# and Java with interactive queries to fetch from the database.

Also, basic functional knowledge of the most frequently used terminologies such as the ledger, sales order, purchase order, inventory etc., will be very useful.

#2) Functional Area:

In order to learn the functional side of AX, domain knowledge is very essential.

For Example, for Finance module, one should know the basics of accounting, rules of accounting, ledger balancing and so on. For trade and logistics, one should know how the process of trading in an organization in the real world is done.

When the basics are learned, one can start with learning AX. Functional consultants can learn it correlating with the real world scenarios of how an organization operates.  AX coding will mostly comprise of extending the pre-built solution, like customizing the forms and reports and adding new forms, fields, reports and so on.

Once the basics are familiarized, a technical consultant can learn the AIF (Application Integration Framework) which is used in integrating with the other applications. Technical aspects also include upgrading from the lower AX version to the higher version. It includes code upgrade and data upgrade as well.

Conclusion

Hope you would have got a clear idea about Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Implementing an ERP solution is very beneficial to an organization, as it integrates various functions into a single go-to product.  It is a onetime investment which can decrease the costs, increase productivity and efficiency accordingly.