Archive

Archive for September, 2012

Improved Transaction Numbering in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

September 18th, 2012 Ajit Srivastava No comments

Master data and transactions in Microsoft Dynamics AX can be automatically numbered by the system or can be manually numbered. The order of numbering – number of digits, preceding characters, automatic versus manual is determined by a system configuration called number sequences. A master data record or transaction record that requires a number sequence identifier is referred to as a reference.

The Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 release came with a lot of improvements in different areas, including number sequences as per industry best practices. In the following article we are going to describe the number sequence features that are available out-of-the-box in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.

What is available out-of-box in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012?

In Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, when you create a new number sequence, the following options are available in scope – which regulate the scope of the created number sequence:

  • Shared
  • Company
  • Legal entity
  • Operating unit
  • Company and Fiscal calendar period
  • Legal entity and Fiscal calendar period

From the dropdown you can select any of the above selections. This creates an idea that we can share any number sequence as per our requirement, but this is not correct – we cannot have shared number sequences in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 as per our requirement. Some of the number sequences can be shared but others are not.

We can only share those number sequences across all companies for which we have available references for the area (e.g. product management) when the scope is selected as “Shared”. If there is no available reference for the area (e.g. Accounts Payable) when the scope is selected as “Shared”, we cannot share those number sequences.

Let us illustrate it in detail as below.

Create a number sequence and select scope as “Shared”.

Available number sequence scope parameters in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

Fig 1: Available number sequence scope parameters in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

After selecting the scope you need to add references to the created number sequence so that the number sequence is used for that reference. You need to select the area and corresponding reference so that the created number sequence can be used for that reference.

Available references in the product management area when a number sequence scope is “Shared”

Fig 2: Available references in the product management area when a number sequence scope is “Shared”

In the above example, if you select the “Product number” reference from the dropdown of the “Product Management” area of a shared number sequence, then the “Product number” is shared across all the companies.

When we select scope as “Shared” and select an area, you may find that there is no reference available in the dropdown selection for that area – which means that you cannot have a shared number sequence in that area.

 No available reference in the Accounts Payable area when a number sequence scope is “Shared”

Fig 3: No available reference in the Accounts Payable area when a number sequence scope is “Shared”

In the above example, as no reference is available for selection in the “Accounts Payable” area of a shared number sequence, no number sequence can be shared for the Accounts Payable area.

What is the requirement?

During the requirement gathering process of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 implementations, you understand that your customer needs all number sequences to be shared across all companies. For example, if they have three companies, they need a sales order number, purchase order number etc. to be shared across all three companies.

But seeing how standard Microsoft Dynamics AX number sequence functionality does not allow this, you may be worried.

The Solution

Don’t worry. There is simpler way to do that in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.

The following is a step-by-step guide how to do that:

  1. Remove record from NumberSequenceDataType and NumberSeqReference table.  We can delete data using table browser or using job as well. (This step is required if you have records already created for number sequence. Skip this if you do not create any records).
  2. If we want to share all the number sequence then we can change scope in method addParameterType for all.

    Change scope in method addParameterType for all

    Fig 4: Change scope in method addParameterType for all.

    Note: For example, to make a customer account number shared, we would have to comment below the marked line in loadModule method of NumberSeqModuleCustomer class.

    Comment marked line in loadModule method of NumberSeqModuleCustomer class to have a shared customer number

    Fig 5: Comment marked line in loadModule method of NumberSeqModuleCustomer class to have a shared customer number.

  3. Run the job for loading module (Below is the sample job, You need to run for all required modules)

    Job for loading modules

    Fig 6: Job for loading modules.

  4. Generate the number sequence using the standard way to generate a number sequence.
  5. Create your number sequence, and you will find the reference there.
  6. In NumberSeq class, wherever we have used “CreateDefaultScope()”, we would have to use “CreateGlobalScope”. (This would be required if we are sharing all the number sequences.)


    Fig 7: Change in NumberSeq class.

  7. When you changed the scope of Number Sequence from DataArea to Shared, you will not be able to see number sequences on a parameters form. We would have to change scope from “createDataAreaScope” to “createGlobalScope”.

    Change scope from “createDataAreaScope” to “createGlobalScope”on the parameter form

    Fig 8: Change scope from “createDataAreaScope” to “createGlobalScope”on the parameter form

Conclusion

Now all of the number sequences in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 are shared by the changes made in the above steps. You can use the same method module-wise when there is any sharing number sequence requirement for any specific module. If you have any questions about number sharing sequences in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, please email dynamics@ignify.com.

Ajit Srivastava is a Team Lead in the Microsoft Dynamics AX practice at Ignify. Ignify is a leading provider of Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions to mid-market and Enterprise businesses. Ignify has been ranked as Microsoft Partner of the Year Winner in 2012, 2011 and 2010, and in the Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle, Microsoft Dynamics Presidents Club in 2009. Ignify has offices and team members in Southern California, Northern California, Arizona, Tennessee, Illinois, Washington, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Philippines, and Jakarta.

Automate Periodic Invoices with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012

September 16th, 2012 Partha Chattopadhyay No comments

As any business owner knows, running a business efficiently is not easy. Apart from needing to manage your daily purchases and sales, you need to take care of periodic invoices as well – which may occur monthly, quarterly, or yearly. With purchasing and sales taking up your time and attention, sometimes you may forget to post those invoices on time, leading to late payments and financial losses to the organization. With the stress of always having to oversee the posting and payment of these periodic invoices, you may often think it would be a good thing to have a system that takes care of all these invoices for you.

Cheers! Your dream has come true – Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 has a new feature that enables you to set up a customer to be billed on a recurring basis, essentially handling all of your periodic invoices for you.

Let’s start with this example: you have a customer who uses one of your warehouses, and he abides by a rent agreement of $30,000 USD month for the next three years. To receive payment from your customer, you need to send a free text invoice every month for the rent amount.

With a free text invoice, you have a recurring process for sending your customer an invoice every month for the next three years. The new recurring free text invoice functionality in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 allows you to completely automate this process.

The new feature involves a three step process for enrolling a customer for a recurring free text invoice:

  1. Create a free text invoice template
  2. Assign the template to a customer
  3. Generate and post the recurring invoice

Let us discuss the above steps in detail.

Create a free text invoice template

As a first step, you need to create a free text invoice template. One template can be used for multiple customers.

To create a free text invoice template, you first need to go to Accounts receivable > Setup > Free text invoice templates (please see Figure 1).

Navigation path for free text invoice templates.

Fig 1: Navigation path for free text invoice templates.

After getting to the free text invoice templates, click New, and then enter a template name and description.

In the Invoice Line section, enter a description, a main account, and a unit price.

You need to enter a description, main account, and unit price when completing the Invoice Line section of a free text invoice template.

Fig 2: You need to enter a description, main account, and unit price when completing the Invoice Line section of a free text invoice template.

Assign the template to a customer

This step allows you to select the customer you wish to receive the recurring invoices. With the invoice functionality in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, each customer can have multiple templates.

To assign a template to a customer, go to Accounts receivable > Common > Customers > All customers > Invoice tab > Recurring invoices button.

Assign a free text invoice template to a customer.

Fig 3: Assign a free text invoice template to a customer.

After you select a template for the customer, you then select a start date and end date of the invoice, as well as the recurrence you want to set the invoice communications (such as if you want the customer to receive their invoice weekly, monthly, etc.) After filling in the appropriate information, click Save and close the form.

 

Additional parameters are set up for a customer with recurring free text invoices – such as the start and end date of the invoice messages, the time frame that the recurrence should be set, etc.

Fig 4: Additional parameters are set up for a customer with recurring free text invoices – such as the start and end date of the invoice messages, the time frame that the recurrence should be set, etc.

Generate and post the recurring invoice

To generate the recurring free text invoice, go to Accounts Receivable > Periodic > Generate recurring Invoices.

Navigation path for generating recurring free text invoices.

Fig 5: Navigation path for generating recurring free text invoices.

On the opened form, enter the parameters needed to generate the recurring invoice – such as the Customer Account, the invoice date, template, and the invoice generation date. Once the parameters are completed, click OK to generate the invoice.

Parameter selection for generating recurring free text invoices for a customer.

Fig 6: Parameter selection for generating recurring free text invoices for a customer.

After clicking OK, the following Infolog will pop up to show that the recurring invoice has been generated successfully (please see Figure 7).

Infolog showing the successful creation of a recurring free text invoice.

Fig 7: Infolog showing the successful creation of a recurring free text invoice.

After the recurring free text invoice has been created and generated, the next step is to post the invoice. To post a recurring free text invoice, go to Accounts Receivable > Periodic > Post recurring Invoices.

Navigation path for posting recurring free text invoices.

Fig 8: Navigation path for posting recurring free text invoices.

After selection the “Post recurring invoices”, the following form will open to show the generated recurring invoice header.

Generated free text invoice header.

Fig 9: Generated free text invoice header.

On the opened form, click the lines to check the customer name, date, and amount.

A generated free text invoice line.

Fig 10: A generated free text invoice line.

After checking that all the information in the invoice is correct, click the Post button to post the invoice.

Once you click to post the invoice, the following Infolog will pop up to show that the recurring invoice has been posted successfully (please see Figure 11).

Infolog showing the successful posting of a recurring free text invoice

Fig 11: Infolog showing the successful posting of a recurring free text invoice

The posted free text invoice can then be viewed on Account Receivable > Common > Free Text Invoice > All Free Text Invoice.

 A posted free text invoice as shown in the Accounts Receivable common form

Fig 12: A posted free text invoice as shown in the Accounts Receivable common form

Advantages

There are several advantages of using the above process to take care of the recurring invoices you send out to customers:

  1. You can run the automatic invoice generation in a batch process. The batch will run as per the recurrence set by you to generate automatic invoice ready for posting.
  2. System validation will prevent you from generating a duplicate invoice. So for example, if you are running the invoice generation manually and tried to generate the same invoice more than once a month (if it’s a monthly recurring invoice), then the system will prevent this from occurring.
  3. The system will automatically validate pending invoice generation and create the previous invoice. For example, say you are running the invoice generation manually and have forgotten to run the invoice generation process for one month. When you try to run the invoice generation process in the subsequent month, the system will automatically validate the pending invoice generation and create the previous month’s invoice also.
  4. You can edit the invoice amount before posting the invoice.

Conclusion

So with the powerful recurring free text invoice functionality available in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, you can easily automate your free text invoice process according to your business requirements and preferences. If you have questions about performing free text invoice processes in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, or would like more information, please email us at dynamics@ignify.com.

Partha Chattopadhyay is a Manager in the Microsoft Dynamics AX practice at Ignify. Ignify is a leading provider of Microsoft Dynamics ERP solutions to mid-market and Enterprise businesses. Ignify has been ranked as Microsoft Partner of the Year Winner in 2012, 2011 and 2010, and in the Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle, Microsoft Dynamics Presidents Club in 2009. Ignify has offices and team members in Southern California, Northern California, Arizona, Tennessee, Illinois, Washington, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Philippines, and Jakarta.

Increase Conversion with Powerful Product Landing Pages and Item Merchandising

September 3rd, 2012 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

When I shop online, it is usually because of one of two reasons: 1. I know exactly what I want, and want to purchase it quickly; or 2. I am just browsing around looking at the cool new things a store has to offer. And every once in a while, both of those reasons work together simultaneously in getting me to shop online.  

For both the casual browsers and the people-with-a-purpose, you need to make sure your online store is configured to catch their attention. No one can help stopping and checking something out if it looks cool and interesting – so why not do that for your store too?

Think of the way traditional brick-and-mortar stores catch shoppers’ attention: window displays. Window displays are one of the prime methods these stores use to lure in shoppers of all kinds, because the cooler the merchandise in the window looks, the higher the chance that people are going to stop. And when people stop and give it a closer link, there’s also a really high chance that they’ll waltz into the store to see and handle the product themselves.  

“But e-commerce stores don’t have window displays, so we can’t exactly use that tactic,” you might say. Actually – your category and product landing pages – the pages that display the items you’re selling – are the equivalent of a physical window display. By making them an attractive showcase for the products you are selling, you inspire more people to get an up-close look at your product, and thus push them to purchase.  

Here are some features you can incorporate into your landing pages to give shoppers the “window shopping” experience that makes buying irresistible.

Promotion Advertisements

Think of the last time you went to a shopping mall – how many times did you pass by a store with a huge banner announcing the latest sale, hanging front-and-center in the window? Too many times to count, most likely.

And it’s a really effective marketing ploy – it’s hard to resist buying a great-looking piece of merchandise when there’s a flashy poster right above it displaying the fantastic deal you’ll get by purchasing it. With Ignify eCommerce, you have the ability to create, post, and manage any kind of promotion you wish to offer.

By incorporating promotions associated with a product right on the product’s page, you benefit from strategic special offer placement – which leads shoppers to immediately take advantage.

By incorporating promotions associated with a product right on the product’s page, you benefit from strategic special offer placement – which leads shoppers to immediately take advantage.

With Ignify eCommerce, you have the ability to display your promotions front-and-center on your online landing pages. With this kind of placement, you give your online store shoppers the equivalent of a brick-and-mortar store sale banner – a highly persuasive tool for getting shoppers to complete a purchase.

We’ve discussed previously how important it is to use different promotions in your marketing strategy. With Ignify eCommerce, you also have the ability to combine multiple different promotions and post them on the relevant product and category landing pages – an even more persuasive tool because if a shopper sees that they get to profit from not just one but several discounts/special offers, it makes it even harder to fight the desire to purchase.

You are able to include multiple different promotions on a product landing page – such as timed promotion, special discount, BOGO – to drive even more site traffic to your merchandise.

You are able to include multiple different promotions on a product landing page – such as timed promotion, special discount, BOGO – to drive even more site traffic to your merchandise.

In the figure above, the different promotions running on the plasma TV are: a timed promotion (“Time left to buy”), a special discount (“You save $89.99”), and a buy one, get one free (BOGO) promotion,  (“Buy a Plasma TV get a free Bluetooth head set”).  Each of these promotions has a different value proposition. 

A timed promotion reminds shoppers that there’s a limited time to purchase a certain item, so they can’t wait – they need to get it before it’s gone. The appeal of a special discount is fairly straightforward – who can pass up on saving money? And along those lines, a BOGO or bundled promotion is attractive because who can pass up getting something thrown in for free with a purchase? Bundled promotions also have the extra advantage in generating interest in other inventory, as well as efficiently moving inventory.  By supporting these different promotions all in one place, Ignify eCommerce gives merchants the flexibility to create and post different types of promotions and increase conversion with online window shoppers. 

Product Comparisons

Being able to pick up two different pieces of merchandise to compare and contrast their materials, prices, and overall look-and-feel  is crucial when it comes to a purchasing decision. There aren’t many of us who would be willing to blindly fork over our money on a product we aren’t familiar with. By using the product comparison functionality in Ignify eCommerce, you’re able to provide customers with that same kind of in-person, up-close item exploration experience. 

By allowing shoppers to compare two similar products, you give your customers more insight and control over their purchases, which is very influential in pushing them to buy.

By allowing shoppers to compare two similar products, you give your customers more insight and control over their purchases, which is very influential in pushing them to buy

With product comparison, you can allow customers to pick different items and compare them side-by-side, giving them better insight into the products they want to buy. And you as a merchant are able to define which attributes between products should be compared. Being able to see up-close a product’s dimensions, and see how they stack up against another similar item, is a powerful motivator in a shopper’s purchasing behavior – especially for online shoppers. With product comparison, shoppers are given more power and control over their purchases, which in turn reinforces their trust in your company and products.

Videos

With the advent of instantly accessible, bite-sized pieces of information right at our fingertips, people have developed short attention spans – and also a jaded sensibility when it comes to advertising. It takes a lot to jolt their attention, and make them want to check something out. And that’s where video comes in.

Videos have been a hugely popular fixture of the social media world.  Videos can pack a lot of visual (and informational) punch in a short amount of time – which is what makes them so attractive, and so likely to be shared.

With Ignify eCommerce, you’re able to display product videos right on the product detail page. So if there’s a really cool video associated with the product you’re selling – such as a video review of your product by an industry expert, or a how-to video showing the best ways to use your product, or a fancy promotional video – you can post it right there for shoppers to view. By creating a high-quality video that gives shoppers high value content, you instantly raise your credibility with your site visitors – and make your customers more impressed with your product offering (which naturally encourages more purchasing). Ignify eCommerce supports videos on many channels including YouTube, Amazon S3, Hey Video.

Videos are a great way to grab shopper attention and connect customers with your products. By creating a high-quality video that provides high-value content, you instantly raise your credibility with site visitors – as well as the chance they’ll be likely to purchase.

Videos are a great way to grab shopper attention and connect customers with your products. By creating a high-quality video that provides high-value content, you instantly raise your credibility with site visitors – as well as the chance they’ll be likely to purchase.

With these different tools at your disposal, you can re-make your e-commerce product pages to get the same results as the eye-catching window displays of physical stores – grabbing attention and directing traffic into your site and increasing revenue with significantly higher conversion. If you have questions or would like more information on Ignify eCommerce product features, please email us at ecommerce@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Product Marketing Specialist at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of CRM, eCommerce and ERP, software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 5 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine and ranked as one of 100 most innovative companies in the world in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011.