Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) with Microsoft Dynamics AX

October 21st, 2015 Sandeep Walia No comments

Microsoft Dynamics AX provides a great foundation for customers with its Product Information Management (PIM) capabilities to get light PLM capabilities for a business. In this article, I’ll cover some of the features that provide for good PIM, basic PLM and Product Data Management (PDM) capabilities in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. While some customers will need specialized PLM software many light manufacturers and assemblers may find the integrated functionality built into Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP sufficient to manage their business.

Product Development and Planning: Microsoft Dynamics AX provides the ability to build a complete product development plan from ideation, prototyping, modeling, tooling, product manufacturing to product release. An example product development plan is shown below.

Product Development and Planning

Product development planning can be done within Microsoft Dynamics AX using its Project Management features. Planning can be at a summary level or detailed level.

Product Mastering: Microsoft Dynamics AX supports a global product master that is common across companies. The product can have multiple product attributes and when released to a company takes on an item number.

Items can have multiple Item Variants through the use of dimensions such as Size, Color, Configuration/ Style. The Item Variants could be considered the equivalent of a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU).

Product Mastering

Product Information Management within Microsoft Dynamics AX allows for a global product master which can be released to companies and have Items and Item Variants (SKUs)

As an example:

Product – Summer Doll

Items: USA Summer Doll, Canada Summer Doll

Item Variants for USA Summer Doll: USA Summer Doll – Pink color in Claudia Style, USA Summer Doll – Purple color in Claudia Style, USA Summer Doll – Pink color in Sylvia Style. USA Summer Doll – Red color in Sylvia Style.

What’s the business benefit of doing this? There are several – let’s start with a manageable product master and Item master. For example if I had a baseball bat in 4 colors, if I don’t use dimensions, I would need to create 4 Item as shown below

Product Mastering Example

Instead look at the example of the warm up pants where I just have one item with over 40 variants with different colors and sizes. I’m able to keep a manageable size product master by artfully using the dimensions.

Product Dimensions within Microsoft Dynamics AX

Product Dimensions within Microsoft Dynamics AX such as Size, Style and Color help make the product master manageable

Product Segmentation and Reporting: Microsoft Dynamics AX allows segmentation of a product with the use of Product Attributes. For example the Cool girlz doll product below is targeted to 6-10 year girls and is launched in Fall 2016 for the USA market. If I needed to analyze my revenues by product s for age segment (6-10 years, 11-15 years, 16-19 years..), I can use the Customer Segment attribute to drive reporting in this example

Product Segmentation and Reporting

Product attributes can be used for reporting and product segmentation

Product Costing with a Bill of Materials: Microsoft Dynamics AX provides full Bill off Material capabilities along with ability to do a cost roll up to get the true cost of manufacturing an item so that product profitability analysis and pricing analysis can be done.  An example of a BOM of the Cool girlz doll referenced before is shown below

Product Costing with a Bill of Materials

In summary, Microsoft Dynamics AX can establish a cohesive ERP-based platform for product management to:

  • Optimize relationships along the product lifecycle and across organizations
  • Set up a single system of record to support diverse data needs, so that the right people see the right information at the right time, and in the right context
  • Increase full price sales
  • Generate savings through re-use of original data
  • Provide a better picture of your true margins
  • Ensure quicker and more reliable quoting with accurate product information
  • Drive top-line revenue through repeatable processes

For more information on product mastering, PLM and comprehensive product data management please email us at

Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

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