Our company recently purchased Dynamics AX from a business partner (the provider) and we find that we are struggling with a number of business functionality and object/process modeling issues. Most of these issues revolve around limitations within the software as delivered out-of-the-box.
The provider has put heavy emphasis on doing our best to model the business into the out-of-the-box configuration of AX. In places where it may solve an issue, we have been encouraged to conceptualize many of our unique business objects into the primary Workcenter, Workcenter Group, and Route objects. We have been highly discouraged from performing any enhancements (modifications) on any of the core MRP objects and have been told that MRP should not be modified. So we are constrained to modeling our process into the “workcenter/route” model utilizing only out-of-the-box data objects. The provider is willing to make minor datatable modifications to support additional properties, but only for reporting purposes.
We have been told that there are two out-of-the-box workflows, one for purchasing and another which escapes me at the moment, but that there are no other workflows in the system. They propose to create for us a list of various reports which workers will generate in order to determine the work which needs to be done.
All of the system discussion has revolved around using common forms and associated reports to manage data. The “Places” have been deferred as just a different pre-filtered view of the common forms data, and while they are something we might play around with, we will do our daily work from Common Forms.
For those of you who have or implement AX, does this sound like a traditional or average implementation? Does the modeling process normally involve fitting the business into the out-of-the-box AX config as closely as possible, and then modifying only as absolutely required? I need to understand whether or not the path we are following is the one everyone else follows when implementing this software.
Looking forward to any feedback. Thanks.
I see that many people make the same mistake especially with AX product. I most cases this relate to Microsoft recommendations based on limited knowledge of customer business process and needs.
Microsoft recommendations based on the number of users, volume of transactions and generic industry classifications. I can summarize it as : >50 uses – Axapta, Manufacturing – Axapta, Multinational – Axapta. They normally do not have limited knowledge about solution center industry specialization and recommend lager solution centers that works on horizontal markets and employ generic (not industry specific) consultants.
If you are in the early stage of the implementation my recommendation will be – stop at this point, look at the market for maybe smaller solution center that have standard solution for your industry. You can also use third party to evaluate your selection of software and partner.
And you do not need to look at AX only solution centers – you can switch between Microsoft products.
I have not known a partner tell a customer they CANNOT modify the system. If you have purchased a fixed price product then this will be outside of the contract. However partners will not turn this away, modifications are revenue. As from a business perspective whilst it is a time to review processes and practices if there is a fundamental requirement of the business you make the software fit the business need, you do not remodel the business to fit the software - UNLESS it is advantageous to do so. The emphasis from the provider will have come from your business, they are the supplier, they are acting on instruction from you as a business.
Places involve the ribbon bar and various funcitons, they are in essence a different view of the common forms, and they are a VIEW, common forms are editable, double click a place and it takes you to the common form. The use of these is dependent upon requirements and user preference.
This does not sound common, but I believe we are not in possession of all of the facts. You are the customer, you call the shots, the partner cannot tell you what to spend your money on, although they should advise against doubling the budget with modifications that are never challenged. I do not model the business to the software, it is not best practice, but the system functionality should be assessed for the business and it is a time for process change and best practice adoption.
I would say you are not on the path everyone else follows, but it is a path of your own making.
I should say that based on your post, I am puzzled to understand rationale of this partner. As previous poster mentioned customisation is a revenue stream for partner. Also generally partners operate on 80/20 model whereby 80% of business requirements fit out of box and 20% of customisations delivered by partner.
Hi Reed, is this 80/20 model proposed by Microsoft?
This is the first I have heard of an 80/20 model for AX, so I do not know the answer to your question.
Thanks for the replies. I realize we are lying in the bed we made… My main concern was if anyone else used AX “out-of-the-box” with little to no modification, or if the provider generally extends the product in various ways to suit each customer.
I’m starting to get the impression that for a unique business model, one should expect to make modifications more than they should expect to find a way to conceptualize the unique model into the standard AX object model.
Additional thoughts/comments welcome.
From my experience, I would say that it is virtually impossible for AX to be used out-of-the-box. AX has little in terms of process flow so your company has to build in controls and validation to ensure that not only the process is maintained but that the integrity of the data is preserved in a way to suit your company’s needs. Any organisation purchasing AX must have a budget for software development on AX for the reasons mentioned earlier. The amount spent would depend on how divergent your processes are to the concept supported by standard AX.
You should also not discard the thought that your business processes can be aligned or changed altogether to suit the AX concept. The cost and impact of modifying either the software or process has to be weighed and the most cost effective solution designed and adopted. Both software and process change should be factored into the entire solution. All these should be identified in the planning phases either at the start or as the project progresses.
Perhaps, your Management were sold Dynamics AX on the premise that it was an “out of the box” solution and therefore cheaper than bespoke systems. Well, that’s not entirely true and I’m sure you can agree. No out of the box solution exists for ERPs and those close enough to it (e.g. SAP, Oracle) are very expensive because they’ve been designed to anticipate as many business processes as possible. Even then, the money not spent on further development by the customer could be spent on configuration.
Either way, you need a provider to provide that after-sales consultancy and development. It is the balance that varies.