How to squeeze more life out of your AX 2009 solution.
There's a lot of buzz these days about the upcoming R3 Upgrade for AX. And deservedly so. For those ready to upgrade, they'll see enhanced mobile capabilities, as well as improvements in e-procurement, budget planning, warehouse management, retail, and much more with the release of R3. But what about the organizations that are still using Version 2009 and are not yet ready, willing or able to upgrade to the latest and greatest?
We talk to people every day who are using older versions of AX – who want and need some new capabilities – but just aren't ready to pull the trigger on a complete upgrade. Well, for these people there are a variety of options available to them. But the option they choose could easily come back to haunt them, if they're not careful.
Microsoft Dynamics Best Practices
Certainly, one of your options is to hire a consultant to come in and upgrade your system. Having an understanding of AX code, protocols and work flows is one thing. Being trained and certified to follow Microsoft Dynamics "Best Practices" is another. Most of the dangers in hiring a non-certified consultant are obvious. But something that's often overlooked is DOCUMENTATION. It's absolutely critical that every modification made to the system, no matter how minor, be fully documented. This is especially important if the modification is to AX tables and/or forms. If you ever decide to upgrade, and the installing Partner doesn't have the proper experience , the upgrade could wipe out the customization.
If modifications to your AX system have not been properly documented, you should probably get a full system diagnostic/audit. This process can usually be done remotely and takes about a week to complete. It's a painstaking process, as a technical consultant must compare your code modifications against the AX version/build number specifications.
There's a lot your AX 2009 can do…that might surprise you!
AX 2009 is still an extremely robust ERP solution. Let's assume modifications to your system are well documented. A Certified Microsoft Dynamics Partner should be able to work with you to map out a path that takes you from where you are – to where you want to go. Without upgrading the entire system. Let's take a look at dashboards.
Dashboards are always a good place to start.
Probably no aspect of your AX gets more attention by executives in the organization than your dashboards. Early AX Versions delivered some pretty crude dashboards by today's standards. But AX 2009 is still a very feature-rich solution. Often, it just takes bringing the available data up onto a display in some meaningful manner to add incredible value to the organization. And the good news is, that you don't necessarily have to upgrade your whole system to take advantage of newer, more dynamic dashboards. There are modules available that can be integrated seamlessly into AX 2009 that will add a whole new dimension to the solution.
This is a simple template dashboard module that can be integrated into older versions of AX 2009. Data can be brought in as numbers in a spreadsheet format, or displayed graphically as you see here.
Here's another example of an AX 2009 dashboard. Typically, real value is derived from customizing these pages to bring up data that can be "sliced and diced" across various entities. In this example, the dashboard pulls data from at least 4 different calculations, in order to display the information graphically.
If the AX 2009 modifications are done using the best business practices, they'll survive even if/when you decide to upgrade.
With the proper "Best Practices" installation procedures and accompanying documentation, there's really very little that has to be done to a dashboard in order to prepare for an AX upgrade. Even if the module is heavily customized, it can still be updated in a more current version of AX.
If you have some experiences adding modules to earlier AX Versions, let us hear about it. We welcome your "success" as well as your "horror" stories.