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Roadmap Update for Microsoft Dynamics AX Services Industries Solution

Roadmap Update for Microsoft Dynamics AX Services Industries Solution

Following a number of announcements at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, we thought it might be a good idea to provide a quick roadmap update on where the Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP solution is heading from here.  This update will pertain more specifically to the Services Industries solution for Dynamics AX, which is where SAG focuses in providing Dynamics AX solutions and services to professional services industry organizations.

As you may know, the current version of Dynamics AX is Dynamics AX 2012 R2.  This was released in December of 2012, and was quite a large release considering it was an interim (R2) release.  In Dynamics AX 2012 R2, among other things Microsoft added improvements for managing inter-company projects, improved some functionality around project budgeting and invoicing, and provided support for SQL PowerView, which is an advanced visualization tool for business analytics. 

 

Microsoft is currently working on two upcoming releases of Dynamics AX, which we’ll provide some additional details around below:

  • Dynamics AX 2012 R3 – The R3 release will be a second interim release for Dynamics AX 2012 targeted for Q4 of 2013.  The official name of this release is likely to change however.  This release was originally an opportunity for Microsoft to provide additional capabilities within a couple of other industries, but the Services Industries team took this opportunity to include some additional enhancements for project-based companies.  Some of the more interesting enhancements will include:
    • Integration from Dynamics AX to the Microsoft Project client.  Up to this point, integration to Microsoft Project has been through Microsoft Project Server.  It sounds like that’s about to change with AX 2012 R3. 
    • Additional enhancements around inter-company projects.  The first delivery of the new model of inter-company project management came in AX 2012 R2.  SAG has been actively engaged with the Microsoft R&D team to help them design some enhancements to this area that will deliver in R3. 
    • Enhancements to the project WBS and resourcing.  This is an area that we look forward to some additional capabilities in Dynamics AX.  Microsoft has added some additional capabilities around the WBS for task management and resource assignments, which will help from a project execution perspective. 
    • Mobile time and expense processing.  Microsoft recently announced a cross-platform mobile solution for time entry, expense entry, and approvals.  These apps are available through the Microsoft app store and on iTunes.  However, the connectivity from the apps to Dynamics AX by way of the Azure Services Bus will not be enabled until the R3 release of Dynamics AX.  The Windows version of these apps are actually native Windows 8 apps, so they will run not just on a Windows phone, but on the Surface tablet and Windows 8 PCs.  Here’s a quick screenshot of what the Windows 8 app for workflow approvals will look like:

 Dynamics AX Windows 8 workflow Approval App

  • Dynamics AX v7 – Dynamics AX vNext, currently being referred to as AX v7 or Ranier, is due out in Q4 of calendar year 2014.  We suspect based on the expected release date that the official name will be Dynamics AX 2015, but this has not become official yet.  This will be the next major version of Dynamics AX, and if this version is anything like Dynamics AX 2012 was, there will be significant enhancements to the overall application.  While the details that have been released to market are still pretty high level at this point, here are a few highlights:
    • Next generation user experience.  As part of this release, Microsoft will introduce a next generation user experience that is consistent with the new Windows 8 design (formerly called Metro).  This is a more app-centric design that will have more emphasis on different device use cases.  The device scenarios mentioned above for timesheets, expenses, and approvals are examples of the move in this direction.
    • Native cloud deployment model.  A major deliverable in AX v7 will be an architecture update that will support native cloud/SaaS deployment similar to what Microsoft offers with Dynamics CRM Online.  Microsoft’s stated goal is to support both public and private cloud scenarios, as well as staying relevant for customers that want to deploy in a traditional on-premise model. 
    • On-going industry investments.  Microsoft has committed to driving much of the R&D around Dynamics AX from an industry perspective.  That means that we will continue to see enhancements around critical project-management and accounting processes.  At a high level, we’ve heard Microsoft discuss the need to continue to update the solution for true global project management, as well as additional project execution tools like Earned Value Management.   As we learn more about the details, we’ll be sure to pass them along. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..        

About the Author

Andy Yeomans

Andy Yeomans

Andy Yeomans is Director of Business Development for SAGlobal, where his role is to help project-driven organizations evaluate and select ERP software systems to better manage their finances, projects, clients, and resources. Andy was instrumental in developing the organization's Microsoft Dynamics 365 industry solutions and practice area for the AE & Environmental industry. Andy has over 17 years of ERP experience and has helped dozens of AE & Environmental firms evaluate, select, and implement ERP software systems for their business.

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