SharePoint collaboration just got easier with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012
Of the 1,100 or so new features in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, we thought this was one of the more impressive enhancements so we thought we’d share it with you. This has to do with really putting SharePoint front and center as an integrated collaboration platform for Dynamics AX users. So for those of you that have teams of employees working together toward a common objective, where they’re combining structured data from the ERP system with unstructured but related data (Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, etc.) this could be a very useful tool.
The Microsoft SharePoint platform has quickly become the de facto standard for portal and collaboration platforms in the mid-market. In fact, over the last several years SharePoint has become Microsoft’s fastest growing product ever. And although Microsoft began to leverage SharePoint as the platform for the Microsoft Dynamics AX Enterprise Portal browser interface several years ago, its primary use was as a presentation layer for self-service employee tasks.
With Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, Microsoft has introduced the use of SharePoint as a seamless collaboration tool as well. Now, from key places in Dynamics AX, users can have Dynamics AX actually provision a team site to be used for collaboration. Here are a couple of examples:
- CRM Opportunities – For some organizations, a new sales pursuit is a large, complex effort that requires the input or participation of a distributed team. You may track an Opportunity and put together an estimate or quotation in the ERP system, but you may also have proposals, presentations, and other supporting materials that are related to that Opportunity. In Dynamics AX 2012, users can now easily spawn a SharePoint site to be used by a sales or business development team to collaborate on the pursuit. By simply clicking on a “Create Collaboration Workspace” button on the main Opportunity screen, users can have Dynamics AX create a collaboration team site that is linked to the Opportunity record in Dynamics AX.
- Projects – For project-driven businesses, SharePoint has become an essential tool for managing documents and collaborating among project team members. In Dynamics AX 2012, similar to in the CRM Opportunity scenario above, users can now click on a “Create Collaboration Workspace” button on the main Project screen and have Dynamics AX create a linked collaboration team site in SharePoint. This will be especially useful for users of the Dynamics AX Professional Services industry solution (formerly Dynamics AX PSA) which are all project-driven organizations. Sharing information across a distributed project team is a challenge easily met using SharePoint. The screen shot below is an example of a Project Team Site:
You can also add links to these records from existing SharePoint sites, and the links can be to either an internal or external facing site.
In the past, provisioning SharePoint sites like these required intervention from an IT resource that had administrative access to SharePoint and the knowledge of how to create new sites. But now, by having Dynamics AX automatically create these collaboration workspaces for you, it makes SharePoint that much more accessible to the mainstream user.
Here’s hoping that by removing these barriers, organizations can now start to make collaboration a more natural part of their day-to-day business processes. If you have any questions on how this works, feel free to contact us.