Microsoft Dynamics AX and Service Management

Background

Much of the Dynamics AX functionality for supply chain is rather basic. However, there is one supply chain area area which stands out. This is the service management functionality. As Dynamics AX could be connected to a service parts planning engine, I thought it would be interesting to go through some of the screens in this application.

We start off in the introduction screen. This one screen controls all of the functions in Service in Dynamics AX (including configuration).


This is the Service Agreement screen. This where the service agreements are stored.


This is probably the most important screen for those that work in service parts planning because these are the different service agreements that are then connected (in terms of a service level) to the service parts planning engine.

One thing I do like is the ability to perform a drop down off of the bread crumbs and goto other related areas. You could not think of doing something like this in the SAP GUI. In this case we can take a look at the service orders.


Here they are.


Right from here we can go into repair operations, which allows us to fill out a form.


The Service Parameters is essentially the configuration. This looks extremely easy to configure compared to what I am used to SAP. See all the options below.


Selecting any of these brings up the option below.


Here is where the service agreement standards are set (under Setup –> Service Agreements –> Service Level Agreements.)


Here we can setup the diagnostic codes.


This certainly gives the impression that a Microsoft Dynamics implementation would be far more cost efficient than an Oracle or SAP implementation. This topic of configuration efficiency is almost an undiscussed topic, but its one of the most important features to implementation success. See this post on the topic:

http://www.scmfocus.com/sapplanning/2010/09/18/efficiency-issues-with-sap-configuration/

Reporting

Dynamics AX integrates reporting into each screen, which I like.

This is particularly true coming from the SAP world where reporting is not inherent in the user interface but instead is a separate system called the BW. I prefer at least a basic reporting system within the application itself.

The reports open as listed above, but you can drill down into a specific item for more detail. 
Interface Speed

The entire Dynamics Trial was slow and buggy. The interface looks very HTMLish, however, the performance is quite bad. You are required to use Remote Desktop to get into the Windows Server 2008 box that is hosting the Dynamics Trial. Why is the trial not simply available to be logged into directly through a browser? This is how Arena Solutions has setup their demo, and their demo system is extremely good and very responsive. Overall it took me quite some time to get these screen shots and navigate through the system because of its performance problems.

Conclusion

Dynamics AX’s service management functionality is not bad. Secondly, Dynamics does a very good job of combing everything from the user screens to configuration to reporting all in a small space. Its “breadcrumb” menu systems is also very good and improves provides a powerful navigation element throughout the system. You never feel as if you are lost as with the bigger ERP vendors.

Dynamics AX is rare ERP software in that it has quite a lot of focus on service management. I assume this is because they purchased a vendor and integrated into their suite. Explicit service management modules like the one in Dynamics AX are important in order to manage the supply chain by service levels. Service parts planning software can plan the supply chain by service level, but it needs to know what the different service levels are, and they must pull them from someplace where they are stored and managed. This is where the Service Management area of Dynamics AX would come in.


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