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Driving a successful implementation using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations tools

by Vamsi Pranith Donepudi
Sr. Manager, Hitachi Solutions America

Many users are unaware of out of the box tools with Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations (D365FO) that can be used in combination with the cross-application capabilities of Azure DevOps, Lifecycle Services (LCS) and Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT). Let's take a look at how this tooling comes into play and how it can help to drive a successful implementation.

Configuration Migration

The biggest challenge in any Dynamics implementation in the past (until Dynamics AX 2009) was always the configuration migration strategy across environments. The approach back in the day was to maintain long spreadsheets that would track each configuration and manually make sure that these were marked in the golden environment. Users needed to promote that to production using a SQL restore or have some custom scripts to be able to import these into production.

With Dynamics AX 2012, Microsoft made some investments in DIXF, although even 2012 had its share of challenges in areas like packaging and importing. Nonetheless, DIX was a major improvement from Dynamics AX 2009 out of the box tools.

With D365FO, we now have an extensive list of data entities that are readily available out of the box to aid in configuration migration along with a list of data entities. There are two readily available features that can be used to make configuration migration a less painful process:

  1. Data templates
  2. Data task automation

Note that these tools do not get rid of the need to have a pristine environment. As a best practice, it is always recommended that you have a golden environment in which to perform your configurations. It is also a better practice to make configuration changes first in the golden environment, even if you need to fix some issues later These tools help you migrate the configurations from one environment to another. 

Data templates

Implementers should pay attention to data templates. What are data templates, and what purpose do they serve?

As implementers, I’m sure everyone remembers, the days when we had to toil to prepare the sequence of files that we needed to load, arranging them one by one and uploading them. For example, to load vendors, we would always need to keep in-mind what he had already loaded, particularly Terms of Payment, Methods Of Payment, Cash discounts, Vendor groups, and so on and so forth, and then come to the point of loading the vendors. Over a period of time, you would come to understand the dependencies and get better with them, but you would always wish to have something to begin with.

OOTB data templates in D365FO attempt to solve this problem. To an extent, Microsoft provides some of the data templates by default that give you an overview of how the data templates can be used.

To load the default templates in your environment, under the Data management workspace, click on “Templates”.

Click on “Load Default templates” and you can see a set of templates that can be imported, segregated by each module.

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About Vamsi Pranith Donepudi

Vamsi Praneeth Donepudi (LinkedIn) is a senior manager and architect based in Nashville, TN, USA.