Following our recent blog on the basics of the project management module in Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, we would like to explore some of the enhancements made to the platform over the years. As the previous blog highlights the basic functionality and how it helps businesses achieve project profitability. Today, we would like to explore some of the updates made to the product as announced in the product roadmap.
Reminder: These are updates to the Finance and Operations Application in Dynamics 365. We will discuss the Project Services Automation Application at a later date.
What’s Changed in Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations—Project Management?
One of the biggest benefits of the new Microsoft is the move from cumulative updates to more frequent improvements—something the company has done for their Web Apps and something that is a key discussion point for Dynamics 365. In the time since Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations was released, Microsoft has built upon the core offering to improve user experience and functionality.
Since June 2017, the platform has continued to improve. Whether the updates were for functionality, intelligence, or user experience, each update has made the software better for users. Among the previously released improvements (per the Roadmap):
- Usability Improvements: New work breakdown structure ID and task names added to multiple forms, multi-select setup forms, task detail additions, and more.
- Smarter Selection of Funding Sources: If the contract for a project contains multiple funding sources, a specific source can be selected when posting fees. If no specific funding source is selected, the funding rules specified on the contract are used to allocate the fee.
- Power BI for Project Management and Accounting: Power BI is a big part of Microsoft’s present and future, and improvements made to Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations are no different. Now, practice and project managers have quick access to key project-related data and key performance indicators (KPIs), including cost, revenue, and hours analysis.
- Functionality Improvements: Throughout the last few months, Microsoft made significant improvements to the project resourcing capabilities. There were a few optional changes, including the introduction of a resource concept for project resources, in which the system would automatically create an operational resource for a worker (as opposed to the worker). In addition to this, resource definitions, improved resource planning, and role-based pricing have been added.
- Easier Vendor Prepayments: For project purchase orders, prepayments must be processed to release payment to vendors. These prepayment invoices are now available in the project estimation and recognition process for fixed-price projects.
- Intercompany Transactions: The Lending legal entity field has been added to the setup for intercompany costing, allowing users to post costs to different main accounts per legal entity.
In addition to the releases made during the last year or so, some functionality has recently been added to make the project management and accounting process easier. The Spring ’18 release notes highlight the entire swath of improvements to the platform, and there are a few valuable ones pertaining to projects:
- Project Timesheet Mobile: Project timesheet is a mobile app that lets employees create and submit project timesheets to record their hours for a specific project. Designed to make the timesheet filing process easier for employees who may or may not be at the office every day, this process makes the timesheet process more user-friendly, allowing for timesheet templates, delegation, and copies for future entry.
- Easily Make Changes to Project Fulfillment Hours: By default, the system fulfills a resource from the start of the project over the scheduled task period. This might not align with the true availability of the resource, and the resource manager must be able to adjust the default fulfillment hours.
- Reserve Project Resources Past the Task End Date: In certain events, resources may not be available at the start of the project or throughout the project. This feature lets the project resource manager extend the resource reservation past the planned task end date.
- Move from Hierarchal Grid to Standard Work Breakdown Structure: The current hierarchal grid control used for the project work breakdown structure has been deprecated and replaced with a standard grid that is enhanced to support hierarchical data. This change lets you use extensions to customize the project work breakdown structure.
- Continually Improving the Integration with Project Service Automation: Integration with the Common Data Service (CDS) will be provided to support scenarios where project management and resource management activities are done outside of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. This integration will provide for easier syncing of actuals, estimates, tasks, expenses, billing, and purchase orders.
For more information, click “What’s new” on the Dynamics Roadmap to download the Spring 2018 Release Notes.
Get to Know Dynamics
Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations is just one of many bigger pieces in the Dynamics 365 ecosystem, and project management is just one part of that. As we continue to explore the features and benefits of the software, we invite you to learn more about the platform by contacting us. We’ve worked with GP, SL, and know what it takes for companies to be successful with Dynamics 365.