Scott has a great opening slide for this deep-dive reporting session:
It’s so true that many times BI is described in terms of the final output, but much of the work goes into building the underlying data model. For D365FO, data for high volume transactional reporting is exported to an “Entity store” or “BYOD” database.
Entity Store – A Data Warehouse that Microsoft Manages
The Entity store is a repository for reporting aggegated data. Power BI using Direct Query is the only mechanism to report off Entity store data.
Power BI Embedded in Workspaces is only available using the Entity store.
Bring Your Own Database – A Data Warehouse the You Manage
The alternative to the Entity store is using the Data Management framework to extract denormalized data into an Azure SQL database in your Azure subscription. One of the primary advantages of BYOD is more flexible than the Entity store.
Data tools possible with BYOD:
- Power BI using Direct Query or Import
- SSAS Cubes
- Consuming data from systems other than D365FO
- Third party data tools
Reporting tools possible with BYOD:
- Power BI
- Third party reporting tools
Great session providing a deeper dive into the technical details of using the new D365FO tools. Reporting is a complicated but critical area to understand for any D365FO implementation.
There have been quite a few improvements to the Data Management Workspace released in Platform 11:
The Data Management framework seems to be rounding into shape with some much needed updates. In Platform 8 (7.2) the UI was refreshed, and in Platform 11 we are getting better company copy features.
There’s still a dependency on having a good definition of the Data entities and sequencing required for the company copy. Microsoft is providing some templates, but it takes a good amount of testing to flush out a solid template.
Presenter: Mike Falkner
I was thrilled to see this session on the AXUG Summit docket. An somewhat agile ERP implementation is generally what will end up happening, because it’s incredibly hard for users to Design an entire system before they are deep into system functionality. Planning a project broken down in smaller chunks helps keep projects flowing and provides a solution better suited to native functionality.
Jennifer (the presenter) had an interesting way of describing Agile (frequent go-lives) and Hybrid (multiple sprints). A hybrid concept breaks down subsets of functionality and development into multiple short phases, then brings all functionality live at the same time.
One of the drawbacks mentioned was an agile approach requires strong project management skills to deliver. There are a lot of workstreams (Business process, Development, Data migration, etc) the project manager has to align from a timing perspective. Also, end users may not be used to an agile approach, so more methodology explanation is required on the front end of the project.
Excellent session – I agree a Hybrid implementation approach is the best default implementation option. This style of implementation moves the project forward quickly, while giving users a chance to revise and hone their system processes.
Presenter: Jennifer Johnson | @JenJohnson365
Microsoft’s documentation strategy for Dynamics 365 continues to evolve. Dynamics 365 Documentation is created using a few tools including Doc FX, GitHub, and Markdown files. Doc FX is an open source GitHub based tool for creating a documentation library. Files are created in Markdown format and managed via typical Git pull requests. Basically, it’s a documentation tool for nerds.
Once a documentation site is published, Dynamics 365 FO can serch the metadata from articles and return relevant results. The help pane can be customized (extended) to link into additional help sites or internal Wikis.
Microsoft is working on sharing their solution via the Doc FX toolkit so ISVs or customers can utilize the same documentation technology.
I’m still trying to get my head around the best approach for public and private documentation. My instinct is that a tool with a wysiwyg editor might be more efficient for a typical user base. My company (SAGlobal) uses a SharePoint Wiki site to manage our internal documentation because it’s simple and accessible for a larger number of users.
AXUG Speaker: Margo Crandall
For an unlimited time only, here’s a free download for an awesome one-page keyboard shortcut list for Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise Edition.
*SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT*
Shortcuts brought to you by SAGlobal, 2017 Partner of the Year. Good job, us.
Microsoft has a generic program called FastTrack which enables direct collaboration with customer projects and initiatives. The D365 Operations group has its own take on this program. The Operations program provides services via technical talks, customer specific workshops, and recurring status calls. Agust Bjornsson, FastTrack Operations EMEA Lead, shared some of Microsofts goals at the Tech Conference.
The bottom line of the FastTrack program is for Microsoft to enable consistency of implementation across the partner channel, and for customers (and partners) to have a feedback mechanism back into Microsoft if they encounter questions or issues.
I think this is a fantastic concept – these types of programs are so crucial to knowledge and idea sharing between Microsoft, partners, and customers. It’s still a fairly new program, so I anticipate tweaks to the concepts going forward. And to be frank, part of this program’s purpose is for Microsoft to monitor for implementations going off the rails – thereby protecting their future revenue streams. But keeping the communication channels open is a critical part of any long term product investment.
The company I work for, SAGlobal, has participated in this program both for our internal implementation, and on customer implementations. We’ve been happy to have a go-to person for each implementation. Olaf Traustason, Senior Technical Lead, said about FastTrack
I enjoy the Technical Talks because they are to the point and on point.
Last year I blogged about Workspaces in Dynamics 365 as a concept. At this year’s Tech Conference, TJ Vasser talked about some of the newly available features on the reporting side. TJ highlighted his own blog post about the various reporting options available for Dynamics 365 for Operations.
Up until March 2017, the only option for bringing Power BI content into D365O was to publish content packs in PowerBI.com, and each user had to link a Workspace to that published content pack. With Platform Update 4, it’s now possible to embed Power BI content packs directly into a Workspace. Embedding Power BI into Workspaces should remove much of the effort from the end user, and shifts the work to reporting analysts and developers.
The major components of the embedded experience are:
- Adding a new form, or adding a Workspace tab.
- Defining the .pbix files that are embedded in the Workspace.
- Writing a controller class that links the .pbix file to the form, manages filters and security, and defines drill-through experiences.
It’s Not All Rainbows
There are many caveats to this story – when investigating D365O and Power BI features, it’s always a good idea to prototype the entire process before building out any specific feature. Some of the caveats for the embedded reports include:
- Currently only Entity store is supported; using your own database (BYODB) is unsupported.
- Embedded Power BI requires a developer and code promotion; publishing to PowerBI.com is easier to make fast changes.
- It is possible to drill through from the embedded report, but each drill-through experiences require an Event handler in code.
- There are better options for dynamic filtering experiences, but these also require development.
Simplifying the user experience and bringing reporting into the app will make embedded Power BI a powerful tool. I anticipate quite a bit of development effort to provide awesome experiences. I also suspect the change management process for embedded could be problematic. It’s a good step in the right direction and is worth exploring.