Monday, November 13, 2017

Company, Legal entity, Data Area ID--What's the Difference?

You have probably heard all three terms used in various documents or have seen them in the user interface-or maybe not. The bottom line is that fundamentally, they are all the same. (At least in the current version that is true).

By definition, a "legal entity" is an organization that is identified through registration with a legal authority. Legal entities can enter into contracts and are required to prepare statements that report on their performance.

A company is a type of legal entity. In this release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, companies are the only kind of legal entity that you can create, and every legal entity is associated with a company ID.

This association exists because some functional areas in the system use a company ID, or Data Area ID, in their data models. In these functional areas, companies are used as a boundary for data security. Users can access data only for the company that they are currently logged on to and have been granted permissions to.

Organization administration > Organizations > Legal Entities

Five noteworthy features of legal entities:
  1. You can mark a company as a Consolidation company. This is the only type of company that allows a consolidation to be run. This type of company cannot have regular transactions.
  2. You can mark a company as an Elimination company. This is the only type of company that allows elimination rules to be created and run. This type of company cannot have regular transactions.
  3. You can mark a company as both an Elimination and a Consolidation. This allows both consolidations and eliminations to be performed in the same company.
  4. The country code that you link to the primary address on the legal entity controls the country specific features that are enabled for each legal entity. This is different than previous versions of Dynamics AX where you had to turn configuration keys on and off and the control is not at a legal entity level.
  5. The company ID is what the DataAreaID is. Every transactions that is performed in each legal entity is stamped with the company ID in a column in each table called the DataAreaID. Some tables do not have a data area ID. In that case the data is shared across all the companies.

FAQ: Should I create separate consolidation and elimination companies?
A: Well…I know I keep saying this when I ask questions in my blog, (and literally as I am typing this, I realize that I have a problem…I am asking questions and answering them…hmmm) but--there is no right or wrong answer to this question.

So, with that being said, I generally prefer to combine my consolidation and elimination companies together. Although, I do have clients that separate them for statutory reporting requirements or just because they prefer it that way. You will not fail your implementation no matter which option you select. The business process for month end will just look slightly different.

Friday, November 3, 2017

To Share or Not to Share? That is the question.

I am frequently asked if you should share your chart of accounts. This is another one of those questions that there is no right or wrong answer. In general, I would personally recommend that you try to "consolidate" your chart of accounts as much as possible. Meaning, use 1 list of main accounts and manage exceptions through legal entity overrides, translations, additional consolidation accounts, and so on. In earlier version of Dynamics AX this was a difficult task and often meant maintaining, similar "copies" of the chart in each legal entity.

The simplicity of sharing a chart of account will make many down-stream processes more simple including the reporting and consolidations. If you are not sure if you can combine your charts together, Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations still supports having one chart per legal entity.

It is common for large organizations to have the same chart of accounts used across multiple companies. When you share the Chart of Accounts and financial dimensions, it is possible to override company specific values on the main accounts and dimension values. For example, you can set certain default values, active dates, disable accounts and dimensions, and so on.

Many values are set at the chart of accounts level which means those values will be the same across all legal entities where the where the chart of accounts is linked to the ledger. There is a one-to-one relationship between legal entities and ledgers, so essentially this means that the values are shared across all linked legal entities.

The term "ledger" in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations is used as a system for classifying transactions for the general ledger using a Chart of Accounts, a fiscal calendar, and one or more currencies.

The following diagram is a simple example showing two different charts of accounts that are used with multiple legal entities.

Let's take a closer look know at some features of the chart of accounts that may allow you to consolidate down into a single shared chart of accounts.

Legal Entity Overrides
Both Main accounts and Financial dimensions support legal entity overrides.

For main accounts you can see an example here of legal entity overrides. In this example, you can see that the USMF company has a different exchange rate type, and the account 110110 has been suspended in GSBI. All the other companies that use this chart of accounts will take the standard settings. 

There are two important things to note about legal entity overrides on the Main account.
  • You can only override the values for a legal entity where the chart of accounts is linked to the ledger. When you are first setting up a new main account and chart of accounts, you often times have not left the chart of accounts form to link it to the Ledger, so you will have to take a field trip over to the Ledger form in each legal entity to link the chart of accounts and then come back to the Main accounts to start overriding.
  • Some settings can only be set at the legal entity level, while others can be set at the shared level or the legal entity level.
    • Shared or legal entity level settings include the following:
      • Suspended flag - when selected it prevents the account from being used for a specific legal entity or all legal entities.
      • Active from and to dates - only allows transactions in the account between the dates specified for a specific legal entity or all legal entities.
      • Exchange rate type - this allows you to specify which exchange rate type will be used with the selected main account for foreign currency translations.
    • Settings that can only be specified at the legal entity include the following:
      • Allocation and Allocation terms - You have to select the Allocation check box first, and then you can click the Allocation terms button to specify any rules for automatic allocation of values that are posted into the main account.
      • Default dimensions - This button allows you to define a default value or a fixed value for each financial dimension within the legal entity.
      • Sales tax - This button allows you to specify the sales tax posting behaviors for each legal entity on a specific main account.
      • Cash flow forecasts - This button allows you to specify the cash flow forecasts settings for each legal entity on a specific main account.

When you are configuring your financial dimension for the chart of accounts you can configure legal entity overrides there as well. In the example shown, you can see the dimension value is suspended for the USMF and USP2 legal entities.

Next up, you have the ability to translate your financial dimension values and main account names to another language. This make reporting and user interface interactions possible in other languages.

Additional Consolidation Accounts
Additional consolidation accounts are used to assign an account from an existing chart of accounts to a consolidation account group which is used during the consolidation process. Essentially, you can map a single main account in many different ways so that when you consolidate your financials you can have a transformed values appear in the consolidation. You can use the additional consolidation accounts to modify the account number, description and define an SAT level which is used in Mexican statutory reporting.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Introduction to the Chart of Accounts

So when my blog went dark this summer, I was busy doing webinars for the AXUG/D365UG. Among all the webinars and sessions I hosted at Summit this year is a series on the Chart of Accounts that was a huge hit, and I figured I would go ahead and share all this great stuff on my blog. Not to mention like 8 people requested that I write about finance stuff next on my blog - so I figured win-win.

The webinar series was split into 6 parts. Here are links to the recorded webinars on the AXUG website:
  1. Main Accounts
  2. Financial Dimensions
  3. Intercompany Accounting
  4. Organization Hierarchies
  5. Account Structures
  6. Advanced Rules

In this blog I will write about the basic of the chart of accounts and I will follow up with more blog articles about each of the components. If you are looking for some formal in-depth training on the Chart of Accounts in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition you can visit my company website at to learn more.

Introduction to the Chart of Accounts
The Chart of Accounts (COA) is the structured list of an organization's general ledger accounts. These are referred to as main accounts in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. You can think of the COA as a "wrapper" for the list of main accounts to be used in a particular legal entity. Before you start creating the chart of accounts, it’s a good idea to do some planning.

To create the COA, users should list accounts that group well together and group kinds of revenues, costs, and balance accounts. The Contoso Demo data actually has a pretty good starting point for your chart if you are not sure where to begin.

I get asked a lot some basic questions about the structure for a chart, so I cataloged these questions and my typical answers here for you:

Q: How many digits should my chart of accounts have?
A: I dunno - you tell me :) I actually hate this question, because there is no right or wrong answer. That being said…if it was my chart of accounts, I would go with 6 digits and here is why:
  • Plenty of space for growth
  • You can reserve digits to have meaning. For example:
    • Accounts ending in 999 are for totals
    • Accounts ending in 5 or 7 are clearing accounts
    • The first two digits represent the major type for the account such as fixed asset versus current asset and so on.
  • It just feels right when you type it
  • It looks balanced/even when printed (I'm a little OCD)

Q: Should we allow letters to be used in accounts or dimensions?
A: Again - no right or wrong answer here, but my two cents is number for main accounts, letters or numbers for dimensions. If I was designing my dream COA for my dream company, I would use ALL letters for financial dimensions, and here is why:
  • Numbers are generally meaningless to the blind eye. For example, do you know what department 110 is? I bet you could guess what MKT or HR means though. (Marketing or Human Resources -just in case you couldn't guess)
  • More room for growth with letters. I mean after all there are only ten different digits and 26 letters in the English alphabet.

Q: Can/should I create statistical accounts in my chart of accounts?
A: Yes you can, and yes you should. Here is why:
  • Chances are one of your financial reports needs to print this data.
  • Chances are that you need to run a calculation off this data in some report.
  • Good chance that you are using Microsoft Office Excel (the number one used ERP system in the world) to manage this information. And really, what is the point of purchasing and amazing ERP system such as Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition if you are not going to use it as an ERP. I like to joke that the "E" in ERP stands for EVERYTHING!

So there you have it folks… Chart of Accounts 101 in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Enterprise edition. Be sure to check out the webinar recording on the AXUG website, or sign up for training at In the next blog I will write about sharing your chart of accounts.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Workflow Editor won't open in Dynamics 365 for Operations

I have ran into this problem a few times, and for the life of me I could not figure out what it was. What happens is that I am giving a demo and want to show the workflow editor in Dynamics 365 for Operations. But when I click on a workflow to open the editor, it tries to do the one-click install and I get this fantastic error "Unable to retrieve application. Files missing in deployment".

So, now what do you do? Well in my case I could not figure out why it was happening sometimes and not other times. I found first that if I did it from inside the VM for my Azure hosted environment it would always work. So that is an OK work-around in a short notice demonstration. But it is certainly not ideal, as I prefer to demo straight from my web browser.

Then, I figured out that it has to do with the browser I was using locally. I have both IE 10 and Google Chrome installed on my laptop and sometimes I was opening the portal from one browser versus the other. We have this running joke at my company that if it doesn't work in IE you should try it in Chrome (and maybe a lot of people assume this).  Well because of this running joke, and my history of things just running better in Chrome, I have been using Chrome to do all my demos. As it turns out, Chrome was the problem with my one-click installer. (I guess my running joke is on me now :) )

So, if you do it in a new version of Internet Explorer, the one-click installation will just work. (This technically applies to both the Workflow Editor, and the Financial Report Designer (formerly called Management Reporter) one-click installations that happen when you open them from inside Dynamics 365 for Operations. )

In Google Chrome you will need to do a few basic things to get your one-click installations to actually be one-click:
  1. Download and install a an Extension to support one-click installation.
  2. Enable the extension (this should happen automatically when you install it) In my case, I was using Incognito mode, so I had to enable the extension specifically for Incognito mode. I almost always use Incognito mode when I am demoing because I use one domain and user name for demos and a different one for my real work. By using the Incognito mode, I ensure that I don't accidently demo something from my real Office 365 account that I use to do my day to day business.

The Extension that I chose and installed is found here:

You will want to click the Add to Chrome button and then follow the installation instructions.

If you need to enable the extension or enable for Incognito mode, then follow these steps:
  1. Open Google Chrome.
  2. Click the Customize and control Google Chrome button in the upper right corner of the browser

  1. On the Chrome Settings page, click Extensions on the left navigation bar.
  2. Then find your extension in the list.
  3. Make sure the Enabled check box is selected.
  4. Optionally, select the Allow in incognito check box to allow this to be used while in incognito mode.

When you are finished you can close the browser window. Note that after installing and changing the settings you will need to completely close you browser window and reopen it in order for the changes to take effect. When you click on the link again in Dynamics 365 for Operation to open the Workflow Editor or Management Reporter, the system will now be able to successfully install and launch the editor. It is also important to remember that the Workflow Editor will prompt you to log in again with your Dynamics 365 for Operations user name and password.

Another after thought on this...Make sure that the URL for your Dynamics 365 for Operations installation is set to always allow pop-ups. If it is not you may have to click allow pop-ups every time. This is technically true for just about any browser depending on your settings.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Now, I don't want to get you all too excited; but this step is my favorite step so far in the Dynamics 365 journey to the ultimate Dynamics 365 environment. This is where I deploy the CRM components which are called Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, and Project Service Automation. After you complete this step it may feel like you have achieved your goal (and you really have). But…there are still some things you will want to do after you deploy the CRM environments. I will talk through those things and write a whole series to show you how to get your mobile apps working with your ultimate 365 environment as well. I have been having some fun playing around with the mobile apps and I would almost rather skip to that - but I don't think it would be super helpful to you since you don't have the CRM pieces yet.  So with that, why don't I stop blabbing about what I want to show and just walk you through it?
  1. Open
  2. Log in with your credentials.
  3. On the Office 365 portal home page, click Admin.

  1. You may be prompted to log in again, if so enter your credentials again.
  2. A new tab will open in your browser with the Admin center for Office 365.
  3. Click Admin centers to expand, and then select Dynamics 365 from the list.

  1. A new tab will open with the Dynamics 365 Administration Center.
  2. On the Instances tab page, select an instance from the list where the STATE is Instance to configure, and the INSTANCE TYPE is Sandbox. (If you are trying to deploy a production environment then choose production).
  3. Then click CONFIGURE in the pane to the right of the instance.

  1. On the Configure instance page, select the check box for All of these.
  2. In the Name field, type a unique recognizable name such as Development or Test for example.
  3. In the URL field, type what you want to be included in your URL. For example, this would probably include your company name and DEV or TEST.
  4. In the Purpose field, type a description for what the environment will be used for.
  5. You can optionally select a Security Group. Any users that are a part of the group will be added as users in the environment. You create the Security groups back in the Office 365 Admin portal. I will write another article explaining that process in case you don't know how to do that. You can also deploy the environment and add a security group later if you want.
  6. Click Configure.

This process may take a few hours to complete, but once it is done, you will have tiles for operations, sales, customer service, field service, and project service automation. We will take a closer look at this in a later blog.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Create a Cloud Hosted D365 for Operations Environment

OK folks, drum roll please. In the previous blogs in my series to get to the #UltimateDynamics365 environment I have been leading you blindly through a set of very strange activities that will get you prepared to deploy an Operations environment. In this blog, wait for it…I will finally actually show you how to deploy said Operations environment.

Now for a few disclaimers. I am using a CSP deployed environment that will look much like a customer environment that looks just like a Customer/Production LCS account.  I am deploying a cloud hosted environment in this example which is not a production environment (or technically even a sandbox) that is deployed into the Microsoft Cloud that is used for customer production environments (these have all the fancy high availability and disaster record stuff and cost a lot more to deploy). I will be posting another blog soon on that process. But I have to have my "on boarding" call with Microsoft before they will enable the environments to be deployed.

Any customer or partner can do this type of deployment. Depending on your needs, you may choose to make cloud hosted environment and when you do you can make them available in your portal and they can work with your CRM components of your environment.

  1. Open in your web browser.
  2. Log in with your credentials.
  3. Select the LCS project you want to add a Azure subscription to from the list.
  4. Click the Hamburger menu button.
  5. Select Cloud-hosted environments from the list.

  1. On the Cloud-hosted environments page, click Add.
  2. On the Select environment topology page, select Azure.
  3. On the next Select environment topology page, select DEMO. (Now as a side note, you can select DEVTEST - however this requires that you have configured Visual Studio Team Services in your LCS project, which I have not shown yet.) I will post again about the differences between the two environments.)
  4. On the next Select environment topology page, select Dynamics 365 for Operations - Develop (Release 1611, Platform Update 4). (This is the most current release - but obviously you can pick any version of the software you want.)
  5. On the Deploy environment page, type  a unique name in the Environment name field. 
  6. In the grid for the virtual machines, Use the Size drop-down to select D13 v2 for both images. (This is the biggest, fastest server you can choose. This is not required, but you can pick any size you want really. This will change your costs for hosting the environment as well.)
  7. Click Advanced settings.

  1. On the Deployment settings page click the Visual Studio Team Services tab.
  2. In the Specify a name for the Build virtual machine field type a name. 
  3. Click the Dynamics 365 for Operations tab.
  4. Select Enable in the Publish this environment to Dynamics 365 home page. This is quite literally the most important step. If you forget to do this, your image will not be available in the Dynamics Home page. With this type of environment it is also important to note that you cannot change this setting after you deploy it.
  5. Click the Customize virtual network tab.
  6. Type a name in the Virtual network name field. 
  7. Click Done.
  8. Select the "By selecting this check box, you agree to the pricing and licensing terms below." check box.
  9. Click Next, and then click Deploy to confirm that you want to deploy an environment. If you receive an error, wait a few moments and then try again.

Tada! Now you have an environment deploying. This might take anywhere from 3-12 hours to actually deploy. It just depends on how busy Microsoft is deploying environments for other people. I will show you how to check on the status of your environment and see it in the Dynamics Home page in a later post.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Linking an Azure Subscription to an LCS Project

Next up in my journey to the "Ultimate Dynamics 365 Environment" we will need to link an azure subscription to our LCS project. It is important to note that before you can start to deploy new cloud hosted environments in Azure through LCS, you will need to link one or more azure subscriptions to your LCS project. You will also need to authorize the azure subscription to have access to deploy the environment. This part is technically a two part process. Where in the first part you have to go into Azure and give security to the Dynamics Deployment service and in the second part which I will describe in this blog is to click on the Authorize buttons in the projects settings. I reviewed the steps for the Azure portion of this in my last blog.

1. Open in your web browser.
2. Log in with your credentials.
3. Select the LCS project you want to add a Azure subscription to from the list.
4. Click the Hamburger menu button.
5. Select Project settings from the list.
6. On the Project settings page, click the Azure connectors tab.
7. Click the Authorize link. 

8. On the Grant admin consent page, verify that the Authorization status is "Authorization complete". If it is not, then  click the Authorize link, and complete the steps. You will be prompted to log in with  your LCS credentials again.
9. Click the Back button on your browser to return to the Project settings page.
10. Click the Azure connector tab.
11. Click Add under the Azure connectors area.
12. In the Name field enter recognizable name for the subscription. For example if the subscription will be used for your Test environment type Test.
13. In the Azure subscription ID field copy and paste the GUID for the azure subscription you configured in the Azure Portal.
14. Select Yes on the Configure to use Azure Resource Manager (ARM) slider.
15. Click Next.
16. On the Microsoft Azure setup page, verify that the configuration is valid and click Next.
17. On the next Microsoft Azure setup page, click Next.
18. On the next Microsoft Azure setup page, select the Azure region, and then click Connect.
19. Verify the Azure subscription is added: