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Lifecycle Services Solutions Make the Most Out of the New Dynamics AX

Robbie Morrison, VP - Enterprise Group, SBS Group
Robbie Morrison, VP - Enterprise Group, SBS Group

Robbie Morrison, VP - Enterprise Group, SBS Group

Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Services is a game changer in the enterprise ERP market. While it can be used for Dynamics AX 2012, the cloud-centric nature of the solution is a perfect fit for the New Dynamics AX. (LCS) helps organizations improve the predictability and quality of their AX implementations by simplifying and standardizing the implementation process to realize business value faster. LCS is a Microsoft Azure-based collaboration portal, which provides a unifying, collaborative environment along with a set of regularly updated services that help manage the application lifecycle of Microsoft Dynamics implementations.

By providing a collaborative workspace that can be used by both customers and partners, separately and together, LCS enables closer collaboration, helps speed implementations and reduces time to value. Tools are optimized by role for project managers, business analysts, developers and IT administrators. Here are some of its key features:

  ​LCS enables closer collaboration, helps speed implementations and reduces time to value  

1. Proactively Monitor Implementations: With LCS, you can readily identify and define Dynamics AX requirements and develop robust systems that meet the needs of the organization. A single dashboard gives up-to-date information about your project and leverages LCS checklists and tools to manage projects. Proactively monitor implementations and reduce the time taken to resolve issues, improve ROI and, simultaneously, reduce the TCO.

2. Promote Collaboration: Since LCS is an Azure-based portal, it allows for easy sharing and collaboration on projects. Share projects with team members across or outside your organization who are helping build your Dynamics AX solution. A unified collaborative workspace for both customers and partners accelerates the implementation process, which ultimately reduces the time to value for your implementation.

3. Simulate Real-Life Business Requirements: The Business process modeler feature allows you to create, view, and modify proposed Microsoft Dynamics AX business process hierarchies and flowcharts to suit real-life business requirements. Capture process flows for modification and version tracking through Task recorder and export them to Microsoft Visio. You can also identify gaps in business processes and devise workarounds to fill those gaps.

4. Estimate AX Implementation Usage: With Usage profiler, you can estimate the current and projected usage of Dynamics AX implementations. Use data from the Usage profiler and adjust job scheduling to reduce system load and impact. The Usage profiler also generates detailed summaries of usage characteristics and you can view graphical representation of your peak load profiles. You can also review estimated usage by sites or batches and make required adjustments to improve system performance.

5. Assess Infrastructure Required: Estimate the infrastructure required for your Dynamics AX implementation (for both on-premises and Azure deployment) using the Lifecycle Services Infrastructure estimator. You can receive automated estimates of hardware needs based on Usage profiler data. Graphical reports provide data on the impact of changes to usage and peak load profiles.

6. Check Status of Incidents: LCS incorporates an issue search feature that you can use to quickly search the Microsoft database for issues, hotfixes, workarounds and feature updates with respect to Dynamics AX implementations. Sort issues by product version, view status of reported issues, download hotfixes, and verify their impact on the implementation. If there is a change in the issue status, you can receive automated notifications to proactively manage your implementations.

7. Efficiently Manage Projects: Through LCS, you can choose to use the provided methodology, customize it or create your own. Even better, you can share methodologies across the organization and standardize processes and procedures. You can also track the progress of your project and review it across your project team. Get recommendations on tasks and document templates as you move through project phases and upload related project documents, timelines, and supporting files for everyone to see.

8. Monitor System Health: LCS allows you to upload key Microsoft Dynamics AX system information to get indicators and messages about your system’s health. Through the Environments section, you can effectively manage deployed AX systems directly from the dashboard. Manage multiple cloud-hosted environments at the same time using LCS tools, and review results through graphically illustrated reports.

9. Simply Deployment: By automating the server setup and deploying systems and software for different environments, you can simplify the deployment of Dynamics AX environments in the Azure cloud. You can also customize virtual network settings, add new environments to an existing virtual network, or scale systems up and down – with these types of cloud-based environments, you can do all this and more.

10. Cloud-powered Support: A key component of Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Services, cloud-powered support helps you manage support incidents. You can create a virtual machine (VM) in Microsoft Azure which has the same hotfixes installed as your software, allowing you to reproduce and record an incident on the virtual machine. Then, you are able to send it to the support team for them to look at and diagnose. Once the support team finds a fix, they are able to send you the virtual machine back with the fix for your confirmation.

At SBS Group, we realized the potential of LCS to reduce not only the complexity, but the costs of an AX implementation and accelerate time to value. We invested in developing a series of AX LCS we have branded AXIO. Two of these, AXIO for Core Financials and AXIO for Professional Services, are already available in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace. Compared to the typical million dollars plus cost of a standard AX implementation, any of these solutions can be deployed for less than $200,000. This really grows the market for Dynamics AX, making Tier One ERP fit within the budget of much smaller organizations than before.

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