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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Managing Your Supply Chain Using Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 - Book Review

Recently I had the pleasure to receive a copy of Dr. Scott Hamilton's book, ' Managing Your Supply Chain Using Microsoft Dynamic AX 2009.'



This book is by far the best attempt, to give what could be considered an MBA level of knowledge for actually managing a company's supply chain with the functionality that lives within Dynamics AX 2009.

Several use cases are the vehicle in delivering proven techniquse and strategies throughout the entire book. There is a great deal of looking into vertical add-on's as well.

What first struck me about the layout of this book was its role centered approach, so people could jump right into the roles that they best fit into. This was a great move in how this book was structured, as this is exactly how the user experience is meant to be in Dynamics AX 2009, with the Role Center.

As part of my book review, I emailed Dr. Hamilton some interview questions, about this book, and his experience in creating it. Below is the questions and answers from that interview:

i - Scott, this latest edition of your book of “Managing Your Supply Chain with Dynamics AX 2009” has a wealth of knowledge, focusing on several different roles. Did you find it easier to develop this role focused approach to your book, with Dynamics AX 2009 itself introducing Role Center, and Role Focused Experiences for information workers?

A: A role-centered viewpoint builds on the foundation of well-designed business processes that reflect the conceptual models embedded in the AX software functionality. The book directly addresses these conceptual models for handling common and unique varia tions in business processes, which helps define the tasks for role assignment. Each participant in a business process should have a mental model of “how it all fits together in AX”, as well as in-depth knowledge for using AX to perform tasks for their particular role(s). The book supports a role-centered viewpoint by helping to structure these tasks and highlight relevant information for each role.

ii - Did you find yourself wanting a lot of screen shots and how-to steps for actually setting up Dynamics AX based on the theories and knowledge you are sharing in your book? What kept you from doing that in this book, or even creating a companion document / booklet, etc. that did such things?

A: The book’s objectives and desired book length precluded the use of screen shots and step-by-step instructions. These are best covered in one or more separate training guides. Too much detail can obscure an understanding of “how it all fits together in AX”, especially if you attempt to cover every field/parameter or every step.

The book’s content represents the information covered in my training classes. It also represents many conceptual topics that should be part of the AX user documentation for “application and business processes”. These conceptual topics could then provide the foundation for improvements in field/form help and in training materials.


iii - What big ticket items in this book would you have liked to have spent more time on, or felt driven to spend more time on? Did you find it hard to balance the topics out, spread across so much knowledge?

A: A critical issue in writing this book involved the choice of topics, and the sequence and level of detail for explaining these topics. The topics focus on key software functionality that supports the dominant business practices in manufacturing and distribution environments, based on my observations of use cases across more than a thousand firms. The topics reflect those use cases actually tested and proven to work within AX; not all use cases could be tested or proven. The linear presentation sequence was shaped by what worked most effectively in previous writing, teaching, and consulting efforts for the target audience.

You asked about big ticket items not covered in the book. Lean manufacturing using Dynamics AX will be covered in my forthcoming book. Additional topics about Professional Services using AX, or about Accounting/HR/CRM using AX, would best be served by a separate book, written by a relevant expert.


iv - What your take on the current release of Dynamics AX? Going back over the past several years and versions from AX 2.5 to today, what are some of the greatest improvements that have taken place, that you believe have had the most impact on Dynamics AX as an ERP platform?

A: The biggest changes have been the improved quality of training materials and user documentation, especially in comparing AX 2.5 versus today. We still have a ways to go, but the olden days were a nightmare and prompted me to write the first AX book.
It is difficult to cite a laundry list of the improvements in software functionality. The improved functionality has provided more out-of-the-box solution approaches while minimizing increases in system complexity.


v - What future road map item are you most excited about for the next release of Dynamics AX?

A: Lean manufacturing.

vi - Do you plan on continuing to create / develop the next editions of your book with each release of Dynamics AX, and are you already working on that next version?

A: Yes. I plan to write additional editions for each major AX release with significant functionality enhancements. My forthcoming book covers lean manufacturing using AX.

vii - To give the readers of this post a little bit of personal side to you, what your favorite sports or outdoor activity?

A: Most of my favorite activities involve spending time in wilderness areas, whether it is hiking in the Rockies, kayaking in Alaska, or canoeing through the BWCA.

Also, here is Dr. Hamliton's closing statement:

When reviewing or learning any ERP software package, it is important to understand its underlying conceptual models and how it supports variations in business processes. It is easy to get bogged down in the details. Many of the key design factors that differentiate Microsoft Dynamics AX have been covered in the book. These design factors influence how the system fits together to run a business, especially for managing supply chain activities in manufacturing and distribution.

Given Dr. Hamilton's admitted love for the outdoors, it's not suprising that his books are similar to path finding guides for exploring Dynamics AX.

Just look at some of the objectives that this book covers, listed in the below table:


This was truly a pleasure for me to review, and I recommend anyone looking for some proven, deep functional knowledge of Supply Chain management with Dynamics AX 2009, to consider getting this book.

The price of: $29.95 over at Amazon (Click for direct link) is well worth the knolwedge that you can gain from this book.

I would like to thank Dr. Scott Hamilton for contacting me, and for all the hard work he has poored into sharing this knowledge with the Dynamics Community.

Make sure to check back soon, as I have more great post coming out. See you then!



Dr. Scott Hamilton’s Bio:
Scott Hamilton consults and teaches globally on SCM and ERP issues. He has consulted with more than a thousand companies and conducted several hundred seminars, and also taught SCM/ERP as an MBA professor at several leading universities. He authored Maximizing Your ERP System and several books on Microsoft Dynamics AX and NAV. Scott has won the rarely-given Microsoft MVP Award for Dynamics AX, and Microsoft’s Excellence in Innovation Award. He can be reached at ScottHamiltonPhD@aol.com.





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