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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

AX 2012 - Leveraging EDI Technology to Eliminate Unnecessary Platform Customizations

Here we are coming up on Convergence 2012, nearly a year since Steve Ballmer and Kiril Tatarinov delivered the message loud and clear that Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 is the ERP for everyone with its commitment to "simplicity". From installation through deployment, implementation, customization, user experience, and upgrade, this release’s design bares the mark of simplicity. And with Microsoft’s theme of power, agility and simplicity around this release, doesn’t it make perfect sense that Microsoft’s ISV partners follow suit?

When considering an upgrade to Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, it’s best practice to work with your VAR and ISVs to analyze all customizations and create a precise plan to manage your code and data upgrades. It’s a given that some customizations will still be required in AX 2012, but when it comes to accommodating EDI, you can forget about customizations – it’s that simple. Customizations to handle EDI requirements are an unnecessary hassle and without them you can avoid EDI roadblocks that can potentially disrupt your business and delay your AX 2012 upgrade project.
While evaluating the code customizations currently required to accommodate your EDI mandates, it’s important to understand the three most frequent approaches to integrating EDI with Microsoft Dynamics AX:

  • Customization – the client / partner has decided to develop a one-off, non-commercial solution using a tool such as BizTalk or Gentran with custom ERP code;

  • Commercial solution within Microsoft Dynamics – (i.e. built inside Dynamics via customization by an Independent Software Vendor) – EDI solution is built within inside Microsoft Dynamics AX;

  • ISV built outside Microsoft Dynamics – solution is built outside of Microsoft Dynamics but augments the native functionality and integration framework of the Dynamics AX platform.

The first approach has its challenges: understanding how to construct the solution to meet the challenges of an unpredictable environment; how you’ll cope with future service packs or even upgrades beyond AX 2012; who writes and manages the customization when trading partners change their requirements; and where is all the EDI information held that is passed back and forth, even if that information is not needed for internal requirements?

The second option – using a commercial ISV solution that is fully-built inside Microsoft Dynamics – can also run into challenges: how do you and the ISV manage patches, service packs, external mandates and AX version upgrades; how do they coexist with other solutions or customizations that are vital to your business?
Neither option provides a simple approach. By using a well architected solution that tightly integrates EDI without customization – you don’t have to worry about unpredictable costs in development and updating from one Microsoft Dynamics AX version to another. But beware – many companies claim integration without customization but very few actually deliver.

An EDI solution that seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, offers a non-embedded design and has XML data storage within SQL will deliver integration without customization, keeping EDI simple. As a result, organizations can be EDI-ready with AX 2012 in a matter of days, not weeks or months, with the ability to implement virtually any new compliance initiative without the need for costly AX customizations.

You can also check out a 3-minute demo video of their Vantage Point EDI solution.:

Microsoft has committed to simplifying their Dynamics AX platform and, in planning your upgrade, continue the simplification process by applying business case justification to customizations, applying them only when absolutely necessary. In the case of integrated EDI, AX code customizations can be eliminated when applying the right technology – one that supports EDI Made Simple®, from Data Masons, a proud sponsor of this blog.

That's all for this post, but check back soon as more to come! Till Next Time!

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