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Friday, September 19, 2008

ARP for Dynamics AX

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

Update: For the latest information, around ARP and how it now lives as Advanced Projects from Adeaca, please visit the product website at www.Adeaca.com or check out the following blog entry check out the following blog entry: Adeaca Announces the Release of Advanced Projects 4.0 for Microsoft Dynamics AX.

SoftEnigma, this past sprind launched a new product / module for Dynamics AX 4.0 SP2 & Dynamics AX 2009, called ARP. This stands for Advanced Resource Planning, and let me tell you the word Advanced is the right one to describe what this module offers.

I took some time to review ARP with Daniel Bevort, President and Owner of SoftEnigma, Inc. In this review, I really was given a great look into what ARP really is, and what it can do for customers. The target of this software module is customers that are in the Project Based Manufacturing vertical, as well as Professional Services Vertical.

These two verticals are for sure worlds apart when it comes to what they produce typically, but when it comes to projects and managing resources on those projects, that were these two verticals have similar needs, and therefore why ARP makes sense for them.

Lets take a step inside ARP for a little bit. During the review, one of the first things that I was shown, was ARP's ability to import from a MS Project file, and start resource planning from that point. This is not the only way to start, but for those familiar with MS Project interface, terms, and data layouts this is a great way to transition into using ARP for DAX.

Now, let me add, not only does ARP have the ability to import from Project, but also, it has user interface elements, data setup and project setup abilites similar to that of MS Project. Again this is yet another advantage for those that use project or have used project in the past to manage with.

Now with the MS Project references in mind, there are some setup items of course that need to take place. And the resources assigned to a given task in MS Project actually need to map what are called Roles inside ARP. These roles are different that the Role Center roles, and also different than the Roles in, say the IEM vertical offering from To-Increase. However once setup is done, which must be done for any module, your ready to integrate with MS Project and import into ARP.

Now this is the start, and lets move into actual ARP functional area's that go beyond what MS Project can offer you. Let's move to capactiy planning, which is basically what ARP will shine for, espcially for project based manufacturing clients. This is were the rubber meets the road, if you want to look at it in a certain way.

With capacity planning, and different ways of doing so, like Infinite, Finite and Capacity itself, this becomes a primer for Master Planning and Proudction Orders. For project based manufacturing, this becomes most crtical for resources to build the production orders, to servicing, installing, sourcing, any number of area's that could make up a large project that spans months and even years to complete.

Because of the design of ARP, it sits on to of the project modules inside DAX, and does not destory them but actually uses them as they are intended to be used. Therefore, all accounting, ledgers, sales order, purchase orders, production orders, all works like it's suppose to out of the box. Again making ARP a perfect primer for capacity planning and allowing project based manufacturing to really have a very detailed hold and plan for their production processes.

Now the capacity planning being a primer for a project based manufacturing client is different than say a Demand Planner use. You would use a Demand Planning Application, to source and keep your Textile flowing, or small parts flowing in order to build your widgets to the forecasted demand of your produts. Capacity planning, in more of a client has a project that could build many products, and also span large one that cover many months to create. Therefore demand is more stable and static and capacity is more the focus.

Professional Services again is another vertical area in which this module can be used. Allowing the ability of a project manager and team members to create task, track task, and product allows the team members to update, accept and complete task through a 'My Assignments' form, which then Dynamically updates the project itself. Allowing for the project to be Dynamic, vs. static and freeing up the project manager to reports and tracking and not having to update a single file.

So a consulting company / firm can take huge advantage of the abilities of ARP module, to track projects, project tasks, make use of EVM or Earned Value Management, see resouce hours hit GL accounts, and be used to create Sales orders and then invoices for clients that the projects related too. This also give the ability to company management to rank resouces by skill, skill level and see who is free for what projects and really have insight into open abilities for future and current capacity.

All in all ARP for Dynamics AX is something that Project Based Manufacturing and Professional Services should really give a look at for helping improving the overall bottom line and insight into production / resource capacity planning. As of today there are over 15 some Microsoft Partners that are using ARP in some form or fashion to help manage their own Professional Services, and their was a recent successful pilot done for GM by MIcrosoft that involved the use of ARP as the primer for GM's plant production.

To find out more visit the web site here: Softenigma, Inc. Web site And you can also download the latest brochure here: ARP Brochure

As always check back soon!

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

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