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And it happens in a 'snap'

From the complex setups/data entry forms for end users in the past to the modern day simplistic UI, the ERP applications have come a long way. Today, every organization wants a robust ERP with an easy-to-use user interface that encourage greater end-user adoption and acceptance. One of the major reasons for failure of an ERP implementation has been lack of user adoption. And there is nothing wrong with it. Everyone wants a simple approach to most complex of problems, especially when it comes to conducting day to day business transactions. Its all about getting the right data at the right place at the right time in the right format to meet the right needs.

Microsoft has brought the ERP closer to end users with the release of Microsoft Dynamics Snap sample applications for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009. Although the concept of Snap was started with Microsoft Dynamics AX 3.0 (Business Data Lookup, Time sheet and Vacation Management), followed by Snaps for Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 (Business Data Lookup, Time sheet, Vacation Management, Custom Report Generator), this release is meant to bring the additional features of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 close to users who do not interact directly with an ERP.

The current release contains the following snap-in applications for use with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 and Microsoft Office 2007.

  • Expense Entry - This snap-in enables expenses to be entered in Excel while disconnected from the corporate network, and then posted to Dynamics AX 2009 at a later time. Mobile professionals can use this Microsoft Dynamics Snap application to record expenses as they are incurred while they have downtime on airplanes or other places where they may not have access to the corporate network. Then, when connected again, they can submit the expense for approval and reimbursement. The user who wishes to submit expense reports must be a valid employee in the Dynamics AX configuration. This snap-in uses WCF-based services and LINQ to retrieve data from Dynamics AX, and uses the Application Integration Framework, or AIF to send business documents to Dynamics AX.
  • Business Data Lookup (BDL) - The Business Data Lookup Snap-in enables an Information Worker to look for information in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 from within 2007 Microsoft Office system applications. Using a task pane launched within Word, within Microsoft Excel or within an email in Microsoft Outlook, the Information Worker can
    • Search for records like customers, contacts, sales orders, inventory items etc.
    • View details of these records
    • Browse data related to a particular record, e.g. all sales orders for a particular customer
    • Select and copy data into the document
    • Attach the document to a selected record in Microsoft Dynamics AX for reference.

This snap-in is an upgrade of the BDL snap-in that was distributed with Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0.

For the snap to work effectively, you need .Net 3.5, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 and needless to say the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009. This release has been done considering the greater focus on Microsoft Office 2007 and the new features that have come in with this release. This snap version is not supported for Microsoft Office 2003 and has not been tested with Windows XP.

What this means to SI is that they need to understand and customize these components based on client needs. The possibilities are endless as any “out of ERP processing” can now be tied down with correct data (in real time) that can be pulled out and used for say drafting letters, sending invites, sending reminders, correspondence, follow up and response to queries from trading partners. Let the whole supply chain collaborate together!!!

The source code for these snaps is available at codeplex, Microsoft’s open source community site at

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