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June 18, 2011

The learning's from AX 2009 Rollout in Eastern Europe (Part-1)

Recently at Infosys we completed our MS Dynamics AX 2009 SP1 Rollout in Eastern Europe. It was  a challenging  project   for us as we were implementing AX 2009 first time in  a far  eastern European market. There were multiple risks involved in this rollout  like  merging  of  New GLS Layer in the existing   MS Dynamics AX 2009 SP 1 Application  for global running  application , migration of Legacy system data, language constraints as the implementation  had to be done in non English Language , meeting  statutory obligations for eastern european market, training non English users  to operate AX 2009, limited time frame rollout etc.

The client had  existing  Global  MS Dynamics  AX 2009 SP1  centralized application  for  five countries  and later decided to rollout their  business operations as part of their business expansion and exploring Easter European markets . The roll out involved  merging of the Eastern European GLS Layer with existing AX 2009 Application. Though  the merging new GLS  layer with Existing AX 2009 Customized application   was not major challenge  as we had anticipated  but  we faced number of issues in dealing  operational  issues to suit  Business needs.

I will be attempting to share  our rollout experience in  series of blogs in coming  days  with risks  we faced  during implementation  and how we managed to overcome those challenges   and created  another success story of MS Dynamics AX 2009  global implementation and roll out. One such challenge   was to have   Fiscal Printer Integration with MS Dynamics AX 2009.  A fiscal printer is a special printer that is connected to a computer through a serial port or USB Port. All sales must be registered through the fiscal printer. Every printer is certified by local tax authorities and its memory is checked periodically. Types of supported printers in the local market are Posnet Thermal, and Elsa Omega. During invoice posting, necessary information is sent in proper format to fiscal printer. We encountered issues to make Fiscal printer work as AX 2009 was unable to establish the connection with fiscal Printer we had never imagined that this will be issue as AX 2009 supports Fiscal Printer Integration as per Documentation from MS.  Further  to add the complexity the printer was connected on Local machine on Serial Port ( RS232)   and the users   accessing   AX 2009 Application  hosted on citrix server in data centre based in UK. After lot of research and hard work by our tech team  we got success in making it work for our client.  Since the microsoft documentation about fiscal printer integration is bit ambiguous for benefit of larger audience, I am summarizing in brief what you need to do make this integration work.
• In order to use fiscal printer feature in AX 2009 we need to enable fiscal printers (PlFiscalPrinter) configuration key.
• Ensure that minimum AX 2009 Sp1 Kernel Rollup 5 is installed  as we did not had it initially.
• AX 2009 supports only RS-232 connection and it doesn't support USB type of printers
• Thermalservicelibrary.dll  need to be registered on AX 2009 AOS.  The DLL gets registered under C:\Windows\System32 folder. This is nowhere mentioned in any MS documentation..
• No additional  drivers or software are needed for AX 2009 and Fiscal Printer Integration.
• You need to modify The COM Port settings of the AOS Server to get Fiscal Printer working

 Finally make settings in Fiscal printers Parameter menu of  MS Dynamics AX 2009 Application to make the fiscal printer work. In my next blog I will continue with another challenge which we faced in our AX 2009 Sp1 roll out journey in Poland. Keep watching this space till then

Signing off for now

June 15, 2011

Collaboration in Dynamic Enterprises

Dynamic enterprises are continuously evolving and involve process and policy changes due to changing environments, work culture and diverse teams situated in different geographies. These type of enterprises have changing hierarchies of roles and responsibilities. Roles of a particular employee vary from team member to manager with different projects in hand. Then, it becomes very difficult to get a clear picture of the projects, their teams and its members, tasks assigned and accomplished. Also it is difficult to search for the members with sepcific skill if hte project is large. Such type of complex organizations are very large in number now, and, existing enterprises are also looking towards this kind of enterprise architecture. They are reducing the role hierarchy in their teams and employing persons with mutliple skills. So, to have a clear picture of any project / work going on, the Project Manager and Teams members both require transparency in terms of tasks being assigned and completed. Also they should be able to collaborate fast within their teams and outside also. The team members with multiple projects in hand should be able to switch to different projects quickly and get information related to its progress, team and tasks.

The main issues faced by these organizations are:

  1. Information overload and lack of contextual information.
  2. Coordination between distributed team members.
  3. Knowledge Management between teams and team members.
  4. Collaboration limited with Phone lines, Emails and Instant Messengers.
  5. Level of Hierarchy increasing and becoming complex.
  6. Regulatory compliance for distributed teams and work done.

 TraditionCollaborationTools.pngDue to the above issues, there is a negative reflection of productivity and high costs within enterprise and it becomes very complex to manage information collected and attributed by each team member. Also the management and milestone progress of these teams is difficult for their managers. If not properly collaborated, team members loose a vision of the work they do and this reflects in their delivarables.

On the other hand, emails are the primary source of communication for any enterprise. Project managememnt tools are limited to milestone and task setting, they do not provide a collective view of distributed team, formal and informal communication. Also when too many enterprise have distributed teams, all need a media for social communication within an enterprise.

If tons of documents are upload to portal without any context and are present in their emails, employees suffer from information overload. To find the relevant and contextual information from a large set of data costs a comany time and money. The support system / collaboration tools that an employee uses should have the capability to find and show information that is relevant to employee.

These all factors contribute in personal productivity of employee and eventually revenue per employee of an enterprise.

If we provide a tool / framework with collaborative environs, which saves distributed employee from team exclution, information overload and lack of transparency, then productivity of an employee can be increased. This framework can also be build on existing collaboration tools such as Microsoft SharePoint. Such tools also ensure Knowledge Management, Contextual Information and easy Team Management. The tool / framework can have below features:

CollaborationFrameworkFeatures.pngIt should have also the capability to integrate with existing infrastructure and applications, thus enabling enterprise information search. Thus today's Dynamic Enterprise need a comprehensive architecture for employee and team collaboration. This will surely reflect in the revenues of the enterprise as increase in:

The collaboration framework provides the employees of a Dynamic and Complex enterprise transparency in a project and work being done. It effectively means a Mobile work force with contextual and relvant information at the tips of employees. This results in increased productivity right from personal level to enterprise level. Thus to conduct business in a complex work environment, enterprise should plan for a proper Collaboration framework with their Enterprise Architecture Framework / Model.
I would be happy to hear your comments on this and collaborate on this.

June 14, 2011

Basic Azure enabling guide

This blog is basically to onboad any new developer to Azure development environment in the least possible time with the right resources available.

With Azure getting stabilized, there are myriad of Azure related articles and blogs made available in the internet. And sometime it is very much possible for a new comer/ developer to get deviated and get confused from where to start. And eventually instead of understanding the basics of the different azure building blocks, they sometime get lured to creating complex application.

So, this blog is not to teach Azure but provide a beginner with a simple guide with pointers to different resources (articles, blog, SDK samples) which will help him/her to grasp the basics of Azure architecture. And help the developer to move in the right path without wasting his/her precious time in understanding from where to start. I have tried to keep it simple with reference to the basic samples from MSDN, SDK and different blogs but tried to keep the maximum information

The complete post could be reached from here.


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