Purpose: The purpose of this document is to explain what Master Data Management capabilities are provided by Microsoft Dynamics Microsoft Dynamics RapidStart Services. Please note that in the previous articles I described how to implement Master Data Management scenario for Microsoft Dynamics using Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Master Data Services.
Challenge: There is number of tools and services available for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 which have Master Data Management capabilities. The challenge is to understand usage scenarios and how to apply them properly. Microsoft Dynamics RapidStart Services is online service which can also be used in some Master Data Management scenarios. Microsoft Dynamics RapidStart Services allows you to import master data into Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 and can be used to synchronize master data between multiple instances of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.
Solution: Microsoft Dynamics RapidStart Services provide an intelligent questionnaire based framework that allows fast and easy configuration and setup of Microsoft Dynamics ERP. This service enables collaboration throughout the implementation. It is extensible and customizable to fit the business processes that need to be configured. Currently this service is available for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Netherlands, United Kingdom and the United States.
Microsoft Dynamics RapidStart Services is online service available for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 which is primarily designed for rapid system configuration and master data import. For the sake of simplicity in this document I’ll consider usual Master Data Management entities such as Customers and Products.
For the purposes of this walkthrough I subscribed to Microsoft Dynamics RapidStart Services on Online Services for Microsoft Dynamics web site: http://www.dynamicsonline.com/
Online Services for Microsoft Dynamics web site
When you work with RapidStart you create a project which has the following structure
Structure of RapidStart project
Let’s start with project creation
Now we can define a functional area which also includes Base company information
Please see example of how configuration experience looks like with questionnaire based RapidStart framework
The next step would be to create a template for “Master Data Management”
Once we created a functional area we can now include it into “Master Data Management” template. In this instance I’ll use one of pre-created functional areas for management of customers “Manage customer” (for this walkthrough we’d also be interested in “Manage products” functional area)
My template hierarchy now includes “Manage customers” functional area
Let’s review how we created functional area for management of customers “Manage customers”. At the minimum you provide functional area name, description and release version details
Create functional area
For example, this is how “Manage customers” functional area looks like. Please note that it consists of 2 question groups: “Customers setup” and “Customer sales tax”
Let’s review how we created question group for “Customer setup”. At the minimum you provide question group name, description, functional area it belongs to as well as release version details
Create question group
Once you created question group you can design the contents of question group by adding questions to it
Let’s review how we created questions. At the minimum you provide short question name as well as question type which can be Field, Table, Class, Service, Data Import and Export and Non-actionable
Please note that you can tie a question to the element of data model directly (Field, Table), trigger execution of business logic (Class) or use Web Services (Service). RapidStart Services is also integrated with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Data Import and Export framework that’s why you can also use Data Import and Export framework entity templates (Data import export). Finally some of the questions may not be actionable (Non-actionable) and may help you to define answers for other questions or organize more intuitive configuration experience by controlling UI (hiding/showing elements, etc.)
For example, this is how we create “Customer groups” question
Question: Customer groups
Question - Basic information
Question – Dependency information
Question – Generate and upload workbook templates
In this particular case “Customer groups” question is tied to CustGroup table in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. Please note that RapidStart allows you to work with Excel templates. You can generate RapidStart Excel template automatically based on metadata (“Generate workbook” function), fill in Excel template with data and upload it (attach it) to RapidStart question
Question - Excel template
Let’s take a look at another example. This time we’ll create new question for “Import of customer list”
This question will be non-actionable as it will define whether or not we want to import customers list (based on Excel template) into Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012
Question – Base information
Question – Enum information
Please note that “Import customer list” question assumes that the user will decide whether or not he/she wants to import customer list into Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, that’s why we specify “User interface control type” = Radio button and allow for 2 answer options: Yes/No
Question – Dependency information
Now let’s create “Customers” question which will allow us to upload Excel workbook with the list of customers to RapidStart
This time question type will be Service because we want to import customers list into Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 by means of out-of-the-box AIF Customer Web Service
Question – Base information
Question – Dependency information
Please note that we only display this question and allow users upload Excel workbook with the list of customers IF the user answered Yes to “Import customers list?” question
Question – Service information
For Service type of question we have to specify what the Service name is and Service operation that we want to consume
This is an example of RapidStart template for Customers import
Question – Excel template
Alternatively, instead of using Service type question we can use Data import export type question which will allow us to use Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Data import and export framework Customer business entity for Customers import
Once you select Data import export type question you will be able to reference appropriate Data import export framework entity. Please note that Data import export framework uses SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services) to import the data into Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 which provides a great performance for large data imports
Finally when you designed RapidStart template and ready to import the data into Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 you will have to establish connection between RapidStart Services and your deployment of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. This is done in Administration section of RapidStart Services web site
In order to add Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Target deployment to RapidStart Services we need to install Microsoft Dynamics ERP RapidStart Connector on Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Client machine. You can also define multiple Target deployments and import data into multiple instances of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 based on single RapidStart template, in particular this is also very useful for rapid configuration of new companies in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012
Microsoft Dynamics ERP RapidStart Connector
Please note that RapidStart Services use Web Services to communicate with Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. Consequently we will have AifGDS (Generic Document Service) and AppConfigServices Web Services properly deployed as Inbound ports in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012
RapidStart template configuration can also be iterative and collaborative process, that’s why you can track configuration project progress at any moment in time
Project status details
As the result you will be able to consistently import Customer and Product master data into multiple instances of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 using Microsoft Dynamics RapidStart Services
Summary: This document describes how to use Microsoft Dynamics RapidStart Services in Master Data Management scenarios for multiple instances of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. In particular I explained the process of RapidStart template creation and design to support Master Data Management scenario for Customers and Products. Microsoft Dynamics RapidStart Services provides a robust and extensible platform for data synchronization in Master Data Management scenario for multiple instances of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 which allows us to create records, update records, do any kinds of data transformations, etc. as required. Please note that RapidStart Services is primarily designed for rapid configuration of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 companies and data import, it doesn’t provide full-fledged Master Data Management capabilities (Content, Relationship, Access, Change, Process), that’s why please review my other articles on how to implement Master Data Management scenario for Microsoft Dynamics using SQL Server Master Data Services.
Tags: Dynamics AX 2012, Dynamics RapidStart Services, Rapid Start, Master Data Management, Customers, Products.
Note: This document is intended for information purposes only, presented as it is with no warranties from the author. This document may be updated with more content to better outline the issues and describe the solutions.
Author: Alex Anikiev, PhD, MCP