In my first blog post, I want to bring your attention to two new Workspaces available out of the box in the new Dynamics 365 for operations system. The first one is the financial period close workspace and the second one is Business processes for human resources workspace.
The Financial period close workspace is aimed at replacing tedious shared Excel files to keep track of your month-end task list. As a financial controller it is imperative to have a tool to keep track of all month-end tasks, track their status, and re-assign tasks during hectic month-end cycles. Let’s dive into this fantastic tool for all my accounting managers and controllers out there.
Let’s head over to General Ledger>Period Close>Financial Period Close Configuration to go over how to configure the workspace.
- Closing Roles: Closing roles are nothing more than a way to classify month-end tasks based on typical accounting department job roles. You can create your own roles that apply to your organization. For example we are going to add a role for the East region accountant and one for the West region Accountant. (Note: these roles are not linked to the standard Dynamic roles and are solely used in this workspace)
2. Resources: This tab is used to create your month-end team. In here you can select anybody from the employee list set-up in your system and assign a closing role to the individuals on the team. Also, if you work for an organization that has multiple legal entities you can assign which entities that individual is assign to work on. For our example we will assign Adam George the closing role of east accountant. On the view drop down menu you will see two options. “All tasks and status” option will give that user the option to view all tasks and assignments in your month-end process. Typically this status is only given to accounting mangers or controllers (or to the persons in charge of managing the month-end close process). “Only assign tasks“ option will only give that user the option to view only the tasks assigned to him/her. Usually this option is used for non-managers.
3. Task Areas: This is just a way to group tasks into groups. You can then use these groups to report on. We are just going to create standard accounting groups, but you can group your tasks in terms that apply to your particular organization.
4. Calendars: This is the field that will drive your relative number of days from close. This is best explained with an example. For my organization we are going to create a closing calendar for the Fiscal year which starts on January 1st, 2017 and ends on December 31st, 2017. We also only work five days a week, Monday through Friday. It is important to create a new calendar every fiscal year, as this is how the system knows how to calculate the relative date in regards to your month-end close. (The close date will fall on different days each year)
5. Templates: This is where the magic happens. In here is where we will create all of the month-end tasks and assign a task area, resource and closing role. In our example we will add a new task for our East region staff accountant to post all general ledger adjustments. The due date for this task will be +4 days after our month-end close. For example if we were closing the month of November 30, 2017, our day 4 will fall on Wednesday December 6, 2017. You can also specify the time of the day the task should be due by. Another great feature is the ability to attach a file to this particular task, this could be a great place to store a particular task manual so that any user can follow it and perform the task. The other option is to add a dependency, this will prevent the user from marking the task as complete until all dependent tasks are due. It also serves as a reminder to users that this particular tasks has dependencies. Finally you can add a link to a particular menu on the system in which the user needs to navigate to in order to complete the task.
6. Closing Schedules: This is where you will create your separate closing lists. For example in my organization we perform the same month-end procedures each month-end. So we will create a new closing schedule before we start the month-end close and assign the template we created earlier (This will include a list of all your month-end tasks) and assign our calendar we created earlier in point 4. Finally you can assign the legal entity to which this closing schedule applies to. If the same tasks are used for multiple entities you can assign it to more than one entity at a time.
Once you are done with the Set-up, lets review how the workspace will look for our East Region Accountant. Since he was given the “Only assign tasks” view, he will only see tasks assigned to him. Pay attention to the due date of the task, it shows as being due on December 6th 2017, which is day 4 as we designed earlier. On the score cards to the left, the user can quickly see how many tasks have been assigned to him and which ones are past due. He can also check if any tasks have dependencies and view any task attachments.
Now let’s take a look at how Accounting Managers or Controllers will view the workspace. Managers will be able to see all the tasks assigned to the whole team, in addition by clicking in the edit button on the top ribbon they will be able to re-assign the task to a different user.
They will also be able to quickly see the status of tasks by person, by general accounting area and Company.
As you guys can see, this is a powerful tool to help accounting managers handle close tasks to make sure they get done on time and also to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
A similar Workspace is available out of the box in the human resources module. Let’s take a quick look at the Business Process for Human Resources workspace.
To setup head over to Human Resources>Business Process>Business Process administration.
In here you can set-up tasks related to different human resources processes, assign a responsible person and a contact person as well. Additionally, a due time relative from the target date can be setup. For example if the process is due on November 30, 2017 and we need a task to be done on November 25, 2017, we will assign a -5 to the due date offset from target date.
Once you are done assigning tasks, click on the Start Process at the top of the screen.
Now let’s take a look at the workspace. We can see a list of all tasks assign to the different individuals, also confirm their completion status. Other functionality includes the ability to attach files to the tasks, include a hyperlink to any menu within Dynamics 365 and the ability to re-assign tasks as necessary.
Even though the example provided is related to HR processes, the use is not limited to this. Any process that requires different steps, contribution from different members and a way to track and store related files can be great candidates to be used with this great workspace.
Hope you guys enjoyed reading this post and I look forward to writing many more.
Until then keep being awesome.
Juan S. Grijalba