Shape Your ERP Future: How to Prepare for Microsoft Dynamics AX 7

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Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 (also known as “Rainier”) will be released by the end of 2015, and the release will bring a change in paradigm from on-premises hosting to the cloud. We’ve already covered the benefits and features that AX 7 on the cloud will bring in a prior post.

Now that we’re in the second half of the year, it’s the right time to start thinking about how to prepare for this new version. There may be various ways to prepare for AX 7 and it all depends where you are starting from; we present three of the most common scenarios below based on whether you are currently an AX R3 user, an AX user on an older version, or are not an AX user but thinking of implementing in the near future.

Scenario 1: You are an AX 2012 R3 user.

Great – you can upgrade to AX 7! There are several angles to consider: upgrade needs, cost, and cloud readiness.

Implementation: Right now, your AX ERP is hosted on-premises on your server. Your company’s data will need to be migrated to the cloud. All applications and customizations will also need to shift to the cloud. Also consider which applications and third party solutions are already integrated with AX. Understand how you will connect those applications with your cloud AX. Selecting the right partner who can help move the existing application and customize from on-premises to cloud is critical. The upgrade process will take a few months.

Cost: As an R3 user, you paid a one-time license fee and now pay a 15-20% annual maintenance charge on whatever you have purchased. Going forward, you will have subscription-based user licenses for cloud access.

This is to your advantage for several reasons. If your business is seasonal, and you have more users for only a few months, there is no need to pay for the entire year anymore. For example, Domino’s Pizza has two days in a year where the demand is off the charts: Thanksgiving Eve and Super Bowl Sunday. It doesn’t make sense for Domino’s to purchase a huge number of servers just for two days’ worth of traffic. But with everything on the cloud, such companies can pay for just what they need and not a penny more. The same holds true as you scale up and down for any reason.

Cloud Readiness: If you are a global AX user, identify where your AX 7 access will occur. You can purchase more than one access point to avoid any time delays or access issues. You should also review infrastructure needs. If you have a large number of users that you think will be on the ERP, then you may need to increase infrastructure bandwidth for speed and data usage, to connect to the cloud.

The bottom line for R3 users is that you are well-positioned for an AX 7 upgrade, as long as you pay attention to a few issues along the way.

Scenario 2: You are an AX user, but do not have R3.

If you have not upgraded to or implemented AX 2012 R3, then you cannot go to AX 7 right away. The first step is to upgrade your current system, whether it’s AX 2009 or AX 2012 R2, to AX 2012 R3. Depending on which AX version you currently have, and how complex your system is, there will be different timeline implications. You will also need to pay for the upgrade. Once all of this is complete, you’ll find yourself in “Scenario 1” and migration to AX 7 can happen immediately after.

Scenario 3: You are evaluating ERPs but currently are not an AX user.

Whether you have another ERP, are planning to implement an ERP for the first time, or want to go from GP to AX, you can consider going straight to the cloud and use AX 7. Identify a good implementation partner and complete the usual business process study, fit-gap analysis, and lay down the implementation blueprint. It’s also worth doing a price comparison of the price per user per month cost of SAP, Oracle, or any other ERP vs AX 7. Understand what the price covers, and consider how a fully cloud-hosted solution will work to your advantage. Even if your current ERP is on the cloud, inquire where it is hosted and how efficient the hosted solution is.

As you can see, dependent upon which category you find yourself in, there will be different ways to prepare for the AX 7 release, which will be initially offered on the Azure cloud, and with an on-premises version offered shortly after. Also keep in mind that AX 7 is a new product release; as with any new release, there may be some initial issues. The issues will definitely get resolved, but it may make sense to plan to go live by mid-2016 to give time for bugs to be fixed.

Knowing how to prepare for the soon-to-be-released AX 7 will help plan and make the upgrade or implementation a much smoother process. Besides the points stated above, how else are you preparing for AX 7? Do you have any other questions about what it will take to get ready, either from a technology or business point of view?

by Indusa

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