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  • Dynamics 365 F&O Enums | ReqTrans | ReqType

    Below are values in the ReqTrans ReqType for the Master Planning module. This can be helpful if trying to lookup a value and understand its name. Looking for a comprehensive list of all enum values? Checkout Enumlytics for Dynamics 365 F&O by Corterra Solutions here.

  • Power Platform Feature Implications: GPT-3 AI and Power FX

    Microsoft announced today, 5/26/2021, more features are being released to the Power Platform focused on no-code/low-code development. You can read the details here and here. While some of the features are exciting, there are some other features that bring up some questions on where Microsoft is going. This article is from a developer/engineer perspective. Features to be excited about Power FX in Model Driven Apps Model-driven commanding. No longer do makers need to learn and write JavaScript to create their own commands! The same Power Fx formulas used in canvas apps can be used to test and modify Dataverse data. Credit: Power Fx coming to Model-driven Power Apps, Dataverse, and more | Microsoft Power Apps As announced at Ignite 2021, Power FX language is coming to model-driven apps and the Dataverse. This effectively rids the need for simple JavaScript libraries for basic tasks such as calculations, triggering updates in other tables, and more. This is very long overdue and welcome from all my colleagues regardless of if they love JavaScript or not. Having to load a JavaScript library to do a calculation because Business Rules could not perform the calculation always seemed unnecessary. JavaScript certainly will have its use cases going into the future but with this change, I can see a day where raw libraries are no longer used and only Power FX or PCF components drive the user interface and event handling. Programming By Example Programming by examples (PBE) is a new frontier in AI that enables users to create scripts from input-output examples. Credit: Introducing Power Apps Ideas: AI-powered assistance now helps anyone create apps using natural language | Microsoft Power Apps This new feature will allow entering an example string of data and returning the proposed formula to use to achieve the desired result. This is a wonderful way to onboard citizen devs and professional devs into Power Apps. Not only that, but it can also save significant time composing complicated string manipulation formulas or trying to build the correct regular expression. The example used in the article previously linked takes a first name and last name initial from two fields, First Name and Last Name. By simply typing the example, the AI will suggest the formula to achieve the result. This is easy to embrace as it creates efficiencies. Concerns and Skepticism Natural Language development, will it work? Many of these new features are backed by integrating with OpenAI's GPT-3 language prediction model to allow natural language "development". One of the features describes the ability to simply tell the app what you want to do, and it will generate the formula for you. While this sounds revolutionary, this similar natural language processing is utilized by the Q&A feature in Power BI yet not quite feeling like "natural language". It is pretty clunky even after training the model well. An end user truly cannot use their "natural" language as they need to ask the question in a specific way for any meaningful results to return. I am highly skeptical of this feature yielding anything but frustrated end users after they try to use it and their formulas do not work. With that said, I am sure over time it will be refined and provide value...just when will that be? This also leads to my next question, if natural language can build formulas, where does that leave devs, both citizen and professional? Is Microsoft trying to get rid of its partner network and developers all together? While reading over and over again that the answer to the above question is NO, the language Microsoft uses in its own blog posts contradicts this notion. Take the below for an example, a snippet from one of the newly released blog posts on Power BI AI features: Automatic aggregations in Power BI will enable all Power BI Premium customers to benefit from the performance acceleration that Power BI provides, without having to invest in expensive and time-consuming data engineering resources. Credit: Enabling intelligent experiences with Power BI for developers, data scientists, and data engineers | Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI The statement "without having to invest in expensive and time-consuming data engineering resources" should certain be concerning to data professionals. If Microsoft is truly not on a quest to replace developers with AI, how does one explain this statement? Reading between the lines, its states that enterprises can higher less data professionals because the AI and machine learning models will do it all for them. As a professional in the IT industry, this is concerning for me. This is not "empowering" end users or "aiding" developers. It is a direct statement saying that these resources are inefficient, costly so they should be removed. Conclusion The productivity enhancements that AI and no-code/low-code can provide are both exciting and concerning. What does this mean for the future of development? Is Microsoft trying to get rid of business application developers as we know them? Looking forward to what comes next.

  • Fusion Development Teams

    Recently, Microsoft released an eBook entitled Fusion development approach to building apps using Power Apps that describes approaches for "fusion" development teams. A fusion development team is a team comprised of both end-user "citizen developers" and professional developers. The aim at this article is to provide a guide for these teams to succeed in the new age of low-code/no-code. As a citizen developer, turned professional developer, some questions come to mind with this approach. Involving more end-users in the development of problem-solving solutions is a great. But could it cause more issues than it solves? While this "fusion" approach could yield better apps and cost savings, I would like to challenge this idea while recognizing there certainly is a place for citizen developers. 1. While Microsoft keeps pushing the ability for "citizen developers" to build apps, do business leaders really want their teams to be building apps? Do they have the time? Even the example in the eBook states the business user is already stretched thin, how are they going to find the time to build and app and work with developers? Isn't that a business analysts job? 2. What happens when the pro dev and citizen dev do not speak the same language? Is it realistic to think that end users and developers will always be able to "get along"? Historically, business analysts have filled this translation gap, ensuring requirements are met and acting as an intermediary between the parties. Will both the citizen and pro dev's grow frustrated without the aid of a business analyst? 3. How can you adhere to a budget with this style of development? Who is managing the project? This eBook does not even mention the word budget in 193 pages, and only uses the work manage outside of the "inventory management" concept 5 times. This seems to be a gap. Please leave any of your thoughts in the comments as I would love to discuss this topic more.


    ORIGINAL POST FROM 2019. Still applicable! Are you a small to middle market company looking to better leverage your data to make business decisions? Have you heard of Power BI and want to learn what it is all about? We want to help answer the common questions we hear from our clients regarding data analytics and Power BI. What are “data analytics”? We are all about data these days. But what does that mean? Businesses are finding new and competitive advantages by utilizing data analytics tools to gain insights into their data. The insights gained are endless. Some quick examples on the value of data analytics could include cost savings, time reduction, efficiency improvement, return on investment, understanding market conditions, sales performance and profitability, robust finance and accounting reporting, etc. Large companies are taking serious advantage of data analytics. But what about small and middle market businesses? The top questions/concerns we hear from clients are: There are many data analytics tools. How do I choose? How much time and effort will this cost us? I hear the term “Power BI” but what does that mean? To help address these questions, we want to share our perspective from both an accounting/ finance and IT perspective. We will dig into answering some common questions we hear from our clients regarding Power BI and data analytics. Note while reading: Always keep in mind the following key objectives/questions prior to investing time and effort into a data program: Data Objective – What value will this data provide? Data Execution – Who will own the data? Who will validate the data and ensure it is complete and accurate? Data Communication – How will we communicate the data? How will we act on it? Below are answers to the top questions we hear from our clients: 1. What is Power BI? How does it work? IT Response: Power BI is a business intelligence and data analytics tool from Microsoft that can deliver powerful visualizations and data insights. As an analytics and reporting tool, the platform was built with the end user in mind. Packaged within Power BI are hundreds of connectors, such as Excel, SQL Database, Share Point, Salesforce, Mail Chimp, and Quick Books, just to name a few. It can help to drive business decisions through insightful representations of data and offers the ability to pull data from different sources. It will mainly help in any scenario where a “total view” is needed of your data. Finance/Accounting Response: Power BI’s innate capability to connect data could be a low-cost alternative to expensive and sometimes ineffective system integration. Power BI’s ability to easily connect with popular financial, operational and sales packages reduces unnecessary costs and leads to an easily obtainable data set(s) to analyze. 2. I don’t have the time to spend learning and implementing a new data analytics system. What is the upfront time and costs of Power BI? IT Response: Power BI costs as little as $10/month per user. You must already have Office 365 to be able to use Power BI. The report writing tool, the Power BI Desktop application, is FREE. We suggest trying out the desktop application to get a feel for Power BI before incurring cost of purchasing licenses. In regard to the learning curve/time costs, Power Query is embedded and is similar in format to Excel. This allows for non-developer end users to make data manipulations logically. For example, data from different divisions are all stored in Excel spreadsheets. Power BI gives the capability to pull those spreadsheets together into one data set. Then with Power Query, add calculated columns, aggregations, relationships, etc. by pointing and clicking, not by writing code. Power Query tracks what you did and records it. The next time you need to do your reporting, simply point to the update spreadsheets and Power Query will repeat those steps you did previously. This is impressive and powerful. What used to require a developer can now be done by an end user with minimal training. Finance/Accounting Response: If the words “repeatable” and “automated” put a smile on your face, Power BI could be the thing of your dreams. Think of the endless monthly grind of reconciliations, financials statement prep and management/board reporting. Just within accounting, eliminating the standard monthly processes to incorporate system repeatable steps can save hours, if not days. Imagine these efficiencies across other departments? 3. I have multiple systems. How challenging would it be to integrate? IT Response: Short answer, compared to alternative data programs, integration is not challenging. Power BI is a great tool to pull data from multiple systems with many pre-packaged connections to common data sources and services. The data-modeling capabilities in Power BI allow for “Access”-like relationship modeling. Have Salesforce and Quick Books data? Use the connectors for Salesforce and Quick Books to pull the table you desire. Once that data is pulled, use the relationship modeling capabilities to relate the Salesforce data to the Quick Books. Have data on multiple servers? Data gateways allow you to connect to those disparate SQL servers and pull your data together. 4. I have an old system, my data is inconsistent, and cleansing has never been done. Can Power BI handle my data? IT Response: While Power BI works best with “clean” data, data cleansing can be done right in Power BI. Power Query can be used to clean up the data without having a deep technical knowledge. Removing duplicates, unused columns, filtering out old/inconsistent data can all be done intuitively and repeatable. That being said, every situation is different. Power BI does not “obsolete” data/IT consultants, but it does give much more power to the end user than before. The best approach to dealing with “bad” data is to fix it in the source if at all possible. Fixing data in the source is always the preferred route. Finance/Accounting Response: It is best to assign a data champion to ensure data is both complete and accurate. In small to middle market companies – finance/accounting generally are the best option to validate the underlying data prior to relying on it. 5. Why Power BI? What can my data tell me? Data is everywhere but in many cases the ability to gain insights from the data in a cost-effective manner can be challenging. Power BI solves this issue. Historically, pulling data from disparate sources and creating meaningful visualizations would be only possible by a database professional. No longer is that the case. If you have a vision for what you want to see to measure the success of your team, department, division, or company, it can be accomplished in Power BI. From gauges, to line graphs, to summary tiles, Power BI brings data to life. See some real examples below: Sales Dept: Problem: Sales is concerned discounts and price reductions are impacting overall performance. A sales manager wants to understand the true gross -margin or profitability of sales per salesperson. Currently relies on a Salesforce report reporting total sales by sales person. Solution: Integrate or “connect” Salesforce data to financial data within Power BI. Power BI can incorporate cost per SKU/item sold to the Salesforce data by sales person. This results in a powerful report, including sales and gross margin per sales person. Accounting: Problem: Accounting has to manually prepare financial statements and management reports in excel on a monthly basis. The current financial system is not capable of meeting the company’s financial reporting needs. Solution: Integrate or “connect” results to Excel reports or the financial system. Once the desired format is setup in Power BI, a monthly process to load or sync to the financial system takes minutes. On a regular basis, financials and management reporting are formatted with respective illustrative exhibits (e.g. charts or other visual aids). These are just a few examples. Data is being used everywhere – from helping hospital and insurance claims understand operations to marketing departments looking to understand the return on their investment. Conclusion: Power BI is a “power”-ful tool to gain insights into your existing data. The learning curve and costs are manageable compared to the alternatives. When implementing a data program for your business remember these key objectives: Work with key stakeholders to understand the overall objectives and potential value of the data. Start simple! Develop a process for the data definitions, processing and analysis. Effectively analyze and communicate the results – and more importantly – act on the results! About the Authors Chris Cutrara, Cutrara Consulting is an industry “fixer”. He has over 18 years of experience, working extensively with companies going through change. He has a keen ability to quickly identify problem areas and implement new systems to create value for his clients. Joe Bonomo, Corterra Solutions, is an IT consultant using creative problem-solving techniques and technology to solve business problems. Throughout his career, Joe has a wide range of experience as a developer, business analyst, solutions architect, and manager. Joe has worked with all levels in an organization from manufacturing floor workers, accounts payable clerks, and C-suite executives, to name a few, giving insight to the challenge’s businesses face.

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