Virtual company accounts vs. “cross-company data sharing” in Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations

Since the version Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, there has already been a range of cross-client data such as, for example, currencies including exchange rates, chart of accounts, financial dimensions, units and shared products etc. However, throughout the course of many projects, it comes to pass that data are identified beyond that, which is not cross-client, but are the same for certain clients in these specific cases.

To that end, virtual company accounts had to be created in Microsoft Dynamics AX up until the version Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3. These Microsoft Dynamics AX virtual companies were in turn assigned to the corresponding companies (legal entities) and the desired jointly used collection of tables. The assignment of single tables is not possible, these have to be organized into groups of tables, as one can only manage these in the development environment.

This function was completely innovated in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations and can now be found under the title “cross-company data sharing”. This new function now allows designated tables and table fields to be shared with different clients of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations, without necessitating a development.

For instance, here are payment conditions as an example for cross-company data sharing, which is meant to be distributed across different clients of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations.

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When choosing the table, one must consider that cross-company data sharing does not permit a distribution of transaction data, selected setup tables such as posting profiles. Furthermore, regarding the number of datasets, one must consider that fewer than one million total datasets can be shared per job. In doing so, the number of shared datasets are multiplied with the number of shared clients of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations.

After selecting the tables, the single fields can be defined that are to be shared or not.

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Thus, it is possible, for example, that the IDs are identical, but that each client has the option to select the description or name himself.

When defining this data sharing policy of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations, extra care must be taken, as a release can naturally only be activated, if the relevant reference is present to all clients that are to be distributed to.

Discount conditions serve as an example here. The discount conditions of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations contain a reference to certain impersonal accounts in the chart of accounts. Therefore, all clients that are involved in the distribution, must naturally also have the same chart of accounts, so that the distribution does not lead to any data inconsistencies as a result.

After the sharing policy of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations has been defined, the clients are saved, to whom the data are to be distributed.

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With Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations, any data sharing can be activated and deactivated. Furthermore, changes can be made that can also be reverted if needed.

Microsoft and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations even support the following data releases and has created its own templates for these:

Package name on LCS

  • Data sharing policies

Financial data sharing templates

  • Bank parameters
  • Ledger journal names
  • Payment days
  • Payment schedules
  • Payment terms
  • Tax exempt codes

Supply chain data sharing templates

  • Barcode parameters
  • Barcode setup
  • Buyer group
  • Charges group
  • Commission
  • Destination code
  • Non-conformance type
  • Order entry deadline group
  • Order origin code
  • Order pool
  • Production group
  • Production pool
  • Reason for delivery
  • Supplementary item group
  • Terms of delivery
  • Work time calendar

These templates are provided on the Microsoft Dynamics Lifecycle Services (LCS).

When implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations projects in larger / international companies, one often faces the task of developing a global template. Once the company processes have been harmonized and standardized and the global template has been defined and exists, the challenge then becomes to roll-out this template in the single clients of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations.

The roll-out of a global template on the system side has been simplified thanks to the interplay of the cross-client data of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations that have already been made available by the system, the function of cross-company data sharing as well as the possibility to create data packets that can be imported again by the different clients.

Senior Dynamics AX Consultant at AlfaPeople