Although we know that the number of selectable dimensions in Dynamics AX is practically infinite, before, during and after implementation every company wonders if their choice of dimensions was ideal. Each and every Dynamics customer wrestles with this question every day.
Next, in accordance with our experience, we present to you a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to selecting dimensions:
Consider what reports you need
This must be the first question you ask yourself before choosing the number of dimensions you want. We must be clear on which are our main and indispensable reports for decision-making, although this decision cannot be delegated to the Reporting Department alone, and I’ll tell you why further ahead.
Existing lines of business
This is a key point for the other dimensions because it will determine if we want to evaluate our company in each of the lines of business we have.
Number of branch or departments
Although this is a more detailed question, it is necessary to include this concept if our company needs to keep track of its results by geographic area, department, point-of-sale, floor, etc.
This is a very important point when it comes to establishing parameters for our ompany, because in Dynamics AX – or the new Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations -, we can appoint dimensions to each of the master data in a standard fashion, which implies that every time the master registry is processed, its parameters will be inherited from the ongoing transaction. For example, let’s think about a sale; your items master registry contains its line of business and the engineering project it belongs to; then, your clients master contains the geographic area and segment it belongs to; finally, the user that carries out the sale contains the Cost Center/Revenue in the Employee master. With all of this information, we can define that the sales process has 5 dimensions that are generated automatically, with no third party intervention.
The example used in the previous point is for cases in which we have our own information in the masters, but, in many cases we have to select the dimension in each transaction; therefore, a crucial point that must be taken into account is the amount of information that must be inputted and the complexity of said information for each transaction. For example, if an expenses invoice needs to input the cost center, project, department, geographic location, warehouse, product line, etc. for each one of its products (an unlikely example, but very real in some cases), we would have to have an army of expert typists in addition to an infinite structure for defining the right dimensions, and even then we would still be exposed to possible errors and therefore to reports with biased information.
Finally, we have to review our accounting plan because our revenue might have its accounts structured with implicit results, which means we’d have lines of business as accounting accounts, which we could instead transform into dimensions. In other cases, we could assign a double use to certain dimensions, where there is one particular use in the Balance Sheet and a different one in the Income Accounts, all in the same dimension column.
All of the points we have just laid out will help you gain a new perspective when it comes to selecting your financial dimensions in Dynamics. We want you to know that these points were constructed based on the experience we have acquired in a number of different industries. Other valid points that can help you make this important decision might have been left out. As a final piece of advice, we encourage you to put together discussion groups with one representative from each of the areas we touched upon in this article, for that way you can be certain that you have made the right choice.