Part 1 of this series provided a high level overview of the components that make up the chart of accounts in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012. Part 2 focused in on the chart of accounts components. This posting is going to focus on the financial dimensions in AX 2012 as well as the impact of upgrading from a previous version of AX. The components I will discuss in this blog are the following from the conceptual model provided in Part 1:
When thinking about what dimensions to create, you need to ask what analysis needs to be done against the general ledger data. What is the level of detail required for financial reporting?
Dynamics AX 2012 provides support for an unlimited number of financial dimensions. But does that mean you should create dimensions for everything? There is a cost for each additional dimension in terms of a potential performance impact and, of course, more potential data entry errors that will need to be corrected in journal entry adjustments.
The performance impact really comes down to how many 'combinations' are generated. Dynamics AX 2012 creates a combination (account number) when it is used on a source document or journal entry. By creating and storing the combinations, performance in areas such as validation is improved. But other areas may be impacted, such as the trial balance list page. The trial balance list page does not have the ability to page the data so when selecting a dimension set that contains all of the dimensions to display, the system needs to go through all the combinations for the current company and date range. It does take a large number of combinations to see this impact, but we have had customers that have gotten into the 80,000+ number of combinations for a single year based on how detailed they wanted their chart of accounts.
Another performance consideration for financial dimensions is to consider the number of values for the dimension. For example, if you create a financial dimension based on Customer and you have 10,000 customers, you will have 10,000 values. Taken into combination with the other financial dimensions and their values, you could have 10s or 100s of thousands of combinations of account numbers generated which will impact the performance of many queries.
So what are the alternatives? Management Reporter has the ability to create reporting trees which provide the flexibility in the level the report is viewed and generated. If you can set up reporting trees that represent your organization, such as Business Unties, Departments and Cost Centers, you may only need to set up the lowest level of the reporting tree as a financial dimension in Dynamics AX 2012. That is because Management Reporter can derive the data based on the reporting tree. In this example, you many not need Business Unit as a financial dimension as either Department or the Cost Center will determine which Business Unit the financial data is reported under using the reporting tree. A good resource for more information on Management Reporter is their blog: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/dynamicscpm/
Management Reporter can pull the related Customer of Vendor onto a financial report when generating at a detail level so you don't need to have a financial dimension representing this data. The General Ledger Cube is another tool that allows you to do analysis against the general ledger data and does not require that everything is a financial dimension.
Another good resource to help you understand the financial dimension framework on Dynamics AX 2012 is to review the technical Implementingthe Account and Financial Dimensions Framework for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012.
Upgrading from a release prior to AX 2012 (such as AX 4 or AX 2009) will create the AX 2012 financial dimensions as 'custom dimensions'. This means you will need to continue to manually maintain the values. For example, if you add a new Department to your organization, you will need to make sure to add the dimension value to the Department financial dimension. Department and Cost Center dimensions will not be upgraded as organization units.
In AX 4 and AX 2009, the dimensions were shared data but the dimension codes were set up per company. If you have 10 companies, you may have 10 different "Admin" Cost Center dimension codes (one for each company). The upgrade will merge the dimension codes that have the dame name for the same dimension into one dimension value. For the 10 different "Admin" Cost Center dimension codes, there will only be one "Admin" dimension value for the Cost Center dimension in AX 2012. There is a step in the pre-upgrade process to do if you have dimension codes with the same name but have different parameters for the different companies. In this step, you select which dimension code should be moved forward as a dimension value.
The next post for this blog series will focus on the account structures.