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Dynamics 365 Roadmap: Generic Electronic Reporting Tool in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations by

New features in the latest release of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations present an exciting shift in functionality from what has been available. Here’s more detail on some of those features.

With Dynamics 365, Microsoft is investing heavily in making it easier for customers to deploy and consume the solution easily. One big change towards that direction is introducing the Generic Electronic Reporting tool, also known as the Electronic Reporting tool. In this blog we will introduce you to the Generic Electronic Reporting tool and walk you through some of its components.

What is the Generic Electronic Reporting Tool?

The Generic Electronic Reporting Tool, or Electronic Reporting, or simply the ER tool, is targeted to make it easier for business users to be able to configure the formats of electronic documents or payments in accordance with regulatory/legal requirements, instead of needing to code them. This allows business users to make any adjustments themselves, thereby providing quicker turnaround to external parties needing that information.

One specific example for this is using these configurations for payment file integrations with banks. Banks require a higher turnaround time for these integrations, and completing the integration testing with the banks within a stipulated period is crucial to maintaining the budget of the integration project.

With the ER tool, you can expect a quicker turnaround with banks as the business users would be in control of the configurations that are needed to be changed, and can be tested with real time data as and when required, if there are any changes required at any given time.

In the earlier versions of Dynamics AX, all these changes were maintained in a different entity called the XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations), which was beside the Dynamics AX logic. This had some dependency on the developers, while ER tool avoids any such dependencies.

Advantages of the ER Tool

Below are some advantages of using the ER tool in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations:

  1. Formulae, which are similar to the ones that are in Microsoft Excel, are used for any data transformation.
  2. All changes are done via visual editors instead of coding integrated development environments (IDEs).
  3. You have the ability to maintain different versions of configurations.
  4. Lifecycle Services is leveraged in an asset library to move the configurations done in one environment to a different environment.

In order to make it easier for the end users to be able to configure the documents, the Electronic reporting developer and Electronic reporting functional consultant roles are provided out of the box in Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. Therefore, a user does not need to have access to the IDE to configure the reports; instead, once the person(s) in the organization are identified with the ability to configure the documents, only the roles will need to be assigned to them and the users can create the ER documents on their own.

How to Download Configurations from Lifecycle Services

There are a numerous templates provided by Microsoft to begin using the ER tool. These imported templates are used as a starting point to help configure any of the ER documents as required. To get the repository from Lifecycle Services, follow the below steps.

  1. Go to Organization administration > Electronic reporting.
  2. In the Configuration providers section, select the Microsoft tile.

  1. On the Microsoft tile, click Repositories.
  2. On the Configuration repositories page, in the grid, select the existing repository of the LCS type. If this repository doesn’t appear in the grid, follow these steps:
    1. Click Add to add a new repository.
    2. Select LCS as the repository type.
    3. Click Create repository.
    4. If prompted, follow the authorization instructions.
    5. Enter a name and description for the repository.
    6. Click OK to confirm the new repository entry.
    7. In the grid, select the new repository of the LCS type.
  3. Click Open to view the list of ER configurations for the selected repository.
  4. In the configurations tree in the left pane, select the ER configuration that you require.
  5. On the Versions FastTab, select the required version of the selected ER configuration.
  6. Click Import to download the selected version from LCS to the current Finance and Operations instance.

The Structure of the ER Tool

The ER tool has two components associated with it.

  1. Data Model
  2. Format

Data Model: This is an abstract representation of a data structure, used in describing business area, translated into reporting requirements. Data model further contains the following parts:

  1. A data model, as a set of domain-specific business entities and structured definition of relations between them.
    1.  A single data model can contain several structurally organized data entities, which represent a specific domain area/business area. For example, the data model for Payment can support
  2. Company to Vendor payments in AP.
  3. Customer to Company payments in AR.

A model mapping which links selected Finance and Operation data sources to individual elements of a data model. At run time, the data flow and business rules applied to the data model component.

A model mapping has the following capabilities:

  1. It can leverage different data types as data sources for a data model. For example, it can use tables, data entities, methods, queries or enums.
  2. Supports input parameters from the users for a data model for data that must be specified at run time.
  3. Supports transformation of data into required groups. Allows you to filter, sort and sum data, and append logical calculated fields designed through formulas that are similar to Microsoft Excel formulas.

4. For incoming documents, it can use different updatable data elements as targets, which could be tables, data entities and             views.

Format: The format component defines the scheme or structure of the reporting output. It consists of the below elements.

  1. Format defines the structure and content of the outgoing electronic document generated at run time.
  2. Format mapping, as a set of bindings of format data sources that have individual elements of a format that specific, at run time, the data flow and rules for format output generation.
  3. Format validation, as a set of configurable rules that control report generation at run time, depending on the context. For example, there could be a rule that prevents the generation of a vendor payment file by throwing an exception when, let’s say, if the method of payment is missing on the payment journal.

Below is a high-level representation of incoming and outgoing data flows for the formats.

Outgoing: 

Incoming: 

Having introduced you to the Generic Electronic Reporting/ER/Electronic Reporting tool in this blog post, in the next blog post we will walk you through the versioning and a sample configuration for vendor payments using the Generic Electronic Reporting/ER/Electronic Reporting tool. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the Generic Electronic Reporting Tool, please contact Hitachi Solutions today.

This post is published by Ashley Harbaugh on behalf of two members of the Hitachi Solutions team who collaborated on this post: Vamsi Pranith and Vaibhav Srivastava.