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The Beauty of Dynamics AX 2012 Advanced Rules From a Former Hater

By Jessica Swartz | August 10, 2017

I remember when Dynamics AX 2012 first came out and I was so excited to see the new Chart of Accounts Structure window. It was beautiful, intuitive and gave more flexibility and visibility than previous versions offered. I was in sweet, sweet accounting software love.

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Come on.  Just TRY to not love that window.  I roundly rejected the Dynamics AX 2012 Advanced Rules functionality, saying “Why would I even bother learning about that?  The COA Structure is perfect on its own!”  I even advised clients to setup “corporate” dimensions.  For example, it’s fairly typical on balance sheet accounts for dimensions like cost center and department to be irrelevant. After all, the Accounting department rarely has its own cash account.  So I advised clients to setup a department “00 – Corporate”.  It’s not a BAD thing to do, but it’s a data point and setup that do not provide value.  Still, I left Advanced Rules on the shelf.

I was working on an AX 2009 to 2012 upgrade and saw that the upgrade created a single, basic account structure but a ton of advanced rules. I was incensed!  Okay, incensed is a strong word for any feelings with respect to accounting software configuration, but I was surprisingly riled. Why would Microsoft choose to create all these detailed, hard to follow advanced rules?  Still, it didn’t click.

But then I was preparing for an implementation that was expected to have a fairly complex chart of accounts requirements and I had a little time on my hands.  So *sigh* I sat down with my virtual image, pulled TechNet up on the other monitor and said: “time to attack the Advanced Rules beast.” The example I chose was to use Project as a financial dimension. One can imagine that only a few select P&L accounts would have Project as a relevant financial dimension. Revenue, cost, maybe some G&A or WIP on the balance sheet, but it would be incredibly irrelevant to the majority of the balance sheet and a bunch of the P&L. That’s where Advanced Rules become ingenious.  You can setup a simple little rule that says, for my cost accounts 50000-54999, require the Project financial dimension to be populated.  That’s it!  You don’t have to have multiple account structures that have the Project financial dimension or don’t. Just one that leverages that simple little-advanced rule! Think of it for a Customer financial dimension or an Item Group financial dimension – how perfect and targeted they could be!

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Such beautiful simplicity!

My excitement quickly faded to shame.  Shame that I hadn’t learned this functionality sooner and shame that I hadn’t advised my clients better back in the days of AX 2012 RTM.  Here’s the link to the TechNet article I read and that reformed me from being an Advanced Rule hater: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh242096.aspx .  Check out the example – I found it illuminating.  It’s never too late….

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