During summer, Microsoft released Dynamics Life Cycle Services (LCS), a cloud-based collaborative workspace that Dynamics AX customers and their partners can use to manage their implementation projects from pre-sales to implementation and operations. Is it a collaboration tool or a platform? Actually it is both – in a way; a collaboration tool because it shares a lot of information related to the Dynamics AX implementation; and a platform because it integrates several processes in a way that we hadn’t seen yet.
And it will eventually change the way we look at Dynamics AX implementations. When I say eventually it’s because the first available version still has a few missing elements. I do believe however that Microsoft, as always, will come up with a more comprehensive version down the road.
Here’s a list of my 10 favorite features about LCS:
- It’s quite intuitive and easy to learn as it has the look and feel of Windows 8.
- The Business Process Modeler is awesome. Through the visual interface, it enables you to define your business processes in a multi-level hierarchy taking the built-in industry-standard business processes as a starting point.
- Once you have defined your business processes, LCS can deliver a fit/gap report of these processes compared to what is offered in the standard AX solution.
- The tools, checklists and dashboards enable an easier overview of up-to-date project information.
- It can help you do a high level estimate of an upgrade project from AX 4.0 or 2009, even taking customizations into account.
- You can use it to get a rough estimate of the number of licenses required for the solution to support your organization.
- It helps you determining peak loads on your installation.
- It helps you maintain an overview of your installation’s environment to minimize system downtime.
- It’s not just for the initial implementation; you can continue to utilize LCS to keep your process documentation etc. up to data.
- It’s free of charge for customers with an active BREP or SA plan for Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012
As a partner, I am particularly thrilled by LCS and I am looking forward to working with. Why? Because, it will allow our customers to be better prepared for their implementation projects. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that LCS will do all the preparation work for them… There are quite a few limitations to it and it does not replace a full, deeper analysis… but I believe that it will allow our customers to have a clearer idea of the efforts needed for their project and therefore, it will allow us to be more effective in doing deep analysis and in deploying successful Dynamics AX solutions for them.
In the short future Microsoft will have to do something about some of LCS’ limitations:
- There is no integration to Sure Step Online. Even though LCS is (to some extent) based on Sure Step methodology elements, a real integration to Sure Step Online would be great, saving a lot of time.
- For companies implementing Dynamics AX as a single instance to support several countries, there is a need to have the country/region specific functionality taken into consideration. As of today LCS doesn’t support local variation of processes, only the global processes being identical in all entities.
- For obvious reasons LCS is Azure-based with all the advantages that this gives. On the other hand, this also raises a potential issue :will companies accept that they have to place data about their detailed business processes etc. in the cloud? After all they are vital elements of their DNA.
So to answer the question in the header, I would say that yes, it’s yet another collaboration tool and for it to be the real game changer some bits and pieces are still missing. BUT I am convinced that they will be filled in eventually. LCS is here to stay!
You can check out additional details about LCS here and or watch this video presentation here and decide for yourself.
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