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Streamlining Supply Chains with Product Information Management in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management
In today’s rapidly changing world, businesses are always on the lookout for ways to streamline their supply chain and increase efficiency. One key component in achieving this is through product information management in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management (D365), a process that involves the centralization of product information across all stages of the supply chain. This article will explore the ins and outs of product information management. Specifically, we’ll delve into how shared product definitions, categorization, identifiers, and specific configurations of a product all play a vital role in successful product information management. By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid understanding of what product information management entails in D365 and how it can benefit your business.
A product is primarily defined by a product number, name, and description. However, other data is also required in order to describe a product or service:
- Product type: Item or service
- Product subtype: Distinct products or product masters
- Definition of the product variant model:
- Product dimensions and dimension groups
- Product nomenclature
- Product configuration models
- Association of the product with one or more categories
- Definition of the product and category attributes
- Product images
- Units of measure and related conversions
- Translations for all names and descriptions
Distribution, export, and import of product data
The product definition can be created in D365 Supply Chain Management. It can also be imported from product lifecycle management (PLM), product data management (PDM), or product information management (PIM) systems. When more than one instance of Supply Chain Management is used, one instance is typically used as the master of the product data for all other instances. This approach is supported by a large set of data entities that enable the export and import of product definition data from one instance to another.
To support the distribution of product data to many instances, Supply Chain Management lets you use Microsoft Dataverse. The product definitions can be exported from an instance of Supply Chain Management to Microsoft Dataverse. The product definitions can then be used to provision other business applications, such as Dynamics 365 Sales, with product data.
In dynamic and agile organizations, product information data changes every day. Therefore, maintenance of accurate and actual product data is a critical business process on its own.
Product masters and product variants
In an agile world, where products must be quickly adapted to customer requirements, product definitions specify a set of products instead of distinct products. In Supply Chain Management, those generic products are known as product masters. Product masters hold the definition and rules that specify how distinct products are described and behave in business processes. Based on these definitions, distinct products can be generated. These distinct products are known as product variants.
A product master is associated with a product dimension group and a configuration technology to specify the business rules. The product dimensions (Color, Size, Style, and Configuration) are a specific set of attributes that can be used throughout the application to define and track specific behaviors of the related products. These dimensions also help users search for and identify the products.
You can choose among three configuration technologies:
- The predefined variants are defined by predefined product dimensions. The variant definition includes the definition of a specific valid combination of dimensions, such as Color, Style, and Size. Each combination produces a distinct product variant.
- The dimension-based configuration is typically used in manufacturing scenarios and lets you use the Configuration dimension in the definition of the bills of materials (BOMs). After a specific configuration is selected, the system uses the subset of BOM lines that are valid for that configuration for planning and production. This concept is also known as global BOM, because one shared BOM is used for all configurations of a product.
- The constraint-based configuration uses a product configuration model to describe all possible attributes and components that are required in order to describe all possible variants of a product in a single model. The constraints of combinations of attributes can be described through regular expressions or table-based constraints. Configuration models and configurators become more important in product information management and are used across all industries.
When you plan the implementation of Supply Chain Management, it’s important that you choose the correct configuration technology for a business process. A product can’t be converted from one model to another after implementation.
Product variant model definition workspace
The Product variant model definition workspace gives an overview of the product masters. It also shows the status of the release of masters and related variants to specific legal entities.
The products that are released to a specific legal entity are known as released products. Products can be released in bulk to one legal entity or many legal entities at a time. Because various properties and attributes of the products might have to be added per legal entity, the Released product maintenance workspace lets you monitor and complete the recently released products in each legal entity, or in the suborganizations of a legal entity.
Released product maintenance workspace
You can configure the Released product maintenance workspace from the Configure my workspace menu item. Select a category hierarchy and category to filter the workspace by. To adjust the relevant product data in the workspace, you can also define, in days, the time fences for Recently released products and Stopped released products.
The workspace consists of a summary of tiles and two lists. The Open cases list shows product change cases that have products in the selected product category hierarchy that aren’t completed and closed. The Recently released list shows products that have been released within the time fence that is set in the workspace configuration. For each item in the list, validation is run, and the validation status is shown. This status might indicate that the required configurations for the legal entity haven’t been completed. From the list, you can directly access the Released product details, Product attribute maintenance, Product category maintenance, Default order settings, and Text translations pages to complete the required configuration of the product.
Manually creating a new released product
You can manually create a released product in a single run, depending on the organization’s business processes and any rules about whether this function should be used. This function creates a new product and automatically releases it to the current legal entity. To create a new product, select Released products in the Released product maintenance workspace or on the Released product list page.
Change managed products (versioned products)
Products where you need to keep track of versions and have an established change management process (especially products with BOMs or formulas) are often best set up as engineering products. Engineering products are changed managed, include version identifiers, and use change orders to keep track of the changes made between versions. If needed, you can choose to track the version used in each transaction (each version is a product variant).
2020 Nucleus Research Report on ERP Technology