Using Task Guides in the New Dynamics AX to Deliver Standard and Custom Help

May 16 2016

Microsoft Dynamics AX Task Guides 

As part of its release of the new Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft has enhanced the task recorder function, evolving it into something much more robust. No longer just a tool to document your business processes, the task recorder can be used to create a task guide, a tool that interactively steps users through a recorded process in real time.

Task guides are based on the old task recordings that are available in Dynamics AX 2012 and earlier, explained Murray Fife, a technical solution professional at Microsoft during a recent webcast hosted by MSDynamicsWorld. "But they are much better and can do a lot more things, include creating interactive training guides and stepping users through the creation of information and things like that."

Fife said the task recorder is linked natively with the Lifecycle Services Business Process Models and is searchable through the new help interface, making task guides one of the standard ways that help is delivered within Dynamics AX.

During a demonstration, Fife explained that a Task Guide is an interactive experience created by using the task recorder that leads users through the steps of a task, or business process. A user can open (play) a task guide from the Help pane, which shows the step-by-step instructions for a task.

With the task recorder, all the actions that a user performs in the Dynamics AX user interface, e.g., clicking menus, changing settings, and entering data, are recorded. To display a task recording in the Dynamics AX Help pane and play it as a task guide, a user has to save the recording to a Business Process Model(BPM) library in Lifecycle Services (LCS). After a task recording has played to the end, a user can stop it by clicking Stop in the task recorder bar at the top of the screen, Fife said.

A list of steps and a business process flow chart will be generated from the recording and a task recording that has been saved to a BPM library can be shown in Dynamics AX as help. This enables users across an organization to easily access a single repository of task recordings for training purposes.

Users can configure task guides to have as much as detailed information at each step of the tasks as they want. And visual indicators let users keep track of the steps they've executed and know how many steps they have left to execute.

Once users have created task recordings, they can update them, edit them and add supplementary notes to each step before publishing, according to Fife. Users can also save task recordings as Word documents, so they can easily produce printable training guides for their organizations.

Fife said the task guides are "pretty darn cool" because they give the users that extra level of help.

"And on top of that, the fact that you can go out and create the task recordings and start saving them away within repositories is even better because Lifecycle Services should be the heart and soul of your project and you should record all of the transactions," he said. "Also being able to go out and create your own business process hierarchy is an important tool because you can really build up your help files and your business processes and everything around how you should be using Dynamics AX-and have it formatted your way."

You can see all the details in the webcast recording.

In addition to the presentation, Murray also answered a range of questions from the webcast audience. There was not enough time to answer all of the questions, so Murray shared more answers with MSDW..

Is there a way to leverage Microsoft's APQC recordings in a newly created library?  (Ex. use the APQC sales invoice task guide in one of my newly created libraries/nodes?)

Yes.  There is an import function within the Business Process Modelling function that allows you to open up another BPM model and copy any of the nodes or node groups over to your new business process model group.

Sometimes when I edited the task guide steps, when I "play" the task guides, it gets stopped at the step that I modified. Are there some rules to be kept in mind when editing the task guide?

I haven't come across this, but I will not say that this couldn't be a problem.  If there are problems like these within LCS or the BPM models then just click on the face in the top right of the form and that will allow you to create an incident report.  The LCS group are super responsive.

What is the difference between "Change recording text" and "Update recording steps"?

To be honest, I am not quite sure.  I have to do a little sleuthing and find out.

Which languages are supported?

  • Czech (Czech Republic) Danish (Denmark)
  • Dutch (Belgium)
  • Dutch (Netherlands)
  • English (Australia)
  • English (Canada)
  • English (India)
  • English (Ireland)
  • English (Malaysia)
  • English (New Zealand)
  • English (Singapore)
  • English (South Africa)
  • English (UK)
  • English (US)
  • Estonian (Estonia)
  • Finnish (Finland)
  • French (Belgium)
  • French (Canada)
  • French (France)
  • French (Switzerland)
  • German (Austria)
  • German (Germany)
  • German (Switzerland)
  • Hungarian (Hungary)
  • Icelandic (Iceland)
  • Italian (Italy)
  • Italian (Switzerland)
  • Japanese (Japan)
  • Latvian (Latvia)
  • Lithuanian (Lithuania)
  • Norwegian Bokmål (Norway)
  • Polish (Poland)
  • Portuguese (Brazil)
  • Russian (Russia)
  • Simplified Chinese (China)
  • Spanish (Mexico)
  • Spanish (Spain)
  • Swedish (Sweden)
  • Thai (Thailand)
  • Turkish (Turkey)*

Can we attach documents (e.g. word, excel, pdf, etc.) to each business process?¬

Visio diagrams can be attached to the BPM models.  You can also upload any document and save it to the project's SharePoint repository through the methodologies within LCS.

Are there any plans to improve the process chart that is generated in LCS automatically? Currently it usually shows one or two steps in the flowcharts.¬

I am not sure of the plans to change the flow, but the number of blocks in the diagram really just indicate the screens that you have gone into.  A lot of the time for simple flows there are only one or two elements that are touched which is why the BPM models are usually small.  If you navigate over a couple of different areas then you will see more screen showing up and also more swim lands will show up because these are related to the roles that have access to the screens.

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About Linda Rosencrance

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer/editor in the Boston area. Rosencrance has over 25 years experience as an reporter/investigative reporter, writing for many newspapers in the metropolitan Boston area. Rosencrance has been writing about information technology for the past 16 years.

She has covered a variety of IT subjects, including Microsoft Dynamics, mobile security issues such as data loss prevention, network management, secure mobile app development, privacy, cloud computing, BI, big data, analytics, HR, CRM, ERP, and enterprise IT.

Rosencrance is the author of six true crime books for Kensington Publishing Corp.

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