I recently went through a full implementation of Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management and I wanted to share some lessons I learned in the hopes of easing the process for others, specifically with regards to inventory and serialization of products.
Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to enable serialization of released products. Serialization of products is enabled via the Tracking Dimension Group in Released Products. Different products can belong to different Tracking Dimension Groups, so serialization isn’t an ‘all or nothing’ configuration. However, once enabled, turning it off, while not impossible, its extremely difficult. This blog will touch on the following points:
- Consider your current business process
- Misconceptions about serialization
- Be realistic about the logistical capabilities of your business
- Impacts on Supply Chain flow
- Physical realities of serial enabled products
Consideration for your Current Business Process
First, it’s important when considering serialization to be honest about your business’ actual day to day processes. Do your items have serial numbers today? Are they used on every item of that type? It is common for products to be serialized but not be tracked on every item. It is also common for items to have a serial number, but not be tracked in the system. If either of these is the case, systemic serialization may not be right. However, on the other hand, if you wish to improve traceability of items on transactions, serialization is a great way to do so.
Misconception About Serialization
The most common misconception with serializing products in Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management is the degree to which it controls the movement of inventory. Especially if the serial number, while present on the product, historically hasn’t been used or enforced in the system. The transition to using it on every transaction can be a difficult one and businesses often underestimate the logistics to using it.
Logistical Capabilities of your Business
If an item is Serial enabled, a serial number will be required on every transaction. This includes Inventory Movement Journals, Cycle Counts, Sales Orders and subsequently, Picking Lists, Packing Slips and Invoices. Transactions will not be able to Post without a valid serial number entered. If your business flow doesn’t already consider the logistics to support this, the transition can be cumbersome and can slow down day-to-day operations. This goes back to the above point about being honest about the day-to-day processes and to be realistic. Are scanners configured to handle serial numbers? Are UPC labels printed to include serial number barcodes? Are reservations allowed?
Impacts on Supply Chain
The Blank Receipt Allowed and Blank Issue Allowed configuration in the Tracking Dimension Group is quite useful and is often glanced over. This is the sort of configuration that during implementation may seem unnecessary but after the fact turns out to be hugely beneficial, especially for businesses going from no systematic serial tracking to full serialization. It is also a configuration that can only be set during Tracking Dimension Group creation, and not entered after the fact.
If your business uses EDI, or ships serial enabled products in large quantities, the logistics of supporting full serialization must be taken into account. Meaning, if you have an item with Serial numbers enabled, and you ship quantity 10 of the same item, each serial number must be registered. Which means, rather than typing 10, for example into the Picking list (or in the scanner), you have to enter them one at a time, with their individual serial number.
Physical Realities of Serial Enabled Products
Physically, if you store this item in a regular pick bin, your warehouse associate will need to sort through the bin to find the serial numbers the system reserved on the Pick list, because they will need to match when the Packing slip is posted.
Similarly, when restocking regular pick bins, serialized items need to be moved, with their serial numbers entered. This can be problematic if you have an item that turns quickly and needs to be restocked regularly, and if your warehouse isn’t accustomed to having to go through this extra step.
At this point, I would like to reiterate that Serial numbers are not bad, they certainly aren’t. They can be hugely beneficial when tracing transactions in the system, especially if, for example, the items have a Warranty period, and your business enforces a timeline for honoring that Warranty. I would merely like to point out lessons hard learned from experience. Saying “We need to enforce serial numbers in the system”, has logistical overhead not previously anticipated, exacerbated by previous processes not requiring the Operations Team to manage a serially tracked item.
This intent of this post is to provide specific lessons learned from implementation of Serial Numbers in Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management. Of course these lessons wont be applicable to all types of business, but I hope that it provides some insight into the difficulties that can arise from these decisions and provide support for informed decisions.
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