Friday, January 31, 2014

AX error: 'Vendor code XXXX is not authorized for XXXXXX' when adding item to purchase line. Approved Vendors in AX 2012

When adding an item to a purchase order, you are getting the error/warning: 'Vendor code [Vendor number] is not authorized for [item number]' seen in Figure 1 below. This is a configuration error.  In this situation, it was just a warning and I could continue with the transaction but it could also be an error depending on the item setup. I describe this below.

In AX 2012, you can specify which items can be purchased from what vendors. This prevents the purchasing/buyers departments from purchasing items from a variety of vendors at different prices and qualities. This gets especially important when it comes to time sensitive purchasing contracts from specific vendors.

If you are getting the error, it is because the vendor on the purchase order is not setup as an approved vendor to purchase from on this item and the item is configured to throw a warning or error.

Approved vendor list setting
You can setup approved vendors by navigating to the Released product. Click on the 'Purchase' tab in the navigation ribbon and click 'Setup' under the 'Approved vendor' group (Figure 2 below). Here you can specify the approved vendors with valid to/from date. Note: this vendor approval is at the item level, not variant/inventory dimension level.

The other two options in the 'Approved vendor' group are view only any allows you to see all the approved vendors for the item as well as the effective periods for a given date. Its really just two filter for viewing approved vendors. This could have been one form in my opinion but I can see why they did it.

You can also view all the items that are approved for a given vendor by navigating to the vendor and clicking on 'Approved vendor list by vendor' option under the 'Related information' group in the 'Procurement' ribbon tab (Figure 3 below).

Vendor Approval setting on the item 
On an item by item basis (e.g. setting on Released Products), we can specify if we want to ignore the approved vendor lists functionality ('No check'), only throw an error if the vendor should not purchase from the order ('Warning only'), or halt the entire process ('Not allowed').  These options can be seen in Figure 4 below.

Figure 1 - The error being encountered (with the 'Approved Vendor' setting on the item [Figure 4] set to 'Warning only')

Figure 2 - The approved vendor setup

Figure 3 - Viewing all items valid for the vendor

Figure 4 - The settings for approved vendor checks

Friday, January 17, 2014

Time sensitive guerilla marketing tactics and what makes them effective

While no publicity is bad publicity, certain types of publicity are more effective for building brand awareness. Very effective types of publicity also don't have to cost very much money at all (**GASP**).  One of the best types of marketing strategies for the lowest cost (if any) is guerilla marketing.  Guerrilla marketing marketing has to grab the intended audiences attention in a quick way whether through humor, shock, amazement, etc.

Wikipedia defines Guerrilla marketing as "an advertising strategy in which low-cost unconventional means (graffiti, sticker bombing, flash mobs) are used, often in a localized fashion or large network of individual cells, to convey or promote a product or an idea."

I'll talk about two instances that I noticed a few months ago where the timing of the marketing effort is critical. One was via a customer service tactic going viral while the other was making a statement about society that made the headlines. Both techniques got the respective brands' name on the front pages of news sites for little to no money!

I think a big component of these strategies is to destroy the campaign as quickly as possible. If it lingers, it loses the effectiveness in a very rapid, if not instantaneous drop off. It's like that person at dinner that tells the same joke twice. First time was funny, second time, hand me your wine; you're cut off my friend. Plus, repeated encounters of the campaign will cheapen the 'hip', fun vibe the company was trying to achieve in the first place. 

Guerrilla Marketing via Customer Service
I read about a quirky effective customer service interaction today at the airport and realized how effective it was as advertising. I'm not sure if this was intentionally executed from corporate or just a few tech people having some fun with the automated system. The Netflix (I assume) automated help-bot initiated the conversation with 'This is Cpt Mike of the good ship Netflix, which member of the crew am I speaking with today?' The rest of the conversation is quite funny as well as the person encountering this played along.

Factors for making this marketing strategy successful:
  1. Making sure that customer service still meets the high standard with the fun added (0% added time on the customer side)
  2. A programmer/customer service rep to initiate the campaign either for a specific # of people or a random sampler
  3. A creative customer to act as a catalyst for viral-ness
  4. Someone(s) to share the creative customer's interactions in a very public way (Reddit, twitter, instagram, facebook, etc)
Factors for avoiding negative customer service from this effort:
  1. Achieve the same result for the target audience as if the campaign had not existed (same steps from point A to point B unless its an option by the customer to take things elsewhere)
  2. Don't be offensive
  3. Make it appropriate for all ages. 
    1. This doesn't mean you can't target audiences with obscure 80's references. The cartoon comedy series The Simpsons does this well as over half the crowd doesn't get some of the references anyways.
Guerrilla Marketing via 'Missed opportunities' and 'Shock'
As another example of effective guerrilla marketing, the popular underground artist Banksy recently had some of his spray paint art (often going for premium prices) sold by someone else pretending to try to make it through college by selling art for $60 a piece on the streets of New York for a day. Nothing sold until 4 hours later with one person haggling 2 pieces for $60. The perception of who made the art and what it was going for overshadowed the art itself. On the other hand, adding Banksy's name to the art would do the same thing to the art causing it to go for ridiculous prices.

Upon the news articles hitting the web, people were able to see the point above. This was a great way for people to read an interesting article making an insightful statement about someone who they may not have ever heard about. This in turn makes Banksy's brand more recognizable in a marketing effort that didn't cost hardly anything.

Factors for making this marketing strategy successful:
  1. Make sure no one knows what is going on until the marketing effort is complete.
  2. Successfully demonstrating a societal trait which is 'shocking' (e.g. people associate cost of art to good art)
  3. Insight a 'missed opportunity' feeling for the audience.
    1. If only they had been there to buy one, they could have turned a $60 investment into $6000 overnight.
  4. Have media outlets pick up this marketing effort and portray it as a 'interesting news' type article.
Check out the video below for more info!

Friday, January 3, 2014

AX 2012 Alternate item for unavailable stock

In Dynamics AX 2012, you can have the user automatically prompted for an alternate item in the even that an entered sales line item is out of stock/unavailable via the 'Alternative product' fields in the Sell tab of the 'released product details' form.

If the alternate item selected for an entered item also has an alternate item where conditions are met based on that item's 'When to use' field, that item will feed into the alternate item functionality. Basically, the system could potentially keep looking for alternate items as long as conditions are continually met and the items all have alternate item numbers in them.

There are several options to choose when picking the alternate item via the 'When to use' field:
  1. Never - the alternate item is never used (feature turned off for the item)
  2. Nothing in inventory - the user is prompted with Figure 2 if there is no stock on hand for that item in that warehouse
  3. Always - the user is always prompted for the replacement item (Figure2)
While AX has other concepts like Related products, supplementary items (sales/purch), and linked products (retail), there is no functionality to leverage these into alternate item functionality.

Figure 1- The alternative product functionality in the released products form

Figure 2 - The pop up box that is shown to the user for alternate items